Culture Of Corruption

Michelle Malkin has out a new book:

Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies

Here is an Amazon review:

By Peter Ingemi (Worcester County, Massachusetts United States)

Michelle Malkin's new book "Culture of Corruption" is a damning review of a connected Chicago Pol and his connected wife who have surrounded themselves with other connected and corrupt people who only seem to have one thing in common; living off the proceeds of those connections.

The book details how over and over people have been given positions of power and used that power to direct public monies to friends, political sponsors and their families. The reward? Political support both funds and muscle, employment for family and friends and when their time of "public service" is through; "jobs" to establish or increase their personal wealth.

There are two distinct groups the first are Direct members of the "Chicago Crowd" such as the first lady and Valerie Jarret detailed in Chapter 2. These are the folks that greased the wheels to get this president where he is today. The SEIU and ACORN Chapters also reflect the Chicago connection. They are a great example of what is wrong with machine politics.

The other group are appointments unrelated to his Chicago crowd who bring their own connections/ethics/money issues to the table. It is the willingness to embrace that 2nd group, much to the surprise of "locals" familiar with the foibles of these connected pols, Washington and wall street insiders that is striking but not surprising. If after all you are going to run things the Chicago Way you need people who understand the ground rules of connection and reward. These people do in spades. (The Joe Biden chapters fits is perfectly here).

The 300 pages and the copious notes including tons of web references with dates of access very much support the thesis that the "hope and change" of the administration is a lot of Hotair.

You can read the rest of the review at the book link above.

You can also watch Ms. Malkin on PJTV discussing her book. She brings up a lot of questions based on recent news that are not included in her book.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:20 PM | Comments (1)

Beware of children!

Via Dr. Helen, I learned about a real life horror story in which an apparently innocent old man became a casualty in the war on sex. For inappropriately touching a girl, he was sentenced to life in prison:

FORT PIERCE -- A 69-year-old Port St. Lucie man who volunteered as a reading mentor at Morningside Elementary was sentenced Friday to life in prison for inappropriately touching an 8-year-old girl.

Anthony J. Tripoli was convicted in May of sexual battery on a child less than 12 by a perpetrator older than 18, which is punishable by a mandatory life sentence.

Tripoli also was found guilty of lewd or lascivious molestation and sentenced to 25 years in prison to be followed by lifetime sex offender probation by Circuit Judge Larry Schack, who allowed the two sentences to run concurrently.

The victim told authorities Tripoli, whom she knew as "Mr. Tony," would reach into her pants during one-on-one reading sessions. On the witness stand, the girl said Tripoli "touched me in my wrong spot" and penetrated her with a finger to the point that "it hurt."

Tripoli denied the allegation, both in a police interview and on the witness stand; and there was no physical evidence corroborating the girl's story.

No physical evidence?

I am reminded of Mayella Ewell's accusation against Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird. The jury didn't care that the state had presented no physical evidence that the crime occurred. At her father's behest, young Mayella was accusing a big black man of raping her, and according to the code of the Jim Crow south, that was enough for the jury to feel duty-bound to convict.

Today's accused criminal is a older white man, of course, and the accuser is a child. According to Wendy McElroy, who has studied the case, the child shows every indication of having been coached. (No doubt by activist "therapists" with agendas galore.)

It's all too easy for me to assign blame to left wing activists, though. I don't know when the Florida statute which calls for mandatory life sentences for sex crimes based on the unconfirmed word of a child was written, but it would not surprise me if Republicans had at least as much a hand in it as Democrats, maybe more. In some circles, even suggesting that a statute like that be revised could get you branded (by mandatory life sentence activists) as "soft on pedophilia."

Not that I'm in any way sympathetic to anyone committing a crime against a child; I think people who have sex with kids are despicable and deserve long prison terms. But that does not mean creating a legal scheme which can punish the innocent.

And from a philosophical standpoint, is a sexual touch in fact that much more horrible than other forms of violent or offensive touching? Does the law allow life imprisonment for punching a child in the face or dislocating a child's arm? The reason I'm asking is because I was a child once, and had someone asked me whether I'd prefer inappropriate sexual touching or being punched in the nose, I'd have chosen the sexual touching any day. Am I crazy, or are there others who feel that way too?

How far do we go with this stuff?

I shudder to think how many children today might come to realize the enormous power they have. (To say nothing of the therapists who want to "help" them....)

As Dr. Helen warns men, "Keep away from the kiddies or you could lose everything you have."

This case and others like it provide a very rational reason to fear having anything to do with children.

posted by Eric at 06:20 PM | Comments (3)

Who will betray the libertarians for Palin?
It's bad enough when she is mercilessly bashed from the left. But it really stings when Republicans lay into her.
As one of Sarah Palin's more clueless (but libertarian) fans, it was with great anticipation that I clicked on the link to John Hawkins' from-the-heart analysis ("Why Sarah Palin Fans Feel Betrayed") of why her more, um, I guess that would be non-libertarianish fans feel especially betrayed when others on the right attack her.

For starters, they already feel regularly betrayed by the left:

To be conservative is to be betrayed on a regular basis. You send your kids to a school that tries to slyly indoctrinate them into liberalism, you come home to watch an "unbiased" news show that covers almost every story differently based on whether a Republican or Democrat is involved, and then you try to unwind by watching TV shows that take guarded shots at the values you cherish.
I don't like left-wing advocacy, period, and I especially don't like seeing it sneaked into TV programming. That's why I hardly watch any television, as if I did, it would not make me unwind; it would incline me to yell and scream impotently at the television set.

Unfortunately, I hang out with leftists, and because I have defended Sarah Palin many times in this blog (a thankless task for a libertarian, BTW...) I find their attacks on Sarah Palin more personally humiliating and intolerable than attacks from the right. That's because I think the latter are more likely to listen to (and maybe even be influenced by) my libertarian spin on Sarah than leftists I know, who at most might allow a sort of eyeball-rolling agreement to disagree.

Hawkins mentions the double standard (which allows Ted Kennedy to drown girls but won't tolerate so much as a gaffe from Sarah Palin), and of course there's her failure to be part of the Ivy League elite, and the bizarre, twisted, and in many ways politically unprecedented attacks on her children. For the record, these are not new topics here. Nor is the post election smear campaign against her.

The reason I'm sounding a tad put-upon is that for some reason I don't think Palin's more vociferous culturally conservative supporters would especially welcome support coming from someone like me. (If I took pieces like these too seriously I'd be more inclined to feel betrayed by Palin supporters than by her opponents.) Not that I'm wanting to sound like a martyr. I certainly don't feel betrayed, because after all, social conservatives cannot "betray" libertarians, any more than libertarians can "betray" social conservatives. I guess I might call myself slightly peeved -- (and probably irrationally paranoid). I mean, if I'm not welcomed by everyone in the Palin tent, I'm old enough to be a big boy and dry my eyes.

Hawkins notes an unspoken assumption by conservatives that Palin is like them, but that her enemies on the right are not, and that in this respect, she was like Reagan:

An unspoken assumption was made by many conservatives: Palin is like me and the real problem that Palin's enemies on the right have with her is that they're snobs and they don't accept common people like me in their leadership.

Given the way that conservatives are regularly betrayed and the contempt for them that some Republicans have shown over the last few years, that assessment is probably correct more often than not.

That's why a lot of conservatives react to criticism of Palin from the right the same way that they react to criticism of Reagan. Granted, Sarah Palin is no Ronald Reagan. But one of the seldom discussed reasons conservatives love Reagan so much is because he was the personification of their principles. This was the man who put what conservatives believed in to the test in the real world and proved the worth of their ideas. An attack on Reagan from the right was not just considered to be a slap at a politician, politician, but was also treated like an assault on the value system of "Reagan conservatives."

Well, there is one notable cultural difference between Reagan and Palin. Reagan ramped up (and to be fair, largely began) the modern "Drug War."

Palin smoked pot!


Or do I get kicked out of the tent for saying that?

It's only my gentle way of saying that I prefer her to Reagan, whose Culture War side I regarded as unfortunate and unnecessarily divisive. (A consequence of this was that too many bohemian types like me found themselves relegated to the left, and by both sides.)

Of course, while she lacked Reagan's vital Hollywood connection, like Reagan, Palin was anything but Ivy League:

The same principle applies to Palin except the assault is considered to be primarily on people's identity, not their values. The thinking goes, "If the snobs on the right don't like Palin because she's a conservative with an accent who isn't rich, didn't go to an Ivy League school, and wouldn't be welcome at their cocktail parties, then they wouldn't like me for the exact same reasons."

That doesn't mean Sarah Palin can't be criticized from the right or that all of her critics have bad motives. Palin certainly can and should be knocked, if and when she deserves it.

I find it refreshing that Sarah Palin is a down-to-earth real person, and not an Ivy League snot. I can't stand the fact that a degree from Harvard conveys a quasi divine right to tell people what to do and how to live their lives, and I like the fact that Sarah Palin very definitely does not want to do that. However, if I thought she did want to run people's lives, where she went to college would be a secondary issue. Similarly, if a hands-off libertarian type had gone to Harvard, I'd be be very quick to forgive. These things should not matter. Just as an Ivy League education should convey no right to rule, unless we're going to use a neo-Maoist litmus test, neither should the lack thereof.
Her well-meaning critics on the right should just be aware of the dynamic at work here and should tailor their criticism accordingly.

There's only one Sarah Palin and there's not another soul on the national stage who can even come close to filling her high heels. At a time when the Republican Party has lost so many seats in Congress that it's teetering on the brink of irrelevancy, Palin's detractors on the right should ask themselves how much sense it makes to help the liberal media try to tear down the biggest star in the conservative movement.

My biggest problem with Palin is not with Palin, but with some of her supporters. However, over the years I have learned to hold my nose, hold my tongue, and grit my teeth. I spent eight years defending George W. Bush from attacks that remind me of those against Sarah Palin. (Both, of course, are seen as hopeless, intractable morons.) It's a thankless task and it got -- and gets -- a litte tedious. No one pays me to do it -- least of all the Palin supporters who'd probably be delighted to have me stomp petulantly out of their tent.

But this will all settle down as the election approaches, right? So maybe I should relax! And enjoy.

Why is it that something three years away has to feel so gol-durned imminent?

posted by Eric at 12:56 PM | Comments (11)

Shaviv Applies The Shiv

I was looking at Nir Shaviv's site Science Bits and came across an interesting paragraph.

According to the IPCC (AR4), the solar irradiance is responsible for a net radiative forcing increase between the Maunder Minimum and today of 0.12 W/m2 (0.06 to 0.60 at 90% confidence). We know however that the Maunder minimum was about 1°C colder (e.g., from direct temperature measurements of boreholes - e.g., this summary). This requires a global sensitivity of 1.0/0.12°C/(W/m2). Since doubling the CO2 is thought to induce a 3.8 W/m2 change in the radiative forcing, irradiance/climate correlations require a CO2 doubling temperature of ΔTx2 ~ 31°C !! Besides being at odds with other observations, any sensitivity larger than ΔTx2 ~ 10°C would cause the climate to be unconditionally unstable (see box here).

Clearly, the IPCC scientists don't comprehend that their numbers add up to a totally inconsistent picture. Of course, the real story is that solar forcing, even just the irradiance change, is larger than the IPCC values.

Make sure that you look at the box at Ice Core Truth where he shows that any value for climate sensitivity above 10°C for a doubling of CO2 produces an unconditionally unstable climate. That is the crux of the matter.

Now for a bit of speculation. Why aren't the alarmist numbers internally consistent? I suspect they are cooking the books.

And speaking of books. There is one on that very subject:

Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:41 AM | Comments (4)

Some color schemes are tackier than others

To his credit, the WaPo's Eugene Robinson admits that Henry Louis Gates, Jr. falls into the category of a "Big Cheese." But he argues that a Big White Cheese would be treated differently than a Big Black Cheese:

...Gates's fit of pique somehow became cause for arrest. I can't prove that if the Big Cheese in question had been a famous, brilliant Harvard professor who happened to be white -- say, presidential adviser Larry Summers, who's on leave from the university -- the outcome would have been different. I'd put money on it, though. Anybody wanna bet?
I think if Larry Summers had behaved in the same way -- yelling loudly at a cop who was investigating reports of a burglary at his home during an identical late-night struggle to open a jammed lock -- once the press got hold of it, people would be even less inclined to give him a break. And instead of being invited over for beers with the cop at the White House, Summers would find himself laughed out of his job unless he apologized very fast and explained his conduct. That's because Americans dislike the sort of arrogance that sneers "Have you any idea whom you're dealing with?" at the little guy. Powerful people who think they have a right to cut in lines. Big Cheeses who think they have a right to be rude and condescending to waiters in restaurants. Presidential aspirants who fall down and then accuse the Secret Service of pushing them.

The whole Gates thing reminds me of an incident I heard about years ago involving John Lennon at a Los Angeles restaurant [I apologize if I have gotten any of the details wrong, as this is from my somewhat addled 1970s memory]. This was during one of his existential crises, and Lennon had recently shaved his head and was wearing a Kotex over it, which he had tied under his chin. He was loud, obnoxious, demanding, and treated the waitress abominably. When this failed to insire the busy waitress into behaving sufficiently like a servile groupie, Lennnon thought it was time to remind her of just Who He Was.

"Have you any idea who you're dealing with?" Lennon sneered.

"Yeah, some asshole with a Kotex tied on his head!" was the reply.

I guess you could call it a well-deserved smackdown. Americans like seeing an asshole get his due. The problem is, some assholes never get their due. Gates strikes me as a supreme asshole who knew exactly what he was doing by provoking that officer, and then later set out to ruin his career out of petty vindictiveness.

Would Larry Summers have done the same thing? I don't know, but if he had, I suspect the outcome would have been different. At the very least, we would have all been allowed to ridicule Larry Summers' antics without being called racist for it. And he would have been forced to put up with the laughter at his expense, or maybe (if he had a sense of humor) even laugh along with it. Will Gates do that? I don't know, but he doesn't strike me as having much of a sense of humor.

Speaking of laughing at Big Cheeses, yesterday I watched a hilarious video about Timothy Geithner's inability to sell his house. Jon Stewart's Daily Show not only made fun of his asking price, but excoriated his hideous choice of bathroom colors.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Home Crisis Investigation
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJoke of the Day

(Via Glenn Reynolds, who quotes an economist likening Geithner to "a personal trainer who is morbidly obese.")

But in addition to his economic problem, Geithner faces a serious color problem. Even if the real estate market rights itself and the Geithner home finally sells, the man will never live down his hideously tacky bathroom color scheme. Whether he likes it or not, people will always be able to Google "Geithner's bathroom" and laugh. Here it is, proudly labeled "Geithner's Throne":


And it is a throne, in a funny sort of way. Americans like to make fun of thrones, especially the thrones of the Big Cheeses.

But suppose Henry Louis Gates Jr. had moved to Washington along with Geithner and Summers, and suppose his house sat on the market, overpriced, not selling, and with a tacky 1990s retro blue tile job.

Would Comedy Central make a film ridiculing his financial predicament along with the color of his bathroom?

I don't think so.

America is not so color blind. We're still so hung up on judging people by the color of their skins that it interferes with our ability to judge the color of their bathrooms.

posted by Eric at 09:22 AM | Comments (4)

What Is Wrong With Republicans? #2 In A Series

The Cash For Clunkers Program that I wrote about here is a rousing success. So much so that the $1 billion that was supposed to last three months is gone in a week.

The Obama administration is telling lawmakers that its much-touted "cash-for-clunkers" program is already running out of money, according to three Senate aides familiar with the discussions.

The program -- aimed at giving at boost to the U.S. auto industry -- was supposed to expire at the end of October. But in the one week since it took effect, it appears to have run dry of the $1 billion allocated to it, aides said Thursday.

The Obama administration had told senators that the program would be suspended at midnight Thursday, aides said, but a White House official told POLITICO that the administration is "working tonight to assess the situation facing what is obviously an incredibly popular program.

Well why wouldn't it be popular. It is a direct subsidy on the order of $3,000 to $4,000 for the purchase of a new car. All you need is a drivable junker that you have owned for a year to trade in to get the Government Cash. Can't afford a new car? Credit bad? Tough luck. This is not for the peasants. It is to help boost Government Motors, Crisis Motors, and FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) Motors.

Now here is where the Republicans come in on the "deal".

One Michigan Republican, Congresswoman Candice Miller, has already come out in favor of extending the program, saying in a statement: "There can be no doubt that the Cash for Clunkers program is a complete success given the fact that the entire $1 billion allocated to the program was expended in less than a week."

She called the program "simply the most stimulative $1 billion the federal government has spent during the entire economic downturn."

Stimulative for the folks getting the money. A stone rip off for the taxpayers who will wind up paying the bill. And we have a Republican dancing in the street over this? Doesn't the Republican Party have any principles any more? Well I guess I already knew the answer to that question. Still.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:56 PM | Comments (3)

Something On Economics

Tim Price has an interesting take on bankers.

...the coinage "banker" has now completely replaced its assonant rival as a term of abuse to describe the hopelessly objectionable and contemptible.
Given the state of the economy shouldn't the term be "tanker"? However, many blame W for the current mess.

And if the above sentence doesn't set your head spinning it isn't screwed on right.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:49 PM | Comments (0)

Do Canadians Like Their Health Care?

Lefty economist Paul Krugman asks about Canadian health care.

H/T Judith Weiss on Facebook

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:44 PM | Comments (0)

apostasy and a choice of fruits

The same place where I found the discussion of the Home Depot boycott also links a piece which maintains that the Episcopal Church is not merely guity of heresy, but apostasy:

Apostasy is a strong word. It is a word with a direct correlation with the Anti-Christ. Hence, it should not be used lightly in connection with a person, church, or denomination. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 says: "Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come (the second coming of Christ) unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God" (NASU). The ESV translates "apostasy" as "rebellion". Apostasy is an active rebellion against the true God (and thus, the truth) which leads to the ascension of false gods and false teachings within the heart of the Believer and within the doctrines of a church or denomination.

Therefore, to say a person or organization is guilty of apostasy is a serious accusation. But to remain silent and turn a blind eye to the truth when doing so has the potential to damage, if not destroy the spiritual life of others is even more serious. Thus, I am compelled by my conscience to speak words that may offend and anger some. That is not my intent, but I cannot remain silent when so much is at stake.

The Episcopal Church (TEC) is guilty of apostasy. The denomination is fracturing over the issue of homosexuality.

The writer apparently believes that condemnation of homosexuality goes to the very essence of Christianity -- to the point where anyone or any organization which takes a different view than his biblical interpretation is not merely engaged in heresy, but in apostasy (which means the complete rejection of one's faith.) Members of the Episcopal Church, therefore, are by his definition not Christians.

Certainly, if the Episcopal Church is no longer Christian, then neither are any other gay-friendly churches.

Well, what is Christianity, and who gets to define it?

Regardless of how anyone feels about homosexuality, since when did the biblical laws about that become such a cornerstone of the Christian faith that being gay-friendly became apostasy?

I mean, what about those who might reject other traditional rules? Like, say, the traditional penalty for apostasy:

If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, "Let us go and worship other gods" (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. 9 You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Is that scriptural authority or is it not? (It's from Deuteronomy 13:6-10.)

According to the man who charges the Episcopal Church with apostasy, the "apostasy" began with rejection of scriptural authority:

The Episcopal Church's slow leak toward apostasy has reached a reprehensible, yet predictable blowout. And it began when the authority of Scripture was first questioned and then abandoned. It is a lesson all Christians must learn. Once the authority of Scripture has been forsaken in favor of political correctness or to allow man to do what is "right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25 ESV) apostasy will be the result.
As to the authority of what scripture, he does not say. Does some scripture carry more authority than other scripture?

Or would that be scriptural cherry picking?

posted by Eric at 06:49 PM | Comments (8)

Exposing and facilitating debauchery

While I tire of some of the anti-gay tirades that often seem just a finger's click away on so many conservative websites, I'm all for free speech. Even when the goal of the speech is to suppress the free speech of companies which see fit to advertise at gay events.

So instead of attacking anyone's right to free speech, I'll defend the right of Home Depot to offer children's crafts workshops at a gay event. That is a classic case of free expression, and even though it is clear that the children at the gay event might very well be "exposed" to the "homosexual agenda," a crafts workshop strikes me as politically and sexually neutral. Unless, of course, they're showing children how to make sex toys, which I doubt, because that would have been pointed out by the people who are yelling about Home Depot. At minimum, these people include my regular emailer Matt Barber, who accuses Home Depot of facilititating exposure and corrupting children:

Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel tells OneNewsNow the home improvement store is facilitating the exposure of children to sinful behavior.

