December 21, 2008

This Site is Not the Ace of Spades Site
— Ace

This is actually just a work-in-progress site.  It's half-done.  Right now it's not used, except as an emergency back-up when the main site goes down.

The actual site is at http://www.ace.mu.nu, or aceofspadeshq.com, which will redirect there.

If you're not seeing pictures on this site, it's because it's not really working yet.

If you've posted comments and no one seems to respond -- that's because most users can't see them.  Comments from the real site get posted here, but comments from here don't show up on the real site.

Basically, you should come to the real site.  It looks a little crappy right now and it breaks down a lot, but this one isn't quite ready yet.

Sorry.. should have put up this notice long ago.

Note from Pixy: Posts and comments automatically sync from the old site to this new site within 60 seconds, but some authors aren't set up on the new site, and will show up as Open Blogger.  We'll get those sorted out soon.

Posted by: Ace at 01:01 AM | Comments (1411)
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April 23, 2014

Overnight Open Thread (4-23-2014)
— Maetenloch

Because I'm kinda tired and sick tonight. And because sometimes words suck.

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Elizabeth Warren's New Book Rehashes Her Past Vague Claims About Her Alleged Native American Ethnicity, But Fails to Address Any of the Important Questions Asked of Her
— Ace

Good recap at US News & World report.

First, what’s perhaps most notable about Warren’s book is that she even includes a section called “Native American,” in which she reportedly writes, “Everyone on our mother’s side — aunts, uncles, and grandparents — talked openly about their Native American ancestry. My brothers and I grew up on stories about our grandfather building one-room schoolhouses and about our grandparents’ courtship and their early lives together in Indian Territory.”

This is ironic because, until the Boston Herald first broke the news in April 2012 that Harvard Law School had repeatedly promoted Warren as a Native American faculty member, Warren never once mentioned these stories of her upbringing in a single press interview, speech, class lecture or testimony at any point, ever, in her decades-long career. What's more, Warren was not listed as a minority on her transcript from George Washington University where she began her undergraduate education, nor did she list herself as a minority when applying to Rutgers University Law School in 1973.

In fact, it was not until she was in her 30s and focused on climbing the highly competitive ladder of law school academia that Warren apparently rediscovered her Native American heritage. It’s important to note that entrance and advancement in the law school profession is governed by the Association of American Law Schools, which requires registrants interested in teaching at law schools to fill out a questionnaire detailing their education, experience, bar passage and, yes, ethnicity. This information is then disseminated to law schools around the country that, as Warren surely knew, are always on the lookout to add to the diversity of their faculty.

A copy of Warren's questionnaire currently resides in the Association of American Law Schools archives at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. However, only Warren herself has the authority to release the complete copy of her questionnaire and to date, she has refused to do so.

Her opposition to such transparency can perhaps be understood in the documented fact that in the years thereafter, starting in 1986, Warren began self-reporting herself as a "minority professor" in the Association of American Law Schools staff directory that lists all law school professors around the country. As the former association chairman told the Boston Herald, the directory once served a tip sheet for law school administrators, in the pre-Internet days, who were looking to identify and recruit minority professors.

Remarkably, Warren's explanation to the Boston Herald was that she listed herself as a minority in the hopes that she would be invited to a luncheon so she could meet "people who are like I am" and she stopped checking the box when that didn't happen. Perhaps it "didn't happen" because at no point, at any of the schools she attended or worked at, is there any evidence that Warren ever joined any Native American organizations on campus or in any way interacted with anyone in the Native American community.

The left's claims on this are, as usual, atrocious. They defend Warren (to the extent they'll even address the issue) by claiming that Warren honestly thought she was 1/64th (or was it 1/128th?) Cherokee.

But our "diversity" regime was not set up simply to act as a racial spoils system. The idea behind it is that minorities had themselves likely been harmed in some way by their race in the past -- whether victims of actual racism or not having many advantages in life due to, for example, one's great-great-grandparents being slaves and therefore having started out with almost no money whatsoever and sharply limited earning capacity.

For Elizabeth Warren to Play Indian when it suited her purposes is disgustingly self-serving. She is obviously one of two things:

100% White,

or, by her claim, merely 99.2% white.

Either way, she is White, and her parents were White, and her grandparents were White, and even her great-grandparents were White. I think you have to go to her great-great-grandparents before you find the one (1!) nonwhite contributor to her racial legacy.

In no way has Elizabeth Warren ever suffered the sting of racial animus from White People due her race (which is White), nor have missed out on job opportunities due to her race (which is White), nor does her family start out in a Racial Ditch due to discrimination against its race (which, in case I didn't mention this, is White).

Elizabeth Warren took advantage of racial set-aside employment opportunities for disadvantaged minorities despite never for one second in her entire life being disadvantaged by her race (which is White).

Has she ever been a victim of racism? How would a racist even know to discriminate against her, unless she busted out her "family lore" and showed pictures of her grandmother with her "high cheekbones" and convinced the skeptical racist that she was anything other than a White Person In Good Standing?

Her one "story" (I love how all of this is about "stories" and "feelings" and "narratives") of discrimination is her claim that her great-great-great-grandparents had to elope due to the extreme racial hostility her distant ancestor once allegedly experienced.

And yet those same great-great-great-grandparents had their wedding party right in their home town.

I guess somehow the town got over its extreme hatred of mixed Indian marriages in the few hours between the ceremony and the party.

