Shared posts

10 Nov 22:26

Barrett Brown Is Writing a Book Critical of the Justice Department. They are Making it Hard by Trying to Prevent Him Being Paid His Advance.

by Brian Doherty

Barrett Brown is currently out of prison and on probation after getting an over five year sentence for essentially linking online to hacked documents (and a supposed threat to an FBI agent that resulted during the investigation for the linking).

Brown tweeted today that the Department of Justice (DOJ), who are seeking to collect the nearly $900,000 in restitution he was found to owe Stratfor (the company whose hacked docs Brown linked to) is preventing him from getting any future money for a book he is working on for Farrar Straus & Giroux.

In an email from Brown's literary agency I've seen, publisher Farrar Straus & Giroux is reported to have said that they have been told by the DOJ to disburse no further money from the book to Brown without the government's permission.

The next installment on Brown's advance is due soon, though this demand has not yet technically prevented money from reaching Brown's hands. Brown says his own lawyers have not been able to tell him whether the DOJ has the power to hold such moneys owed him in limbo as long as they want with such a demand.

According to Brown, his restitution order mentions he should pay "not less than 10 percent" of his gross monthly income toward that restitution. It simultaneously says that stating such a limit that apparently satisfies his obligation "shall not affect the ability of the United States to immediately collect payment in full through garnishment" and a list of other legal means.

At this link, an infuriating phone conversation can be heard between Brown and Emily Shutt with the DOJ out of the Dallas U.S. Attorney's office. She upholds the general principle that they can do whatever they want when it comes to trying to squeeze money out of Brown.

That link also contains a copy of an "application for a writ of garnishment" sent to Barrett's literary agency, Writer's House, demanding money from them. That document says, for what it's worth, that the amount Brown has to pay "is limited to the lesser of (i) 25 percent of disposable income for a week; or (ii) the amount by which disposable earnings for a week exceed 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage." (How they calculate how book advance earnings should be measured against "a week" is unclear. Books are written over many months.)

Brown thinks it is not at all coincidental that his book is highly critical of the DOJ's actions in prosecuting him. (I reported back in April on how Brown was temporarily taken back into custody for talking to the press without explicit Bureau of Prisons permissions; that post contains a brief assessment with links of his entire tortured legal saga.)

Brown figures what makes his case perhaps unique to the DOJ is that in most other cases, the agency "isn't...trying to complicate publication of a major book that will provide new information on criminality from its office," said Brown in an email today.

As far as Brown knows, a similar insistence on garnishment or holds on his income has not gone to one of his other sources of income, D Magazine. "If this was really about getting restitution for Stratfor, they would have been put through this same process," Brown suggests. "But D Magazine is run by Wick Allison, the former National Review [publisher] who was the one to pay $10,000 to that NYC firm to get me out when I was arrested in April, so they're probably reluctant to expose themselves to that."

This move of the DOJ's indeed might have a chilling effect on his ability to express his criticism of them, he says.

"The great majority of my income comes from these staggered advances, and any other income I try to make would result in further subpoenas and writes of garnishment for whatever outlet I write for," he says. "Even if I got a job at a burger joint, that money would likewise be denied to me indefinitely via this same process. I'll be out of money in a month. It's difficult to write a book under those circumstances, and it's difficult to get further work when the DOJ can force any employer to spend a great deal of time responding to subpoenas and ignoring further requests for direction."

He's unhappy but not surprised: "But given that they had me arrested without charges for giving an interview to Vice back in April, and only let me out when one of my other publishers hired a major law firm to threaten to take it to a judge and demand cause, these people know that they can get away with these things without prompting the degree of press coverage necessary to force them to stop their harassment campaign. This is the price we pay when we aggressively pursue corruption in law enforcement and intelligence; these people know they're immune to consequences."

Detailed background on Brown's legal travails can be found at the Free Barrett Brown website. The founder of that website is involved in an ongoing lawsuit against a U.S. Attorney for seeking via subpoena private information on everyone donating to his legal defense fund, claiming that demand violated both the First Amendment and Stored Communications Act.

10 Nov 20:05

Quotation of the day on ignorance vs. stupidity…. - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Quotation of the day on ignorance vs. stupidity….

…. is from George Mason University economics professor Walter E. Williams writing in his latest weekly syndicated column “Ignorance versus Stupidity“:

The fact that we have gross ignorance about how the world operates is ignored by the know-it-all elites who seek to control our lives. Let’s look at a few examples of the world’s complexity.

