Category Archives: News

My thoughts on the news of the day, both local, Colorado, national and international.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Townhall’s Ed Klein thinks her Imperial Majesty Hillary I’s new look means she’s planning to run for President again.  Excerpt:

On International Women’s Day earlier this month, Hillary Clinton wore a red pantsuit and bangs to give a speech at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Allure online headlined the event: “Hillary Clinton’s Haircut Is Taking the Internet By Storm.”

A week later, Hillary stopped traffic on New York’s Fifth Avenue as she came out of the Bergdorf Goodman hair salon, where she got a $600 dye job and a $600 haircut.

The bangs were gone and her hair was several shades lighter.

Experience tells us that when Hillary experiments with her hair style, she’s up to something. I reported on that “something” a month ago when I revealed that, as fanciful as it might seem, Hillary has plans to run again for president.

She hinted at those plans during a St. Patrick’s Day speech when she told a dinner crowd of 500 people in Scranton, Pennsylvania: “I am ready to come out of the woods.”

Meaning there aren’t going to be more walks in the woods near her home in Chappaqua, New York, because she’s gearing up to do battle with Donald Trump.

First, let me present my honest reaction at the thought of Her Imperial Majesty running again in 2020:

 Here’s the funny bit:  One of the primary reasons she lost last year was that President Trump did a better job of connecting with the common folks than she did.  So, to re-start herself, Her Royal Highness begins with dropping a cool $1200 on her hair.

What the fuck, Hillary?

A significant portion of Democrats, especially the younger progressive Left, are still pissed off at Her Imperial Highness’s campaign for the shenanigans they pulled to freeze out the daffy old socialist from Vermont.  Now, the most deeply and fundamentally corrupt political figure since Huey Long – maybe since Caligula – is doubling down on stupid by flaunting her wealth to all and sundry.

That won’t play well with the political Left.  But Her Imperial Majesty has shown very little capacity to learn from her mistakes.

Animal’s Daily Heath Care Rights News

This just in from the folks at Reason magazine:  What Does It Mean to Have a Right To Health Care?  Excerpt:

Despite the popular misconception, health care is not beyond economic law; it is not a free good that falls like manna from heaven. It has to be produced, which means people must mix their scarce labor with scarce resources to produce the things used to perform the medical services we want. It would be foolish to expect them to donate their labor and resources because other people need them. They have their own lives to live and livelihoods to earn. It would be wrong to compel them. They are not slaves.

In other words, no one can have a right to medical care or insurance, that is, to the labor services and resources of other people—including the taxpayers. We hear a great deal about the need to respect all people; well, respecting people must include respecting their liberty and justly acquired possessions. Without that, “respect” is hollow.

Politicians, of course, can declare a right to medical care, but those are mere words. What counts is what happens after the declaration. Since a system in which everyone could have, on demand, all the medical care they wanted at no cost would be unsustainable, the so-called right to medical care necessarily translates into the power of politicians and bureaucrats to set the terms under which medical services and products may be provided and received. This is crucial: a government-declared “right” (that does not reflect natural rights) is no right at all; it is rather a declared government power to allocate goods and services.

Natural rights—which boil down to the single right not to be aggressed against—require only that one abstain from aggression. Thus all can exercise their rights at once without conflict. On the other hand, government-invented “rights”—such as the right to medical care—cannot be exercised at the same time; the potential for conflict is built in. For example, a person cannot use his own money as he wishes if the government health care system takes it by force through taxation to pay for other people’s services.

It’s difficult to add anything to that, but I’ll give it a shot.

Taxpayer-funded health care can’t be a right.  It is an indulgence, an exercise in charity on the part of government.  But most importantly, it is a fundamentally an infringement on liberty.  If one has a government-guaranteed taxpayer-funded health care, that requires someone else (a taxpayer) to surrender a portion of their own wealth, their own property, to pay for it.  That means that the taxpayer is required to labor for a portion of the year with no recompense.

There are several words for that; indenture is probably the most polite one.

I’m a minimal-government libertarian, but I’m not an anarchist.  There are legitimate distributed interests that are best handled by government:  Defense, for example.  But defense is not subject to market forces the way health care is.  Here’s the key excerpt form the Reason article:

The market method of deciding what is produced solves this complex problem. How? Through the price system. When people are free to trade goods and services in the market, they generate prices that inform others (even if anyone is aware of this) about the relative supply of and demand for things. Those prices then guide producers and consumers. While their objective is not to create a grand and complex process that encourages the coordination countless plans, economizes on resources and labor, and enables people to achieve their well-being in an unrivaled manner, that is in effect what they do. This is what Adam Smith meant with his “invisible hand” trope. Prices guide people to do “the right thing.”

