Friday, May 30, 2014


Althouse: ""But granting the grammatical right, that Moses might speak of himself in the third person, because any man might speak of himself in that manner, it cannot be admitted as a fact in those books, that it is Moses who speaks, without rendering Moses truly ridiculous and absurd: -- for example, Numbers xii. 3: "Now the man Moses was very MEEK, above all the men which were on the face of the earth." If Moses said this of himself, instead of being the meekest of men, he was one of the most vain and arrogant coxcombs; and the advocates for those books may now take which side they please, for both sides are against them: if Moses was not the author, the books are without authority; and if he was the author, the author is without credit, because to boast of meekness is the reverse of meekness, and is a lie in sentiment."
Let us do unto Hillary as Thomas Paine did unto Moses."

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Obama Ignores the Path to Recovery | National Review Online

Obama Ignores the Path to Recovery | National Review Online: "June begins the sixth year of the anemic recovery from the 18-month recession. Even if what the Obama administration calls “historically severe” weather — a.k.a. winter — reduced GDP growth by up to 1.4 percentage points, growth of 1.5 percent would still be grotesque."

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I realize this is the administration's excuse for one quarter only. Still, it reminds me of the soviet union's excuse that 40 years of bad crops was due to weather events. (But maybe that story about the Soviet Union is apocryphal.)

When Bushies blew a CIA cover, it was 'treason'; now, it's a mistake |

When Bushies blew a CIA cover, it was 'treason'; now, it's a mistake | "Valerie Plame doesn't deny that blowing the cover of the CIA station chief in Afghanistan is a serious matter. It's just that, discussing the issue at a Wednesday evening forum sponsored by The Atlantic, Plame seemed to view the outing of the CIA's top spy on the front lines in the Afghan war as more of an embarrassment than an outrage."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Case Against Reparations for Slavery | Hoover Institution

The Case Against Reparations for Slavery | Hoover Institution: " Ironically, much of his narrative assumes a libertarian premise, even though Coates’s politics are anything but. The central libertarian principle is that every individual has rights against the rest of the world, to whom he or she owes correlative duties. Most vividly, the fundamental obligations are these: refrain from the use or threat of force; refrain from the use of false words to achieve private advantage; and keep your promises to others, just as you expect them to keep their promises to you."

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day Celebration

I celebrated Memorial Day, in part, by watching this discussion between two economics titans. I thought I would share.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Instapundit: "THE GANG THAT CAN’T SHOOT STRAIGHT: White House PR Move Mistakenly “Outs” CIA Station Chief In Afghanistan.

So this is a lot worse than the Plame thing, right, where Richard Armitage outed a non-covert desk jockey and somehow Scooter Libby was punished. Can we expect the same degree of press attention? Note how the Post invokes the Plame story in the carefully-worded-to-mislead second paragraph, even while giving the White House the soft treatment here."

'via Blog this'

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Corner | National Review Online

The Corner | National Review Online: "It’s a shame graduation season is coming to an end, because I kind of like the idea of the absurdity multiplying even further. At this rate we are only months away from a protest over a campus speaker because he is a human being. After all, humans are responsible for all our problems, from global warming to Justin Bieber. Moreover, if you review the list of campus speakers there is virtually no diversity of life forms. I think Brown should invite Koko the gorilla. Of course, the trouble with Koko is that he is something of a sellout. He’s learned The Man’s sign language and he works for The Man’s wages albeit in the form of bananas and oranges. “We demand a simian that doesn’t suffer from false consciousness!” might be one line of complaint. Another might note that humans are simians too and we need to abandon this bipedal simian hegemony. Who will speak for the bacteria and fungi, life forms that wildly outnumber mere humans?"

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Always Hungry? Here’s Why -

Always Hungry? Here’s Why - "But such theories have been generally ignored, perhaps because they challenge entrenched cultural attitudes. The popular emphasis on calorie balance reinforces the belief that we have conscious control over our weight, and that obesity represents a personal failure because of ignorance or inadequate willpower."

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Reid His Lips | National Review Online

Reid His Lips | National Review Online: "Of course, that wouldn’t happen. Why? Because we expect dogs to be dogs. Not all dogs are heroes, of course. Not all dogs follow commands. Some dogs even do bad things, like attack little kids in the driveway. But these are exceptions to our expectations. Every day some dog somewhere protects a member of his family. Every day a dog does amazing things when asked. Every day millions of dogs do less-than-amazing things like sitting or fetching or rolling over."