"Out of some kind of notion of political correctness and being tolerant, Home Depot is contributing to all of this," he notes. "They're contributing to the corruption of children, and they need to answer for that."
How exactly is Home Depot contributing to the corruption of children who attend such an event with a crafts workshop? Does he really believe that there are any children who would attend a gay event because it had a Home Depot workshop, and then become corrupted? Sorry, but I don't find that credible. More likely, I think Barber dislikes the fact that parents (most likely gay parents) are taking their children to gay events. That is of course none of his business, so he is trying to blame a large corporation simply for its presence at an event he does not like. As to how the children are corrupted by being there, I'd be willing to bet that they already know exactly what a gay pride event is, and know what homosexuality is. What kind of corruption does he mean? Sex with children? I doubt that, or else he would be complaining about pedophiles stalking kids at conveniently placed Home Depot crafts workshops. Maybe he'd rather insinuate that than hurl such an unfounded accusation at the company. So I don't think his complaint involves sex with children. Rather, I'm left having to conclude that he must mean that his definition of "corruption" means simply not agreeing with Matt Barber's religious views on homosexuality.

Similarly, I think that when he complains of children being "exposed to debauchery," he doesn't mean they're nude orgiers but rather that they're simply seeing publicly self-acknowledged gays:
Many parents are already outraged and are taking action, according to Barber. "I would tell parents to go tell Home Depot that they don't appreciate it and that if they continue it, they're going to take their business elsewhere," he adds.

Barber says that will help drive a message home to company officials that in the interest of political correctness, they are driving away business and alienating a large percentage of their customer base who do not appreciate children being exposed to debauchery.
Even if we assume for the sake of argument that seeing gays equals exposure to debauchery, did Home Depot really do that? The gay event is there regardless of Home Depot, and I think the idea that anyone -- child or otherwise -- would actually attend an event because a particular company advertised there, is simply preposterous.

("Hey, did you hear that Bridgestone Tires is a sponsor of this week's concert in the park? Wow, let's go!")

Yes, the tire company is also a culprit. So, by the way, is my favorite -- and I do mean favorite -- airline!

Other corporate sponsors of the Nashville event included Southwest Airlines and Bridgestone Tires.
As it turns out, the outfit which ran the avove story has a history of being mad at Southwest Airlines for advertising at gay events. That's because they don't see advertising as advertising, but as a "stamp of approval":
Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council, says choosing to sponsor the festival was an "irrational business decision" by Southwest and SunTrust because homosexuals are only about two percent of the American population.

Sprigg believes that SunTrust and Southwest are wrong to think they can gain a competitive advantage by putting their stamp of approval on an immoral event.

Once again, I think the event (the "Capital Pride Festival") is considered immoral simply because they consider any gay event to be inherently immoral. (It would not matter if the group was called the "Gay District Attorneys Association.")

I'm not sure they really care about the percentage of the gay population or how it might relate to a corporate marketing decision either. There are many groups which don't account for large percentages of the population. Whether gay flyers (and, of course, pro-gay flyers) are outnumbered by anti-gay flyers is obviously something for Southwest to consider.

What I like about Southwest is that they are the only airline which seems to encourage a sense of humor in employees. When I flew to Seattle, an obviously gay employee had most of the plane in stitches with his wisecracks over the mike, and deliberately comic misstatements of the rules. It doesn't cost anything extra to do that, and if hiring such a person constitutes approving of debauchery, I'm all for it. I hate traveling. Really. Air travel has become such an unpleasant drag that little things like comic debauchery can help tremendously. Southwest is also casual about boarding, and I like the boarding by groups, print -your-own-boarding-pass, at-home-online, policy.

But while I'm on the subject of flying, I do have one complaint about something I think involves real debauchery.

I refer to the recent crackdown on seat pockets. According to the Southwest crew (and I realize it is not their fault), there has been a recent change in FAA policy regarding the seat pocket in front of you, and airlines are having to inspect for compliance. Because books, ipods and food are suddenly considered dangerous, you are no longer allowed to put them -- or anything -- in the seat pockets. I checked and found several discussions online, with complaints like this from "DanTheMan39":

Here's a first for me...

On a recent Skywest (UA Express) flight, I turned off my cell phone and stuck it in the seat-pocket in front of me once the cabin door was shut.

The flight attendant walking up the aisle happened to notice what I did, and informed me that I would have to take my cell phone out of the seat pocket because it was not an FAA approved storage area. She said that I could hold it in my hand if I wanted, or store it in my luggage, but it could absolutely not go in the seat pocket and insisted that it was due to FAA regulation.

Nearby passengers were told the same thing for waterbottles, books, even an ipod.

I know the seat-back pocket is not FAA approved for "carry-on luggage", but a small cell phone or an ipod hardly count as luggage. They are smaller than the magazines that are placed in the pockets to begin with!

And this, from "mahasamatman":
We got the same deal this weekend flying back from Burbank. Apparently, Skywest has been fined for allowing anything other than a magazine in the seat back pocket. Your government dollars at work...
Oh yes. Under the new administration there's obviously plenty of money to spend on new and frivolous enforcement tactics.

I realize gay debauchery might be annoying to some, but personally, I find government debauchery much more annoying.

Why do these debauched bureaucrats get to spend my money harassing me, anyway? Why must I be forced to finance their sick lifestyle?

And what about the effect this will have on the children? Do we really have to facilitate their exposure by going through their seat pockets?

posted by Eric at 02:26 PM | Comments (7)

Iraq: Progress Continues In Absence Of Media Attention

Remember Iraq? You're not seeing it in the headlines nearly as much these days, and the reasons are all good.

Most auspiciously, the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the major cities has not precipitated a return to the violence of 2005-2007, as many feared. At 200-400 a month, Iraqi deaths (civilian and security forces) are still tracking well below the levels of a year ago, a vast improvement over the thousands per month that died from 2005-2007 and the many thousands per month that died violently under Saddam's reign, and among the lowest numbers recorded at any time in Iraq (some context: Iraq's current levels of violence would be unacceptable in wealthy countries like the U.S. or in Western Europe, but they compare favorably with countries like Venezuela, Jamaica and Colombia that are generally not considered to be in a state of unusual unrest).

In other major events, Kurdish elections went off relatively smoothly with opposition parties making gains on an anti-corruption platform (an essential phenomenon in the development of any liberal democracy), PM Maliki visited the U.S. to yawns from the MSM, and a national oil company was formed. Iraqi security forces performed well during the July pilgrimage, keeping the event largely free of violence without U.S. help.

Basic services continue to improve. Official electricity production capacity has reached 6,000MW while the total including private generation is at least 8,000MW (p39) or about twice what it was in 2002. Availability of all services has doubled between Feb 2008 and Feb 2009 (p44), including sewage, water, electricity, fire departments, fuel, public health, housing and trash. There are now almost as many phones as Iraqis in Iraq (p45), while the number with Internet access is approaching 1 million (p46). All sources agree Iraqi GDP is seeing considerable growth (p43), oil price fluctuations aside. About 58% of Iraqis say things are going very or quite good, the first time this number has exceeded 50% in two years of polling (p48).

This is what victory looks like. This is the Iraq they told us was impossible -- a free, stable, prosperous country in the heart of the Mideast that serves as an example to people in neighboring countries who want real democracy. This is the Iraq that would not exist had we cut and run in 2006 or 2007 as the defeatists argued we should.

posted by Dave at 11:57 AM | Comments (2)

A New Right

John Conyers thinks we should have a new right. He is not talking about a change in his political opposition either.

During his speech at a recent National Press Club luncheon, House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said he is introducing a constitutional amendment that would establish health care as "a right" for all Americans.
Humans have rights to free speech, self defense, the right to be left alone by government.

When exactly did this new right come into being? If it is new then it is not unalienable.

And what exactly is the cut off point? Should the government spend $1 billion to give me 1 more week of life? Or is $100 million a more reasonable number?

To exercise the right to keep and bear arms you have to buy your own. Will the same be true of medical care?

If we have a right to government medical care can I please have a government tank? Or maybe just a couple of mortar tubes, a rifle or three (full auto), and a shot gun for clearing trenches. Did I leave out a pistol? Plus 10,000 rounds of ammunition a year for each so I can keep in practice. And replacements (the most modern) for all the above every 5 years. That way all the militias will be similarly armed.

Oh yeah. I want to add some anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank weapons to the mix as well. Probably 50 of each. You can never get too much practice.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:50 PM | Comments (7)

A sixteenth is a half, in the less is more narrative!

Damn. Just when I was complaining that genealogy shouldn't matter, along comes someone who says it does.

In this case, Irish-American activist Niall O'Dowd, publisher of, and an "adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism" came up with this startling headline:

Harvard prof Gates is half-Irish, related to cop who arrested him
That headline -- along with Mr. O'Dowd's entire piece -- ran as an ABC story.

But when the redoubtable Tom Maguire (I don't know, but I suspect he might be at least as Irish as Gates) checked out the details, he determined that the headline was highly misleading, in that Gates is at most 1/16th Irish. The Irish ancestor to whom he traced his genealogy was neither his father nor his mother, but a man born in the early part of the 19th century.

(Via Glenn Reynolds, who does not divulge his genealogical background, but who may also be half Irish according to ABC's journalistic standards.)

By way of disclosure, by the ABC's genealogical standards I am also half Irish! (And half Norwegian, half Scottish, half German, half Welsh, and half English.)

Not that it matters whether anyone is half Irish. But is it really necessary to act like Ward O'Churchill?

AFTERTHOUGHT: In Mr. O'Dowd's defense, I think it's fair to recall the, um, traditional "rule" that all persons who were one-sixteenth black were to be classified as black. So it's possible that maybe there's an emerging new kind of half-baked rule (embracing the rules of the oppressor) that if you're one sixteenth Irish and left wing enough, you too can coattail along with the narrative and call yourself "half-Irish."

MORE: According to the so-called "one-drop theory," having a single black ancestor anywhere (meaning less than a sixteenth) would be sufficient to confer the racial legal status of being black, but the one-drop rule was never applied to other races.

One of the great ironies is that even though the rule was abolished, it seems to have a new life.

AND MORE: Regarding the need to be "left wing enough" in order to qualify for identity politics treatment, remember that Clarence Thomas is not black. Similarly, Sarah Palin is not a woman.

Perhaps in some circles being Irish also has to be earned. I mean, the Irish Republican Army is one thing, but Irish Republicans need not apply!

posted by Eric at 05:28 PM | Comments (5)

A Rebirth Of Mainstream Libertarianism?

Ronald Reagan said:

If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.
Well guess who is speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on August 8th? Sarah Palin.
Her first order of business as a private citizen is to speak Aug. 8 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. She also wants to campaign for political candidates from coast to coast, and continue to speak her mind on the social networking site Twitter, one of her favorite venues to reach out to supporters.
And not just Twitter. You can find Sarah Palin On Facebook.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:41 PM | Comments (6)

No Limit

The government market regulators are having a meeting.

It's a busy day for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as testimony
is heard regarding the controversial proposal to limit position sizes on all finite commodities.

Evidently there will be no limit on stupidity.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:26 PM | Comments (2)

A fate worse than Hitler
"It never occurred to me that the way I reported what I saw be analyzed by an entire nation."
So said a previously unknown citizen, who called to report what she thought was a burglary in progress, only to find herself later excoriated as a "racist" based on words she never said being placed in her mouth.
With a trembling voice, Lucia Whalen, 40, said she was out walking to lunch in Gates' Cambridge neighborhood near Harvard University when an elderly woman without a cell phone stopped her because she was concerned there was a possible burglary in progress.

Whalen was vilified as a racist on blogs after a police report said she described the possible burglars as "two black males with backpacks."

Tapes of the call released earlier this week revealed that Whalen did not mention race....

Well, Andy Warhol once predicted that everyone would get to be famous for fifteen minutes.

Then Beautiful Atrocities amplified on the theme when he said that everyone would get to be Hitler for fifteen minutes.

Now it's beginning to look like everyone will be analyzed online, and called a racist.

Eventually nothing will mean anything, if it doesn't already.

(And everything will mean nothing -- at least it did for the fifteen minutes it took to write this blog post....)

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds links a post from Say Anything which notes that accusations of racism are being stepped up against critics of Barack Obama.

What that means is that pretty soon, everyone who opposes socialized medicine will get to be a racist!

Does everything mean nothing yet?

posted by Eric at 03:12 PM | Comments (1)

escapism and the politics of the past

WARNING: May contain spoiler! (Depending on your point of view, that is. I discuss an old conspiracy theory that does figure in the plot of an excellent book. If you haven't read it, I hope this post encourages you to do so!)

I'm back from Seattle, where I had the honor of being a groomsman at Dennis's wedding. (I actually read from Homer; what a kick that was!)

It was nice to have a break from politics, and for several days I barely got online. Instead of reading online analyses of contemporary events, as part of my little bout of "escapism" I drifted back into time, reading the third novel in the Matthew Shardlake series; Sovereign. If ever there was a book to be judged by its cover, it's this one:


Great cover; great book!

By most standards, Henry VIII was a cruel and tyrannical monarch. Even though his times were cruel, he more than lived up to the cruelty of his times.

At least, I think most reasonable people would consider the slow disemboweling of political opponents to be cruel. Plus hanging people in chains, boiling them alive, and the routine burnings at the stake, mutilation and torture that constituted justice at the time. And even if you're one of those anti-social types who prefers animals to people, Henry loved nothing more than watching captive bears and trained dogs tear each other to pieces in the ring (as did his daughter Elizabeth). But again, such an attitude was not unique to the monarchy; animal torture was conventional popular entertainment. (BTW, the Puritans took a dim view of animal sports, not because of the cruelty to the animals, but because they disapproved of human entertainments!)

I suspect that if you could travel back in time, whether Henry would have been considered cruel would depend on the political sympathies of whomever you asked. Those in the so-called "Papist" faction would have doubtless screamed about what a murderous, torturing bastard the heretic king was. But given their turn, the only thing that would change was the religious convictions of their victims. That each side considered the other to be heretical and treasonous virtually guaranteed that in the holding of power, torturing and killing was a feature and not a bug.

Is that moral relativism? Had Henry been overthrown, his enemies would doubtless have engaged in retributory torture and killing; hundreds of Protestants were in fact burnt at the stake during the reign of his (Catholic) daughter Mary.

Anyway, in the course of my summer reading, an interesting tidbit I stumbled upon was a medieval conspiracy theory (recently reemerged as a modern conspiracy theory, BTW) which holds that Henry VIII was not the legitimate heir to the throne, because his grandfather Edward IV was the bastard son of a Kentish archer instead of the legitimate son of Richard the Duke of York (also father of Richard III, who along with his supporters advanced the illegitimate birth claim).

Prior to his succession, on 22 June 1483, Richard III declared that Edward was illegitimate, and three days later the matter was addressed by parliament. In Titulus Regius (the text of which is believed to come word-for-word from the petition presented by Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham to the assembly which met on June 25, 1483, to decide on the future of the monarchy), Richard III is described as "the undoubted son and heir" of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and "born in this land" -- an oblique reference to his brother's birth at Rouen and baptism in circumstances which could have been considered questionable. Dominic Mancini says that Cecily Neville, mother of both Edward IV and Richard III, was herself the basis for the story: when she found out about Edward's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, in 1464, "Proud Cis" flew into a rage. Mancini reported that the Duchess, in her anger, offered to declare him a bastard. However, this is not supported in contemporary sources, but is most likely reflective of contemporary opinion. According to Polydore Vergil, Duchess Cecily, "being falsely accused of adultery, complained afterwards in sundry places to right many noble men, whereof some yet live, of that great injury which her son Richard had done her." If she had indeed complained -- as would befit a high-ranking lady of renowned piety, as she had been regarded -- these petitions may have had some effect: the allegations were dropped and never again pursued. Richard III's claim to the throne is generally believed to be based upon his claim that Edward IV's children were illegitimate.
This touches on the still-unsettled double murder of the famous "Princes in the Tower," which will be argued from now till Doomsday. (My personal opinion is that the clever schemer Henry VII was somehow behind it, as his claim to the throne was even shakier than Richard's, and had the boys lived, he'd have never been King. But we'll never know.)

Anyway, as I was reading, it occurred to me how quaint and silly the medieval obsession with birth and bastardy was.

And what a relief from modern politics! We are much too sophisticated to worry and obsess over conspiracy theories involving the birth details of our leaders. Or potential leaders. Medieval thinking belongs in the past! Today, we judge people on the basis of their political views and the legitimacy of their ideas, not their genealogy, or the legitimacy of their children.

So much for my escapism.

posted by Eric at 12:46 PM | Comments (4)

The Sarah Palin Show?

Many assumed the pit bull in lipstick's bully pulpit would end with her resignation as Governor (she was too pretty for such a masculine title anyway), but it now appears Caribou Barbie may be donning headphones and gunning down callers.

Is there a market? You betcha. The Drilla from Wasilla's campaign appearances drew huge crowds. Whether the photogenic point guard can handle the full-court press of a call-in show or will just layup a commentary now and then a la Paul Harvey remains to be seen, but there's no questioning the enthusiasm she generates.

And why not? In a time when legislation is so convoluted, complex and circuitous that our elected representatives say there is no point in reading a law before they vote on it, a plainspoken Alaskan soccer mom's commonsense rhetoric resonates among Republicans.

And let's face it, she scares Democrats in and out of the media. Rarely has any novice to the national stage been so reviled, even by this revanchist political/media class. I, for one, will never forget nor forgive the way the jackals landed in Wasilla, nostrils flared for the scent of blood or scandal (even as they wagged their tails and rolled over in Chicago), nor the endless parade of frivolous ethics complaints, which together were enough to leave many with an impression that something must be wrong with Sarah Palin if so many people were complaining, no matter how little of it actually turned out to be true...

Godspeed, Sarahcuda.

posted by Dave at 08:07 PM | Comments (5)

Correcting Their Stance?

The American Physical Society is reviewing their stance on the issue of man made global warming.

Petitioning for a revised statement on climate change

By S. Fred Singer, Hal Lewis, Will Happer, Larry Gould, Roger Cohen & Robert H. Austin

We write in response to your issue discussing "the coming climate crunch", including the Editorial 'Time to act' (Nature 458, 10771078; 2009). We feel it is alarmist.

We are among more than 50 current and former members of the American Physical Society (APS) who have signed an open letter to the APS Council this month, calling for a reconsideration of its November 2007 policy statement on climate change (see open letter at this link; APS statement at this link). The letter proposes an alternative statement, which the signatories believe to be a more accurate representation of the current scientific evidence. It requests that an objective scientific process be established, devoid of political or financial agendas, to help prevent subversion of the scientific process and the intolerance towards scientific disagreement that pervades the climate issue.

On 1 May 2009, the APS Council decided to review its current statement via a high-level subcommittee of respected senior scientists. We applaud this decision. It is the first such reappraisal by a major scientific professional society that we are aware of, and we hope it will lead to meaningful change that reflects a more balanced view of climate-change issues

Dissension in the ranks? Is the consensus breaking down? Is scepticism becoming respectable in science again? I sure hope the answer to the last question is: Yes! Because without scepticism science is not science, it is religion. A religion known as scientism.

H/T Simen Thoresen via e-mail

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:02 PM | Comments (2)

Henry Gates - A Study In Anger

Evidently Henry Gates is a Professor at Harvard. His discipline is called Angry Studies. It confers a degree in Anger. The initial degree is BS Anger. The next is Master of Anger. The ultimate is Doctor of Anger. A Doctor of Anger gets to write peer reviewed papers explaining why their anger is special.

Dave Hucker tells me: "I pursued the Anger degree at my local community college. I flunked the Self Righteous Anger semester. Just couldn't justify it."

H/T Iowa Hawk on Facebook

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:15 AM | Comments (7)

Democrats Can't Deliver

President ∅'s minions say the Democrats can't deliver on their health care bill without the help of Republicans. And the Republicans are not helping.

President Barack Obama's push to overhaul health care needs Republican votes, lawmakers from both parties say.

Democratic and GOP officials acknowledged Sunday that Obama's ambitious plan would not pass without the aid of a doubtful GOP, whose members are almost united against the White House effort.

"Look, there are not the votes for Democrats to do this just on our side of the aisle," said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., the chairman of the budget committee.

Rep. Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat and a member of the fiscally conservative "Blue Dogs," said he doubts the Democratic-controlled House could pass a proposal as it's drafted now.

