Saturday, 17 November 2018

Freedom of the Press and of Speech: True and False; By David Henderson

Freedom of the Press and of Speech: True and False is by David Henderson at EconLib, which I've taken to reading recently. This discusses CNN/Acosta and the White House withdrawl of Acosta's press pass. Oddly, the article discusses only the First Amendment issue and argues (narrowly) that there is no First Amendment (freedom of speech) issue. Narrowly, that is true; I'm not convinced that a court might not construe it more broadly. But that's not important, because there is a far clearer Fifth Amendment (due process) right. As I comment:
You seem to have got the Acosta stuff wrong. The judge didn’t rule on First, he (from your link) “sided with CNN on the basis of the suit’s Fifth Amendment claims, saying the White House did not provide Acosta with the due process required to legally revoke his press pass”.
That gets an odd answer from another commentator, to which I reply:
"due process" is much wider than life, liberty or property. As you surely know. The odd thing here is that this article focusses on the First, even though the judgement was made explicitly on the basis of the Fifth.
And when you think about it, what seems "wrong" about the press pass being revoked is indeed not a freedom of speech matter, as this article notes; the wrongness lies in the White House's treatment of an individual. The WH's action was arbitrary, and motivated by pique; this is why it falls foul of the Fifth. And correctly so: the WH (aka the Govt) should not be able to play favourites, and try to intimidate journalists by withdrawl of access.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

CIP: Of Course Trump is to Blame (for the bombings): terrorism and trolling

CIP got wound up about the recent "bombings". Partly because he discovered he could blame Trump, somewhat implausibly in my view. I said:
If he's to blame for the "bombings" (which weren't actually bombings since none of them went off) he's to blame for something very dull. Except the meeja always overplay anything with bombs, because they're kinda sexy. 
> modern American has acquired such a potent appetite for this truly disgusting human being 
Indeed. But Trump isn't to blame for that, the modern USAnians are.
CIP wasn't happy, so I expanded:
> deprecate every crime 
I don't. As you've maybe noticed, I've said nothing about the recent shootings, because real people actually died. 
Unlike the "bombings", where no-one died; and where the intended targets wouldn't have been affected even if the bombs had been real. It was terrorism, in the sense of attention-grabbing; more trolling than real terrorism (compare the inches of column coverage you, and your meeja, gave it compared to the recent Afghan bombings where yet more real people actually died). DNFTT.
People are so easily trolled by bombings. We're the same.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Supreme Court - CIP

In the Supreme Court CIP discusses, errrm, SCOTUS. This of course is in the context of Kavanaugh.

I jumped in because of his the Supreme Court is not only the ultimate interpreter of the laws but has also appropriated the right to judge laws against the template of the Constitution and strike down those it finds wanting, which I found odd. After all, some entity is going to have to do this; the court is the obvious one.

CIP continues I prefer that laws be made by the legislature rather than the Court. I think that's sort-of snark; anyway, I replied:
Everyone agrees that the laws should be *made* by the Legislature (pace law-is-custom, of course). But that leaves open two issues, that need to be resolved: interpreting the law, and conformity with the constitution. Neither of these is "making" law, except in a rather stretched sense (notice we're not talking about common law at this point).
If you're Hobbes, then the person who gets to interpret the law is effectively the legislator, but this is too broad, because the interpreter doesn't have arbitrary authority to do so, in practice. So the courts get to only interpret ambiguous bits, and therefore the legislature, if it likes, gets to have another go and remake the law if it wants to.
The constitution could have included a clause stating that the legislature is trusted to ensure that laws that it passes are consistent with the constitution, and therefore all laws passed are automatically constitutional, but it didn't. Absent that there is an unavoidable need to some body to check this constitutionality. And (having now got to this point it becomes obvious) since the legislature can't be trusted with this task, it has to be the court.
The constitution genuinely is there to prevent majoritarian tyranny, so yes it must be capable of forbidding some laws, no matter how much people want them. See the aforementioned church-n-state. Of course, even that can be solved if you have enough votes by changing the constitution (see-also

Monday, 10 September 2018

Modern Galileos facing the Postmodernist Inquisition?

When someone plays the "Galileo gambit" it's a fair sign that the reader should be cautious. In this case the writer is the usually interesting Thing Finder (arch), and the post one that segues into Global Warming and how Evil Climate Scientists have suppressed... you know the story; read the post if you like.

