Friday, 19 March 2010

Friday Morning Ramble (March 19): The Prostitutes & ObamaCare Edition

Just when you thought it was a slow news week . . .

  • At $200 per hour, blowing $3.4 million on prostitutes (if you’ll forgive the pun) works out at 17,000 hours--or around 5 hours a day for 9 years.
    Blame Bernard Hickey for the arithmetic.  Blame Steven Versalko for the thieving. And blame Cactus Kate for wondering whether Versalko’s wife should ditch him now, or after the lesser of 6 years or $3.4 million is paid back by his hookers.
  • Productivity, productivity, productivity. “Ultimately, the idea of productivity is essential – and yet the statistics of it are not so useful.”  Time to bring on a “Productivity Commission” then? Um…
    Productivity problems
  • Education standards are still a political football, here and elsewhere.
    Andrew Coulson explains why all age-based standards are bad:
    The False Premise of National Education Standards
    And Neil McLuskey explains:
    You Always Lose with Top-Down Standards
  • Meanwhile, over in the lucky country, “’health and welfare’ jobs have just overtaken the retail sector in terms of employment. Currently 1 in 9 jobs is in health and social assistance…"It will keep getting bigger," says labour market specialist Mark Wooden…”
    Astonishing claim
  • An interesting anecdote about the iPredict market on Roger Douglas's Private Member's Bill allowing the youth minimum wage shows just how good insider trading is at letting the market know the information it needs in a timely—almost instant—fashion.
    Markets and information aggregation
  • Remember all that kerfuffle a week or so back about a Ministry of Women's Affairs paper on salary gaps, about which press releases were issued telling us that it would tell us that all women are underpaid. Now that the paper is available, and the media has moved on, we find however that it doesn’t tell us that at all.
    Reporting on pay gaps
  • When did bad choices become “addictions”? About the time everyone wanted an excuse for evading responsibility.  More evidence here that the bad habits people like to call “addiction” are a choice, not a disease, from “a research psychologist at McLean Hospital and a lecturer at Harvard [who] mounts a devastating assault on the brain-based model of addiction”:
    Satel on Addiction
  • There was more evidence of the following thesis just this week, wasn’t there:
    Conservatives Hate Trial by Jury
  • Andrew Sullivan, and many other Atlantic readers and writers I’ll be bound, gets schooled in Israel’s history by means of some scurrilous maps.
    Andrew Sullivan Revises History (Again)
  • And historian Scott Powell reminds us just how big small Israel is.  No wonder the Arab World is complaining!
    No Wonder the Arabs Are So Angry!
  • Meanwhile, from the Department of Good News comes this:
    CIA chief Leon Panetta saysmore than half of al-Qa’ida’s top 20 commanders, and hundreds of militants, had been killed in Pakistan military operations and targeted attacks on the region over recent months.”
    Which, as Andrew Bolt observes, is “good if true.”
  • Peter Schiff takes on a point-by-point fisking of Paul Krugman.  Magic.

  • And in ObamaCare Week, Leonard Peikoff schools us once again on a basic fact:
    Leonard Peikoff: Health Care is Not a Right
  • Paul Hsieh points out that government-run health systems—any government-run health system, not just ObamaCare—necessarily pits doctors against their Hippocratic Oath. It “places your doctor’s medical conscience directly on a collision course with government bureaucrats.”
    ObamaCare vs. the Hippocratic Oat
  • Now that the Democrats’ have gone post-modern, with plans to simply “deem” Obamacare into law without even bothering to hold a vote on it, it’s clear enough, says Ed Cline, from the suicidal abuse of power that Obamacare is “not just about health care. It’s about power. It’s about tyranny. It’s about destroying America.”
    Of Tom Hanks, the “Slaughter House,“ Polar Bears, and Bronx Cheers – RULE OF REASON 
  • “This whole idea of passing a bill 'without explicitly voting for it' is the greatest evasion of legislative responsibility, the most blatant expression of contempt for the public, that I have ever seen from Congress."
    Robert Tracinski: "Now It's Up to the Bear"
  • “Krugman is right about one thing: this takeover is the culmination of decades of US government intervention in healthcare.”
    Reversing the takeover
  • Quin Hillyer says “I told you so.”
        “[Back in 2008] I warned about how if the Obamites couldn't win under the current rules, they would just change the rules or otherwise break them. The latest idea, the "Slaughter Solution," is just one such example.”
    Didn't I Warn About Alinsky?
  • Michael Hurd writes a letter to the editor:

        Under the Constitution, two houses of Congress are required to pass a bill into law so that the President may sign it. Under the Pelosi Congress, the House merely needs to “deem” a bill into law without even being concerned about the Constitution. What’s the underlying premise here, aside from a desire to institute socialism and fascism at any cost? It’s the death of rationality as applied to our government. The United States Constitution was a document whose primary purpose was to put an objective check on men through elevating objective laws above the will of any one man (or woman). That Congress and the President are even considering such a proposal as “deeming” something into law – whether they ultimately get away with it or not – shows how far our nation has tumbled from any standard of rationality and objectivity.
        “What’s at stake here is not merely politics, but philosophy. Philosophy refers to more fundamental concerns such as the nature of reality and the means by which we assess reality. Do we require facts and proof to make our claims? Or do we merely wish or “deem” to be true whatever we feel to be true? Philosophy answers these questions. And philosophy sets the terms for the kind of government we will have. Once people give in to the notion that reality is whatever anyone feels they want it to be, the way is paved for dictatorship. A philosophy based on objective reality and reason gave rise to the original American concept of freedom and individual rights; the demise of rationality means the fall of our government as we once knew it. This goes well beyond the disastrous consequences of socialized medicine. Pelosi’s law of arbitrary will is now the law of the land. The law of the land is no longer the law of objective justice; it’s the law of sheer will and power.”

  • Duke Ellington’s 1927 masterpiece ‘Creole Love Call’ expresses the whole of love—from the sacred to the profane.  Only jazz can do this. Here it is sung by Priscilla Baskerville for the movie Cotton Club.

  • Where did all that gold go?  Turns out China is buying its own.
    China Buys its Own Gold 
  • And watch out. China has one of the world’s two big economic bubbles right now, says investor Jim Rogers. (And Rogers is always worth listening to.)
    Jim Rogers Sizes Up Two Global Bubbles
  • The Krazy Economy blogger continues his basic series explaining “how the Fed works to expand bank credit, the Fed’s massive expansion of Member Reserve Deposits, and the steady decline in bank loans.”
    Good stuff to get you up to speed with what’s going on.
    Fed and the Money Supply: Details
  • Some people equate warmist science with the science on evolution.  Some insist you’d have to be a moron not to believe in both (I’m looking at you, Pharyngula.)  Whereas others insist you’re going to hell if you believe in either (we’re all looking at you, Garth George.)
    Fact is,
    Evolutionary Theory and the Global Warming Hypothesis are a World (of Evidence) Apart
  • Where did all that warming go?  Here’s how National Geographic presented mid-century temps before warming became fashionable. Now, of course, alleged scientists have become more adept at hiding the subsequent decline.
    NHNatGeo76small_thumb How did that cooling get massaged away?
  • 51uETda8P9L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU02_You can kill off the warmist hockey stick as many times as you like, but they still show up every time a warmist meets the press.
    IPCC's John Houghton about ecofanatics: annotated version
  • Perhaps this will help exterminate the thing permanently:
    Hockey Stick Illusion: “Shut-eyed Denial”
    It “deserves to win prizes” says Matt Ridley.
    The case against the hockey
  • According to M. Mitchell Waldrop, editorial page editor for Nature, “global-warming deniers . . . are sowing doubts about the fundamental [climate change] science.” Further, Waldrop argues in his op-ed “Climate of Fear, “scientists’ reputations have taken a hit.” Ignore the snarky reference to “deniers” and ask: is science and are scientists under attack? The answer is Yes.
    But who’s to blame?
    What Real Scientists Do: Global Warming Science vs. Global Whining Scientists
  • “The Global Warming/Climate Change charade is falling apart faster than the Democrats 2010 electoral fortunes. Falsified data, omitted relevant data, unreliable sources – the most prestigious propagators of the global warming case are beset with scandal after scandal.”
    Here are a few highlights from
    The Wreckage of the “Climate Consensus”
  •     “The death rattle of the climate campaign will be deafening. It has too much political momentum and fanatical devotion to go quietly. The climate campaigners have been fond of warning of catastrophic “tipping points” for years. Well, a tipping point has indeed arrived​–just not the one the climate campaigners expected.
        “The lingering question is whether the collapse of the climate campaign is also a sign of a broader collapse in public enthusiasm for environmentalism in general. Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, two of the more thoughtful and independent-minded figures in the environmental movement, have been warning their green friends that the public has reached the point of “apocalypse fatigue.” They’ve been met with denunciations from the climate campaign enforcers for their heresy. The climate campaign has no idea that it is on the cusp of becoming as ludicrous and forlorn as the World -Esperanto Association.”
    In Denial
  • I do believe I’ve found my next Screen Saver/Desktop, courtesy of Despair.Com.
  •      “On the surface, the US economy is recovering. Well, not even. It is stabilizing… Economists who never expected trouble, reacted to it in a predictably moronic way - they rushed to the rescue with more debt…. But here's the interesting point: by failing to address the real causes of the crisis, the feds only allowed those undercurrents to grow more powerful and more dangerous.
        “Economists can't tell a government job from a private sector job...and can't tell $1 of government spending from a dollar spent by the private sector...and can't tell a dollar's worth of GDP from a dollar's worth of real prosperity...which means, they can't tell the difference between what's happening on the surface to what's happening underneath.”
    Who Can Blame Consumers for Being More Ready to Spend Money?
  • All the economists who either never saw the economic collapse coming or who actually helped to make it happen (these two groups overlap quite a lot, you understand) are still in there trying to “fix” what they never knew about anyway.
    They seem to think that business cycles come out of the blue, like earthquakes or cyclones.  Not so.  Not so.  They’re entirely man-made, and entirely easy to understand.
    Business Cycles, Not Our Fault
  • “The question of whether we are headed into an inflationary or deflationary environment is probably one of the most important, complex and difficult questions to answer right now. For investors, getting this call right or at least thinking about the potential possibilities is absolutely crucial…So where are we? Ahhh...if only it were that easy.”
    Inflation or Deflation?
  • Did someone say that China hasn’t been stimulating?
    China’s Currency Manipulation is a Form of Economic Stimulus
  • More news on the GDP delusion:
    Economic recovery: don’t trust the GDP figures
  • Free-riders? Who cares about them, says Yaron Brook, when “positive externalities” are so enormous.

