More Secession Talk From a Conservative Outlet

More Secession Talk From a Conservative Outlet

04/11/2018Tho Bishop

Breaking up the United States, a view thought dangerous and toxic way back in 2015, continues to trickle out in mainstream political conversation.

The latest example comes from Jesse Kelly at The Federalist:

This idea of breaking up the country may seem a bit outlandish now, but you won’t think so once real domestic unrest comes to your town. Our political disagreements have become a powder keg, one that already would have blown if conservatives had liberals’ emotional instability.

Nobody is expected to cheer for this split. Cheering is not a normal reaction when couples get a divorce. We cheer for old married people on their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

But life is imperfect. Life is hard. We both now agree that living under the other side’s value system is wholly unacceptable. The most peaceful solution we Americans can hope for now is to go our separate ways. So let us come together one last time and agree on one thing: Irreconcilable differences.

Read the whole article here.

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The Kavanaugh Hearings Were a Missed Opportunity—For Both Sides

By now you’ve heard about the combative spectacle that was last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. This momentous event was characterized not by political acumen, wit, cunning, or prudence, but by partisan obstruction, lawlessness, tantrums, hysteria, ignorance, frenzy, and anger.

Protestors screamed vulgarities and trite slogans, proving they were not interested in Kavanaugh’s responses or in substantive intellectual debate. Seventy of them were arrested on Tuesday alone. If anything, their recurring interruptions and crude histrionics gave Kavanaugh time to pause and think about his responses rather than tire out and let down his guard.

Online left-wing rabble-rousers peddled an absurd conspiracy theory about Zina Bash, a former clerk for Kavanaugh—only shortly before right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was banned from Twitter. Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, publicly released documents that were allegedly confidential, claiming full knowledge of the possible repercussions of his act—namely, expulsion from the Senate. “Bring it,” Booker taunted Senator John Cornyn, who warned about the consequences of the supposed confidentiality breach. With unintended levity, Booker announced his “I am Spartacus” moment. Only the documents weren’t confidential after all; they’d already been approved for public release. Thus, Booker’s Spartacus Moment was merely a political stunt of faux bravery.

Why this hostility? Why these shenanigans?

Read the full article at ISI.org.
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Fed: "Underlying Inflation" at a 13-Year High

09/07/2018Ryan McMaken

According to the Federal Reserve's Underlying Inflation Gauge , the 12-month inflation growth in June was 3.33 percent. That's the highest rate recorded in 158 months, or more than 13 years. The last time the UIG measure was as high was in April 2005, when it was at 3.36 percent.

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The Fed began publicly reporting on new measure in December of last year, and takes into account a broader measure of inflation than the more-often used CPI measure.

Not shockingly, the UIG has shown a higher rate of inflation than the CPI, most of the time in recent years.

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In June, while the UIG was 3.33 percent, the CPI growth rate was 2.9 percent. This was a 76-month high for the CPI.

The use of only consumer prices in the CPI has long been a problem, in that the cost of living and planning for the future does not involve only the basket of goods used in the CPI calculations. A wide variety of assets affect the American economy as well.

As explained by the New York Fed's summary of the UIG measure:

We use data from the following two broad categories: (1) consumer, producer, and import prices for goods and services and (2) nonprice variables such as labor market measures, money aggregates, producer surveys, and financial variables (short- and long-term government interest rates, corporate and high-yield bonds, consumer credit volumes and real estate loans, stocks, and commodity prices).

But don't expect the Fed to abandon its fondness for the CPI and the arbitrary "2-percent inflation" goal any time soon. The fact that the broader measure of inflation is climbing to the highest level seen in more than a decade is apparently not a matter of concern.

In fact, there is now speculation that the Fed — recognizing that tariffs will harm economic growth  — may back off its stated plans for continues small hikes in the key rate.

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Trump's Mental Stability Questioned by America's Most Psychopathic City

09/06/2018Tho Bishop

When not assisting the continued politicization of America’s most powerful legislative branch, the media this week has relished in a variety of news items continuing to push the narrative that President Donald Trump is mentally unfit to hold office.

While it’s fair to question the fitness of anyone to hold the power given to the modern American president, the obsession with Trump’s mental stability is a wonderful example of the absurd lack of self-awareness enjoyed by the privileged residents of America’s capitol. After all, the city that finds Donald Trump so revolting is – as a recent study by Ryan Murphy has discovered – literally the psychopathic capitol of the United States.

