Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Climate Change

  • Matt Ridley on How Fossil Fuels are Greening the Planet

    Matt Ridley, author of The Red Queen, Genome, The Rational Optimist and other books, dropped by Reason's studio in Los Angeles to talk about a curious global trend that is just starting to receive attention. Over the past three decades, our planet has gotten greener!

  • "There is no ambiguity" on climate change, U.N. concludes

    Climate change is happening, it's almost entirely man's fault and limiting its impacts may require reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero this century, the U.N.'s panel on climate science said Sunday.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Assault on "Broken Windows" Policing

WSJ -- William Bratton and George Kelling -- The Assault on ‘Broken Windows’ Policing

Critics say that maintaining order in public spaces is discriminatory and has no effect on serious crime. The evidence says otherwise.

Critics have a variety of arguments against the policy …. None of these criticisms stands up.

  • Discrimination? … The majority of New Yorkers, including minorities, approve of police addressing disorderly illegal behavior, such as public drinking and drug use, fights, public urination and other acts considered to be minor offenses. We have attended countless meetings with citizen groups in high-crime areas, and almost without exception disorderly behavior and conditions are central concerns.
  • No effect on serious crime? … In 1993 New York’s murder rate was 26.5 per 100,000 people. Since 1994, when Broken Windows policing was put into practice citywide, crime has fallen further, faster and for longer than anywhere else in the country. Today the largest and densest city in the U.S. has a lower murder rate, at four per 100,000, than the nation’s 4.5 per 100,000. In 1993 New York accounted for about 7.9% of U.S. homicides; last year the city’s share was 2.4%.
  • Overincarceration? … Another charge against Broken Windows is that it results in too many poor and minority youths being jailed or imprisoned. In reality, felony arrests in New York are down by about 60,000 a year from 1990 levels.
  • Middle-class morality? … a survey of 13,000 residents of 40 neighborhoods in six large cities …. found a broad consensus—regardless of race, ethnicity or class—about what constituted disorderly conditions and behavior. Topping the list were drunken and loitering youth, street harassment and panhandling, street prostitution, abandoned houses, graffiti, and other behaviors and conditions such as drug dealing, excessive noise and reckless driving. People know what disorderly behavior and conditions are, and they want something done about them.

Prior to the development of “broken windows” policing, a “SoHo” (an area of London) theory of policing was common in practice. That is the idea that there would always be a criminal element and in larger cities it would be easier just to localize this and contain it by lowering standards in a zone or area of the city but enforce all of the environmental codes and laws in the rest of the city. The area of the city where the standards were lowered, however, was also usually racially identifiable. Perhaps the worst thing that can be done to a community is to lower the standards. Children pay more attention to what you do than what you say and you are lowering the expectations for them as well.

Two Views on Congress and the Obama Presidency Going Forward.

  • WSJ -- Kin Strassel -- A GOP Strategy Begins to Emerge.

    Congressional leaders will use coalitions to achieve small wins. Conservatives may not be satisfied.

  • NY TImes -- Obama Unbound

    Obama is not cowering or conceding. He’s been liberated by defeat, becoming the president that many of his supporters hoped he would be.

The Modern Regulatory State and Administrative Law

Cass Sunstein, Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School

Harvard Magazine in its current Jan/2015 issue has an article on Cass Sunstein, Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, which gives some insight into the intellectual background and political perspectives of the current trends in regulation and administrative law. Cass Sunstein and Barack Obama were both professors of law at the University of Chicago. Sunstein led the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 2009 to 2012, which he described as “the cockpit of the regulatory state.” The full article can be found at The Legal Olympian.

To address the crisis of the Great Depression, the New Deal transformed the system of checks and balances by increasing the power of the president, reducing the clout of the federal judiciary, and increasing the size of the national bureaucracy so that its power rivaled that of Congress. The New Deal transformed the system of federalism by transferring power from the states to the federal government. It redefined individual rights, from “rights to be free from government intrusion” to “government protection against the multiple hazards of industrialized society.” The result was “a dramatic change in the fabric of the national government….”

To Sunstein, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1944 State of the Union Address “has a strong claim to being the greatest speech of the twentieth century.” FDR used it to propose a Second Bill of Rights, to redress what he described as the Constitution’s inadequacies. He recommended rights to “a useful and remunerative job”; for “every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies”; to “a decent home”; to “adequate medical care”; to “adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment”; and to “a good education.” They “spell security,” the president said: “For unless there is security here at home, there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”

One of the criticisms comes from a report for the Administrative Conference of the United States, an independent federal agency with the mission of improving regulation. The report documented that reviews by Sunstein’s office of proposed federal rules “took longer in 2011 and 2012 because of concerns about the agencies issuing costly or controversial rules prior to the November 2012 election.”

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Global “Battle of Ideas”

Donald Rumsfeld, when he was Secretary of Defense, was asked how the United States was faring against the extremist ideology in the global “battle of ideas.” He said, “If I were grading, I would say that we probably deserve a D+ as a country.” That poor grade was primarily the result of his own policies and a cultural climate that led to the incidents at Abu Ghraib.

--- See also previous blog “Equality as an Affirmation of Our Common Humanity”

WSJ -- Peggy Noonan -- A Flawed Report’s Important Lesson

Americans regardless of party should agree torture is wrong.

“Torture is not like us. It’s not part of the American DNA. We think of ourselves as better than that because we’ve been better than that….We can’t use torture methods and still at the same time be the hope of the world.”
      -- Peggy Noonan
“The use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights.”
     -- Sen. John McCain

Most American's Best Days are Behind Them

WP -- Most American’s best days are behind them -- (See map)

“Median household income peaked at least 15 years ago in 81 percent of U.S. counties. That means that when incomes are adjusted for inflation, most middle class households are actually earning less money than they did years ago.”

Saturday, December 6, 2014

2016 Presidential Election

The Republicans will have to win Ohio and Florida to have any chance of winning.
The Democrats best chance of winning would be to secure and win Virginia.

Best demographic Republican ticket Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio / John Kasich.
Best demographic Democratic ticket Hillary Clinton / Tim Kaine or Mark Warner.

