Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fat, Mean, and Stupid Is No Way To Go Through Life

Bradley Long takes an "ideological Turing test" and shows that while he is fatter than I am, he is also less intelligent, which is pretty sad, since we're both supposedly in the same field. (Actually, the chances are that I will be practicing law instead of economics, but that's another story.)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Been Ladin

Ron Paul has been getting a lot of flak for saying he wouldn't have ordered the SEAL raid that killed OBL. Well, retired US Army Ranger John T. Reed (one of my heroes) also would not have ordered the raid, for several reasons; instead, he said it should have been done by the Air Force with three 2,000-pound bombs spaced 30 seconds apart. A "SWAT-type" raid (as he aptly describes it) was irresponsible grandstanding by our Incompetent-in-Chief.
The SWAT approach was simply too risky—again, assuming the fix was not in with the Pakistan Air Force and that the U.S. knew there were only three guys protecting Obama and they were not well armed and booby trapped and all that.
If I were in the military now and were offered the chance to be on or command this operation, I would have said, "No way. This is totally unnecessary. It’s strictly an Air Force operation."
Bin Laden was a symbolic military mission, not a valid military target like, say, Adolf Hitler would have been during World War II. Bin Laden was a financier and leader back in the day, but lately he seems to have evolved into a sort of elder statesman/philosopher with a Just-For-Men colored beard and an intermittent, lame TV show on al Jazeera. You do not risk men’s lives to kill such a person. If the chain of command wanted not only me but also my men to go on this mission, I would have gone to war with my chain of command fighting all the way to the president if necessary and resigning my commission in protest. I went to war with my chain of command over a lot less when it came to mistreating my men when I was an officer.

Monday, April 04, 2011

I Like to Be an Intellectual of This and That, and So It's Good.

From Hannah Volokh, via Instapundit:
I also find conservative anti-intellectualism troubling, and I think it’s important to separate it into three separate points:

1. Left-wing intellectuals are wrong substantively.

2. Many people who claim to be intellectuals are actually not intellectuals at all, but activists.

3. Central planning is not the best way to run a government or economy, so intellectuals do not need to be running things.

Still, to understand why central planning is a bad idea, and what we should have instead, and to get at the answers to numerous substantive policy issues, intellectuals are crucially important.

Drum and Dumber

/B/r/i/t/n/e/y/ /S/p/e/a/r/s/ Kevin Drum at Mother Jones magazine claims that
I voted for Obama in 2008 is because I trust his judgment. And not in any merely abstract way, either: I mean that if he and I were in a room and disagreed about some issue on which I had any doubt at all, I'd literally trust his judgment over my own. I think he's smarter than me, better informed, better able to understand the consequences of his actions, and more farsighted.

I couldn't agree more. Kevin, on whether you're less-intelligent than President Obama, I trust *your* expert judgement!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Comment on "Progressive Nudges for Household Savings"

"If I were a card-carrying progressive" I would start by cutting (preferably eliminating) all corporate welfare, "community development grants" (which go to big construction firms and real estate speculators) and other government programs that primarily benefit the rich. I'd put an income limit on who was allowed to receive agricultural subsidies.

Remember, all income tax *deductions* (as opposed to credits) are perverse because they benefit the rich more than the poor, because a poor man getting a $1000 deduction only gets 15% of it, while a rich guy gets 30% or more. So I'd change all income tax deductions (primarily mortgages and health insurance) to tax credits.

For the record I *am* a card-carrying progressive, or at least a bleeding-heart libertarian. Which means I care more about the poor than Obama, Rahm, and the rest of the "let's bail out the rich and ignore the poor" gang in both parties. And I also know which policies actually work, as opposed to the "let's have rallies and riots" all-mouth no-brain crowd.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Task Set Before Us

First, I believe that the president's power as commander-in-chief of the military is very simple to understand. He has the power to give any (lawful) order to anyone in the military, and it must be obeyed. That includes things like ordering the military to blockade, bomb, or even invade Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Iran.

However, the definition of a lawful order is limited by both international law -- which means treaties that the U.S. has signed, and more importantly the "law of war" that says things like you're not allowed to harm, and in fact have a duty to protect, civilians, prisoners, and anyone else who doesn't try to harm you or disobey your orders.

Furthermore, lawful orders are restricted by the specific rules that the U.S. military follows, such as the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and that's set by Congress, as specified in the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Paragraphs 10-16 and especially Paragraph 14, "To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces."

