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On 7/17/2016 at 2:57 PM, Guyau said:

But no more posts until after the election.

It's a deal.

I figure more actual exposure for the Libertarian candidate (hey Guv, do some more townhalls) and more actual interviews with challenging reporters will add to the slight bit by bit uptick in his general election polling over the past month. All things considered, I figure he is very close to the strike zone -- for a third-party podium at the three presidential candidate debates.

Is everything he says red-nosed and shambling and comic? Not at twelve and thirteen percent in national four-candidate soundings.  Not completely for me, although I do not favour his hedgehog haircut.  The 'clown show' label that is affixed to him could probably have been affixed to Perot or Anderson. It doesn't do much work for me.

I think all but the most partisan hooligan wants Johnson pressed and pressed hard, just as with the two top uglies. And pressing Johnson is best accomplished by getting him and his schtick before the large debate audience.

If he doesn't make the threshold, he might perform as have other Libertarian candidates in the pre-Johnson era: amassing just shy of seven in a thousand votes. But I think this outing may be an outlier. He could 'spoil' things in some certain states, for one of the uglies or the other. 

The only way to instantiate a Libertarian presence in Washington DC is to capture a House or Senate seat. Barring that, the pure ideological libertarian will feel satisfied with Johnson much more than a Democrat is satisfied with Clinton or a Republican with Trump.  I will not be surprised if he shows enough support (~5-7%) to make a November 'squeaker' even more meaningful: keeping each side of the coin below a majority, down to plurality in the low forties. That would be something -- it would not dent the powers of the President one bit, but would make the administration subject to hard checking.

To the fuss ... Stephen pointed hit on a salient detail for me: in the article headlined Gary Johnson Says The Threat Of Radical Islam Is ‘Overblown’ that wee three syllable truncquoat is all we get from the sentence in which it was uttered (number 3):

  1. “the problem in the region is our 40,000 troops in South Korea. That is not a stabilizing force in the Koreas.”
  2.  [China] “should be dealing with North Korea.”
  3.  "overblown”  
  4. “You can argue we’re at war with ISIS, I’ll concede that,”
  5. “Do I have issue with wiping out ISIS? If it involves boots on the ground, if it involves dropping bombs, if it involves flying drones, I think that all those methods have the unintended consequence of making things worse not better.”
  6. “I think one of the big problems about running for political office when it comes to the military is that candidates draw lines in the sand and I think that’s a big mistake,”
  7. “If I draw a line in the sand and it gets crossed, count on the action that I promised.” ,
  8. “You’re asking me a hypothetical question that I’m going to be drawing a line in the sand right here and I’m going to have to it stick to for the rest of the time that I’m running for office and take office,” 
  9. [Clinton]“has been the architect of our foreign policy”
  10. [U.S is] “less safe.” “I think Trump scares me to death and with Hillary nothing really changes. Hillary is just treading water.”

I read the Daily Caller regularly (often via Memeorandum). This is a kind of bait  and hook headline slop you have to get used to on many commentary sites, and DC is not the sole or the worst purveyor. In the end, I want to know what the DC extracted that one word from. I am not ready to scorn Johnson on the grounds of a truncquoat. 

Of course, it is for some folks not arguable that X[ISIS]:evil risk is overblown. An arguable issue is what one of us can reasonably read into a one-word quoat. I think the broader issues of rationally assessing terror-risk within anti-terror strategy is worth a discussion.

Here is another sample from the 'interview' that was paraphrased at the DC story

  • The Libertarian nominee said that he would not add any additional restrictions to immigration from the Middle East.
  • Johnson would not be fine with a nuclear armed Iran, but would not definitively say what measures he would take to stop that hypothetical situation

I think I will write to the guy responsible for the article and ask why they so heavily edited a remark that the only thing left was "Overblown."  Am I too needy to think that a quote in a headline be given contextual body in a sentence?  


Back to the subject of slave roads and free roads and sea roads and ice-cream roads ... Jerry and I are coming at the thing from different planes. I don't see a problem with roads, as such.  Roads are built by consortia. The fun is in the levying of costs and the cost of ownership, and the ongoing efforts to pay the building debt. 

But that is at the largest scale, say the Interstate System, which is sometimes treated as a strategic defence. At the lowest level, with a consortium of ownership and interest to build a gravel, asphalt, cement path across a park -- or from curb to garage, there is no problem. Are the roads and bridges in your county falling into shit and danger, consequent hazards and blockages to commerce and access?

