Monday assorted links

by on January 4, 2016 at 1:25 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Detroit renaissance fact of the day.

2. Earth fact of the day: “According to BIS total public and private debt to GDP for the world stands at 265% vs 220% at the peak of the prior credit cycle”  Good thing those interest rates are low, I guess.

3. A comic on RCTs.

4. MIE: a history of farting for money.  Those old service sector jobs…

5. MIE: death by chocolate.

6. Cato on Oregon.  Better background than I’ve seen from any other media source.

7. Is Brazil just a China problem?

1 ibaien January 4, 2016 at 1:36 pm

in re: #6 would Cato have equivocated similarly about the wounded knee incident?

2 collin January 4, 2016 at 2:43 pm

I find CATO seems little bothered by putting lives at risk here with starting desert fires. I live in the SW deserts and fires are both ecologically necessary but extremely dangerous if the fires are out of control.

I think the main problem for liberals are the protestors are adamantly advertising their guns and willingness to use them.

3 The Original D January 4, 2016 at 2:54 pm

That and the question of how people would respond if the protestors advertising guns were brown or black.

4 Sam Haysom January 4, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Right like when Eric Holder didn’t get to be AG because he occupied a Columbia administration building while armed with a gun.

5 The Original D January 4, 2016 at 10:08 pm

You mean the guy who put the Democratic chairman of the House Ways & Means committee in prison?

Allegedly, and it was an empty building.

6 Agra Brum January 4, 2016 at 3:01 pm

Shouldn’t the guns – and the threat to shoot any police agent that opposes them – be the problem for everyone? None of the protesters on the other side warned that any action against them would result in immediate violence. Civil disobedience is based on letting the state arrest you and stop your protest. Shooting agents of the state is not civil disobedience, it is closer to armed insurrection.

7 ZZZ January 4, 2016 at 3:41 pm

Revisionist history was much easier before YouTube.

8 Sam Haysom January 4, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Our former beAfroed Attorney General carried a weapon when occupying an administration building while a student at Columbia. Certainly didn’t hurt his career any.

9 Michael Foody January 4, 2016 at 9:19 pm

Where did you find out Holder carried a gun during the protest. The right wing Daily Caller says “Department of Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler has not responded to questions from The Daily Caller about whether Holder himself was armed — and if so, with what sort of weapon.”

10 T. Shaw January 4, 2016 at 4:48 pm

A new shrieking-point for shallow thinkers is: angry, white men.

Fun fact for today, In 1970, former US AG Eric Holder participated in an armed take-over of a vacant Columbia University Navy ROTC building. It’s acceptable to be an angry, armed black man. No way someday one of the OR angry, armed white men will be US AG.

11 msgkings January 4, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Well of course not, they’re all way too stupid.

12 T. Shaw January 4, 2016 at 5:13 pm

As stupid as Obama and Holder? No one has seen their college transcripts.

Plus, likely they have a shred of decency which disqualifies one from the Bar.

13 Sam Haysom January 4, 2016 at 5:13 pm

I garauntee you that someone in that group could break the 149 Eric Holder got on the LSAT.

14 Cliff January 4, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Are you serious? 149?

15 Ethan Bernard January 4, 2016 at 6:20 pm

in 1970 it was Columbia, not the feds, who chose not to send in the cops. They had enough of cops vs. students in 1968. I think they chose wisely; Kent State (just two weeks later) is remembered as the place where students were shot.

The most relevant analogy is probably the reaction of the authorities to the Black Panthers, as they made a big show about exercising their 2nd amendment rights. The responses of the FBI and the local cops to the Bundy crowd could not be more different.

16 Ricardo January 5, 2016 at 12:19 am

Right, until fairly recent years, the Black Panthers were probably the most famous group in America that tried to take advantage of the legality of open carry. California changed the law on them in fairly short order. I would love to see how Texas would respond to large open carry demonstrations in Austin by the Black Panthers or the Nation of Islam.

17 enoriverbend January 5, 2016 at 2:44 pm

“I would love to see how Texas would respond to large open carry demonstrations in Austin by the Black Panthers or the Nation of Islam.”

No need to wonder.

No one appears to have been arrested.

“No one was arrested.”

18 Axa January 5, 2016 at 7:31 am

I think the CATO text made a very good statement here.