Angr/Wikimedia Commons

Map of red states and blue states in the U.S. based on presidential elections since 2000. Red: The Republican candidate carried the state in all four most recent presidential elections (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012). Pink: The Republican candidate carried the state in three of the four most recent elections. Purple=The Republican candidate and the Democratic candidate each carried the state in two of the four most recent elections. Light blue: The Democratic candidate carried the state in three of the four most recent elections. Dark blue=The Democratic candidate carried the state in all four most recent elections.

If the Republicans are able to hold all of the states that Mitt Romney won in 2010 they would need another 64 votes in the electoral college to win the next presidential election. It would be very difficult for them to do this without winning and adding Florida (29) and Ohio (18) which have a combined 47 electoral votes. This would still only amount to 253 and another 17 would be needed to reach the 270 electoral votes for election. This would require winning 17 votes from three swing states which are Virginia (13), Colorado (9), and Nevada (6) or possibly winning votes from states that have voted just somewhat more Democratic than Republican since 2000, which are New Mexico (5), Iowa(6), and New Hampshire (3). Do the math.

Even if the Republicans were to win Florida and Ohio, the Democrats would still have a very slight demographic advantage if they could win Virginia. Since the election is likely to depend upon these swing states the demographics would give either a center-right or center-left candidate a better chance of winning. Ohio has voted for the victor in every presidential election since 1960.

Friday, November 28, 2014

A review of World Order by Henry Kissenger

New Republic -- A book Review of Henry Kissinger’s book World Order by Anne-Marie Slaughter

Some lengthy articles are of such value that they are worth the time and effort to read. This book review by Anne-Marie Slaughter is a article of such significance. Anne-Marie Slaughter is a professor emerita of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, who also served as director of policy planning at the State Department from 2009 to 2011. She is president and CEO of New America.

As a junior at Harvard in 1963, I took a course from Henry Kissinger on Foreign Affairs. It was all about the balance of power and the essay that I chose to write to counterbalance this was “The Role of Ideas vs. Power in Foreign Policy.” I thus have a bias toward the important points and historical perspectives which are eloquently presented in this book review concerning American foreign policy. Click here for the review.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Death Row Exonerations - One in Eleven

One in Eleven Death Row Inmates since 1973 have been Exonerated.

Our legal system doesn’t always get it right.

  • Reuters 11/19/2014 -- Ohio man exonerated after 39 years in prison, to be released Friday

  • Ohioans To Stop Executions:

    The week ended with the exonerations of three men. Brothers Wiley Bridgeman and Ronnie Bridgeman (who now goes by Kwame Ajamu), and Ricky Jackson became Ohio’s 7th, 8th and 9th death row exonerees. The three were wrongfully convicted in Cuyahoga County in 1975. Wiley and Ricky were freed yesterday after 39 years of imprisonment. Kwame was released in 2003 but not officially cleared of wrongdoing until now.

    These men spent more than 103 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. In one day, the number of death row exonerations from our state rose from six to nine, and took the national total over 150. This is a somber reminder why our work in 2015 and beyond is so important.

  • List of those freed from death row
  • Death Penalty Information Center

Friday, November 21, 2014

Is it too much to ask the Republicans to now put forward and pass their own bills on immigration and healthcare?

Could they not even do this incrementally in a timely fashion?

Quotes from my own congressman, Pat Tiberi (R-OHIO).

“That's the hundred million dollar question,” said Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), “How do you stop an inaction? That's the tough question that I don't have the answer to today....Just to go a step further: 'shut the government down.' That doesn't stop this inaction. Don't fund immigration service. That doesn't stop this inaction. How do you stop this inaction?”
“That doesn't stop the action of the executive order. That's what we have to be smart about this. I think he wants us to do that. In a really weird way, I think he wants us to be fighting him on a personal level and not focused on the issues, because he got beat on the issues in the November election. If we make this about him – which I think he wants us to, that's why he's doing this – it's a huge distraction on all the policy issues, [like] repealing pieces of Obamacare,” Tiberi said.
Pat Tiberi has been a congressman since 2001. The question is why aren’t he and the other Republicans now putting forth and passing positive legislation on immigration and health care. There are even large areas where there is a consensus. That would be the message that the Republican party should be taking from the last election. Both parties have been rebuked in the opinion polls and by the electorate. It might also be a good idea for the Congress to stay in session for the first three months to do some of the heavy lifting, particularly in terms of jobs and the economy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Two views on President Obama’s plan for executive action on immigration

Obama knows that this is a trap for Republicans. Their response should be to be to just move forward in a positive timely manner with an immigration bill.

  • New Republic -- Erwin Chemerinsky and San KleinerObama has the law - and Reagan - on his side on immigration

    “Indeed, presidents of both parties have tailored immigration policy to their own goals. In 1987, the Reagan administration took executive action to limit deportations for 200,000 Nicaraguan exiles, even those who had been turned down for asylum. Similarly, President George H.W. Bush in 1990 limited deportations of Chinese students and in 1991 kept hundreds of Kuwait citizens from being deported. President Bill Clinton regularly used his power of prosecutorial discretion to limit deportations; in 1993 he gave 18-month extensions to Salvadoran residents, in 1997 he limited deportations for Haitians, and in 1998 he limited deportations to Central American counties that had been devastated by hurricanes.”

    The president has the constitutional authority to decide to not proceed with deportations. It has always been within the president’s discretion to decide whether to have the Department of Justice enforce a particular law. As the Supreme Court declared in United States v. Nixon, “the Executive Branch has exclusive authority and absolute discretion to decide whether to prosecute a case.”

  • WSJ Opinion - Rep. Goodlatte (R) , Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee -- Congress will fight Obama’s Power Grab

    The president’s amnesty plan for millions of unlawful immigrants clearly violates the Constitution.

    “Mr. Obama’s plan to violate the Constitution must be stopped. The Framers wisely gave Congress many tools to guard against the executive branch accumulating too much power. My colleagues in both the House and the Senate will take inventory of the tools afforded to Congress by the Constitution, such as the power of the purse and the authority to write legislation, to stop the president’s unconstitutional actions from being implemented.”

Monday, November 17, 2014

Proposed Ohio HB 663 -- Secrecy surrounding government executions

This is what the death penalty comes to:

  • Secrecy surrounding government executions
  • Hindering judicial oversite
  • Hiring physicians to violate their ethical code

Proposed Ohio House Bill 663 does the following:

  • Makes the sources of Ohio’s lethal injection drugs confidential state secrets that cannot be revealed even in court of law or as a result of a subpoena.
  • Makes null and void any local, state, national, or international contract that prevents executions in Ohio from being carried out (i.e., a manufacturer prohibiting the use of its drugs or other equipment in executions).
  • Encourages medical professionals to violate their codes of ethics by participating in executions and gives them legal protection if they do.

