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Non Sequitur

Brett Favre for President.

Circa 2008.

Because Why Not?

Christie v. Hillary pWP Numbers

So we have our first “big event” of the 2016 election: Christie’s recent “Bridgegate” scandal, and this means we can take a look at how such a scandal affects the political win probability of a candidate.

Before the scandal, a head to head matchup between Christie and Hillary had Hillary up 48-44 with a 4.4 MOE. This gives Hillary an edge in pWP of 65.

After the scandal, Hillary moves up a little, to 50%, while Christie’s support implodes to 37%. New Hillary pWP is 92. So the scandal had an absolute value of 27 pWP (in the wrong direction) for Christie.

Yes, we’re three years out and yes, we’re using a poll that is basically meaningless as far as predictive value for the 2016 election goes. However, it does give us some idea of the seriousness of the scandal and possibly how similar scandals might affect future candidates (or indeed, how much this scandal will hurt Christie as he looks forward at a once promising political career).

From the Notebook

Books Read:

Still working through the Old Testament…

- 2 Chronicles (older-NLT)

- Ezra (Older-NLT)

- Nehemiah (older-NLT)

- Esther (w/ additions, older-NLT)

Self Education:

- Bitcoin module on Khan Academy. It’s interesting to get an in-depth look at how Bitcoin works, but I still don’t like any currency that lacks some kind of connection to the corporeal world.

- Buddhism by Prof. Malcolm David Eckel, From The Teaching Company’s Great Courses Series. This course was awesome, Prof. Eckel was a great lecturer, and I’ll probably end up listening to this course until the tapes wear out.

- Prehistoric Art History Module on Khan Academy. Fascinating stuff. Seriously. It’s amazing the kind of education you can get for free nowadays.

Weekend Reading

After I get done with the tenth year of the blog, I’m hoping to revamp things. One of those ways will be to offer readings and random links inside of these notebook posts, instead of standalone posts that clutter up the look of the blog.

Random Link


“Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society”

It’s a nice quote, but what was the actual tax burden on Americans when Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. suggested this in 1904?

Not much:

Research shows that from the founding of our nation, 1787-1849 (63 years) federal spending averaged 1.7% of GDP. For the next 51 years, 1850-1900 (including fighting the Civil War) spending averaged only 3.1%. From 1901 till 1930 (including fighting WWI) it never reached 8%, and averaged approximately 3.2%.

I would be more than happy if the United States taxed itself at a similar rate.

Weekend Reading

John Adams “Thoughts on Government” April 1776:

As good government, is an empire of laws, how shall your laws be made? In a large society, inhabiting an extensive country, it is impossible that the whole should assemble, to make laws: The first necessary step then, is, to depute power from the many, to a few of the most wise and good. But by what rules shall you chuse your Representatives? Agree upon the number and qualifications of persons, who shall have the benefit of choosing, or annex this priviledge to the inhabitants of a certain extent of ground.

The principal difficulty lies, and the greatest care should be employed in constituting this Representative Assembly. It should be in miniature, an exact portrait of the people at large. It should think, feel, reason, and act like them. That it may be the interest of this Assembly to do strict justice at all times, it should be an equal representation, or in other words equal interest among the people should have equal interest in it. Great care should be taken to effect this, and to prevent unfair, partial, and corrupt elections. Such regulations, however, may be better made in times of greater tranquility than the present, and they will spring up of themselves naturally, when all the powers of government come to be in the hands of the people’s friends. At present it will be safest to proceed in all established modes to which the people have been familiarised by habit.

A representation of the people in one assembly being obtained, a question arises whether all the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judicial, shall be left in this body? I think a people cannot be long free, nor ever happy, whose government is in one Assembly. My reasons for this opinion are as follow.

1. A single Assembly is liable to all the vices, follies and frailties of an individual. Subject to fits of humour, starts of passion, flights of enthusiasm, partialities of prejudice, and consequently productive of hasty results and absurd judgments: And all these errors ought to be corrected and defects supplied by some controuling power.

