Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Paul Ryan's Convention Speech


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Who Exported John Galt?

American tax policy did.

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Love Conquers All

Well, maybe not all...



Some cool Instapundit links:

Ten macho movies every man should see. (Warning: Popular Science still hasn't figured out how to design a website that doesn't bog down your system).

Insane in the membrane.

Hope and change.

Elizabeth Warren gets pushy.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

See Rand Simberg's article at PJ Media.

And also my post on the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11.

Here's a cool YouTube find.


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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Not Voting For Obama

Small business owners are vastly in favor of - guess who?

To which I commented: "Romney didn't build that small-business support all by himself. He had a lot of government help."


Monday, August 20, 2012

Russia's Weirdest Dissident Group

Language warning. Quoting Wikipedia, Pussy Riot is "a Russian feminist punk-rock band based in Moscow [that] stages politically provocative performances about Russian political life." They costume themselves in bright clothing and color-slashing balaclavas.

Very recently they were sentenced to 2 years imprisonment for "hooliganism," for staging a performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, protesting against the subject of their usual target - Vladimir Putin - and against Orthodox Patriarch Kirill's vocal support for the Russian President.

The performance has been branded as "blasphemous." Chicago Boyz contributor TM Lutas explains why the charge is accurate with regard to Orthodoxy. In Orthodox cathedrals, the iconostatis is a wall of icons separating the outer and inner sanctuary. The icons depict Christ, the Apostles, and several chief saints (including that for whom the cathedral is named, if applicable). The women danced and sang directly in front of the iconostatis, a place forbidden to laypersons. Even the non-Orthodox may perceive the performance as an act of upstaging Jesus and the saints.

TM Lutas argues that the two-year sentence is appropriate, using criminal trespass law in Indiana for a comparison. "[Trespass] is punishable between 6 months and 3 years with a fine up to $10,000. As this wasn’t Pussy Riot’s first case of trespass and outrageous behavior, this is exactly the sort of case that would tilt towards the heavier end of the penalty range."

Eugene Volokh makes the case for trespass, but find the sentence too harsh. "Though the church was open to the public at the time, it was pretty clearly open only to prayer or quiet observation, not for people to use it for their own loud musical performances. It strikes me as quite right to prosecute them for trespass, and a fairly egregious form of trespass at that: The people weren’t just (say) overstaying their welcome at a normal business establishment, but disrupting the quiet of a place that many other people were using for quiet contemplation"

Present at the sentencing, chess grand master Garry Kasparov, himself a Putin critic, was accused of biting a policeman's hand. He tweeted this reaction: "I am sorry if the policeman who was beating me on the head had hurt his hand."

The band has attracted worldwide support from within and without the entertainments. relatively sane folks like Paul McCartney and cartoon characters like Madonna and Yoko Ono.

The sad thing is that Pussy Riot wouldn't matter if it weren't for a sentence that carries the appearance of political persecution. To call the band the musical equivalent of an Internet troll is an insult to Internet trolls. Read the lyrics to Putin Lights Up the Fires ("Father Lukashenko" refers to Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko) and three other songs ("Patriarch Gundyaev" refers to Patriarch Kirill - born Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyayev). This is vulgar drivel, less substantive than the Sex Pistols' God Save the Queen.

Protesters should take at least two lessons from all this ado. First, semi-coherent rants make lousy protest media. It gives the impression that the protesters, while they might have a genuine grievance, really don't know what they're talking about. Snappy one-liners are nice, but they must be accompanied with some detail about what is being protested - explanations of what bad stuff is being done and why it's bad.

Second, don't unnecessarily alienate your potential allies. Clownish performance art runs into immediate public relations problems, but it's not an automatic deal-breaker. How seriously the weird gets taken varies. A vulgar protest group name is a huge turn-off; besides offending the sense of propriety of many, it portrays the protesters as folks you can't sit down and have a rational conversation with.

Pussy Riot's worst PR offense is its mockery of an entire religion - the act of profaning the iconostasis. The women say Kirill is a toady for the State. If the Orthodox doctrine of Symphonia ("which posits that church and state are to be complementary and exhibit mutual respect") fails to distinguish between respect and sycophancy, then that doctrine alone is at fault; giving sanctuary rules the finger is just scapegoating (at best). If Symphonia does not commit that failure, and if Kirill is a toady, then Kirill is at fault. Is he? You be the judge of that.

Update: If Pussy Riot is lamer than an Internet troll, and if there was a political motive behind the sentencing, that makes Putin (by association) look really small.

Update: Keeping with the second principle is very difficult when protesting against revered leaders or formal doctrines (religious or secular) - especially if the challenger has no clout in the belief system in question. In this case both could have been avoided, because the central problem is Putin. If he is a tyrant, spell out the tyranny and leave the Patriarch alone. Let the Orthodox faithful figure out the flaws of the Patriarch's political wisdom on their own.

