Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Year Gone By

This effort began in October.  Against my better judgment, I used this site to call for a lawyer’s strike in Texas in November, owing to the professionally embarrassing outcome of the dust-up over Sharon Keller, the Chief Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which for most purposes in criminal cases is the “highest” court in the state.

In other words, I risked another professionally embarrassing outcome in an effort to remedy the first.  Too soon.  Not enough.  So I can now include myself among the embarrassed, not that I wasn’t embarrassed before, albeit in a more attenuated way.

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Great Article: Global Warming and Fecundity in the West

Questioning the birth dearth in industrialized nations as the controversial thing that it is.  Very cutting edge.  Just when I get to the point where I’m about to start hating the Brits again, they show me how wrong that would be.  They do it every time.

The demographic dysfunction of the “developed” nations is an unspoken component of our social and economic maladies, from the looming monetary chaos to the way men and women relate to one another.

“Fecundity”.  Great word, and remember you heard it here first:  that’s a word you’re going to see a lot more of over the next decade or so.

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Inflation. Deflation. Debt. (Update)(x2)

I’ve been trying to get an explanation from supposedly knowledgeable people who seem to believe inflation, or even hyper-inflation, is in the offing.  What makes them think that?

Robert Wenzel writes a busy blog called Economic Policy Journal.  He’s one of those Austrian economists, strongly associated with the Lew Rockwell crowd.  I’ve been asking him. Watch M2, he says, and not much else.

That’s not much of an explanation, especially since a lot of people can show that M2 is not correlated with inflation, or even negatively correlated with it.  There are so many opinions about M2 and what it means for inflation or deflation that it’s just intellectual noise at this point:

http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2010/03/why-inflation-concerns-are-overblow-m2.html

http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2007/01/money-supply-and-recessions.html

http://seekingalpha.com/article/181627-the-m2-inflation-correlation

I think the problem is much more fundamental than policy geek data.  This article on Zero Hedge has it just about right.  The economy as a whole – globally, that is – is not only unable to repay the principal debt it has already incurred; it cannot even “service” the debt.

If this were an individual or a business it would be bankruptcy time, and anyone who has done bankruptcy work for debtors knows that there comes a point where it is inevitable, it is a mathematical certainty.

But bankruptcy is not possible for an entire economy, an entire world.  So what then?

I’m open to suggestion, but I’m not hearing any.  “Watch M2” doesn’t cut it.

UpdateClick here to see that my conversation with Mr. Wenzel apparently ran out of steam.  It centered on the relationship between the money supply statistic known as “M2” and inflation or deflation or neither or both.  A sub-issue of that was Wenzel’s assertion that an increase in “required” bank reserves meant necessarily that banks were making more loans.

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“Free Market” Gold Standard? Gary North’s Folly

I don’t know why Gary North bothers me so much.  It could be the arrogance, the unreasoning self-satisfaction of a kind that permits him to overlook self-contradiction and faulty logic in his own opinions while he eagerly exposes them in others’.  Or thinks he does.

Mr. North likes the “free market gold standard”.  He disapproves of the “government gold standard”.

What is a “government gold standard”?  A government has a unit of money, such as the “dollar”.  Under a government gold standard, the government defines its unit of money in gold terms.  So, for example, an ounce of gold would equal twenty dollars by law, which it in fact did for a long time in the United States.

This is a bad idea, says North, because governments lie, cheat and steal.

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False Dichotomies (and True Ones)

Bluntness can be more conducive to understanding than subtlety.  But not always.  To be blunt – with irony fully intended – some things are just subtle, not readily put into words or pigeon-holed in the mind.

Plato is underestimated.  He posits an “ideal” world, more real than the visible world, where everything is clear.  Perfect.

Blunt.

But then there is the world of perception.  It is an imperfect and changing reflection of the ideal world.  In the world of perception, everything is the same as in the ideal world, and indeed the perceived world manifests the ideal world, except that it does so imperfectly.  And it never attains perfection.

Both worlds are “real”:  the ideal world is really real; the perceived world is a lesser reality, but still real.  What does it mean to say “real”?

Consider this:

“One of the things that distinguishes people is whether they’re proactive or reactive.  It’s always been my view that we take charge of our lives and circumstances, rather than let circumstances dictate how our lives will be.”

Proactive people “take charge of [their] lives and circumstances” and reactive people “let circumstances dictate how [their] lives will be.”

Reality doesn’t enter into it.  Maybe some people don’t believe in a reality beyond our own will.  What it boils down to is, I control circumstances or circumstances control me.  My will prevails or the wills of others prevail.  There is no third option and nothing in between.

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Justice, Courage, Love and Truth

Sometimes, when you grow up, the stuff you discussed in Philosophy 101 actually seems to matter.

The nature of reality.  It’s a big question.  The more you think about it, the more questions you ask, the more you seem to get bogged down in abstractions bordering on absurdities.

There are the physical things, the tangible things.  We see them, feel them, smell them, touch them.  Our senses tell us they are real.  We treat them as real things.  They litter our living spaces and we stub our toes on them.  That hurts, and we know they’re real.

Then there are these other things, but they seem more like ideas than real things.  Our minds seem to perceive them, but our senses do not.  Justice is one such thing.  So is love.  And so on.