“The problem with this tactic is that 90 percent of western residents are urbanites who are much more likely to sympathize with spotted owls and sandhill cranes than with cattle and sheep.”

The battle is political and unlikeable people never wins political battles.

19 Art Deco January 5, 2016 at 6:16 pm

unlikeable people never wins political battles.

Dan Savage seems to have one a few.

20 Embracesqualor January 6, 2016 at 2:25 pm

Re #4. Good example of creating your own pretty stagnant economy?

21 Arjun January 4, 2016 at 1:39 pm

#1 What are the effects of these rent increases on existing businesses and renters? I ask, because depending on levels and rates of displacement, I’m not sure we view such trends as a “renaissance”, since it just signifies a shuffling around of poverty and stagnation.

22 Chris S January 4, 2016 at 10:31 pm

Certain areas of Detroit within a mile of downtown are becoming “gentrified” – quotes because, having seen real gentrification in SF and Chicago, that’s a ways off, but that’s the basic mechanism. The neighborhoods in general are being completely left out. In fact, the main success story of Detroit neighborhoods is the increasing number of vacant houses being removed.

23 Art Deco January 5, 2016 at 6:22 pm

You’re always going to have poverty so long as there are differences in human capital between persons and as long as your social practices are such that people with free will can fail. The question at hand is whether poverty is manifested in certain ways. You might not be able to avoid dangerous city blocs, but a massive viperous slum with over 600,000 people resident in it you most certainly can avoid with the right institutions, tactics, and policies. The thing is, the velociraptors who run the Detroit city government do not want that because it means taking important institutions away from their control and turning them over to suburban politicians and local philanthropies to run . There has been little organized opposition to the velociraptors and the Detroit public is not so discontented that it manifests itself in any obvious way (at least until recently).

24 mahmet January 6, 2016 at 4:39 pm

Tyler specifically said it was a renaissance for Detroit, not for Detroiters. It’s yuppies from outside Detroit who are gentrifying it for the most part. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And at least in this case many of them are from the general area.

25 Jon January 4, 2016 at 1:50 pm

#6: Terrorism is using violence to achieve a political gain and according to the CAO piece they weren’t accused of being terrorist but sentenced under an arson on federal land provision that was part of a bill dealing with terrorism.

Big difference as bills often have many marginally related or unrelated laws inserted. TARP was enacted as part of a bill to exempt toy arrows from a tax.

26 Todd January 4, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Yeah, there are some gems in there, especially the first half. And this Louisiana Purchase has to be overturned, because….Constitution!

27 PD Shaw January 4, 2016 at 2:43 pm

CATO disputes your premise: they claim the fires were started for benign land management purposes. This is what raises the concern about the sentence fitting the nature of the crime. The judge thought a year and a day was sufficient, but he was ordered to resentence to the 5 year statutory minimum.

28 collateral January 4, 2016 at 3:24 pm

Federal judges have limited sentencing discretion because of the federal sentencing guidelines. They used to have even less discretion until the Supreme Court decided that the mandatory guidelines as written were unconstitutional.

Blame Congress.

In any event, I don’t see how a possible overly long sentence justifies seditious treason. I’m also not sure why Cliven still isn’t in prison for same over a year ago.

29 Cassiodorus January 4, 2016 at 3:34 pm

Because the White House is too afraid of a faux scandal like Waco or Ruby Ridge.

30 Sam Haysom January 4, 2016 at 5:09 pm

White lives don’t matter when they have the audicity to defy Janet Reno. I really really hope you contributed to the Darren Wilson defense fund for consistency sake.

31 Art Deco January 4, 2016 at 6:18 pm

Because when you’re tactics leave a mother and child dead while you were attempting to enforce a warrant regarding a court appearance for the sale of a sawed-off shotgun, there is no scandal. And when your tactics result in several dozen dead bodies, most of them juveniles, there’s no scandal either.

32 Cliff January 4, 2016 at 6:31 pm

Faux scandal? How many people have to die for it to be a real scandal?

33 Charger January 4, 2016 at 11:59 pm

Yeah Cassiodorus, only brown people are supposed to be massacred by armed agents of the US government with impunity. You can’t just kill white people. What’s wrong with you?!?

34 Art Deco January 5, 2016 at 11:11 am

Can you name a circumstance where seventy ‘brown people’ were killed en bloc by federal agents? Can you name a circumstance where this was done by local police at an time since about 1921?