She could disprove that she took advantages of programs designed to help minorities who are identifiable as such -- you know, people you could actually discriminate against based on appearance because they're, unlike Elizabeth Warren, not Completely, Blindingly, Albino's-Ass-in-Winter White -- but of course she refuses to release her "personal records."

No, she won't release the facts to you.

But she will keep offering up her "stories."

Posted by: Ace at 02:51 PM | Comments (505)
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Jeb Bush Says He's Thinking About Running for President
— Ace

I haven't seen this much buzz and hype about a product America had no particular desire for since Cop Rock.

But, as Steve Jobs said, how does the customer even know what he wants? I guess that's the theory of a Jeb Bush bid.

From Politico, via @drewmtips:

Jeb Bush on Wednesday was the most vocal he’s been about considering a run for the White House in 2016.

The Republican told a crowd of about 200 people at a Catholic Charities fundraiser in New York that he is “thinking about running for president,” according to an attendee.

The response came to one of the first questions posed to Bush at the Union League luncheon. After his answer, the room went wild, and then someone [who I will speculate is Jen Rubin-- ace] said they hoped he would take the step.

I don't get this, I just don't. Larry Kudlow was ecstatic.


Bush was praised by Kudlow for his focus on immigration reform and urged not to back down.

“Why would I back down from it? It’s the right thing to do…we’ve got to be an inclusive party,” Bush said, according to the attendee.

On his support of Common Core educational standards, Bush noted, “I’m getting hit from both sides on this one.”

I dunno. Jeb seems to be one of those politicians who has a set of ideas he's not willing to compromise with the base on, nor is he willing to make basic efforts at persuading him of his ideas. "Act of Love" isn't persuasion. It's a very weak effort at emotional shaming, which is (rightly) perceived as a hostile form of communication.

So this is what the Establishment has cooking, huh?

Meanwhile, Rand Paul states the obvious -- the law on abortion won't be changed until the public's consensus opinion on abortion has changed -- but that sort of concession probably won't be well-received by those for whom the pro-life cause is of paramount importance.

This sort of "Pro-Choice in my heart but not as a practical governing platform" may read as centrist to some, and will gain some votes and lose others.

AllahPundit notes Paul has similarly made centrist noises on gay marriage...

[Q:] Right. But it seems what they’re saying is that the Republican Party should stay out of issues like gay marriage.

[A:] I think that the Republican Party, in order to get bigger, will have to agree to disagree on social issues. The Republican Party is not going to give up on having quite a few people who do believe in traditional marriage. But the Republican Party also has to find a place for young people and others who don’t want to be festooned by those issues.

This may be a good thing, and this may be a bad thing: But the Republican Party is currently so divided on so many things I'm not really sure what the Republican Party is any more.

That isn't necessarily bad. Maybe it's a sign of openness and adaptability.

But all of my instincts are in favor of someone that "unites the base," and I'm not sure who the hell can even do that any longer.

Is such a thing possible?

Maybe my basic notion that we need a candidate who "unites the base" (and hence papers over deep philosophical differences) is just wrong, and such a thing is impossible, and we actually cannot avoid an actual intramural war to decide what this party actually is. Maybe we will have to have Losers and Winners.

Posted by: Ace at 01:59 PM | Comments (315)
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Stephen Colbert Appears On Letterman Promising To Continue Doing the Same Show Letterman Did, Awkward and Unfunny
— Ace

Yeah, guys, I dunno.

Is there any way we can get him to do a new "character" where he plays someone who's comfortable on camera and occasionally funny?

By the way, I can't help but see the Corporate Messaging Strategy here. Colbert talks a lot about his family (and Dave obligingly asks about it), which is probably all with the design of "humanizing" the new expensive hire and making him palatable to viewers.

At 10:10, he reads the top ten list he and his writing partner submitted when they applied to be writers on the show 17 years ago.

Yeah, it's not good. When he realizes it's bombing, he says "17 years ago," to remind people it's dated comedy, as if America has made quantum leaps since then in the technology of the Top Ten List.

more...

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What Does the Allegedly Neutral and/or "Moderate" Media's Embrace of the Hard-Left Marxist Theories of Pinketty Tell Us About Their True Politics?
— Ace

I see a lot of hands shooting up quickly.

Yeah, I know, it's kind of obvious.

As I write this, Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” is #1 on Amazon....

The book, as you probably know, has also sparked nonstop conversation in political and media circles. Though it’s best to let economists debunk Piketty’s methodology and data, it is worth pointing out that liberal pundits and writers have not only enthusiastically and unconditionally embraced a book on economics, or even a run-of-the-mill leftist polemic, but a hard-left manifesto.

Now, I realize we’re all supposed to accept the fact that conservatives are alone in embracing fringe economic ideas. But how does a book that evokes Marx and talks about tweaking the Soviet experiment find so much love from people who consider themselves rational, evidence-driven moderates?

...

Piketty also advocates for a 60-percent tax rate on those making $200,000 and an additional worldwide tax on wealth...

Fact is, the tax hikes offered by even the most progressive elected Democrats wouldn’t alter the dynamics of “fairness” in a society with a $16 trillion GDP. To put it into perspective, ending Bush-era cuts may net the treasury $80 billion yearly. If Piketty’s clairvoyance is to be trusted, and I’m assured it can — we will need to transfer trillions of dollars from one class to another just save our society from disaster. And none of this, according to the author, will destroy economic growth.

