A thought

A Thought Worth Considering:

The oath-bound among us might consider the Donovan's correspondent:

[M]aybe we should beat them to the punch...convene, "on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States," a Constitutional Convention, not for the purpose of amending the Constitution, but instead, dissolving the Union.
I was touched to see that he cites not only the language that is present in both the oath of enlistment and the military officer's oath of office; but also the Boy Scout oath.

Bthun and I were discussing a recent article on the subject of a constitutional convention, as called by the states. There might be some promise in that; the math of the convention is the math of the electoral college, whereby the states are equal regardless of population density. That might permit a right-of-center revision of the Constitution, though not far right; but it could avoid a runaway constitution that decides to find a 'right to health care' and 'right to housing,' and instead focuses on rebalancing the power between the Federal government and the states.

Nevertheless, dissolving the union in this fashion is not a suggestion wholly without merit. It would use Constitutional means to prevent further abuses of the Constitution. It would preserve it, by ending it faithfully on its own terms, rather than suffering to see it ignored and abused and deformed by the base political class we seem blessed with today.

The Constitution would pass into history, but it would be safe there. No one could do it further harm. The loss of the union would have severe economic consequences, but so does continuing the union under such leadership as we have had -- not only in this Congress, but in the previous ones, Republican and Democrat alike. We are left to wonder whether the loss of unity could impose worse costs than the Federal government's enforcement of beggaring debt upon the states, and upon future generations.

There is also the specter of war, which seems more real every year. We are deepy divided against each other, and in the worst way: our visions of beauty are different. That, above all differences, will lead to blood. Our vision of beauty is the thing most important to us, the thing we will fight for even against ourselves. Against others? Oh, readily.

I will not dismiss the option, as John does. It may not be the worst thing that could come of this. The worst thing is civil war: that is the one thing that must be avoided at all costs. A civil, Constitutional decision by the several states to go their separate ways would be far preferable to a collapse into war. It would let us keep our oaths, and prevent us from having to see the Constitution treated as dead paper by the government it was meant to bind.

The Strenuous Life

Security and Disaster:

Theodore Roosevelt, born weak and asthmatic, went west and grew strong with his country. He hunted bandits and cattle and grizzly bear, led the volunteer Rough Riders up a hill in the Spanish-American War, and led his nation to a new strength and pride of place in the world. In 1899, after the war, he gave a speech called 'The Strenuous Life.'

I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.... Above all, let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness.
Cassandra's post of the 23rd evoked this spirit, in a fashion. She likewise finds that people are shying, not just from national greatness, but toward a life of ease. They want to be sheltered not just from hardship, but from even the sense of risk.
During the election I listened to Barack and Michelle Obama and I realized that there is a vast gulf between what they believe - their expectations - and mine. I grew up in a different America: one in which failure was always a possibility but in which there was also the promise of abundance beyond my wildest dreams. In many ways that is the world we live in now. Our homes, cars, electronic devices are newer, faster, cheaper, and more fully functional than anything I dreamed of back then.

What disturbed me about their words was the realization that they viewed struggling and uncertainty as the Enemy. Whereas I viewed those things as the means to an end; goads that made me uncomfortable but also provided the impetus to propel me from my present state into a far better existence. They made me dissatisfied but also gave me hope that tomorrow would be better than today.

I think Instapunk touched on an interesting thought in his essay. The God I grew up with was a demanding God. We were taught that man is sinful by nature and that only by constant struggle can we hope to transcend our lower selves. That was the essence and the meaning of life: constant struggle to overcome; to improve; to adapt and conquer.
Elise greatly appreciated the piece, as have others. Two things about it strike me.

First, the movement from love-of-risk to love-of-security being described has a clear model in economic theory. Joseph Schumpeter described exactly that tendency in examining why the collapse of capitalism predicted by Marx had not occurred. Marx had thought that capitalism would cause industries to trend to monopolies, which would always be able to use their capital and scale to crush startup competitors.