I was interested to see if a rational discussion was possible; the answer looks like being "no". The irony is that TF is quite keen on the idea of cognitive biases but, as is commonplace, only those of other people.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Conservatives find liberals deficient in some other stuff

CIP discusses Right and Wrong  and I felt moved to comment:

> Liberals find conservatives deficient in compassion and tolerance and conservatives find liberals deficient in some other stuff
You know, or can invent, the "liberal" position. But you are too deficient too know, or (it would appear) even to care, what "conservatives" think.

The conversation grew heated; CIP continued in The Conservative Position. I replied there:

We're getting fairly close to not being able to talk to each other, which would be a shame.
Recall that this started from your "Liberals find conservatives deficient in compassion and tolerance and conservatives find liberals deficient in some other stuff". I'm still trying to tell you that you're finding it hard to understand, or perhaps to care, what C's think about L's.
> Kirk... is fond of citing that old fascist, Plato
You mean like http://capitalistimperialis... ?
I'm not familiar with K. contains no ref to P. P isn't particularly in favour of pederasty any more than was common back then. Slavery wasn't uncommon then and was supported by many other than P. P's major faults are elsewhere; principally as you now note, that he was a fascist.


You'll have to wait for my take on Burke, but he's now on my list (available at, it looks like).
> Plato himself was both bold and radical
Popper would I think disagree with you, and I feel inclined to follow him. He describes Plato as reactionary, not radical; and indeed that's a large point of TOSAIE part 1. I'd really recommend reading that if you haven't; it is very good. Recall that only slightly earlier you called Plato an old fascist. Of course fascists can be bold and radical, though B&R is usually used as a compliment. Would you call Mussolini B&R?
> most great advances in human history have stemmed from radical ideas
That's very close to a tautology.
> legally forbidden but ubiquitous
Worth dwelling on. Because it's part of the Paine/Burke dichotomy, as well as part of the Con/Lib one. You don't change a people instantly by changing their laws. Law is custom. That's what Kirk was trying to tell you.
Some time I will read Burke.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

The Science Video Facebook Did Not Want You To See?

28 JULY 2018: The Science Video Facebook Did Not Want You To See by Dan Satterfield.

This is l'affaire Hayhoe, and it might be a correct account, but it might not, and I'm interested to find out the details; it smells a little fishy to me.

William Connolley says:
Your comment is awaiting moderation. 
> They decided to boost the post to reach more people, and Facebook said NO, it’s too political!
I notice you say that but provide no evidence. Is it, for some reason, so obvious that it requires no evidence?
What, in their own words not someone else’s, did fb actually say?

Having looked at my original Tweet I find that KH has replied, and indeed she was somewhat economical with the truth.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Freeman Essay #93: “The State is the Source of Rights?

CH regurtigates old posts. Freeman Essay #93: “The State is the Source of Rights? contains some mistakes about Hobbes - the same one everyone makes - but also an interesting discussion on the source(s) of Rights and the source of Law. the discussion there is largely focussed around DB's - interesting - interest in Libertarianism, but coming from that it is also possible to look more fundamentally at rights. I plan to expand this at some point, but for now I'll just quote my comment:

Your discussion of law-from-govt isn't terribly convincing, but I think that is less interesting than the question of rights, so I'll comment on that. I think a more coherent view of "rights" is the (Hobbesian) idea that in a "state of nature" everyone has a right to everything (unlike Hobbes, you don't provide a coherent defn of "rights"). Accepting a government (whether a formally constituted one or even your merchants court) means losing some of your freedom of action (aka rights) in exchange, presumably, for law-n-order. On that view a govt is, intrinsically, not a "source" of rights by its very nature. It is something that naturally removes rights, and this is only to be expected. Your Dec of Indy says "all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable...", which is the same thing: those rights pre-date govt.

Those not subject to confiscation could still be used illegally

A comment at Commonsense Firearm Regulation (found via CH):

> those not subject to confiscation could still be used illegally
This doesn't really make sense as an objection. Most (I didn't check this, but I think it is true, including the most recent) mass shootings with AR-15s involve youngish people buying newish AR-15s. Taking out all the legal ones - most obviously including those in gun shops - would significantly raise the barrier to acquiring them. AFAIK, in general, school-type mass shootings don't involve criminals; so, ironically, you're not terribly worried about criminals possessing these weapons (for these purposes).

