Modern Sophistry

Somewhere on this blog I posted a long tirade against the religion of economics. One of the things I wanted to include, but did not, was something on the lack of curiosity. The reason I left it out is I thought it might make for a good blog post on its own. This site does not write itself so I have to keep the ammo bucket loaded. That and it is not really peculiar to the monks in the econ department. It is a characteristic of all reformers and ideologues. Whatever the object of their concern, they never bother to ask why it is the way it is. If they do offer some explanation, it is always a self-serving one.

Homosexual marriage is the most obvious example. The advocates never ask why marriage has been boy-girl for ten thousand years. Instead they mutter some nonsense about religion, but that’s as far as they go. Libertarians are the worst offenders. When they start ranting about the state licensing marriage, they act like it sprung from nothingness. Their own ignorance is held up as if it were a mirror, reflecting a newly discovered hole in conventional wisdom.

This weird lack of curiosity leads to logical errors. A good example is in this post on Steve Lansberg’s site. The deliberate ignorance is right there at the start.

I have a question that has only provoked a lot of confused righteous indignation in other forums, and I wonder if TBQ readers might have more thoughtful responses, if we phrase it as a logic puzzle.

My question: I don’t see why it’s good policy to give criminal defendants a Fifth Amendment right to silence in their own trial, as opposed to giving them the same rights and obligations as third-party witnesses (who can be subpoenaed and required to answer questions).

First we get the victim act. That’s a topic for another day. What comes next is the weird admission that he does not understand basics civics. That would be fine if it were just an admission and a plea for help. Instead, it is wrapped in indignation, as if it is the fault of the rest of us that this guy does not know basic civics. The implication is that the Fifth Amendment is illogical because the author does not understand why it exists. The burden is now on everyone else to alleviate him of his ignorance.

This is a common trick from fanatics pushing some cause. They frame their own ignorance as a sort of universal ignorance that they have just stumbled upon. Having discovered this hitherto unobserved irrationality, they offer up an alternative and then challenge everyone else to 1) justify the current arrangements or 2) offer an alternative to their proposal that they think is better.

However, every time I’ve asked this question, people have reacted as if I was suggesting that the state should be allowed to torture people into confessing. Obviously that’s not what I’m asking. I just don’t see a principled reason why defendants can’t be required to answer a question that is relevant, subject to the rules laid out in paragraph 3.

He repeats the victim stuff in order to shift the focus from his own ignorance onto the reader. The use of neutralized logic phrases is particularly annoying. “Obviously that’s not what I’m asking” avoids the charge, without ever addressing it. It also makes it appear the invisible audience to whom he is referring is irrational. The poor guy is an island of rationality in a sea of mean spirited loons!

The funny part is that he is suggesting the state torture people into confessing. Maybe he knows that and that’s why he is shifting the focus from what he is suggesting onto straw men. If the state can punish you for lying to agents of the state and they can force you to answer questions, the honest answering of which could lead to punishment, the state is compelling you to bear witness against yourself. The lever may not be jumper cables to the genitals, but imprisonment with violent sodomites is no less compelling.

Anyway, the comments are worth reading. Comment #6 takes the author’s tactic and turns it around on him. Clever.

You’ve done a good job of comparing fifth amendment rights to the ability of the state to subpoena third parties. It makes perfect sense to me that if it’s acceptable for state to subpoena third parties, it should also be acceptable to subpoena the accused. I hold the position that the state should NOT be able to subpoena the accused OR third parties though. To convince me, you’ll need to provide good reasons why the state should have this particular coercive power in the first place.

I don’t think it is intentional. This sort of sophistry is so common, people do it without even knowing it now. All logic expressions imply a set of conditions that would make them false. For instance, all men are human is a logical expression. To falsify this, we would need a man who is not human. That does not mean it can be falsified. It is the legendary flaw in Popper. There are scientific fast that cannot be falsified, because they are fact, as eternal as 2+2=4.