Not so, Schumpeter pointed out: for the big corporation will ossify. It will try to cement its position in the lead through regulations and rules and deals and alliances, and those things will slow it down. Newer competitors will be able to outperform it, because their decision cycle will be shorter and they will have less weighting their motions. (This is economics predicting the OODA loop, about fifty years before Colonel Boyd had the same realization about the importance of speedy decisions in fighter pilots.)

The Obama administration only wants to do what General Motors already did: build an unassailable system in which no one has to struggle. The CEO may make more than the union man on the factory floor, but the union man has no reason to complain: he is making a prodigious salary and has gold-plated benefits. With labor satisfied and management well-compensated, the dominance of the mighty GM machine will last forever.

It should have been edifying that one of the first tasks of the Obama administration was to bail out General Motors, to such a degree that it ended up taking an ownership position in the company. It is a failure: the model doesn't work. When it rubs up against reality, it breaks every time.

The other thing that struck me was that Cassandra doesn't share Teddy Roosevelt's love of risk and riding the ragged edge. In retrospect, she's grateful that she did, because it worked well: her children were always clean and mannerly, although-- no, because -- she was forever afraid they wouldn't be.

Roosevelt was one of my kind: he loved the risk because it was a risk. When I was reading Cassandra's essay, I was struck by her concern with "keeping up appearances." I was, I might say, shamed to admit that I never felt the impulse. There's a fine old Irish song about that:
I'm a rambler, I'm a gambler, I'm a long way from home. And them that don't like me can leave me alone. I'll eat when I'm hungry and drink when I'm dry, and the moonshine don't kill me I'll live 'till I die.
Tex Ritter did a western version of that, which he called "Rye Whiskey." That's always been my model, and it's not necessarily a good one however honorable its heritage. Chesterton wrote that it is dangerous for a man to live on a mountain, because he comes to think of other people as ants. Well to look at a mountain from below, he said, and reflect on the glory of God; but among men, where you are forced to think of yourself as only one of the many. I haven't done that, but have held apart, and sought mountains and far places; that may be my failing and the source of many bad qualities.

Still, nobody is perfect, and we are lucky to know it.
[O]ne winter night I sat up in bed next to my sleeping husband with the sudden realization that I’d done terrible things. You know the kinds of regrets you periodically remember through your life, and the way they sting every time? That night I thought about how I’d cherished grudges against a difficult colleague — perhaps because news of her serious illness had arrived that day. Right on top of it came the thought that my marriage to the father of my children hadn’t lasted nearly as long as hers, and that I’d gotten divorced — more than once. Then the abortion I had in grad school came crowding in. And so on. The memories were old and familiar, but taken together they imposed a new and heavy weight. I’d cultivated my pleasure in someone else’s pain. I’d broken solemn promises to “love and honor until death do us part.” I’d even ended a human life. And so on.

Maybe it was because I’d been reading C. S. Lewis, but sitting there in the dark I realized that I had cut myself a lot of slack.
C. S. Lewis will do that to you. It's good for you, though: it was plainly good for Cassandra. And her children, who turned out very well from what I've heard.

Whether you love the risks or you don't, then, the strenuous life is the right road. For the lovers of horses and swords, song and strong beer, bright food and powerful coffee, it's just one more source of joyous encounter. For those who are nervous about the chance of failure, it's a goad to drive them to do more than they might have otherwise done. It doesn't let you cut yourself slack.

More, it keeps the nation strong. Joseph Schumpeter's theory has proven to be the most reliable law in economics. It will prove likewise to be the most reliable law in political science.

Roosevelt and Schumpeter were right. It's the bold life that counts, and builds; it's the life that risks that has a chance to win.

Creating Brotherly Love

Creating Brotherly Love:

The Cowboy Way:

This cowboy wasn't about to let a crook rustle him out of a good truck.

A Kalispell man chased down the thief who stole his pickup truck and held him for police despite being stabbed twice in the arm. And he kept his cowboy hat on the whole time, said Kalispell Police Detective Kevin McCarvel.

The man started his Ford F-250 diesel pickup late Monday afternoon to warm it up before leaving work. But when he walked out of the office at about 5 p.m., he saw his truck being driven away, McCarvel said Wednesday.