According to some estimates, there are roughly 100 million traffic signals in the U.S. How many of us would like the U.S. Congress, in the name of public health and safety, to be in charge of their actual operation? Congress or a committee it authorizes would determine the length of time traffic lights stay red, yellow and green and what hours of the day and at what intersections lights flash red or yellow. One can only imagine the mess Congress would create in the 40,000 cities, towns and other incorporated places in the U.S. But managing traffic lights and getting good results is a far less complex task than managing the nation’s health care system and getting good results, which Congress tries to do.

The bottom line is that each of us is grossly ignorant about the world in which we live. Nothing’s wrong with that ignorance, but we are stupid if we believe that a politician can produce a better life than that which is obtained through peaceable, voluntary exchange with our fellow man anywhere on earth.

Quotation of the day on ignorance vs. stupidity….
Mark Perry

10 Nov 19:37

HMM: 19 Reasons This “Survival” Story Smells Fishy. Those two are named Jennifer Appel and Tasha …

by Stephen Green

HMM: 19 Reasons This “Survival” Story Smells Fishy.

Those two are named Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, and their story has been everywhere recently. Here’s their account of what happened, in brief:

They set off from Hawaii in May of this year, bound for Tahiti. They were caught in a storm that both ruined their engine and rendered their mast and sails useless. They were unable to contact help. They drifted for five months, living off of dry food and a handheld watermaker (takes the salt out of seawater so you can drink it) until they were rescued by a fishing boat and, eventually, the Navy.

Now here’s how much of their story makes sense:

They left Hawaii in May. They were rescued five months later by the Navy.

That’s it. That’s the only portion of their story that has even a shred of credibility to it. Now, I’m not going to speculate as to their motives yet, but I will point out that the world of open-water sailing is an obscure one to most people. I am one of a small minority to have spent a lot of time sailing on the open ocean, out of sight of land for months at a time. So I don’t blame journalists for not catching these things at first sight. But that’s why I’m here to explain them to you.

They did appear awfully healthy in the rescue pictures, but I attributed that to the amount of food they claimed to have had on board.

09 Nov 21:01

SHOT: The resistance to Trump is blossoming – and building a movement to last. CHASER: Liter…

by Stephen Green

SHOT: The resistance to Trump is blossoming – and building a movement to last.

CHASER:

Literally wiping the tears from my eyes. This is so funny. OMG. #WailingWankers pic.twitter.com/tApBJKYv7q

— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) November 9, 2017

HANGOVER:

On a long enough timeline, every Simpsons gag becomes reality.

08 Nov 19:12

FASTER, PLEASE: Scientists rejuvenate old human cells, make them look and act younger. Interesting…

by Glenn Reynolds

FASTER, PLEASE: Scientists rejuvenate old human cells, make them look and act younger. Interesting that they’re using resveratrol analogs.

07 Nov 14:59

Quotation of the day on how protectionists are either sad or despicable figures…. - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Quotation of the day on how protectionists are either sad or despicable figures….

…. is from Don Boudreaux writing at Cafe Hayek:

The economic case for protectionism is deeply illogical: a country’s people cannot all be enriched by policies that decrease the availability of goods and services, including that of inputs to production. The protectionist is either a sad or a despicable figure. He’s a sad figure if he truly believes that people generally are enriched by any government policy that obstructs their access to goods and services. It’s sad that anyone clings to such illogic. The protectionist is a despicable figure if, while himself knowing better, he uses this logical fallacy to dupe others into supporting a policy that enriches him at their expense. It’s my experience that the ranks of protectionists are well-manned with both sorts, the sad and the despicable.

Quotation of the day on how protectionists are either sad or despicable figures….
Mark Perry

06 Nov 22:42

MORE BAD NEWS FOR PROTON PUMP INHIBITORS: Common heartburn meds show ties to kidney trouble. “The …

by Glenn Reynolds

MORE BAD NEWS FOR PROTON PUMP INHIBITORS: Common heartburn meds show ties to kidney trouble. “The study couldn’t prove cause-and-effect — it’s possible that folks who need these heartburn medicines are simply more prone to kidney disease for other reasons. But the review of data did show a link.”

06 Nov 20:04

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Why Haven’t You Left School? Restless and anxious as a student…

by Glenn Reynolds

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Why Haven’t You Left School?