Then again, I'm treating these women as if they were consciously interested in influencing opinion - the proper reason for protest. A lot of people protest simply to vent. I don't see a lot of attempted persuasion in their lyrics.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

The Family Research Council Shooting

I can't improve on NRO's analysis. This nation has very little political violence, and what little there is (not counting that from Islamic sources) tends to originate from the left.
An exercise in tit-for-tat would be tempting here, but conservatives for the most part know better. Given the routinely violent, anti-Semitic, racist, and misogynist rhetoric associated with the Left — as seen at any Occupy encampment or protest directed at Israel, Clarence Thomas, or Sarah Palin — it is worth remarking upon the hypocrisy of the Left’s trying to blame talk radio or tea-party protests for acts of violence. (And never mind that rhetoric was replaced by actual acts of violence at Occupy events, not at tea-party rallies.) There is in fact remarkably little political violence in the United States, a fact for which we should be grateful.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Meanwhile, In Florida

Largest Burmese python to be captured in the state. If anyone out there runs across Dan Cathy, pass on this message: Python-fil-A.


DC Comics Was Unavailable For Comment

Radioactive sinkhole in Louisiana. No mutant sightings has been reported.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words



Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney's Running Mate In Action

Instapundit has lots of links (including the first video).


One Small Victory For Economic Freedom

Federal judge stands up for small business:

In a major victory for economic liberty, a federal court ruled late yesterday that Utah’s requirement that hairbraiders have a government-issued cosmetology license is unconstitutional.  Jestina Clayton, a Salt Lake city-based African hairbraider with more than 23 years of experience.   Along with the Institute for Justice and local counsel Maxwell Miller and Randy Grimshaw of Parsons Behle & Latimer in Salt Lake City, Jestina filed suit to fight the state’s anti-competitive cosmetology regulations.

Under Utah law, Jestina could not be paid to braid hair unless she first spent thousands of dollars on 2,000 hours—one full year—of government-mandated cosmetology training.  But Utah never considered African hair braiding when creating its licensing scheme and has never investigated whether African hair braiding is a threat to public health or safety.  Moreover, Utah’s mandatory training is almost entirely irrelevant to African hairbraiding; Jestina would have to spend almost all of her 2,000 hours on irrelevant topics, and Utah did not even know whether African hair braiding was taught in its approved cosmetology schools.
Link via Althouse.

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Monday, August 06, 2012

Who Built Those Deficits?

We all know the scary debt chart (oops, that's based on the original 2009 projections - this shows the actual deficits up to Fiscal Year 2011, and FY2012 crossed the trillion-dollar threshold.) But what's the story behind the data? In a 2009 article, Cato scholar Daniel J. Mitchell points out that Obama didn't build the 2009 deficit all by himself - and he wasn't even the chief architect:

The 2009 fiscal year began October 1, 2008, nearly four months before Obama took office. The budget for the entire fiscal year was largely set in place while Bush was in the White House. So is we update the chart to show the Bush fiscal years in green, we can see that Obama is partly right in claiming that he inherited a mess (though Obama actually deserves a small share of the blame for Bush’s last deficit since earlier this year he pushed through both an “omnibus” spending bill and the so-called stimulus bill that increased FY2009 spending). The omnibus spending bill totalled $410 billion, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was budgeted at $787 billion (revised at $831 billion.) TARP, passed at the end of the Bush presidency, authorized $431 billion in actual disbursements.

Since the sum of those three figures alone exceed the $1.4 trillion deficit, obviously not all of that money (particularly that via ARRA) could have been spent in FY 2009. Presidents don't authorize spending all by themselves. They agree to the spending authorized by Congress, and all spending originates in the House. The House and Senate under Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid passed these three spending initiatives. (And then-Senator Obama voted for TARP.) Refer to the Historical Federal Receipt and Outlay Summary at the Tax Policy Center's site. FY 2009 saw a $419 billion drop in revenues. That - and TARP and ARRA - are products of the recession.

Who built that recession? Some like to point to deregulation, others like to point to specific regulations (namely the Community Reinvestment Act, which abetted the housing bubble and subsequent burst). In a 2009 article (PDF document), University of Chicago economist John Cochrane takes a somewhat different approach:

The signature event of this financial crisis was the “run,” “panic,” “flight to quality,” or whatever you choose to call it, that started in late September of 2008 and receded over the winter. Short-term credit dried up, including the normally straightforward repurchase agreement, inter-bank lending, and commercial papermarkets. If that panic had not occurred, it is likely that any economic contraction following the housing bust would have been no worse than the mild 2001 recession that followed the dot-com bust.
The reasons for the current recession are pretty straightforward: it is hard to getmuch done if you are scrambling for cash and the normal way of doing business just fell apart.
Two major causes of the panic were the Lehman failure (which signaled to financial institutions that bailouts could not be taken for granted) and the scaremongering rhetoric behind the push for TARP. Key to the financial meltdown were mortgage-backed securities, which attempted the contradiction of low-risk securities (MBS's) backed by high-risk assets (risky mortgages). These securities magnified the effects that mortgage failures could create on their own.

The recession continues for the same reason that businesses avoid mugger-prone areas: an intensely business-hostile government. Businesses aren't hiring as long as the government is seeking to take more and more of its stuff. The deficits continue because of the revenues lost by Obama/Reid predatory policies, and because spending remains abnormally high.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Cruz To Victory

Ted Cruz defeats incumbent David Dewhurst, and will be the party's candidate in this November's race to fill Kay Bailey Hutchison's Senate seat.


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