35 Charger January 5, 2016 at 12:44 pm
36 enoriverbend January 5, 2016 at 2:53 pm

When it comes to Ruby Ridge, the best short summary I’ve seen comes from a brief memo by FBI Deputy Assistant Director Danny Coulson:

“OPR 004477
Something to Consider
1. Charge against Weaver is Bull Shit.
2. No one saw Weaver do any shooting.
3. Vicki has no charges against her.
4. Weaver’s defense. He ran down the hill to see what dog was
barking at. Some guys in camys shot his dog.
Started shooting at him. Killed his son. Harris did the
shooting [of Degan]. He [Weaver] is in pretty strong legal position.”

For those that don’t remember,
*Randy Weaver was shot in the back but lived
*his wife Vicki was shot to death while her baby was in her arms; she was not armed
*his 14-year-old son Samuel was shot to death, also shot in the back
*’Harris’ refers to Randy’s friend Kevin Harris who returned fire as Samuel and his dog were being killed

37 Art Deco January 5, 2016 at 6:13 pm

I’ll take that as an admission you cannot think of an example.

38 kb January 5, 2016 at 8:03 pm

Art Deco: COINTELPRO systematically targeted many “brown people” over decades, though maybe not in a single mass-killing format. Same with feds targeting the AIM. I’m not sure why you’re limiting the discussion to federal agents or high-profile events. What about the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia? The LAPD’s paramilitary stance under Daryl Gates? When you start to add things up, it seems that white people are far less likely to find themselves targets of officially-sanctioned violence.

39 PD Shaw January 4, 2016 at 4:09 pm

Technically,the trial judge used the federal sentencing guidelines and came up with an appropriate sentence of three months for the son and twelve months, plus one day for the father. The statutory minimum was for five years though, so yes he didn’t have the discretion to sentence according to the severity of the offense in these particular cases.

40 Harun January 4, 2016 at 11:12 pm

So, who appealed?

This was a plea deal, IIRC, where the defendants waived their right to appeal.

But the government aka prosecutors didn’t waive their right to appeal and appealed this.

So, let’s all be very, very clear: this is the government’s decision and not some “my hands are tied” law.

Also, Obama could pardon them tomorrow if he wished.

41 collateral January 4, 2016 at 11:29 pm

Why would he pardon them? The sentence looks long-ish but not more so than dozens that happen in federal court every day.

42 Cassiodorus January 4, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Cato doesn’t dispute his premise. The fires can be both “benign land management” and arson. If you live in a shack on waterfront property in Miami and I burn it down, I’ve likely improved the value of the property (since someone wouldn’t have to pay to knock your shack down), but I’ve still committed arson.

43 Sam Haysom January 4, 2016 at 5:06 pm

The question is did you commit terrorism?

44 Harun January 4, 2016 at 11:14 pm

the criminal act of deliberately setting fire to property.

That is arson. Since they didn’t do that, its not arson, just like driving your car and deliberately ramming someone is attempted murder, but trying to avoid hitting another car but then accidentally hitting a different car would not be called attempted murder.

Man, some people here have a real love for the state.

45 Gochujang January 5, 2016 at 10:43 am

In the history of the world, when was it a good idea for a weaker family group to take on their tribe for tribal lands?

There is nothing about this that requires a “modern state” for understanding.

46 Jeff R. January 4, 2016 at 1:56 pm

#6 was quite informative. I was unaware of the sweetheart grazing deal these ranchers have with the federal government, which certainly makes them less sympathetic. Then again, as Alex has discussed here on MR in the past, the amount of land in many western states not controlled by the federal government is surprisingly small, so these folks seem to have a point in principle that some fraction of this land ought to be privatized.

47 PD Shaw January 4, 2016 at 2:58 pm

In the background of the Hammond case, the government had been trying to force the Hammonds to sell their property, so there would be even less private land in the West.

48 Harun January 4, 2016 at 11:15 pm

Yes, as part of their plea deal, which the government basically reneged on, the BLM gets first chance to grab their land.

Why would that ever be included in an arson case?

Maybe the prosecutor should have asked for “first dibs on your sweet truck” too.

49 collateral January 4, 2016 at 3:25 pm

The welfare ranchers don’t want the land to be privatized in an orderly process where the rest us get paid for enclosure. They just want to take our land without paying us.