Restless and anxious as a student of the No Child Left Behind-era in public schools, I wondered why we were spending so much time sitting in assemblies about the PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) tests and how to properly answer multiple-choice questions when that had no bearing on what I wanted to learn about. Why were we focusing on some ridiculous state-enforced standards that the teachers themselves admitted were totally arbitrary? Why did we take several weeks per year to do these exams? Why were the classes I enjoyed getting cut back for the ones that were enforced through testing regimens? High school became little more than jumping through hoops for state administrators.

School took me away from the learning I wanted to engage in and made me focus on things I didn’t want. I loved learning; I just hated school.

That was pretty much the Insta-Daughter’s story. The first semester of high school she tracked how they used her time and found that shockingly little of it — like 2-3 hours a day — was on actual learning. The rest was busywork, assemblies, etc. That’s why she quit and went to online (Kaplan) high school, graduating early at 16 after taking far more AP courses than her allegedly fancy public high school offered.

And this on college seems dead-on, too:

Universities and colleges weren’t causes of aristocracy and wealth; they were products of aristocracy and wealth. Aristocrats didn’t send their children to universities to make sure they got the tools necessary to stay aristocrats — they sent them because it was essentially several years of leisure and only the most well-off could afford such a lifestyle.

The university was never intended to train people for high-wage jobs or to lift them up the economic ladder. At best it was an institution to train the clergy in the Middle Ages and then academics in the industrial age. This is why liberal-arts schools place such heavy emphasis on academic subjects — they were designed to create professors.

As global wealth increased through the Industrial Revolution, aristocrats who were already comfortable in their wealth had two options for their children who were coming of age: A) send them to work, or B) give them some leisure among their same class. The university evolved into an institution to help young aristocratic men to transition into adulthood by moving away from home and studying subjects only the most well-off had the leisure to study. The backgrounds of elite American universities make this obvious. Princeton has “eating clubs”; Penn has “the Philomathean society”; and Yale’s secret society culture is a relic of this era.

This isn’t a conspiracy. It’s simply saying that the universities were never intended or designed for the use to which Americans of the mid-20th century put them.

Yep. Read the entire essay, which is excellent.

02 Nov 13:32

Bonus Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux
(Don Boudreaux)

Tweet

… is the opening of Deirdre McCloskey’s new paper “Populism Is Zero Sum Under Majority Rule”:

Populism revives the ancient ideology of zero sum for an age of majority rule.  [Classical] Liberalism, by contrast, is a recent ideology of positive sum, with rights for minority groups, which often generate the positive sum.

DBx: I can’t decide which is more ludicrous: Sandersnistas and other “Progressives” embracing mercantilist doctrines as if these are the results of cutting-edge and egalitarian thinking, or conservatives embracing mercantilist doctrines as if these are key to restoring national greatness.

01 Nov 20:53

MARC THIESSEN: Clinton’s link to Putin is the underreported ‘dossier’ bombshell. The news …

by Glenn Reynolds

MARC THIESSEN: Clinton’s link to Putin is the underreported ‘dossier’ bombshell.

The news that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for research used in the discredited Trump-Russia “dossier” is a bombshell. But even more shocking — and overlooked — is the revelation that the firm the Clinton campaign hired to compile that dossier, Fusion GPS, is the same firm that has been accused in recent congressional testimony of launching a smear campaign in Washington against Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer who was tortured and killed in a Russian prison in 2009 after uncovering a $230 million tax theft by 23 Kremlin-linked companies and individuals close to President Vladimir Putin.

Which raises the question no one seems to be asking: Why was Hillary Clinton using an opposition research company with Putin-linked clients to dig up dirt on Donald Trump?

Weird that no one is asking that.

30 Oct 12:11

Q: What nation on Earth has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other? - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Q: What nation on Earth has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other?

Inconvenient Answer: According to climatologist Dr. Patrick Michaels, it’s “the good old USA, and that’s because we’ve been substituting natural gas for coal for power generation” as can be seen in the top chart above, which shows that CO2 emissions from electric power generation in the US last year were the lowest in 28 years, going all the way back to 1988. How often is that reported in the media?

Update: Bottom chart above shows total US CO2 emissions, which were the lowest during the January-June period this year since 1992, 25 years ago.

In the video below, Dr. Patrick Michaels, director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute and author of the book Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything, offers a current assessment of the political debate over climate change. He explains how the free market is allowing natural gas to be substituted for coal  worldwide at a rate that will achieve a lower level of global warming than would occur with strict adherence to the regulations of the Paris Accords.

