Patterico's Pontifications


Supreme Court Considers Whether to Allow Federal Government to Bankrupt U.S. Citizen for Committing Act of Capitalism

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:01 pm

In March of 2014, I told you about a Stalinist-sounding government-created cartel in raisins, and the couple who resisted it. Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case, and it looks like they may be ready to overturn it.

As I explained in my 2014 post:

Meet the Stalinist-sounding “Raisin Administrative Committee.”

During the New Deal, a glorious time of rampant government intervention into the economy, the geniuses in the federal government passed the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937. Pursuant to that law, during the Truman administration, the Secretary of Agriculture issued a marketing order — Marketing Order 989 — which established the “Raisin Administrative Committee.” The committee, made up of raisin producers but overseen by the federal government, formally restricts the supply of raisins through programs of “diversion.” People sit in a room around a table. People make motions that are seconded and voted on. The upshot: producers divert some of their raisins into a “raisin reserve” — to limit the supply of raisins for sale, in order to keep the price high.

A Washington Post article quoted an expert calling this what it is:

It’s a cartel. Let’s use the power of the government to operate a cartel,” said Daniel Sumner, director of the University of California’s Agricultural Issues Center.

That’s correct. The producers are colluding. This type of action would normally be prevented by antitrust law. (I doubt it should be; but while I might be OK with cartels, I don’t like them when they are protected by the government.)

But some people don’t want to collude. Enter Marvin Horne. He refused to obey the “Raisin Administrative Committee.”

You see, one year, the “Raisin Administrative Committee” told all the growers to put 47% of their output into a “reserve” (to keep prices high, natch). And, like dissidents in a Communist country, Marvin Horne and his wife defied the law by (gasp!) daring to sell what they had produced.

No! This cannot be allowed! So they were fined more than $650,000. In essence, the federal government tried to ruin their lives for engaging in capitalism.

The case has been to the Supreme Court before, and Justice Scalia had a great comment in the previous argument: “Your raisins or your life, right?” Unfortunately, an obscure jurisdictional issue prevented the Court from ruling on the merits before.

But the case is BA-ACK!

The oral argument transcript is here (.pdf). I just breezed through it, and once again, Justice Scalia gets the prize for Quotes of the Day, while addressing the government hack defending this FDR/Stalinist nonsense:

JUSTICE SCALIA: These plaintiffs are ingrates, right?  You’re . . . really helping them?


JUSTICE SCALIA:  Well, I guess the government can prohibit the, the introduction of harmful pesticides into interstate commerce.  I’m not sure it can prohibit the introduction of raisins. I mean . . . dangerous raisins!

and especially this:

JUSTICE SCALIA:  Central planning was thought to work very well in 1937, and Russia tried it for a long time.

I love Justice Scalia.

The consensus of Big Media appears to be that the Hornes will win. Good for them. If that does happen, it will be a rare victory for capitalism in a country increasingly headed towards socialism.

A Little Bit Of Earth Day Hypocrisy

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:23 pm

[Guest post by Dana]

Happy Earth Day! This is how earth lovers celebrated Mother Earth at the Washington Mall:


So, since today is Earth Day, the White House took a moment to remind us of just how vital and precious our earth’s resources are:

Earth Day is as important now as it was then. Our health, our economy, our security, and our planet’s future are once again threatened by pollution and environmental degradation.

Our climate is changing, and that change is being driven by human activity. Every year, the United States pumps millions of tons of carbon dioxide pollution and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

We must all do our part to confront the dangers of climate change and to forge a healthier, greener, better world for our children—not just on Earth Day, but every day.

And leading by example, was *not* President Obama:

President Barack Obama is marking the 44th Earth Day with a carbon-emitting extravaganza, spending more than 15 hours on Air Force One and 15 minutes aboard the Marine One helicopter.

Not including his motorcades in Oso, Washington, the site of a recent devastating mudslide, his trip will consume an estimated 35,565 gallons of fuel.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the statistics arm of the Department of Energy, burning each gallon emits 21.1 pounds of carbon dioxide, bringing the president’s Earth Day carbon footprint to more than 375.7 tons.

The White House did not respond to a question about any measures it might be taking – planting trees, for instance – to offset those emissions.


Boeing’s specifications for its 747 aircraft, which serves as Air Force One, include an estimate for fuel consumption of 5 gallons per mile. Tuesday’s presidential travel will span more than 7,100 miles over two continents.– more than one-quarter of the way around the earth.