"We have a long way to go," Cooper said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, insisted she has the votes to move forward with the plan despite concerns among fiscally conservative fellow Democrats.

"When I take this bill to the floor, it will win. We will move forward, it will happen," said Pelosi, D-Calif.

There are 257 Democrats in the House and 218 are needed to pass a Bill. That means that if the Republicans hold firm the Democrats are a minimum of 40 votes short. That is a defection rate of a little more than 15%.

I think Pelosi needs to be floored before the American people get kicked to the floor. There is only one way to make sure this turkey gets the ax. Keep the pressure on. So keep those e-mails, faxes, and phone calls coming.

House of Representatives
The Senate

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:51 AM | Comments (0)

Something Must Be Done

There is an organization called Climate Justice that works to get Climate Change Laws (CO2 taxes) enforced. They are looking for cases. I sent them this letter:

It has come to my attention that global temperatures have stalled with CO2 rising and that the head of the IPCC says we will be cooling until 2020. Can't something be done to get temperatures rising again and to silence the head of the IPCC? Everything we have worked for is in jeopardy if something isn't done soon.

I also note that India plans to keep building coal fired plants no matter what and that China is not slowing down either. You need to sue those countries until they get on the bandwagon. If something is not done very soon the deniers will be in control everywhere.

You can send them a letter too. Just click on the link.

Here are a couple of books on Global Warming that may help you with your letter:

Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science

Air Con: The Seriously Inconvenient Truth About Global Warming

H/T Watts Up With That in the comments.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:21 AM | Comments (0)

The Drug War Is A War On You

Here are some other videos in the series.

This one is especially heart wrenching:
Unable To Help - the Good Juice

Love, Death, and the War On Drugs:
I'm Not A Good Deal

These videos were prompted by a comment at Who Pays? by Ms. Cris Ericson.

(1) The Vermont Board of Medical Practice has raised the cost to patients in Vermont by forcing them to go to HMO's and the Vermont Board of Medical Practice has done this by driving family practice doctors out; and it is more expensive because the doctors who are allowed to stay in business are required to send chronic pain patients to specialty clinics that force patients to sign "contracts" and will not treat them if they dont'; and these "contracts" force patients to submit to humiliating and demeaning criminal probation procedures of drug urine testing the patients for illegal drugs, for which the doctors have no search warrants and no private right of action to charge these innocent disabled patients with a crime.

So, the COST of medical practice in Vermont goes higher and higher by invention of this type of specialty clinic and the associated UNNECESSARY TESTING!

Vermont News

2nd story: Vermont Board of Medical Practice Criminalizes Prescription Painkillers!

The Vermont News! website directly links to the Vermont Board of Medical Practice website where, if you search "actions" and click on 2009 and scroll down to In re Mitchel R. Miller, M.D.,
you will see that one of the filed documents is by Phil Ciotti, INVESTIGATOR, who claims that he told a patient THE STREET VALUE OF HER PRESCRIPTIONS, and allegedly, because he abused her by scaring her and frightening her, she allegedly agreed to give up taking prescription painkillers.

But for the fact that the Investigator for the Vermont Board of Medical Practice allegedly threatened and terrified a patient BY TELLING HER THE STREET VALUE OF HER PRESCRIPTIONS, she would not have agreed to stop taking them.


Yes it is.

Think of what it will be like when the government is 100% in control of medicine.

You can read more stories about the War On People in Pain at Pain Relief Network.

And of course I have written extensively on the subject. It is my belief - backed up by facts - that addicts are in chronic pain and that pain is not yet recognized by the medical profession. It has happened before with fibromyalgia. At one time fibromyalgia patients were treated by the medical profession as common addicts. No longer.

The Pain In The Brain

Addiction Is A Genetic Disease

Is Addiction Real?


PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System

Is your pain legal?

And we want to hand the medical profession over to more ENFORCERS with guns? Why?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:37 PM | Comments (4)

Two Trillion And Counting

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

Sarah Palin Is Reading A Book
Liberty and Tyranny

Sarah Palin is reading a book.

Thomas Lifson writing for the American Thinker:

Sarah Palin has already demonstrated a capacity to connect with ordinary Americans. This charisma frightens and angers many and the left, and not a few Republicans as well. I fully expect Governor Palin, whose mind displays the quality of a rapid learner who knows how to use what she has learned, to begin to ground her public statements in the philosophical depth so well-presented in Liberty and Tyranny.

The phony intellectual elitists, who have little or no understanding, much less grounding, in the fundamental ideas undergirding the American republic are not going to know what has hit them, once Sarah Palin returns to the public spotlight to discuss the future of our nation. The shallow conservative intellectuals, jealous of her connection to the taproot of the American spirit will also be bewildered.

So what about the book?

Liberty and Tyranny

Here is a review I found interesting.

By Christopher M. Capone

I've been a Democrat for as long as I can remember. I am not a far left liberal, or a "Statist" as Mark would say. I do wonder though if Mark thinks all Democrats are Statists. I consider myself a Democrat simply because I am a little left of center, I am more conservative when it comes to fiscal matters and liberal when it comes to social issues. But as a Democrat, I enjoyed this book and I urge other people who may not see themselves as Conservatives to have an open mind and read this book. It is very well written and Mr. Levin makes many great points. If you're not a Conservatives, this book will not change your views overnight, so don't worry. Also, this book is not "Republican propaganda" as other reviewers, who probably didn't read the book, have labeled it. However, this book might open your eyes to things you never thought of before. After reading this book, I do have much more respect for true Conservative principles that Mr. Levin outlines. This was a good read.
I think if Christopher was a little more up on political terminology he would consider himself a libertarian. I'm probably in the same political demographic. Fiscally conservative, socially moderate and in favor of small government. Which is why I consider myself a libertarian Republican.

Palin is my gal. Politically.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:17 AM | Comments (14)

Slow Down

India is not going along with the climate change scare.

India has taken the hardest line in the negotiations so far. Along with China, India refused at the meeting of the Group of Eight industrialised nations this month to sign up to a target of cutting global emissions by half by 2050. The countries were holding out to gain concessions from the west on financing.

The claims from Mr Ramesh that Western science was wrong on the question of melting Himalayan glaciers appeared to reinforce Delhi's recalcitrant stance.

Mr Ramesh this week challenged Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, over her appeal to India to embrace a low-carbon future and not repeat the mistakes of the developed world in seeking fast industrialisation.

Well of course. If the Indians would only be content to die and pass up the advantages of wealth it would be so much better wouldn't it Herr Clinton? What are a few million dead children among friends?

Besides, fast industrialization would decimate the servant class don't you know. Can't have that now can we?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:20 PM | Comments (2)

Beware Governments Bearing Gifts

There appear to be quite a few major downsides to the health care plan currently being debated.

1) As noted in my earlier post, not having coverage will essentially become illegal. You will be fined and enrolled against your will in the government-run plan if you don't carry coverage. This will be called "helping you."

2) Medicare will be cut. Seniors are going to be very unhappy with this.

3) Medicare payments to doctors will increase. This $245B bribe to the AMA makes the already dubious claim of reducing costs (which can only be done by reducing innovation, underpaying, or rationing) an outright lie.

4) The middle-class will be taxed. Obama has signalled his openness to this.

5) The deficit will increase substantially. An Obama handler "clarified" that #3 above is "not part" of his pledge not to increase the deficit with the health care bill.

6) The economy will suffer. In addition to the middle-class tax hikes here will be a massive tax hike on the wealthy, and that means less investment, less incentive to produce, lower GDP.

7) Many people will be dumped off of their employer health plans and into government-run health care, because employers are being given financial incentive to do so. Estimates run as high as 120 million people. You will not get to keep your doctor or your insurance, contrary to what Obama is claiming.

8) There will be few beneficiaries, and many people hurt by this. The 7% of people they are insuring are mostly young and healthy anyway, while many people who currently have real insurance will find themselves dumped into government-run health care and paying higher taxes to boot.

All this probably explains why an increasingly skeptical public now disapproves of Obama's performance by 51-49. Team Barack should be worried; those who strongly disapprove of him are 8% higher those who strongly approve (those are the people who will donate, organize, etc.), and at this rate of decline he'll be in the 20s overall by this time next year.

posted by Dave at 02:52 PM | Comments (2)

I Found A Joke

I found a really good Obama Joke in the comments at ECN magazine:

A woman in a hot-air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Republican."

"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be an Obama Democrat."

"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You've risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's my fault."

Here is a book of Obama Jokes:

Politically Incorrect Barack Obama Jokes

It did not get a very good rating. I'm not totally sure if it was because of Obama or because of the jokes.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:19 AM | Comments (3)

You get what you pay for?

Take a look at this line.


No, it's not to board a plane, or go through screening. (I'd already done all that, gotten my bag, and thought the worst was over.)

That's the Seatac Airport's Budget Car Rental line, and it was far worse than any of the other lines -- as bad as any screening line I've been in, and I've been in some awful ones.

You have to wait an hour to rent from Budget in Seattle, and the line just kept growing while I was there. There's an old saying that you get what you pay for, and there were no lines at Alamo, Avis, Hertz, or National. Only Budget. I've never seen anything quite like it. How much is an aggravating wait after a long flight worth?

I realize Budget is cheaper, but I'm willing to pay more to avoid a line. The problem is, you can't just walk up to the other counters at the last minute and get a decent rate.

Oh, well. Live and not learn....

posted by Eric at 08:29 PM | Comments (6)


Obama's really stepped in it this time. By calling police "stupid" in the Henry Louis Gates arrest without knowing what actually happened, he put himself firmly on what turns out to be the wrong side of the issue. The cop was not only right to investigate (there had been several break-ins in the area, including one of Gates' home) and to arrest Gates based on his behavior, he actually teaches a course on avoiding racial profiling, making him about the farthest thing possible from a racist.

Attempting damage control today among mounting criticism...

Obama "was dead wrong to malign this police officer specifically and the department in general," Alan McDonald, the lawyer for the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, told ABC News today.

... Barack "Words Matter" Obama tried to explain what he really meant is the police are great and can't we all just get along?

"I think that I have extraordinary respect for the difficulties of the job that police officers do," the president told Moran. "And my suspicion is that words were exchanged between the police officer and Mr. Gates and that everybody should have just settled down and cooler heads should have prevailed. That's my suspicion."

Not so. Gates was creating a public disturbance, and by the meaning of "disorderly conduct," he clearly should have been arrested.

A typical statutory definition of disorderly conduct, in this case Indiana's, defines the offense in this way:

A person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally:
(1) engages in fighting or in tumultuous conduct;
(2) makes unreasonable noise and continues to do so after being asked to stop; or
(3) disrupts a lawful assembly of persons;

If you scream at someone, cop or not, on your front porch in a suburban neighborhood, you are disturbing the peace, because it's an unreasonable noise. You will be warned, and then arrested if you are too stupid to stop when the police tell you to. People living in the neighborhood have a right not to be disturbed by screaming lunatics.

posted by Dave at 07:55 PM | Comments (4)

Modern Tribalism - Reminices Of A Red Diaper Baby

An interview with author Harry Stein by Glenn Reynolds. A discussion of liberal tribalism.

Here are links to the books discussed in the interview:

I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican: A Survival Guide for Conservatives Marooned Among the Angry, Smug, and Terminally Self-Righteous

How I Accidentally Joined the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy: (and Found Inner Peace)

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

Shut Up

And what sort of political regime/philosophy tries to silence its citizens? A guy wrote a book about it:

Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:36 AM | Comments (1)


I'm flying to Seattle* for a few days, and blogging will be erratic. With any luck, though, M. Simon and TallDave might be posting, and I'll be back Tuesday anyway, so regular readers can just keep coming back to their hearts' content.

*Of course, it's raining right now in Detroit, so I may be optimistic....

posted by Eric at 07:14 AM | Comments (2)

A Plan To Destroy 4 Million Jobs

I like some of the ideas presented. Like a national market for insurance. I'm not sure of all the ideas presented but at least they are ideas vs. the government swallows everything.

In other related news the President has delayed releasing the latest economic report until after the health care vote. My assumption is that the numbers are bad or more likely worse.

The Obama administration announced Monday that its Mid-Session Budget Review would not be released this month, as previously scheduled, but rather would be pushed to August.

The Obama administration's projections of economic growth, the deficit and the unemployment rate in preliminary budget estimates in February and May have since been proven overly optimistic. As the president pushes for the House and Senate to pass health care reform legislation before adjourning for the August recess, it could complicate matters to have an official White House acknowledgment that the economy is far worse that it had predicted - especially as moderate Democrats in the House and Senate balk at the cost of the proposals.

In any case I have written my Representative, Don Manzullo, suggesting he reject Cap and Trade and the Democrat Health Care Bill. So far he has rejected Cap and Trade and has written me a long letter (not personal I'm sure but very informative) on Cap and Trade.

Perhaps it is time to contact your Senators and Congressman to encourage them to Stop The Madness.

House of Representatives

The Senate

It couldn't hurt and might help.

H/T Judith Weiss on Facebook

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:11 AM | Comments (0)

Obama: "I Have Great Insurance"

President Obama is satisfied with his insurance.

Obama says it's not about him. "I have great health insurance and so does every member of Congress," the president said in remarks prepared for his news conference Wednesday night. "This debate is about the letters I read when I sit in the Oval Office every day, and the stories I hear at town hall meetings. This debate is not a game for these Americans, and they cannot afford to wait for reform any longer."

But confidence in his approach is slipping. Independents, middle-of-the-roaders who were vital for Obama's election, are increasingly skeptical. Forty-seven percent disapprove of how he is handling health care, up from 30 percent in April, the AP poll shows.

If this plan he wants to FORCE on the rest of us is so good why doesn't he promise to drop his plan and join the plan he is proposing - out of solidarity? Why don't all the Congress Critters pushing this plan promise to drop their coverage and join any plan they vote on? I guess the proposed plan is good enough for the peasants and not good enough for our masters.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:08 AM | Comments (2)

Shootings In Houston

Here is a link that will help you decipher the hand signs.

So why rap music (which I generally hate) and hand signs? Well I have a story about a political rally. And the "singer" in the video performed at the rally.

Multiple shootings were reported at a Wednesday night concert on the Texas Southern University campus where a spokeswoman said at least three people were wounded.

TSU spokeswoman Eva Pickens tells the Houston Chronicle at least three people were shot at the event hosted by Houston City Council member Peter Brown, who is running for mayor. Pickens says it's unclear if any students were injured and there was no immediate word on conditions.

Lucinda Gwinn, who manages Brown's mayoral campaign, said the concert by rapper Trae the Truth was organized by TSU, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Brown and other council members and officials to promote voter registration.

Houston police told KTRK-TV four people were shot at three locations within a block, one on campus and two off campus.

What exactly did these pols expect when they scheduled the musical "entertainment"? Peace, love, and good vibes?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:52 AM | Comments (1)

Choice And Risk

Ace makes a great point on one of the many problems on the health care bill:

On Fox & Friends, they offered another good talking point: Currently 90% of all Americans are covered by insurance. Obama's vaunted plan will cover, theoretically, another 7%.

So: We're destroying the entire system to move from 90% to 97% coverage? And that 7%, of course, includes a lot of young people who think they don't need health insurance because they're young and healthy (and, in fact, they're right, according to the statistics; even more right when you consider that each young person is forced to pay way too much for health care, as he subsidizes older customers).

I'm one of those people. I don't have health insurance now, and I haven't ever carried it when I wasn't working a W-2 job, because I'm generally healthy and don't particularly want to subsidize people who are more likely to require medical care. It's possible, of course, I could regret this decision due to circumstances beyond my control, but I'd prefer to put that money into investments and play the odds by making an effort to stay healthy via exercise and supplements and generally engaging in low-risk behavior.

Let's take a closer look at the numbers on that. The sum of the time I've been without insurance is about four years. I think the average premium for health care insurance for someone in my position has been around $300/month over the last four years (I'll use the last four years for simplicity, although it's actually spread over a longer period). That's about $3,600 a year (we'll conservatively ignore deductibles, too, which reduce the benefit.) In that period I had essentially no medical costs, so at the moment I'm ahead about $16,000 if we discount at 7%.

So in answer to the inevitable "But what if you get sick or need medical care tomorrow?" -- as long as it costs less than $16,000, I'll still be ahead. That's not a sure thing, but the odds are in my favor, and the amount I've saved gets bigger every year. (If I didn't have that money available, of course, the benefit of insurance would be somewhat greater as I might face a situation in which I could not afford necessary care or could be forced to declare bankruptcy, but then that's the benefit of saving.)

Of course, the reason we pay for insurance is to avoid having to take this gamble, but the price they'are asking is too high. The benefit of being insured is not commensurate with the cost for someone young and healthy and low-risk if they have to subsidize others. Now, if someone came along with a policy priced for people who are young and healthy and low-risk, I would take it, because it would be a lot cheaper, but I'm not sure that's even legal.

Here's where things gets both scary and infuriating. Under the health-care proposal currently being considered, I won't have this choice anymore. It will essentially be illegal to not carry health insurance, and I will be fined thousands of dollars a year if I continue to do what I'm currently doing. And the really galling part of this is I'm one of those "uninsured" people they claim to be helping.

posted by Dave at 04:50 PM | Comments (14)

the old and the stuck want to stay that way!

On the occasion of the death of the inventor who developed WD-40 as a water displacer, Ann Althouse says this:

...tell us about your WD-40 stories.
How about just one?

Honestly, I was beginning to think no one would ever ask, and I'm delighted that Ann Althouse gave me an excuse.

I've had so many WD-40 stories I wouldn't know where to begin. I can't live without the stuff. I've worked as an auto mechanic and a plumber, and as anyone who has to loosen nuts, bolts or pipes knows, a can of WD-40 has countless uses, and is an absolute necessity in every toolbox.

Usually, it works quickly and all is well. You just spray it on the stubborn part, allow it to do its stuff, and VOILA. The nut comes free. But occasionally (and if you're working on old cars or old houses, occasionally will happen more frequently than you'd prefer), there will be a case so stubborn that it's either WD-40 or defeat. When that happens, all you can do is to go through the ritual of applying WD-40, then hitting it repeatedly, then waiting, then applying WD-40 again, then hitting. And so on. Impatient people might find it hard to believe, but if you are patient enough and persistent enough, the stuff will almost always work.

The last such epic battle I had was in February, fighting a broken 1920s pipe coupling in Los Angeles. I didn't go there to wage war with an ancient coupling; I was just visiting a friend when the main water line broke and started spraying water all over the front yard. The break was right where the last accessible coupling joined the newer copper water main. To my horror, the coupling protruded -- barely -- from the end of another coupling solidly embedded inside the stucco and concrete foundation, and on the other side of that (in an inaccessible crawlspace with 12 inches of clearance) was the rest of a system of ancient pipes which branched off to supply the whole substandard apartment building. The coupling in question had probably been tightened too hard by a long-deceased plumber back in 1922 or something and had been there rusting in place ever since. Now, there's a principle in plumbing that you should not break pipes unless you are prepared to replace them, and if this coupling had been forced (which I easily could have done), instead of coming loose it would have either broken off inside the joint, or else broken the pipe beyond that. Which would have meant knocking through the concrete foundation, opening the crawl space and many, many hours more work (which no one was paying me to do). So I sprayed the WD-40, put the pipe wrench on, hit it as hard as I could with a hammer just short of breaking it, then spray some more. And prayed. And waited. Yes, the most important thing to do in cases like that is to wait, then spray some more, then hit some more, then wait some more. It literally does penetrate, but when something has been rusted in place for nearly 90 years, you have to be very very patient.

Tackling that pipe in Los Angeles was one of those instances in which I worried that I might have to give up. But the water was turned off to the whole building -- so giving up was not an option. (Not if I wanted to be comfortable and have running water during my stay there -- so this repair was not a purely altruistic outburst.) Nor was it an option to use excessive force and breaking the pipe. So I just kept slamming away, spraying more WD-40, then waiting, then slamming and spraying and praying over and over.

I don't know how much time went by as I wasn't looking at my watch, but finally I reached the point of no return. I was ready to give up and yield to the temptation of finally applying excessive force, and accepting the consequences. So I put on the pipe wrench, and really slammed it, over and over. It was loud enough to hurt my ears and I worried about the scale that the rattled ancient pipes would certainly be leaving in those poor tenants' pipes the next time they turned on their appliances.

Finally, after hitting as hard as I could for the umpteenth time, it looked like the wrench had slipped! Or had it? Nervously, I wiggled it, and whoa! the teeth were very much still embedded in the coupling. So I pulled, and to my enormous relief, it actually moved a bit! Lo and behold, it wasn't broken off. With a little more muscle, it simply unscrewed, and I took it down to the nearest hardware store and replaced it for few dollars (with a proper dielectric union, which the old one was not) then sweated it back to the copper main, rejoining the old system back to the new.