...

[P]iketty’s utopian notions and authoritarian inclinations — ones that I’m pretty sure most Americans (and probably most Democrats) would still find off-putting — do not seem to rattle the left-wing press one bit....

So if his popularity tells us anything, it’s that many liberal “thought leaders” have taken a far more radical position on economic policy than we’re giving them credit for.

"We're not Marxists, and it is paranoid (and perhaps prosecutable) for you to call us Marxists," said the Marxist, then he went back to masturbating righteously over his Marxist manifesto.

Our politics is corrupted and retarded at every step by lies the dominant class requires us to tell.

And the Middle Class. Well, the Middle Class won't be helped by any of these schemes, of course.

Neither will the poor, for the matter.



I am not disputing that something unhappy is going on in the global economy. Nor am I disputing that this unhappiness is unequally distributed. But the proportion of this unhappiness due to income inequality is actually relatively small -- and moreover, concentrated not among the poor, but among the upper middle class, which competes with the very rich for status goods and elite opportunities.

If we look at the middle three quintiles, very few of their worst problems come from the gap between their income and the incomes of some random Facebook squillionaire. Here, in a nutshell, are their biggest problems:

Finding a job that allows them to work at least 40 hours a week on a relatively consistent schedule and will not abruptly terminate them.

Finding a partner who is also able to work at least 40 hours a week on a relatively consistent schedule and will not be abruptly terminated.

Maintaining a satisfying relationship with that partner over a period of years.

Having children who are able to enjoy more stuff and economic security than they have.

Finding a community of friends, family and activities that will provide enjoyment and support over the decades.

This is where things are breaking down -- where things have actually, and fairly indisputably, gotten worse since the 1970s. Crime is better, lifespans are longer, our material conditions have greatly improved -- yes, even among the lower middle class. What hasn’t improved is the sense that you can plan for a decent life filled with love and joy and friendship, then send your children on to a life at least as secure and well-provisioned as your own.

...

I suspect that Piketty’s plan would actually work best for the pretty well off. It would knock the consumption of the ultrawealthy down to the consumption of a professional near the top of his field, who earns a large income but has comparatively little wealth. Because those people are being priced out of top schools and delightful real estate by people who can afford to have a nice apartment in five different world cities, they would strongly benefit from this plan.


This is an interesting idea I've written about before: That the "solutions" proposed by wealthy-but-not-actually-rich "mindworkers" of the upper-middle to middle-upper classes are not for the benefit of the lower classes, but for themselves.

We talked about this on the podcast with Matthew Continetti -- there is a class struggle going on here, to be sure, but the class struggle is between the upper-middle-to-middle-upper income levels against the upper-upper income levels.

Those in the mere middle-upper-to-upper-middle income ranges feel a bit down because they're being outpaced by their competitors -- the upper-uppers -- and so propose laws to take away the upper-uppers' income advantage.

Someone observed -- wryly but accurately --that the media/academic class thinks the highest income one should be able to earn just so happens to coincide with their maximum yearly salary at their job, in their industry.

If they could earn $300,000 per year, why then $300,001 per year constitutes the threshhold at which we must begin confiscating estates.

Tom Brokaw probably earned, who knows, $2 million per year. So what's his idea of the ultra-rich, the filthy rich the grand rentiers? Why $2 million and one dollars per year.

This is a squabble between the Marxist members of one pampered class which looks longingly at all the Stuff possessed by a somewhat more pampered class.

Posted by: Ace at 11:12 AM | Comments (426)
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Supreme Court Hears Case on Government Asserting Power to Decide What the Political Truth Is, and There's Nothing At All Scary About That
— Ace

Maybe one of the most important cases in a long time.

Rep. Steve Driehaus voted for Obamacare. The Susan B. Anthony List wanted to put up billboards that said, “Shame on Steve Driehaus! Driehaus voted FOR taxpayer-funded abortion," and ran a similar radio campaign.

The billboard was never put up, because Dreihaus had threatened to sue -- not the SBA List, but the company managing the billboard.

Dreihaus claimed the message was false, and Ohio forbids "false" claims about a politicians' voting record.

The Ohio Elections Commission found, in a preliminary vote, that the message was indeed "false," but ultimately a full prosecution never went forward, because Dreihaus was defeated for reelection and the point became moot.

Note that Dreihaus claims that this message was "false" because he claimed refuge in Obama's completely-fake claim that Obamacare would not mandate abortion coverage by employers who were conscious objectors to the practice.

We now know that Dreihaus' claim was in fact the false one -- Obama's alleged guarantee on this score was worth as much as his claim that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.

And yet here was -- is -- a government organization purporting to declare the truth to be false and a falsehood to be true, chilling citizens' right to speak the truth.

A federal judge dismissed the case in such a way that made it impossible, essentially, to challenge Ohio's law in advance of an actual prosecution. Apparently they didn't consider that threats of prosecution have a chilling effect, and that the factual record in this case includes, in fact, a real case of a citizen censoring himself for fear of prosecuction.

Consider, for a moment, how dangerous this is. In this case, you have Dreihaus making a claim which is supported by the government -- a claim which is false. And you have citizens making a claim which is disfavored by the government -- their claim being true.