  • Amy Mossoff talks about the experience of starting an Objectivist discussion group at her place, and the selfish value to her of doing it.
        "I started thinking about this project when I realized that the most important thing I get from my friends is intellectual stimulation.  I noticed that when Adam and I have friends over – friends who share our philosophical views and take ideas seriously – the conversations we have make me feel great for days.  Sometimes I learn something new from the content of the discussion, but more often than not, the important thing is that the exercise of my mind refuels me and puts me into a more active-minded mode than I would normally be in.  After these visits, I feel charged up, energetic, and on my game.  Everything I do is more intense, and I enjoy my routine much more.”
    There’s good stuff in the comments as well.
    My New Hobby
  • A few websites around the place  have just discovered what was released in Ayn Rand’s journals back in 1996: that when the twenty-two year old Rand first arrived in the US from Bolshevik Russia, she planned a novel (which she never completed) based on a cold-hearted killer.  Apparently that’s okay when you’re Truman Capote or Dostoyevsky, but not for Ayn Rand.
    Find the truth about the story here:
    Smearing Ayn: Rand, Nietzsche and the Purposeless Monster
    Rand's views on murderer William Hickman
  • I’ve just finished John Lewis’ magnificent book Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History, with lessons from history from Sparta to Hiroshima; from Sherman’s burning of Atlanta to the failure of pre-war appeasement of Hitler.  Here he is talking on the lessons of that book for today.
        “With the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, America has accepted a permanent, institutionalized state of siege on its own soil. But is this the correct strategy? In this lecture Dr. John Lewis examines several examples from history—including Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome—in which great nations, facing attack, have acted defensively rather than with bold offense. The results are clear: such a policy is suicidal. Rather than bracing against further attacks at home or spreading “democracy” abroad, America should destroy her enemies.
        “But this strategic lesson needs a moral foundation….”
    WATCH HERE: The Failure of the Homeland Defense: The Lessons from History [66:41 min.]
  • The integrator of the whole of economics is . . . Say’s Law! (Well done there at the back.)   The estimable Steven Kates (who, as it happens, sits on Australia’s Productivity Commission) explains how Say’s Law integrates the whole of economics; and how John Maynard Keynes never even understood, let alone refuted it.  And look just how underhanded Keynes was . . .
    Watch Why Your Grandfather’s Economics Was Better Than Yours [57:00 min.]