WD-40 had won again.

posted by Eric at 03:13 PM | Comments (4)

Factory Girl

This is the best version I could find on YouTube (musically). The video is kind of plain though.

posted by Simon at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)

How many anti-Romneys this time?

What's a RINO these days? Someone who voted for McCain instead of a third party candidate? Someone who prefers Mitt Romney to Sarah Palin? Don't get me wrong. I prefer Sarah Palin to Mitt Romney, but that does not mean that I think Romney supporters are RINOs.

The problem with the call-everyone-who-disagrees-a-RINO approach is that it makes RINOs out of a majority (or at least a near majority) of Republican voters, something I do not think desirable if we assume the Republicans' goal is to defeat Barack Obama.

Speaking of the looming RINO threat, here's a recent statistic:

When Romney is the Republican nominee, he beats Obama among unaffiliated voters 48% to 41%. But when Palin is the GOP candidate, unaffiliated voters prefer Obama by a 47% to 41% margin.
I think there is a paranoid element at work among certain Republicans which saw the last primary as rigged by RINO elitists to disenfranchise them and shove John McCain down their throats. How this happened, I'm not sure. I can remember when the McCain candidacy was a total joke. Seriously, the man was speaking to nearly empty houses, and carried his own suitcases as he wandered pathetically around in search of supporters. This is not to say that he wasn't a RINO, or that Giuliani wasn't a RINO. But what happened on the right was that the stronger Mitt Romney got, the stronger Mike Huckabee (the anti-Romney) got. The next time around, I think it's clear that McCain will not run. If Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin both run, they will run as anti-Romneys, and if Huckabee runs again, that's too many anti-Romneys in the race. (A situation which favors Romney, of course.) Newt has been officially pretty quiet about Sarah Palin, but he's working feverishly to derail her.

Republican primary voters can be a contrary sort of people, and contrary people not only don't like being called names, but calling them names can persuade them to do precisely the opposite of what the name-callers think they're trying to do. If the anti-RINO activist mood really sets in -- to the point where Romney supporters are called RINOs -- that might tend to increase the number of Romney supporters to the point where "Romney RINOs" become a Republican majority.

And of course, the anyone-but-Romney, real-and-principled Republicans will get Romney, and they'll have to sit the election out in a principled manner (or vote for a third party, as real Republicans should).

Sounds familiar.

Fortunately, the election is so far off that most people aren't concerned yet, much less reduced to infighting. The non-activists who vote can therefore sit back quietly and ignore the insults, until it's their turn.

posted by Eric at 11:56 AM | Comments (13)

Congress Should Be Forced On It

H/T Hot Air

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:54 AM | Comments (4)

Obama: No Surgery - Take A Pain Killer

Well now we know why the bill has a mandatory Advance Care Planning section in it. Under Obama Care you are going to need it a LOT sooner than you think.

H/T Hot Air

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)

The state giveth access, the state taketh access away!

A lot of people say that that politicians don't have principles, and it often seems that they don't. But as I pointed out earlier, there is one overarching principle that tends to dwarf all others to the point where it might delay or kill the full implementation of socialized medicine:

The only thing which might -- and I stress might -- hold them back is if they perceive such a ground swell of grassroots opposition that they actually fear losing their seats. (This did happen in 1994 after Hillarycare was attempted.)

So on the one hand, Obamacare can be seen as a done deal simply because the votes are there for it and the Democrats in principle favor it. But there is one principle that politicians place above and beyond all principles -- the principle of staying in power.

Leftist ideologues know this, but instead of admitting the reality, they scold their fellow Democrats and call them names ("Blue Dog Democrats" being one of the kinder ones). In the case of Harold Meyerson, they scold the "wealthy" and pull out the old "blame the Internet" routine:
Time was when Democratic Congresses enacted Social Security and Medicare over the opposition of powerful interests and Republican ideologues. In fact, our government used to actually pave roads, build bridges and allow for secure retirements by levying taxes on those who could afford to pay them.

To today's centrist Democrats, this has become a distant memory, a history lesson they cannot grasp. The notion that actual individuals might have to pay to secure the national interest appalls them. In the House, the Blue Dogs doggedly oppose proposals to fund universal coverage by taxing the wealthiest 1 percent of the nation's households. Their deference to wealth -- whether the consequence of our system of funding elections or a byproduct of the Internet generation's experience of free access to information and entertainment -- is not to be trifled with.

So, it's not the fear of not being reelected; it's deference to wealth -- fueled by "free access" to information of the sort Meyerson does not approve.

"Access" is one of the sneakiest words in the English political lexicon, and it is a barometer of bullshit because it can mean anything at all. In this case, the ability to share information of which Harold Meyerson does not approve, or opinions with which he does not agree. Whether he minds me having "access" to his opinion I don't know, but he seems to forget that it's a two way street, because so far the government hasn't figured out a way to place ideology filters on opinions it does not like.

Nowhere in his piece does Meyerson address the very fear of what might happen to the Blue Dogs in the next congressional election if this nightmare legislation is passed and the reality of socialized medicine has had time to sink in. Instead, he characterized their opposition as "incoherent."

As someone who pays a substantial amount of money to get what I need out of the Internet, I truly loved and savored his use of the weasel word "access," though. It just epitomizes what is wrong with the left.

In a great post yesterday, Ace explains why that very word has led to so much trouble for socialized medicine:

Here's something I didn't know, from Kaus: It turns out that "access" to health care polls badly. I always imagined the opposite, that people were just wild about socialism in this area.

Not so. They know when we talk about "access" we're talking about raiding their wallets (and rationing their care) to cover someone else, so they don't like it.
That's apparently why Obama has apparently chosen to sell this abortion in terms of "reducing costs" and "bending the curve."

The problem with that is that he's actually attempting to reduce costs so he can increase access. So it's not about reducing costs per se -- it's about reducing costs and rationing enough that he can expand access to more non-paying people.

And that might be why this isn't working. Because, while he may talk about one more salable notion, people are getting word that in the actual details of the plan it's not about reducing costs, i.e., giving them the same or superior service for less money. It's about giving them inferior service so that more people can have that same level of inferior service.

In other words, when they say "access," they don't mean having hospitals nearby or doctors and clinics listed in the phone book. They mean forcing some people to pay so that other people don't have to.

It's like Internet "access" for "the poor." It not the same as the access Meyerson condemns the "wealthy" for having too much of. In the case of the poor, "Internet access" means making other people pay for Internet services, and creating a new tax to do just that.

Of course, when leftists talk about "access" to firearms, then the word takes on an entirely different meaning. Criminals, they say, should not have "access" to guns. Even though stringent laws everywhere make it a crime for them to possess firearms, what they mean by "access" is that criminals might break the laws and get guns anyway. So in this context, "access" means the mere fact that there are guns in houses and stores owned by law abiding people, and when liberals say that criminals should be denied "access," they mean that you should be denied access, by being disarmed.

I think people are a little tired of such deceptive games, and I'm glad they've caught on to the latest attempt to hoodwink them with another lecture about "access." Ace is right that in this case "access" means, simply, raiding their wallets (and rationing their care) to cover someone else.

The lesson here is, be careful of the word access. When leftists talk about access to health care, they mean they should have full access to your money. When they talk about access to guns, they mean you should not have access to guns.

"Access" is a word often syruped out in a placating manner to disguise the authoritarian statist impulse to control people, and to take away money and freedom. Ordinary people sometimes have a tendency to go along with it, but once it comes down to the realization that they're going to lose something, they wake up. I had a liberal friend who supported gun control (to cut off "access to criminals" naturally) until it suddenly occurred to her that not having access to handguns might mean that she could not buy a handgun, which in her view went too far. "Access to health care" sounds very nice and soothing, until people realize it means they'll have to pay for other people's access -- while losing the access they once had. When people learned that it would become a criminal offense to pay for "unapproved" medical care, that doomed Hillarycare.

It's not your access to your stuff that they want; it's their access to your stuff.

posted by Eric at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)

Anecdotal Evidence II

I was reading the comments at a Town Hall post and came across this one.

Recently, I stopped to grab lunch at sandwich shop/gas station. It was busy there so I parked in the hinterlands. While walking to the store I passed the gas pumps and I noticed a young black man about 30 splashing some gasoline on the side of his SUV. As I got closer I noticed that the man was stooped over and peeling the "Obama '08" decal off.

I couldn't resist. I asked him "how's that Hope & Change thing working out for you?". Half expecting an altercation he angrily looked up at me and yelled out "the mother f***** lied to us, he's ruined our economy", he's bowing to Saudi Kings, meeting with dictators, he's making speeches in Arab countries, he's apologizing to the world for America's deeds, and to top it off now he's making our soldiers mirandize the terrorists on the battlefield, he's a complete idiot, and now he's president".

He went on a total rant about Obama, citing a whole list of things that he felt was un-American and finished with "he's probably not even a native born American and not eligible to be president".

He went on to explain that he and others from the black community were lied to by the Democrats and were completely misled about Obama. He said "I'll never vote Democrat again", at which point I reached out shook his hand and said "welcome to the Republican Party". He said "thanks" and that many of his family, friends and acquaintances felt as he did.

He also said "we have also been misled about the Republicans, and were told that they didn't like Blacks which isn't's the Democrats that hold us back".

We parted friends.

I truly believe that "buyers remorse" is beginning to set in.

An isolated incident or the start of a trend? Hard to say. I await further developments.

One thing for sure, The Smartest President Ever™ is not as smart as he used to be.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:59 AM | Comments (1)

Democrats Attack Their Own

It seems like the Democrat Party is not happy with some Democrats.

The DNC announced that they will start running ads in Blue Dog districts to punish them for their vote on Waxman-Markey. They may do the same for any Democratic nays on ObamaCare.
This is great. I remember not so long ago when they ran Lamont against Lieberman and Lieberman won a stunning victory. BTW Lieberman is now a Democrat leaning independent. And independent is the largest and fastest growing "party" in the American electorate.

Now what if the ads the Democrats run make the Blue Dogs more popular in their districts for expressing the will of their voters?

Can Democrats be this stupid? In a word - YES. But not to fear. The Republicans are working real hard to catch up and take the lead if they can. They have done it before.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:56 AM | Comments (0)

Frustration is a waste of time

What do you do when you're stuck in the present, but the present doesn't matter? You get frustrated. As I said earlier in an email, I think there's a lot of political frustration because any elections are still quite a ways in the future, and anything can happen between now and then.

What the politically frustrated forget is that voters only think about politics for two weeks before the election. Whatever the emergency or crisis is at the time will be the only thing on people's minds. None of what happens now will count.

For years I thought it was a forgone conclusion that 2008 would be about Iraq. IRAQ!

You'd think I'd learn.

Instead I'm frustrated.

What do you do when you're stuck in the present, but the present doesn't matter? You get frustrated. As I said earlier in an email, I think there's a lot of political frustration because any elections are still quite a ways in the future, and anything can happen between now and then.

What they forget is that voters only think about politics for two weeks before the election. Whatever the emergency or crisis is at the time will be the only thing on people's minds. None of what happens now will count.

For years I thought it was a forgone conclusion that 2008 would be about Iraq. IRAQ!

You'd think I'd learn.

Instead I'm frustrated.

posted by Eric at 06:58 PM | Comments (5)

They're right, and I'm wrong!

One of the things conservatives tend to forget is that loathing the left does not necessarily translate into loving the right.

AJ Strata discusses this phenomenon, and argues that some purists on the right don't care, so long as they get to feel superior:

The center right Reagan coalition was torn asunder by the purists on the far right. Instead of building bridges they burnt the whole thing down in a fit of rage and name calling, all in a lame effort to demonstrate their supposed superiority.
I'm not sure that they're trying to demonstrate superiority so much as they're obsessed with being right above all else. When you are convinced that you are right and everyone else is wrong, then compromise is a dirty word. What this does in politics, though, is to subordinate winning to being a secondary goal.

I think the biggest debate on the right side of the spectrum is not so much between libertarians and social conservatives as it is between those who want to be right, and those who want to win elections. (Perfectionism versus realism, if that isn't too much of a stretch.)

Glenn Reynolds highlighted a vivid example of this dispute when he linked a post by Robert Stacy McCain, who is very proud that he is right, and very proud that he voted for Bob Barr. Everyone else is wrong:

...I didn't vote for Obama and I didn't vote for Crazy Cousin John. Let other people apologize for their choices, but I have nothing to regret. (Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Bob Barr.)


...Lots of people disagree with me, and I have no problem with that. They have the right to be wrong. I understand that my habit of being 100% right all the time is annoying to people who are wrong.

I'm a libertarian, and Bob Barr was the Libertarian Party candidate. John McCain is anything but a libertarian (and I have taken issue with his views more times than I can remember). Yet I voted for McCain, even though I admit without hesitation that voting for Bob Barr would have been the right thing -- the more libertarian thing -- for me to do.

I was wrong to vote for McCain, and yet I would do it again. Stacy McCain was right to vote for Barr and he would do it again.

Well so what? Being right doesn't mean shit if you lose. (Unless, of course, you're just into being right for its own sake.)

The other side in this debate is well represented by Ace, whom Stacy McCain criticizes as being wrong -- not just because he voted for McCain, but also because of stuff he said in 2004 about Paul Anka. Ace explained why he didn't like McCain, but voted for him anyway, and spent a lot of time as a McCain apologist.

I really hope we don't lose sight of the fact that we're in a bad position -- worse than we anticipated, I think it's fair to say -- and that winning is indeed preferable to "losing with principle and ideological integrity."

Am I serving as an apologist? You betcha I am. I also served as an apologist for the horrible candidate John McCain, and I will continue to serve as an apologist until we actually win something and can better afford to be choosy.

Along with yours truly, Ace couldn't have been more wrong, of course. His goal was to win the election. To stop Barack Obama.

In elections, sometimes you have to do the wrong thing in order to win.

Why, I'd even vote for Paul Anka! Nah, he has birth certificate issues. Maybe Frankie Avalon. Hey, don't laugh; he was really good at survivalism in Panic in Year Zero.

Anyway, I was wrong, and I admit it. But I have no regrets. I'm an unrepentent wrongdoer who would gladly do it again. I think that in politics, a lot of times you have to vote for someone who's got it only half right in order to defeat someone who's just got it all wrong. Here's how Clayton Cramer put it during the last election:

Do you want someone is wrong half the time, or someone who is wrong all the time?
Those who want to be right all the time obviously find such a choice unacceptable, and they can be depended upon to vote for the right candidate, regardless of whether he has any chance of winning.

It makes sense if being right is more important than winning.

AFTERTHOUGHT: I should admit I'm wrong more often.

It feels good.

MORE: Speaking of Frankie Avalon (whose suitability for the Oval Office I have not vetted, although I would note that he is a Republican), here he is, singing "Teacher's Pet" in 1957:

posted by Eric at 04:58 PM | Comments (8)

CO2 Is A Moral Issue

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:56 AM | Comments (2)

The Birth Of Truth?

It looks like the Obama Birth Certificate issue is heating up.

In a move certain to fuel the debate over Obama's qualifications for the presidency, the group Americans for Freedom of Information has Released copies of President Obama's college transcripts from Occidental College Released today, the transcript indicates that Obama, under the name Barry Soetoro, received financial aid as a foreign student from Indonesia as an undergraduate at the school. The transcript was released by Occidental College in compliance with a court order in a suit brought by the group in the Superior Court of California. The transcript shows that Obama (Soetoro) applied for financial aid and was awarded a fellowship for foreign students from the Fulbright Foundation Scholarship program. To qualify, for the scholarship, a student must claim foreign citizenship. This document would seem to provide the smoking gun that many of Obama's detractors have been seeking.
Well that is INTERESTING. Is that the truth or was he lying to get government money? If it is the truth he is in big trouble. If he was lying he is a fraudster.

And wonder of wonders it looks like the Supreme Court will weigh in.

In a related matter, under growing pressure from several groups, Justice Antonin Scalia announced that the Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear arguments concerning Obama's legal eligibility to serve as President in a case brought by Leo Donofrio of New Jersey . This lawsuit claims Obama's dual citizenship disqualified him from serving as president. Donofrio's case is just one of 18 suits brought by citizens demanding proof of Obama's citizenship or qualification to serve as president.

Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation has released the results of their investigation of Obama's campaign spending. This study estimates that Obama has spent upwards of $950,000 in campaign funds in the past year with eleven law firms in 12 states for legal resources to block disclosure of any of his personal records.

A Kreep going after our beloved President? You just can't make this stuff up. Fortunately I don't have to.

Now that I have (some of) your hopes up, let me throw some dry ice (it is very cold and made of CO2 - the most evil substance known to man - next to stupidity) on those hopes.

There is supposed to be a story on the front page of the Brit Daily Mail about all or part of this.

But there is no such article at the Daily Mail, there is no record of Robert Gibbs making any such statement, there is no such group as the Americans for Freedom of Information, and finally, of course, there is no record of any such Associated Press story actually being written.
And you know what? I couldn't find the Daily Mail story either. And I looked hard.

There is a United States Justice Foundation but there is nothing there about Scalia and the Supreme Court. Evidently the Supreme Court has already turned down a chance to hear the Donofrio suit. And that was in December of 2008.

This is just another case of ODiouS. Obama Derangement Syndrome. I wonder who gets the IOU for that one?

If Obama is going down it will have to be done the old fashioned way. Bare knuckle politics. Have you been to a Tea Party lately? Have you contacted your Congress critter about Bills and votes?

House of Representatives
The Senate

H/T R. Dave by e-mail

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:53 AM | Comments (2)

Tea on their socialist parade!

I hate to sound like a pessimist, but I think E. J. Dionne is right about the Democrats having the votes necessary to impose socialized health care:

...with 60 votes in the Senate, Democrats can, in principle, work their will on health care without any Republican support. Obama is bound to make compromises, partly to bring moderate Democrats along. But the size of the Democrats' Senate majority means they won't be able to blame the Republicans if health reform dies. This increases the pressure on moderate Democrats to get something done.
The only thing which might -- and I stress might -- hold them back is if they perceive such a ground swell of grassroots opposition that they actually fear losing their seats. (This did happen in 1994 after Hillarycare was attempted.)

So on the one hand, Obamacare can be seen as a done deal simply because the votes are there for it and the Democrats in principle favor it. But there is one principle that politicians place above and beyond all principles -- the principle of staying in power.

Which is why I agree with M. Simon that the Tea Party movement is the last best hope of stopping socialized health care.

posted by Eric at 05:37 PM | Comments (2)

The "honor" system

Via Ann Althouse, a horrifying account of an Iranian volunteer government security man who was considered so good at his job that he was given "the honor" of being an official government rapist.

He said he had been a highly regarded member of the force, and had so "impressed my superiors" that, at 18, "I was given the 'honor' to temporarily marry young girls before they were sentenced to death."

In the Islamic Republic it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin, he explained. Therefore a "wedding" ceremony is conducted the night before the execution: The young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard - essentially raped by her "husband."

In what is probably a subversive or heretical statement, he says he now regrets raping young girls on behalf of the Islamic state:
"I regret that, even though the marriages were legal," he said.

Why the regret, if the marriages were "legal?"

"Because," he went on, "I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their 'wedding' night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die.

"I remember hearing them cry and scream after [the rape] was over," he said. "I will never forget how this one girl clawed at her own face and neck with her finger nails afterwards. She had deep scratches all over her."

I think his regret may very well be sincere. As the man goes on to explain, he is now in trouble for releasing teenage girls who were arrested during the recent protests:
Returning to the events of the last few weeks, and his decision to set free the two teenage detainees, he said he "honestly" did not know why he had released them, a decision that led to his own arrest, "but I think it was because they were so young. They looked like children and I knew what would happen to them if they weren't released."

He said that while a man is deemed "responsible for his own actions at 13, for a woman it is 9," and that it was freeing the 15-year-old girl that "really got me in trouble.

I regularly complain about police misconduct and the misuse of SWAT teams for routine law enforcement, and I always will. But reading about the details of police work in Iran supplies important perspective.

Far from being engaged in crime or misconduct, Iranian police who rape young girls are just doing their job. It's sometimes hard to believe that we're living on the same planet with such a monstrous government, much less imagining we're engaged in constructive dialogue with the people who run it.