The truck owner ran and jumped in the bed of the truck and used his cell phone to call police.

"The nice part about it was the victim in this was obviously giving directions the whole way," McCarvel said Wednesday, "so it made him pretty easy to find."

The truck traveled six to eight blocks before the thief pulled over and took off running.

The 26-year-old truck owner quickly checked the cab, thought the thief had taken his wallet, grabbed a hand gun and began chasing him on foot.
He caught the thief, who pulled a knife on him. Sadly, the thief is in custody tonight, having survived the encounter by a compound of miracle and mercy.

The Boar's Head

The Boar's Head:

Joe was right: this is a fitting tune for the feast.

Joy to you all.

Brotherly Love From Popeye

Popeye's Brotherly Love:

This cartoon happened to be playing on television today while we were over at Grandma's house. It's a fairly concise summary of the argument that justice doesn't imply a presumption against the use of force.

Not a bad bit of philosophizing, for a Popeye cartoon; and a reminder, on Christmas Day, that those of us who wish for brotherly love must always stand prepared to create the peace in which it flourishes. This is the world we were given, and our duty in it.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all the guests and friends of the Hall.

COL Howard

Respects, Sir:

Via SWJ, an obituary:

Retired Army Col. Robert L. Howard, 70, who died Wednesday in Waco, was a Medal of Honor winner who at the time of his death was believed to be the most-decorated living American soldier. Howard will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery...

Howard, who grew up in Opelika, Ala., enlisted in the Army in 1956 at the age of 17 and retired as a full colonel in 1992.

In Vietnam, he served in the U.S. Army Special Forces and spent most of his five tours in the secret Military Assistance Command, Vietnam-Studies and Observation Group, or MACV-SOG, which was...
That's all right. That unit needs no introduction here. Here was a man, ladies and gentlemen.

Christmas at the movies

Christmas at the Movies:

Mark Steyn has a list of great war films featuring Christmas.

Greyhawk, meanwhile, had the best Christmas-and-war movie I've seen in an age. This is what every soldier's familiy dreams of, though only so few can have it. But for those few, we ought to be happy.

Hawk also has a caption contest.

Did We Win?

So... Did We Win?

Today has some very odd stories all over Memeorandum. I'm starting to think that the health care bill has died on us, while showing every sign of rocketing to a successful close.

I'm not sure why this is happening. I mean, I know about the polls; and I recognize that the left and the right both hate it. I understand that it's a terrible mess, and I've got no idea why anyone would actually want to pass it. However, until today I've been convinced that passing it was the first order of business on the minds of the national Democratic party.

It came through the House on a squeaker, though; and the Senate version passed with a zero-vote margin to spare. Now Congress has to come home on recess, to constituents who are very angry about the whole thing. When they come back in January, apparently the President wants to do something else for a while -- until after his State of the Union speech, at least.

Meanwhile, constitutional challenges to the program continue to mount. Here's another one:

Conservative critics contend that the provision violates the Constitution's "takings clause," which says "private property [cannot] be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Democrats counter that the mandate is necessary to make the planned overhaul of the health-care system work, and ensure that as many people as possible participate in the system. Under the Senate bill, individuals who don't purchase coverage would face a financial penalty up to $750.
The reply to the charge that the law is unconstitutional is, "It's necessary to our plans"? Shouldn't that call the whole project into question, then?

Yes, it should, especially given the Fifth Amendment (Prof. Epstein), First Amendment (re: abortion, both sides), Tenth Amendment (this appears to be an area constitutionally left to the states) and no-obvious-authorization-in-the-Constitution-anyway issues.

I'm starting to wonder if the weight of all this, especially its poisonous polling, is starting to weigh it down. After a symbolic end-of-year victory, the Senate will adjourn. What happens in the New Year? I'd have thought a quick conference committee, and a done deal; but perhaps not, after all.
The Rule of Three:

Jokes get funnier the more often you tell them. It builds expectations in your audience, who know the punchline is coming, and just can't wait to hear it. Remember that clever joke from the White House about how Ms. Dunn's favorite political philosophers were Mother Theresa and Chairman Mao? They were angling at the irony of the juxtaposition, you know, playing for laughs.

Isn't it even funnier this time?

Mao on a Christmas tree! The irony, the irony! Using the Warhol image gives it just that same edge of plausible deniability that Ms. Dunn was striving to maintain with the Mother Theresa linkage. We can say it, but you can't prove we meant it.

Mt. Rushmore with the Obama face added is a nice touch, too. B+, all around.

China Pollution

Pollution in China:

A far better photographer than I am captures a few images of the 'miracle of China.' He has a real talent for clarifying the image: all my photos of China are a little unclear, because of the soot in the air. He manages to get very sharp images and color, which took some real talent.

Next time someone tells you that China is poised to take over the world, remember what you see here.


On the Need for ROTC:


Anyone who had ever studied cavalry tactics would know better than that.

Actually, you'd think that anyone who had any experience with football would know better. Failing that, though, the cavalry would have straightened them out.

Shalt Steal

Thou Shalt Not Steal:

Far be it from me to argue theology with a priest, but...

But his advice was roundly condemned by police and the local Tory MP. Father Jones, 42, was discussing Mary and the birth of Jesus when he went on to the subject of how poor and vulnerable people cope in the run-up to Christmas.

'My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift,' he told his stunned congregation at St Lawrence and St Hilda in York.

'I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither.

'I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices.

'I would ask them not to take any more than they need.'
Now, Christianity does have a strong sense of sympathy to the thieves and beggars, the poor and forsaken. Jesus himself was not unkind to a thief or two, although that's more the Easter than the Christmas story. Furthermore, I understand the concept that it's better to shoplift than to commit armed robbery; and I'll accept for the sake of argument that it's better than prostitution.

Nevertheless, I think this is a fairly radical departure from normal Christian ethics. Surely it's Christian to forgive, yet say "Go forth, and sin no more"; but I'm not sure it's fitting to say, "Go forth and sin, but try not to be piggish about it." It's surely Christian to say, "Charity is the greatest good"; it's arguably Christian to say, "The government should enforce charity through taxes where it is insufficient"; but I'm not sure it's right to say, "Go ahead and steal from big chains, as it's just another way of creating a transfer payment from us to you."

But, again, I'm not a priest. I'm just a man who's interested in the subject.

Stupid Congress Tricks

Foolish Congress Tricks:

This is not the best idea that anyone ever had.

There ’s one provision that I found particularly troubling and it’s under section C, titled “Limitations on changes to this subsection.”

And I quote — “It shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection.”

This is not legislation. It’s not law. This is a rule change. It’s a pretty big deal. We will be passing a new law and at the same time creating a Senate rule that makes it out of order to amend or even repeal the law.

I’m not even sure that it’s constitutional, but if it is, it most certainly is a Senate rule. I don’t see why the majority party wouldn’t put this in every bill.
The long term effects of this will be harmful even from Sen. Reid's perspective. One thing that capitalists are very good at is finding and exploiting loopholes in the law. If you've set up a rationing board -- that is apparently the subsection that can't be altered or repealed -- to govern capitalistic doctors and hospitals in their provision of services, they will eventually figure out where the loopholes in your law are.

The system will be gamed, because every system involving serious money is always gamed. With billions of dollars at stake, you can bet there are going to be some clever lawyers working at sorting out just where and how they can do it. And since you rammed the law through long before you had time to fully digest it, the odds of it being perfect and loophole free approach zero.

So, even if you're Sen. Reid, you're going to want to make some changes down the line. When you go to do it, though, you'll find that you've locked yourself out.

Two More

Two More on "Who Wants This?"

Ezra Klein has an unusually useful piece, responding to Jane Hamsher. Perhaps because it's blue on blue, he avoids the usual rhetoric (like the other day, when he was asserting that bill-opposers simply prefer to let thousands die), and lays out a careful case for what he sees as the bill's good points. Klein is something of an insider in this matter, so his writing is useful for seeing how the bill's authors would like you to understand their intentions. Most likely, they really do see themselves in roughly this way: normally people want to think well of themselves, and it's helpful to see how they construct that view.

I do agree that the refusal to buy insurance is the 'best deal' in the plan. I was reading that as a flaw in the structure of the plan, but he seems to be billing it as a 'feature, not a bug,' as they say.

So that's the case for 'why this bill is really a good thing.'

On the cynical side, Reclusive Leftist has a piece that asserts that the bill is really about trying to capture campaign contributions. Generally I think cynicism is a bad way to go about living your life; but when pondering Congress, a certain amount of it is clearly warranted.

Southern Baptist Taliban

Mastering the Topic Sentence:

Writing courses will tell you that you need to construct a sentence that will express your main point in a clear, easy to understand fashion. It's quite an art to be able to capture an entire article in a single sentence. It's not very easy to do it in an opening paragraph.

I think I may have discovered a technique for approaching the problem. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to look for your escape clause:

...the Taliban’s plans for women far exceed the darkest imaginings of the Southern Baptists...
Really, that's the whole article right there. The qualifier put in to avoid objections neatly captures everything she wanted to say. 'The Taliban are far worse than the Baptists, but they're along the same line.'

Things are getting better recently, though, she finishes:
There’s no doubt that many women’s lives are better than they were a century, even a half century, ago. Women can vote and own property. Abortion has been legalized in many countries, at least for the moment. But organized religion, and the anxieties and terrors it encourages and employs as a means of social control, have fought—and continue to fight—these positive changes, every step of the way.
I'm not familiar with the Baptist effort to prevent women owning property. As for abortion, you know, I used to feel as Bthun said yesterday: it was a topic I wanted to avoid at all costs. My longstanding philosophy was that I was opposed to abortion, but would excercise that opposition purely within my private sphere of action. I was content to not cause any abortions, and to leave others their full range of choices as well.

More and more, though, I'm not sure that's tenable.

A Toast to Miss Langtry

A Toast to Miss Langtry:

Judge Roy Bean, as portrayed by Walter Brennan. He was rarely given the lead, but he was a fine player all the same.

Const. Issues w/ Healthcare

Constitutional Issues:

On the left, Riverdaughter writes that the health care bill is an unconstitutional violation of her freedom of religion.

With anti-abortion measures, women are not just subject to the state, they are forced to recognize a religious presence in their lives whether they have faith or not. Men do not need to recognize any faith. They are allowed complete freedom of conscience.

In fact, a crisis of conscience is only respected when women decide to end a pregnancy. If religious people decide to kill innocent civilians as the collateral damage in a proxy religious war halfway around the world, the rest of us still have to pay taxes for this endeavor regardless of our crisis of conscience.
Actually, there are two precise parallels for the other side in the health care bill. The absence of a conscience clause means that religious people are also being stripped of their right to freedom of religion: if they are health care workers, they can be forced to perform procedures they find evil. They are forced to participate in a system that is hostile to one of their most basic, personal beliefs.

Further, just as in the 'paying for a war we don't support' metric, the Federal taxes collected will pay for abortion coverage nationwide. Even if your state 'opts out,' you're still on the hook.
Under Reid’s “manager’s amendment,” there is no prohibition on abortion coverage in federally subsidized plans participating in the Exchange. Instead the amendment includes layers of accounting gimmicks that demand that plans participating in the Exchange or the new government-run plan that will be managed by the Office of Personnel Management must establish “allocation accounts” when elective abortion is a covered benefit (p. 41). Everyone enrolled in these plans must pay a monthly abortion premium (p. 41, lines 5-8), and these funds will be used to pay for the elective abortion services. The Reid amendment directs insurance companies to assess the cost of elective abortion coverage (p. 43), and charge a minimum of $1 per enrollee per month (p. 43, lines 20-22).
So, really, it's "fair." Or, rather, completely unfair, but to everyone equally.

That said, I think she has an excellent idea that I'd love to see adopted as a Constitutional amendment. We need to allow individuals to opt-out of taxes for things they don't support.

I envision something like an IRS form with check boxes for things we're actually willing to pay for out of our pockets. ("Your full tax bill is $21,085. However, if you choose not to support Social Security and Medicare, deduct $12,345, recognizing that any failure to support these programs in any year makes you permanently ineligible for benefits. If you choose not to support the military, deduct $2,109, recognizing that you'll still get the benefits of the Army, you freeloader. If you choose not to support the US Institute of Peace, deduct $25, recognizing that there were no real benefits to be had anyway.") A computerized 1040 should be able to do the math without too much hassle.

Congress would be free to recommend budgetary levels for various program: they could recommend 10% of your total tax bill be devoted to the military (thus, 'deduct $2,109 if you don't support the military.') However, they'd be limited to spending only what came in, and no more. If they absolutely needed more for a given purpose, they could sell a special bond issue for that purpose. If it didn't sell, well, too bad.

I can't think of anything that would be more effective at restraining the size of the Federal government than giving individuals more control over how much money we really send the Feds.

UPDATE: In addition to the First Amendment issues, Prof. Richard Epstein cites some serious Fifth Amendment problems. His argument appears to be that people who have invested in building a corporation, say an insurance company, have a right to just compensation if that corporation is effectively seized as a public utility. There is apparently quite a bit of constitutional law on the subject, and the Reid bill appears to the professor to violate that law in a number of different ways.

As to which, I never did hear a satisfying answer as to how establishing an 'individual mandate' was a legitimate constitutional power of Congress. I'd still like that to be carefully accounted for before we proceed; but failing that, since the concept appears to be to rush this through before it's available for careful accounting, it's another probably source of litigation.

Nothing for Anyone

Nothing for Anyone:

So, why are we considering passing this health care bill? It's vastly unpopular, yes; and not for no reason! It's got taxes on 'Cadillac' health plans, which the unions hate, as do the gainfully employed in general. It's got no public option, no Medicare buy-in, yet mandatory insurance requirements, which the Left hates. It's got government forcing you to buy something you may not need or want, which the economic conservatives hate. It's got a mandatory montly fee for abortion, which social conservatives hate. Libertarians hate everything about the plan. Doctors apparently don't like it. The elderly are justly concerned about the death panel cost-controlling aspet; the young are justly concerned about being forced to buy very costly insurance they don't really need, given the minimal salaries that accompany inexperience and youth.

Who is the constituency for this bill? Insurance companies? Congress? Is there any demographic of Americans who really wants this thing?

UPDATE: I may have expressed myself badly before, so let me clarify. I understand that legislation is the art of compromise, so that even with a good bill, there will be parts of it that everyone doesn't like. In that regard, this might be read as a 'good' bill, because every faction has 'given' something.

The problem is, I don't see the other side: what's anyone getting? The papers all say that we'll be getting 'coverage for thirty million uninsured,' but I can't see that we are: the penalty for not buying insurance is much less than the cost of maintaining the insurance. So, we'll continue to have millions of uninsured -- it's just that they'll have the right to buy insurance when they want it. We could easily have tens of millions more uninsured, as people realize there's no reason to pay the freight to obtain the health care they want.

The House bill's rather heavy-handed response to this is to criminalize 'willful failure' to maintain insurance. That's no solution, though: it'll cost much more to keep tens of millions of people in prison than it would to pay for their health care. (After all, in prison you have to pay for their health care, and also feed and house them, and monitor them 24/7). They may be hoping to imprison a few 'examples' to terrorize the rest of us into compliance, but that won't work on the target population any more than the anti-drug laws have worked. Instead, you'll end up with another unevenly or rarely-enforced statute, openly mocked by the class of people it's meant to control.

We're getting all these sacrifices. We'll be paying much higher taxes in a variety of ways. Those of you with employer-sponsored health care will probably lose it, as the employers find it cheaper to pay the penalty versus keeping the coverage. If you don't, it'll be taxed as a 'Cadillac' plan. (You have too much insurance for our own good!) If you have no insurance, you'll be free to buy it; and if you don't, you'll be taxed for that (or possibly thrown in jail, but again, I can't imagine the government has the stones to pull the trigger on that option to the degree necessary to make it effective; and even if they did, that only increases the cost to the government).