2. A single Assembly is apt to be avaricious, and in time will not scruple to exempt itself from burthens which it will lay, without compunction, on its constituents.

3. A single Assembly is apt to grow ambitious, and after a time will not hesitate to vote itself perpetual. This was one fault of the long parliament, but more remarkably of Holland, whose Assembly first voted themselves from annual to septennial, then for life, and after a course of years, that all vacancies happening by death, or otherwise, should be filled by themselves, without any application to constituents at all.

4. A Representative Assembly, altho’ extremely well qualified, and absolutely necessary as a branch of the legislature, is unfit to exercise the executive power, for want of two essential properties, secrecy and dispatch.

5. A Representative Assembly is still less qualified for the judicial power; because it is too numerous, too slow, and too little skilled in the laws.

6. Because a single Assembly, possessed of all the powers of government, would make arbitrary laws for their own interest, execute all laws arbitrarily for their own interest, and adjudge all controversies in their own favour.

Benjamin Franklin on the Constitution, delivered on the last day of the Constitutional Convention:

In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another’s throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us in returning to our Constituents were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavor to gain partizans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects & great advantages resulting naturally in our favor among foreign Nations as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength & efficiency of any Government in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends, on opinion, on the general opinion of the goodness of the Government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its Governors.

Random Link


Random Link


Aaron Clarey for Governor:

Creativity in Liberalism

Liberalism is a philosophy generally held by people psychologically driven to seek out novelty. They prefer to drink coffee that barely tastes like coffee. Sometimes it goes as far as drugs. it almost always includes a lot of sex. There’s a lot of non-conformity conformity.

They are creative thinkers. Open to experimentation. Except… When it comes to government…

In that case, they’re stuck in 1932.

Win the Argument

“First you win the argument, then you win the vote”
–Margaret Thatcher

Victory made conservatives weak. Somewhere around the Republican victories of 2002 and 2004, and probably renewed by the 2010 midterm elections, conservatives suddenly felt a false affirmation of their beliefs from the electorate. Then? We stopped reading. We stopped learning. We stopped thinking. We stopped winning. The electorate no longer responds to our arguments because we’re making arguments that persuade us, not arguments that would persuade others. There are many examples, but the one I want to point out here is the “but that’s unconstitutional” argument that I’ve been hearing nonstop for five years.

Conservatives hold the Constitution as sacred. That’s how conservatives are, we like to preserve the old order. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we must understand not everyone holds the old order as sacred. Liberals don’t, that’s basically the definition of a liberal ["someone who does not hold the old orders as sacred] and a majority of the remainder don’t either. [Libertarians generally uphold the Constitution as an expression of their values of Liberty and limited government, not because they have any notions of sacredness]

When making an argument, you have to consider your audience first. This is essential. People are interested in how you intend to make the world better for them. Think about the gun debate. Most of my conservative friends are focusing on the “it’s not constitutional” argument, but that’s a really bad argument to make when people are thinking about little elementary school kids being gunned down by some wacko. Liberals are directly speaking to those concerns by suggesting they have the magical power to remove all instruments of evil in the world. Conservatives can address the concerns of millions of parents and win this argument. It takes a man with a gun to stop a man with a gun. It’s very simple. And we have empirical evidence on our side, gun ownership has skyrocketed in recent years, but crime and murders and the like have not. Guns are neutral. Wayne LaPierre was right when he suggested we should put armed guards or police in every school. That would basically end the ability of an armed gunman to kill scores of children. It would be expensive, and there’s some concern this would be another step toward a police state, but at the very least it addresses the concerns of people more worried about their children than some piece of paper.

Personally, I prefer allowing teachers with carry permits to have their pistols with them at school. Heck, I’d even support a marshal program, where some teachers are given heavy background checks, given lots of tactical training, then are made federal agents (in a very limited sense) who are allowed [and expected] to confront a school shooter directly, with their sidearm. [They don't have to be federal agents, I'm just modeling this on the airline pilot "Flight Deck Officer program]

These are just examples, my primary point is think about your audience and win the argument. Politics really can be just that simple.


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