Ironically, if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said "We never execute virgins in Iran," he'd technically be telling the truth -- just as when he said "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country," he drew laughter, but he was also technically telling the truth. Iranian virgins will not be executed until after they've been raped, and instead of having homosexuals "like in our country" (where gay marriage is debated), Iran has homosexuals like in their country (where gays are hanged).

And we have a president who worries that these illegitimate and murderous leaders might see us as meddling.

posted by Eric at 03:10 PM | Comments (2)

Recovery from crime (and capitalism)

In his discussion of how British crime statistics have hit an all time high (while the right to self defense has been virtually abolished), Andrew Ian Dodge highlights a nightmarish leftist scenario I'd never heard about before: bringing criminal attackers into hospitals to visit their victims. That way, they can say they're sorry so everyone can live in peace and happiness forever in the "Truth and Reconciliation" world of John Lennon's Imagine fantasy:

As if the victims of knife crime (of whom there were more than 20,000 last year, according to figures released yesterday) do not already suffer enough.

Henceforth, as they are being patched up in hospital, they face the prospect of being visited by the knife-wielders who put them there.

This variation on the theme of restorative justice is designed, according to Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, to "shock" young thugs into changing their behaviour by confronting them with the bloody reality of what a stab can do.

Never mind the aggravated trauma to the recovering patient.

It's very easy to roll our eyes and say that it's only Great Britain, but the fact is that there are plenty of leftist crackpots who would drool over the possibility of doing exactly the same thing here.

What I can never figure out is what drives such people. Is it idealism? Or is it malice? Granting them the benefit of the doubt and assuming the former, it's as if they think that everyone is basically good, and that inside every psychopath is a loving human being. And assuming you're a kind and loving person, once you believe that a criminal psychopath is basically just like you inside, it seems quite logical to imagine that if he saw the suffering of his victim in the hospital, he'd feel empathy, say he's sorry, and mend his ways forever. Such naivité is very, very hard for me to comprehend, but I guess it is possible. (In Philadelphia, the Eastern State Penitentiary was originally designed around the idea that criminals would go there to pray and repent. By people who would of course pray and repent if they committed awful crimes.)

Of course, if we attribute malice (of the Marxist totalitarian sort) to the mindset behind this nonsense, it's a lot easier to understand. Criminals are not criminals, but are victims of an affluent capitalist society. And their victims are actually guilty. Of having more. So if the victim suffers more and the criminal suffers less, it's in the interest of building a better world where all are equal, and there is no need for crime. This fits in with the prison abolition movement, and the Stalinist (also Nazi) idea of using psychopathic criminals to deliberately torment political offenders. To be fair, I have to point out that those to whom I impute such malice would not consider Marxism's hatred of capitalist greed to be malicious at all. (Millions of dead notwithstanding.)

Plus, there's the old rule of "never attribute to malice..."

Why, there was even a Stalinist adage, "Mistakes were made."

posted by Eric at 10:59 AM | Comments (6)

Statistical Sun

While noodling around the 'net I came across a statistical study of the history of sunspots and the Earth's climate. (if the English is less than perfect it is because the person writing is a native of Finland)

When the planetary effects have been searched as a cause for sunspots, a gravitational effect is mostly assumed. My theory is purely statistical so it does not necessitate a theory about the physical background. But still one can make some speculations. Evidence strongly suggests that the sunspots have a clear electromagnetic nature. The solar system baths in the electromagnetic field of the Sun. Nasa announced in 2008 that there are some kind of electromagnetic "ropes" between the Sun and possible all the planets that have an electromagnetic field of their own (such as Earth and Jupiter for example).

I make a suggestion: The electromagnetic fields of Sun and Jupiter are partly intertwined, sometimes more, sometimes less during the nearly 12-year orbital revolution of Jupiter. Changes in eccentricity may then cause long-period changes in Sun's activity. And one thing we don't know: if the theory of everything combines gravity and electromagnetic forces the warping of space around Sun would really cause something extraordinary, like changes in the Sun's activity. One interesting thing is, that although the main effect of Jupiter seems to come via the perihelia of Jupiter, also the points where Jupiter crosses the plane of equator of the Sun, seem to have some effect.

The author takes a look at what this all might mean for the weather on Earth.
According to my theory about Jovian effect on sunspots, based on facts measured since 1700 and estimated since 1500 (Schove)
- The Jupiter perihelion and sunspot minimum never coincide and the nearing perihelion in 2011 will slow the rise of the height of sunspot cycle, as now is happening to the cycle 24.
- The Gleissberg cycle almost reached its lower limit, which is 72 years in 2005.
--- In fact this low it has not been ever after the Maunder minimum.
--- So it must go up, the short cycles of the 20th century has created a debt that must be paid.
--- This means lower cycles and if the past is a good predictor, colder times on Earth.
Now how about the NASA study of electromagnetic ropes? (this is from late 2007)
"The satellites have found evidence of magnetic ropes connecting Earth's upper atmosphere directly to the sun," said David Sibeck, project scientist for the mission at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "We believe that solar wind particles flow in along these ropes, providing energy for geomagnetic storms and auroras."

A magnetic rope is a twisted bundle of magnetic fields organized much like the twisted hemp of a mariner's rope. Spacecraft have detected hints of these ropes before, but a single spacecraft was insufficient to map their 3D structure. THEMIS' five identical micro-satellites were able to perform the feat.

"THEMIS encountered its first magnetic rope on May 20," said Sibeck. "It was very large, about as wide as Earth, and located approximately 40,000 miles (70,000 km) above Earth's surface in a region called the magnetopause." The magnetopause is where the solar wind and Earth's magnetic field meet and push against one another like sumo wrestlers locked in combat. There, the rope formed and unraveled in just a few minutes, providing a brief but significant conduit for solar wind energy.

I wonder if the IPCC has included this in their models? Probably not since it is not well understood. How many other things that may or may not affect climate are not well understood? And that is just the known unknowns. Could there be some unknown unknown that affects climate that we are missing? Well the answer of course is: we don't know.

And on the basis of all this shaky science we are going to spend trillions on Waxman-Malarkey [pdf]? The Senate has not yet passed the bill. So we still have a chance. Contact your Senator:

The Senate

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:09 AM | Comments (2)

The Oligarchy Controlling Washington

Glenn Beck explains the American oligarchy/government organization chart.

Is your blood boiling yet?

The Greeks have seen all this before. Something like 3,000 years ago. The one thing we have in our favor is that oligarchies are rarely popular when self-government is at least a theoretical option.

Time to take to the streets. See you at the next Tea Party.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:46 AM | Comments (0)

It's The Regulations Stupid

Commenter ThomasD at Classical Values had this to say about the Advance Care Planning post.

I work in long term care, and have worked in hospice care (much of which is currently covered under Medicare.)

I also absolutely loathe Obamacare and it's backdoor attempt to create a single payer government controlled system of health care rationing.

That said, what you cited is typical government speak, similar mandates already exist within the nursing home and hospice regulatory schema. But the opacity of the verbiage certainly doesn't help to dispel a layman's concerns.

The real problem is that this is just the legislation and it wouldn't even matter if it sounded nice and benign. After enactment what follows is that some executive governmental body then takes that law and turns it into regulation - and that is where things go horribly awry.

Once government gets a power the citizens get screwed. We are in a headlong rush to Liberal Fascism.

Can it be stopped short of Civil War? Maybe.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:43 AM | Comments (0)

They Are Getting Nervous

The Obama Administration says that their health care plans are a work in progress.

Administration officials defended President Barack Obama's broad health care proposals on Sunday and urged a skeptical public not to judge the Democrats' overhaul until Congress writes a final version.

Facing independent budget predictions that contradict the White House's rhetoric, officials sought to refute Republican objections to massive changes in how Americans receive health care. They emphasized that Congress has not yet settled on an outline for health care legislation and reiterated Obama's desire for a bipartisan approach.

"This is a work in progress," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, trying to calm nervous lawmakers whose re-elections could hinge on the legislation. "More will be done. The House and the Senate are committed to working with the president to get this done."

A work in progress? Perhaps they could explain this .gov url that has something called "Bill Text". Unless they intend to do their usual and parachute in an extra 700 pages of the bill to Congress in the dead of night.

And how about the cost of all this?

Paying for the health care plan remains the major challenge, underscored by a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office report that emerging House legislation would increase deficits by $239 billion over a decade.

"I don't follow why we've got to spend another $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion, most people estimate, on top of the $2.5 trillion we're already spending in this country and yet still have, under one estimate, at least 33 million people without health insurance," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "I mean, these are things that are real serious problems."

Democrats insisted the budget analysis ignores savings and Obama's pledge not to add red ink to the federal ledger.

The Democrats have failed to mention what the expiration date for this Obama promise is. That Obama is one greased weasel when it comes to promises.

I can tell you right now that they are FORCING me to join Medicare in a few months and I'm not happy about it. Not one bit. Will this new "revised" plan be any different? I doubt it. It is not the Democrats way. There is only one way to put a stop to this crap.

Throw The Bums Out

As soon as possible. And the Won? Three Years 6 months 0 weeks and 0 days to go.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:52 PM | Comments (1)

Some scientists hate your ice cream. Others hate your nuts.

During the Bush years, this blog was highly critical of a top White House science advisor -- the Council on Bioethics Chairman Leon Kass. Not only was he against people living longer lives, but he had kooky views on a number of subjects which Justin dug out of books he had written in the 1970s.

So here we are, with the new hope-and-change administration, and a president who promised to end Bush's so-called "war on science."

Considering what had been said about Kass here, naturally I thought it was an improvement when I read that Obama had gotten rid of the Bioethics Council. But I've been reading more and more about Obama's science advisor John Holdren, and I see such eerie similarities between him and Leon Kass that I wonder what on earth is going on.

Kass wanted to prevent people from living longer and to that end, devoted much of his intellectual energy to the fight against life extension. In the 70s he opposed eating ice cream.

Holdren, OTOH, also wants to prevent people from living longer (if by a more direct methods, such as euthanasia), and back in the 1970s he opposed human reproduction and speculated about different ways of forcing humans to be sterilized. (He's also a "longtime prophet of environmental catastrophes.")

While I can't speak for others, despite everything I've said about Kass, if I had to choose between a guy who wanted to take away my ice cream and a guy who wanted to take away my ability to reproduce, I'd go with the ice cream bandit. Besides, when called to account in public, Kass at least had the decency to back away from the ice cream remarks, expressing regret for having had them in his book. OTOH, according to this analysis, Holdren does not regret his sterilization remarks and kooky catastrophic/Ehrlichist views. Has anyone ever asked him whether he still agrees with his idea of "de-developing" the United States? (What are the implications for the national "recovery"?)

I hate to say it, but I think Holdren actually makes Kass look moderate by comparison, despite the latter's documented kookiness. As to the game of playing musical chairs with scientists holding wacky views, how did such a thing happen? Has some permanent ecological niche been created in science, where the country drifts from one crackpot scientific advisor to another? Is there now a "consensus" that the top jobs in science should henceforth go to whatever activist crackpot the fringier elements of the president's base might demand? (Please, dear God, don't tell me that the Culture War has spread to science too.)

On the bright side, I complain a lot about how I hate politics, so I'm always looking for humor. And this is funny, right? Finding humor in politics is a relief, because politics is both tedious and oppressive. So I guess when science is politicized, science becomes a joke too. Hence the clowns at the top.

Your ice cream or your nuts?

OK, OK, I've thought it over! I I do think the old humor was funnier, at least by way of contrast with the present. And more harmless.

No matter how many scoops of ice cream it took.....

posted by Eric at 02:50 PM | Comments (4)

Advance Care Planning

I just read an interesting section of the proposed health care bill that refers to Advance Care Planning Consultation. Now what the h e double toothpicks is that? Go to page 425 and read a ways and you come to:

4 ''(E) An explanation by the practitioner of the
5 continuum of end-of-life services and supports avail
6 able, including palliative care and hospice, and bene
7 fits for such services and supports that are available
8 under this title.
9 ''(F)(i) Subject to clause (ii), an explanation of
10 orders regarding life sustaining treatment or similar
11 orders, which shall include--
12 ''(I) the reasons why the development of
13 such an order is beneficial to the individual and
14 the individual's family and the reasons why
15 such an order should be updated periodically as
16 the health of the individual changes;
17 ''(II) the information needed for an indi
18 vidual or legal surrogate to make informed deci
19 sions regarding the completion of such an
20 order; and
21 ''(III) the identification of resources that
22 an individual may use to determine the require
23 ments of the State in which such individual re
24 sides so that the treatment wishes of that indi
25 vidual will be carried out if the individual is un
1 able to communicate those wishes, including re
2 quirements regarding the designation of a sur
3 rogate decisionmaker (also known as a health
4 care proxy).
Translation: you will be encouraged to give it up (DNR - do not resuscitate) fur da grater god duvall. i.e. "you are going to die - would you care to speed things along?" And now you know where the cost savings will come from. No doubt Obama's Science Adviser John Holdren had some inputs on that section.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:02 PM | Comments (9)

Sinking The Russian Fleet

The Russian Fleet is in dire straits. In ten years it may no longer (for practical purposes) exist.

The NVO report does not pull any punches: "The Russian Navy is on the verge of irreversible collapse. Within ten years there will be in the entire navy less than 50 vessels still capable of operations, which would be a number not even the size of one of our 'lesser fleets' like the Baltic Fleet or the Black Sea Fleet."

The report rates the navy's situation as the worst in almost a century and concludes "this present catastrophe is comparable to what happened in the course of the [post-1917 Bolshevik Revolution] Civil War years when the fleet was left in ruins. If during the oil and gas boom of the 2000s the Russian Navy received practically no funding, now today during a period of difficult [economic] crisis the fleet will--without a doubt--have to die within the next few years. This is not merely a possibility, it is a fact."

Those warships still left in useable condition have seen their level of operations scaled back in order to preserve their service life. This is particularly true in the case of the submarine fleet, which has seen its Cold War high tempo of patrols drop off to almost nothing. Last November's joint naval exercises with the Venezuelan Navy off the coast of South America amounted to a little more than symbolic participation by only four Russian vessels that made the trans-Atlantic crossing.

The end of the Russian Navy will mean their further decline as a super power. There is nothing like 70 years of socialist/communist mismanagement to run a country with abundant physical and human capital into the ground.

And going in the opposite direction is the US Navy. If the US Navy's investment in Polywell Fusion pays off it will mean much lower operational costs for the US Fleet (much lower oil consumption). Such an advance will leave the rest of the competing navies of the world in the dust. We Will Know In Two Years. I'm optimistic.

The American Thinker has a good article up on the Polywell Fusion Reactor with the basics.

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been fully funded by the Obama administration?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:25 PM | Comments (6)

Longevity is a temporary distraction from death

I just read about the oldest man in the world dying at 113.

The secret of his longevity?

He "attributed his grand age to 'cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women'."

I don't smoke, and while I love whiskey, these days I mostly drink red wine for its reputed health benefits. As to "wild, wild women," I really don't like to discuss my personal, um, issues (although I try to be democratic so I once conducted a poll to let readers vote on what my issues ought to be). Overall, I think my sex life would probably not be considered wild enough for me to set the world's longevity record.

OTOH, a 105 year old woman has never had sex at all, and she claims that her celibacy is the key to her longevity.

Well, darn then! A virgin centenarian I will never be.

I don't know where this leaves me. Perhaps I should double up on the whiskey and start smoking. Interestingly enough, I came to know a woman who had finally retired to a rest home at age 97, and she was one of those loquacious grand dames who would sit and hold court on the porch. While smoking like a chimney. As I got to know her, she complained to me about the staff's attempts to get her to stop smoking. I will never forget the way, in a loud voice, she bellowed,

"They want me to stop smoking -- 'FOR MY HEALTH!' Honey, I'm NINETY SEVEN YEARS OLD!"
It struck me as cruel, ironic, and hilarious. She was full of life, sharp as a tack, and had lived longer than her "helpers" probably would.

So while I don't know what anybody's "secret" is, I found myself thinking that this defiant old girl might not have made it to 97 had she done as she was told.

posted by Eric at 12:17 PM | Comments (5)

All signs point to an endless recovery!

Sean Kinsell has a cute post (titled "SLOW: stimulus area ahead") about something he considers a relatively minor annoyance, the spending of millions of dollars in highway funds for "economic recovery" signs:

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is spending $60,000 of its stimulus money on $2,000 road signs to highlight projects funded by the massive economic recovery package.

The large green signs mark about 30 of what PennDOT calls ''higher visibility projects'' statewide. Each denotes the project is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and features the act's logo.

Nationwide, several million dollars are being spent producing the signs.

Sean questions the wisdom of pouring money into signs, even as he acknowledges that there are worse examples of government waste, and while I certainly agree with that, I'd like to look at the signs themselves.

Many people -- especially people concerned with environmental or esthetic beauty -- do not like signs, because they are ugly. Especially commercial signs. I can remember as far back as the 1960s, a beautify America campaign targeted highway signs for removal. Even though I'm a fierce libertarian and I think property owners ought to have the right to display whatever they want (or sell the space to whomever they want), I'm also a human being, and I don't like ugliness. And there's just something about seeing a beautiful view of, say, the Blue Ridge mountain range being blocked by a Burma Shave billboard that's just downright tacky. OTOH, these are highways, and drivers ought to be focusing on their driving, not rubbernecking over beautiful views. Still, there's something invasive about advertising of any sort; by its nature, it is designed to pull you in. To influence you.

Now, there's no denying that highway signs which warn you about falling rocks, unsafe speeds, and upcoming exits are there to influence you. Maybe even save your life.

Not only can't the same can be said for advertising, but I'm having a lot of trouble distinguishing between advertising and propaganda. Specifically, I'm having trouble figuring out just why is the federal government trying to make state highway departments put up non-safety related signs everywhere if not for propaganda purposes. Pennsylvania says it's taking a "middle-of-the-road" approach:

PennDOT spokesman Steve Chizmar said Pennsylvania elected to take a ''middle-of-the-road'' approach to the federal government's strong encouragement that the signs be put at every project site around the state, choosing only those that were most visible to the public.
So what is on these signs? The piece says they proudly display the logo of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Which means that this is what the federal government wants you to see everywhere as you drive from place to place:


Your tax dollars at work, right? Being spent on "recovery." First off (as I told Sean in an email), I don't especially like the word "recovery." It has a propagandistic feel to it, and even a therapeutic feel. It's psychological code-language for people who never get well by definition.

Recovery is a lifelong process! You know, it never goes away?

So now they have a website called (How much it cost, the Lord only knows.) Seriously, I wish I had not known about this, but now, thanks to the piece Sean linked, I do.

While the logo may have some artistic value, I know propaganda when I see it, and the above is clearly propaganda. And what's with the stuffing of the elements of the American flag into a circle, anyway? Why the green plant? Is American vegetation dying because of a lack of CO2 or something?

And why is there a little red cross inside the red gear? Surely there isn't a "health care" message hidden inside the "recovery" meme, is there?

Yeah, I know these are rhetorical questions, but propaganda by its nature invites them.

I probably wouldn't have made such a big deal out of the propagandistic stuffing of elements of the American flag into a circle if this wasn't so tediously evocative of yet another image we've all seen.


It's one thing to propagandistically evoke the campaign theme, but is it necessary to make the states and the taxpayers pay for it?

It all makes me worry that we'll never get out of this recovery.

posted by Eric at 10:54 AM | Comments (5)

The Buchanan-Obama axis of karma

Pat Buchanan is largely right in his latest piece, "Socialist America Sinking." Especially this:

Taxes drove the American Revolution, for we were a taxaphobic, liberty-loving people. That government is best that governs least is an Americanism. When "Silent Cal" Coolidge went home in 1929, the U.S. government was spending 3 percent of gross domestic product.

And today? Obama's first budget will consume 28 percent of the entire GDP; state and local governments another 15 percent. While there is some overlap, in 2009, government will consume 40 percent of GDP, approaching the peak of World War II.

And this:
In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson called George III a tyrant for having "erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance."

What did George III do with his Stamp Act, Townshend Acts or tea tax to compare with what is being done to this generation of Americans by their own government?

While the hardest-working and most productive are bled, a third of all wage-earners pay no U.S. income tax, and Obama plans to free almost half of all wage-earners of all income taxes. Yet, tens of millions get Medicaid, rent supplements, free education, food stamps, welfare and an annual check from Uncle Sam called an Earned Income Tax Credit, though they never paid a nickel in income taxes.

Damn him for being right! (I hate it when I agree with people I disagree with.)

What can I say that might balance the karma?