But politicians don’t understand price theory – or if they do, they ignore it, to garner votes.  I don’t know which is worse.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Off to the airport in a few to return to the loony environs of Silicon Valley for another stint at work, after a pleasant weekend in our own Colorado.  But we always have time to extend our thanks to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

President Trump has submitted a budget, and it looks to be putting a whole bunch of Imperial bureaucrats on notice:  Put up or shut up, and by shut up, he means “you’re fired!”  Excerpt:

President Trump’s administration, unlike its predecessor, understands that when a federal program is failing, it might be time to end it rather than shovel more money into it. That much is clear not just in the programs eliminated in Trump’s proposed budget, but in justifications given for many of the cuts.

The $202 million International Food for Education program? Eliminated, because it “lacks evidence that it is being effectively implemented to reduce food insecurity.” The $2.4 billion Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program? Gone, because it is “poorly targeted and spread thinly across thousands of districts with scant evidence of impact.” The $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program? Erased, because it “has not demonstrated results.”

In addition to saving taxpayer money, this puts bureaucrats on notice that they must prove effective and worth the money or they’ll be on the chopping block.

About damn time.

Rumored to be on the chopping block, as in eliminated completely, are such Imperial nonsensical money pits as the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for Humanities.  I only just quoted this a week ago, but it bears repeating:  As Robert Heinlein famously said, “a government-subsidized artist is an incompetent whore,” and now (hopefully) some incompetent whores will be cut off the Imperial teat.

Fact is, True Believers, that the Imperial government not only shouldn’t be paying for this sort of thing – the Constitution, read with a grain of sense, actually prohibits it – but they can’t pay for this sort of thing anymore.  $20 trillion in debt and unfunded obligations kind of precludes it.

Democrats in Congress (and a few Republicans as well) will call President Trump’s proposed budget “heartless,” “cruel” and some other pejoratives.  We call it “a good start.”  And I have a pretty good idea (see image to left) what the President’s response will be to the cries of outrage.

Rule Five Energy Finds Friday

Our economy, like it or not, runs on oil, and it looks like two oil companies have just found a metric shitload of it (for the record, that’s 1.14 standard shitloads) in Alaska.  And there’s more.  Excerpt:

Spanish oil giant Repsol (REPYY) has revealed the largest U.S. onshore oil discovery in 30 years, located in Alaska’s North Slope.

Repsol and joint venture partner Armstrong Energy claim to have found a massive conventional oil play that holds up to 1.2 billion barrels of recoverable light crude. The discovery was confirmed after Repsol drilled two test wells during the 2016-2017 winter season. According to the company, the area was previously considered to be a mature oil basin. Oil is expected to flow beginning in 2021, with a potential rate approaching 120,000 barrels per day.

Denver-based Armstrong, a privately held exploration company, operates the North Slope project and holds a 75% working interest in the Horseshoe discovery. The Repsol discovery follows the revelation of what geologists believe is the largest shale oil play in the country.

In November, the U.S. Geological Survey said the Midland Basin, which is part of the oil-rich Permian shale play, is estimated to contain 20 billion barrels of oil and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas. The new figures would make the Midland Basin about three times bigger than North Dakota’s Bakken formation.

Exxon is betting on these finds – betting big.

President Trump has already opened the door his predecessor closed on the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines.  Opening that door will being another shitload (metric or standard, you choose) of Canadian crude into American refineries, and protests from environmentalist radicals aside, that’s manifestly a Good Thing for President Trump’s stated goal of kick-starting the American economy.

Why?  That’s simple.  As stated, our economy runs on oil and natural gas.  More domestic sources mean less energy we have to purchase from other countries.  A significant amount of those other countries don’t like us very much, and at present we’re sending them a lot of American petrodollars.

But more to the point, the laws of supply and demand obtain here.  A find this size, once developed – and it looks like the North Slope finds will be coming online pretty quickly – will reduce the price of oil (which, I remind you, is a fungible commodity with a global market) significantly.