50 Cassiodorus January 4, 2016 at 3:36 pm

Exactly. They’re just moochers who aren’t considered as such because they’re white.

51 Jeff R. January 4, 2016 at 4:25 pm

That’s why I said “in principle.” This is a natural outgrowth of keeping large amounts of natural resources in public hands for no apparent purpose. It creates an inviting target for people try to use those resources for personal gain.

52 MC January 4, 2016 at 4:39 pm

+1. Government ownership of resources (land, oil, etc.) is much more likely to lead to corruption (votes in exchange for subsidies, graft, etc.) and inefficiency, which is why most of it should be sold off.

53 Art Deco January 4, 2016 at 4:43 pm

Grazing permits are capitalized into higher land prices re purchasable lots which render the owner eligible for the grazing permit.

54 rayward January 4, 2016 at 1:58 pm

1. $2 per square foot rent – renaissance comes at a bargain price. Detroit gave away the tax base to the car companies (anybody who did deals in Michigan before the fall will know what I’m describing), so it’s difficult to sympathize. On the other hand, if not for Detroit and the car companies, the Great Migration (north) and its (positive) consequences may not have occurred. Detroit reminds me of Professor Shiller’s lecture about risk sharing and diversification – diversify the risk (e.g., fruit farmers in Florida should share risk with car companies in Detroit); instead, car people in Detroit shared risk only with other car people in Detroit. Is there a lesson for Silicon Valley?

2. If the measure were potential GDP (i.e., absent the crisis), would the ratio be higher or lower than at the peak of the prior credit cycle?

55 ohwilleke January 4, 2016 at 2:59 pm

#1 From the linked article: “Rents in downtown Detroit remain well below rents in, say, Chicago. A one-bedroom unit in Detroit that might rent between $1.60 and $2 per square foot would fetch $2.50 to $3.50 in downtown Chicago.”

The base numbers for single family homes outside the most attractive few neighborhoods in the city are much, much lower. Often houses sell for less than a new car. Given that starting point, big percentage increases don’t mean a whole lot.

56 Slocum January 4, 2016 at 5:12 pm

The collapse of the city of Detroit is just not about the death and departure of the automotive industry — which did not die or even move out of the area. Detroit collapsed over a period of 50+ years (including many flush times for the auto industry). In fact, the auto industry has been booming the last several years even while the city finished its final slide into bankruptcy. There just isn’t enough auto industry left in the city proper for the good times to have much of a direct impact.

In simplest terms, what happened to Detroit is .. white flight. Period. Nearly *all* of the white city residents (who had most of the money) moved to the suburbs. In 1950, there were 1.5 million white people living in Detroit, and now there are around 50,000. Do the math — that’s close to a 97% reduction. The city, as a whole has lost 2/3rds of its population since 1950 but its white population has vanished almost entirely. This is what makes Detroit unique — other US cities have lost comparable fractions of their population (Cleveland & St Louis, for example), but no other major city has experienced anything like that level of racial turnover and segregation. As far as I’m aware, nothing else even comes close.

57 So Much For Subtlety January 4, 2016 at 5:59 pm

In simplest terms, what happened to Detroit is .. white flight. Period.

The problem with that idea is that White people did not irrationally decide to pick up and move to the suburbs one day. There was a reason for them to do so. What happened to Detroit is what caused the Whites to flee.

This might be an indicator of what that was:

58 ohwilleke January 5, 2016 at 5:35 pm

This leads to all sorts of weirdness. For example, when my wife and I were looking for wedding dresses while we lived in Ann Arbor (before we got married) we went to an address for the store. It was a building with no signage and no windows and one little door and the building didn’t have the word mall in its name, but inside was a high end mall complete with janitors in tuxedos. Very Soviet style. They didn’t want to attract Detroit residents who didn’t know it was there already.

59 chuck martel January 4, 2016 at 2:00 pm

6. “Property rights advocates who want to change public views need to find ranchers more appealing than the Bundys, who want to overgraze other people’s land without paying for the right to do so,….”

What are the names of those “other people”? When property is supposedly owned by the state, i.e. the state says the property belongs to it and will ultimately kill anyone that operates otherwise, it really belongs to no one but the state. It doesn’t belong to other people. The state didn’t always own that property, it killed the people that did and then kept it for themselves.