What the modern sophist does is insert taste or opinion into the search for truth. “Vanilla ice cream is the best” is not true statement. Everyone knows that, I hope. All swans are white, however, is a logical statement. Bolting on “you have to convince me that all swans are white” invalidates the logical expression. Of course, it sets up a standard that can never be met.

Putting it together you get what looks like a deductive examination of an existing rule, law or custom. What you really get is ignorance framed as a question and a petulant demand from the questioner. it is not an affirmative argument or even a logical expression. It’s a temper tantrum.

The MacCult

Way back in the olden thymes, I was at a pub getting loaded with some friends. Somehow I fell into conversation about computers with a woman. All these years later she is just a cave drawing in my mind’s eye, but I recall something she said. She called herself a “Mac Snob.”

This was the mid-90’s when Apple was close to bankruptcy. Amongst the tech community, Apple was just another sad victim of the winner take all world of Tech. If giants like Wang and DEC were getting crushed by Microsoft,  a pipsqueak like Apple had no chance. Still, her weird emotional attachment to a brand stuck with me.

By now it is obvious that Apple is a cultural movement. You see it in this Blackberry story.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been a bit of a BlackBerry basher. The struggling smartphone, once at the epicenter of our nation’s gadget addiction, feels like it’s all but gone the way of the 8-track in recent years. While far from extinct, I can’t remember the last time I saw someone walking down the street talking, texting, or taking a selfie on one. My few friends who still carry a BlackBerry primarily use them for work, while opting for an iPhone or Android as their personal phone.

So why are we still talking about it?

And yet … just when you think it’s time to say goodbye to the good ole’ CrackBerry for good, it seems by many cautiously optimistic accounts that the embattled company could be on a path to making a comeback.

On Friday, CEO John Chen, a noted turnaround artist, reported good news, by way of an earnings showing a fourth-quarter net loss of $423 million. While most of us have a hard time wrapping our heads around how Chen could be “pleased” with that result, industry and financial analysts expected it to be a lot worse. Chen said that BlackBerry’s most recent financials are “on track and slightly ahead” of expectations, and re-asserted that BlackBerry will return to profitability and growth within little more than a year.

So what does all this mean for BlackBerry loyalists who swear by the devices flagship security and productivity features? While the company pivots back to its core strengths — securing mobile devices on the internal networks of corporate and government clients such as MasterCard, Daimler AG and Airbus Group — there’s a new line of handsets on its way for die-hard keyboard lovers. While smartphones won’t be the main focus, Chen said that BlackBerry plans to introduce high-end smartphones that cater to keyboard aficionados in the coming 18 months.

Is BlackBerry worth considering?

Recently, I gave BlackBerry’s all-new Z30 smartphone a spin. I used it for three weeks, and it was a lot better than I expected it to be. Here are three things it did better than my iPhone 5s:

– It lasts a lot longer on a single charge: My iPhone usually poops out after about 8 hours, but the BlackBerry stays awake for some 25 hours.

– It’s easier to type on: The built-in predictive text feature doesn’t just finish the word you’re typing, but it can predict the next word based on your past writing patterns. It saves time and tapping.

– It’s a better organizer: The notification hub puts all your messages, notifications, and calls in one place. Its clean layout is easy on the eyes and perfect to glance at when you have just a few seconds.

But those bonuses also come with a few drawbacks that will keep me from switching to BlackBerry for the long haul:

– The lack of apps: I want Netflix, and I want it on my phone — and I don’t want to take extra steps to get it. To say the marketplace just isn’t as robust as the competition, is a major understatement, and app lovers will suffer. Sure, you can switch some apps over (using the Device Switch App) or download Android apps from a handful of places like the Amazon Appstore, but these extra steps are a pain when you’re used to having everything you want right at your fingertips. If you’ve grown accustomed to the iOS, or even Android ecosystem, this feels like you’re just going too far back.

– It’s out-of-sync: iOS’s ability to automatically populate photos, notifications, and messages across all my — and my family’s — devices is something I just can’t give up. Sure, there are apps that will do it for you, but taking that extra step is just too much of a pain.