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Leftists Don’t Care about Bad Economic News | National Review Online

Leftists Don’t Care about Bad Economic News | National Review Online: "Take economic indicators. Most conservatives talk and act as if bad economic news disturbs the Left as much as it disturbs them. It doesn’t. Almost everywhere the Left is in control — in California, for example — the economic news is awful. But this has no effect on the ruling Democrats, the Los Angeles Times editorial page, New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman, or others on the left."

'via Blog this'

Monday, May 12, 2014

Gas Prices Are Pinching Again, and You Can Thank U.S. Trade Policy For Some of the Pain | Cato @ Liberty

Gas Prices Are Pinching Again, and You Can Thank U.S. Trade Policy For Some of the Pain | Cato @ Liberty: "First, the Jones Act - a 94-year-old law that requires all domestic seaborne trade to be shipped on U.S.-crewed, -owned, flagged and manufactured vessels – prevents cost-effective intrastate shipping of crude oil or refined products.  According to Bloomberg, there are only 13 ships that can legally move oil between U.S. ports, and these ships are “booked solid.”  As a result, abundant oil supplies in the Gulf Coast region cannot be shipped to other U.S. states with spare refinery capacity.  And, even when such vessels are available, the Jones Act makes intrastate crude shipping artificially expensive.  According to a 2012 report by the Financial Times, shipping U.S. crude from Texas to Philadelphia cost more than three times as much as shipping the same product on a foreign-flagged vessel to a Canadian refinery, even though the latter route is longer."

'via Blog this'

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mormons Just Believe?

At a recent lunch where the topic of religion came up, my coworker made a joke about a religious believer "enjoying the sunshine of her blind faith." Similarly, the refrain from a song in the Book of Mormon musical says that "Mormons just believe" even as each point of doctrine recited in the song becomes more esoteric or absurd. Does religion require blind faith-- that is, belief without supporting evidence?

It dawned on me that religion may actually requires less faith of its adherents than most other belief systems. Religious people's moral beliefs are linked to certain factual events, e.g., the resurrection of Christ, Mohammad's revelations, Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Mormon. Believers can't independently verify these events occurred as reported, but they can review and evaluate the record and the credibility of the witnesses. Like jurors in a he-said she-said legal case, believers may never know for sure what really happened, but they can know enough to render an evidence-based verdict.

Mormonism lends itself particularly well to factual investigation. Besides Joseph Smith's say-so, we have a book that claims to be a record of the ancient Americas translated from golden plates, which can be evaluated. We also have numerous first- or second-hand accounts of many of the miracles from Mormonism's founding from corroborating witnesses. The three witnesses claimed to have had an angel show them the Book of Mormon.The eight witnesses claimed to have seen the golden plates, too. Oliver Cowdery was reportedly present when the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods were restored by angels. Sidney Rigdon was present for the restoration of the sealing power by Elijah and for the revelation in D&C 76. There are many, many ways to attack or bolster Mormonism's factual claims.

Of course, nonbelievers may reject a religion's factual underpinning. They may review the evidence and reject it--or more likely, reject it out of hand. But I don't think it's fair to say that religious people just believe. As Eugene Volokh points out in these posts, even nonreligious peoples' morality is based on a moral axiom that cannot be proved but requires belief. At least religious claims rest on factual assertions that can be evaluated, which is more than can be said for nonreligious belief systems.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Benghazi hearing puts Democrats in a tough spot - Yahoo News

Benghazi hearing puts Democrats in a tough spot - Yahoo News: "Democratic leaders have called the new committee “a political ploy,” a “stunt,” a “sham,” a “waste of taxpayer dollars” and, in the words of White House spokesman Jay Carney, “a blatantly political and partisan effort.” This week, two arms of the party, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, launched a coordinated messaging blitz to undermine the committee and cast Republicans as political opportunists who have established the select committee only because of their interest in raising money and exciting the GOP base before the 2014 midterm elections."

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Althouse: "I remember back then, how people would express outrage that people were reading Drudge. "He's not a journalist." The journalists had decided the story would not be told, and here is this man... who does he think he is? It's hard today to understand the notion that there was something wrong with writing on the internet without the certification of professional gatekeepers."

'via Blog this'

Friday, May 9, 2014

My Pizza Hut Review

Dear Pizza Hut:

Your customer service is horrible. Particularly your call staff. They are terrible. I suppose it's partially our fault for continuing to buy your product, even though we consistently receive poor customer service, but we live in a rural area and there are not that many pizza establishments that deliver. But truly, I don't understand why the delivery boy cannot ring the doorbell. His incompetence is only surpassed by the rudeness of your call center staff, who condescends to explain to me that it is my fault I did not answer my phone and that he could give me no discount (even though I had not asked for one) and I would have to wait another 30 minutes. It's almost like he was assigned to make me even madder than I already was. I went to McDonald's instead. I should have gone there from the beginning.