This would become a defining issue for the legislatures and Gov. Kasich who has presidential ambitions in 2016. Never underestimate the Republican's ability to shoot themselves in the foot.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Political Polarization

Prospect.org - Red State, Blue State: Polarization and the American Situation

Two ideologically based societies have developed within the United States, and the differences between them are growing.

Map of red states and blue states in the U.S. based on presidential elections since 2000. Red: The Republican candidate carried the state in all four most recent presidential elections (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012). Pink: The Republican candidate carried the state in three of the four most recent elections. Purple=The Republican candidate and the Democratic candidate each carried the state in two of the four most recent elections. Light blue: The Democratic candidate carried the state in three of the four most recent elections. Dark blue=The Democratic candidate carried the state in all four most recent elections.

Washington Examiner - The Political map of the future?

It’s a map of the United States showing the congressional districts won by Republicans in red and those won by Democrats in blue. (Map courtesy: Kurykh/Wikipedia)

The Wealth of States

“In early 2012, The Wall Street Journal published an editorial, “The Heartland Tax Rebellion,” which brought to national attention the movement in many Midwestern states to replace their state income taxes with revenue sources that are less damaging to economic growth. The opinion piece compared the nine states with the highest personal income tax rates to the nine states without earned income taxes. In each category of growth (population, gross state product and employment) no-income tax states come out ahead, while high tax states lag behind.”

Thursday, November 13, 2014

We need to clarify our values in what is a battle of ideas

  • WP - United Nations asks United States to clarify its position on torture

    "It has been nearly six years since President Obama, on his third day in office, signed an executive order banning torture or cruel treatment of U.S. detainees."

  • CBS News - Abuse at Abu Ghraib

    "When 60 Minutes II reported the first details of the Army investigation into Abu Ghraib, we didn't reveal that it was written by Gen. Antonio Taguba. His report is a scathing indictmentof the prison's lack of manpower, training and adherence to international standards."

  • Equality as an Affirmation of Our Common Humanity

    We are missing a defining opportunity in the history of the moral and political philosophy of the liberal tradition; first, by not defining our primary moral value as equality, understood as a respect for the dignity and worth of our common humanity; and second, by not defining our government as a constitutional democracy, which is the only way to convey both the substantive and the procedural concepts of equality that it incorporates.

Three views on income inequality

  1. Online WSJ - Phil Gramm - How to Distort Income Inequality

    "The Piketty-Saez data ignore changes in tax law and fail to count noncash compensation and Social Security benefits. A new study in the Southern Economic Journal, we know what the picture looks like when the missing data are filled in."

  2. Slate - Yes, the Middle Class Really Is Sinking

    "How badly is health care eating into paychecks? According to Reeves’ Brookings colleague Gary Burtless, health insurance and noncash benefits from the government made up 17 percent of after-tax income for the middle fifth of American households in 2010. In 1980, it was just 6 percent."

  3. The Guardian - Fed chair Janet Yellen says income inequality is un-American

    "The lower half of U.S. households ranked by wealth held just 1% of total wealth last year, down from 3% in 1989"

The Conservative and Pragmatic Trend in the States

Republicans pick up governorships from Democrats in liberal strongholds like Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois.

  • What Senate Republicans can learn from the GOP-led states

    "Republican leaders in the states have been successful while the national party has struggled because GOP governors are focused on reforms that are relevant to the daily lives of their citizens."

  • How Larry Hogan used tax data to turn Maryland red

    "New taxes were costing Marylanders $3.1 billion a year — on top of the levies they already were paying. Maryland joins high-tax states in the Northeast, Midwest and California among those with the largest exodus between 2007 and 2010 The bottom line was stunning. Maryland lost $1.7 billion in taxable income to other states in just three years under O’Malley and Brown."

  • Walker Wins Again

    "Stories of Walker’s reforms helping schools and lowering property taxes proliferated in the press. Walker’s Democratic opponent, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett,couldn’t name a single school that had been hurt by the law."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Four opinions on new congressional agenda

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell Lay Out GOP Goals

Sen. Rob Portman -- Jobs for America

  • Adopt Common Sense Health Care Solutions
  • Power America’s Economy
  • Begin Living Within Our Means
  • Reform Tax Code To Spur Economic Growth
  • Require Cost Benefit Analysis in the Formulation of Regulations
  • Create Competitive Workforce
  • Increase Exports to Create More American Jobs

WP -- Charles Krauthammer -- Seize the Day, Control the Agenda

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A First 100 days Focused on the Economy and Jobs

“The most significant threat to our national security is our debt.”

The Republicans now have an opportunity to address the primary concern of the electorate which remains the economy and jobs. There is also, however, a great concern about our national debt and the burden we are placing on the next generation. In 2010 Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen even stated that, "The most significant threat to our national security is our debt." The key to addressing the issues such as jobs and the national debt is to create greater economic growth.

At least a major part of the Republican agenda, now that they control Congress, should be to spend the first 100 days passing legislation to improve the economy. This is also an agenda where there might be areas of bipartisan support. Promoting the economy would involve energy legislation, which would also help create jobs and make America more energy independent. There is a well recognized need to fix a broken tax code with reform. The Congress could work with President Obama on free-trade deals. Passing a budget rather than fractured resolutions would be a step toward responsible financial oversight.

There will be the more complicated and partisan issues, such as ObamaCare and immigration reform, which will need to be addressed. The Republicans, however, will need to demonstrate their ability to govern effectively to maintain their majority in the Senate. The Republicans, will be defending 24 of the 34 Senate seats at issue in 2016. Addressing the economy in the first 100 days of the new Congress, is an achievable agenda which is both needed and which would resonate with the concerns of the voters.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Harry Reid would continue to obstruct compromise

During Clinton's second term, when both houses were held by the GOP, a great deal was able to be accomplished by bi-partisan legislation. The Republicans now need to be able to demonstrate they can be pragmatic and capable of governing going into the 2016 presidential elections. On the other hand, President Obama will be concerned about his legacy. Therefore, significant progress may be able to be made, with compromise, on immigration reform, the federal budget, energy policy and modifications of both the Affordable Care Act and Dodd Frank financial regulations.