– The “cool” factor: I want my main gadget to be an extension of my personality. BlackBerry says “business,” when the phone I want to carry around also needs to denote “pleasure.”

There’s the issue. I’ve often noted that the best selling Apple products are their mobile products. No one buys their servers and PC’s. They tried hard to make their laptops a fashion statement, but people resist a $2,000 fashion statement. The cheap stuff like music players, phones and now tablets, on the other hand, are relatively cheap ways for the Sneetches to slap a star on their belly.

I suspect this wanes now that Jobs is dead. His revivals were a big part of how the MacCult kept itself alive. The lack of a cool new mobile devise is another problem. Apple has squeezed all the juice out of the multi-use mobile platform. There’s nothing else to do there. The silly little bimbo who wrote this USA Today article will be moving onto some other cool thing eventually.

Blackberry has real products with real value. Their security is second to none. They also have hooks into the car business. That cool information center in your new car is most likely running on a Blackberry OS. They have a real business with real value, as long as they get their costs under control. Apple is a toy maker. They make fashion toys for people lacking real computer skills, who want to pretend to be the smartest kid on the block. In the long run, that’s a tough business to maintain.

Sunday Ramblings…

Every Sunday I head off to the market for my supplies. I’m somewhat of a cheap bastard so I bring a lunch every day.  It is not just the expense; it is the quality of food. I can’t keep my weight down without preparing my own food. I’m not sure what it is, but I can’t seem to judge the calorie content of restaurant food. I know restaurants load up their food with salt so maybe that has something to do with it. I don’t know. All I know is I would weigh 300 pounds if I went out for lunch every day…

At the market the checkout girl was a short little gal with a nose ring. It is the ball ring type, which almost always means lesbian. She also wears boys pants, another sign of being a dyke. Her causal hostility to the penis people also suggests she is a dyke. I’ve been on earth for a long time now and I have never met a dyke who was cheery. Even the pleasant ones seem to be struggling with rage or depression.

Homosexuals have a significantly higher rate of mental problems, as well as drug and alcohol abuse.  Lesbians struggle more than homosexual males so perhaps that’s why I notice the angry/depressed dykes. Women, by design, are more expressive than men. Their unhappiness seems odd, though. Straight men find male homosexuality to be disgusting, while no one really thinks that about female homosexuality. But, maybe the cause of female homosexuality carries a high incidence of depression as well…

I’m fond of pointing out that the easiest way to refute libertarian arguments about market genius is to go to a market. Today, I saw a dozen or so couples, with small children, at the market. That’s common. It is also is entirely irrational. They spend a lot of time and energy bundling up the kids for the trip. The kids are a hassle in the store. Nothing about what they are doing is rational, yet they are always there. Worse yet, they are spreading their irrationality because the kids and the giant carts they use slow down the rest of us…

This trend of making mundane tasks a family event is new. When I was a boy, parents rarely took their kids to the store. Mothers during the day would drag pre-school kids around on errands, but that was it. It was considered inappropriate, for example, to take kids to the hardware store or to the furniture store. Today, people expect the rest of us to help mind their kids. Everywhere you go there are kids running wild. Home Depot has carts shaped like race cars for the kids to ride in while mom and dad shop….

People believe all sorts of weird things about food. It is because we are programmed, I think, to accept direction from authority. When Food Inc. or Uncle Sam says something is good, people believe it. An example of this was in the cereal aisle. I rarely eat cereal. Health-wise, it is no different than ice cream. As a treat it is fine, but not as a meal. That includes the healthy stuff. Carbs are carbs.

