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Eisenhower, Flynn, and Trust

A bit more than 56 years ago President Eisenhower gave his farewell speech, he left us with a warning but first he talked about who we were. Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile […]

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Interegnum

Not in the classical sense, of course. Not for a second is the US Presidency vacant. That is why the Vice President is sworn in first. If something had happened to Obama and Trump yesterday, Pence would have simply taken over. As nearly always, the founders provided for all possibilities. Here is, what President Trump […]

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The First 100 Days

If you know American history, you know that the first hundred days of a new president – especially one much different than his predecessor – have a legendary quality. That’s been true since 1933 when Franklin Roosevelt forced through all sorts of ’emergency’ measures (most of them unconstitutional) to supposedly relieve the depression. That they […]

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King Coal and Freezing in the Dark

We talked about the South Australia blackout the other day, but I want to say a bit more. The Spectator AU tells us this: State governments are sheltered workshops for mediocre politicians rarely good enough to make it in the Canberra big league. They have just one basic task in the Australian federation: to maintain […]

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Tech Industry Self-Regulation: Sufficient to Handle the Ethics of A.I.?

Five of the world’s largest tech companies—Google’s Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft—had by September 2016 been working out the impact of artificial intelligence on jobs, transportation, and the general welfare.[1]The basic intention was “to ensure that A.I. research is focused on benefiting people, not hurting them.”[2]The underlying ethical theory is premised on a utilitarian consequentialism wherein benefit is maximized while harm is minimized. The ethics of whether the companies should be joining together when the aim is to forestall government regulation is less clear, given the checkered pass of industry self-regulation and the conflict of interest involved,

The full essay is at “Tech Industry Self-Regulation.”


[1]John Markoff, “Devising Real Ethics for Artificial Intelligence,” The New York Times, September 2, 2016.

[2]Ibid.

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California Passes Stricter Pollution Targets: Bringing Business Around

California’s legislature approved a bill (SB 32) in August, 2016 that extends the climate targets from reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020 (the former target) to just 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2030.[1]A second law, which includes increased legislative oversight of California regulators and targets refineries in poor areas, passed as well. Diane Regas of the Environmental Defense Fund pointed to California’s climate leadership. “As major economies work under the Paris Agreement to strengthen their plans to cut pollution and boost clean energy, California, once again, is setting a new standard for climate leadership worldwide.”[2]At first glance, it would seem that the legislature had freed itself from big business to pass the bills, but the sector itself was split. I submit the anticipation of a refreshed “cap and trade” program as an alternative (or mitigating factor) to stricter regulations played a role. Simply put, using the market mechanism in government regulation makes the stricter targets more palatable to market-based enterprises.

The full essay is at “California on Greenhouse Gases.”


1. Chris Megerian, “’A Real Commitment Backed Up by Real Power’: Gov. Jerry Brown to Sign Sweeping New Climate legislation,” Los Angeles Times, August 25, 2016.

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The Rise Of Progressivism And Administrative Agency In American History

mm Ronald J. Pestritto, dean of the graduate school of statesmanship at Hillsdale College, joined The Federalist Radio Hour to discuss the rise of progressivism in American history and it’s role in shaping our government and modern politicians. Pestritto’s research on the birth of American progressivism has lead him across the party lines as well […]

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Special Favors For Businesses Don’t Benefit Taxpayers

Interesting story here. This election cycle has stunned even the most seasoned political prognosticators. Voters are clearly fed up with the “Washington Way,” lashing out like never before. If voters truly want to shake up the political landscape, they should start by demanding separation between big government and big business. Corporate favoritism is when government […]

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Brexit: a Month On

Well, we are a month on from the Brexit vote, and it still echoes around Europe and indeed the west. Perhaps it would be a good time to review. Everything is connected: Brexit, Trump, le Pen, Isis – even Ghostbusters. They’re all part of the same story. It’s been nearly a month since the Brexit […]

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Progressivism Is a Long-Term Threat to the Rule of Law

Many know how much I dislike Donald Trump. It predates the 2016 campaign. He strikes me as an opportunist who plays the system, without ethics, or morals, and as a blowhard, with very few redeeming social qualities. I wouldn’t care to even have a beer with him, let alone any closer association. Nevertheless, I may […]

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The reasons why the globalists are destined to lose

This is quite interesting. I’m not sure if I completely follow his reasoning (I think I do in the main). His supposition comes down to the old one that there is something innate in human beings to seek after liberty, which is I think, beyond rational debate. So, read carefully, it is a bit dense […]

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Britain must reconnect with its Christian roots to heal post-referendum divisions

Francis Phillips wrote today in The Catholic Herald a most interesting article, and yes, I know her slightly, and like her, from Jess’ site (and a few others). She’s an eminently sensible person and a very nice one. She may be, alone of my British friends, the lone supporter of Brexit, which isn’t as surprising as […]

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Hullo, Mummy. Welcome to the Revolution!