Dreihaus wished to rely on the president's promise that Obamacare would never be interpreted this way; SBA List looked at these same facts and came to a contrary conclusion -- that Dreihaus was, no matter what he or Obama claimed, actually voting for the proposition that the government should mandate that employers provide birth control coverage to employees (and some of those can be characterized as abortifacients) and even coverage for abortion, no matter what the employers' honestly-felt religious or philosophical beliefs on the matter.

Dreihaus had the whole of the government on his side, and surely, a majority of the government bureaucracy, which we are lately discovering to our chagrin has its own political agenda and is not shy about promoting that agenda in their day-jobs.

But government wishes the power to say what is true and what is false -- even on hotly disputed points, where people are arguing, basically, whether a promise will be observed in the future. Something that can't actually be determined in the present.

And, as events would have it, it turned out the SBA was right.

But the fact that the SBA was right shouldn't control the issue here. Rather, it should illustrate how dangerous it is to have agents of the government deciding what is True and what is False on behalf of citizens, with prosecutions and other legal consequences flowing from their decisions.

George Will discusses the case here.


Driehaus says insurance companies must collect a “separate payment” from enrollees and segregate this money from federal funds. The SBA List says money is fungible, so this accounting sleight-of-hand changes nothing.

Yes, and they're right.

...


The Ohio Elections Commission has pondered the truth or falsity of saying that a school board “turned control of the district over to the union,” and that a city councilor had “a habit of telling voters one thing, then doing another.” Fortunately, the Supreme Court, citing George Orwell’s 1984, has held that even false statements receive First Amendment protection: “Our constitutional tradition stands against the idea that we need Oceania’s Ministry of Truth.”

This case, which comes from Cincinnati, where the regional IRS office was especially active in suppressing the political speech of conservative groups, involves the intersection of two ominous developments. One is the inevitable, and inevitably abrasive, government intrusions into sensitive moral issues that come with government’s comprehensive and minute regulation of health care with taxes, mandates, and other coercions. The Supreme Court will soon rule on one such controversy, the ACA requirement that employer-provided health-care plans must cover the cost of abortifacients. The other development is government’s growing attempts to regulate political speech, as illustrated by the Obama administration’s unapologetic politicization of the IRS to target conservative groups.

These developments are not coincidental. Government’s increasing reach and pretensions necessarily become increasingly indiscriminate.

There's a politico-economic theory with a very anodyne name that greatly undersells the theory itself: Public choice theory.

The standard way of thinking about political outcomes before public choice theory was to imagine the government as a disinterested referee, a neutral judge, hearing this or that claim from this or that constituency.

Public Choice Theory posits instead that the government itself -- its bureaucrats, its politicians -- is in fact an interested party with its own economic and political agenda for the country, and makes decisions on that basis, just like anyone else.

This is certainly the correct theory of government behavior.

What the hell is the government doing claiming to have the power to use force and deprivation of liberty in deciding political disputes in which the government itself has an unacknowledged selfish interest ?

It's critical that this ugly law be voided as unconstitutional. Otherwise, the progressives have their foot in the door for deciding what is True on behalf of the country, with prosecutors and cops and wardens as their enforcement agents.

Posted by: Ace at 09:28 AM | Comments (384)
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Camille Paglia: Get Rid of the National Drinking Age
— Ace

I guess so.

This is one of those things that a lot of people oppose -- whether because of the affront to federalism, or the juvenilzation of adults, or on basic liberty grounds -- but such people suspect there is too strong a lobby for the other side, or, maybe, too much inertia about it, and so while people may agree this is kinda bullshit, they won't actually take any action to change it.

Paglia makes most of her case on culture -- that drinking is part of it.


Learning how to drink responsibly is a basic lesson in growing up — as it is in wine-drinking France or in Germany, with its family-oriented beer gardens and festivals. Wine was built into my own Italian-American upbringing, where children were given sips of my grandfather’s home-made wine. This civilized practice descends from antiquity. Beer was a nourishing food in Egypt and Mesopotamia, and wine was identified with the life force in Greece and Rome: In vino veritas (in wine, truth). Wine as a sacred symbol of unity and regeneration remains in the Christian Communion service. Virginia Woolf wrote that wine with a fine meal lights a “subtle and subterranean glow, which is the rich yellow flame of rational intercourse.”

What this cruel 1984 law did is deprive young people of safe spaces where they could happily drink cheap beer, socialize, chat, and flirt in a free but controlled public environment. Hence in the 1980s we immediately got the scourge of crude binge drinking at campus fraternity keg parties, cut off from the adult world. Women in that boorish free-for-all were suddenly fighting off date rape. Club drugs — Ecstasy, methamphetamine, ketamine (a veterinary tranquilizer) — surged at raves for teenagers and on the gay male circuit scene.

...

As a libertarian, I support the decriminalization of marijuana, but there are many problems with pot. From my observation, pot may be great for jazz musicians and Beat poets, but it saps energy and will-power and can produce physiological feminization in men.

I like her point that there are limits to the degree can actually control what it deems "Bad Behavior." Forbid 18 year olds from drinking, and they'll turn to more easily portable, more easily concealable mind-altering substances like pot, pills, or worse.

Posted by: Ace at 08:44 AM | Comments (323)
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Report: Al Qaeda Affiliated Terrorist Now Running US Training Base In Libya
— DrewM

Smart power!