I’m looking for something and I hear a couple debating one form of Kashi to another. All of it is crap, but you can see from the website why moonbats like it. They have all the buzzwords and tribal chants packed into their marketing. The couple truly believed that stuff is superior to a bowl of Fruit Loops, which it is not. They would be better off snorting a bowl of sugar…

A commenter mentioned his conversion to a low-carb diet. When I wrestled, our coach called this an athlete’s diet. In wrestling, the goal is maximum strength and stamina at the lowest possible weight. Wrestlers are always cutting weight and are obsessed with their diet. You have to be. Our coach preached a diet of chicken, turkey, eggs, green vegetables and fruit as a snack. When I hit my middle years I went back to that diet and lost most of the weight I gained in my 30’s. I eat a dozen eggs a week and all the meat I can stand. My cholesterol is low so my doctor tells me to stick with it…

Another commenter complained that I ignored the real issue facing our electric grid when I went off on that fat tub of goo, Newt Gingrich. Here’s the thing. There’s nothing we can do about the electric grid. The chances of someone getting a nuke here and setting it off are infinitesimally small. Even if they manage it, the chances they do so in a way that wrecks the grid is equally low.

I’m old enough now to have a few scares under my belt. Every one of them comes with hands out demanding cash from the public till. In the fullness of time, all but a few were shown to be scams. Air pollution from cars is a notable exception. Lead in gas is probably another. Given Gingrich’s habit of selling his opinion to the highest bidder, we should assume he is being paid to lie in an effort to scam money from Congress.

My advise here is simple. Never trust a dishonest man…

Why We’re Doomed

This piece in National Journal reminds me of the moment when I decided we were done for as a country. I was still in my salad days when a man is supposed to be full of optimism. Instead, I was oosing doom and gloom. Well, maybe it was not that bad. Still, watching Newt Gingrich waddle on stage as the next Speaker of the House and, presumably, the leader of the loyal opposition, I knew we were done for as a country. If that’s the best we could muster, it was time to reconsider the whole experiment. Two decades of rot have confirmed what I suspected.

It’s not that Gingrich is a festering carbuncle of man or that he is a moral nullity. Politics, going back to the Alcibiades, has been populated with loathsome parasites. If the country could weather the Kennedy family it could handle another degenerate in a powerful office. The thing that was the clincher for me was how Gingrich was talked about as some sort of deep thinker. That absurdity is right here in the piece.

Within a year, nine out of 10 Americans could be dead. And whatever causes the national apocalypse—be it North Korean malice or the whims of the sun—the downfall will ultimately be our own fault.

That’s the fear of Newt Gingrich and other members of a high-profile coalition who are convinced that our fragile electrical grid could be wiped out at any moment.

Their concern? Electromagnetic pulses, the short bursts of energy—caused by anything from a nuclear blast to a solar flare—that can wreak havoc on electrical systems on a massive scale. And the coalition believes it’s coming soon.

“I think we’re running out of time,” said Peter Pry, a former CIA officer and head of a congressional advisory board on national security. And if the worst happens? “This gets translated into mass fatalities, because our modern civilization can’t feed, transport, or provide law and order without electricity,” he said.

While some see the coalition as alarmist—and others dismiss them as out-and-out quacks—the coalition boasts some prominent and influential names. Pry and Gingrich are joined by former CIA Director James Woolsey.

“It wasn’t difficult persuading them” to join the coalition, Pry said. Gingrich “has known about EMP and cared about it for many years.”

Last year, Gingrich told members of Congress that an EMP attack “could be the kind of catastrophe that ends civilization—and that’s not an exaggeration.”

What does Gingrich know about physics? The answer is nothing. He was a history instructor at strip mall college and he liked dinosaurs. I love history, but it is not science and everyone knows it. Many not-so-bright people skate though college as history majors, English majors and so forth. Even if you dispute my opinion here, you cannot dispute that history is not science. Gingrich is no more qualified to discuss the electric grid and EMP attacks than my cat.

The fact that the nation takes seriously a guy like Gingrich on anything, much less issues he is uniquely unqualified to discuss is far more worrisome than solar flares or an EMP attack. Gingrich is a crank and not the funny entertaining type either. He is the weird guy who lives at the end of the lane type of crank. The guy parents warned their kids to avoid. His ideas are mostly nonsense, but he believes them with the intensity of a fanatic. This is a guy who thought we could put sunglasses on the globe to “address global warming.”