Q: What nation on Earth has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other?
Mark Perry

25 Oct 16:16

DRAGNET: DOJ Subpoenas Twitter About Popehat, Dissent Doe And Others Over A Smiley Emoji Tweet. I…

by Stephen Green

DRAGNET: DOJ Subpoenas Twitter About Popehat, Dissent Doe And Others Over A Smiley Emoji Tweet.

It’s a subpoena asking for information on the following five Twitter users: @dawg8u (“Mike Honcho”), @abtnatural (“Virgil”), @Popehat (Ken White), @associatesmind (Keith Lee) and @PogoWasRight (Dissent Doe). I’m pretty sure we’ve talked about three of those five in previous Techdirt posts. Either way, they’re folks who are quite active in legal/privacy issues on Twitter.

And what info does the DOJ want on them? Well, basically everything:

1. Names (including subscriber names, user names, and screen names);

2. Addresses (including mailing addresses, residential addresses, business addresses, and e-mail addresses);

3. Records of session times and durations, and the temporarily assigned network addresses (such as Internet Protocol (“IP”) addresses) associated with those sessions;

4. Length of service (including start date) and types of service utilized;

5. Telephone or instrument numbers (including MAC addresses, Electronic Serial Numbers (“ESN”), Mobile Electronic Identity Numbers (“MEIN”), Mobile Equipment Identifier (“MEID”), Mobile Identification Numbers (“MIN”), Subscriber Identity Modules (“SIM”), Mobile Subscriber Integrated Services Digital Network Numbers (“MSISDND”), International Mobile Subscriber Identifier (“IMSI”), or International Mobile Equipment Identities (“IMEI”));

6. Other subscriber numbers or identities, or associated accounts (including the registration Internet Protocol (“IP”) address);

7. Means and source of payment for such service (including any credit card or bank account number) and billing records.

That’s a fair bit of information. Why the hell would the DOJ want all that? Would you believe it appears to be over a single tweet from someone to each of those five individuals that consists entirely of a smiley face? I wish I was kidding.

Read the whole thing.

23 Oct 18:23

Ready for some mind-blowing illusions? - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Ready for some mind-blowing illusions?

Pretty amazing illusion above, it got second prize in the 2017 Best Illusion of the Year Contest sponsored annually by the Neural Correlate Society. See the rest of the top ten 2017 finalists here (and finalists from previous years back to 2005). Here’s another pretty amazing illusion and here’s the 2009 first prize winner, (“The Break of the Curveball”), which has the greatest number of votes for Top Rated Illusions.

It’s been a number of years since I’ve featured any illusions on CD, see some previous posts here, here and here.

Ready for some mind-blowing illusions?
Mark Perry

19 Oct 16:31

SCIENCE: A Nine-Year Collaboration Has Just Shown How Sugar Exacerbates Cancer….

by Glenn Reynolds
16 Oct 16:15

Pierre Lemieux on trade and protectionism - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Pierre Lemieux on trade and protectionism

Canadian economist Pierre Lemieux (Department of Management Sciences of the Université du Québec en Outaouais) wrote a couple of guest posts recently for EconLog on international trade and protectionism. Here are a few excerpts from those posts:

From Pierre’s first post: “You Can’t Benefit from Free Trade if You Don’t Have a Job. Right?

The important point is that free trade benefits consumers more than its competitive pressure harms producers. Economic theory provides a nice geometric demonstration of the proposition that the total cost of protectionism for consumers is higher that its total benefits to producers. The demonstration can be (imperfectly) explained in plain English: if free trade harmed producers more than it benefits consumers, the former could outcompete their foreign competitors by bribing domestic consumers with better prices and still gain compared to ceding the market to foreign producers – and protectionism would not be necessary. When domestic producers are unable to compensate consumers for not patronizing foreign suppliers, it means that free trade benefits consumers more than it harms producers.

From Pierre’s second post “A Protectionist Utopia?

That free international trade benefits most people, that it increases general prosperity, can be grasped with a reductio ad absurdum. If protectionism were good between countries, it would also be good between states, regions, towns, etc. It would be worth protecting California against Mississippi, if only because wages are 39% lower in Mississippi than in California. “If it could save only one job…” is as bad an argument against international competition as against domestic competition. Protectionist measures do favor some individuals, but it is at the high cost of reducing opportunities for most individuals. And even those who seem to benefit from protectionism, or their children, are likely to lose out in the long run.

