Tuesday, May 29, 2012

So Glad Lugar Lost

Here's Dick Lugar (R-Indiana) on why he lost the primary in Indiana to Mourdock:
Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) today blamed his primary loss on “a large portion of the Republican Party of Indiana” believing “in the idea of individualism as opposed to community.”
Reminds me of Rick Pursuit-of-happiness-harms-America Santorum.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Brett Kimberlin: White Collar Terrorist for the Left

There's been quite a bit of discussion in the blogosphere this week about Brett Kimberlin, professional harasser for the left. Check out this Examiner piece for details. Disturbing stuff.
But far more sinister is the tactic adopted by Brett Kimberlin, an activist and the founder of the group Velvet Revolution who was convicted in 1981 of exploding eight bombs in 1978 in Speedway, Ind. One of his bombs blew off the leg of a man who subsequently committed suicide.

Nowadays, Kimberlin targets conservative bloggers like Aaron Worthing and Robert Stacy McCain in Maryland, and Patrick Frey of Patterico's Pontifications in California. Why? For publishing facts about Kimberlin's criminal record.

Kimberlin harasses his targets by, among many other ways, filing false charges in courts that require expensive, time-consuming litigation, disrupting his targets' workplaces, and dropping dark hints about spouses and kids.

This is my small contribution to the Michelle Malkin organized blogburst of truth surrounding Kimberlin's attacks on bloggers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

If You're not on Twitter, You Should Be

Here's a good post at Legal Insurrection, which begins:
As has been said on here before: If you’re not on Twitter, you need to be. Nowhere is this point made more readily apparent than the way in which the Tea Party has utilized social media outlets like Twitter, to begin to reshape the Republican Party from the inside out.

After watching the Democrats’ sheer dominance over social media forums during the 2008 Presidential election, it is doubtful that anyone could have predicted the conservative base would supplant them so quickly.

But beginning with the midterm elections of 2010, conservatives have been on a path to claim outright dominance over the medium altogether in a way comparable to that of the Talk Radio industry. This effort is taking its toll not just on the Democrats, but also on entrenched Republicans who, in the eyes of the GOP base, have lost their way.
Conservatives have long been upset with the direction their party was headed. One need look no further than the last 5 Presidential candidates the party has put forward, each one more typical and predictable than the last. It tends to share more in common with a Royal line of succession, than a series of democratically elected candidates.

Every 4 years, the GOP and its party members knew who their next candidate would be before the primaries even began, and the people that made up the party’s base knew that there wasn’t much that could be done about it.

This past primary cycle changed that, and it forced this year’s “next-in-line” candidate into a primary fight that nearly cost him the nomination. A significant contributing factor of this was the centralized dissatisfaction with big government policies as represented by the Tea Party, and the use of Twitter to communicate this dissatisfaction to an increasingly broad audience. In the end, the establishment won out, and in the interest of defeating a President that no self-respecting conservative could bear to have in office for another 4 years, Romney will get the votes from the base. The same cannot be said for a number of hopelessly entrenched Republican members of Congress.
Go read the rest.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Watkins: What's Really Wrong with Entitlements

I just received the following announcement from the Ayn Rand Institute. Should be a good talk:
What’s Really Wrong with Entitlements
A talk at the University of California, San Diego

Who: Don Watkins, fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute

What:  A lecture examining America’s entitlement state

Where: Price Center West, Eleanor Roosevelt College Room, UCSD [Map]

When: Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 7 p.m.

Description: It's an open secret that America's entitlement state is in disarray, and that the United States faces a crushing debt thanks to programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. But according to Ayn Rand Center analyst Don Watkins, that's not the biggest problem with entitlements.

In this talk, you will discover the unknown history of life in America before the entitlement state, and discover the surprising reason why the United States went from a limited government to an entitlement nation. In the process, you will find out why all of the usual solutions to our entitlement crisis cannot work—and what kind of solution could.

Admission: FREE. Open to students and the public.

Bio: Don Watkins is a columnist at Forbes.com and his op-eds have appeared in such venues as Investor's Business Daily, The Christian Science Monitor, FoxNews.com, CNBC.com and Forbes magazine. He has appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and is a regular guest on PJTV's Front Page with Allen Barton. His book, Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government, co-authored with Yaron Brook, will be released in September.

More information: Please e-mail Alana Goycochea at agoycoch@ucsd.edu.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Invisible Hand

I confess that Adam Smith's "invisible hand" never made sense to me. I think I finally figured out why.