Want to kick-start the economy?  Cheap energy is the best way to do that.  It doesn’t matter what your company does, what product they build, what service they provide, they need energy to do it.  Solar and wind power don’t produce enough for a modern industrial economy.

And there’s more.  Take a look at your computer, or your tablet, or your cellular phone; whatever you are using to read these virtual pages.  A good part of it’s material, whatever it is, derives from petroleum.  Take a look at your car; if it’s a recent model a good part of it’s high-tech, modernly engineered structure is plastic; plastics derived from petroleum.

Our modern technological economy runs on oil and gas.  Repsol and Armstrong have just changed the oil and gas game with this discovery.  President Trump may take the credit for the boom that should result (and in the case of the pipelines, he does deserve a bit of the credit) but Repsol and Armstrong are the names to watch for the next couple of years.

Animal’s Daily NutBallery News

Just when you thought California (where I am temporarily hanging my hat) couldn’t get any more harebrained ideas than they already had, they are now thinking of making teachers exempt from state income taxes.

And here I thought the Left never saw a tax they didn’t like.  Excerpt:

A bill moving through the state Legislature seeks to give California teachers a big tax break to entice them to enter the profession and stay — a nationally unprecedented approach to boosting salaries amid a shortage in the field.

Senate Bill 807 would exempt veteran teachers from paying state income tax for 10 years and help new teachers pay for their education and certification costs. Teachers with at least five years’ experience who earn a $75,000 salary would gain the equivalent of a 5 percent raise, saving nearly $4,000 on their annual tax bill.

About 300,000 teachers would benefit from the tax cut in the first year. The measure’s sponsors believe the financial support would increase the number of people entering the field and retain more educators who are already in classrooms.

A statewide teacher shortage has hit many districts hard, with more than 7,000 classrooms staffed by teachers operating under some type of emergency credential or waiver. The San Francisco Unified School District started the school year with 38 teacher vacancies.

Californians being economically illiterate (with a few notable exceptions) is nothing new.  But this just beats all.  The labor market is like any other market; supply and demand obtains.  Any market will only pay a certain value for any commodity or service; when demand falls, so does the price.

But San Francisco, that home-base of nutballery that lies about 40 miles north of me as I type these words, has a different problem.  Decades of restrictive zoning laws and NIMBY building restrictions have raised Bay Area property values through the roof and on into the stratosphere.  Nice if you already own a home in the area (and have since the late Seventies) but lousy if you are trying to start a career there.  I know the malady; my own Denver is seeing much the same thing on a smaller scale.

If young teachers were able to afford homes in the Bay Area, maybe they wouldn’t have trouble filling teacher positions.  The solution is obvious – deregulate land use –  but here in looney old Californey, it just ain’t gonna happen.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

This is a fun one:  Radiation Reporters Go Bananas!  Literally.  Excerpt:

Long-time readers know that very useful measures of both radioactivity and radiation dose rates are the Banana Equivalent Dose (BED), and a similar measure I think I invented (because no one else ever bothered) called the Banana Equivalent Radioactivity (BER). (The units here are explained in my old article “Understanding Radiation.”)

Bananas are useful for these measures because bananas concentrate potassium, and a certain amount of that potassium is ⁴⁰K, which is naturally radioactive. The superscript “40” there is the atomic number, or the number of protons in the nucleus, of that particular potassium (symbol K) isotope. Because of that potassium content, bananas are mildly radioactive: a medium banana at around 150g emits about 1 micro-Sievert per hour (1 µSv/hr) and contains about 15 Becquerel (15 Bq) of radioactive material.

(Why bananas? There are a lot of plant-based foods that concentrate potassium. It is, however, an essential rule of humor that bananas are the funniest fruit.)

Our radioactive boars are considered unfit at 600 Bq per kilogram. So, a tiny bit of arithmetic [(1000 g/kg)/150 g/banana × 15 Bq/banana] gives us 100 Bq/kg for bananas. All right, so this boar meat has 6 times as much radioactivity as a banana. Personally, this wouldn’t worry me.

So let’s turn to the radioactivity detected off the Oregon coast. This is 0.3 Bq per cubic meter. Conveniently — the joys of metric — one cubic meter of water is one metric tonne is 1000 liters is 1000 kilograms, so the radiation content here is .0003 Bq/kg.

15/0.0003 is 50,000. So, bananas have 50,000 times more radiation than the seawater being reported.