That means if Congress wants to specify that "No member of the armed forces of the United States shall enter Libya," they can do it. And they can certainly specify the various conditions listed in the War Powers Resolution.

That being said, I am all in favor of intervening in Libya as long as we do it good and hard. In fact, I'm in favor of intervening in Syria even better and harder, since Assad is worse than Qadaffi. And if Iranian Revolutionary Guard units are in Syria, that gives us a really good excuse to attack those units.

On the other hand, I will also repeat what I warned about before we went into Afghanistan and Iraq, which is that we need to have a clear plan, including a clear objective. Glenn Reynolds is right: "Waging war halfheartedly, on the cheap, and by committee is not a formula for success."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Good Question!

BRIAN LEITER ON BUDGET CUTS: “At some point these acts of brazen viciousness are going to lead to a renewed philosophical interest in the question of when acts of political violence are morally justified.”

I'll tell you when they're justified: when they're against rich white establishment law professors like that guy. How much do you make a year, Brian Leiter? More than the working stiffs in the unions, I'll bet. A lot more!

Well, it's time for *you* to take a pay cut and distribute to the rest of us whatever you make above the national average. Power to the people.

We know where you live.

Up against the wall, m**********r!

(It's okay for me to attack his ethnic group, since it's my ethnic group as well -- although I'm a graduate student in economics, rather than a law professor. See 0:56 in the court scene in Woody Allen's Bananas.)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

On Wisconsin!

As a good progressive, of course I support the State-employee unions in Wisconsin and elsewhere. (See the photo of me helping out at their protest!)

In fact, I urge them all to go out on strike for their rights immediately.

Even if this means shutting down all government schools and most other government agencies, it will be worth it!

Brothers and sisters, venceremos, we will be victorious!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Viva Che'!

I am a democratic socialist and a follower of the ideals of Che!

Che was right, that there is no right to strike against the State. These striking teachers should be thrown into prison or even better put into labor camps to work for the public good. They could easily be replaced with teachers from so-called "private" schools or "parochial" schools (and drafting all those "private" teachers into government service, forcing them to work for the current low-wage contracts that government teachers have, would help shut down those corrupt capitalist schools).

I assume all other progressives who support Che will join me in supporting this modest proposal!

Venceremos, hermanos y hermanas!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Task Set Before Us

This is the task before us: to accept that we are dissidents and opponents. To accept that it is our duty to resist. To use art to express that resistance, the win intellectuals and people of ability to our side. To forge contacts with supporters in the outside world. To slowly expand our influence and never, ever stop laughing at the State.

And when it comes crashing, and I believe it will, we will be there, smiling and laughing.

[End of piece by anonymous author Albert, who identifies as a State Dept. employee in Europe].

Politics is Not About Policy

Robin Hanson famously said that "Politics is not about policy, it is not even about power, it is about status." I concur.

An anonymous poster on Unqualified Reservations said:
*talk matters*.

Clinton talked left, and acted right. Clinton was an amazing president in many ways. Black incarceration rates tripled under Clinton (, one of the main reasons behind the drop in crime in the 1990's. Clinton pushed deregulation and capitalism.

Bush talks right and acts left. That's why the left hates him, even as he gives them NCLB and illegal aliens and Medicare spending and "the government is here to help".

Therefore, whatever you want to do in politics, you can (and possibly should) talk in whatever way appeals to the majority (i.e. the median voter), specifically by saying good things toward groups and behaviors they want to be high-status and bad things toward groups and behaviors they want to be low-status. And especially you should say things toward groups whose status the majority hopes will change.

You can also tailor this message toward a particular audience, depending on where you are speaking.

And then govern whatever way you want, or at least push the envelope as far as you can in the direction you want it to go.

On the other hand, this doesn't always work. It worked fine for Clinton and Reagan, and and even for Junior Bush (since because of his rhetoric and personal style he is still hated by leftists and respected by some conservatives, despite all his left-wing policies) and it seems to not be working at all for Obama. So there has to be some finesse in the execution. Of course, if you come up with garbage policies like the PPACA (a/k/a "Obamacare") you will get despised no matter what. You know, for some supposedly bright guys, they came up with some dumb policies -- and speaking as a bright guy who also considers himself pretty good at politics as well as policy, I don't buy the "We had to compromise in order to get it passed" excuse, on that piece of . . . legislation. Or on anything else.