  • BUY IT AT AMAZON! And good news: Kates’ classic book Say’s Law & the Keynesian Revolution has been re-released in paperback.  One of the best explanations around of economics’ most basic law.
    BOOK REVIEW: Say's Law and the Keynesian Revolution: How Macroeconomic Theory Lost Its Way
  • Samizdata reports that “Western Australia has a population of 2.2 million people, and occupies an area of just over 2.6 million square kilometres. Just for reference, that is seven and a half times the size of Germany or alternatively ten times the size of Texas.
        “However, average house prices are amongst the highest in the world, as there is a shortage of land.”
    And wouldn’t you know it, there is: and it’s those same “smart-growth” arseholes that have made every other housing market so expensive who’ve done the same job in WA.
    It's time misguided land starvation was stopped
  • Here’s a neat idea for American history buffs—or for those who’d like to be.  The project is called PatriotCast, and aims to be a “a real-time, online reenactment of the American Revolution. Or perhaps the best way to describe it would be a ‘Twit-enactment’.”
        “That’s right, PatriotCast will be using the increasing popular mini-blog/ social networking site as its platform to provide real-time, daily updates on the events that shaped this nation’s beginning.
        “Another way to think of it would be as if ‘Twitter’ were around during the 18th century and perhaps a large news corporation using twitter was following the politics and actions in America between the years of 1775 and 1783.
        “PatriotCast will reenact and in a way mirror those years between the years of 2010 and 2017, with tweets coming usually everyday (often multiple tweets per day) corresponding with the historical date.    The tentative start date for the Twitter feed to activate will be April 1st of 2010 which would correspond with the historical date April 1st 1775, and so on for eight years.”
    Sounds like it’s worth signing up!
    PatriotCast Project
    PatriotCast at Twitter
  • Trey Givens takes on one of those difficult problems in modern manners:
    Who Pays on Guy-Guy Dates? 
  • From JazzOnTheTube: Chick Corea tells the story of the great 1930s cabaret pianist Fats Waller acknowledging Art Tatum as he entered the club one night. He announced to the crowd, "I am just a piano player, but tonight God is in the house." 
    Born blind, it’s said that friends tricked him when he was a learning piano by buying a piano duet on disc and telling him it was played one-handed—which is how he went on to learn it.
    Here’s Art Tatum with ‘Willow Weep For Me.’

  • And for something completely different . . . here’s Daniel Barenboim with the world’s best-known piano sonata [hat tip Lindsay Perigo]:

  • And finally, a cogent thought for the weekend—and, frankly, for any other time  [hat tip Luke Setzer]:


Enjoy your weekend!

PS: Don’t know about you, but I can’t wait until AFL starts next weekendIt’s in a league of its own:


It’s the greatest sport in the world … even if they have to play AC bloody DC all through their bloody ads to help prove it.


  1. This "fear of deflation" is largely nonsensical. Deflation does not keep people from spending – they always spend what's necessary. And money NOT "spent" is then saved which means it is credit to someone who invests it for capital goods etc. thus it is again being spent, only not for consumption. Money never lies completely idle to any extent whether there's inflation, deflation, stability or a solar eclipse. For deflation to seriously happen, not only the current extreme credit expansion by the central banks and states (through "quantitative easing", stimulus packages, monetising and then spending national debt etc.) but also the money that was released into the economy PRIOR to the collapse would have to be "mopped up" again. This is nowhere to be seen nor would it be technically possible (confiscation aside) so we will rather see inflation than deflation.

  2. On a Friday evening ramble, the Auckland Blues is going to demolish the Brumbies tonight at Eden Park. Yeeha! Go the Blues.

  3. Robert Winefield20 Mar 2010, 07:52:00

    "Conservatives hate trial by jury."

    Define conservative. Because in so far as the military tribunals to determine the fate of those captured on the battlefield in arms against the USA in a legally declared armed conflict against a state or entity that supports or propagates Islamo facist terrorism, you bet I'm against civilian trial by jury and all the other accouterments that accompany the US criminal legal system:

    (1) 'civilian rules of evidence.' Wherein you are allowed to challenge the means by which the evidence was collected. Doing so in the case of the Clinton era WTC trials led to the revelation that the CIA could track Bin Laden via his Sat-phone calls using the Echelon system (among others). Bin Laden has since stopped using cell and sat phones and we no longer know where the fucker is.

    (2) The 'right to face your accusor - even though he might be a CIA agent who has infiltrated Al Quaeda.'

    I could go on. The reason I have gone on this far is that the article that you linked to made the charge in the context of military tribunals conducted IN TIME OF WAR to determine the status of enemy combatants.

    And if thinking that -- trying arch terrorists hitherto interned at Guatanamo and bringing them to NY for a fully fledged jury trial in which the US gives away all of it's fucking techniques for tracking and capturing these bastards --makes me a Conservative in your eyes, then put me in a pin stripe blue tie and call me a tory.

    In the context of terrorists and pirates taken during wartime - criminal rules of jury trials do not apply. These fuckers aren't robbing a 7-11. They are trying to destroy the country, including the justice system which lies at its heart.

    How in the hell can you link to that discussion and pretend that terrorists and spies and saboteurs who are attempting to do over a sovereign nation are the same as a common criminal who is attempting to do over a handful of individual citizens?