First let us recap the phenomenon the "invisible hand" is meant to explain. Private actors in a free economy produce and trade. They make things, provide services and trade those things and services with other people who make things and provide services. The school teacher sells his services, the farmer sells his produce, the factory worker sells his labor and the factory owner sells his pins. The teacher, farmer, worker and owner trade with each other. In each trade, each considers himself better off. The owner would rather have his children educated than keep all his profits. The worker would rather have food than keep all his wages. Through each person acting in their self interest and achieving their self interest, each is better off.

If two people trade to mutual benefit, which is what most trades are in a free market, both benefit. If an organization of 40,000 employees sells their product to a million customers, both the organization and the customers are better off. If an entire economy of 350 million, filled with producers trading their wares with other producers, each trade benefiting buyer and seller, should we be surprised that all of these trades to mutual benefit lead to general benefit? The benefit accruing to the aggregate of individuals is nothing more than the sum of the benefits accruing to each. So if you leave people free to produce and trade to mutual benefit, why would you be surprised that everyone benefits?

The presumption of the "invisible hand" is that there is something amiss, something requiring explanation. When you leave people free to pursue their self-interest, everyone's self-interest is achieved! Shocker! Far from being shocking, it is exactly what you should expect. It is simply the mathematics of summation. Let every individual pursue his self-interest, then the aggregate of individuals will achieve their self-interest.

The real need for an "invisible hand" comes from the idea that there is something evil or destructive about self-interest. If self-interest were evil or destructive, then the fact that the sum of self-interested actions leads to something good (a wealthy, healthy, happy society) would require an explanation: an "invisible" hand, a philosophers stone that turns evil into good. But self-interest is not evil, it is the essence of good. And one should not be surprised that when millions of people each pursue their own happiness, trading to mutual benefit, they usually end up happy. It is not an invisible hand that guides a free economy to prosperity, but thousands and millions of very visible handshakes between self-interested invidividuals.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Book Review: Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists

The Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists: Terrorism and Justice in the Gilded Age
by Timothy Messer-Kruse

I will henceforth remember May 1st as Victims of Communism Day. Until now, its been celebrated as an international workers' holiday to commemorate the Haymarket affair. On May 4, 1886, during an 8-hour-day strike, a bomb was thrown at police setting off days of gunfights and rioting. Seven police officers and four civilians were killed and scores injured. Eight anarchists were tried and seven eventually sentenced to death for conspiring to kill police. Their goal: cause widespread mayhem and a violent overthrow of capitalism for the sake of communism in the U.S. (Sound familiar?). Popular history has it that they were railroaded by an unsympathetic judge and a packed jury.

When Timothy Messer-Kruse took a second look into the affair, he found a very different past buried in unexamined court transcripts and contemporary popular accounts. He recounts his experience researching the book and attempting to update Wikipedia here.
In 2001 I was teaching a labor-history course, and our textbook contained nearly the same wording that appeared on Wikipedia [that "The prosecution, led by Julius Grinnell, did not offer evidence"]. One of my students raised her hand: "If the trial went on for six weeks and no evidence was presented, what did they talk about all those days?" I've been working to answer her question ever since.

I have not resolved all the mysteries that surround the bombing, but I have dug deeply enough to be sure that the claim that the trial was bereft of evidence is flatly wrong. One hundred and eighteen witnesses were called to testify, many of them unindicted co-conspirators who detailed secret meetings where plans to attack police stations were mapped out, coded messages were placed in radical newspapers, and bombs were assembled in one of the defendants' rooms.
In his book, The Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists, he discusses in detail his research and the events of 1886, showing that the bombing, deaths and subsequent rioting was fully intentional. The actual bomber slipped through the police's fingers before he could be arrested, but many of the other conspirators were tried and convicted. The reason history has treated the anarchists so sympathetically is most academics are already leftists and historians largely relied on summaries of the trials written by the defendants' lawyers. Messer-Kruse, on the other hand, was able to use the recently digitized court transcripts.

I highly recommend this book for the history, for the discussion of revolutionary communism's methods and for all the parallels to today's occupy wall street movement, which is a stale, anti-intellectual reprise of the anarcho-communism of the late 19th century. Today's anarcho-communists have the same goal the haymarket rioters did: chaos followed by a dictatorship of the proletariat, or in today's language, dictatorship of the '99%'. Then then they'll start piling up the bodies of tens of millions of new victims of communism.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

E-Verify: Another Totalitarian Tool

Here's an excellent interview from the Cato Daily Podcast discussing Arizona's SB1070, especially the E-Verify strengthening provisions. The main political point he makes is that e-verify is having to get permission from the government to employ someone. This verification goes through a government bureaucracy that misclassifies 1% of Americans (that 3.5 million). How easy it would be for an administration to 'accidentally' alter the statuses of all the conservative bloggers and watch them all get fired. Ooops!

For the record, besides being against E-Verify, I'm also for much more open immigration. But that's for another post.