Senator Mitch McConnell has indicated that he didn't expect to be able to repeal the healthcare law, stating "It would take sixty votes in the Senate" and "nobody thinks we are going to have 60 votes". Obama will still maintain significant control with the presidential veto. On the other hand, he will have little incentive for any compromises with a Democratic Senate that continues to be lead by Harry Reid.

No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes by Anand Gopal
National Book Award Finalist

The New York Review of Books - Afghanistan: ‘A Shocking Indictment’ - review of No Good Men Among the Living by Anand Gopal

“Gopal’s book is essential reading for anyone concerned about how America got Afghanistan so wrong. It is a devastating, well-honed prosecution detailing how our government bungled the initial salvo in the so-called war on terror, ignored attempts by top Taliban leaders to surrender, trusted the wrong people and backed a feckless and corrupt Afghan regime. . . . It is ultimately the most compelling account I’ve read of how Afghans themselves see the war.”
—The New York Times Book Review

At Amazon

  • “The level of craftsmanship in this book is often awe-inspiring. . . . Provides unique insights into America’s intervention in Afghanistan and makes important contributions to our understanding of the conflict there.”

    —Foreign Policy

  • “Haunting . . . Presents a stirring critique of American forces who commanded overwhelming firepower, but lacked the situational knowledge to achieve their objectives . . . Gopal reveals the fragility of the tenuous connection between intention and destiny in a war-torn land.”

    —Publishers Weekly

Tunisia Elections Possible Model for Region

Sunday, October 26, 2014

To address issues of international violence, first abolish the death penalty domestically

Execution of Woman in Iran

The United States usually ranks in the top five nations using the death penalty. This is the company that we keep...

An open internet is crucial to the interests of the free world

  • WSJ -- The UN Trumps Silicon Valley

    "By lobbying for ‘net neutrality’ regulations, big technology companies pave the way for authoritarian governments to censor the Internet."

  • Circleid.com -- Secretary Pritzker’s address to ICANN 51

    "The themes of the growing importance of Internet Governance and the U.S. government's steadfast commitment to defense of the multistakeholder model, as well as the connection between maintenance of an open Internet and fostering free speech and economic growth, were key elements of Secretary Pritzker's address..."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Complicated Vacuum and Turmoil in the Middle East

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Challenge of ISIS

  • Thomas Freidman -- International New York Times
    I.S. = Invasive Species

    "Today, ISIS — the foreigners and locals together — is putting pressure on all of Iraq’s and Syria’s native species with the avowed goal of reducing the diversity of these once polycultural societies and turning them into bleak, dark, jihadist, Sunni fundamentalist monocultures."

  • Charles Krathammar -- National Review
    Erdogan’s Double Game - Our “ally” Turkey supports jihadists while joining the U.S.-led coalition against them.

    "No one can match Stalin for merciless cynicism, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is offering a determined echo by ordering Turkish tanks massed on the Syrian border, within sight of the besieged Syrian town of Kobani, to sit and do nothing."

Friday, October 3, 2014

Israel and Palestinian Authority UN Speeches

Will We Hoist Ourselves On Our Own Petard

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Too Big to Jail

Attorney General Eric Holder
  • Fortune -- Eric Holder's Business legacy
    "in recent years Holder has certainly been punishing banks with unprecedented civil fines and penalties."
    "The attorney general secured no big-name convictions from the financial crisis."
  • New York Review of Books -- Judge Rakoff On the Financial Crisis
    U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, a former chief of the business fraud unit of the Manhattan U.S., conveys his slack-jawed disbelief that the “colossal frauds” the government has alleged in so many civil cases could not also have engendered at least one successful criminal prosecution.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Harry Reid's Plot to Keep the Senate

Politico -- Harry Reid's Plot to Keep the Senate

"The Senate plans to adjourn Thursday until after the elections, avoiding many hot-button votes over changing Obamacare, illegal immigration and taxes. It caps a yearlong effort by Senate Democratic leaders who have the singular focus aimed at bolstering the reelection chances of senators from battleground states — namely Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alaska, New Hampshire and Colorado."

"Reid has scheduled votes on a politically populist agenda devised by Schumer aimed at forcing Republicans to block bills aimed at wooing students, women, seniors and the middle class. Democrats have repeatedly put forth bills that have little chance of passing — like on increasing the minimum wage, gender pay equity, contraception access and student loan assistance. And even when there are efforts they actually support — such as Obama’s executive action on immigration — Democratic leaders have lobbied the White House to punt on the issue to avoid hurting their vulnerable incumbents and candidates in red states."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

GlobalPost - Independence from the United Kingdom

Supreme Court October 2014 Term Preview

  • Supreme Court October 2014 Term Preview

    "This Term could be among the most momentous in recent history. Petitions for certiorari have been filed by five states raising the question whether prohibitions on same-sex marriage are constitutional. If, as seems likely, the Court agrees to decide that issue, it will be an historic term."

    "Another issue of major importance that may be granted this Term is whether persons who obtain health insurance on the federal exchanges are eligible for subsidies. There is already a petition for certiorari from the Fourth Circuit’s decision approving the subsidies, and the D.C. Circuit recently granted rehearing en banc to resolve the question. It is uncertain whether the Court will hear the case this Term, or even whether the Court will opt to hear it at all. But if the Court does take the case, it will be another blockbuster."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

ICANN Proposed By-law Changes. Post Your Comments.

How naive can we be about the importance of information control for autocratic and totalitarian governments such as Russia and North Korea?

  • WSJ - The Internet Power Vacuum Worsens

    “The Obama administration plan to give up U.S. protection of the open Internet won't take effect for a year, but authoritarian governments are already moving to grab control. President Obama is learning it's as dangerous for America to create a vacuum of power in the digital world as in the real one.”

    Much of the blame for the splintering of the multistakeholder system lies with Mr. Obama's naïveté in putting Internet governance up for grabs. He underestimated the importance of Washington's control in maintaining an open Internet—and the desire among other governments to close the Internet. And there still is no plan to keep Icann free from control by governments.