BYU's new president hailed as brilliant, kind, compassionate | Deseret News

BYU's new president hailed as brilliant, kind, compassionate | Deseret News: ""I'm not by nature a real hard worker," he said, so his father made him mow the lawn with a push mower and fill the stoker for the furnace with coal each winter night.

"As soon as I left home," he said, "I noticed we got a gas furnace and a power mower.""

'via Blog this'

Dean Worthen is a very kind man. I took 3 classes from him, not because I particularly cared about the classes, but because I liked him as a teacher.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Shaky Case against the Death Penalty | National Review Online

The Shaky Case against the Death Penalty | National Review Online: "2. “Some states . . . for the same crime [are] three times more likely to sentence an African-American defendant to death. I think that’s very, very troubling. . . . Race is an issue.”

This is simply false. In murder cases, whites are executed much more frequently. Nationally, from 1977, when the death penalty was reinstituted, to 2011, the last year for which the FBI has compiled data, 64.7 percent of those executed were whites, but whites committed only 47 percent of the murders. "

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Althouse: Federal district judge halts the John Doe investigation into conservative groups and the Scott Walker recall campaign.

Althouse: Federal district judge halts the John Doe investigation into conservative groups and the Scott Walker recall campaign.: "The current John Doe investigation has devastated O'Keefe's ability to undertake issue advocacy with WCFG. O’Keefe Dec., ¶ 40. O’Keefe lost most of his fundraising abilities for the Club immediately because: (1) it would be unethical to raise money without disclosing that he is a target in a criminal investigation; (2) it would be unwise for prospects to invest the time required for them to independently evaluate any risks; (3) the secrecy order purports to bar O’Keefe from disclosing the facts of the investigation and the reasons he believes that WCFG is not guilty of any crimes; and (4) O’Keefe cannot assure donors that their information will remain confidential as prosecutors have targeted that information directly. As a result, O’Keefe estimates that the Club has lost $2 million in fundraising that would have been committed to issue advocacy. Id., ¶ 49."

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A succinct example of how campaign finance laws hamper free political speech.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Autographed "Buckcherry" Strat

Autographed "Buckcherry" Strat: "Autographed "Buckcherry" Strat - $95 (Yamhill)"

'via Blog this'

Do the autographs make it more or less valuable?

Instapundit » Blog Archive » A DEFINITE LACK OF WORKPLACE DIVERSITY: Just 7 percent of journalists are Republicans. That’s far …

Instapundit » Blog Archive » A DEFINITE LACK OF WORKPLACE DIVERSITY: Just 7 percent of journalists are Republicans. That’s far …: "A DEFINITE LACK OF WORKPLACE DIVERSITY: Just 7 percent of journalists are Republicans. That’s far fewer than even a decade ago."

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Speech Coding | National Review Online

Speech Coding | National Review Online: "One other observation: When a justice embraces a principle in a case involving a speaker of one ideology, the justice is committing to apply that principle in cases involving speakers of other ideologies. Further, when a Court majority embraces such a principle, it is obligating lower courts to apply that principle to all speakers. Any good justice recognizes this, of course, and will test the proposed principle against his political biases in order to make sure that it is sound. So unless there is something about the principle that makes it more likely to be invoked by speakers of one ideology, or unless there is no discernible principle set forth, I don’t see why a justice would be tempted to decide a case based on the ideology of the particular litigant."

'via Blog this'

Russian government agency reveals fraudulent nature of the Crimean referendum results

Russian government agency reveals fraudulent nature of the Crimean referendum results: "The website of the “President of Russia’s Council on Civil Society and Human Rights” posted a blog that was quickly taken down as if it were toxic radioactive waste. According to the Council’s report about the March referendum to annex Crimea, the turnout was a maximum 30%. And of these, only half voted for annexation – meaning only 15 percent of Crimean citizens voted for annexation."

'via Blog this'

Monday, May 5, 2014

Benghazi Made Simple | National Review Online

Benghazi Made Simple | National Review Online: "On Wednesday, Jay Carney explained — as if he was talking to a room full of children — that the Benghazi e-mail the White House refused to release until the White House was forced to release its Benghazi e-mails wasn’t in fact about Benghazi, even though the e-mail talks about Benghazi. This is Monty Pythonesque of “Dead Parrot” proportions. That’s not a Benghazi e-mail, it’s just an e-mail about Benghazi, in a folder marked “Benghazi” e-mails, idiot."

'via Blog this'

The Corner | National Review Online

The Corner | National Review Online: "Massachusetts, cradle of Obamacare (and liberty), is shutting down its state-run health-insurance exchange, the second state to do so. Oregon dropped its state exchange, which never enrolled a single person electronically, a couple weeks ago, and decided to use the federal one, Massachusetts is planning to use an off-the-shelf product that other states have used, but is considering the federal exchange if it fails."

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Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge

Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge: "When I was working on my dissertation and I wanted to see Becker, I would go to his secretary (Myrna Hieke) and she would give me a 15 minute time slot. When the time came, I would sit down and he would greet me with something like “Well?” I would tell him whatever I was struggling with and he would tell me how I could fix it. Even in that casual setting, the laser-like quality of his mind was apparent. I usually didn’t use the whole 15 minutes."

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VodkaPundit » Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

VodkaPundit » Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day: "Sign-ups of the crucial 18-34-year-old cohort jumped from 25% in early March to 28% at the end of the enrollment period. That’s not a surprise given that young people are likely to be disporportionately represented among people who do things at the last minute. But the fact that over half of that age group chose their plan during the last month should worry ObamaCare supporters. People who are flakey enough to wait until the last minute are probably also flakey when it comes to paying premiums. Thus, that 28 percent number will decline and it will, of course, be no where near the 38 percent the Obama Administration says is needed to keep the risk pools stable. (FYI: The Kaiser Family Foundation says the low number of 18-34-year-olds doesn’t matter much. Seth Chandler says they are wrong.)"

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

General: Military should've tried to rescue Benghazi Americans

General: Military should've tried to rescue Benghazi Americans: "WASHINGTON — U.S. military personnel knew early on that the Benghazi attack was a "hostile action" and not a protest gone awry, according to a retired general who served at U.S. Africa Command's headquarters in Germany during the attack."

'via Blog this'

Combining Two Objections to The Method of Translating the Book of Mormon to Support its Authenticity

Critics level two criticism of the Book of Mormon that, when looked at separately, detract from its authenticity, but when viewed together support the conclusion that either (1) the Book of Mormon text was revealed to Joseph Smith to match the Bible text or (2) Joseph Smith had a brilliant memory and had memorized large portions of the Bible.

First, critics like to point out that Joseph Smith performed the translation of the Book of Mormon by using seer stones or "peep" stones, instead of, as most Mormons think, using the Urim and Thummim. Smith did use the Urim and Thummim on the lost 116 pages, but he pretty much exclusively used the sear stones to translate the remainder of the book. Most of the accounts say that Joseph Smith would put a stone in a hat, block out all light, and then dictate the translation with the plates resting on the table next to him.

There are two reasons the critics like to point out the translation method. First, it is different from what most Mormons think they know about the translation process. Second, the plates Joseph Smith was supposed to be translating do not seem to play much of a role in the translation process. Of course, Smith did not know Egyptian or Reformed Egyptian (the language of the plates) but claimed to translate by a type of revelation, so there's no reason to suppose that he needed to look at the plates to receive the revelation. Still, it is counter-intuitive that he would need to first receive the plates to translate them, but then ultimately not actively use them in the translation process.

Second, critics point out that large portions of the Book of Mormon are verbatim, or close to verbatim quotations from the King James version of the Bible. The Book of Mormon even quotes Bible passages that themselves contain translation errors. The objection here is that Joseph Smith is merely copying material instead of actually translating, and that if he was really translating by the power of God as opposed to copying, God would inspire him to correct the Bible errors.

Put these objections together, however, and I think they pose a real problem for the theory that Joseph Smith copied portions of the Bible to fill out the Book of Mormon. First, the testimony establishing that Joseph Smith translated using a hat also establishes that Smith had no way to conceal notes from the scribe who copied down his dictations.When Emma was specifically asked about the possibility that Joseph had concealed a manuscript, she said there was nowhere for him to have concealed it from her. Any notes in his hat would be difficult to impossible to read if the light was blocked out, and would have easily exposed the fraud when he had to rearrange them.  In contrast, if Joseph Smith was translating directly from the plates as concealed by a curtain as most Mormons visualize, it would have been much easier to conceal Bible passages or notes to help him fabricate the Book of Mormon text.

If Joseph Smith was using notes, those who served as his scribes, like Emma Smith and Oliver Cowdery, would have to know he was a fraud. However, Emma and Oliver give every indication that they were true believers in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Oliver also reaffirmed his testimony that the Book of Mormon was translated by the "gift and power of God," even after his falling out with Joseph Smith and defection from the church. Thus, unless Emma Smith and Oliver Cowdery were part of a conspiracy, the fact that Joseph Smith could dictate lengthy passages of the Bible without notes shows that he either had a terrific memory or those passages were revealed to him.