I tend to like fringe guys, even when they hold very weird opinions. The reason is they make watching this stuff fun. Jerry Brown is entertaining as all get out, until he gets power. Then he becomes a dangerous lunatic. Gingrich has always been at the center of the “conservative movement.” His weird social engineering ideas should never get a purchase in a movement that makes claims to liberty and small government. His central role in conservative politics over the last two decades says “conservatism” has been nothing but a fraud. That’s why we are doomed. Without an alternative to the Cult of Modern Liberalism, they are free to do as they please for as long as they please.

Fixing The Fat Problem

As a rule, I’m skeptical of any claims that require as their solution greater access by the nation’s busy-bodies to the lives of Americans. The busy-body is a type of fanatic. The object of their fanaticism is the mucking about in the life of another person. Europeans are natural busy-bodies. That is, the folks on the Continent. It is why socialism is so natural for them. In America, the Democratic Party has been the natural home for the American busy-body. Their entire platform is based on nosy jerks poking around in your affairs, telling you what to do.

As with Global Warming, my reaction to the anti-obesity movement is skepticism. I just assumed they were up to no good. That has proven to be the case. The government has been squandering billions on this crusade and Americans are fatter. Part of it is they preach nonsense, like avoiding meat and eating grains. The whole food pyramid bit was utter nonsense. The irrationalism that grew up on the Left in  the 1960’s,  starting with Thomas Kuhn is mostly to blame. Relativism allows people to believe that gibberish is as valid as observable fact.

That does not change the fact we have a lot of fat people. I’m 48 and probably 20 pounds overweight. I exercise regularly, but there’s no beating father time. In my youth, I was a cut 185, but that’s not happening for me at this age, no matter how much I diet and exercise. I weight train four days a week, run three times a week and cycle about 1,000 miles a year. Using myself as a guide here, middle-age should put most men in the range of 20-50 pounds over their fighting weight. I bet most men my age are 50-100 pounds overweight. I say that because it seems everyone I see is much fatter than me.

This morning I stopped for my coffee and saw two women getting out of a car in front of the coffee joint. Both were pushing 400 pounds and maybe more. My ability to judge the weight of people that size is not good. Both waddled into the coffee joint and order food for twenty. The reason people are fat is they eat too much and exercise too little. In a rich, modern country like America, even the poorest of the poor have too much food and too much leisure. The typical ghetto dweller has a flat screen, cable, an XBox and cabinets full of treats. They spend their afternoon smoking blunts, eating Doritos and playing Gears of War.

My solution has two parts. First, food must get more expensive for fat people. Therefore all retail food must be priced by the pound – of the customer. The two fat asses who waddled into the coffee shop would weigh in and their food would be priced accordingly. Their bagel would be twice the price of my bagel, for example. Since I’m only 20 pounds overweight, BMI is probably a better measure. The fatties were at least 200 pounds over limit so their food should cost ten times the price of my food.

The other leg of my plan is to move all parking spaces 100 yards from food establishments. If the fatties had to walk the length of a football field to get their feedbag on, I’m betting they make other choices. On the other hand, if they still had to have handfuls of bacon and bagels, they would have to put some work in before and after. My bet is these tubs of goo would simply stay home. People who get that fat are so lazy even food is not enough to get them exercising. But, it would keep them from the buffet line and that’s the point.

 

Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi In Paris

A long time ago I encountered a story about Sikhs in Minnesota. I thought it odd that Sikhs would emigrate to a place that was very white and very cold. It turned out that the US and Canada imported scads of them for some reason. That spawned the image in my head of people walking around Minneapolis saying, “You know what would make this place better? Sikhs! We need a bunch of swarthy looking fellows who wear filthy hats and rarely bath. That will make this place perfect.”

It is a ridiculous image and it is intended to be. The people who decided to import roughly a million Sikhs never expected to live anywhere near them. In Georgetown and Bethesda, you will find no Sikhs. In Chris Mathews’ neighborhood, Chevy Chase Village, you will not find any Sikhs (or blacks or Latinos for that matter). America’s ruling class is insulated from the consequences of their decisions. It’s why they decided to dump a bunch of Somalis into Lewiston Maine. Let the little people deal with them.