Note: Pierre has a forthcoming book addressing common objections to free trade that will be published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

(ht/Jon Murphy)

Pierre Lemieux on trade and protectionism
Mark Perry

13 Oct 19:24

THERE’S MY SHOCKED FACE AGAIN:  The Numbers Are in: Social Security Robs the Working Poor….

by Sarah Hoyt
12 Oct 15:38

SHAMEFUL: How NBC ‘Killed’ Ronan Farrow’s Weinstein Exposé. Addressing a controversy that …

by Stephen Green

SHAMEFUL: How NBC ‘Killed’ Ronan Farrow’s Weinstein Exposé.

Addressing a controversy that has been percolating for the past several days in the media ecosystem since The New York Times published its own Weinstein exposé—including questions about whether NBC executives caved to the well-connected Weinstein and his formidable lawyers, Charles Harder, Lisa Bloom, and David Boies—Maddow brought it to a boiling point by telling Farrow: “NBC says that the story wasn’t publishable, that it wasn’t ready to go at the time that you brought it to them.”

Farrow fired back: “I walked into the door at The New Yorker with an explosively reportable piece that should have been public earlier. And immediately, obviously, The New Yorker recognized that. And it is not accurate to say that it was not reportable. In fact, there were multiple determinations that it was reportable at NBC.”

Farrow’s blunt claim highlighted an uncomfortable debate among NBC News insiders, and beyond, concerning the quality and status of his investigative reporting and the reasons why a respected television network would kill a sensational scoop about a famous, influential, politically wired, and undeniably newsworthy figure like Harvey Weinstein.

Rumors about the iconic producer’s alleged misconduct with women have fueled journalistic curiosity for decades. But the 65-year-old Weinstein somehow managed to keep his alleged misdeeds from public exposure—until now.

“Somehow.”

11 Oct 18:36

'Might Not Even Remember What Happened Yesterday'....


'Might Not Even Remember What Happened Yesterday'....


(Top headline, 3rd story, link)


09 Oct 14:30

THOMAS CHATTERTON WILLIAMS IN THE NEW YORK TIMES: How Ta-Nehisi Coates Gives Whiteness Power. I h…

by Glenn Reynolds

THOMAS CHATTERTON WILLIAMS IN THE NEW YORK TIMES: How Ta-Nehisi Coates Gives Whiteness Power.

I have spent the past six months poring over the literature of European and American white nationalism, in the process interviewing noxious identitarians like the alt-right founder Richard Spencer. The most shocking aspect of Mr. Coates’s wording here is the extent to which it mirrors ideas of race — specifically the specialness of whiteness — that white supremacist thinkers cherish.

This, more than anything, is what is so unsettling about Mr. Coates’s recent writing and the tenor of the leftist “woke” discourse he epitomizes. Though it is not at all morally equivalent, it is nonetheless in sync with the toxic premises of white supremacism. Both sides eagerly reduce people to abstract color categories, all the while feeding off of and legitimizing each other, while those of us searching for gray areas and common ground get devoured twice. Both sides mystify racial identity, interpreting it as something fixed, determinative and almost supernatural. For Mr. Coates, whiteness is a “talisman,” an “amulet” of “eldritch energies” that explains all injustice; for the abysmal early-20th-century Italian fascist and racist icon Julius Evola, it was a “meta-biological force,” a collective mind-spirit that justifies all inequality. In either case, whites are preordained to walk that special path. It is a dangerous vision of life we should refuse no matter who is doing the conjuring.

This summer, I spent an hour on the phone with Richard Spencer. It was an exchange that left me feeling physically sickened. Toward the end of the interview, he said one thing that I still think about often. He referred to the all-encompassing sense of white power so many liberals now also attribute to whiteness as a profound opportunity. “This is the photographic negative of a white supremacist,” he told me gleefully. “This is why I’m actually very confident, because maybe those leftists will be the easiest ones to flip.”

If you divide America along racial/ethnic lines, eventually the largest racial/ethnic group will start to think of itself as a racial/ethnic group and act accordingly. But in the meantime, it’s a good living for Coates, and I guess an okay one for Spencer.

And if you want more Trump, well, Coates will help you get more Trump, and a lot more effectively than Spencer ever has. Right after the election, John Podhoretz tweeted, “Liberals spent 40 years disaggregating [the] U.S., until finally the largest cohort in the country chose to vote as though it were an ethnic group.” That’s where “whiteness”-as-original-sin gets you. But hey, like I said, it’s a good living for some people.