In the summer of 2012, American Green Berets began refurbishing a Libyan military base 27 kilometers west of Tripoli in order to hone the skills of Libya’s first Western-trained special operations counter-terrorism fighters. Less than two years later, that training camp is now being used by groups with direct links to al Qaeda to foment chaos in post-Qaddafi Libya.

Last week, the Libyan press reported that the camp (named “27” for the kilometer marker on the road between Tripoli and Tunis) was now under the command of Ibrahim Ali Abu Bakr Tantoush, a veteran associate of Osama bin Laden who was first designated as part of al Qaeda’s support network in 2002 by the United States and the United Nations. The report said he was heading a group of Salifist fighters from the former Libyan base.

That probably wasn't the original plan, huh?

This is why I'm so down on the interventionist wing of the GOP. They never seem to think through what happens after they get what they want. We simply don't understand enough about the internal realities of these countries, especially the ethnic and tribal relationships and loyalties (remember the State Department was counting on local militias to help protect the Benghazi compound? And how did that work out?).

It's this bomb first, "figure out what comes next....never" attitude that had me down on Syria. I'm not saying there's never a time for the US to use military power, I'm saying let's not pretend the domestic fissures of other countries are always solvable or even improved by the application of American firepower.

I admit non-action can carry as much risk as action in the long run but a little humility about lessons learned in the last decade or so seems to be in order.

By the way, speaking of Syria....

Secretary of State John Kerry touted on Tuesday the fact that Syria had given up almost all its declared chemical weapons and would finish the process by the end-of-April deadline.

“We now have the majority percentage of chemical weapons moved out of Syria, and we’re moving on schedule to try to complete that task,” he said at a State Department event.

But events in Syria paint a more complicated picture of Assad’s continued ability to kill civilians with chemical weapons.

Earlier this month, the Assad regime allegedly used chlorine gas — a weapon Syria is not required to relinquish — against civilians in the town of Kafr Zita, causing victims to suffocate, choke, vomit, foam at the mouth and develop hypertension, according to a letter from the head of the Syrian Coalition, a Western-approved opposition group, to the United Nations Security Council.

Oops.

It's almost as if when faced with existential threats to their regimes and their own lives, ruthless dictators will do whatever it takes to win and international agreements be damned.

The only way you are going to get Assad to stop using chemical weapons or killing people is to topple his regime. And if you topple his regime, well, see the story above about Libya.

There are no good answers in these hellholes. We should ruthlessly pursue our interests and security and that means keeping them fighting as long as possible.

Posted by: DrewM at 06:35 AM | Comments (601)
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Braying Jackasses Open Thread - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]
— Open Blogger

A concise portrait of every debate you've ever held with a Liberal.



Facts do not persuade.

Posted by: Open Blogger at 05:58 AM | Comments (199)
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Top Headline Comments 4-23-14
— Gabriel Malor

Happy Wednesday.

Wow, I don't think anyone expected Vox to be quite so unprofessional. Partisan, yes, but even partisan hacks on the left like to preserve their illusions of professionalism.

Here's a good recap of the Supreme Court action yesterday in the political campaign false statements case. "A serious First Amendment concern with a state law that requires you to come before a commission to justify what you are going to say," said Justice Kennedy.

Oh, and the self-proclaimed "perfect affirmative action baby" on the high court wrote a strident dissent in the college affirmative action case in which she equated supporters of ending racial preferences in college admissions with supporters of Jim Crow. She also attacked the Chief Justice for his 2007 statement "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." In response, he chides her: "People can disagree in good faith on this issue, but it similarly does more harm than good to question the openness and candor of those on either side of the debate."

Prominent same-sex marriage advocates sign open letter rejecting the mob-mindedness that claimed Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich.


AoSHQ Weekly Podcast rss.png itunes_modern.png | Stream | Download | Ask The Blog | Archives

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April 22, 2014

Overnight Open Thread (4-22-2014)
— Maetenloch

Mark Steyn: Happy Erf Day

burntire223

Yuval Levin on Confirmation Bias and Human Nature

A longish but worthwhile read.

American progressives have long contended that as social science enables us to overcome some of the limits of what we know, it should also be permitted to overcome the constitutional limits on what government may do. They take themselves to be an exception to the rule that all parties see only parts of the whole, and therefore an exception also to the ubiquity of confirmation bias, and so they demand an exception to the rule that no party should have too much raw power.

...But understanding human limitations does not mean we can overcome them. It only means we can't pretend they don't exist. It should point us toward humility, not hubris. And in politics and policy, understanding the limitation that Klein highlights should point us away from technocratic overconfidence and toward an idea of a government that enables society to address its problems through incremental, local, trial-and-error learning processes rather than centrally managed wholesale transformations of large systems.

The New Progressive Aristocracy

At least the old aristocracy had actual titles and were bound by rules and legal obligations.

chelsea-clintonsddf

more...

Posted by: Maetenloch at 05:21 PM | Comments (538)
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Open Thread
— rdbrewer

Posted by: rdbrewer at 04:33 PM | Comments (177)
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Environmental Weenies Slam EPA for Wasteful, Carbon-Producing Travel on Earth Day of All Days
— Ace

Even weenies can have a point on occasion.


The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility says the greenhouse gases generated by EPA administrator Gina McCarthy's week-long, five-city tour will "far exceed" any concrete action on climate change from her travels.

...