  • CirlceID - Radical Shift of Power Proposed at ICANN Putting Govts in Primary Decision Making Role

    ICANN is accepting public comments on this proposal until 14 September and reply comments until 6 October 2014 via the email address comments-bylaws-amend-gac-advice-15aug14@icann.org

  • Eurasia Review - ICANN and GAC Proposed By-law Changes Analysis

    "I suspect that, the above perceptions, which have been long standing, could be the trigger to dilute the almost ’absolute powers’ of the ICANN board and make it more amenable to accept and implement any or all advice from the GAC. The attempt, in this proposed change of bylaw, could be an attempt to show that governments acting in concert through the GAC, finally have a more ’pertinent and forceful’ role and insulate itself from the supposedly unquestionable independent decisions of the ICANN board."

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Reconsidering the Death Penalty

  • CS Monitor - Convictions for N.C. men overturned

    - Why There has been an uptick in exonerations.

    In the past 25 years, more than 1,300 convicts have been exonerated of the crimes for which they were wrongfully convicted. Last year alone, 87 individuals were found to have been wrongfully convicted, a peak since the database began in 1989.

    While the availability of new DNA analysis techniques has played a role in dozens of exonerations – as was the case with the two brothers – the uptick appears to be largely fueled by a shifting legal climate in the United States, in which law enforcement officials are investing more resources in reviewing old cases, Elizabeth Barber reported for the Monitor earlier this year. In many cases, she wrote, that means that prosecutors are turning the microscope on their predecessors:

    “During the past 25 years, almost 60 percent of the wrongful convictions for homicide in the US are associated with official misconduct, according to data from [a National Registry of Exonerations report]. Moreover, 17 percent of those exonerated originally pleaded guilty. In most cases, the defendant had accepted a plea bargain for a reduced sentence. In other incidents, the exonerated convict had been a victim of coercive interrogation techniques.”

  • NY Times - The Innocent on Death Row

    The exoneration of two North Carolina men who spent 30 years in prison— one on death row — provides a textbook example of so much that is broken in the American justice system. And it is further evidence (as though more were needed) that the death penalty is irretrievably flawed as well as immoral.

Monday, September 1, 2014

KGB and Communists tactics in Crimea and Hong Kong

  • Crimea seizes Ukraine oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky's hotel

    Russian-backed bailiffs in Crimea have seized a luxury seaside hotel complex linked to one of Ukraine's richest businessmen, Ihor Kolomoisky.

  • Hong Kong's democracy debate
  • Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, says that "the ultimate aim" is to elect the chief executive "by universal suffrage".

    The Chinese government has promised direct elections for chief executive by 2017. But in August 2014 China's top legislative committee ruled that voters will only have a choice from a list of two or three candidates selected by a nominating committee.

Russian Advances in the Ukraine

“Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said his country was "close to a point of no return - full scale-war" with Russia.”
“The crisis in Ukraine began in November last year when pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych abandoned a deal with the EU in favour of stronger ties with Russia.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lessons for Ferguson From Cincinnati's 2001 Riots

WSJ - Lessons for Ferguson From Cincinnati”s 2001 Riots

  • Tell the public everything immediately
  • Set the record straight
  • Don’t crucify the cops
  • The federal government can slow the healing
  • Repudiate race-baiters

"Cincinnati went to work repairing race relations. After a year of meetings supervised by a federal judge, representatives of the city, the police department, the ACLU, the Black United Front and the police union imposed the Collaborative Agreement for police reforms. They included less aggressive pursuit guidelines, a citizen complaint board, and communiy-oriented policing."

"Before the riots there was simmering anger at police in the black community. The police were insular and authoritarian. Today they are proactive, transparent, a model of community-oriented policing."

WSJ - Thousands Protest in Staten Island Over Eric Garner's Death

NY Post - Three Cheers for the NYPD

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Islamists Militants “kill reporter James Foley on Video”

“And this, ultimately, is the most important point: terrorist groups have beheaded hostages and prisoners, Westerners and non-Westerners, for many years. What is shocking is not that they are extreme sadists, but that they are extreme sadists with a conventional army and nation-building aspirations. This is what makes them different. By their own admission, their aim is to “drown all of you in blood”. They are incapable of compromise, uninterested in moderation, and hell-bent on territorial expansion.”

Language counts. It is time to define the radical Islamic terrorists as just what they are, radical Islamic terrorists.

A major unacknowledged but obvious important conflict in international affairs is between moderate and radical Muslims, with the radical Muslims being defined as those who are willing to use lethal force based on religion as a means to their ends. This has included stoning women to death for infidelity, honor killings, assassinations for “blasphemy”, executions of farmers and journalists for political control, kidnapping and selling young women, suicide bombings, and terrorist attacks. As usual, the ends are used to justify the means. The means, however, define any group as much as the ends, and the means often come to distort the ends.

It is also time to better define, understand, and convey our own values and to contrast them with those of the radical Islamic terrorists. Have we learned nothing from the tragedies of the 20th Century. Our primary moral concept of equality, understood as a respect for human dignity and our common humanity, at least has the capacity for some accommodation in what is now a pluralist global community.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

An Observation

Only when pushed to the brink, such as in Supreme Court Cases or in a world humanitarian crisis, do our leaders start to refer to and correctly describe our primary moral concept of equality as a respect for human dignity and our common humanity.

Equality as an Affirmation of Our Common Humanity

The Rapidly Changing Events in the Middle East

BBC -- Could Iraq becomes Obama’s War?

"President Obama once said the US should not be fighting a war in Iraq. Now he has approved air strikes, trying to protect Americans and help minorities under threat from Sunni militants. So will the president find himself entangled in Iraq?"

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Senate Races

  • New Yorker -- Can the GOP Take the Senate?

    "Just in case you haven’t had enough bad news, here’s a bit more from the domestic-politics desk. With less than a hundred days until the midterm elections, the Republicans now have a very realistic chance of retaking the Senate, which would leave them in over-all control of Capitol Hill for the next two years..."

  • RealClearPolitics -- Senate Races

  • Politico -- 2014 Senate Predictions

    "The big change here is in Iowa, which goes from Leans Democratic to Toss-up: This open-seat contest could end up being the key race in the battle for the Senate, and it appears to be pretty much even. As Iowa appears to be getting more competitive, Democratic prospects are brightening in two other states that voted for Barack Obama twice..."

Friday, July 25, 2014

Reconsidering the Death Penalty

See previous blog posts on the Death Penalty:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Persecution of Christians

  • NYT -- Christians Forced to Flee Mosul

    "By 1 p.m. on Friday almost every Christian in Mosul had heard the Sunni militants’ message — they had until noon Saturday to leave the city.