Reflections on CPAC

I posted this on Pajamas Media:

For those of us who can remember back that far, the 1990's were a time of Republican unity as well, during which the annoyance of being out of power was great enough for people to be willing to overlook minor differences over social policy in the hope of retaking the White House.

At the very least, when one is out of power the opposing party is the Great Satan while other factions within one's own party are the enemy of one's enemy.

I predict this unity, based around economic issues, will persist until we retake power -- and then we will have to deal with differences on social issues and foreign policy.

I'm a big-tent Republican, and I hope we can deal with those differences properly. And I'd like to remind my fellow-Christians that if government is allowed to enforce social values, it will almost always enforce values that we do *not* want. This will happen all the time when we do not control the federal government, and it will even happen most of the time that we do control it, because the both the government bureaucracy and the intellectual establishment are against us. (How much conservative social policy came out of the federal government during the last administration?)

So the best policy (pun intended) will be to get the government out of our lives in every respect. Once the government stops actively subsidizing sin (paying for abortions, and welfare, and blasphemous, poor-quality "art") and its practitioners are forced to pay for it themselves, it will disappear.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Back in Black?

School choice is a no-lose proposition for any politician outside of Maryland. Government-school teachers, and especially their union leaders and agitators, are now seen as the selfish monsters they are, who care only about their pay raises and outrageous pensions, and don't give a d--- about kids.

The GOP ought to bring back the DC school voucher program, with at least twice as many students to balance the fact that it was cut out before. In fact, our starting point (from which we will compromise) should be to make *every* poor and/or minority student in DC eligible for this. This will force the Democrats to choose between betraying the teachers' union or betraying the poor and minorities, so *someone* will hate them no matter what they do.

I am *all about* driving wedges between different parts of the traditional New Deal coalition. It's like a Frankenstein's monster, except that I have no sympathy for it. I want to see it ripped apart like the patchwork man in Britannia Hospital.

Another good idea is to require the DC government schools to follow the reforms recommended by Charles Murray in Losing Ground.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Clint Bolick got it perfectly:
Obama gave two speeches, one to his liberal base and one to the middle. Lots of inconsistencies, such as "I'm going to cut domestic spending and veto earmarks," while we "invest" in myriad new things. But I don't think most people noticed.

Obviously there's an opportunity for the GOP (and the LP) to point this out and hit the administration at a vulnerable spot, forcing it to abandon either "progressives" or moderates. If the administration is really inept, it might even lose both.

Another opportunity, much less obvious, is for the GOP to hammer the Democrats on Social Security. Specifically, they can say (truthfully)
Social Security is bankrupt. It owes more than it has, and its debts are piling up faster than money is coming in. We have to either cut benefits, or cut spending on other programs, or do nothing until the entire Social Security program collapses. *We* favor cutting spending on other programs in order to save Social Security, but if you prefer one of the other options, vote for a Democrat.

This forces the Democrats to either support cutting other programs -- and they would rather cut their own throats -- or cutting benefits (which is political suicide) -- or claiming there is nothing wrong with Social Security, which isn't political suicide yet, but can easily be made into it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Steampunk RPG Campaign

Perfidious Albion is a steampunk RPG campaign -- a Scientific Romance for ladies and gentlemen of good breeding (ahem), set in the late 19th Century in a well-developed alternate-history setting in which a peaceful compromise (Ben Franklin's "Albany Plan") prevented the American Revolution, the British Empire is the world's dominant power, and steam-powered supercomputers perform econometric calculations in mere minutes! (For those who really like trivia, there was an earlier point of divergence at the Putney Debates in 1648.)

For Perfidious Albion: A Scientific Romance, I recommend either GURPS Lite or FUDGE. Even more, I recommend any good steampunk fiction, such as The Difference Engine, Girl Genius, The Two Georges, and so forth.

Some good references for steampunk, and for the Victorian period in general, are:
* What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist -- The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England by Daniel Pool (available for cheap on;
* An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn't, specifically the section on English Literature, which discusses obscure details of nineteenth-century British life (likewise available for cheap on Amazon);
* GURPS Steampunk by my old friend Bill Stoddard (available for cheap as a PDF at, hands-down the single best reference source for the period, whether realistic historical or steampunk.;
* Forgotten Futures: The Scientific Romance Role Playing Game by the brilliant Phil Masters (available for free as shareware, he asks that you make a donation to charity, God bless him!)
* Comme Il Faut, a supplement for Castle Falkenstein on daily life and manners in the 19th Century.

