Making Better Humans

 

If you’ve never seen the work of Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, you’re missing a treat. Cesar is a man who has mastered teaching people how to manage their dogs in a way that I’ve never seen anyone else do. He does it with kindness, humor, and consistency:

According to Millan, a common pitfall for American dog owners is to give a great deal of affection with very little exercise and even less discipline. He encourages owners to understand the effect their own attitudes, internal emotions and physical postures have on a dog’s behavior, counseling owners to hold strong posture (i.e., shoulders high and chest forward) and to project energy that is calm-assertive. [Italics are mine.]

Millan’s TV programs are centered on the rehabilitation of dogs while Millan concurrently educates the dog owners in his dog-handling philosophy. Conversations with owners typically revolve around his philosophy: that healthy, balanced dogs require strong ‘pack leadership’ from their owners, while Millan demonstrates how owners can achieve and maintain a leadership role with their dogs.

Arson and Mayhem in the Country

 

Georgina Ross is back in England for the first time since she was a toddler. She has no memory of it. She grew up in a station in the Cape Colony where her father was a missionary.  After her father was killed by renegade natives (who also killed most of his Christian converts), her mother decided to return to England with Georgina. Then her mother died and was buried at sea.

“Georgina,” by Alida Leacroft, opens with the twenty-year-old Georgina Ross, orphaned and friendless, on the docks of Southampton. It is the first half of the 1800s. Georgina has the address of her father’s half-sister, who lives in Southampton, another for her grandfather, Frederic Weatherly in Westmead House Hampshire. He is estranged from his daughter.

When Georgina arrives at her aunt’s door, she receives a cold reception. Only her aunt’s sea captain husband prevents the aunt from tossing her into the street. Thereafter the aunt and her two daughters treat Georgina like an unpaid servant.

Quote of the Day: On Not Being Offended

 

“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.” – Benjamin Franklin

Few people today realize Ben Franklin became the 18th-century equivalent of Bill Gates by franchising print shops. He trained printers, provided them with standard print faces and printing tools, and lent them capital to set up their own print shops in towns throughout the colonies. In exchange, he got a piece of the action. He also farmed out large print jobs among his network of printers, keeping them busy and employed while permitting print runs in sizes in excess of what would otherwise be possible.

DeSantis Takes on the Teachers Unions and School Boards

 

Whenever I have discussed the teachers who have chosen to teach inappropriate subjects, such as Critical Race Theory or who coach their students on transgenderism, or teachers who have insisted that kids wear masks, a teacher often speaks up supporting my criticism of those teachers. At the same time, however, they point to the power of the teachers’ unions and the risks that teachers would be taking to defy them.

Fearless as he often is, Ron DeSantis is defying the unions, assisting the teachers, and supporting parents through his recommendations to the Legislature:

Transgenderism: The Parents

 

Over and over again, I’ve allowed myself to agonize over the information available on the state of transgenderism. Much of the focus is on the ways that children’s lives have been manipulated and destroyed, with some of their parents speaking of the difficulty of trying to understand their children’s predicament. In a one-hour documentary called “Dead Name” (referring to the given name that a child has rejected), the anguish, bewilderment, and horror of the parents of three children, two boys and one girl, is difficult to witness.

Originally the video appeared on Vimeo, but the site removed it: Here’s how they explained their action:

In a statement to The Federalist on Monday afternoon, Vimeo said the documentary violated the platform’s terms on ‘discriminatory or hateful’ material.

Quote of the Day: Gossip

 

“It is just as cowardly to judge an absent person as it is wicked to strike a defenseless one. Only the ignorant and narrow-minded gossip, for they speak of persons instead of things.” — Lawrence G. Lovasik

Father Lovasik didn’t mince words. He made it clear that gossip is a hateful activity, and those who indulged in it were to be held in contempt.

The Wealth Tax Is a Poor Idea

 

Now that the Republicans have taken control of the House of Representatives, it has become crystal clear that there will be no federal wealth tax on high-net-worth individuals for at least the next two years. Unfortunately, as with so many bad policy proposals, the push for a wealth tax has instead generated renewed interest in blue states. California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, and Washington are considering introducing their own wealth taxes. Through joint effort, they hope to make it more difficult for wealthy individuals to flee high-tax states for more favorable jurisdictions. This strategy represents wishful thinking at its finest. If this quixotic endeavor should become law, it will only hasten the exodus of wealthy individuals from blue California and New York to red Florida and Texas.

Today’s aggressive progressives hope to stall that movement by imposing an exit tax on these would-be exiles. These efforts should evoke oppressive regimes like East Germany, which erected the Berlin Wall to keep malcontents at home. It will surely face a fierce constitutional attack, as our Constitution has long been understood to have created a nationwide free-trade zone. In the United States, goods, services—and individuals—can move easily across state lines to promote economic development and growth. An exit tax imposes an explicit barrier on that project and is likely to be struck down as an impermissible burden on interstate commerce, as it is a direct descendant of the taxes and regulations that Chief Justice John Marshall struck down in such notable cases as Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) and Brown v. Maryland (1827).

Ironically, the rosy revenue projections that wealth-tax supporters such as Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman made in 2021 for its revenue potential—starting in 2023—are now hopelessly out of date. Two years ago, at the height of the pandemic, billionaires accumulated capital at near-record rates. Now, potential gains from a wealth tax have fallen because of the enormous declines in wealth (toward greater income equality!) experienced by virtually all newly minted tech moguls. Elon Musk leads the pack, with capital losses of $115 billion in 2022 alone. He has good company in Jeff Bezos ($80 billion); Mark Zuckerberg ($78 billion); and Larry Page ($40 billion). In sum, the American billionaires lost $660 billion this past year, about one-third of the $2 trillion in losses worldwide. Nothing guarantees that they will recover those losses any time soon, if ever. Considering a hypothetical 3 percent wealth tax rate, close to $20 billion in domestic wealth-tax revenue disappeared in 2022; this number would be far higher if the wealth tax also reached foreigners.

Should We Be Providing ‘Charity’ to Ukraine?

 

In a recent speech, Rand Paul gave a powerful presentation regarding the millions of dollars we are giving to Ukraine. He likened our situation to a conundrum that Davy Crockett faced when he served in Congress. (Most of us perceive Crockett as an iconic symbol of the West, but he also served in Congress from 1827 to 1835.) And Paul told a story that speaks to our continual donation of funds and military equipment to Ukraine and how it extends a long, expensive, and debilitating process of trying to be generous to other countries under the guise of national security.

Although Crockett’s original speech was not transcribed, his ideas were captured in an 1867 article written by Edward Ellis and published in Harper’s Magazine, called, “Not yours to Give.” And the conclusions that Crockett reached challenged Congress’ intention to donate charity to the widow of a distinguished naval officer. He took his position from an encounter with a citizen who called him out for a similar funding decision that Crockett made in another devastating occurrence. Crockett was credited with the following description of the situation:

Several years ago, I was one evening standing on the steps of the Capitol with some other members of Congress when our attention was attracted by a great light over in Georgetown. It was evidently a large fire. We jumped into a hack and drove over as fast we could. In spite of all that could be done, many houses were burned and many families made houseless, and besides, some of them had lost all but the clothes they had on. The weather was very cold, and when I saw so many women and children suffering, I felt that something ought to be done for them. The next morning a bill was introduced appropriating $20,000 for their relief. We put aside all other business and rushed it through as soon as it could be done.

Quote of the Day: Beer and Books

 

“Beer is to dumb guys what books are to smart ones — Just having a lot of them makes you feel a whole lot smarter.” — Stephen Pastis

There is a lot of truth in both ends of that quote.  Drink enough beer and you do feel smarter.  You may not be smarter and you may not act smarter, but sure enough you feel a whole lot smarter.  It doesn’t matter if you are a dumb guy or a smart guy, either – at least not in my experience.

Horror at an English Country Manor

 

Ishmael Jones hunts monsters. He solves mysteries and uncovers dark secrets. He works for Britain’s Organization, which does not officially exist within government. He feels like he is doing some good there, and working for the Organization allows him to maintain his anonymity.

“The Dark Side of the Road”, a science fiction novel by Simon R. Green introduces Ishmael Jones. Jones is a man apart; someone who respects only the Colonel, the Organization’s chief. Jones has worked with the Colonel on numerous field assignments. Two days before Christmas the Colonel contacts Jones requesting Jones join the Colonel for Christmas at the Colonel’s family home.

It is the first time the Colonel has invited Jones to meet his family. It must be important. The Colonel asks as a personal favor and says he will discuss the reason why Jones is needed when Jones arrives. Jones leaves London that night in a rented car for the drive to Belcourt Manor in rural Cornwall. Despite a vicious blizzard that has the roads shut down.

From My Cold, Dead, but Still Shaking Hands

 

“Belief” in “climate change” is a signifier of a vast raft of opinions and stances. Those who “deny” are guilty of ecocide, the primary sin of our time. It supersedes all other sins, because it is existential murder of the broadest sense.

The issue at hand is a Canadian study – of course – advising that people should drink less coffee to combat climate change. 

Canadian researchers analyzed coffee’s “contribution to climate change” in a piece published in early January and suggested people moderate their consumption of the popular drink as a part of the solution.

Lies? What Lies?

 

Nobody expects the US to keep its promises anymore. After all, the world has changed drastically, woke agendas must be pursued and commitments to others that don’t directly support that agenda are a waste of time. We’ve lost so much credibility on the world stage that few countries probably believe we can be trusted anymore. Trying to maintain truth, integrity, and honor are just foolish aspirations.

So when we left Afghanistan in August 2021, promises we had made to the Afghan translators simply became inconvenient. Joe Biden didn’t care about the promises we’d made to the translators to ensure that they would get passage to the United States; all he cared about was getting out, regardless of the lives lost and those at risk. Even losing 13 American Marines was barely acknowledged. As a result, a pathetic effort was made to get Afghans out with no effort to make sure that the Afghan translators were at the top of the list. Although a small number of Afghans and their families managed to escape on the designated military plane, or due to their own efforts and those of NGOs, such as No One Left Behind, many were killed by the Taliban; many still remain in hiding in fear for their lives.  James Miervaldis tells the story:

Quote of the Day: Equal Rights or More Rights?

 

It is impossible to struggle for civil rights, equal rights for blacks, without including whites. Because equal rights, fair play, justice, are all like the air: we all have it, or none of us has it. That is the truth of it. —Maya Angelou

In a time when the term “equal rights” has taken a beating and people feel that equity is the only acceptable goal, I infer from Angelou that equal rights should be ubiquitous. We shouldn’t have to fight over them, or distort them so that some people get more of them than others. Or the term, “fair play.” Today we would use the term “equal opportunity,” even though many people would insist that equal opportunity is unacceptable unless we get equal results, which is impossible to attain. And justice: neither the rich man nor the poor man should have more access to justice just because of their circumstances. Unfortunately, the political Left would turn all these assumptions on their head.

Just Say No

 

Nobody seems to know what to do about our illegal immigration crisis. Somehow, no other nation in the world seems helpless to control unlimited, illegal immigration.  Democrats alternately claim it is being handled, and that it is the fault of uncooperative Republicans, who in turn can only agree that “something“ must be done.

It’s time for a Great Reset, to rethink the basics of how we treat illegal immigration.  Here’s an idea: Follow The Law. Just Say No.

A Needed Check on Union Violence

 

Recently, American unions have pushed hard to increase their power in the employment market. Unions may strike and thereby shut down a reluctant firm to extract a favorable deal, and will often do so even though that strike action imposes economic losses on union members. But just how hard will unions press to get a strongly pro-union labor contract? Last week in Glacier Northwest v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the US Supreme Court heard oral argument on a case that will help answer that question.

In Glacier, the union and the employer were locked in protracted negotiations over a new contract. The company uses cement mixers to distribute its ready-mix product to its customers. Just as the contract was about to expire, union drivers, as part of a coordinated effort, took their loaded trucks on the road, only to return the trucks, still loaded, to the company headquarters moments after the contract expired. The drivers left the engines running to prevent the immediate hardening of their cargo. However, owing to the large number of nearly simultaneous truck returns, much of that cargo did harden, inflicting immediate property damage on the trucks. The two sides reached agreement on a new contract a week later, but the dispute over these losses lingered on. The parties disagree over whether the actions of these workers came within the protected strike practices under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Employers must bear losses caused by strike practices that the NLRA protects, but employers may sue unions in state court in tort for deliberate physical injuries.

This distinction makes a substantial difference. State courts hear and decide cases far faster than the National Labor Relations Board does. More important, state courts can award substantial monetary damages against unions while the NLRB cannot. Given these institutional differences, the key cat-and-mouse game is whether the case goes first to the state court or to the NLRB. The traditional practice on sequencing the two proceedings was set out in the important 1959 labor case, San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon, which held that the plaintiff may bring a tort action right away, to which the defendant might plead that the case was “arguably” subject to the provisions of the NLRB as a defense. Upon the defendant pleading such a defense, the tort suit had to be discontinued. The Supreme Court in Garmon ruled that the NLRA required a state court to dismiss a tort suit alleging that a union wrongfully attempted to win a contract by picketing an employer’s place of business. Indeed, that lawsuit was blocked even though the NLRB declined jurisdiction over the case, and even though the state court wanted only to award damages rather than impose an injunction against the union. The coercive effect of damages could induce abandoning the very behavior that the injunction would have directly prohibited. The question in Glacier was whether this employer was caught by Garmon pre-emption.

Fatsplaining, Children, and Racism

 

It’s not like we haven’t been talking about obesity in this country for years. Issues of weight gain were discussed in the early 20th century:

In the mid-1970s the obesity rate for the United States was about 14%. 1994 is the first year with CDC data for all states and shows all states at obesity rates of 19% or lower. By 1997, three states were in the 20-24% range: Indiana, Kentucky, and Missouri. In 2001, Missouri became the first state to have an obesity rate between 25-29%. By 2005, 14 states were in the 25-29% range while three states breached the 30% and higher rate (Louisiana, Missouri, and West Virginia). By 2010, no state reported an obesity rate under 19%.

Spirituality Is for Wusses

 

Today it’s fashionable for a person to say he is spiritual but not religious. That comment is intended to suggest that the person is above the primitive practices he assumes religious people follow. Only superior people wear the mantle of spirituality, rather than taking on the dogma and rituals of ancient religions.

Only no one really knows what it means to be spiritual. And perhaps, no one cares.

The Rangers After Point Du Hoc

 

Ronald Reagan made the Second Ranger Battalion famous with his 1984 “Boys of Point Du Hoc” speech. There he extolled the exploits of the Rangers who scaled those heights on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Ever since then, many believe the Rangers started and ended their World War II efforts on that day in June.

“The Last Hill: The Epic Story of a Ranger Battalion and the Battle That Defined WWII,” by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin shows that D-Day was the start of the Battalion’s World War II combat. They faced other challenges throughout 1944.

Quote of the Day: Words

 

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

Does God Exist? A Conversation with Tom Holland, Stephen Meyer, and Douglas Murray

 

Does God exist? Something—a being, a power—that’s supernatural? That is, an entity that we’re unable to perceive with our five senses but that’s still real? Ever since the Enlightenment, the knowing, urbane, sophisticated answer has been, “Of course not.” Now a historian, a scientist, and a journalist talk it over and reveal new threads in the debate around science and theism.

New York’s Impossible Housing Dream

 

On January 10, 2023, New York Governor Kathy Hochul delivered her State of the State address against a grim political backdrop. For the past several years, New York has led the nation in net population loss, losing more than 400,000 people over the past two years, with no sign that the exodus will abate in the near future. The question is: what should the Empire State do to stem those losses? Much of the governor’s answer is that the state should somehow construct, over the next ten years, some 800,000 housing units, including many affordable ones. Along with dreaming up these units, Hochul has taken aim at localities throughout the state where the issuing of local building permits lags far behind the rate in nearby states. At the same time, Hochul has been reluctant to extend protections against eviction, which also have strong progressive support within the state.

Will New York actually take steps that will stem the string of population losses? The outlook is cloudy at best. To Hochul’s credit, one of the first parts of her program takes a page out of the classical liberal playbook on land-use law by calling for a removal of obstacles to issuing building permits. As Hochul notes, “Between full-on bans of multi-family homes, and onerous zoning and approvals processes,” these restrictions “make it difficult—even impossible—to build new homes.” It’s easy to see why. Permit denials are rarely related to the prevention of nuisance-like behavior from new construction that could impose physical dangers on existing housing. Quite the opposite. Virtually all of these permit denials and zoning restrictions have a different agenda: they hope to maintain property values for incumbent homeowners by preventing the supply expansion that would lower housing costs. Sitting owners therefore know that if they stay, they will enjoy the added benefits from these artificially high values. But the restrictions in question need not keep them tied to the state. The owners have an alternative: to sell at artificially high prices and then depart to other, more desirable (low tax, low regulation) locations.

At no point is there any guarantee that increasing the rate at which permits are issued will reverse the flow of migration out of New York, as the purchasers of their homes will not necessarily be individuals who reside outside the state.

Quote of the Day: We Are Gems to Be Polished

 

“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I can’t speak for everyone, but living a life without trials and tribulations sounds pretty good to me. Imagine a country where we don’t have to worry about the vocabulary we use, or the politics we follow, or the company we keep. Just think how peaceful life would be if people weren’t called terrorists or Nazis or insurrectionists.

Doesn’t it sound lovely?

What’s a TV Show?

 

Television was widely anticipated for a half-century before it finally appeared in the home. You see it as futuristic science fiction in films like Metropolis, Things to Come, Transatlantic Tunnel, and Modern Times. Someday it would provide to every American a front-row seat at public events, like the inauguration of a president, a horse race, or the World Series. There’d be live remote broadcasts from big city theaters, with dramas, operas, and vaudeville, as in International House, complete with pretty singers, leggy dancers, and black comedians. All of that would eventually come to pass, in one form or another. Live news events, sports, and variety are mainstays of television even today. But when we say the words “Last night I watched a TV show,” what we usually have in mind is different.

There was a blank spot in science fiction writers’ imaginations: scripted entertainment. One simple, obvious thing these tele-viewers of tomorrow never seemed to do in these futuristic visions was spend any couch time watching TV, at least in the sense that we know the term. The futurists of the 1920s didn’t anticipate that very soon we’d have a national habit of hanging out each week with the likes of the Ricardos and the Kramdens. Flash Gordon never kicked back with a cold brew to catch an episode of The Adventures of Superman. Inventing television was hard enough; inventing the kinds of programs and formats that people would want to see, week after week, took another kind of talent. In retrospect, it all happened quickly, but it didn’t happen overnight.