60 msgkings January 4, 2016 at 2:45 pm

The strong ruling the weak.

61 Cassiodorus January 4, 2016 at 4:05 pm

It’s owned collectively by the public. Arguing that such an ownership structure makes arson permissible would also apply to burning down at condo association’s clubhouse.

62 Sam Haysom January 4, 2016 at 5:16 pm

Or like drastically reducing the value of American citizenship by advocating for unlimited immigration and amnesty. Right?

63 chuck martel January 4, 2016 at 5:18 pm

“It’s owned collectively by the public.”

Isn’t that one of the things we aimed ICBMs at the USSR to prevent?

64 Cassiodorus January 4, 2016 at 10:45 pm

Under your logic, there shouldn’t have been ICBMs to aim at the Soviet Union. After all, governments can’t own real property, why should they be able to own personal property?

65 Michael Foody January 4, 2016 at 9:42 pm

LOL that’s how property becomes property. The state or individuals kill people who operate otherwise. That’s what property IS. What you think the labor of man turned valueless land into valuable property, that’s about as realistic as the labor theory of value.

66 chuck martel January 4, 2016 at 2:04 pm

5. An obvious example of an easy application of 3-D printing.

67 mkt42 January 4, 2016 at 2:13 pm

#6 is quite good; even living in Oregon I’ve seen a remarkable lack of information on what it was that the Hammonds did.

#3 might be even better, nicely and humorously illustrating the limitations of RCTs.

68 Mark January 4, 2016 at 2:48 pm


“We’ve designed a double-blind trial to test the effect of sexual activity on cardiovascular health.
Both groups will think they’re having lots of sex, but one group will actually be getting sugar pills.”

69 IVV January 4, 2016 at 2:26 pm

#2: Can we get mulp’s interpretation of this statement? I’m morbidly curious.

70 Careless January 4, 2016 at 3:17 pm

That is some strong morbid curiosity.

71 Mark Thorson January 4, 2016 at 2:34 pm

I think you can be pretty sure you can’t take those chocolates on an airplane. TSA has seized stupider things.

72 ZZZ January 4, 2016 at 4:04 pm

I tried to look at their website from my work computer and it’s blocked due to “weapons.”

73 T. Shaw January 4, 2016 at 2:55 pm

#2 – Concerns could be low inflation and the possibility of deflation.

74 Nyund January 4, 2016 at 3:08 pm

#6. I have one little quibble with the Cato write up:

The Cato article also only mentions the fires supposedly started to protect the family property. It doesn’t mention the 2001 fire which witnesses (including a relative) say was started to hide evidence of illegal hunting on federal land.

I also have one big quibble with that Cato write up.

It says, “It is always disturbing when the federal government uses laws aimed at foreign terrorists to oppress citizens who have political differences of opinion with government policy.”

The law in question is the “ANTITERRORISM AND EFFECTIVE DEATH PENALTY ACT OF 1996,” which was passed in response to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. It was specifically aimed at both international and domestic terrorists. It was fully intended to apply not just to Al Qaeda type international groups, but also the militia / sovereign citizen style domestic groups.

Whether or not that law should have been applied in this case is one thing (I’ll take the family at their word that the Cliven Bundy Sovereign citizen militia types don’t speak for them). But to claim that this law was never intended to be used towards domestic groups is just flat out wrong. it most definitely was intended to be used in domestic cases.

It should also be noted that the feds don’t restrict their domestic terrorism laws to those on the right. The FBI’s website on “domestic terrorists” current’y lists a couple environmental activists who are wanted for starting fires on federal land.

75 Ryan January 4, 2016 at 3:36 pm

+1, I was just about to make the same comments after reading the Cato piece.

76 PD Shaw January 4, 2016 at 3:59 pm

As to the little quibble, the jury acquitted the defendants on the obstruction of justice charges, so I don’t think it needs to be mentioned that there was evidence that the fire was started to destroy evidence of poaching. The trial judge didn’t fight it credible in his sentencing.

As to the big quibble, I don’t think that CATO disputes the notion of domestic terrorism as a form of terrorism — they dispute that setting fire to your own property to destroy invasive species or protect the property for lightning fires is a terrorist act when the fire escapes.