(For what it's worth, I did graduate work in English literature and specialized in both sf/fantasy and Victorian/industrial revolution fiction.)

I prefer "system" games, because the system helps answer questions like "How far can I jump?" and "How long will it take to fix the engine?" I strongly believe in a good story rather than rolling dice, and I also believe in realism and balance.

Above all, I want to make sure that people who are interested in the genre and/or the setting, and are not familiar with the system, to join and play and learn the system as we go along.

For more information about the game, or if you wish to join, please contact the Management of the game via electronic mail for any questions about the setting, or for the Approval of Characters.

Excerpted from a survey report by the Infinity Corporation:


A libertarian British Empire (including America) vs. the Holy Alliance (France, Spain, Austria, Russia) and Ottoman Caliphate.


1648: The Levellers win the Putney Debates to decide the new government after the English Civil War.
1765: Ben Franklin's "Albany Plan of Union" is accepted by the Whig government of Britain.

Western (multipolar), Chinese (empire), Islamic (empire).

British Empire (feudal technocracy, CR2), France (dictatorship, CR5), Spain (dictatorship, CR5), Austria (dictatorship, CR5), Russia (dictatorship, CR6), Prussia (dictatorship, CR4).

Ottoman Empire (dictatorship, CR5), Manchu Empire (dictatorship, CR5), Sweden (democracy, CR4), Japan (feudal technocracy, CR 5).


Technological Level: 5+2 (except TL5 weapons/armor)
Mana Level: low
Quantum: 7
Infinity Class: P1
Centrum Zone: YELLOW


"A Series of Tubes"
"Can You Get Sound On That Thing?"
"First Contacts"
"Hearts of Steel"
"League of Extraordinary Ladies & Gentlemen"

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Which Parents, When Their Child Asks for Bread, Give a Stone Instead? Amy Chua!

@cp puts it perfectly:
How many Yale law professors would want to allow terror suspects to be denied access to food and water?
I'm sorry, I consider Amy Chua's parenting methods to be dead to me. I strongly recommend the methods suggested by The One-Minute Mother and The One-Minute Father.

Matthew 7:9
Luke 11:11

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Giants in the Earth

I'm a born-again Christian and I've always said that God wants us to play Dungeons & Dragons (and other roleplaying games).

Furthermore, those who claim that "unicorn" is a mistranslation of "rhinoceros," or that "dragon" is a mistranslation of "crocodile," are as mistaken as those who claim that "day" in Genesis is a mistranslation of "time period." Obviously we need to take the King James Version literally (in the simplest and most obvious sense); if Shakespearean English was good enough for Christ Himself to speak, then it is good enough for the rest of us. Thus, "unicorn" means "horse with a horn on its forehead" and "dragon" means "giant lizard that breathes fire."

It's all in the Bible, and the Monster Manual. King James Version, and OGL -- none of this modernized scripture for me, and no 4th Edition D&D either!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Cloward-Piven: Bring It On

Maybe I'm overlooking something here; if so, please let me know!

The Cloward-Piven strategy was to overwhelm the system with a massive amount of both protests (possibly violent) and also welfare recipients; this was supposed to cause a breakdown of both public discourse and also of public finance.

The idea was that the status quo in both politics and public programs would not be able to handle the new situation and would have to be replaced by something else.

According to Piven, the activism of the 1960s and 1970s was this strategy in action.

As I understand it, those are her claims -- and I completely agree with them so far. Her mistake is believing that the response of the system would be to give in to the demands of the activists and welfare applicants, and replace capitalism with democratic socialism.

Instead, in the 1980s and 1990s the system -- I hesitate to say "Silent Majority" -- responded by voting for right-wing Republicans and moderate Democrats, and by pushing for welfare reform.

The reasons why her strategy failed are that the number of producers must be greater than the number of parasites (or else the entire society collapses into chaos) and also that the producers tend to vote and otherwise participate in politics more than the average parasite. (There are other reasons as well, such as the fact that free-market capitalism allows upward mobility for those who are willing to work, so a temporarily-unemployed producer is on the side of the producers, rather than the parasites.)

As a hard-core political activist I'd like to encourage Ms Piven to agitate as much as possible, because I look forward to the results of her tactics. Bring it on, baby! As Lenin said, "The worse, the better."

As William F. Buckley, Jr., remarked, there may be a million violent rioters; there are a million and one lampposts.