Ruch noted that some events on McCarthy’s itinerary have questionable ties to promoting climate action, such as joining Energy Secretary Moniz to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Tuesday's Red Sox vs. Yankees baseball game at Boston's Fenway Park.

Ruch said McCarthy is a frequent air traveler and has been criticized for commuting frequently back to her home in Boston. An agency official told The Daily Caller earlier this month that McCarthy sometimes drives home to Boston on the weekends, but the official did not specify how many times or the vehicle she uses.

Posted by: Ace at 01:37 PM | Comments (349)
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Income Instability: An Astonishing 12 Percent of All Americans Will Achieve At Least One Year of Earnings in the Top 1% in Their Lives
— Ace

The left likes talking about the "richest 1%" as if they are an easily-defined, permanently-existing superclass. They're not.

Professor Mark R. Rank of Washington University, co-author of Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes, tells a different story in a review of his own and others’ research in last Sunday’s New York Times. Far from having the 21st-century equivalent of an Edwardian class system, the United States is characterized by a great deal of variation in income: More than half of all adult Americans will be at or near the poverty line at some point over the course of their lives; 73 percent will also find themselves in the top 20 percent, and 39 percent will make it into the top 5 percent for at least one year. Perhaps most remarkable, 12 percent of Americans will be in the top 1 percent for at least one year of their working lives.

The top 1 percent, as I have noted here before, is such an unstable group that it makes no sense to write, as so many progressives do, about what has happened to its income over the past ten year or twenty years, because it does not contain the same group of people from year to year. Citing tax scholar Robert Carroll’s examination of IRS records, Professor Rank notes that the turnover among the super-rich (the top 400 taxpayers in any given year) is 98 percent over a decade — that is, just 2 percent of that elusive group remain there for ten years in a row. Among those earning more than $1 million a year, most earned that much for only one year of the nine-year period studied, and only 6 percent earned that much for the entire period.

The New York Times article by Professor Rank was published this Sunday. In addition to the eye-popping stats recapitulated by Williamson, he notes


Yet while many Americans will experience some level of affluence during their lives, a much smaller percentage of them will do so for an extended period of time. Although 12 percent of the population will experience a year in which they find themselves in the top 1 percent of the income distribution, a mere 0.6 percent will do so in 10 consecutive years.

Note that's a little different from Williamson's "six percent" in all ten years, which was taken from a different study, and applies to millionaires. Rank's figure of 0.6 percent applies to the category of "top one percent," which is different from "millionaire."

Likewise, data analyzed by the I.R.S. showed similar findings with respect to the top 400 taxpayers between 1992 and 2009. While 73 percent of people who made the list did so once during this period, only 2 percent of them were on the list for 10 or more years. These analyses further demonstrate the sizable amount of turnover and movement within the top levels of the income distribution.

...

Ultimately, this information casts serious doubt on the notion of a rigid class structure in the United States based upon income. It suggests that the United States is indeed a land of opportunity, that the American dream is still possible — but that it is also a land of widespread poverty. And rather than being a place of static, income-based social tiers, America is a place where a large majority of people will experience either wealth or poverty — or both — during their lifetimes.

But, Income Inequality!

Posted by: Ace at 12:31 PM | Comments (222)
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Is Media Matters Helping "Produce" Stories for the Allegedly Mainstream Media?
— Ace

Sharyl Attkisson said that the "independent," non-partisan organization had helped "produce" stories for her, while at CBS, in the past -- but of course turned on her when she turned her investigative eye from George W. Bush to Barack H. Obama.

Media Matters issues a non-denial denial on this point -- they deny some things (which I'm not sure Attkisson even claimed) but not that they "help" to "produce" stories in the alleged mainstream media.

n the immediate wake of Attikson’s Sunday appearance, Media Matters elected only to respond to the assertion by Attkinson that she had been targeted by the organization:


Sharyl Attkisson is continuing a pattern of evidence-free speculation that started at the end of her tenure at CBS. We have never taken contributions to target her or any other reporter. Our decision to post any research on Attkisson is based only on her shoddy reporting.

Did Attkisson even make that claim in bold? I don't remember seeing it.

At any rate, while they deny something I'm not certain was even alleged, they fail to address whether this obviously-partisan organization is helping the networks with their narratives.

Yesterday, Media Matters doubled down on their repudiation of Attkisson’s suggestion they might have have targeted her, calling the claims “false.” Again, however, Media Matters failed to address the whole of Attkisson’s assertions.

In explaining away the targeting claims as baseless, Media Matters neglected to respond to the more subtle assertion by Attkisson that it worked with her, as she phrased it, “to help me produce my stories.”

I'm not sure if it's actually a big story that Media Matters "helps" reporters with their stories. Every advocacy organization under the sun does that.

But it Media Matters' refusal to even comment on this is interesting. Why the secrecy and evasiveness from an organization supposedly devoted to get the media to report the "real truth"?

Posted by: Ace at 11:49 AM | Comments (157)
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Shockingly, a Pro-Marxism Book by a Leftwing French Economist Has Taken America's Don't-Call-Them-Socialist Progressive Establishment By Storm
— Ace

I haven't read the book and don't plan to. I further don't believe I'd be able to critique it as I did-- while the book is written in layman's language, one would still need an advanced understanding of economics and statistical analysis to say it's right or wrong.

But it's a huge thing now, especially on the We're Not Socialists But Boy Do We Love Socialism left, so I thought I should at least post about it.