What I think is missing from the story is that the Hammonds were screwed by the deal they made with prosecutors not to challenge any conviction, if the prosecutors agreed that the sentences would run concurrently, the defendants would not challenge the jury convictions. This was done during jury deliberations, and seems like a high-stakes gamble. I read the trial judge as trying to save the defendants from a stupid deal. Such stupid deals are common in the context of overcriminalization and oversentincing.

77 Ricardo January 5, 2016 at 12:02 am

“As to the big quibble, I don’t think that CATO disputes the notion of domestic terrorism as a form of terrorism — they dispute that setting fire to your own property to destroy invasive species or protect the property for lightning fires is a terrorist act when the fire escapes.”

The “terrorist” issue is a red herring. The actual criminal charge was arson, not terrorism. Acts of Congress don’t need to be narrowly focused on what the title says. For instance, the Communications Decency Act was supposedly aimed at regulating sexual or vulgar content on the internet (and that part was ruled unconstitutional). Yet it also has a provision that is still the law of the land today that holds websites and ISPs largely immune from any liability for content posted or distributed by their users.

There is nothing stopping Congress from passing an anti-terrorism bill that also enhances penalties for committing arson that damages federal property which appears to be the provision at issue in this case. That provision may apply to domestic or international terrorists but it applies equally to anyone who for whatever reason commits arson that damages federal property.

All that said, I don’t agree with the mandatory minimum sentence in this case. But the issue is the actual content of the law, not the fact that this mandatory minimum provision was included in an “anti-terrorism” bill.

78 Hoosier January 4, 2016 at 4:02 pm

How is arson comparable to what Tim McVeigh did? The Hammonds- to the best of my knowledge- were never planning on killing large numbers or people like McVeigh was intent on.

Big time government overreach with their sentencing.

79 Erick January 4, 2016 at 4:09 pm

I missed the part where the government sentenced them to death.

80 Ryan January 4, 2016 at 4:19 pm

Hoosier, I agree with that (and it appears that Nyund’s comment focuses more on the applicability of the law to domestic individuals/groups than whether it was right to do so).

I was under the impression that the law sets mandatory minimums for any destruction of federal property, which certainly leaves the door open for this type of situation (where a relatively small fire can require a 5 year sentence). I wonder how aggressive the prosecution was, or whether the law left little option for them in terms of setting charges for the Hammonds. (Not a lawyer or particularly knowledgeable on this, so if anyone knows how this works I’d be interested in learning.)

81 TMC January 4, 2016 at 7:24 pm

If that were true, they wouldn’t need to come up with the bs terrorism charge.

82 Ryan January 4, 2016 at 7:46 pm

I can’t find a terrorism charge specifically, just convictions on arson, which has sentences set by the terrorism legislation mentioned in Nyund’s comment –

Can’t find an explicit ‘terrorism’ charge you’re referring to, if you’ve got a link that’d be great.

In the meantime, I thought this was interesting –

83 Collateral January 5, 2016 at 9:11 am

AEDPA is a large complicated statute with a lot going on besides terrorism. That’s how laws work in the United States.

84 Harun January 4, 2016 at 11:17 pm

witnesses (including a relative)

The witness also said the Hammonds carved his initials in his chest with a paperclip and then used sand paper to erase the carving.

In other words, he’s mentally disturbed.

But this is trotted out as good evidence.

85 Mark Thorson January 4, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Mormon church condemns the occupation of federal offices in Oregon, especially with regard to any justification in Mormon scripture.

86 Dan Weber January 4, 2016 at 4:06 pm

I predict this will be as useful as pointing out that FDR was opposed to public-sector unions.

87 Ray Lopez January 4, 2016 at 3:55 pm

CNTRL + F = zero hits, so I guess this is the place for commenting on #4, fart jokes. I thought the article was a bit lame, along the lines of: performance artists used to fart for cash, but now, due to YouTube, people can view their acts for free. Pretty lame.

N.B. – sometimes–when I eat beans, I can fart on cue. What is interesting however is that if you stop eating lots of vegetables, as happened recently to me, then go back to eating lots of vegetables, your body seems to stop the ability to process the vegetable cellulose and instead of gas (which comes from digesting cellulose) you get diarrhea. That is not something people would pay to see. I gotta go to bed now, bye. My gf is waiting but I’m sleeping on the floor since I have some bowel problems. Thanks for asking…

88 Mark Thorson January 4, 2016 at 5:14 pm

Unless you’re a termite, you don’t digest cellulose. There’s other polysaccharides which are digested by gut bacteria to produce gas.