  • FoxNews -- Mass Exodus of Christians from the Muslim World

    The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recently said: “The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year.” In our lifetime alone “Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt.”

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Pattern of the Obama Administration

Fumes from Obama’s Chemical Safety Board -- WSJ

"In the smallest stories we sometimes find the biggest themes. The small story of the past month has been dysfunction at a backwater federal agency known as the Chemical Safety Board. Yet in this tale of obstruction, bullying and lawlessness we find what is now the clear pattern of the Obama administration. The president says openly that neither Congress nor laws will keep him from implementing his agenda. That attitude now seems to reign at every body in Washington, down to the teeny CSB. Blame Mr. Moure-Eraso for dysfunction, but remember that he's just emulating the boss."

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Putin and Russian Interests in Eastern Europe

  • Moldavia may be an Urgent Matter

    "NATO's Article 5 offers little protection against Vladimir Putin's Russia," Iulian Fota, Romania's presidential national security adviser, told me on a recent visit to Bucharest. "Article 5 protects Romania and other Eastern European countries against a military invasion. But it does not protect them against subversion," that is, intelligence activities, the running of criminal networks, the buying-up of banks and other strategic assets, and indirect control of media organs to undermine public opinion.

  • Some Divions in Easter Uklraine Rebels

    "Deep strains emerged Thursday in the ranks of Ukraine's pro-Russia insurgents, as dozens of militiamen turned in their weapons in disgust at Russian inaction and bickering broke out between rebel factions."

  • Putin Angling to Restore Ties with the West

    "When he speaks about Ukraine at all these days, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia focuses on worthy subjects like humanitarian aid, distinctly turning down the flame underneath the political speech that erupted with the annexation of Crimea in March."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

China Rethinks the Death Penalty

New York Times - China Rethinks the Death Penalty

"Interviews conducted by criminologists suggest that international criticism has had an impact as well. In 1977, a mere 16 countries had abolished the death penalty; today 140 countries — over two-thirds of the world’s nations — have done so in law or practice. Chinese legal scholars and judges are fully aware of their country’s role as the outlier."

"China’s penal practices are far from enlightened. Even if Mr. Liu’s assertion of halving executions is true, China still executes about 3,000 people a year, according to the Dui Hua Foundation, compared with 39 in the United States in 2013."

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Sectarian Middle East

  • Islam's Ancient Sectarian Rift

    "Once aroused, however, sectarian wrath can be unpredictable and hard to control, even boomeranging against those who might have sought to exploit it."

  • Quarantine the Middle East

    "Amid the chaos, then, we should partner with Muslim communities that are holding together, despite sectarian differences, and where local leaders are open to change. We should seek ways to enlarge their strength and appeal."

  • Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire

    "Almost 70 years ago, a new world order was born from the rubble of World War II, built by and around the power of the United States. Today that world order shows signs of cracking, and perhaps even collapsing.

    To understand where America, and the world, may be heading, it is useful to remind ourselves where we have been—of the choices that Americans made decades ago and of the profound, world-changing consequences of those choices."

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sobering Statistics

  • Youth Fail to Qualify for Military Service

    "Approximately 71% of the 34 million 17-to-24-year-olds in the U.S. would not qualify for military service because of reasons related to health, physical appearance and educational background, according to the Pentagon..."

  • "Maybe We Don’t Have the Worlds Best Colleges

    America’s schools and colleges are actually far more alike than people believe — and not in a good way. The nation’s deep education problems, the data suggest, don’t magically disappear once students disappear behind ivy-covered walls..."

Friday, June 27, 2014

Abolishing the Death Penalty Should be an Issue in the 2016 Elections

“Last weeks Road to Majority conservative confab had an unlikely exhibitor in the conference hall: opponents of the death penalty.”

The radical Muslim terrorists are continuing to define themselves by their brutality and disregard for human dignity and our common humanity. It is time for the United States to recognize the role of ideas in foreign policy and the court of world opinion.

In 2007, 88% of the executions worldwide occurred in China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. This is the company that we keep, and they are quick to point to the United States to justify their use of coercive power and the death penalty.

  • Kirsten Powers Conservative Death Penalty Column

    Last weeks Road to Majority conservative confab had an unlikely exhibitor in the conference hall: opponents of the death penalty.

    The activists were in the right place because their opposition stems from conservative principles.

  • Reconsidering the Death Penalty in Ohio

    A major unacknowledged but obvious important conflict in international affairs, for example, is between moderate and radical Muslims, with the radical Muslims being defined as those who are willing to use lethal force based on religion as a means to their ends. This has included stoning women to death for infidelity, honor killings, assassinations for “blasphemy”, executions by the Taliban and al-Qaeda of farmers and journalists for political control, suicide bombings and terrorist attacks. As usual, the ends are used to justify the means. The means, however, define any group as much as the ends, and the means often come to distort the ends. We should do everything we can to focus world opinion on such issues. Abolishing the death penalty in Ohio and then our nation would help to do so. It would also help us understand and convey that the primary moral values in our constitutional democracy include equality understood as a respect for human dignity and our common humanity in addition to freedom.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

“Who would rid me of this turbulent priest?”

- King Henry II referring to Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was subsequently murdered (1170)

It is unlikely that President Obama ordered the targeting of tea party groups by the IRS or that Governor Christie ordered the closing of lanes on the George Washington bridge, but they both set the tone for those things to happen. The IRS is now acting in an arrogant way that it would not tolerate from any of the taxpayers that it audits, and thus they are rapidly losing credibility.

  • WSJ - Bradley A. Smith
    “Connecting the Dots in the Irs Scandal”

    "The mainstream press has justified its lack of coverage over the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups because there's been no "smoking gun" tying President Obama to the scandal. This betrays a remarkable, if not willful, failure to understand abuse of power. The political pressure on the IRS to delay or deny tax-exempt status for conservative groups has been obvious to anyone who cares to open his eyes. It did not come from a direct order from the White House, but it didn't have to..."

  • “The High Price of Obama Fatigue”

    "The IRS tea-party audit story isn't Watergate; it's worse than Watergate.

    The Watergate break-in was the professionals of the party in power going after the party professionals of the party out of power. The IRS scandal is the party in power going after the most average Americans imaginable."

Thursday, June 19, 2014

This from the International New York Times on Hillary

When will Hillary let it go?