Sikorsky, whose HV-3d Sea King helicopter flew Obama from the White House to Andrews Air Force Base, burns an additional 176.7 gallons of fuel per hour, requiring more than 44 gallons – about four times the size of a modern economy car’s fuel tank – for the estimated 15-minute trip.

Meanwhile, John-Climate-Change-Is-The-Most-Serious-Threat-We-Face-Kerry penned an op-ed that the president clearly did not read:

America is once again on a dangerous path — along with the rest of the world. Climate change, if unchecked, is an urgent threat to health, food supplies, biodiversity and livelihoods across the globe.

The solution to climate change is staring us in the face. It’s energy policy. If we pursue a global clean energy economy,we can cut dramatically the amount of carbon pollution we emit into the atmosphere and prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

You might smirk, little polluters, but the earth weeps. Consider yourselves warned:

Make no mistake: If we let this opportunity pass us by, that may be the only thing our generation is remembered for.

For the children!


The Patterico Music Project: The Original Version of “Alien Song”

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 7:34 am

Here is the original version of “Alien Song,” which I debuted here. Lyrics are here.

I’m slightly mortified as I visualize the reaction to this one, because my guitar playing is so inaccurate. As I post this, I am listening to it again, and I challenge anyone to listen to this track without cringing. Upside: if I can find the courage to post this, I can post anything.

In my defense, the guitar part is pretty hard to play: furious arpeggios moving around the fretboard . . . and I’m not very good. I’m much better at stuff like, you know, strumming.

It’s a tribute to Parthenon Huxley that he could listen to this track and get past the horrible performance to hear the possibilities in the song . . . because I think it’s actually a pretty decent song.

The benefit of hearing this is mainly hearing what Parthenon Huxley did with the song. As you can tell, he did a lot. So you can hear for yourself the difference, I am also including Parthenon’s version below. If you haven’t heard that yet, do yourself a favor and give it a spin. If you have heard it, listen to it again. It gets better every time you hear it.

My original, inaccurate version from around 1992:

And Parthenon’s excellent version:

The fifth song in the project will likely not come for several months, at a minimum. You are off the hook for a while.

Benghazi: A Joke to Many Democrats

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:10 am

People died and Hillary Clinton could have prevented it, and Republicans are upset, ha ha!

For the people who need it explained why this isn’t funny (i.e. some Democrats), here you go. (H/t my little sister.)

Hillary Scooby Van Goes 92 in a 65, Placing Her in the Top 1% (of Speeders)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:50 am

A nice complement to Dana’s post this morning: Speed laws are for the little people:

Democratic Presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s security detail led a handful of journalists on two lengthy high-speed chases to homes of influential Democrats on Monday.

Her lone official appearance on her first day in New Hampshire was a carefully stage-managed small-business roundtable in Keene.

But a lunchtime visit to a main-street bakery and two more appointments later in the day were off-the-books and under the public’s radar.

If police radar had been engaged, however, it would have clocked Hillary’s signature black conversion van – ‘Scooby’, for the uninitiated – hitting 92 mph in a driving rainstorm on Interstate 89, where the top speed limit is 65.

Well, you can’t blame Hillary for that. You think she drives her own vehicle? Come on; driving is for the little people.

First-Class Seating For Hillary Because She’s Not One Of Those Everyday Americans She Wants To Champion

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:19 am

[guest post by Dana]

Hillary’s grueling road trip has come to an end. Ditching the Scooby van, the presidential hopeful flew out of Boston’s Logan Airport back to Washington last night :

The Democratic presidential candidate flew from Boston’s Logan Airport to Ronald Reagan National Airport on Tuesday night, sitting in row one of the U.S. Airways’ first-class section.

Just like those everyday Americans she wants to champion.

But don’t judge Hillary, she pulled her own suitcase:

After landing, Mrs. Clinton walked through the airport with a small police escort in addition to her Secret Service detail. She pulled her own luggage and stopped and smiled for a few selfies with supporters who asked. She also complimented a woman’s briefcase. When asked about her flight and schedule, she smiled and said that she didn’t make the arrangements.

It should be noted that earlier in the week, after opting not to ride 20 hours in the Scooby van, Hillary flew coach on a 3 hour flight from Omaha to Newark. “Everyday American”? Well, maybe, but perhaps not by choice:

In contrast with the private jet service Hillary has been accustomed to on her storied and lucrative speaking tours, her ride home was a no-frills commercial flight without a First Class seat to be found anywhere.

For flights from Omaha to Newark, United uses Embraer ERJ-135 and ERJ-145 jets with nothing but narrow economy-class seats.


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