It's almost entirely about -- wait for it...! -- income inequality, and why that's bad, and why it will get worse unless we Do Something About It.

Robert J. Samuelson wrote about it, more or less approvingly, if a little skeptically in the end:

Piketty presents Scandinavian countries in the 1970s and ’80s as examples of “low inequality.” Still, the richest 10 percent commanded about 25 percent of national income and the poorest 50 percent got only 30 percent; the “middle class” — the 40 percent below the top 10 percent — received 45 percent of income. These days, the distribution in the United States is far more unequal. In 2010, the top 10 percent received about 50 percent of national income, and the bottom 50 percent got 20 percent; the middle 40 percent got 30 percent. European nations are typically in between, with the top 10 percent taking 35 percent of income.

What Piketty also shows is that in the last 30 years, inequality has exploded almost everywhere, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom. This finding disproves the so-called Kuznets Curve. In 1954, American economist Simon Kuznets (1901-85) argued that income inequality would fall as societies modernized. Workers would move from low-paid farm jobs to better-paid industrial jobs. Gaps would narrow.

This seemed to have happened in the United States. From the 1920s to the 1950s, the income share of the richest 10 percent fell from around 50 percent to about 35 percent. But now it’s rebounded to the late 1920s’ level. This stunning fact, published previously in academic journals, helped make inequality a big political issue.

Piketty's big suggestion (more about this later) is that we tax yearly incomes of $500,000 (or $1,000,000; I guess he isn't sure on the threshold) at an 80% rate, and tax accumulated wealth at similar rates.

He is ideologically opposed to gaining wealth by investment -- he uses the word "rentier" as a derogatory term for such people.

Though Piketty is an economist, his book is essentially a work of political science. He objects to extreme economic inequality because it offends democracy: Too much power is conferred on too few. His economic analysis sometimes seems skewed to fit his political agenda.

Sameulson quibbles with some of Piketty's claims, such as (wait for it...!) that confiscatory tax rates on high incomes and accumulated capital won't reduce growth rates, but, as you can see, he's largely impressed with the work.

Now for some people who aren't so impressed.

Clive Cook headlines "The Most Important Book Ever Is All Wrong."

It's hard to think of another book on economics published in the past several decades that's been praised as lavishly as Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the Twenty-First Century."

...

So what's the problem?

Quite a few things, but this to start with: There's a persistent tension between the limits of the data he presents and the grandiosity of the conclusions he draws. At times this borders on schizophrenia. In introducing each set of data, he's all caution and modesty, as he should be, because measurement problems arise at every stage. Almost in the next paragraph, he states a conclusion that goes beyond what the data would support even if it were unimpeachable.

This tendency is apparent all through the book, but most marked at the end, when he sums up his findings about "the central contradiction of capitalism":

The inequality r>g [the rate of return on capital is greater than the rate of economic growth] implies that wealth accumulated in the past grows more rapidly than output and wages. This inequality expresses a fundamental logical contradiction. The entrepreneur inevitably tends to become a rentier, more and more dominant over those who own nothing but their labor. Once constituted, capital reproduces itself faster than output increases. The past devours the future. The consequences for the long-term dynamics of the wealth distribution are potentially terrifying ...

Every claim in that dramatic summing up is either unsupported or contradicted by Piketty's own data and analysis. (I'm not counting the unintelligible. The past devours the future?)

Cook goes on to note that Piketty's own findings contradict his central hypothesis. Piketty argues that when r (rate of return on investment) is significantly higher than g (economic growth rate), it results in a sort of Climate Change-like feedback loop in which r grows more and more outsized compared to g. The system becomes unstable; more and more money flows to the "rentiers."

But that's not what his data shows, at least not in some very important cases:

The trouble is, he also shows that capital-to-output ratios in Britain and France in the 18th and 19th centuries, when r exceeded g by very wide margins, were stable, not rising inexorably.

Cook also notes what Samuelson did-- that this is more of a political tract than an economic text:


As I worked through the book, I became preoccupied with another gap: the one between the findings Piketty explains cautiously and statements such as, "The consequences for the long-term dynamics of the wealth distribution are potentially terrifying."

Piketty's terror at rising inequality is an important data point for the reader. It has perhaps influenced his judgment and his tendentious reading of his own evidence. It could also explain why the book has been greeted with such erotic intensity....

At the WSJ, Daniel Schuman focuses on that "80% tax rate" business.

He notes Piketty shares the idea with Barack Obama that confiscatory tax rates are not primarily about bringing in money to the state, but rather about simply destroying other people's wealth. For Justice, you understand.


A professor at the Paris School of Economics, Mr. Piketty believes that only the productivity of low-wage workers can be measured objectively. He posits that when a job is replicable, like an "assembly line worker or fast-food server," it is relatively easy to measure the value contributed by each worker. These workers are therefore entitled to what they earn. He finds the productivity of high-income earners harder to measure and believes their wages are in the end "largely arbitrary." They reflect an "ideological construct" more than merit.

...

While America's corporate executives are his special bête noire, Mr. Piketty is also deeply troubled by the tens of millions of working people—a group he disparagingly calls "petits rentiers"—whose income puts them nowhere near the "one percent" but who still have savings, retirement accounts and other assets. That this very large demographic group will get larger, grow wealthier and pass on assets via inheritance is "a fairly disturbing form of inequality." He laments that it is difficult to "correct" because it involves a broad segment of the population, not a small elite that is easily demonized.