The root cause of all this, which author Charlie Martin has some well-justified fun with, is simple; “science” writers frequently know bugger-all about the topics they are writing about.  This is a good example, although I have to admit Charlie makes a doozy of a blooper regarding atomic number vs. atomic weight in this selfsame article.

But really – fact check any of the science articles on plenty of news sites.  The better of them generally get the broad strokes all right, but there are frequent boners – some deliberate, most just careless.

And, on that note:

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Once again our boundless thanks go out to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Moving along:  Will Donald Trump be America’s Deng Xiaoping?  Possibly.  Excerpt:

Deng, like all of us, was not perfect, but he clearly had a political genius and incredible courage in his ability to battle and ultimately defeat the monolithic power of  Mao Zedong, who had jailed him and had his son pushed out a window (the son has spent the rest of his life as a paraplegic). It’s the stuff of great novels. (Yes, I realize Maoism still lingers in China, but, as I mentioned, nothing’s perfect.)

Back in 1961, at the height of Mao’s reign and three years before the publication of the Chairman’s Little Red Book, Deng slyly and metaphorically attacked the ideological rigidity of communism with one simple statement (dare I call it a tweet?  If so, it was the most potent tweet of all time): “I don’t care if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.”

Simple as it is, that bears repeating: “I don’t care if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.”

There are minor variations in the various translations but they all have the same pragmatic, anti-ideological import. The Chinese evidently never forgot it, because, although many still may pretend-profess to be communists, they are in reality Dengists. This has led to the world’s most succesful crony capitalism, but, again as I said, nothing’s perfect. Whatever the case, modern China is a giant improvement with Deng Xiaoping’s fingerprints all over it. The unbelievable Shanghai skyline — that’s Deng.

I’ve seen Shanghai.  It’s a prosperous, modern city, even if it is a bit – no, a lot – filthy.   My impression of Shanghai’s Pudong district, where stuff gets built, is that it’s rather like a beehive.  Tons of activity, everybody in the place always seems to be on their way somewhere.  Everybody seems to have a purpose.  Everything is humming, just like the aforementioned beehive.

And, yes, Deng is responsible for a lot of that.  Why?  He was less ideological, more pragmatic.

President Trump is a lot like that.  He won election not by being a lockstep Republican, like most of his primary opponents; he won election by being a deal-maker, a guy with a vision of how to make America better – great, he says, but most voters will settle for better.  And whether or not you may agree with President Trump’s actions in the 50 days since he took office, you will agree that he is moving aggressively on his agenda.  Like most top businessmen, he’s moving, not proposing, not advocating, but doing.

I’ve known plenty of CEOs and top-level corporate types in my career.  I know the type.

But here’s what he has to get; he doesn’t have the power he had as a CEO; he doesn’t have the power Deng Xiaoping had.  But he has the reputation of being a deal-maker.

It is on that rock he has built his church.  (Irony intended.)  It is on that rock that his Presidency will succeed or fail.

Rule Five Killing Big Bird Friday

From one of our favorite libertarian scribes, John Stossel, comes this piece on the Trump Administration’s promise to cut a particular piece of fat from the Imperial budget.   Excerpt:

Next week, Donald Trump releases his new budget. It’s expected to cut spending on things like the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Good!

Government has no business funding art. When politicians decide which ideas deserve a boost, art is debased. When they use your money to shape the culture, they shape it in ways that make culture friendlier to government.

As The Federalist’s Elizabeth Harrington points out, the National Endowment for the Arts doesn’t give grants to sculpture honoring the Second Amendment or exhibitions on the benefits of traditional marriage. They fund a play about “lesbian activists who oppose gun ownership” and “art installations about climate change.”

The grant-making establishment is proudly leftist. A Trump administration won’t change that. During the Bush II years, lefty causes got funding, but I can’t find any project with a conservative agenda.

It’s not just the politics that are wrong. Government arts funding doesn’t even go to the needy. Arts grants tend to go to people who got prior arts grants.

But here’s the real money quote:

The New York Times ran the headline: “Why Art Matters.” Of course it matters. But “art” is different from “government-funded art.”

New York Magazine ran a photo of Big Bird, or rather a protester dressed as Big Bird, wearing a sign saying “Keep your mitts off me!” What New York doesn’t say is that the picture is three years old, and Big Bird’s employer, “Sesame Street,” no longer gets government funds.