“You know, your natural tendency is how do you bring people together so that you can better communicate? I’m done with that. I mean, I’m just done.” She continued: “I am over it, over it. I think I have changed; not worried so much about what other people are thinking.” She vowed to now “say what I know, what I believe, and let the chips fall.”

“ There isn’t one surprising or scintillating or provocative word in the whole book. “Hard Choices” is inert, a big yawn.”
    -- Maureen Dowd

Monday, June 16, 2014

History and Struggle for Iraq in Maps

  • History of Iraq

    "Three provinces from the old Ottoman Empire were combined by the British after WWI to form modern Iraq..."

  • Current Struggle for Iraq

    "The areas where ISIS is operating largely match areas where al-Qaeda was active during the height of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq between 2004-06..."

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Different views on Iraq

  • While Obama Fidels

    "The fall of Mosul, Iraq, to al Qaeda terrorists this week is as big in its implications as Russia's annexation of Crimea. But from the Obama presidency, barely a peep..."

  • Slate -- After Mosul

    "As the U.S. pullout began under the terms of a treaty signed in 2008 by then-President George W. Bush, Maliki, the leader of a Shiite political party, promised to run a more inclusive government..."

  • Six Things that went wrong for Iraq

    "The borders of the modern Middle East are in large part a legacy of World War One. They were established by the colonial powers after the defeat and dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire..."

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Kids take on Teacher’s union

  • Vargara ruling allows California a chance to change a broken system

    "California's extraordinary protections for public school teachers were dealt a heavy blow Tuesday when a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled that the state's tenure laws unconstitutionally deprive students of an adequate education..."

  • Historic victory for America’s kids

    "Sweeping and unambiguous, the outcome of Vergara v. California is more than one decision in one big state, although even that much is significant given the shudders it will cause. It is an indictment of laws in any state that protect inferior teachers at the expense of students — and a powerful inspiration for other families nationwide who will turn to the courts out of desperation..."

Sunday, June 8, 2014

How The Recession Reshaped the Economy

The New York Times produced a fascinating chart that shows how the Great Recession that began in 2007 changed the economy.

From Time Magazine:

Immigrant Minors

  • Immigrant Minors Present Crisis

    "Tens of thousands of children unaccompanied by parents or relatives are flooding across the southern U.S. border illegally, forcing the Obama administration and Congress to grapple with both a humanitarian crisis and a budget dilemma."

  • Feds Shipping Hundreds of Kids to Arizona

    "Three hundred more unaccompanied migrant children — with more on the way — were transported Saturday from southern Texas into a makeshift way station set up in a Border Patrol detention facility in Nogales, Ariz., as government agencies took additional steps to improve the living conditions there."

  • California Counties Ignoring ICE Detainer Requests For Illegal Aliens

    "Officials in over a dozen counties in Southern California recently declared that detainer requests from federal immigration agents will be ignored--specifically, illegal immigrants eligible for deportation will no longer be held past the length of their jail times."

Friday, June 6, 2014

Primary Day and Election 2014

  • Washington Post -- Election Lab 2014

    "Like most forecasting models, Election Lab uses the past to predict the future. To predict House and Senate elections in 2014, we draw on the elections from 1980-2012. We first look at how well key factors were related to outcomes in those past elections..."

  • US Today -- 2014 Senate Landscape Tilts

    "Contests are set in nearly half the states for November's elections, and with few contested primary elections remaining on the calendar, Republicans are enjoying clear advantages in their quest for a Senate takeover."

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Early Observations on 2016 from The Far Center

The Far Center thus takes an early look at Jeb Bush and John Kasich as well as Hillary Clinton.

Any look at the electoral map shows a continued divide between red states and blue states with about a dozen swing states. There are large solidly Democratic states such as California, New York, and Massachusetts. Republicans will not have much of a chance to win the 2016 Presidential election unless they can win Texas, Florida, and Ohio. The country is also more likely to elect a center-left or center-right candidate than a far right or far left candidate. None of the candidates from the last Republican primary meet this criteria after each declared that they would not accept a ratio of 10 to 1 on budget cuts and raising taxes to help balance the budget. On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton is the odds on favorite if she decides to run.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Economists, Politics, and Global Poverty (Part IV)
A review of books that are important critiques of economists.

Money, Blood, and Revolution: How Darwin and the doctor of King Charles I could turn economics into a science

-- by George Cooper

“The premise of this book is that the internal inconsistencies between economic theories -- the apparently unresolvable debates between leading economists and the incoherent policies of our governments -- are symptomatic of economics being in crisis, specifically a scientific crisis.”

-- from the book cover

“A must-read”

-- The Economist

“George Cooper framed it so well in his book.”

-- Wall Street Journal

This book is interesting first due to its historical and innovative perspective. It also has a brief summary of the some of the competing schools of economic thought. Cooper asserts that economics is a broken science that now believes multiple inconsistent things at the same time. He refers to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn and to the ideas of Charles Darwin and William Harvey, the doctor to King Charles I, to suggest a better way to think about our economics.

Cooper states that “the problem for mainstream economic theory is that the experimental evidence is that the way we choose to arrange our societies has enormous influence on how our economies actually work. However, there is simply no coherent way to integrate this observation into the neoclassical paradigm.”

Cooper suggests a “paradigm shift” that involves “thinking of economic growth as being generated by a circulatory flow of wealth through society. In this model, wealth is moved up through the social pyramid by the activity of the private sector and is recirculated back downward via the activity of the state sector. Cooper describes this as a creative antagonism that lets us exploit the best of our competitive nature while managing the worst of our selfish nature.

I would observe that in Das Kapital (1867-1894) that Marx predicted the fall of capitalism.

Why didn’t that happen in the United States? It was in large part due to the political process of our constitutional democracy being able to both place regulations on laissez faire capitalism and achieve income redistribution with the 16th amendment (1913) and a tax code. In this context, Cooper’s suggestions look less like a paradigm shift than a recognition of the strength and balance of our constitutional democracy.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Economists, Politics, and Global Poverty (Part III)
A review of books that are important critiques of economists.

The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor

-- by William Easterly

“Easterly shows that many of the contemporary debates about the nature of development have their roots in history and he argues that the rights of the individual and democratic values should not be trampled on by those seeking faster economic growth.”

-- Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize Winner

“Bill Easterly is simply the most interesting and provocative economist writing on development topics today.”