Anyway, that came to mind when I saw this story on Drudge. Well, my first thought was “I see the French still hate the Jews.” The French are not the worst Jew-haters on the planet, but they work at it. They are not as bad as the Dutch, but who is?

Then I started reading the story.

A Jewish teacher from Paris told police that three men had assaulted and cursed him in Arabic before drawing a swastika on his chest.

The attack occurred on Thursday night, according to a report by the Drancy-based Bureau for National Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, a watchdog group known as BNVCA.

“They pressed him to the wall and hit his face, around the eyes and on his chest,” the report said. The blows broke his nose and deformed it, according to the report.

“One of the perpetrators opened the victim’s shirt and with a black marker drew a swastika on the man’s bare chest,” BNVCA president Sammy Ghozlan wrote in the BNVCA report.

The victim, who was wearing a kippah at the time of the attack, was identified as K. Richard. He was treated for a broken nose and lacerations on his face on Thursday night.

He told police that the three men whoa attacked him appeared to be of North African descent and were in their twenties. They cornered him as he was exiting a kosher restaurant on Manin Street in Paris’ 19th arrondissement, near the Gare du Nord train station.

The shouted “death to the Jews” and called him “dirty Jew” in French and also shouted insults in Arabic which Richard did not understand, the BNVCA report said.

Of course. it was Arabs. Why would an otherwise sensible nation invite millions of inbred savages to settle in their lands? Were Frenchmen wandering around Paris saying to one another, “This city really need some inbred Muslim savages!”??

Of course not. The French are the most chauvinistic people on the continent. They hate pretty much everyone that is not French. Heck, they are not terribly fond of a lot of people that are French. There’s nothing wrong with it. I wish my country was a bit more chauvinistic. Instead of inviting the world and invading the world, maybe we would mind our own business a bit more. That’s what makes the madness so stunning. The Cult that grew out of Jacobinism eventually poisoned the minds of Western elites to the point where even the French want to murder themselves with immigration.

Somewhere, Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi is laughing.

The Other Side Of The Ledger

My chief complaint against modern economics is they don’t know anything about accounting. It has become a form of alchemy. Instead of turning lead into gold, they make the trade-offs in public policy disappear. The phrase “all upside” somehow oozed over from the sharpies in the money game into what was a branch of practical arithmetic.

A good example is the bank bailouts. The argument was this. The cost of letting them fail was too high. They were too big to fail, which really meant too big to let fail. The claim was the cost of letting them fail was higher than the cost of bailing them out with money stolen from janitors and plumbers.

Here we are and the most egregious offender is no better off today than when they were saved by their friends in government.

Citigroup Inc.’s capital plan was among five that failed Federal Reserve stress tests, while Bank of America Corp. won approval for its first dividend increase since the financial crisis.

Lenders announced more than $60 billion of dividends and stock buybacks after the Fed approved capital plans for 25 of the 30 banks in its annual exam. Citigroup, as well as U.S. units of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, HSBC Holdings Plc and Banco Santander SA, failed because of concerns about the quality of their processes, the central bank said yesterday in a statement. Zions Bancorporation failed after its capital fell below Fed minimums in a simulation of a severe economic slump.

Why is this bank still in business? The first mistake, bailing out what was nothing more than a bust-out operation, can be forgiven. Politicians are stupid and when panicked, they can be outlandishly stupid. Here we are in the cool calm of recovery and we’re still letting this sham of a bank stagger on? it should be broken up starting tomorrow. The senior leaders as well as the board should be thrown in jail and perhaps hung.

That sounds rough, but sometimes the point of a life is to be a warning to others.

The central bank found defects in Citigroup’s planning practices that included areas the Fed flagged before. The regulator expressed concern with the New York-based company’s ability to project losses in “material parts of its global operations” and to reflect all business exposures in its internal stress test.