My angle is that the most important questions (not problems) -- are to do with cost, debt, planning.  I don't see a movement in the world to alter the broad strokes of the present integrated transportation system. Private-Public partnership under Planning authority is going to remain more or less the same, with interesting novelties and inventions to come. The notion of 'public carrier' will probably always have an exemplar, no matter where or how the costs are assessed and at which level they are paid for (from a pool, by individuals in increment or usage share).

 -- in a speculative-fantasy kind of mental sketch, I can see a private colonization of interstate rights of way as technology becomes mature (ie, vacuum/linear-induction subsonic 'tube' roads) ... but at the same time see 19th century tech revive: the many nouveau streetcars and light-rail projects of the last thirty years in the USA.

(Here's a boring side-issue on the subject of public 'roads.'  One of the most efficient means of transport in the Greater Vancouver region is our so-called Skytrain system of rail transit. Ours is grade-separated and automated. There are no drivers.  This combo means that trains can arrive every sixty seconds at peak times.  This efficiency and the spread of the network since 1986 has had very visible consequence in the landscape. Almost every single station in the network 'sprouted' an intensively urban neighbourhood around it. This is of course a case of public planning and market exuberance and intelligence.  In a planning sense, the rights of way are 'private' or restricted and this gives a bigger development bang for the buck.

South to Seattle a new extension of rail transit opened this year -- it is a tunnel between downtown Seattle and a state university campus to the north. Because the entire rail system shares 'public' roads in spots, it must have drivers, and thus the cost of each train trip is enlarged with each increase in frequency.  The other billion-dollar project in Seattle is a massive dig to replace an earthquake damaged state freeway on the waterfront. Here, a majority of eligible voters approved the design and expenditure. Who owns and manages and maintains?  The similar private-public corporations and consortia as with every other billion-dollar transportation project.)


On 7/13/2016 at 7:08 PM, jts said:
On 7/13/2016 at 1:13 PM, william.scherk said:

Who will pay and how  is predictable based on prior practice. Who planned it, what constraints and vision led to its building? --  fun questions. Who owns the road, the bridge, the tunnel, the street, the highway, the sea lanes are other questions of interest. 

On the subject of roads, which is one of many similar questions:   The general question is: how would a free market solve problem X, whatever X might be.

It is not necessarily a problem. Roads of all levels in the transport hierarchy get built in the present system across the entire world, with more or less efficiency of design and more or less attention to maintenance and planning.  

On 7/17/2016 at 6:43 AM, Guyau said:

We don’t have the full transcript of the Daily Caller interview with Johnson.

Just to add a bump. Yeah. 

On 7/14/2016 at 5:30 AM, Brant Gaede said:

You can (and should) use some specifics to illustrate the free market case, but specifics aren't an argument and if you argue as if they were you will always lose even if the other fellow is intellectually a moron.

Yeah. Maybe.

Here to highlight the It Ain't Broken point of view, I reiterate the notion of disestablishment of the present legal order of roads (rail, sea-lanes, ports, air lanes, etc) and their supervision.

On 7/13/2016 at 1:13 PM, william.scherk said:

[G]reat disestablishment of previously reigning legal regimes.  To return ownership from the 'public' to 'the people' in a directly individual kind may not be possible, except in a corporate sense:  the urge to build a road (port, bridge, etc) is a kind of combinatoric, it has individual factors and 'motives' but is most often measured in the aggregate.

Here a few items to highlight.

On 7/16/2016 at 8:19 PM, Guyau said:

[Y]ou might be also interested in whether the perceived threat of radical Islam to America is overblown (blowing levels in this context being about perceived level of threat) in comparison to the blowing level on other threats.

Terrorism 'works' in that it inculcates fear and elevates anxiety and fellow emotions. A personal feeling of vulnerability to violence will peak in the aftermath of shocking attacks and murders, according to individual 'assessments.'  Terror is designed to awaken or deepen a sense of siege. I say this with knowledge of five years of escalating violence and terror in Syria. The 'risk' in Syria is so elephantine in relation to North America (if not the three hundred millions of Europeans) that you have to know where to compare and how.  Is the present sense of  vulnerability a function of the immediacy effect, adding to the effect of a massive media that trades on atrocities?