-- Francis Fukuyama

“Over the last century, global poverty has largely be viewed as a technical problem that merely requires the right “expert” solutions. Yet all too often, experts recommend solutions that fix immediate problems without addressing the political oppression that created the problems in the first place,”

-- from the book cover

“Easterly argues that only a model of development predicated on the respect for the individual rights of poor people will be capable of ending global poverty.”

-- from the book cover

This book is recommended first for its history of economic development dating back to twelfth-century Italy. Easterly then traces the fight against global poverty by “experts” in development who often sided with dictators against their against their subjects. This includes US foreign policy makers dating back to pre-WWII China who have sided with autocrats in a technological approach to development. Easterly then argues that the stereotypes of wise technocrats from the West and helpless victims from the Rest, has to end. Real progress he contends “will only be achieved when the current ideology of development is rejected in favor of policies founded on the idea that all men are truly created equal.”

Easterly is particularly critical of the World Bank Bank charter set up by the the Bretton Woods conference in 1944, which contains the “nonpolitical cause.” The bank and its officers “shall not interfere in the political affairs of any member; nor shall they be influenced in its decisions by the political character of the government of the member or members concerned. Only economic considerations shall be relevant to their decisions,” Easterly concludes that, “The only time the noninterference cause is binding, apparently, is in preventing the Bank from recognizing any democratic rights of any poor individuals in any of their members countries.” He states that “Having experts in charge of solving society’s problems turns thing over to agents who face neither a market test nor a democratic test …. they suffer neither economic or political penalties.”

Easterly argues that, “it is time at last for the silence on unequal rights for the rich and the poor to end. It is time at last for all men and women to be equally free.”

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Economists, Politics, and Global Poverty (Part II)
A reviews of books that are important critiques of economists.

“The Idealist is a profound and moving story of what happens when the abstract theories of a brilliant, driven man meet the realities of human life.”
-- from the book cover

“A riveting narrative that must be read to understand why the over $700 billion pumped into Africa by the West since 1960 has achieved so little. This powerful book will shake up the foreign aid and development community.”
-- George Ayittey, president of the Free Africa Foundation and author of Africa Unchained

“A powerful exposé of hubris run amok, drawing on the touching accounts of real-life heroes fighting poverty on the front lines.”
-- Robert Calderisi, author of The Trouble with Africa

We have no water. We have no oil. We have no minerals. If you say to me, “One day you will grow crops,” I will ask you, “From where will you get the water?” If you say to me, “One day there will be industry,” I will ask you, “From where will you get water?”
-- A quote from the book by Ahmed Maalim Mohamed

Jeffery Sachs, a celebrated economist from Harvard and Columbia and author of The End of Poverty, in 2006 launched the Millennium Villages Project in Africa backed by $120 million raised from donors. This book by Nina Monk is a first hand account of both the vision and the real-life challenges and difficulties that confront this type of academic, centralized, and idealist approach to solving poverty in Africa.

In the early 1990’s, Jeffery Sachs and and a dozen colleagues from the Harvard Institute for International Development advised a type of “shock therapy” reform to bring markets and capitalism to Russia after the fall of communism. A qoute from The Idealists states that Sachs was naïve and that he was defeated by a massively bloated and corrupt economy. “In one decade, between 1989 and 1999, Russia’s GDP dropped by half. State assets were systematically looted, and anything of value -- raw materials, for instance -- wound up in the hands of a few clever men.”

Russian communism had described itself in economic terms, when in fact it was a totalitarian political regime. Communism advocated, at least in theory, equality as the common ownership of the means of production, but it has in actuality denied political equality as well as the moral agency of other people. In response to the fall of communism our economists all proposed capitalism and the academics, the media, and our government all began to refer to our government as a capitalistic democracy rather than a constitutional democracy. The the appropriate response to the fall of communism should have been a constitutional democracy.

In my book, The Moral Foundations of United States Constitutional Democracy; An Analytical and Historical Inquiry into the Primary Moral Concept of Equality (1992), I wrote the following concerning this issue:

It would be ironic to accept as a premise of public discourse on constitutional democracy the ideology of Marxism which portrays the economic system to be determinative of the political system, rather than just an integral and interdependent part of society and the government. What is important to recognize is that is that our economic system, for example the extent to which we are a regulated capitalism or a social welfare state, is determined by constitutional and legislative political processes based on equality. Given such political processes based on equality, it is not irrational for a people to recognize defined property rights, reward production and merit, and incorporate several aspects of distributive justice.

Russia, without a check on governmental powers, in the early 1990’s became a kleptocracy which benefitted mostly members of the old KGB. It is now under Putin becoming an autocracy.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Economists, Politics, and Global Poverty (Part I)
A reviews of books that are important critiques of economists.

Thus is the first in a series of four book review blogs concerning economists, politics, and global poverty.

The first recommended book is The Bottom Billion (2005) by Paul Collier. This is a fairly balanced account of why one sixth of the world’s population (The Bottom Billion) still live in poverty. 70% of those counties that remain in poverty are in Africa. Collier describes the major causes of poverty to be:
  1. Civil war.
  2. Mineral wealth which supports the government rather than taxes.
  3. Being landlocked and dependent on neighboring counties for transportation.
  4. Poor governance.
Much of this can be understood by reading a book review by Niall Ferguson.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Reconsidering the Death Penalty

    “We do have to, as a society, ask ourselves some difficult and profound questions.”
                           - President Obama
  • Obama calls for death penalty review after botched execution.

  • No Humane way to carry out the death penalty

    "When I read about the crimes Lockett committed, I wish I could support capital punishment. When I read about what Warner did, I want to strangle him with my own hands. But revenge is not the same thing as justice, and karmic retribution is not a power I trust government to exercise. The death penalty has no place in a civilized society."

  • Oklahoma botched Execution

    "What went wrong Tuesday in Oklahoma "will not only cause officials in that state to review carefully their execution procedures and methods," said Richard W. Garnett, a former Supreme Court law clerk who now teaches criminal and constitutional law at the University of Notre Dame, "it will also almost prompt many Americans across the country to rethink the wisdom, and the morality, of capital punishment."

  • Doctors in the death chamber

    "Physicians have to break both their Hippocratic Oath and American Medical Association ethical code to participate in executions."

  • Reconsideration of the Death Penalty in Ohio