Well, one of Buchanan's biggest issues has been illegal immigration, and while he's still talking about it in the latest piece, he fails to point out that thanks to the economic freefall, there has been a dramatic immigration slowdown. The bad economy is working better than any border fence or law enforcement could, and if he gets his way and implements ruinous economic policies like cap-and-trade and socialized medicine, things aren't going to be improving any time soon. What that means is that if the goal is to keep immigrants out, Obama is doing a great job!

So why isn't Pat Buchanan more pleased with President Obama? I'm not saying he has to be totally delighted or anything like that, but really! Does he have to act like a mean old sourpuss just because he happens to be right?

It's like, if I can swallow some of my pride and give credit to Pat Buchanan where credit is due, then why can't he do the same for Barack Obama?

posted by Eric at 06:37 PM | Comments (2)

"I don't think I made a mistake"

I don't usually blog about vehicular accidents, but there's something I found strangely disconcerting about the details of a fiery tanker crash which happened on a major Detroit area overpass on Wednesday.

The driver of the car -- an unapologetic 27 year old who got his driver's license (from the Secretary of State) in May -- broadsided a tanker truck loaded with 14,000 gallons of fuel, which exploded, causing what a local official called "the biggest fire in the city's history":

"It was a miracle that no one was killed," Klobucher said. "An absolute miracle. I can't say enough about our police, firefighters and other first responders. We had an explosion at a house earlier in the day and then this, the biggest fire in the city's history.
According to investigators, the crash was caused by speeding:
Sims said that Haidarian-Shahri was in the far left lane and driving faster than the 50 mph speed limit on that section of I-75, commonly referred to as the "Nine Mile Curve." Haidarian-Shahri lost control and shot across the freeway to the right lane and collided with the side of the tanker carrying 14,000 gallons of fuel. The truck jackknifed, which caused the fuel tank to break and explode, he said.
Speeding or not, how could any normal driver who wasn't intoxicated or asleep lose control in the left lane in such a way as to broadside a fuel tanker all the way in the right?

I realize that everyone makes mistakes, but the callused, completely unapologetic attitude of this driver shocks me a lot more than the accident. As you'll see, he is not sorry at all. Does the man have no conscience?

I'm not alone in being shocked. Haidarian-Shahri's attitude also shocked the seasoned newsman who interviewed him in the video here. Take a look.

I mean really.

It is bad enough to have "lost control and shot across the freeway to the right lane and collided with the side of the tanker carrying 14,000 gallons of fuel." Still, we all make mistakes, and accidents will happen.

But to say "I don't think I made a mistake."

How am I supposed to agree with that?

If he didn't make a mistake, then what on earth was the guy doing?

Would it be too insensitive of me to hope the Secretary of State will take his drivers license away?

MORE: While some Freepers are having a field day with this incident, I don't see the slightest evidence of terrorism.

But the man's refusal to apologize is an outrage. As to his saying, "I don't think I made a mistake," I think merely by saying that he made a huge mistake -- because people might interpret the statement literally.

Considering his educational background, the driver is obviously smart enough to know the difference between a mistake and its opposite.

posted by Eric at 03:23 PM | Comments (8)

Trauma for women, humor for men?
Or is that sexist?

When I watched this video -- titled "Naked Man Bangs on Memphis Women's Windows While Masturbating" -- it occurred to me that it was a pretty good illustration of why this commenter was right when he said:

There are biological differences that no fashionable philosophy can change.
The reaction of the women (called "victims," which they were) was one of shock and terror. I think men would have a very different reaction to such behavior, and it might very well be because of biological differences.

For those who don't want to bother with the video, I found a cached version of the news story with more:

MEMPHIS, TN - An East Memphis neighborhood is on alert after naked men have been seen masturbating in backyards.

According to police reports, it has happened in the last two weeks at the Barfield Place Condos near I-240 and Walnut Grove Road in East Memphis. Two women who live at the condos say men snuck into their backyards and touched themselves while looking through their windows.

One of victims, who did not want to be identified, said, "It was horrific. He pretty well terrorized me. I've had trouble sleeping since then." She went on to say that she is afraid that the man who peeped through her window will be looking through someone else's soon.

While I can't speak for any men other than myself, if I looked out the window and saw a man (or a woman, to be fair) masturbating, I would probably be unable to avoid bursting into laughter. I'd probably make a sexually insulting remark, and I don't know whether I'd bother even calling the cops. Hell, if the guy was too slow about leaving, I'd probably grab a camera and turn him into blog fodder. Seriously, I'm always in need of humor, and doing that would be a lot of fun (even if I had to photoshop a black rectangle where his penis ought to be), so I'd probably try to yell "THANK YOU!" if he gave me time for a picture before scurrying away.

What would be even better would be to get threatened with a lawsuit by the S.O.B. for invading his privacy!

Anyway, in general women just don't process things like that the same way, and I don't claim to understand why.

Suffice it to say that there are biological differences.

posted by Eric at 12:22 PM | Comments (5)

Racism In A Boxer

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

A Fair Shake?

I posted this video at Power and Control

With this comment:

Obama in Russia. Evidently the guy don't get no respect.

H/T Backyard Conservative

Raving Dave in a comment to that post gave me a link to this video from Obama's Saudi Arabian tour:

I guess he can't get any respect even from his "friends".

And he does look so out of his depth. I wonder if he can last out his whole term? Because when the world no longer respects you and your personality is to look for the adulation of the crowd, mistakes (big one's) are bound to happen.

posted by Simon at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)

Entitled to free menudo?

I liked IowaHawk's "Guest Commentary by Judge Sonia Sotamayor" ("Menudo of Justice") so much that I did something I rarely do with blog posts. I sent a link to a non-blogger friend who isn't a blog reader. He loved it so much that he emailed back called it "brilliant" and he laughed out loud.

Now, while I love IowaHawk, there are plenty of blogs I love but cannot monitor every day -- for the simple reason that if I did I would have no time to do anything else. I happened upon the "Menudo of Justice" post because Glenn Reynolds linked it, and it made me laugh out loud too. This was no small accomplishment, because I'm soured on politics lately. Really soured. And while IowaHawk's post is of course political; it spoofs serious politics. He's on the right, but he spares no one, and even though I don't go far enough in sparing no one, I nonetheless like that approach. Especially if it's funny and really does spare no one. Anyway, stuff like this is great:

...As a Justicia on the Tribunal Supremo I will be naturally vigilant for any colleague who strays from the law, and will not hesitate to clobber them with the rodillo of established legal precedence. Afterwards, when we have reached consensus, there will be hot makeup majority opinions.

This is exactly the kind of wise, precedent-faithful Latina legal approach that I believe will be welcome by others on the Supreme Court bench, all of whom bring their own unique genetic legal wisdom and instinctual empathy. Justices Roberts and Souter for example, with their aloof, sexless, constipated, emotionally-stunted WASPy intellects and natural affinity for preppy white collar criminals. Justice Stevens has this as well, along with a keen grasp for the legal issues facing Americans with senile dementia. As an Irishman, Justice Kennedy enjoys a natural "gift of the gab" and poetically tragic alcoholism. Like you, I imagine that Justice Breyer can be kind of pushy and whiny, but we should also remember that as a Jew he is probably very skilled at cases that involve complicated numbers and math. To the casual observer, it probably seems absurd to have greasy Italian "goodfellas" like Justices Alito and Scalia working inside the legal system, but if we give them a chance they may eventually break the code of Omerta and finally turn state's evidence against their Cosa Nostra bosses. Yes, many have criticized Justice Thomas for being a self-hating "Oreo" and "Uncle Tom," but I like to think that deep inside him still lurks the the DNA of an angry Cadillac-driving streetwise Superfly, ready to show "The Man" that his pimp hand is strong.

One of the unfortunate realities of "the blogosophere" is that it's too large and it isn't easy for people to find things like the above on their own. Just as a finder's fee for something that made me laugh, I'd pay Glenn the penny a pageview he mentions for such things. Why, I'd even be willing to call it an "entitlement" (even though I can't stand the word)!

Of course, I still hate politics, just as I hate news. But I hate it even more if I can't laugh at it. Humor is a necessary narcotic, and sometimes my personal stash runs low. In despair, I'll find myself reduced to laughing at things which aren't that funny -- even pathetic things like Madonna's sagging flesh -- which I even self-deprecatingly compared to my own!

So, I really needed to have a wise Latina add spice to my menudo.

posted by Eric at 11:50 AM | Comments (2)

It Was 40 Years Ago Today

I was in a hippie house on Webster Avenue, just off of Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California, watching avidly on a B&W TV. I never imagined that we would stop manned missions to the moon and beyond for such a long time.

Here is a book about it:

The First Men on the Moon: The Story of Apollo 11

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:07 AM | Comments (2)

Health Care - Putting Patients In Charge

Other Senate Doctors shows:
The Doctor Show - Thursday, July 9, 2009
The Doctor Show - Tuesday, July 14, 2009
The Doctor Show - Thursday, July 16, 2009

You can get questions to the Senate Doctors by the following methods:

Read the Democrat health insurance plan [pdf]. All 1,000 plus pages.

The Doctors also have Web Page.

And you know what else? The CBO says that there will be no cost savings with the Democrat Bill.

One of the main arguments made by the President and others for investing in health reform now is that it will save the federal government money in the long run by containing costs.

Turns out that may not be the case, according to Doug Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Answering questions from Democrat Kent Conrad of North Dakota at a hearing of the Senate Budget Committee today, Elmendorf said CBO does not see health care cost savings in either of the partisan Democratic bills currently in Congress.

Our government lying to us? I'm shocked.

I think the whole Government Health care mess can be explained by Simon's Law:

It is unwise to attribute to malice alone that which can be attributed to malice and stupidity.

Think of how much worse it would be if we weren't lead by The Smartest President Ever™. Three Years 6 months 0 weeks and 2 days to go.

H/T Backyard Conservative

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:28 PM | Comments (3)

What we call "entitlements" are merely laws.
That's obvious, right?

Speaking of "entitlements," just what is an entitlement? A right?

Not at all. The "right" to collect social security derives from a law passed by Congress in 1935 and signed by the president. Same is true of Medicare (which simply amended the Social Security Act). Like any law, these laws can be repealed or changed at the whim of Congress.

The United States Supreme court has specifically held that the Social Security Act does not create any contractual obligation on the part of the United States, and thus does not even rise to the level of any sort of right. It is not even analogous to an insurance contract:

"To engraft upon the Social Security system a concept of 'accrued property rights' would deprive it of the flexibility and boldness in adjustment to ever changing conditions which it demands." The Court went on to say, "It is apparent that the non-contractual interest of an employee covered by the [Social Security] Act cannot be soundly analogized to that of the holder of an annuity, whose right to benefits is bottomed on his contractual premium payments."
So why does everyone (except a few libertarian cranks) go on calling these things "entitlements"? To imply that they are rights when they are not?

There is no right to have a law. There is no more right to receive social security than there was a right to Prohibition of alcohol (or drug laws).

Laws can be changed, and I feel like I'm stating the obvious here.

So why does it seem so non-obvious to so many people?

posted by Eric at 08:35 PM | Comments (6)

Human Rights

A discussion of the talk (and other speeches given at the conference) can be found here.

A really good book that also deals with the human rights problems of the drug war is:

Drug Warriors and Their Prey: From Police Power to Police State

I have read it. You should read it. If you can't afford it and don't have the time to go to the library and read it may I suggest a review I wrote of the book: How To Put an End to Drug Users.

H/T Mike Gray of the Drug Policy Forum of Texas

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

Planned economic mayhem? (Can't say we weren't warned....)

While it's huge news right now, what Vice President Biden said to the AARP sounds exactly what President Obama said in May.


Vice President Joe Biden told people attending an AARP town hall meeting that unless the Democrat-supported health care plan becomes law the nation will go bankrupt and that the only way to avoid that fate is for the government to spend more money.

"And folks look, AARP knows and the people working here today know, the president knows, and I know, that the status quo is simply not acceptable," Biden said at the event on Thursday in Alexandria, Va. "It's totally unacceptable. And it's completely unsustainable. Even if we wanted to keep it the way we have it. It can't do it financially."

"We're going to go bankrupt as a nation," Biden said.

"Well, people when I say that look at me and say, 'What are you talking about? You're telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?'" Biden said. "The answer is yes, I'm telling you."
Embrace your destruction!

I agree with people who are saying it sounds pretty loony. Because it is pretty loony.

What I can't understand is why it's loony only when Biden says it. Here's what Obama said in May:

...we are out of money now. We are operating in deep deficits, not caused by any decisions we've made on health care so far. This is a consequence of the crisis that we've seen and in fact our failure to make some good decisions on health care over the last several decades.

So we've got a short-term problem, which is we had to spend a lot of money to salvage our financial system, we had to deal with the auto companies, a huge recession which drains tax revenue at the same time it's putting more pressure on governments to provide unemployment insurance or make sure that food stamps are available for people who have been laid off.

So we have a short-term problem and we also have a long-term problem. The short-term problem is dwarfed by the long-term problem. And the long-term problem is Medicaid and Medicare. If we don't reduce long-term health care inflation substantially, we can't get control of the deficit.

So, one option is just to do nothing. We say, well, it's too expensive for us to make some short-term investments in health care. We can't afford it. We've got this big deficit. Let's just keep the health care system that we've got now.

Along that trajectory, we will see health care cost as an overall share of our federal spending grow and grow and grow and grow until essentially it consumes everything...

That Medicare will bankrupt the country is beyond dispute. As I explained in the previous post, right and left are in agreement on that point. There is no way to avoid it except getting rid of the entitlement system which never should have been there in the first place. Except, the Democrats do not consider that an option.

So what Obama (and now Biden) are trying to do is use the future bankruptcy as an argument in favor of making things worse. Dramatically worse. And right now.

I'll say this for Biden; even before the election he warned us. Even though at the time a lot of people as astute as Ann Althouse were wondering precisely what he meant when he made seemingly incomprehensible statements like these:

...."We're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."

What does that mean? Obama's election would provoke an international incident because of his inexperience and even Obama's biggest supporters won't be reassured by his response?

Then there were Biden's predictions on the economy: "I promise you, you all are gonna be sitting here a year from now going, 'Oh my God, why are they there in the polls? . . . Why is this thing so tough? . . . I'm asking you now, be prepared to stick with us. Remember the faith you had at this point, because you're going to have to reinforce us.

"There are gonna be a lot of you who want to go, 'Whoa, wait a minute, yo, whoa, whoa, I don't know about that decision.' "

Biden is teling us that, at a time when Americans need to feel confidence in their government, they will be going "Oh my God." Not a great message.

You'd almost think they planned things this way.

(Things like the destruction of the economy. Revolutions have been fought over less.)

AFTERTHOUGHT: I have to say that I always considered Biden to be your basic hack politician. The lame plagiarism, his proneness to gaffes, incomprehensible remarks -- all of these things had me completely fooled.

Who would have ever thought that Joe Biden was actually a prophet of doom?

MORE: From the Congressional Budget Office Director:

Under current law, the federal budget is on an unsustainable path, because federal debt will continue to grow much faster than the economy over the long run. Although great uncertainty surrounds long-term fiscal projections, rising costs for health care and the aging of the population will cause federal spending to increase rapidly under any plausible scenario for current law. Unless revenues increase just as rapidly, the rise in spending will produce growing budget deficits.
How about simply not spending the money? Apparently, that is not an option that anyone is taking seriously. Why not?

What will inevitable happen has all been predicted for years:

In CBO's estimates, the increase in spending for Medicare and Medicaid will account for 80 percent of spending increases for the three entitlement programs between now and 2035 and 90 percent of spending growth between now and 2080. Thus, reducing overall government spending relative to what would occur under current fiscal policy would require fundamental changes in the trajectory of federal health spending. Slowing the growth rate of outlays for Medicare and Medicaid is the central long-term challenge for fiscal policy.
It is beyond dispute that spending on so-called "entitlements" will bankrupt the country. So, instead of raising basic questions about the nature of entitlements, the Obama administration wants to expand them to include everyone, thereby strangling what's left of the economy and permanently shackling the country with a socialist system.

But what if people are willing to vote for that?

What if Plato was right?

posted by Eric at 06:53 PM | Comments (1)

Why not ration the rationalizations of rationality?

In an excellent discussion of what Obamacare will mean, Rick Moran (in a piece titled "Word to the Wise: Don't Get Sick"), touches on another obnoxious idea from noted euthanasia and infanticide advocate Peter Singer: that we should ration health care.

The trouble is, Singer (an "ethicist" -- which is like calling Caligula a "moralist") seems to have a very odd definition of rationing:

Pharmaceutical manufacturers often charge much more for drugs in the United States than they charge for the same drugs in Britain, where they know that a higher price would put the drug outside the cost-effectiveness limits set by NICE. American patients, even if they are covered by Medicare or Medicaid, often cannot afford the copayments for drugs. That's rationing too, by ability to pay.
If ability to pay constitutes "rationing," then the entire free market system constitutes a gigantic rationing scheme (and hence it's OK to impose government rationing). If I buy Budweiser beer because I cannot afford Corona, then by Singer's standards, that's beer rationing. If I can't afford to fly to Tahiti this weekend, it means air travel has been "rationed."

I suppose socialists think that way, though.

No wonder it's impossible to have a rational discussion with such people.

If only they could be rationed!

posted by Eric at 02:33 PM | Comments (4)

It happens to us all

Yesterday a friend sent me a link to this picture of Madonna:


When I considered putting it in this blog, I realized that while I would be doing so for entertainment value, it's also crass and exploitative, because if we live long enough, we will all have sagging flesh. Despite my daily physical exercise routine, my flesh sags more than it used to. There is a process called gravity which Newton explored centuries ago, and against which we all must fight until we die and the process of decomposition takes over. (While it's nice to think that no one would be interested in the latter, I think that if someone had managed to sneak a web cam with a long-lasting battery inside of Michael Jackson's coffin, the public interest -- and possible revenue -- would be considerable.)

However, there is the additional issue of Madonna being a woman, as well as a shrilly left-wing woman, which leaves me open to a charge of sexism for displaying that picture. I don't know which I hate more: sexism or being accused of sexism. In that respect, I guess sexism is a bit like racism.

Double standards abound. Were I to put up a picture of an aging male actor showing his sagging flesh, no one would call that sexist, simply because I too am of the male sex. (And I can't be sexist against my own kind, can I?)

I suspect that not too many conservatives would bother accusing me of sexism, because Madonna is a flaming leftie. But suppose a liberal blogger featured the sagging skin of a conservative woman; would that be sexist? Only to conservatives? And would it matter how attractive the woman happens to be? I mean, if I uploaded an unflattering image showing Justice Sotomayor's flabby or sagging flesh, would that be more sexist than showing the sagging flesh of a sex symbol? Why? Can someone explain these rules?

I am genuinely baffled.

And I really don't care about Madonna's sagging flesh. Honest.

(Sometimes I worry that bias is like gravity.)

posted by Eric at 11:03 AM | Comments (10)

To all commenters: Your words are not junk.

I'm not enough of a geek to know exactly what to do about this, but this blog is having more and more of a problem with legitimate comments being junked. They are automatically being sent to the "junk comments" folder, where they are easily lost among the many actual junk comments which are generated by bots and thus constantly pour in.

What is happening is that over time, the more spam comments there are, the more the anti-spam software tends to treat legitimate comments as spam. It reminds me of an immune system disease-spotting process gone awry. This software is supposed to discriminate in an intelligent manner between good comments and junk comments, but it seems that as the spam comment robots get better and better at circumventing it, and as their sheer volume increases, the more ordinary comments tend to be seen as junk.

It is, simply, infuriating. I don't want to have to spend my time searching and reading through piles of junk to track down ordinary comments that were mistakenly placed there, but for the umpteenth effing time, this morning I did, and I "resurrected" dozens of comments left on a variety of posts.

The reason for this post is simply to let commenters know that I am sorry this has been happening, and that while I'm trying, I don't know whether I can totally solve this problem. For a while, even my own comments and M. Simon's comments were getting junked, so I know it's really bad. Unfortunately, so is the spam. The solution might be to upgrade the blog's software; right now it's MovableType, version 3.2 (at least I think that's the version). I've been advised to move to WordPad, but I dread the possibility of glitches with archives, and I refuse to do anything which might make old links inoperable as I think dead links make a blog look flaky. (But then, so do disappearing comments.)

The bottom line is that if you have left comments but they didn't appear, please don't take it personally. You are not being banned or discriminated against by anyone here. By their actions, the spammmers are responsible for a process that is slowly, inexorably causing human dialogue to be treated as junk. (I'd hurt them if I could, but I don't know how.)

I'm of course open to advice, and I am willing to pay to have this problem solved.