09 Oct 13:26

DEMOCRACY DIES IN DARKNESS: The New York Times Reportedly Killed a Story On Weinstein’s Sexual Mi…

by Glenn Reynolds

DEMOCRACY DIES IN DARKNESS: The New York Times Reportedly Killed a Story On Weinstein’s Sexual Misconduct in 2004. “Ironically, a follow-up piece on Weinstein’s misconduct ran in the Times last week decrying the Hollywood celebrity’s ‘media enablers’ — which, based on Waxman’s piece, included the Times until just last week.”

As IowaHawk says, journalism is about covering stories. With a pillow. Until they stop moving.

06 Oct 16:41

AN ABSOLUTE DISGRACE: IRS awards multimillion-dollar no-bid fraud-prevention contract to Equifax….

by Glenn Reynolds
Jts5665

Hysterical

06 Oct 15:18

JOHN RINGO: A Theory On Las Vegas….

by Glenn Reynolds
05 Oct 15:41

Elite athletic talent is a scarce resource and it must be rationed, either ‘over the table’ or ‘under the table’ - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Elite athletic talent is a scarce resource and it must be rationed, either ‘over the table’ or ‘under the table’

From the Sports Illustrated article “Entire Notion of NCAA ‘Amateurism’ May Be on the Line in FBI’s Corruption Case“:

If the NCAA had adopted a system where players were compensated for their labor and compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness, perhaps all or some of these “under the table” payments would not have occurred. We’ll never know. But some will ask.

The Sports Economist comments:

Therein lies the problem.  Football and men’s basketball generate mountains of cash that run entire athletic departments (i.e., support the livelihoods of numerous people), but the athletes are effectively not compensated anywhere near the amount generated by their programs. Yes, they get grants in aid (scholarships) which are incredibly valuable to some players. But they can have no value whatsoever to some players, particularly those with a future in an elite pro sport league.

In college basketball, one 5-star recruit can be the difference between a run in the NCAA tournament and not making the tournament at all. Talk about a valuable resource.

Elite athletic talent is a scarce resource and it must be rationed.  It’s not a question of “does it need to be rationed?”, it’s a question of how. If it’s not rationed through a simple and efficient price system (i.e., by paying players some kind of salary more or less in line with their worth to their respective school – paying them “over the table,” as it were), then some other rationing system must be used. One of the alternatives is payment “under the table”: i.e., corruption.

Elite athletic talent is a scarce resource and it must be rationed, either ‘over the table’ or ‘under the table’
Mark Perry

04 Oct 21:40

THE MADNESS OF SAINT WOODROW: Or, What If the United States Had Stayed out of the Great War?…

by Ed Driscoll
12 Sep 16:10

Happy 137th Birthday to the ‘Sage of Baltimore’ — H.L. Mencken - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Happy 137th Birthday to the ‘Sage of Baltimore’ — H.L. Mencken

mencken

Tomorrow (September 12) is H.L. Mencken’s birthday. The “Sage of Baltimore” (pictured above) was born in 1880 and is regarded by many as one of the most influential American journalists, essayists and writers of the early 20th century. To recognize the great political writer on his birthday, here are 12 of my favorite Mencken quotes:

1. Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

2. A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.

3. A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.

4. Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.

5. Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.

6. Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.

7. Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

8. Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

9. If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.

10. For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

11. The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

12. As democracy is perfected, the office of the president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

You can find more great Mencken quotes here.

Happy 137th Birthday to the ‘Sage of Baltimore’ — H.L. Mencken
Mark Perry

11 Sep 16:14

Photo of the day: If only there were some market mechanism to discourage this type of over-buying…. - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Photo of the day: If only there were some market mechanism to discourage this type of over-buying….

The photo above from a Tampa Walmart was originally posted on Reddit with the caption “I need it for my family.” It was re-posted on Reddit’s Libertarian website with the caption “If only there was some mechanism to discourage over-buying while simultaneously encouraging extra production and availability during a disaster.” When I posted the photo on Twitter, the best comment I got was “This lady loves anti-price-gouging laws.”

Photo of the day: If only there were some market mechanism to discourage this type of over-buying….
Mark Perry

01 Sep 13:29

A challenge for supporters of anti-price-gouging laws: when does a ‘fair’ legal price become ‘illegal gouging’ - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
A challenge for supporters of anti-price-gouging laws: when does a ‘fair’ legal price become ‘illegal gouging’

Those who oppose anti-price-gouging laws argue that market prices should prevail both before and after a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey because those market prices will do a better job of allocating scarce resources than artificially-low, government mandated prices. There is no obligation for those opposing price-ceiling laws to personally suggest what the prices will be, since impersonal market forces will determine prices, which will dynamically change and adjust constantly to the changing market condition.