Steve and Jon are tangling with these implications ..

On 7/16/2016 at 9:22 PM, SteveWolfer said:
On 7/16/2016 at 9:12 PM, Jon Letendre said:

Also the mistake of not grasping that terror is used because it can work. Obama has recently assured that there is no existential threat. This Ignores that terror can push a nation to abandon things it should not.

I agree.  And it takes over the media and our political focus and it taints the way we feel about life, and part of what we lose isn't visible.... it is what we would have been doing instead.  It steals from our ability to feel higher levels of benevolence towards our fellow man.  It is a far uglier and more costly thing that first glance would reveal.

When is the next terror attack in Canada due, I ask myself?  What are we doing to detect, prevent and defuse plots designed to make me feel under siege?

Jumping subject again to solving 'problem' equations ... 

On 7/13/2016 at 7:08 PM, jts said:

On the subject of roads, which is one of many similar questions:   The general question is: how would a free market solve problem X, whatever X might be.

Roads are not a 'problem' except that they are not built and maintained when they need be.  The whole complicated mess of public-private building requires some kind of framework that already has solved intrinsic issues of priority and planning.

On 7/13/2016 at 2:33 PM, SteveWolfer said:
On 7/13/2016 at 1:13 PM, william.scherk said:

sea roads and the rail and air roads

Here is a fun thought I had one day.  I was reading about the outstanding safety record of Google's self-driving cars. [...]

Like a friend of mine once said, until you have lived with a particular technology for a while, you have no idea how it will end up being used. 

One of my personal amazements has been the pace and scale of transport infrastructure built out in China during recent dramatic urbanization, especially their superspeed train network.  I don't think North America's geography makes sense for similar trains, despite their relative ubiquity in Europe.  On the subject of 'automated' driverless vehicles, the first ones on the market are public/private, with working examples in the Netherlands, and incubated and nearing birth in Singapore. I think 'collective' driverless shuttles will also be an important part of the mix which will include driverless single-user vehicles.

Back to underscore Stephen's line of interest ...

On 7/17/2016 at 6:43 AM, Guyau said:

We don’t have the full transcript of the Daily Caller interview with Johnson. We know the "out-of-blue" Michael mentioned of Johnson in their “report” of the interview, but nothing concerning context in the interview itself. (Rather like Rand’s essay “From the Horse’s Mouth,” but then it’s not the horse’s mouth, Kant’s text, but a scholar’s reporting what the horse said, that she invokes.)

-- re the occasional fishbone or clunker in Rand non-fiction, I think of The Comprachicos. The analogy was fine for its scope, but I was left with the impression that the fictional (grown in a pot) comprachicos cited (from Hugo?) were actual and historical in Rand's mind.  

On 7/17/2016 at 6:43 AM, Guyau said:

Thrush: So back to the foreign policy thing. You hear both Hillary and Trump talk about the threat that ISIS poses—

Johnson: No question.

Thrush: --an existential threat. How do you do that, cutting 20 percent of the federal defense budget, and how would you go after ISIS? Would you go after ISIS?

Johnson: Well, first of all, involve Congress. We’ve got treaties with 69 countries in the world, would defend their borders, that were congressionally authorized treaties. . . . Our decisions with regard to the military are executive and they’re the military [decisions]. Involve Congress. Let’s get an open debate and discussion and declaration of war, if that’s the way that we want to treat ISIS. [...]

Johnson: Right, but how is it best—how is it best dealt with? . . . .

Much discussion ensued. 

-- again to the subject of 'clownish' performances and outstanding red-nosed policy proposals -- is there something about the Libertarian position on marijuana that strikes OL readers as clownish?  Is calling for marijuana legalization clownish itself, or only the way Johnson does it?

I mention this because there may be an element of electoral calculation there -- that the policy may be agreeable (to an Objectivish person) but perceived as a non-starter with voters, something that general election voters will find mostly bizarre, or untimely or unpopular.

In other words, in other words, what is the problem with calling for  legalization of marijuana?  

As for the Libertarian position on war powers and war strategy and the defeat of ISIS, I don't think Johnson is prepared at this time to give details and flesh out a coherent plan to 'take' ISIS off the map.   On the other hand, the GOP candidate evinces the same smudgy detail about policy and process -- as heard in the Pence-Trump interview.  Quo vadis? Cui bono? In Terrorem.


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