My goal of course is to write blog posts, not spend my time messing with software and coding issues.

posted by Eric at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

If MADD has run out of things to do, I'd like to help!

A New Jersey brewer has attracted the ire of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving, for naming beer after highway exits:

New Jersey craft brewer Flying Fish has attracted the attention of MADD, the NJ Turnpike Authority (NJTA), and the press for breaking the taboo with its line of beers named after exits on the New Jersey Turnpike.

The Exit 4 American Trippel was the first in the "big beer" series -- they come in 750-ml bottles -- part of "a multi-year brewing experiment to brew a series of beers as diverse as the great state of New Jersey." Exit 11, a Hoppy American Wheat Ale, will be coming later this month and is "a tribute to Woodbridge's exit, where the Turnpike meets the Garden State Parkway." Which must taste delicious...

MADD feels that "The combination of a roadway and advertising for any kind of a beer doesn't make any kind of sense."

Via Glenn Reynolds, who captions the post "WHEN ACTIVIST GROUPS RUN OUT OF THINGS TO DO."

Well, the activists at MADD may have run out of things to do, but I have not. I'm deeply concerned about another dangerous advertising combination, and I think a good argument can be made that MADD has been asleep at the wheel.

As someone MADD would consider to be a longtime victim of the alcohol industry, I'm a sucker for (or should that be of?) affordable red wine, and it just so happens that one of my favorite inexpensive California brands is called Bay Bridge wine.

Here's the label:


(I deliberately placed this dangerous product in front of an aquarium to emphasize the hazards of combining dangerous elements like water and alcohol advertising.)

While technically, the above isn't a "combination of a roadway and advertising for any kind of beer" on close examination (of the sort activists ought to do), it's actually worse, because wine has a higher alcohol content than beer. Moreover, because numerous yachts and other small water crafts sail near and directly under the Bay Bridge, the label can be said to be a tacit combination of a recreational waterway and advertising. (MADD, of course, also combats boating-under-the-influence, so you'd think they'd be leaping onto the Bay Bridge label with both feet.)

I mean for God's sake, driving, bridges, water? I cannot understand why MADD hasn't gone after what is obviously a triple threat. Have we forgotten about Ted Kennedy?


(I guess we should be glad that MADD hasn't turned its attention to other dangerous combinations -- like the religious worship of a man who turned water into wine.)

posted by Eric at 04:10 PM | Comments (4)

Baby lies can be good!

We are all taught (at least most of us are) that honesty is a virtue, and that we should not lie to people. At least, that's the ideal.

A piece by Amy Alkon that Dr. Helen linked raises the question of whether there is any duty of honesty towards assholes. Alkon lives near what used to be a regular neighborhood "drunk bar" (I call them "dive bars" and they have a certain charm) which was turned into a popular "hipster" bar, with predictablly negative quality of life consequences. Alkon discovered that asking drunken hipsters to be quiet and courteous did not work, but that they did respond when she falsely told them that their noise was disturbing the baby:

there's a good chance some team of assholes will be out in front of my house bellowing at 2 a.m. Like last night. Twice. Once at 1 a.m., and then another crew at 2 a.m.

I used to point out the proximity of the houses -- like, four feet away from where their car is parked, not behind some thick thicket of trees, and note that it's 2 a.m. and people (like me) were sleeping, and/or would like to be. This gets them combative. Even though I like to call an asshole an asshole, it appears to be an extremely counterproductive technique.

My new move is to come out and say, "Excuse me, my baby's sleeping..." Shuts the assholes right up and gets them to move, to boot. And they even apologize. Nicely. So...if you're 45 and would like to sleep, "Fuck you!"...but if you've extruded a child, "We're so sorry, Ma'am"?

What do you make of this?

Well, I happen to live near a couple of very rowdy houses which make a lot of noise at night. There's no baby here, but as Coco is my "fur child," I suppose it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to refer to her as my baby. I never thought of it before.

I like the idea of a right to lie to obnoxious drunks and other assholes, and I agree with what commenter "brian" "Toubrouk" said:

As far as I am concerned, when someone start acting like an asshole, he forfeit all the human decency I could give him. This includes all the lies I can safely tell them.
I'm tempted to ask whether this justifiable lessening of moral standards would apply to assholes who work for the government, but I'm so sick of politics I'll just leave them out of it. (Besides, in many cases it's illegal to lie to government officials, and I don't think it would be a valid legal defense to say that they were acting like assholes.)

Anyway, there's no right to bother people in their homes in residential neighborhoods. As Amy Alkon put it in a comment,

Your right to shout outside my house at 2 a.m. ends where my ears begin.
I'm enough of a privacy lover that don't even like people knocking on my door and asking for donations. I often lie to them and say I'm busy even when I'm not. I once told a Jehovah's witness I was a Pagan, although a Catholic friend later told me that if you tell them you're Catholic, they'll never return.

OTOH, I don't think people who live in commercial areas have the same right to peace and quiet as people in a residential area. As to areas zoned for multiple residences, it gets trickier. Apartment buildings are inherently noisier than single family residences, and rental dwellings tend to be noisier than homeowner occupied dwellings. Is the rule of thumb mathematical -- that the more people there are, the less entitlement there is to peace and quiet? Or is it based on fairness? There is nothing "fair" about being kept awake by noise, but if I move into an apartment which faces the parking lot of a 24 hour convenience store, I don't think that would give me the right to have the place shut down so I can sleep.

It would, however, give me the right to tell the parking lot noisemakers that they're disturbing my baby.

Why, here she is!


Coco hates obnoxious drunks (whether in convenience store parking lots or elsewhere), so I really wouldn't be lying.

MORE: Commenter brian points that I missatributed a comment from "Toubrouk" to him, as the names go below the comments.

brian's comments are well worth reading -- especially what he says to an annoying troll who calls himself a libertarian and then insults libertarians.

posted by Eric at 01:01 PM | Comments (12)

The Marginal Cost Of Life

In case you didn't catch Glenn Reynolds' must-read piece on health care this weekend:

But there's another cost that isn't getting enough attention. That's the degree to which a bureaucratized healthcare system will squash medical innovation just as we reach a point where dramatic progress is possible. To see how important that is, I don't have to look any farther than my own family.
Perhaps our medical history is more involved than most, but probably not by a lot. And yet many members of my family are living better, happier lives -- or, heck, just living -- because of medical innovations made in recent decades, innovations that probably wouldn't have been made under a government-run health system. And as medical technology progresses by leaps and bounds, the next few decades are likely to see much greater progress, unless it's throttled by bureaucrats.

There's a sense in the political class that health care costs are spiraling out of control and Something Must Be Done. But as Megan McArdle notes, pet health care costs are rising at almost exactly the same rate as human health care costs. That argues strongly that the main driver is people's increasing ability and willingness to pay for new treatments to extend their lives and the lives of those they love, number of legs notwithstanding. What's really spiraling out of control is medical progress -- and that's all to the good.

Health care is a somewhat unique good, as without it the utility of everything else can decrease (in poor health), sometimes to zero (death), so until we achieve functional immortality there's really no limit on potential demand for products and treatments that make us live longer, healthier lives.

The notion we must limit health care in the long run because we can't afford it is somewhat flawed. Consider this: at 3% growth, GDP per capita will be around $175,000 by 2059 versus about $40,000 today (yes, even adjusted for inflation). There's no reason we couldn't spend up to 90% of that new $135,000 on health care, as opposed to other luxuries that only provide utility as long as you're healthy and alive; in fact, it would be entirely rational to do so.

posted by Dave at 11:27 AM | Comments (6)

India or China?

One of these days I'm going to have to figure out why I find politics so depressing.

But it was a pleasant distraction from politics to be asked recently which country I'd rather live in, India or China.

I had to put on my thinking cap, and think long and hard.

My answer was China, but at the time I had not seen this:


Of course, dying dogs is not nearly as bad as clubbing them to death, skinning them for their coats, or eating them.

India, OTOH, generally has more reverence for animals (although allowing "sacred" cows to block traffic might be carrying things too far).

I don't think I'd see too many scenes like this in China:


I suspect I'd be more likely to see this:


I have to admit, scenes like that bring out genuine hatred in me towards the people who are doing it. (I disagree vehemently with PETA and many animal rights activists that dogs are the moral equivalent of pigs and cattle, as I believe dogs are unique among animals as being literally "man's best friend," and that they have earned the right to not lightly be betrayed as they are in certain countries.) But animals are only a small part of the equation. I don't like China's policies towards human beings, which includes running gulags, harvesting organs from convicted criminals (including political criminals), government censorship, and a intrusive statism of the totalitarian variety -- which Americans would theoretically lay down their lives to prevent. At least, many generations have.

So in addition to its better treatment of animals, in terms of its treatment of people, India the democracy wins hands down. However, from a purely esthetic standpoint, India has many more undesirable features than China; it is more dirty, more overpopulated, has worse food quality, worse water quality, and probably worse air quality. I love Chinese art, Chinese food, and the Chinese attitude towards business. India in general I find more depressing than China. (I have visited both countries, BTW.)

Which country is more free? In terms of ranking, they're not as different as you might think. Heritage Foundation gives India a World Ranking of 123:

India's economic freedom score is 54.4, making its economy the 123rd freest in the 2009 Index. Its score is only 0.3 point higher than last year because improvements in financial freedom, government size, and business freedom were offset by significant decreases in investment freedom and labor freedom. India is ranked 25th out of 41 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and its overall score is below the world average.
China gets a Heritage rank of 132:
China's economic freedom score is 53.2, making its economy the 132nd freest in the 2009 Index. Its overall score is essentially unchanged from last year. China is ranked 28th out of 41 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and its overall score is slightly lower than the global and regional averages.
By way of contrast, the United States is ranked 6th:
The United States' economic freedom score is 80.7, making its economy the 6th freest in the 2009 Index. Its score is 0.3 point lower than last year, reflecting declines in five of the 10 economic freedoms. The United States is ranked 1st out of three countries in the North America region, and its overall score is much higher than the world average.
As I thought it over, it struck me that while any lack of freedom is depressing (and thus it would be depressing to live in any country in which freedom is lacking), there is a critical difference between India and China, which matters more than their respective rankings.

That is the issue of who's to blame.

Many of the things I don't like about China can be blamed on the totalitarian government, but not on the people themselves. India being a democracy, to the extent the government is messing things up, the people themselves are theoretically for it, else why would they have voted for it?

This may sound odd, but if I have to live under a tyrannical regime, I'd rather live under one which people didn't vote for than under one which people did vote for.

I'd rather think of the government as being the bad guy than the people as being the bad guys.

Simply math dictates that the more people you hate, the less happy you are. So, it's less depressing to hate people who run governments than people who vote for governments, because you hate fewer people that way.

MORE: I edited the sickening picture of dead food dogs in China after a complaint. (Those who want to see the full original can simply click on the altered version.)

posted by Eric at 11:16 AM | Comments (8)

Free Health Care

You can see an excellent video that explores the Canadian Health Care system at the link. The bottom line? The Canadian system is a two tier system. The poor get long waits (leading to injury and death) the rich buy their health care.

Here is the health care bill Congress is preparing to vote on. If you want to see the results watch the video.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

Climate Models Are Not So Hot

It looks like the scientists who have predicted unending global warming caused by CO2 emissions may be in serious error.

No one knows exactly how much Earth's climate will warm due to carbon emissions, but a new study this week suggests scientists' best predictions about global warming might be incorrect. The study, which appears in Nature Geoscience, found that climate models explain only about half of the heating that occurred during a well-documented period of rapid global warming in Earth's ancient past. The study, which was published online today, contains an analysis of published records from a period of rapid climatic warming about 55 million years ago known as the Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum, or PETM.

"In a nutshell, theoretical models cannot explain what we observe in the geological record," said oceanographer Gerald Dickens, a co-author of the study and professor of Earth science at Rice University. "There appears to be something fundamentally wrong with the way temperature and carbon are linked in climate models."

If this study holds up we are going to be wasting vast sums of money (robbed is a better term) if Waxman-Malarkey passes the Senate.

This is nothing new for regular readers of this blog. I have thought for a long time that the models were not well connected to reality. What is new is that the nails are getting more frequently pounded into the AGW coffin. People are starting to lose faith - especially considering the cold summer we have been having in much of the USA.

Consider a couple of books that have come out in the last year:

Air Con: The Seriously Inconvenient Truth About Global Warming

Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science

It seems that the faith is starting to lose adherents. It seems that the science is not so settled.

Even the guys at Real Climate are starting to hedge their bets.

Nature (with hopefully some constructive input from humans) will decide the global warming question based upon climate sensitivity, net radiative forcing, and oceanic storage of heat, not on the type of multi-decadal time scale variability we are discussing here. However, this apparent impulsive behavior explicitly highlights the fact that humanity is poking a complex, nonlinear system with GHG forcing - and that there are no guarantees to how the climate may respond.
Say, weren't they very big promoters of "the science is settled" meme. Yes they were. I guess that now a days the science is not so settled. Some one call Al Gore. Stat.

H/T VG at Watts Up With That

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:04 PM | Comments (2)

Good news! From China!

I am so relieved that Chinese government has decided to stop "treating" sufferers of "Internet addiction" with electric shock therapy!

BEIJING (AP) -- China's Health Ministry has ordered a hospital to stop using electric shock therapy to cure youths of Internet addiction, saying there was no scientific evidence it worked.

Linyi Mental Health Hospital in eastern Shandong province used the treatment as part of a four-month program that has so far treated nearly 3,000 youths, the China Youth Daily newspaper has reported, citing the psychiatrist who runs it, Yang Yongxin.

The ministry said in a statement posted on its Web site late Monday there is no domestic or international clinical evidence that electric shock therapy helps cure Internet addiction. Electric shock therapy is most often used to treat severe depression.

Chinese psychologists say symptoms of Internet addiction include being online more than six hours a day -- playing games and looking at pornography rather than working or studying -- and getting angry when unable to get online.

My router conked out the other day and I had to turn everything off in order to reset the thing. Oh the pain!

You should have heard me swear!

Of course, thanks to my Internet addiction, I learned that swearing is good for my pain.

I'm glad it's getting harder to be shocked, but I'll be damned if I don't swear the whole shocking thing reminds me of this:

posted by Eric at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

Palin Climate Change

Sarah Palin has a few words to say about climate change.

There is no shortage of threats to our economy. America's unemployment rate recently hit its highest mark in more than 25 years and is expected to continue climbing. Worries are widespread that even when the economy finally rebounds, the recovery won't bring jobs. Our nation's debt is unsustainable, and the federal government's reach into the private sector is unprecedented.

Unfortunately, many in the national media would rather focus on the personality-driven political gossip of the day than on the gravity of these challenges. So, at risk of disappointing the chattering class, let me make clear what is foremost on my mind and where my focus will be:

I am deeply concerned about President Obama's cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage.

American prosperity has always been driven by the steady supply of abundant, affordable energy. Particularly in Alaska, we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security. Consequently, many of us in this huge, energy-rich state recognize that the president's cap-and-trade energy tax would adversely affect every aspect of the U.S. economy.

So true. The fact that we now have a politician with a national audience speaking out on this issue is a wonderful thing. There is now a former candidate for Vice President speaking out against former Vice President Al Gore. Wonderful news. Maybe the US Senate will grow a spine and vote down Waxman-Malarkey.

Sarah goes on to say:

Job losses are so certain under this new cap-and-tax plan that it includes a provision accommodating newly unemployed workers from the resulting dried-up energy sector, to the tune of $4.2 billion over eight years. So much for creating jobs.

In addition to immediately increasing unemployment in the energy sector, even more American jobs will be threatened by the rising cost of doing business under the cap-and-tax plan. For example, the cost of farming will certainly increase, driving down farm incomes while driving up grocery prices. The costs of manufacturing, warehousing and transportation will also increase.

The ironic beauty in this plan? Soon, even the most ardent liberal will understand supply-side economics.

In other Palin news some one promoting her political career says she is not leading a conservative movement.
During the 2008 election Republican candidates touted their conservative credentials. Often, it seemed that one only had to use the phrase "conservative" to pass muster for the base of the Republican Party. By its definition, conservatism is traditionalism, it is the status quo, it is the antithesis of change. The mistake that many Republicans make is that they have relegated themselves to being so-called Conservatives. Is America's political memory so short that Republican values would be considered "conservative?"

Sarah Palin stands for energy independence, limited government, free enterprise, and individual liberty. Are these "conservative" values? Let us not forget that in their day and time our founding fathers were radicals fighting those who wanted to maintain the political status-quo; subjugation to the king. Their sense of individual rights and liberty is historically progressive when you compare alternative political systems, monarchies, empires, totalitarian states. Republicans have forgotten their progressive roots and Democrats have cornered the market on their so-called progressive solutions for America.

The Democratic Party now nearly completely in control of the Federal government, is in fact regressive, conservative, and pushing the nation back to its colonial roots; subjugation to the king, who now sits in Washington D.C. It is the Liberals who are out of the mainstream of America, it is they who want to turn over individual liberty to Federal overseers. What have we become as citizens when we allow a virtual monarch to sit in the city named after one of our great liberators? Will we be free citizens or colonists toiling for tribute to send to Washington?

It is not conservative to advocate for personal liberty or to empower the individual to achieve their own American dream.

It is not conservative to advocate for strong national defense. It is not conservative to keep government limited in order to protect the rights and freedoms of the individual.

It is not conservative to allow free enterprise, innovation, and creativity to drive the national economy.

These are not conservative principles, these are uniquely American principles.

I urge Democrats, Republicans, and Independents who believe in these principles to stop calling themselves "conservatives" as if that label separates them from the mainstream of American society. If you agree with Sarah Palin, and advocate these principles then you're not a conservative, you're an American. This is not a conservative movement, this is an American movement, and one of the most progressive movements in human history.

Sarah Palin the new Progressive? Talk about taking back the language. And Palin as the leader of a movement? I like it.

I also like Palin in in a swimsuit. And why not? I love women in American motif bikinis. Beauty contest entrants in swim suits don't seem very conservative to me.

Me? I'm not very conservative either. I'm more of the libertarian persuasion. As far as I can tell Sarah governed as a libertarian. In fact the themes she propounds are very libertarian. And libertarian ideals are a very American governing philosophy. Socialism is a European import. My grandparents left Europe to get away from that sort of thing. And I'm not interested in it either.

H/T Watts Up With That

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:09 AM | Comments (7)

High priced altruism, with zero deductible!

One of my objections to socialized medicine is that it would require people who don't abuse the system to pay for people who do.

Like Ricky Alardo:

Ricky Alardo, a homeless alcoholic nicknamed Ricky Ricardo, swigs cheap vodka by day at his favorite corner in Washington Heights, then calls an ambulance to chauffeur him to the hospital for a free meal and a warm place to sleep, courtesy of taxpayers who fund his Medicaid benefits.

For a chronic caller like Alardo -- who phones 911 four or five times a week -- the annual medical bill can be as high as $300,000. Over 13 years, the length of time he has been abusing the emergency room, he has cost the medical system an estimated $3.9 million.

There's more, and it's a classic example of what happens when people know that someone else is picking up the tab. People who pay their own way or have major-medical style policies with high deductibles simply aren't going to behave like that.

But if the government takes everything over, there will be no incentive not to act like Ricky Alardo.

And no way to opt out.

It's easy to say that health care is a right. (As I explained in this post, I disagree, which along with a quarter couple of dollars, will might buy me a cup of coffee.)

But what is health care? Free ambulance rides to the ER whenever someone has a sore throat? If I don't do things like that, I resent the hell out of having to pay for people who do, and I think a lot of others feel the same way.

Once again, Are strangers entitled to more from me than I give myself?

MORE: Using an outdated figure of speech above, I mistakenly suggested that a cup of coffee could be purchased for a quarter. (My bad.)

posted by Eric at 06:41 PM | Comments (6)

If you don't like musical torture, you're a bigot!

I wish people would just calm down a bit and quit it with musical taste inquisitions. I realize that it is normal in high school to criticize the musical taste of your peers, and get all defensive about your own, but the idea that not liking certain music is racist just goes too far. Glenn Reynolds' link goes to Reason's look back at a 1979 anti-disco riot:

At the time the [anti-disco] riot was widely seen as a moment of rock'n'roll rebellion. Since then, as disco's image has been rehabilitated, critics and historians have noted that the music was associated closely with blacks, Hispanics, and especially gays. So now you're more likely to hear the riot described in terms of intolerance. Something I haven't seen anyone explore -- if you know of someone who has, please tell me -- is the fact that this happened around the same time that elements of the Christian right had revived the practice of burning rock records....
(Um, maybe -- but to be fair, didn't they at least play them backwards first to detect hidden Satanic messages?)