But that won't stop them from trying.


So what is to be done? Mr. Piketty urges an 80% tax rate on incomes starting at "$500,000 or $1 million." This is not to raise money for education or to increase unemployment benefits. Quite the contrary, he does not expect such a tax to bring in much revenue, because its purpose is simply "to put an end to such incomes." It will also be necessary to impose a 50%-60% tax rate on incomes as low as $200,000 to develop "the meager US social state." There must be an annual wealth tax as high as 10% on the largest fortunes and a one-time assessment as high as 20% on much lower levels of existing wealth. He breezily assures us that none of this would reduce economic growth, productivity, entrepreneurship or innovation.

Schuman has a couple of funny barbs in there, like Piketty's use of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" as an economic text (proving something about the mad scramble to marry rich) and about his distinction between those who don't really earn their outsized fortunes -- CEO's -- and those who just might possibly actually earn their fortunes, such as entrepreneurs and, as luck would have it, academics who write best-selling Marxist economics texts.

Incidentally, and I'm sure this is entirely coincidental, but as socialism is on the rise in America, middle-class after-tax incomes are falling.

The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction.

While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.

After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.

Instapundit suggests that there is a top-and-bottom coalition against the middle class.

The bottom wants to take the middle class' stuff because they just want stuff. The top earners want to take the middle class' stuff because the middle class threatens their status.

And this is all going on as America partially embraces Piketty's prescriptions.


Posted by: Ace at 10:28 AM | Comments (371)
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NBC Devotes 39 Paragraphs Reporting that Temp Workers Are At An All-Time High; Does Not Mention Obamacare Once As a Contributing Factor
— Ace

She almost mentions it, though.

If there's a prize for most words spent in Obamacare avoidance, NBC News's Martha C. White is definitely in the running.

White managed to burn through almost 40 paragraphs and nearly 1,600 words in a report carried at CNBC on the all-time record number of workers employed by temporary help services. But she somehow managed to completely avoid mentioning Obamacare, which used to be known as the Affordable Care Act until President Obama and his Health and Human Services regulators made 40 changes to the law originally passed by Congress, some of which directly contradict the original law's language. The closest she came was noting that using temps "lets companies avoid the cost of providing benefits like health insurance" — which has always been the case, except that health insurance is and will continue to be a lot more expensive, giving companies even more incentive to avoid adding to their own payrolls.

Obama pronounced that the "debate is over," and NBC scribbled it down furiously.

The media is definitely running their new reality-show TV arc called "Obamacare is Back!!!," and they're not going to let these little minor stories step on that very satisfying storyline.

Posted by: Ace at 09:31 AM | Comments (286)
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Open Thread
— DrewM

Conservatives don't trust Boehner on immigration.

Liberals are brave and smart, just don't say anything that might scare them or hurt their feelings.

Modern feminism...enforced silence on genital mutilation, loud and proud on sexist Happy Meal toys.

Posted by: DrewM at 07:45 AM | Comments (450)
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Supreme Court Rules It's Ok For States To Not Discriminate Based On Race In College Admissions
— DrewM

It's amazing that self-anointed "leaders" of the civil rights movement in this country had actually twisted themselves to the point where they were arguing there was a constitutional mandate to discriminate based on race in college admissions. But we were.

The Supreme Court didn't rule that race based admission factors were unconstitutional. The 6-2 majority simply says that states once having created such preferences could legally remove them.

The justices said in a 6-2 ruling Tuesday that Michigan voters had the right to change their state constitution to prohibit public colleges and universities from taking account of race in admissions decisions. The justices said that a lower federal court was wrong to set aside the change as discriminatory.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said voters chose to eliminate racial preferences because they deemed them unwise.

Kennedy said nothing in the Constitution or the court’s prior cases gives judges the authority to undermine the election results.

I for one am gladdened and amused by Kennedy's new found respect for the people's right to amend their state constitution. I'm sure he'll lose it the next time his magic coin comes up the other way.

I'm having trouble downloading the opinion but I'm guessing Kagan recused herself from the case because of her work a Solicitor General. Ruth Bader Ginsberg joined Wise Latina Sonya Sotomayor's dissent which she read it from the bench (something justices do to show they have a sad over a decision).

I guess that means Steven Breyer joined with the majority which is...weird.

Added: This story has more background and the local view of the case.

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman and admissions director Ted Spencer have decried the affirmative action ban, saying outright that the school cannot achieve a fully diverse student body with it in place.

"It's impossible," Spencer said in a recent interview, "to achieve diversity on a regular basis if race cannot be used as one of many factors."

Fifty-eight percent of Michigan voters in 2006 passed Proposal 2, a ballot initiative that amended the state constitution and made it illegal for state entities to consider race in admissions and hiring. With the Supreme Court's ruling, the only way left to nullify Proposal 2 is to mount a long, expensive and uncertain campaign to overturn it.

You want to fix the racial diversity issues in colleges? Ok, start with elementary and high schools. Start turning out students from places like Detroit that are ready to compete for slots at schools like U of M. If that means blowing up the public education system and the teacher's unions and replacing them with voucher programs and charter schools, so be it. It's "for the children" after all.

Posted by: DrewM at 05:43 AM | Comments (504)
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