In antiquity they had a mental framework for all this that is odd for us, who are emerging from an era of dogmatic empiricism.  The mind was higher than the senses, the ancients thought; thus, they reasoned, what the mind perceives is more real than what is perceived by the senses alone.  If my mind perceives love, or truth, those things are more real than the table I stubbed my toe on this morning.

There’s no such thing as justice?  This is a strange claim, but an oft repeated one, coming from a blog that calls itself “Simple Justice”.

In the latest installment Scott Greenfield recounts one of those tragic cases we read about or hear about at the courthouse:  a drunk driver, a terrible crash, several people dead… Continue reading

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Merry Christmas

The Scotch and Irish have this penchant for hauntingly mournful tunes with a religious theme.  I generally stay away from religion on this blog (a couple peripheral forays over the last few days, though, which was prally a mistake), but I thought this song was quite beautiful and appropriate for the season.  It was brought to my attention by my 11 year old daughter, who already has better taste than her old man.

Enjoy, please.

 

 

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Evolution Is As Evolution Does (Update)(x2)

From Mother Jones and their columnist, Kevin Drum, a note that evolution is gaining ground slightly as a belief among the unwashed; a strict, God-creation view is slightly declining; and the mixed view is pretty much holding steady over the last few decades.

“I’ll take it.”, says Drum, who evidently approves of the modest gains in evolution belief.

Now, personally I don’t know what to think about the whole cosmological thing, but I have had a few questions about it all, the answers to which seem to me to rule out the usual pro-evolution arguments.

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Innocence Is As Innocence Does

Maybe I should turn these “is/does” titles into a series.

Anyway, an interesting tidbit via Grits-for-Breakfast about an upcoming law review article taking issue with the “innocence movement’s” “binary” approach to factual and legal innocence.  The article will apparently find fault with this because “legal innocence” should not be differentiated from “factual innocence”.

Keep in mind that this is a law review article.  Law review articles are a peculiar form of mental masturbation, seemingly having as their sole purpose the complication of simple things.

“Legal innocence” is predicated upon the “presumption of innocence”, a hallowed myth of the Anglo-American criminal justice system.  The phrase does not appear in the constitution, but it’s regularly bandied about at criminal trials, where juries are instructed about it.

It’s like a lot of things juries are instructed about.  They often don’t believe what they’re told, and neither does anyone else, and no one expects them to.  The “presumption of innocence” is certainly one such, a pious bromide that we use to pat ourselves on the back for our supposed fairness.  In fact, the accused is presumed by everyone to be guilty.  Everyone knows this.

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Most Viewed Posts This Week

 

1.  God Punishes Minneapolis for Jailing Joel Rosenberg

2.  Free Joel Rosenberg?  Maybe Minneapolis Lawyers Should Strike (Update)

3.  Money II

4.  Money

5.  Money III

Personally, I thought “Money II” was the best of the group, but the Joel Rosenberg supporters sure did like the idea of prompt divine retribution against the municipality of Minneapolis.  Unfortunately, I cannot claim any explicit divine revelation about that.  It was simply a logical deduction.

 

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Megan McArdle – Having a Rough Week

It appears many are on to her.  The downside of being an apologist for the banksters is that you face a lot of ridicule on the web.  That may not matter much for the time being, but as old media outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post and, yes, the Atlantic (where McArdle gets overpaid to write drivel) fade into history along with the 20th century of which they were emblematic, it may come to matter more.

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Greek Lawyers Strike…

when the government tries to impose a new tax.  This was back in May.

Establishment toadies like Megan McArdle like to look down their noses at the Greeks.  But that’s probably because those Greeks are onto something.  They have a very long history of tactical success, after all.

Many in these parts have opined that lawyer strikes are “unethical”.  Horseshit.  Not striking is unethical at the point when “representing” your client is often nothing more than enabling a government sham perpetrated at his expense.

 

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New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Goes on Strike

Thanks to Jeff Gamso for bringing this to my attention.

Disclaimer:  I don’t know much about New Jersey, or its Supreme Court, other than that it was the court that sent us William Brennan, who was a mixed bag.  I may have cited a case or two from there over my long career, but if I did I don’t specifically remember.

The short story is that the governor of NJ, Chris Christie (two Christ references in one name is a little much, isn’t it?  Or maybe it’s some kind of “mandate”), in a departure from decades of tradition, declined to re-appoint an already sitting state supreme court justice.  Continue reading

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Corruption is as Corruption does

This is a continuation of the previous post.

I choose to start from the proposition that Megan McArdle must be wrong.  I don’t have to go into it too deeply, because enough has been said about her here.

Suffice it to say that when she (or anyone else) tries to make fine distinctions to demonstrate why the political corruption in Greece – or Zimbabwe for that matter – is somehow worse because it’s not as “refined” or genteel as the political corruption in, say, the US, it reveals more about her than about the subject she is supposedly discussing.

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Greek Corruption (Bad) v. US and Anglo-Irish Corruption (Benign)

Over at Volokh, a recent debate I largely missed up to now over the relative ugliness of political corruption in Greece as opposed to Ireland and the US, among others.

Kevin Drum wasn’t buying the idea.  Neither do I.  But it’s going to take some time to come up with a decent post.  In the meantime I thought I’d post the links so that readers could get a head start before I do.  I mean, I have to be careful.  Meghan McArdle has weighed in, too.  And she’s important enough to write for The Atlantic.

I know, I know.  Like people are hanging on my every word.  Please, though – indulge me a little.

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