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Your assessment is inevitably worthless

Late to the party, but I don't see anyone making the obvious point. You say:
"I am not at all familiar with how Wikipedia applies its guidelines, but I would have guessed that..."
Which essentially means, you don't know what you're talking about. If you don't understand wiki's guidelines for notability, or how they are applied, you[r] assessment is inevitably worthless. How addicted to your own opinion do you have to be not to realise that?

Sunday, 4 February 2018

God You are right, I should look elsewhere this is very boring

Nathan has left a new comment on your post "Men spake from God being moved by the Holy Ghost /...": 

You are right, I should look elsewhere this is very boring.

I think the problem is that you choose to direct conversations in THE MOST boring direction possible. 

You are not playful with conversation, you don't use it as an opportunity to explore concepts, or to expand an understanding of something. 

So rather than explore the question of how regulation becomes Law (and therefore different and apparently better) you would rather discuss that you didn't literally say regulation is bad.

Posted by Nathan to Stoat at 9:57 pm

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

IPCC Communication handbook

IPCC Communication handbook at RC. I could have been more cynical but contented myself with:

1 and 6 fail the “does the negative make sense” test.
4 seems doomed to generate those stupid stories that focus on some bloke wot has seen see rise over his lifetime, oh yes, and have zero scientific content.
2 seems a bit dubious; abstract ideas are valuable and powerful. 

And the exciting follow up:

William Connolley says:
> 17: Radge Havers says: WC @ ~ 3: 1 and 6 fail the “does the negative make sense” test: Huh? How so?
Try their negative:
not-1: Be an unconfident communicator
not-6: Use the least effective visual communication
These make no sense. Which is a hint that the “positive” or original versions are largely vacuous.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018


Trolling (no, not really, I just like to see if people are capable of thinking) on Twitter (arch):

Bess Kalb: When my great grandmother came to America from her shithole, she ended up creating two physicians, a professor, four attorneys, a Harvard economics Phd, an MIT-trained engineer, and a mouthy little bitch who harassed the racist President until he blocked on Twitter.

Me: Hey, that's great. But doesn't it kinda prove his point? Would she have created two physicians, etc etc, if she'd stayed in the shithole?

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Soc Flop

CIP has a series of posts based on Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy: From Thales to Aristotle (p. 364). Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.. Kindle Edition; the latest being Soc Flop. As you can tell, he isn't impressed. To prove my credentials, in 2015 I said the Republic, I think it was. Anyway, that’s a despicable piece of propaganda masquerading as philosophy or the wordy windbagging twaddle of Plato from 2012.

My comment which is long enough to preserve is:
My impression is that Soc/Plat is reasonably good on the negatives: using questions to expose flaws in the opponents reasoning and ideas. But poor when attempting to put forward his own ideas as positives. Which ends up making the questioning seem cheap: it turns out that exposing at least a minor flaw in someone else's ideas is really not that hard; building something able to withstand close questions is difficult.
And to be sort-of fair it is the questioning that he is remembered for; no-one actually remembers the city-state-building in the Republic (and if they do remember it, they hate it).
There is also (sorry, I'm getting carried away, stop me when you're bored) possibly a very big philosophical error in all this, if you believe Popper's analysis. It's also quite subtle so I may get it wrong. It's in TOSAIE vol 1 I think. His point is that definitions - like "what is a puppy?" - in the hands of Plato turns into the Ideal Form of the Puppy, in order to explain how we all see young dogs and all these disparate objects are recognised as a puppy. Popper asserts that instead that it should be read in reverse, as a description. This does away with any need for Ideals, but it also implies that focussing on the meaning of a word - like "the Good" - becomes as pointless as focussing on the True Meaning of the word Puppy.
I find I've touched on this before; Justice and Injustice.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Where are the corpses?

John Bowles has left a new comment on your post "Another Koch-Up": 

We are already two degrees warmer than the 1850’s … more than that since the early 1800’s.

So my question to the assembled masses is … now that we’ve breached the all-important two degree Celsius climate limit, where are the corpses? Where are the unusual disasters? Where are the climate-related catastrophes? Why are there no flooded cities? What happened to the areas that were supposed to be uninhabitable? Where are the drowned atolls? We were promised millions of climate refugees, where are they?

In short, where are any of the terrible occurrences that we’ve been warned would strike us at the 2 degree Celsius limit?

Seriously, we’ve just done the natural experiment. The world has warmed up the feared amount, and there have been no increases in any climate-related disasters.