“Taken in isolation, each of the deficiencies would not have been deemed critical enough to warrant an objection, but when viewed together, they raise sufficient concerns regarding the overall reliability of Citigroup’s capital planning process,” the Fed said of the third-largest U.S. bank.

Mike Corbat, the bank’s chief executive officer, said in a statement that Citigroup is “deeply disappointed” by the rejection and will “work closely with the Fed to better understand their concerns so that we can bring our capital planning process in line with their expectations.” The timing of any resubmission hasn’t been decided, he said.

If Mikey had issued his statement from the gallows, I bet it would have more resonance to the rest of them.

The point here is the cost of bailing out these banks could not be lower than letting them fail. That is a mathematical impossibility. It is the logical equivalent of saying a pound of feathers is lighter than a pound of lead. What was really going on is the cost of bailing out Citi was lower to the politicians and their friends at Citi in 2008, than leaving a bigger mess for whoever was in charge down the line. What they did was book the benefit in 2008 and push the corresponding costs off into the future. At some point, every accrual reverses out.

Axiomatically, that was true of all the bank bailouts. If I borrow a million dollars today so I can live like a king for a year, I will have to repay the loan in future years. That means I will be correspondingly poorer. Precisely, I will be one million dollars poorer in future years plus the interest. That’s what happened with these bank bailouts. Our politicians opted to impoverish future share holders, customers and citizens so they and their banker buddies could live in the moment.

Irrationalism and the Law

This post on a legal blog feeds into something I’ve been reading lately.

Can an employer make his employees foot the bill for his religious beliefs? Merely to ask this question is to answer it. “Religious liberty” does not and cannot include the right to impose the costs of observing one’s religion on someone else, especially in the for­-profit workplace. Until Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, this was a basic and unquestioned aspect of the law of freedom of religion. The Establishment Clause forbids accommodations of religion in the for-profit workplace that impose significant burdens on identifiable and discrete third parties. In Hobby Lobby, a group of employers are demanding the right to refuse health insurance coverage of contraception needed by women who do not share the employers’ religious beliefs.  Upholding the exemption would shift the cost of accommodating Hobby Lobby’s religious beliefs about contraception to those women. Such cost-shifting violates the Establishment Clause.
Frederick Mark Gedicks, Jr., the person posting that bit above, could very well be a lunatic for all I know. I don’t follow the legal trade. His CV suggests he is a respected man in the field, teaching at a university. I make sport of economics for its quasi-scientific assertions, but they are models of logic compared to the law. The person who said, The law is an ass” obviously hated the ass.  The irrationality of the law is right here to see.
In order to have a lawful society, that is, one with commonly understood rules and a transparent method to adjudicate disputes, you must respect the rights of the citizens to hold and keep property. This is axiomatic. Another axiom is a lawful society must have absolute freedom of association. If the state can dictate how citizens group together, the citizens are subjects, living at the whim of their rulers. If the state can willy-nilly take property from one citizen, then you have no property rights and nothing to stand upon as citizens. These axioms are fundamental to the American conception of liberty.
Let’s call respect for private property A and freedom of association B. When quizzed, Frederick Mark Gedicks, Jr., I’m sure, would accept A and B to be true and that A does not contradict B. Yet, here he is arguing that a private employer has no right to associate with whom he chooses (hiring) and he cannot set the terms of employment (insurance coverage).  This, of course, undermines the concept of private property. If you must seek permission from the state whenever you wish to enjoy the use of your property (business, land, money, clothing, food, etc), it really is not your property.
Lawyers are by nature liars. They spend all of their time lying for a fee. If you doubt this, ask how many times has a lawyer stood before the court and admitted his client was guilty? When has a lawyer stood before a judge and admitted he did not know the law? Everyday in every court in America, lawyers tell one baldfaced lie after another in an attempt to deceive the court. Irrationalism, is the only possible outcome. A nation run by lawyers will eventually be a nation run by madmen.