    How can you accuse conservatives - or anyone else - of being against something when there is a sodding great contextual elephant in the room that you and the author of that steaming pile of electrons have both ignored?

    I agree with jury nullification. In the context of civilian criminal trials.

    I agree with the right to have your status determined in a speedy manner if you are taken prisoner on a battlefield.

    But the need for two systems of justice is obvious because the crimes (and I use that word to cover both peacetime infractions and wartime POW rules etc. because I lack the vocabulary to use the right terminology) are not equivalent either in their physical scope or their intent.

    And if realizing that these two situations are like oil and water makes me an enemy of freedom in your eyes, then the problem lies with you and not me. We are at war.

    That is why there are Predator drones assassinating Al Quaeda leaders with Hellfire missiles in Northern Pakistan as we speak. Or am I to assume that you believe that this contravenes their right to trial by jury and that they should be captured by Special Forces and brought to the High-Court in NYC to face trial by jury?

    Because if you agree with that author's thesis - and I must assume that you do because you linked to the damned thing, then you must be against the method by which the USA is prosecuting the war on the Afghan border. Or should I say illegitimate 'Police action?'

  4. @Robert: It's unfortunate that Hornberger framed this discussion in that context, since I agree with you competely that battlefield combatants are not candidates for any kind of trial--and trying to make them makes a mockery of law, and of the war itself.

  5. Robert Winefield20 Mar 2010, 11:06:00

    Hornberger not only framed it in that context, he didn't even have the bloody decency to NAME the 'conservative' that he is tarring.

    As best as I can figure he is talking about Andrew C. McCarthy. And that's all I can find, because after spending 10 minutes trawling the swamp of left-wing faux-outrage I have yet to find the article in which Mr McCarthy floats this trial balloon (because he is no longer associated with the NY prosecutors office).

    And I call it faux-outrage because I read not a squeak about the extra-judicial hellfire-missile assassinations that Obama is rightly - IMHO - authorizing. One would have thought that if trial by jury was your bottom line then extra-judicial execution should be beyond the pale!

    As near as I can figure, McCarthy was opining (if indeed the charge is real) on the practical means by which you would set up a hybrid military-tribunal system wherein the would-be terrorists would be have their cases heard according to some bare-bones grab-bag of rights that met some undefined international minimal standard of fair-play. Unfortunately he christened his theoretical creation with a name utilized by the Nazis and touched off the rant(s) that you referred to.

    And let me also stress, that McCarthy's idea doesn't impress me much anyway. Quite what a 'minimum international standard' would entail given the appallingly low standards of behavior that are permitted in countries not founded with the help of the English is unknown and is somewhat frightening to me.

    As an example: civilian Italian police are reputedly allowed to physically rough-up the folks that they are interrogated. I can refer you to the Noodle-food link discussing a lecture - given on the benefits of the 5th amendment - wherein this is discussed, if you wish.

    US Conservatives are a mixed bunch. There are those like Sarah Palin who appear to be in favor of jury nullification.

    For example (from

    "[Sarah] Palin was also one of just three governors in the country to issue a proclamation in support of "Jurors' Rights" day, an event sponsored by the Fully Informed Jury Association, which encourages the doctrine of jury nullification. Nullification is an idea abhorred by tough-on-crime conservatives."

    And then there are those like New Zealand National Party's Tony - let's revoke the presumption of innocence - Bile.

    I don't know how you would go about fairly grouping the two camps given their mixed premises.

    But I would be more careful in quoting left-leaning bloggers who are in full Obama defence mode and are apt to conflate the two in order to support their Conservative=Hitler straw-man diversionary - pay no attention to the mesiah in the White-House - arguments.

    You probably aren't as exposed to the full fury of the Left-wing assault, in NZ. But here in a Mid Western Ivory tower it is deafening and demoralizing.


  6. You probably aren't as exposed to the full fury of the Left-wing assault, in NZ.

    you've really no idea about NZ have you?

    NZ's politics are such that Obama would be seen as an evil hard-right fascist.

    Every single party in NZ - including the NZ ACT and Libertarianz - is significantly to the left of Obama. One of the last remaining communist regiemes was voted out by a (by a centre-left party) last year - but no significant policies have changed.

    You've absolutely no idea.

  7. Anon

    Were you aware that Robert is a NZer?


  8. Our anon looks like the signature of Redbaiter. He is coming here to post since David Farrar has banned him at kiwiblog for a few weeks or a month I think.

  9. Kurt

    Ah, that explains it.


  10. Classic comment on the $3.4 million hookers bill in the Herald.

    "Her assets have been frozen"



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