As Doug French noted last July, this result would surprise no one familiar with F.A. Hayek’s Road to Serfdom. As Hayek wrote in his chapter dedicated to the question “Why the Worst Rise to the Top:”

Advancement within a totalitarian group or party depends largely on a willingness to do immoral things. The principle that the end justifies the means, which in individualist ethics is regarded as the denial of all morals, in collectivist ethics becomes necessarily the supreme rule. There is literally nothing which the consistent collectivist must not be prepared to do if it serves ‘the good of the whole’, because that is to him the only criterion of what ought to be done.

This critique plays itself out when one looks at the most common objections to the Trump presidency from the traditional DC powers. For example, among the most prominent criticisms cited by the New York Times’ anonymous administration “senior official” was Trump’s handling of foreign policy:

Take foreign policy: In public and in private, President Trump shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations.

Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly, and where allies around the world are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals.

In the views of the “stable state,” nothing better demonstrates Trump’s unfitness for office than his desire to de-escalate tensions with Russia by treating its government with respect and being willing to sit across from Kim Jong-un as equals.

In fact, the worst parts of the Trump Administration have been its commitment to the beltway status quo on a number of important issues. This includes his appointment of a variety of establishment-friendly Federal Reserve officials, his continuing the war on drugs, commitment to government-regulated immigration policy, support for absurd levels of military spending, and its general willingness to erode civil liberties. It’s also worth noting that while it’s great to see the establishment media on both the left and right condemn Trump’s fondness for tariffs, Washington’s hostility for actual free trade long pre-dates the Donald. Both the Bush and Obama administration imposed their own tariffs on goods such as steel and solar panels.

Donald Trump is a man that is guilty of a great many sins, but at the end of the day he’s no worse than your average – overpaid – Federal senior staffer. The elites that make up the professional political class and their cheerleaders in the mainstream media have no moral high ground here. Their aim is not to restore “civility” or “decency” to American politics, after all their desire to expand the reach of government power is precisely what undermines such values. No, their goal is simply to reverse an election they didn’t expect to lose. It’s quite possible they may end up succeeding.

Hopefully the takeaway for those who relished the idea of “draining the swamp” is the realization that this can’t be accomplished by simply changing the name of the person who occupies the top office. The Federal government can’t be fixed; it must have its powers taken away.

Political decentralization is the only way to truly make America great again.

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John McCain Combined Bombing with Wishful Thinking

09/05/2018James Bovard

The late Sen. John McCain is being lauded far and wide for his long career of public service.  Rep. John Lewis, the famous civil rights activist, hailed McCain as a “warrior for peace.” In reality, McCain embodied a mix of moralism and militarism that worked out badly for America and the world.

When he was awarded the Liberty Medal last October at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, McCain declared, "We live in a land made of ideals... We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world.”  He warned that it would be “unpatriotic” to “abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe.” But idealism has fared better in political speeches than in the lives of American soldiers or purported foreign beneficiaries...

McCain’s career illustrates the peril of exalting uplifting rhetoric over the lessons of history. There are plenty of nasty dictators in the world but U.S. military campaigns have dismally failed to spread democracy this century. America can no longer afford an idealism that consists of little more than combining bombing and wishful thinking.  

Read the full article at USA Today
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Civility and Political Debate

09/05/2018Gary Galles

The 2016 campaign set a new standard for interruptions and other crimes against civility by candidates. The primaries were full of such rudeness, particularly the Republican free-for-alls. The presidential debates provided additional examples. Even the vice-presidential debate was described by one pundit as an “interruptionfest.”

One side would call such interruptions beyond-the-pale rudeness proving unfitness for office, while the other would cheer them as necessary to make good points. And things are not improving, judging from the hyper-hypocrisy illustration of Democrats who lauded John McCain for not being blindly partisan screaming their intense partisanship at the opening of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court hearing. So how should we view such political interruptions and other examples of rudeness, now that Americans are facing another election that will be in large part a response to the 2016 outcome?

The structure of logical arguments offers a clue. They run from premises to conclusions—A implies B implies C…implies Z. Correctly structured, if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true. However, if a premise or step in an argument is false, factually or logically, even if every succeeding step is valid, the conclusion need not be correct.

Consequently, when someone observes an important false premise or errant step in an argument, logic and a desire for better real-world results both suggest immediately focusing on where and how such premises depart from truth. After all, if people can come to some resolution with respect to the contested step, we can move on in our discussion, and potentially even compromise or agree, in the end. Without that step, further discussion may yield a great deal of stomach acid, but little fruit.

This is particularly important when the pivotal step involves the exact reverse of the truth, which can not only invalidate the conclusion, but actually confirm the opposite conclusion. That is, while statement A, if true, may imply Z, when A is false, it may exclude Z as a possibility.