We confronted the article writer, Eric Levitz. He said, “Big Bird has long functioned as a symbol of public broadcasting … Still, considering ‘Sesame Street’s’ switch to HBO, I concede that some could have been misled.”

You bet.

Big Bird doesn’t need government help. “Sesame Street” is so rich that it paid one of its performers more than $800,000.

I can’t add much to Mr. Stossel’s words, but I will offer some of Robert Heinlein’s words:  “A government-subsidized artist is an incompetent whore.”  I couldn’t agree more.

There are a lot of artists in the Animal family.  The Old Man is a Midwestern artist of note, and has been since the late Sixties.  He still paints today and just recently put out a book of paintings of Iowa wildflowers and birds.  For many years he had a reserved spot in the Iowa Capitol where one of his paintings hung.  One of my daughters is a freelance graphic artist and designer, and another is in a reputable art school studying to be a commercial graphic artist.

None of them have ever taken a public dime for their art, and none ever will.

All of Mr. Stossel’s arguments are great, but I’ll counter with a simpler one;  nowhere in the Constitution is the Imperial government allowed to disperse taxpayer funds to prop up artists who can’t make money by selling their work in the open market.  The Tenth Amendment prohibits the Imperial government from doing anything that the Constitution does not specifically allow.

That, True Believers, should be the end of the discussion.

Animal’s Daily Random Thoughts

Can Human Evolution Be Controlled?  Sure, we do it all the time.  Every time we choose a mate, every time our species favors blue eyes, or black hair, or living in a cold/warm/temperate climate.  But intentionally?  Sure, we do that all the time too.

It seems how people smell doesn’t much enter into it.

On to other things:  The Baby Boomers aren’t responsible for all the world’s ills.  Who knew?  As a member of the youngest cohort of that aging generation, I heartily agree; only individuals, not groups, can bear responsibility.  There are no group responsibilities, no group rights, only individuals.

From our good friend Jillian Becker:  Raising a mercenary army of racists on public funds.  One has to wonder of what possible use are classes in “white privilege” and such racist (yes, racist, in the truest sense of the word) are.   Educational institutions are, or at least should be, tasked with one purpose:  To produce young adults with marketable skills, so that they may become responsible, productive citizens.  Bullshit classes like this do nothing to that end; they only inculcate a new generation of racists.

Yes, goddammit, racists.  They are teaching young people to judge their fellows by the color of their skin, not by the content of their character.  That is fucking racism.  It’s despicable, and taking money to teach such tripe is fraud.

Walter Williams has some thoughts on the topic as well.

On a brighter note:  Want a $25,000 taco?

Me neither.

On that note, we return you to your Thursday, already in progress.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

What happens when safe spaces aren’t safe?  Look around at any number of the anti-free speech protests going on, and you’ll find out.  Excerpt:

At Middlebury College last week, Charles Murray needed a safe space — literally.

In a significant escalation of the campus speech wars, protesters hooted down the conservative scholar in a lecture hall and then roughed up a Middlebury faculty member escorting him to a car.

The Middlebury administration commendably tried to do the right thing and stand by Murray’s right to be heard, but was overwhelmed by a yowling mob with all the manners and intellectual openness of a gang of British soccer hooligans.

Sometime soon, we may yearn for the days when college students were merely childish and closed-minded. If campus protests of speech begin to more routinely slide into violence, Middlebury will be remembered as a watershed.

First, there was the target. Charles Murray is controversial — mainly for his book, “The Bell Curve,” about IQ — but he is one of the most significant social scientists of our age.

Here’s the clincher:

Protesters found the room and pounded on the windows and pulled fire alarms. When Murray and Stanger exited at the end of the live-stream and headed for their getaway car, protesters assailed them. They shoved and grabbed Stanger, who was shaken up and later went to the hospital, and pounded on the car and tried to obstruct it.

Stanger wrote afterward that she “feared for my life.”And for what offense? Talking to someone who thinks differently than the average Middlebury faculty member or student.

It’s popular among those on the Left to compare anyone to the poltical right of Leon Trotsky as a Nazi.  But it’s the sturmtruppen of the Left that is engaging in brownshirt tactics on our campuses today.  Who the bloody hell do these punks think they are?

I’d challenge anyone on any side of this issue to point to one instance – just one – where the roles where reversed, where right-wing thugs shut down a peaceful speaking appearance by a liberal speaker.

I already know what the answer will be: