Archive for the ‘History’ Category

The Future of Science

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

We are now entering a crazy period of our history. Europe is sinking beneath a wave of Muslim immigration by young military age men.

America is now seeing riots like Charlottesville. These are being organized by people who have sketchy associations like Jason Kessler who seems to be an “activist” on both sides.

Rumors abound on white nationalist forums that Kessler’s ideological pedigree before 2016 was less than pure and seem to point to involvement in the Occupy movement and past support for President Obama.

So the “white Nationalist” is an Obama supporter ?

Now, we have to turn to the future of science. We had the Larry Summers episode at Harvard.


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Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers has triggered criticism by telling an economics conference Friday that the under-representation of female scientists at elite universities may stem in part from “innate” differences between men and women, although two Harvard professors who heard the speech said the remarks have been taken out of context in an ensuing national media frenzy.
MIT biologist Nancy Hopkins ’64 said she felt physically ill as a result of listening to Summers’ speech at a National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) luncheon, and she left the conference room half-way through the president’s remarks.

This was one of the first reports of snowflakes requiring fainting couches when faced with opposing opinions.

Summers was subsequently forced to resign in spite of an obsequious apology.

More recently, we have had the defenestration of a Google engineer with 100% evaluations fired after expressing sentiments simialr to those Summers had stated.

The memo he wrote is not like the description in the other link.

For example, on the scales measured by the Big Five personality traits women consistently report higher Neuroticism, agreeableness, warmth (an extraversion facet[68]) and openness to feelings, and men often report higher assertiveness (a facet of extraversion [68]) and openness to ideas as assessed by the NEO-PI-R.[69] Gender differences in personality traits are largest in prosperous, healthy, and egalitarian cultures in which women have more opportunities that are equal to those of men. Differences in the magnitude of sex differences between more or less developed world regions were due to differences between men, not women, in these respective regions. That is, men in highly developed world regions were less neurotic, extroverted, conscientious and agreeable compared to men in less developed world regions. Women, on the other hand tended not to differ in personality traits across regions.

He was demonized for such comments.

OK, Now what have we to face ?

Male dominated Science is to be rejected.

Prescod-Weinstein asserts that, rather than placing value in the contents of peer-reviewed scientific articles, we should recognize that “science has often made its living from encoding and justifying bias” and is “conducted primarily by white men.”

Here’s hoping that airplanes continue to fly with “feminist science” determining design of wings.

This seems related to “Feminist Mathematics.”

There is, now, an extensive critical literature on gender and the nature of science three aspects of which, philosophy, pedagogy and epistemology, seem to be pertinent to a discussion of gender and mathematics.

Who knew that Mathematics had gender ?

We now have a Dean of Engineering at Purdue who is interested in “Feminist Engineering.”

The goal of the FREE research group is to do research, teaching and outreach that helps people (students, the public, engineering colleagues, and other engineering education researchers) develop a more inclusive, engaged, and socially just vision of engineering education.

OK. Maybe it is just the approach to Engineering Education but what is Socially Just Engineering ?

The Legacy of Lyndon Johnson

Friday, August 11th, 2017

I have been reading (by listening to audio book versions) Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson. It is called “The Years of Lyndon Johnson, as a four book set. I am presently listening to the second volume which is titled, “Means of Ascent.” It is pretty clear that the author does not like Lyndon Johnson but respects his ability to use power. His means of attaining it is what he does not like.

The first volume goes into considerable detail on Lyndon’s father Sam Johnson.
Sam Johnson was a Texas state legislator who was scrupulously honest and refused to accept any “favors” from the lobbyists even though the Texas legislature was famously corrupt. Sam Johnson was idolized by his son, Lyndon, but Sam was an idealist and a poor businessman and went broke. Lyndon was humiliated by their poverty and was determined to acquire money and power, regardless of the ethics.

The only college he could get into was a small teachers’ college called Southwest Texas State Teachers’ College

Initially called Southwest Texas State Normal School, the final word in the name was changed to “College” in 1918. Then, “Normal” became “Teachers” in 1923.

When Johnson attended, it was small and the students mostly impoverished. His machinations to get favors from the president and to get political power to reward friends and punish enemies are described in the volume I of the biography and are an indicator of his future tactics.

The second volume spends a great amount of time on the 1948 Senate election when he opposed a former and well loved Governor named Coke Stevenson, who had a reputation as incorruptible and tough. The story of that election, and how Johnson stole it, is a major part of the book. Part of Johnson’s technique was to try to implicate Stevenson in the kind of corruption that he himself had committed. After the book came out in 1990, the author was attacked by Johnson supports as being biased in favor of Stevenson. In response, he wrote a rebuttal to the attacks on Stevenson’s character.

After Lyndon Johnson got to Washington, according to Caro, he began to boast about how he stole the election from Stevenson. Being clever and powerful was more important to Johnson’s self image than a reputation for honesty.

What has Johnson’s legacy been for this country ? I think it has been disastrous.

When Eisenhower was President, it was in Johnson’s interest to cooperate with him and some of Johnson’s liberal sympathies, which he concealed from his Texas supporters, were beneficial in the era when Civil Rights legislation was being held hostage by the southern Senators and Congressmen.

In 1955 he had a major heart attack and gave up smoking. By 1958, he was interested in the presidency and he ultimately lost out to Kennedy. He was invited onto the Democratic ticket by Kennedy and they won a very close election in 1960, which may have been, once again, stolen by Johnson in Texas and Richard J Daley in Chicago. Eisenhower Attorney General Rogers told Nixon he had enough evidence of election fraud to potentially reverse the result but Nixon declined to pursue the challenge, asserting it would not be safe to do so in a time of international challenge. This account is in Teddy White’s book, “The Making of the President 1960”

Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and Johnson succeeded. In 1964, he defeated Barry Goldwater after a vicious campaign that saw Goldwater accused of wanting to expand the special forces war in Vietnam. Of course, after the election, Johnson greatly expanded the war and probably guaranteed its loss by micromanaging the details, like he micromanaged his political campaigns. HR McMaster’s book, “Dereliction of Duty” describes in considerable detail just what was done by Johnson and McNamara without objection by the Joint Chiefs.

Johnson’s domestic agenda is often called The War on Poverty, and many cynics contend that it was lost years ago.

As a part of the Great Society, Johnson believed in expanding the federal government’s roles in education and health care as poverty reduction strategies.[1] These policies can also be seen as a continuation of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which ran from 1933 to 1937, and the Four Freedoms of 1941. Johnson stated “Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.”[2]

The legacy of the War on Poverty policy initiative remains in the continued existence of such federal programs as Head Start, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), TRiO, and Job Corps.

The War on Poverty included many programs that encouraged single motherhood and is widely considered to have destroyed the black family.

The rise of the welfare state in the 1960s contributed greatly to the demise of the black family as a stable institution. The out-of-wedlock birth rate among African Americans today is 73%, three times higher than it was prior to the War on Poverty. Children raised in fatherless homes are far more likely to grow up poor and to eventually engage in criminal behavior, than their peers who are raised in two-parent homes.

Some of this has been a result of the legalization of abortion and the appearance of the birth control pill.

Still, great improvements had been the trend before Johnson took office.

Thus began an unprecedented commitment of federal funds to a wide range of measures aimed at redistributing wealth in the United States.[1] From 1965 to 2008, nearly $16 trillion of taxpayer money (in constant 2008 dollars) was spent on means-tested welfare programs for the poor.

The economic milieu in which the War on Poverty arose is noteworthy. As of 1965, the number of Americans living below the official poverty line had been declining continuously since the beginning of the decade and was only about half of what it had been fifteen years earlier. Between 1950 and 1965, the proportion of people whose earnings put them below the poverty level, had decreased by more than 30%. The black poverty rate had been cut nearly in half between 1940 and 1960.

After Johnson, things changed. One would not know it from reading the Wikipedia article which is very pro-Johnson.

Between the mid-Sixties and the mid-Seventies, the dollar value of public housing quintupled and the amount spent on food stamps rose more than tenfold. From 1965 to 1969, government-provided benefits increased by a factor of 8; by 1974 such benefits were an astounding 20 times higher than they had been in 1965. Also as of 1974, federal spending on social-welfare programs amounted to 16% of America’s Gross National Product, a far cry from the 8% figure of 1960. By 1977 the number of people receiving public assistance had more than doubled since 1960.

The Vietnam War radicalized the Baby Boomer generation, which became the decade of “sex, drugs and rock and roll.” A generation of anti-war students stayed in graduate school and became the radical faculty which has created the atmosphere that drives out faculty members who offend hypersensitive students.

The complaint at the time was that Johnson was determined to have both “Guns and Butter” to fight a war while expanding civilian spending.
The 1965 passage of Medicare and Medicaid began the trip to unrepayable national debt.

The trend is clear.

gross-national-debt

Just since 1974, the debt has steadily climbed and will never be repaid as the World War II debt was.

This is the legacy of Lyndon Johnson. Had he never been elected to the Senate in 1948, there would have been a president Nixon in 1960.

There would have been no Vietnam War.

Probably no destruction of the black family and the desperate inner city crime problems.

No “Days of Rage with the radical Underground” and domestic terrorism in the 1960s and 70s.

Kennedy would probably have served out his career in the Senate as a far more conservative Senator than his brother Teddy.

This would be a very different world.

Game Theory examples.

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

Stephen den Beste died this week.

he was an early blogger but has been in poor health recently and stopped blogging the past year.

On Islamist terrorism:

The nations and the peoples within the zone of our enemy’s culture are complete failures. Their economies are disasters. They make no contribution to the advance of science or engineering. They make no contribution to art or culture. They have no important diplomatic power. They are not respected. Most of their people are impoverished and miserable and filled with resentment, and those who are not impoverished are living a lie. They hate us.

They hate us because our culture is everything theirs is not. Our culture is vibrant and fecund; our economies are successful. Our achievements are magnificent. Our engineering and science are advancing at breathtaking speed. Our people are fat and happy (relatively speaking). We are influential, we are powerful, we are wealthy. “We” are the western democracies, but in particular “we” are the United States, which is the most successful of the western democracies by a long margin. America is the most successful nation in the history of the world, economically and technologically and militarily and even culturally.

Sadly, our own culture seems to be under attack from within.

His blog post on Game Theory and The Prisoner’s Dilemma is excellent.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a classic of Game Theory

It has been endlessly analyzed but Den Beste’s is about the best I know.

There’s been a lot of analysis of this, and it turns out that honesty isn’t the best policy. One guy decided to run a computer tournament; people were permitted to create algorithms in a synthetic language which would have the ability to keep track of previous exchanges and make a decision on each new exchange whether to be honest or to cheat. He challenged them to see who could come up with the one which did the best in a long series of matches against various opponents. It turned out that the best anyone could find, and the best anyone has ever found, was known as “Tit-for-tat”.

On the first round, it plays fair. On each successive round, it does to the other guy what he did the last time.

When Tit-for-tat plays against itself, it plays fair for the entire game and maximizes output. When it plays against anyone who tosses in some cheating, it punishes it by cheating back and reduces the other guys unfair winnings.

No-one has ever found a way of defeating it.

Now let’s analyze two different and even more simplistic approaches; we’ll call them “saint” and “sinner”. The saint plays fair every single round, irrespective of what the other guy does. The sinner always cheats.

When a saint plays against another saint, or against tit-for-tat, the result is optimum but more important is that everyone gets the same result. When a sinner plays against another sinner, or against tit-for-tat, everyone cheats and the result is still even, though less than optimal.

But when a sinner plays against a saint, the sinner wins and the saint loses.

Which brings me back to the point of all this: Is there anything I would rule out in war? Nothing I’d care to admit to my enemies, because ruling out anything is a “saint” tactic. The Tit-for-tat tactic is to be prepared to do anything, but not to do so spontaneously. In other words, if the other guy threatens to use poison gas, you make sure you have some of your own and let him know that you’ll retaliate with it. That means that he has nothing to win by using it, and he won’t. (A war is a sequence game and not a single transaction because each day is a new exchange. If you gassed my guys yesterday, I can gas yours today.)

Unfortunately, this logic has been abandoned by the Ruling Class, which thinks it is more important to signal its virtue than to defend the country.

Why we are losing America.

Friday, October 7th, 2016

norman_rockwell-homecoming_marine-1945

This painting, of a young Marine just home from the war, shows us how much we have lost. I remember when the guys were coming home from the war. My parents had parties for them. My father had enlisted in the Navy in World War I even though he was only 15.

albin-1918

He looks older but was only 15 and, after the war ended a few months later, admitted his age and came home. He had no intention of being a peacetime sailor.

Saloon

Here is one of the parties after the war. Our house had a basement party room with a fireplace (that smoked) and a full bar plus a juke box and, at one time, a penny slot machine that I wish I had now. Sid White, sitting in the front, was a B 17 crewman who was shot down and spent several years in a POW camp.

Standing at the far right is my uncle Tom and his wife Mavis. He had spent the war in Europe. Standing to the left of Sid is Bud Gonya who was a Seabee in the Pacific. He is wearing a vest over a white shirt. My father is standing behind the bar directly behind Sid. Next to him is Chuck Quinn, a neighbor and friend of Bud Kerrison, my cousin who is to the right of them. Bud is behind Mavis and was a B 17 bombardier in North Africa. Next to Bud and perhaps sitting on his lap is Pat Neary who would marry a friend of Bud’s from the North African campaign named Frank Flanagan. Sitting next to Sid with her arms on his shoulders is Ellen Smith who would marry him. Her brother Jimmy was in the POW camp with Sid.

Most of these girls were friends of Bud’s sisters Ruth and Marian and quite a few of them married friends of Bud from the war. I was only 7 years old at the time and had a lot of fun meeting and getting to know these people.

There has been criticism of this “Greatest Generation” who probably spoiled their children, “The Baby Boomers” who have gone to destroy their parents’ world. I think this group had grown up in the Depression and gave considerable credit to the government, credit we now believe to have been excessive. On the other hand, Roosevelt had done a credible job of running the war.

Everyone was happy it was over and the country had a period of prosperity that continued until the 1965 Johnson Administration set off an inflationary spiral that has brought us down, perhaps forever. The 1960s also introduced the violent and anarchic Baby Boomers who wrecked the social institutions over the next 40 years.

Rockwell would not recognize the country we have become.

What is “alt-Right” in this year’s election ?

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

There is a new theme for the Democrats in this year’s election. Hillary calls it the “Alt-Right.”

The New York Times is alarmed.

As Hillary Clinton assailed Donald J. Trump on Thursday for fanning the flames of racism embraced by the “alt-right,” the community of activists that tends to lurk anonymously in the internet’s dark corners could hardly contain its glee.

Mrs. Clinton’s speech was intended to link Mr. Trump to a fringe ideology of conspiracies and hate, but for the leaders of the alt-right, the attention from the Democratic presidential nominee was a moment in the political spotlight that offered a new level of credibility. It also provided a valuable opportunity for fund-raising and recruiting.

Jared Taylor, editor of the white nationalist publication American Renaissance, live-tweeted Mrs. Clinton’s remarks, questioning her praise of establishment Republicans and eagerly anticipating her discussion of his community.

According to Hillary and the Times, Donald Trump is defined by those who say they support him more than by what he says himself.

If Hillary and Bernie Sanders are supported by communists, does that make them communists ? This is an odd year and will get worse.

A better explanation of “alt-Right” is provided by two spokesmen for another view.

A specter is haunting the dinner parties, fundraisers and think-tanks of the Establishment: the specter of the “alternative right.” Young, creative and eager to commit secular heresies, they have become public enemy number one to beltway conservatives — more hated, even, than Democrats or loopy progressives.
The alternative right, more commonly known as the alt-right, is an amorphous movement. Some — mostly Establishment types — insist it’s little more than a vehicle for the worst dregs of human society: anti-Semites, white supremacists, and other members of the Stormfront set. They’re wrong.

I wasn’t even aware of this controversy until Ann Althouse put up a post on the subject after Hillary raised it.

She quotes a man who was ejected from the Hillary speech.

“I call myself alt right because the conservative establishment right in this country does not represent my views, they are just as much to blame for the disaster taking place in America as the left, the alt right to me is fiscal responsibility, secure borders, enforcement of immigration laws, ending the PC culture, and promoting AMERICA FIRST (Not Sharia First)… If you come to this country legally, follow the laws, learn our language, and love the country, you are equal, no matter your color, or religion. Basically alt-right is to separate ourselves from the failing establishment right.

That post led to over 300 comments on her blog. She then posted a survey. The results were interesting.

alt-right poll

I voted for the choice “I’m most of all of what it stands for but I don’t use that term, myself.”

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Interesting comment on Hillary’s career.

Friday, July 29th, 2016

This was posted on facebook as a comment to a WSJ piece on her campaign strategy.

Dick Morris, former political adviser to President Bill Clinton: If you happen to see the Bill Clinton five-minute TV ad for Hillary in which he introduces the commercial by saying he wants to share some things we may not know about Hillary’s background, beware as I was there for most of their presidency and know them better than just about anyone. I offer a few corrections:
Bill says: “In law school Hillary worked on legal services for the poor.”
Facts are: Hillary’s main extra-curricular activity in ‘Law School’ was helping the Black Panthers, on trial in Connecticut for torturing and killing a ‘Federal Agent.’ She went to Court every day as part of a Law student monitoring committee trying to spot civil rights violations and develop grounds for appeal.

Was this true ? Snopes has a sort of rebuttal.

Hillary Rodham (as she was known then) wasn’t a lawyer then, either: She was a Yale law student, and like many of her politically-minded fellow law students who saw the latest “trial of the century” taking place just outside the main gate of their school, she took advantage of an opportunity to be involved in the case in a minor, peripheral way by organizing other students to help the American Civil Liberties Union monitor the trials for civil rights violations. Her tangential participation in the trial in no way helped “free” Black Panthers tried for the murder of Alex Rackley

So the description credited to Morris is correct.

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To Stop the Train.

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

I have been using the analogy of pulling the cord to stop the train when it is headed for the cliff, even if you don’t know what happens next. I see that Richard Fernandez has now adopted the analogy.

I don’t see Trump voters as doing anything noble or particularly courageous but it is a risk and many of us are willing to take it.

Fernandez uses the example of Torpedo Squadron 8 which was a factor in the success of the US Navy in the Battle of Midway. John Waldron did not sacrifice his men and his own life voluntarily but he had a mission and he carried it out in spite of everything that stood in his way. The fighters of Fighting 8 that were supposed to provide cover got lost in the confusion. According to Alvin Kernan’s book “The Unknown Battle of Midway: The Destruction of the American Torpedo Squadrons ,” other pilots nearly attacked the leader of Fighting 8 after the battle.

Fernandez uses the sacrifice of Waldron and Torpedo 8 as a metaphor for the 2016 election while remembering the crucial battle fought 74 years ago today.

While the path leading to the present is disputed, no one appears to deny America has now arrived in a critical place whose abnormality is most evident in a contest between two presidential candidates neither of whom is widely supported by their nominating parties. None of the two candidates is actually expected to solve the multiple foreign policy and domestic crises currently besetting the country. In fact one candidate may have helped cause many of the current problems while the other’s main attraction is that he may function as a demolition charge which will clear out the roadblocks that have paralyzed America.

If political columnist Ron Fournier is right about this election cycle, it is less about achieving incremental policy change than precipitating a radical institutional change. In that case the current unpopularity contest can be seen as an deliberate process to increase instability by hoping the worst man wins, not in order to continue the status quo but to tear things down and start afresh.

I think it is more important to stop the trends initiated by Obama and the increasingly radical Democrats than to attempt any serious foreign policy initiative.

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National Review goes bananas.

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

National Review has now gone off the deep end on Donald Trump.

This strikes me as fear and panic but about what ?

But he is not deserving of conservative support in the caucuses and primaries. Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.

Cue pearl clutching. What exactly has “the broad conservative ideological consensus” achieved the past 20 years ? Personally, I think Reagan began the problem by choosing Bush for his VP. Bush was antithesis to Reagan’s message and had ridiculed his economic plans.

Sam Houston State University historian, writing on the Forbes web site, has a very odd blog post this morning. He criticizes MIT economist Simon Johnson for attributing the term “voodoo economics” to George H.W. Bush. Domitrovic calls it a “myth” that the elder Bush ever uttered those words. “You’d think there’d be a scrap of evidence dating from 1980 in support of this claim. In fact there is none,” he says.

Perhaps down in Texas they don’t have access to the Los Angeles Times. If one goes to the April 14, 1980 issue and turns to page 20, one will find an articled by Times staff reporter Robert Shogan, entitled, “Bush Ends His Waiting Game, Attacks Reagan.” Following is the 4th paragraph from that news report:

“He [Bush] signaled the shift [in strategy] in a speech here [in Pittsburgh] last week when he charged that Reagan had made ‘a list of phony promises’ on defense, energy and economic policy. And he labeled Reagan’s tax cut proposal ‘voodoo economic policy’ and ‘economic madness.'”

It’s amusing to see people try to deny facts. Some argue that Bush did not oppose “Supply side” theory. Still, that is what “Voodoo Economic Policy” referred to. What else ?

Bush promised “no new taxes” in 1988 but then raised taxes in 1990 creating or deepening a recession that cost him re-electiion and gave us Bill Clinton.

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Greg Abbot’s Constitutional Convention

Monday, January 18th, 2016

Texas Governor Greg Abbot has called for a Constitutional convention of states.

A convention is one of two ways that the U.S. Constitution can be amended, and it’s described in Article V. One way is that Congress can propose amendments approved by two-thirds of the members of both chambers. The other method allows two-thirds of the state legislatures to call for a convention to propose amendments. Republicans backing the idea are confident that because they control state government in a majority of states, their ideas would prevail.

Democrats are horrified. The Huffington Post first ran this post with a headline that he wanted Texas to secede! I guess they thought better of the scare tactic.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Friday proposed a series of amendments to the U.S. constitution that would permit states to override the Supreme Court and ignore federal laws.

One of the proposed measures would allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override federal regulations, while another sets the same threshold for overturning decisions by the Supreme Court. The governor also wants to change the Constitution to block Congress from “regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state,” and to require a supermajority of seven Supreme Court votes before a “democratically enacted law” can be overturned.

OK. That’s fair enough.

The plan lays out nine specific proposed amendments that would:

Prohibit congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state.
Require Congress to balance its budget.
Prohibit administrative agencies from creating federal law.
Prohibit administrative agencies from pre-empting state law.
Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law
Restore the balance of power between the federal and state governments by limiting the former to the powers expressly delegated to it in the Constitution.
Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a federal law or regulation.

Balancing the budget is probably pie-in-the-sky but the others sound reasonable to me.

Glenn Reynolds, who is a Constitutional Law professor thinks so, too.

This proposal has shocked some people. Writing in The Washington Post, Catherine Rampell — apparently unaware that the Constitution itself provides for amendments — is appalled, saying that Abbot wants to ”blow … up” the Constitution. According to Rampell’s analysis, if you love the Constitution, you can’t simultaneously want to change it.

This would come as a surprise to the framers, who actually ratified the Constitution and then, immediately, passed 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights. They then followed up in short order with the 11th Amendment — protecting state sovereignty from federal courts — and the 12th Amendment, which corrected serious problems in the way presidential elections were conducted.

In fact, such a convention has been discussed for years but there have been fears that a state Constitutional convention could get out of hand.

opposition to a convention is more about locking in changes made through other means — Supreme Court decisions like Roe v. Wade and Baker v. Carr, or just longstanding bureaucratic practice that courts and the public have come to accept — rather than through a formal convention where the changes would have to be approved by the American people as a whole.

The real fear, I suspect, is that the proposals urged by Abbott, which would roll back much of the political class’s successful power-grab over the past century, would prove popular enough to pass. If that happened, the federal government would become both smaller and more accountable, two political-class nightmares.

In an era when Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump lead the two parties’ presidential campaigns, such fears seem a bit overwrought.

Reynolds’ conclusion is also apt.

Another nice feature of Abbott’s proposal — which is, as the Houston Chronicle notes, “well within … the mainstream of Republican governors” — is that it doesn’t depend on controlling the White House. The Constitution provides numerous checks and balances, and the Republicans are wise not to depend solely on the presidency.

I’m not yet ready to say that a convention to discuss constitutional amendments is a good idea. But to the extent it panics our current political class, which I believe to be probably the worst political class in our nation’s history, it’s looking like a better one.

Mark Levin, who I consider to be too strident, is also a Constitutional lawyer and wrote a book about a proposed convention in 2014.

Levin’s amendments include:

1. Term limits, including for justices.
2. Repealing Amendment 17 and returning the election of senators to state legislatures
3. A congressional supermajority to override Supreme Court decisions (overruling what could be a stacked court)
4. Spending limit based on GDP
5. Taxation capped at 15%
6. Limiting the commerce clause, and strengthening private property rights
7. Power of states to override a federal statute by a three-fifths vote.

There is some similarity to Abbot’s proposal.

Is the Ryan budget the final gasp of the government unions ?

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

As usual. Richard Fernandez has a unique view of current events. He compares the present federal government to Boss Tweed’s Tamany Hall.

But in actuality the impetus for moderating political excess often comes from the elites themselves when mismanagement finally becomes so bad it threatens the survival of everyone.

Until things reach the point of failure mismanagement has the effect of leaving voters no alternative but content themselves with the opposition party. Republican voters may have been disappointed and outraged at the perceived sellout by a Paul Ryan-led Congress to the Obama administration. “It was another Republican “compromise” meaning Democrats got every item they asked for,” said the Drudge Report.

Paul Ryan has engineered a “compromise” with Democrats that gives them everything they wanted.

Today, he defended it on Meet The Press.

And in divided government you don’t get everything you want. So we fought for as much as we could get. We advanced our priorities and principles. Not every single one of them, but many of them. And then we’re going to pick up next year and pick up where we left off and keep going for more.

Is this true ? I doubt it.

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