89 Nathan W January 5, 2016 at 4:08 am

Anything that eats grass digests cellulose, some better than others.

90 PD Shaw January 4, 2016 at 3:58 pm

As to the little quibble, the jury acquitted the defendants on the obstruction of justice charges, so I don’t think it needs to be mentioned that there was evidence that the fire was started to destroy evidence of poaching. The trial judge didn’t fight it credible in his sentencing.

As to the big quibble, I don’t think that CATO disputes the notion of domestic terrorism as a form of terrorism — they dispute that setting fire to your own property to destroy invasive species or protect the property for lightning fires is a terrorist act when the fire escapes.

What I think is missing from the story is that the Hammonds were screwed by the deal they made with prosecutors not to challenge any conviction, if the prosecutors agreed that the sentences would run concurrently, the defendants would not challenge the jury convictions. This was done during jury deliberations, and seems like a high-stakes gamble. I read the trial judge as trying to save the defendants from a stupid deal. Such stupid deals are common in the context of overcriminalization and oversentincing.

91 PD Shaw January 4, 2016 at 4:00 pm

Reply fail. See above.

92 Cassiodorus January 4, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Except that it wasn’t their property. They set the fires on public lands they had a use right to.

93 PD Shaw January 4, 2016 at 4:53 pm

From the link:

First fire: “While they lit the fire on their own land, it escaped and burned 139 acres of federal land . . .”

Second fire: “A wildfire was burning on BLM land near the Hammond’s ranch, so to defend their land they lit a backfire on their own land.”

This comports with what I’ve read elsewhere, but I think the public/private land use disputes obscure that the defendants own the land they set fire to.

94 dearieme January 4, 2016 at 7:43 pm

I’d have thought that a key point is that neither of those acts could honestly be construed as terrorism. Your country is in deep trouble if your government is prepared to jail people for years on such phoney grounds. That’s the same government that tried to argue that Major Hassan’s atrocity wasn’t terrorism.

95 Cassiodorus January 4, 2016 at 10:43 pm

The fire didn’t start on their land and spread. It was on BLS land to start with.

96 PD Shaw January 5, 2016 at 1:08 pm

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal Opinion: “But in September 2001, the Hammonds again set a fire on their property that spread to nearby public land.”

You may wish to use discretion in relying upon prosecutor press-releases,

97 spencer January 4, 2016 at 4:08 pm
98 Justin Kelly January 4, 2016 at 4:30 pm

The federal government chose a non-market solution to land management in the west and is facing the consequences. In risk management terms, holding all of this land is a liability for the government, get rid of it.

I would imaging we could reduce the debt to GDP ratio quite a bit by selling it off, we could offer green cards to anyone able to hold down a mortgage on such land, grow the country, grow the economy, siphon off the world’s rich and educated who want to come here, pay off the debt, and and let these ranchers put their money where their mouth is or shut up…all that we would risk is another housing crisis…

99 chuck martel January 4, 2016 at 5:26 pm

Why not give it back to the real owners, the native Americans that were swindled and murdered for it?

100 Art Deco January 4, 2016 at 6:13 pm

They aren’t the ‘real owners’. There was no such thing as property ownership. Neither was their any such thing as a ‘native American’ bar as an indicator that the bearer was non-European and non-African. There were at those loci aboriginal bands who had displace a previous set of aboriginal bands.

101 chuck martel January 4, 2016 at 7:33 pm

If there was no such thing as property ownership why did the European invaders attempt in some cases to buy the land with baubles and trinkets? After handing over the junk they felt that it now belonged to the great white father. They sent a chest with $7 million in gold to buy Alaska from a czar that had never even been there and that’s all good, too.

The point isn’t the loci of the aboriginal bands, it’s the phony use of so-called Enlightenment principles to justify theft and genocide. The history of the US is one of colossal hypocrisy that continues to this very day by the residents of the “city on the hill”. There’s no reason that federal land, especially undeveloped property, couldn’t be transferred to the descendants of the natives that owned it. But the stingy, greedy state would never accept a simple act of justice.