The American Spectator article mocks:

I will be able to drop my coverage completely and save myself almost $4,000 a year, knowing that if I ever get sick and need services, I can sign-up and get coverage immediately. Not only that, but I will be able to sign-up, get the service I need, and drop the coverage the next month.
Yet even that isn't true, since 'the service I need' may not be covered by the government mandated plan -- especially for a costly 'older' American. And other plans will be either less affordable (Cadillac!), or unavailable.

Meanwhile, the laws mandating emergency rooms to treat anyone who shows up will remain in place. So, really, for those at the very bottom -- the ones who have the most trouble organizing their lives -- nothing will change at all. They won't buy the 'we can't turn you away' insurance until/unless they need it, and only for as long as they need it; and they don't need it at all, because they can continue to do what they do now, demand free care and then walk away from the bill.

I'm honestly not seeing the upside. What is anyone getting out of this? We aren't getting a nation of happily-insured people. We aren't getting happier doctors. We're not even getting abortion-on-demand-for-free, for those who wanted that. Neither are we getting a conscience-clause or a refusal to mandate that we all pay for abortions for those who wanted that. It appears that everything anyone thought was good has been negotiated away.

Who is the constituency who wants this?

Geologists love beer

Geologists Love Beer:

One hundred seventy-five kegs is quite a bit for a single week, but God love them for it!

“Science doesn’t work when people keep secrets and don’t share their data,” said Daniel Jaffe of the University of Washington. ”And what could be better to help with the free flow of information?”
A very fine point. We wouldn't be in this position with the CRU if they'd had enough beers with enough people.


"Happiness is an Activity"

A philosophy professor I once had used to define Aristotle's idea of happiness that way: "Happiness is an activity, and the particular kind of activity that it is, is rational activity in accord with excellence."

Toward which, a map of red/blue states as refined from the last three elections:

...and a list of the happiest states. "A new study found that a person's self-reported happiness matches up with objective measures of state-level happiness." What did these unified studies find?

1. Louisiana
2. Hawaii
3. Florida
4. Tennessee
5. Arizona
6. Mississippi
7. Montana
8. South Carolina
9. Alabama
10. Maine
11. Alaska
12. North Carolina
13. Wyoming
14. Idaho
15. South Dakota
16. Texas
17. Arkansas
18. Vermont
19. Georgia
20. Oklahoma
21. Colorado
22. Delaware
23. Utah
24. New Mexico
25. North Dakota
26. Minnesota
27. New Hampshire
28. Virginia
29. Wisconsin
30. Oregon
31. Iowa
32. Kansas
33. Nebraska
34. West Virginia
35. Kentucky
36. Washington
37. District of Columbia
38. Missouri
39. Nevada
40. Maryland
41. Pennsylvania
42. Rhode Island
43. Massachusetts
44. Ohio
45. Illinois
46. California
47. Indiana
48. Michigan
49. New Jersey
50. Connecticut
51. New York
There are few blue states in the top twenty, Maine, Hawaii, and Vermont. Hawaii, as we know, is really its own little world. The others are part of the Northeast, but eccentrict members of that club. Vermont has the best firearms laws in the United States, so that the NRA often refers to "Vermont-style carry" as the ideal. Maine, we know from our studies of armed forces recruiting, boasts military service well above average for the Northeast, and the highest percentage of service academy admissions of any state.

Now, look at the cluster from 40 down -- even a few above 40, but the very bottom of the list. Indiana, where there is a severe and sustained economic crisis, is the only pink state on the list. The rest are the deepest blue parts of the country.

One of the state-based criteria for happiness was population density, so one could argue that the study was biased against populous states of the sort that tend towards blue policies (because that's where the blue-trending political organizations are concentrated: unions, for example). Yet the person-by-person 'self-reported' happiness lines up with these things. That would seem to confirm that, far from being 'bias,' population density is a fair standard for happiness.

Confer. I'm interested in your thoughts.