For example, protectionism can save some jobs, and the income derived from them, from superior competitors. However, protectionism does not create jobs and wealth for the economy, as protectionists assert, or any of the consequences that would follow. “Saving” certain jobs eliminates others, including those in export industries, those facing higher input costs and those whose jobs would have been created from the greater wealth unrestricted trade would produce. That shifting of resources from where people’s circumstances and preferences would lead them voluntarily to where government favoritism dictates also destroys societal wealth.

We must also consider what happens if we wait politely until the end of a disputed chain of reasoning. Think back on your personal experiences. How well did you remember precisely what was said at step B, where disagreement began, multiple steps (possibly also in question) and many minutes later? How well did your recollections match those of your opponent(s)? What was said and why we disagree is easily lost, generating still more uncivil bickering. And such problems are only worsened when, as today, one side often insists that certain words or phrases should not be taken at face value, but as “dog whistles” for hidden and nefarious meanings.

The upshot is that even though interruptions feel rude (because no one likes being sidetracked before reaching their intended conclusions), they may be more justifiable in political debate than in other circumstances. When the direction of the country is at stake, the benefits of more effectively revealing core policy disagreements exceed those in day-to-day conversations. Consequently, we may want to allow more leeway for rudeness when disputing over government policy. We do not want rudeness to become the issue deciding political choices, rather than logic and evidence.

Of course, citizens still must judge whether and when interruptions are sufficiently justified. There are many instances that are not. For example, when one person just talks over another until they quit speaking, interruptions are unjustified. The same is true for interruptions whose purpose is to derail a line of thought, inject misrepresentations that will move us further from the truth or make ad hominem attacks. Electorally punishing such assaults on the possibility of advancing Americans’ well-being, by undermining the potential for increased clarity, remains appropriate.

There will be always be vast differences of political opinion expressed in elections. And citizens will fight over the relevant facts. That process can certainly produce rudeness. But it would be far better to fight over such matters, even rudely, than to let real issues be hijacked into battles over whose rudeness most disqualifies them and their positions from consideration.

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Even Cows Understand the Problem with the Commons

09/05/2018Jim Cox

A popular poster depicts four cows standing in the corners of their respective fields at the intersection of two barbed wire fences. Each of the four cows has stretched her neck through the wires to reach the grass in another cow’s field. The poster invokes a humorous reaction from most observers. To most it would illustrate the phrase that “the grass is always greener on the other side,” or maybe how silly we all are pursuing distant pleasures when there is an abundance available to us where we are.

But the poster actually illustrates rational behavior and the importance of property rights in preserving resources! The rational behavior of the cows is that each is attempting to maximize its access to grass. The remaining non-fence line grass in each cow’s field is readily available to her since she is in that field and the other cows are fenced out.

But the grass on the perimeter of her field along the fence line is within reach of the adjoining cows. Therefore, each cow is faced with first eating the grass along the fence line or missing out on the same if the other cows get there first. The grass along the fence line is therefore effectively common property and such resulting behavior is often referred to as the tragedy of the commons.1

Unowned or collectively owned resources tend to be consumed and not conserved because no one has the right to the long-term value of that good—that is, no one has a property right in that good. It is in the self-interest of each cow (or person) to get what they can before it is gone. The cows are merely responding to the institutional setting in which they find themselves. If we want people or cows to do X we would be well advised to make it in their self-interest to do X. If the fences were so constructed to protect each cow from the incursion of the other there would be no rush to consume grass along the fence line. Under this alternate arrangement resources could be conserved since ownership is secured—that is, each would enjoy a property right in the good.

  • 1. Garret Hardin, The Tragedy of the Commons,Science , December 13, 1968
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Important New Book: The Case Against 2 Per Cent Inflation

09/04/2018Mises Institute

Our regular readers are by now familiar with the work of economist Brendan Brown who offers some of the most detailed analysis of investment and monetary trends at mises.org.

Now, Dr. Brown has finished a new book, The Case Against 2 Per Cent Inflation: From Negative Interest Rates to a 21st Century Gold Standard published by Palgrave Macmillan. and available at Amazon. 

Joseph Salerno writes: "With this book, Brendan Brown joins the ranks of our leading monetary policy experts. His acute and learned analysis and critique of the failed fiat-money regimes since 1914 and the fatal flaws in the current 2-percent inflation standard constitute the definitive treatment of an approach to monetary policy that is rapidly approaching its end."