The Pod People: Harry Reid

I’m fond of calling our ruling class Pod People. They look like us and make sounds that seem human, but they are nothing like us. Here’s a good example from Hairy Reed.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said the fault of struggling to sign up on the Obamacare exchanges didn’t lie with the faulty website, but with the people who weren’t “educated on how to use the Internet.”Explaining the reasoning behind the latest Obamacare delay, Reid said too many people just didn’t know to use their computer properly and needed more time. Apparently, it had nothing to do with the well-documented failings of the website that have embarrassed the White House for months.

“We have hundreds of thousands of people who tried to sign up who didn’t get through,” he said. “There are some people who are not like my grandchildren who can handle everything so easily on the Internet, and these people need a little extra time. It’s not — the example they gave us is a 63-year-old woman came into the store and said, ‘I almost got it. Every time I just about got there, it would cut me off.’ We have a lot of people just like this through no fault of the Internet, but because people are not educated on how to use the Internet.”

It’s just the latest strange moment for the embattled Reid, who’s facing an increasingly uphill battle to keep a majority of Democrats in the Senate. Reid also recently implied all Americans telling their stories of Obamacare’s harmful effects were liars, and he has incessantly bashed the Koch Brothers as “un-American” and “against everything that’s good for America.”

Unfortunately for Reid, he has a far higher negative rating with the public than the Kochs.

Back in the 1990’s I used to get a kick out of reading legacy media talk about the Internet. Watching them fumble on TV with the basics was great theater. The strange thing about our elites is they are always late to the game, but then pretend to be experts long after most people take the “new thing” for granted. The Internet is a good example. Most politicians struggle with sending and reading e-mail, a skill small children master by kindergarten.

I’m sure to Harry this bizarre explanation sounds reasonable. After all, he has no idea how any of this works. Why would the little people understand it? To the rest of us it sounds like this classic from Ted Stevens:

For Once I Agree With The Twink

Twinkie has a post up today on the Hobby lobby case.

Regarding the cases argued in the Supreme Court yesterday, which includes Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., I remind you once again that the Supreme Court takes a very broad view of the powers of Congress to regulate businesses. I find it unlikely that Hobby Lobby will win.

Maybe the two most heavily Catholic judges, Scalia and Thomas, will side with Hobby Lobby, not because of consistent jurisprudence but because these normally hyper-rational justices become irrational when Christianity is at issue. The rest of the court will probably fall in line based on the slippery slope argument (where would these types of exemptions end?), because the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act didn’t was intended to protect individuals from discrimination and not to allow corporations from avoiding general business regulations, because the law isn’t forcing anyone to use contraceptives, etc. The Court has previously held that the RFPA doesn’t allow a religious person to get out of paying taxes, and paying for health insurance plans is like paying a tax.

Taxes go to pay for public schools, where there are art classes where the children are instructed to draw pictures of animals, which violates the Islamic religion. Does that mean Muslims don’t have to pay taxes? I don’t think so.

His batshit crazy ideas about religion aside, I think he is right that the court will let Congress force just about anything on the public. The reason has nothing to do with precedent or current law. The court has three lesbian fanatics, two of whom went bonkers during the hearing. The court is notoriously congenial. Even stalwarts like Scalia and Thomas will struggle in the face of ululating lunatics in their midst. The fact that Sotomayor  and Kagen are usually amiable, if dimwitted, will put pressure on the rest to accommodate them.

More important, Roberts was bought the first time and he has to stay bought. Whatever it is the administration used to turn him did not go away. On a court with four ideologues, turning one vote ensures favorable decisions for the Cult. Roberts, having called the mandate a tax once is not going to change his mind now and call it what it is, a mandate. That’s absurd. There’s nothing in it for him.

It goes to the nature of democracy and why it always ends in a bloodbath. A piece of paper is not going to stop a mob or the mob’s “duly elected” representatives. That’s all the court has is a piece of paper. They have to play nice with Congress and that means going along with what Congress passes. Currently, there’s no reason to think Congress has any interest in repealing this comically bad law or reigning in the Executive branch. The court therefore will just keep rubber stamping this thing no matter how silly it makes them look.