But it seems like there is an obligation for those who support anti-price-gouging laws to explain to us when a price goes from being an “acceptable” price to being an illegal price that “gouges” the public and motivates legal prosecution of the “price gouging” business or individual. According to Texas law, a business or individual is guilty of “price gouging” when the price is “excessive or exorbitant.” Of course, I guess the Texas Attorney General is the “decider” about when a price “gouges” but what advice would supporters of anti-price-gouging laws give to the attorney general?

Let’s use the actual example of John Shepperson of Kentucky, who in 2005 took time away from his normal job to buy 19 generators, rent a U-Haul truck, and drive it 600 miles to the Katrina-damaged area of Mississippi. John offered to sell his generators at twice the price he paid, to help cover his costs and make a profit. Instead his generators were confiscated, Shepperson was arrested for price gouging, held by police for four days, and the generators kept in police custody. They never made it to consumers with urgent needs who desperately wanted to buy them.

Let’s assume that John Shepperson paid $500 at his local Home Depot for each generator. He had to pay $9,500 upfront (or charge that amount on a credit card), rent the U-Haul, drive 600 miles, find a place to stay while traveling, etc.

Q: Since charging $1,000 per generator was considered to be “price gouging” by the local authorities in Mississippi, what price would have been acceptable to those authorities and to supporters of anti-price-gouging laws? $600, even though that might not have covered all of John’s costs and expenses? $700? $800?

Further, John Shepperson invested a lot of money and took a lot of risks in his entrepreneurial venture, so that should be carefully considered. For example, what if he drove to Mississippi and found out that he wasn’t able to sell all 19 generators, either because there wasn’t enough demand, or he wasn’t able to access all of the willing customers for generators because the roads were impassable due to flooding, etc. What if ten other entrepreneurs got to the affected areas and satisfied all of the demand for generators, leaving John with no customers. Or what if the competition among sellers was so intense that the market price for generators was only $600 and John was barely able to even cover all of his costs?

So who decides what price John Shepperson would have been allowed to charge for generators, and what specifically is that decision based on?

Bottom Line: While it’s easy for “armchair observers” to criticize price-gougers entrepreneurs like John Shepperson for “price gouging,” it’s much more difficult for those who are “long on indignation and short on economics” to convincingly explain to us when a “fair” legal price crosses some arbitrary, squishy, fuzzy line and becomes illegal “gouging.” Are there any supporters of price gouging laws who are up to the challenge? Apply your analysis to John Shepperson, and tell us the maximum legal price he should have been allowed to charge before he was guilty of “gouging.” Explain your analysis in detail.

Prediction: Nobody can successfully and convincingly meet the challenge.

A challenge for supporters of anti-price-gouging laws: when does a ‘fair’ legal price become ‘illegal gouging’
Mark Perry

28 Apr 17:58

Barrett Brown Re-Arrested For Giving Media Interviews Without Permission

by Mike Masnick

The weird, sickening persecution of Barrett Brown continues. Whether or not you like the guy (and every time we post about him, we hear from people who provide reasons why they dislike him), the way he's been treated by our justice system is despicable. If you don't recall, Brown is an award winning journalist, who certainly went deep with Anonymous and other online groups. Eventually that resulted in him being arrested and harassed by prosecutors for sharing a link. When the infamous Stratfor hacks were released, he shared a link to the files to get people to sift through them. Because some of the files included swiped credit card numbers, he was charged with "trafficking" in stolen credit cards. Oddly, right before trial -- realizing how insane it was to charge him over this -- the feds dropped the charges around linking, but pushed forward on other charges because he hid a laptop in a cabinet and (stupidly...) got angry at the FBI when they came to investigate. The odd part is that following a plea deal, the judge sentenced him to an astounding 63 months in jail -- and cited the sharing of the link (again, those charges were dropped, but it sometimes appeared the judge didn't realize that) to explain why.

But the odder part throughout all of this was just how vindictive and petty everyone in the system were towards Brown -- and specifically towards his interactions with the press. The feds sought to stop the media from reporting on Brown's case and got a judge to block Brown or his lawyers from talking to the media. And once he was in prison, the feds cut off his email.

All this weird petty shit, just to stop him from talking to the media.

Late last year, he was released from prison (earlier than expected) and has been complying with all the terms of his release... except, apparently, officials disagreed with that... because he was conducting interview with the media, according to D Magazine, where Brown has been working since his release. The Intercept, which employed Brown as a columnist while he was in prison, has more details, claiming that his check-in officer suddenly claimed that he needed permission before he could conduct media interviews -- something he had not been told at all.

According to his mother, who spoke with Brown by phone after his arrest, Brown believes the reason for his re-arrest was a failure to obtain “permission” to give interviews to media organizations. Several weeks ago, Brown was told by his check-in officer that he needed to fill out permission forms before giving interviews.

Since his release, Brown has given numerous interviews, on camera and by phone. But according to his mother, Brown said that the Bureau of Prisons never informed him about a paperwork requirement. When he followed up with his check-in officer, he was given a different form: a liability form for media entering prisons.

Just last week, Brown was interviewed for two days by VICE, and his PBS interview was set for Friday.

Leiderman said he had not been presented with a formal justification for the arrest but was told that it had “to do with failing to abide by BOP restrictions on interviews.”

That's both astounding and frightening at the same time, and seems like a fairly blatant kick in the face to the First Amendment. There appears to be no other reason for his arrest other than his speech in the form of conducting media interviews (often critical of criminal justice system). Nothing about this makes sense, other than out of pure vindictiveness. And, of course, if the idea was to shut him up about this, it seems quite likely to backfire massively. Not only will Brown continue to be able to talk about on this, but it's drawing much more attention to the issue from many others in the press, wondering what kind of world we live in when you can be arrested for agreeing to do media interviews.



Permalink | Comments | Email This Story
13 Mar 18:51

Pro trolls are the majority

by noreply@blogger.com (VD)
This is why I don't hesitate to nuke commenters who show even modest signs of possibly being hasbara, or, in the vernacular, paid trolls:
A majority of online and social media defenders of Obamacare are professionals who are "paid to post," according to a digital expert.

"Sixty percent of all the posts were made from 100 profiles, posting between the hours of 9 and 5 Pacific Time," said Michael Brown. "They were paid to post."

He began investigating it after his criticism of the former president's health insurance program posted on the Obamacare Facebook page. He was hit hard by digital activists pretending to be regular people. She reports that he evaluated 226,000 pro-Obamacare posts made by 40,000 Facebook profiles.

"Digital activists are paid employees; their purpose is to attack anyone who's posting something contrary to the view of the page owner wants expressed," he told Attkisson. "Sixty percent of all the posts were made from 100 profiles, posting between the hours of 9 and 5 Pacific Time."
Translation: a paid troll will produce 1,356 comments on a single subject. One reason why we don't see very much of that nonsense here is because the moderators and I operate on the principle that it is better to take out an honest critic than to permit a troll to comment freely.

Posted by Vox Day.
13 Mar 18:50

News is Conspiracy Theory +15

by noreply@blogger.com (VD)
Spacebunny joked yesterday that she was old enough to remember when Echelon was conspiracy theory. It has now become readily apparent that what used to be derided as "conspiracy theory" is nothing more than the news, 15 years early. Consider a few historical references from this blog.

The Patriot Act and the IAO are constitutional abominations. The War on Terror is being used exactly in the same way that the War on Drugs has been used for decades - to provide the federal government with the ability to infringe upon the liberty of the American people. Your house can get stormed with a no-knock raid if an anonymous telephone call accuses you of the wrong sort of botany project, and soon the same thing will be the case if you happen to visit the wrong web sites or use dangerous terminology in your emails. Echelon is still out there transcribing American faxes, emails and telephone calls, after all.
- October 22, 2003

The US government sees fit to eavesdrop on everyone inside and outside the United States with its Echelon system, but unlike a parent trying to raise a child, that level of oversight is necessary. Terrorists, don't you know. Why, without it, we wouldn't have caught bin Laden and prevented the 9/11 attacks....
- December 10, 2004

Arrived too late, the act has been done.
The wind was against them, letters intercepted on their way.
The conspirators were nine of a party.
By Caesar the Younger shall these enterprises be undertaken.

Echelon and the Bush administration's spying on Americans will be defended by the Supreme Court, should it ever get that far. Most likely, they'll do so by refusing to hear a challenge against it.
- January 3, 2006

CIALeaks proves, once and for all, that Edward Snowden is one of the greatest heroes in American history. One hopes that the God-Emperor will recognize this and offer him a pardon; it is the CIA that is far more of an enemy to the President and the American people than the Russians these days.

Even better, President Trump should appoint Snowden to be the head of the NSA and charge him with turning it into a government agency that is entirely compatible with the U.S. Constitution and rule by the people. #SnowdenForNSA




Posted by Vox Day.