Over here, we’ve long viewed the United Kindom as the mother country. After all, we based our freedom on English practice, as we did our law, our trade practices, and even our treatment of each other. In fact, that was so strong that our founders referred to the Revolution, not the rebellion. That is because […]

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How The West Got Healthy And Prosperous

An excellent article here, and he outlines very well why so many of seeing Global warming, Global cooling, Climate change, especially the Anthropomorphic thesis, and not only unproven science but as a modern manifestation of Luddism bordering onto a quasi-religion. Yes, it’s that bad, and yes, the reason you had breakfast this morning is energy, and […]

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What America’s Founders Could Teach The European Union

Like so many of us, I have trouble conceiving of a more astute set of political theorist than the American founders. That they built for the ages, and mostly rightly is evident in what we’ve accomplished. Any, and there are some, who dispute that have one of two problems, they know nothing of history, and […]

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How The New E-Cig Rules Hurt Americans

You may have noticed that the FDA recently decided that E-cig should be regulated (by themselves, natch) as tobacco products. Frankly, it doesn’t make much sense to me, maybe because I expect tobacco products to contain, well, I don’t know, tobacco, maybe. Jared Meyer wrote about this the other day in The Federalist, here’s some […]

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A Subtle Conflict of Interest in Obama’s Nominee for FDA Commissioner

Robert Califf, U.S. President Barak Obama’s nominee in 2015 to head the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), had received consulting fees of roughly $205,000 between 2009 and early 2015 from drug companies and a medical-device maker.[1]He donated the money he had made since around 2005 to nonprofit groups, and he had ceased all such work before he became the FDA deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco. The question is whether he would have a conflict of interest in taking the helm at the regulatory agency that puts the public’s interest above those of the regulated companies. I contend that such a conflict is indeed entailed, though not on account of the money he received or any relationships he had developed with people at the companies.


 The complete essay is at “FDA Nominee Conflict-of-Interest.”




[1]Drug companies spent an additional $21,000 reimbursing the cardiologist for travel, meals, and other expenses. Joseph Walker, “FDA Nominee Received Industry Fees,” The Wall Street Journal, September 19-20, 2015.

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Hollywood’s Conflict of Interest in Trade Negotiations

At the intersection of business and government, a conflict of interest can be indicative of plutocracy, the rule of wealth, at the expense both of balanced public policy and democracy. That is to say, where the regulated have disproportionate influence over regulators and said influence places the regulated in a conflict of interest, the unethical dimension is dwarfed by the distortive impact on the political system. The disproportionate influence of the content industry (i.e., Hollywood) in the U.S. position on the Pacific Trade negotiations in 2014 is a case in point.


The full essay is at “Hollywood and Trade.” 

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The Fed Lets Banks Continue Risky Trades: Too Big To Fail Ensconced

In December 2014, the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank granted banks an extra year past the July 2015 deadline to comply with a major provision of the Volcker Rule requiring the banks to unwind investments in private equity firms, hedge funds, and specialty securities projects.[1]The Fed also announced that it would give the banks yet another year to hold onto their positions. The Fed’s rationale points to an underlying conflict of interest facing the Fed, a banking regulator that is arguably too vulnerable to the banks’ lobbying muscle.


The full essay is at “Risky Trades



1. Zach Carter, “Fed Delays Volcker Rule, Giving Wall Street Another Holiday Gift,” The Huffington Post, December 18, 2014.

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Private Interests Over the Public Good: Energy Companies Capture an Attorney General

In Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith argues that the aggregation of the preferences of consumers and producers for a given good is in the public interest for the product or service. Often overlooked is Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, in which the famous economist wraps a moral sentiment around the individual preferences, hence hopefully constraining them, albeit voluntarily. Herein lies the rub, for it is shaky to assume that a preference that seeks to maximize itself will voluntarily restrain itself when it rubs up against an ethical limit that is felt. Such a moral constraint is like a semi-permeable membrane in that the sentiment naturally triggered when a person comes on an unethical situation or person can be ignored or acted on.


The full essay is at “Private Interests Over the Public Good.” 

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