The Case Against 2 Per Cent Inflation analyses the controversial and critical issue of 2% inflation targeting, currently practiced by central banks in the US, Japan, and Europe. Where did the 2% target inflation originate, and why?

Brown's book presents a novel theoretical perspectives, intertwined with historical and market understanding, and features analysis that draws on monetary theory (including Austrian school), behavioral finance, and finance theory.

And finally, the book explores how the 2% global inflation standard could collapse and what would ideally follow its demise, including a new look at the role of gold.

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Wal-Mart Offers Choice in Currency...

09/04/2018Tho Bishop

At Wal-Mart, Bitcoin is now competing alongside gold, silver, and government coins in the candy isle. 

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Still not quite what Ron Paul and other Austrians have in mind advocating choice in currency, but it does serve as another illustration of how crypto-currency is becoming normalized in the United States. 

(h/t r/cryptocurrency) 

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Judge Napolitano: Kavanaugh is an Enemy of the 4th Amendment

Today begins the Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. At Mises University this year, during a talk on how the courts disregard natural law in America, Judge Andrew Napolitano looked at some troubling moments in Judge Kavanaugh's legal career.

Here is a clip from that lecture:

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Brett Kavanaugh and the Patriot Act

In a discussion on natural law, Napolitano noted that Judge Kavanaugh had established a record of supporting government surveillance on Americans, even when there was not probable cause to believe a crime was being committed.

Kavanaugh's support for abuse of government power in this case, has been buttressed by the Patriot Act, one of the most anti-Fourth-Amendment pieces of legislation passed in recent decades.

Napolitano goes on to outline the many ways the Patriot Act violates the natural rights behind the Fourth Amendment, concluding:

"What young lawyer was the scrivener when they were putting together the Patriot Act?"

It was, of course, Brett Kavanaugh.

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Can't We Just Leave Syria Alone?

09/04/2018Ron Paul

Assad was supposed to be gone already. President Obama thought it would be just another “regime change” operation and perhaps Assad would end up like Saddam Hussein or Yanukovych. Or maybe even Gaddafi. But he was supposed to be gone. The US spent billions to get rid of him and even provided weapons and training to the kinds of radicals that attacked the United States on 9/11.

But with the help of his allies, Assad has nearly defeated this foreign-sponsored insurgency.

The US fought him every step of the way. Each time the Syrian military approached another occupied city or province, Washington and its obedient allies issued the usual warnings that Assad was not liberating territory but was actually seeking to kill more of his own people.

Remember Aleppo, where the US claimed Assad was planning mass slaughter once he regained control? As usual the neocons and the media were completely wrong. Even the UN has admitted that with Aleppo back in the hands of the Syrian government hundreds of thousands of Syrians have actually moved back. We are supposed to believe they willingly returned so that Assad could kill them?

The truth is Aleppo is being rebuilt. Christians celebrated Easter there this spring for the first time in years. There has been no slaughter once al-Qaeda and ISIS’ hold was broken. Believe me, if there was a slaughter we would have heard about it in the media!

So now, with the Syrian military and its allies prepare to liberate the final Syrian province of Idlib, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again warns the Syrian government against re-taking its own territory. He Tweeted on Friday that: “The three million Syrians, who have already been forced out of their homes and are now in Idlib, will suffer from this aggression. Not good. The world is watching.”

President Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, has also warned the Syrian government that the US will attack if it uses gas in Idlib. Of course, that warning serves as an open invitation to rebels currently holding Idlib to set off another false flag and enjoy US air support.

Bolton and Pompeo are painting Idlib as a peaceful province resisting the violence of an Assad who they claim just enjoys killing his own people. But who controls Idlib province? President Trump’s own Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, Brett McGurk, said in Washington just last year that, “Idlib province is the largest al-Qaeda safe-haven since 9/11, tied to directly to Ayman al Zawahiri, this is a huge problem.”

Could someone please remind Pompeo and Bolton that al-Qaeda are the bad guys?

After six years of a foreign-backed regime-change operation in Syria, where hundreds of thousands have been killed and the country nearly fell into the hands of ISIS and al-Qaeda, the Syrian government is on the verge of victory. Assad is hardly a saint, but does anyone really think al-Qaeda and ISIS are preferable? After all, how many Syrians fled the country when Assad was in charge versus when the US-backed “rebels” started taking over?

Americans should be outraged that Pompeo and Bolton are defending al-Qaeda in Idlib. It’s time for the neocons to admit they lost. It is time to give Syria back to the Syrians. It is time to pull the US troops from Syria. It is time to just leave Syria alone!

Reprinted with permission.

 

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