102 Art Deco January 5, 2016 at 11:08 am

Because established land registries were a European custom. They develop when settlement reaches a certain density.

103 Justin Kelly January 4, 2016 at 11:48 pm

Well for one, any who could lay claim is dead, but for another It is inherently racist to put all Europeans on one side of this and all native Americans on the other. Each European nation, and each native tribe may well be distinct. Anyone who looks at the language families of tribes, or has even read Christopher Columbus’ diary, will note that native tribes have been taking land from each other and conquering each other for ages, is it inherently different when the taking is done by a European or Native American? It should not be.

Similar problems were raised in South Africa, where Europeans landed smack in the middle of a centuries long Bantu southward expansion into the territory of Khoisan bushmen. Bantu people may have asked the whites to get of their land, but its land they were in the process of taking from the Khoisan. I mean, what do you think Shaka was doing with his great Zulu army before Europeans arrived, baking cookies?

This does not absolve the taking of land by Europeans in either case, but it does call into question the idea of placing sympathy with any one group of people in particular. Africans, Native Americans, Europeans, were all human, and doing human things, which unfortunately includes taking land from each other. I would now point you to this exquisite but short video on Israel that sums up the futility of such land claims, called “this land is mine”.

At any rate, I think the market solution is best.

104 JeffR23 January 5, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Because they’re all, you know, dead?

105 Art Deco January 4, 2016 at 4:47 pm

What Detroit renaissance?

106 Anthony C January 4, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Ha! I agree. I wish I had a dime for every time I saw an article or advertisement that Detroit was on the way back. It’s an element of “fake it till you make it” at a municipal level. However, that leads me to think, what goals could conceivably be set before hand, such that if they were met, we could really say that Detroit was on the way back? Crime/poverty rates at or near the national average? 7% unemployment? We could set the bar pretty low here and I suspect Detroit will never meet it.

107 Art Deco January 4, 2016 at 7:04 pm

Homicide rate trending downward. Rapidly.

108 Chris S January 5, 2016 at 8:25 am

I’d love to see some goals or standardized metrics.

As someone who has seen the “coming renaissance” coming for 30+ years, this one truly feels different, with the key factor that the city has completely bottomed and there really is nowhere to go but up. Plus, the business consortium led by Dan Gilbert et al to move jobs back to the city center beginning in 2005 or so was unprecedented and continues.

109 Nathan W January 4, 2016 at 11:32 pm

6) Everyone knows which side of the political spectrum is gung ho about mandatory minimums and removing the ability of judges to account for context and good sense in determining sentences.

As for the “militia”, it’s pretty clear that they would be dead already if they were black, or especially Muslim.

5) They forget to include a warning not to play with toy guns in public areas while black.

110 Roger Sweeny January 7, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Do you really think Obama would send in troops to kill these occupiers if they were black? Or for that matter, that George W. Bush would?

111 Jazi Zilber January 5, 2016 at 10:36 am

Low interest means that the effective debt ratio is lower than in the previous peak.

Of course, this might cause a situation similar to fiscal dominance, where the central bank cannot raise rates if raising rates will force a government default. If raising rates will cause a credit crisis then central bank hands are held…..

112 JOhn January 5, 2016 at 11:06 am

The Cato piece seems to suggest the DOJ position and the trial witnesses are somehow questionable. The description of the vents they offer appear to be repeting what the defendants claimed but perhaps not what really occurred. Granted, there’s a larger perspective on the situation in Oregon that’s probably independant of the Hammond’s case but to describe it as Cato does seems odd to me. See

113 jorgensen January 5, 2016 at 12:49 pm

#2 Three points:
First: Debt is a convenient way of providing capital. It is easier to arrange and enforce than equity.
Second: In calculating total debt there is always the risk of double and triple counting: I lend a dollar to a bank and the bank lends it to a finance company which lends it to a consumer: is there one dollar of debt or two or three?
Third: A question: debt is part of the total capital holdings of the world. What should be the right ratio of total capital to GDP for the world. I think it is in the range of five to eight. A debt to GDP ratio of around 2.5 does not seem out of line given my first and second points.

114 Roger Sweeny January 7, 2016 at 11:48 am

1. “landlords raised rents as much as … 10% in the areas around Wayne State University and the Detroit Medical Center.”

Paging Arnold “The New Commanding Heights” Kling

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