A record burner I was not. But one of the things I most hated about the 1970s was disco, which I associated with the kind of fashion-victim type gays who couldn't relax because they were so jazzed on coke and just wanted to screw without taking the time to know who they were screwing. Fine for them, but not for me. (Music I don't like is fine with me as long as I don't have to hear it.) I didn't associate disco with blacks or Hispanics; in fact I associated it more with John Travolta, and the BeeGees -- especially on the hetero side of the disco equation. I thought it was corporate, mass consumption crap, and I was delighted by the appearance of punk rock, which I considered fresh and rebellious. While I had endured the disco cabarets when I was dragged there by friends who liked them (and I usually had a bad time), I loved to go to a place called the Mabuhay Gardens, which featured new and emerging punk bands. But mostly I just stuck with the Grateful Dead.

Was I being racist? It never crossed my mind until today that anyone could even concoct such an idea. Now that I think about it, hating John Travolta and the BeeGees could not have been racist, although I suppose that because Travolta's a Scientologist and the BeeGees British, I could be called an anti-religious bigot and a xenophobe for not liking them.

Hey, lots of people hated the Grateful Dead too! (And I mean, really, really hated, in the full sense of the word.) What sort of discrimination might they be guilty of? Interesting enough, had I been subjected to an intra-deadhead inquisition, I would not have have fared well. Because many Deadheads -- especially the older, "true Hippie" generation -- regarded not only disco but new wave and punk rock (which they called "puke rock") with the kind of moralistic, self-righteous disdain of the sort normally associated with smug fundamentalists, or smug environmentalists. They also sneered at obvious gays and people with short spiky haircuts as if they were beneath contempt, and obviously not belonging at a Dead show. (To be fair, most deadheads would not have been welcome in gay cabarets, and I doubt they'd have made it past the snotty, arrogant doormen.)

Today, it just so happens that I don't like rap music. Especially when it pounds through walls and keeps me awake at night, I consider it musical torture. Is that racist of me? (Surely hating rap can't be "homophobic," so I won't go there.) I've been sick of rap for so long that I'm sick of being sick of it. Does it matter whether the households that generate this noise (and the drivers which blast the same stuff at ear-rupturing volumes out of their vehicles) are young, white, and seemingly heterosexual? In order to make out a case of racism against me, shouldn't they have to be black?

Not, apparently, to those who run the musical taste inquisition.

People have different tastes and they are often judged by their tastes. One man's taste is another man's torture. As it is, I consider the music I dislike but can't escape to be nearly as hellish as an auto-da-fe.

What is not fair is to adjudge someone a bigot for not liking certain music. It's about as reasonable as calling people bigots for not liking torture.

(OTOH, if I didn't have to hear what I don't like, I wouldn't have to hate it, would I? There's probably a paradox in there somewhere....)

posted by Eric at 12:32 PM | Comments (11)

Upsetting The Political Apple Cart

Sarah Palin is upsetting the political apple cart by promising to support Republicans and Democrats who support her agenda. Here is an excerpt from the Washington Times posted at the above link.

The former Republican vice-presidential nominee and heroine to much of the GOP's base said in an interview she views the electorate as embattled and fatigued by nonstop partisanship, and she is eager to campaign for Republicans, independents and even Democrats who share her values on limited government, strong defense and "energy independence."

"I will go around the country on behalf of candidates who believe in the right things, regardless of their party label or affiliation," ...

"People are so tired of the partisan stuff -- even my own son is not a Republican," said Mrs. Palin...

Republicans and Democrats? That sounds like it might be a libertarian oriented coalition. Fiscally conservative and socially moderate.

And who might the Republican's be upset with in particular? None other than Illinois Representative Mark Kirk who the Republican Party is touting as a candidate for Obama's old Senate seat.

As one of the eight Republicans who helped a controversial energy and climate-change bill narrowly clear the U.S. House last week, Mark Kirk continues to take heat from members of his own party for the vote.

Much of the backlash has been anonymous, coming from critics who habituate, local political message boards and other Web sites. Using screen names like "Right," "Fedup57" and "Reaganlives," they've called the Highland Park lawmaker a traitor to the GOP and the nation.

Other detractors -- including conservative broadcasters Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck -- signed their invectives.

"If you have a Republican voting for this kind of government, what is the point?" Beck said on his June 29 Fox News program as photos of Kirk and the seven other Republicans who supported the bill appeared on a mock "wanted" poster.

Rep. Kirk touted his vote as a "national security" vote. I would believe it if he had voted to make it easier to drill for American oil. But Waxman-Malarkey? Give me a break.

I have covered this joke of a Republican earlier in a couple of posts:
Mark Kirk Is No Traitor

Brain Dead Republican Enhances Party Image Here is how I started off that post:

And THIS abomination my friends is why the Republican party is in trouble. Big trouble.
Let me note that Alaska, where Palin was formerly the Governor, has effectively decriminalized marijuana.

So getting back to the topic at hand. I think Palin will do well in an era where "independent" is the largest and fastest growing political faction. Not to mention all the disaffected Republicans and PUMA Democrats. It looks to me like she is trying to revive the Reagan Coalition. She just might succeed.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:21 PM | Comments (6)

There are some things a weasel or a snake wouldn't do....

Regular readers may recall that I have long considered John Dean to be one of the most despicable characters in American politics.

Not that I'm alone in my assessment. For years the man has been called a rat, and while "weasel" might be more accurate, such terms do a clear disservice to the animals involved. I'm sure he's been called a "snake" too, but snakes are only acting like snakes, just as weasels only act like weasels. I think "serial perjurer" is less anthropomorphic, and does not drag animals into logically unwarranted (and unfair) comparisons with humans.

Of course, because John Dean (who actually tried to claim the mantle of Barry Goldwater) spent years as one of the most vicious of Bush and Cheney bashers -- the whole while being portrayed as a "conservative" -- he is much loved by the left. No doubt, they can be expected to support him where it counts, and prop up his constantly unraveling version of Watergate.

The problem Dean faces is that Watergate history has never been settled. Historians remain puzzled over precisely who ordered the burglary, and why.

Dean, however, has devoted much of his life to suing people who have attempted to reexamine Watergate history. Like Len Colodny, Robert Gettlin, G. Gordon Liddy, St. Martin's Press, et al.

Recently (via Glenn Reynolds's link to a great post by Don Surber), I learned that Dean's latest move was to threaten to sue a history professor who posted and quoted Dean's own words. Why? Because the professor (Luke Nichter from Texas A&M) noticed what others have noticed -- Dean's disavowal of his own book on Watergate:

Dean, the former White House counsel whose damning testimony led to President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974, is continuing what critics call a pattern of frivolous lawsuits meant to stifle questions about his role in Watergate. Now, a historian who runs a Web site dedicated to the Nixon tapes is feeling that pressure.

"I want to minimize my legal exposure," said Luke Nichter, the Texas A&M professor who runs, and who dropped two audio files from his Web site after receiving threats from Dean demanding that they be removed.

"It's an incident of a much broader pattern that this is how Dean treats people who present information contrary to his views."

Nichter had posted a 1989 phone call in which Dean disavowed the accuracy of his memoir, "Blind Ambition," the national bestseller that helped establish the public's view of the conspiracy to break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in 1972.

Dean's book, key portions of which he says were made up by ghostwriter Taylor Branch, was reissued over the summer. Perhaps that is why Dean doesn't want people to know about his past disavowal.
Nichter set those admissions against a 4-minute tape from a June 2009 speech Dean gave at the Nixon Library promoting the re-release of his memoir. Dean's new edition did not change the content he has disavowed as the creation of zealous editors, though he added a 95-page afterword.

"I merely wanted to bring these contradictions to light and thought I was doing a service, but Dean was absolutely mortified when he found out that I had these materials," Nichter told

I don't think Dean should be allowed to get away with this -- his claim of "copyright" notwithstanding. If you want to hear the recording of his disavowal, it is still to be found here along with the transcript.

According to legal experts, the copyright claim flies in the face of the fair use doctrine, but of course, no one wants to be sued:

Dean argued that the recordings were made without his consent and violated his common law copyright, meaning that no one had the right to publish his speech and conversation in their entirety without his consent.

Legal experts contacted by said that could not publish Dean's entire speech, but could run segments without Dean's approval, which is what Nichter was doing before he received the warning from Dean.

"To the extent that the Web site used the speech to comment on or criticize Dean, it may well have a strong fair-use argument," said Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney with the Electric Frontier Foundation. That would allow to provide a portion of the audio without Dean's authorization.

And common law copyright wouldn't cover the informal conversation in the 1989 phone call, said Professor Tyler S. Ochoa of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law. Even if it were applied in court, "it is outweighed by the interest in free speech," he said.

The legal issue has nothing to do with the merits of underlying dispute over Watergate or the details of the burglary. It involves the right to discuss history freely.

That's why we have the First Amendment.

And, by suing and attempting to intimidate historians and authors with his legal threats, Dean is demonstrating his contempt for history as well as the First Amendment:

Several authors and journalists who spoke to said Dean uses the threat of litigation as a bullying tactic to silence his critics. Some would not speak for fear of being sued by Dean, including Jim Hougan, who wrote the first revisionist history of Watergate, 1984's "Secret Agenda."

"I can't talk about this because I am afraid John Dean will sue me," Hougan wrote in an e-mail to Hougan was one of many targets in a lawsuit instigated by Dean in 1992.

"He's very quick to react and threaten legal action and most of the time people back down," Nichter said.

Dean has also threatened FOX News correspondent James Rosen with a lawsuit over his 2008 biography of former Attorney General John Mitchell, "The Strong Man," which pointed to Dean as the leading figure in the planning of Watergate.

I should point out here something I have pointed out before: that Jim Hougan was the first to notice the discrepancies in Dean's story.

While Wiki entries on the subject of Dean's disavowals and discrepancies are notorious for being whitewashed, I was surprised to find that as of today, the entry for Dean's ghostwriter (the distinguished, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch) says this:

In October 1976, Simon & Schuster published Blind Ambition, which purports to be, mainly, a Watergate-related memoir by John Dean, the former White House Counsel to President Richard Nixon. On several occasions, Taylor Branch has publicly stated that he was the ghostwriter for this book. John Dean has denied this, and in 1995 gave sworn deposition-testimony that Taylor Branch actually wrote large sections of the book without his (Mr. Dean's) participation, knowledge, or approval. John Dean claimed furthermore that these sections written by Taylor Branch were partially fictional. Taylor Branch has, in turn, denied John Dean's claims, and continues to assert, including on his website (cited below under "External links"), that he was, in fact, the ghostwriter for "Blind Ambition," and that all of the book's content originated with Dean.
While I don't think Dean would dare sue Taylor Branch, in addition to the threats against Nichter and Hougan, there's Dean's threat to sue FOX News correspondent and author James Rosen.

Last year, Rosen wrote a biography of former Attorney General John Mitchell. In the course of his years of research, it became clear to him that the conventional version of the burglary whodunit (Dean says Mitchell ordered it) was wrong, and that it was Dean himself who ordered the burglary for personal reasons. Obviously, this poses problems for Dean, because his testimony sent John Mitchell to prison, and if that testimony was false, then Dean becomes more than just a liar, and more than just a rat. Little wonder he's threatening to sue.

Here's an interview with Rosen:

Whether or not John Dean was lying, and whether or not his false testimony sent John Mitchell to prison, the fact is that John Mitchell is as dead as Richard Nixon, so these things are not considered to be of earthshaking relevance to most people today. They're of interest mainly to historians and political junkies.

But the idea that certain unsettled historical facts should be off limits to historians because John Dean says so, that ought to offend everyone.

I'd even go so far as to say that a weasel or a snake would be offended, but that would be too anthropomorphic.

posted by Eric at 12:42 PM | Comments (6)

Climate Change Prevented

The G8 last week decreed that the governments of the world were going to work real hard to prevent the global temperature from rising more than 2° C.

When King Canute of lore wanted to teach his citizens a lesson, he set his throne by the seashore and commanded the tides to roll out. Canute's spirit was back in business this week at the G-8 summit in Italy, where the assembled leaders declared that the world's temperature shall not rise: "We recognize the scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2 degrees [Celsius]," or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, said the summit declaration.
Hmm. Pre-industrial levels. Well let us have a look at pre-industrial levels. Fortunately I have a chart.

Global temps
Click for larger view.

From the chart we see that the current global temperature is about 12° C and in pre-industrial times it was as high as 22° C. So to rise no more than 2° C above the pre-industrial era all we have to do is keep the global temperatures below 24° C. Since according to the chart global temperatures have never risen above 22° C - problem solved.

This is wonderful news. No carbon taxing scheme will be required. Quick - some one tell Congress before Cap and Trade passes.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:57 AM | Comments (1)

A princely move

I don't know what readers might think, but I think what is happening here is a classic Machiavellian strategy:

...[Attorney General] Holder, 58, may be on the verge of asserting his independence in a profound way. Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do. While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter. Such a decision would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama's domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform. Holder knows all this, and he has been wrestling with the question for months. "I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda," he says. "But that can't be a part of my decision."

Holder is not a natural renegade. His first instinct is to shy away from confrontation, to search for common ground....

The thesis of Newsweek's uncritical analysis is that Holder (who rammed through notoriously unethical pardons at Clinton's behest in disregard of normal processes, over the objections of underlings) is now acting on his own, even against the wishes of Barack Obama, and is driven by an "independent conscience."

Excuse me while I gag, but I think it's a classic good-cop/bad-cop routine, and I hope the public is not dumb enough to fall for it.

Of course, regardless of what happens, Obama (with media help of course) can spin this to his advantage. If the fallout is negative, he can move against Holder at any time, say he exceeded his authority, and be spun as a hero for preventing an injustice and moving the country on. OTOH, were the move to prove popular, well it's his Justice Department, and he can claim credit for it. Either way, the leftie base is delighted, for Bush prosecutions are what they've been drooling for for years.

But I'm sure there will be those who imagine that this represents "justice," and that Holder is driven by his own internal moral compass....

Yeah, and there's a sucker born every minute. (One of the truest maxims of life -- even though no one takes the credit for it.)

posted by Eric at 09:18 AM | Comments (1)

A Little Science Advice

John Holdren, Obama's Science Adviser has some advice for curing the ills of the globe and especially America.

* Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether they wanted to or not;
* The population at large could be sterilized by infertility drugs intentionally put into the nation's drinking water or in food;
* Single mothers and teen mothers should have their babies seized from them against their will and given away to other couples to raise;
* People who "contribute to social deterioration" (i.e. undesirables) "can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility" -- in other words, be compelled to have abortions or be sterilized.
* A transnational "Planetary Regime" should assume control of the global economy and also dictate the most intimate details of Americans' lives -- using an armed international police force.
It is all laid out in John's 1977 book Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment.
But what's especially disturbing is not that Holdren has merely made these proposals -- wrenching babies from their mothers' arms and giving them away; compelling single mothers to prove in court that they would be good parents; and forcing women to have abortions, whether they wanted to or not -- but that he does so in such a dispassionate, bureaucratic way.
Ah shades of Margret Sanger and the Eugenics movement. She was somewhat popular in the USA but the place where they really took this kind of thinking to heart was Germany in the 1930s and 40s. Do we really want to go there? Is this President ∅'s plan? He hasn't said. I guess we will have to watch and wait.

Here is an article about Sanger that is really disturbing.

...Dr. Harry Laughlin, another Sanger associate and board member for her group, spoke of purifying America's human "breeding stock" and purging America's "bad strains." These "strains" included the "shiftless, ignorant, and worthless class of antisocial whites of the South."

Not to be outdone by her followers, Margaret Sanger spoke of sterilizing those she designated as "unfit," a plan she said would be the "salvation of American civilization.: And she also spike of those who were "irresponsible and reckless," among whom she included those "whose religious scruples prevent their exercising control over their numbers." She further contended that "there is no doubt in the minds of all thinking people that the procreation of this group should be stopped." That many Americans of African origin constituted a segment of Sanger considered "unfit" cannot be easily refuted.

It might be a very good idea to keep an eye on these folks. They may not exactly have our best interests at heart.

H/T crosspatch at Watts Up With That

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:17 AM | Comments (1)

Messianic anti-Zionism?

I have long believed that anti-Zionism is basically a thinly disguised form of anti-Semitism.

But what about Jewish anti-Zionism? Is that a rare thing?

Maybe not. If these numbers are accurate, there is an undeniable contrast between the thinking of American Jews and the thinking of Israeli Jews. A contrast so large as to raise legitimate questions about the extent of Jewish anti-Zionism in the United States:

Barack Hussein Obama received nearly eighty percent of the Jewish vote and still garners strong approval among America's Jews. In contrast, only six percent of Jewish Israelis support Obama.
That is a huge divergence of opinion, and it leads me to wonder about several things.

First of all, it belies the conspiratorial claim that the scheming Jews are of one mind. In fact, it makes me wonder whether American Jews (whom the author calls "sycophantic American brethren") are in fact reliable allies of Israel.

The whole piece is depressing as hell to read, and I guess I can hope the author (Abraham H. Miller, emeritus professor of political science and a former head of the Intelligence Studies Section of the International Studies Association) is wrong. Unlike Israeli Jews, he argues, American Jews embrace victimhood, and thus dislike Israel:

Obama's anti-Israel stand will not find opposition in the Jewish community; it will find endorsement. Liberal American Jews embrace victimhood. The idea of a tough Israel willing to defend itself is counter to the psychological needs of the liberal American Jewish community, needs that might best be described as battered-wife syndrome. If Palestinians in Gaza launch missiles at Sderot, it is because Israel has done something wrong. "Oh, Palestinians only launch missiles and suicide bombers because they have no other way to protest. If only Israel gave them more land. If only Israel took up the road blocks. If only Israel apologized to them for causing them to blow up pizza parlors, discos, and shopping malls. If only Israel understood their culture."
Do most American Jews really think that way? Professor Miller thinks so, and he has more:
Obama represents the wedge between Israelis and liberal American Jews. For the latter, Obama still garners high numbers in the polls; among the former, it is hard to find an Israeli Jew who does not understand the threat Obama presents to his very survival.

Liberal Jews are generally a secular people, but they are not a godless people, and in Barack Obama, they have certainly found their messiah.

Can this actually be true? Do the majority of American Jews really see Obama as their messiah?

I hope not. But if they do, I guess that wrecks another common stereotype....

posted by Eric at 12:04 PM | Comments (7)

Yesterday Was Nikola Tesla's Birthday

Well not actually. It was the 153 Anniversary of his birthday. So I'm a day late. No matter. Tesla is always interesting.

If you would like to read some Tesla in his own words (plus some other really whacked out sh*t) I really like this book:

The Fantastic Inventions of Nikola Tesla (The Lost Science Series)

It also shows the limits of Tesla's understanding of what he was doing. For those of you into electricity/electronics the deal is that he did not understand Q multiplication and circulating currents in resonant circuits. It doesn't matter. His invention of three phase generators and motors (still in use for power distribution to this day) would be enough of a contribution to civilization for any man.

And what would a (late) celebration of Tesla's Birthday be without a Tesla coil?


Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:23 AM | Comments (1)

Biggest Con In History

Ian Plimer says human induced global warming is the biggest con trick in history.

Imagine how wonderful the world would be if man-made global warming were just a figment of Al Gore's imagination. No more ugly wind farms to darken our sunlit uplands. No more whopping electricity bills, artificially inflated by EU-imposed carbon taxes. No longer any need to treat each warm, sunny day as though it were some terrible harbinger of ecological doom. And definitely no need for the $7.4 trillion cap and trade (carbon-trading) bill -- the largest tax in American history -- which President Obama and his cohorts are so assiduously trying to impose on the US economy.

Imagine no more, for your fairy godmother is here. His name is Ian Plimer, Professor of Mining Geology at Adelaide University, and he has recently published the landmark book Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science, which is going to change forever the way we think about climate change.

'The hypothesis that human activity can create global warming is extraordinary because it is contrary to validated knowledge from solar physics, astronomy, history, archaeology and geology,' says Plimer, and while his thesis is not new, you're unlikely to have heard it expressed with quite such vigour, certitude or wide-ranging scientific authority. Where fellow sceptics like Bjorn Lomborg or Lord Lawson of Blaby are prepared cautiously to endorse the International Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) more modest predictions, Plimer will cede no ground whatsoever. Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory, he argues, is the biggest, most dangerous and ruinously expensive con trick in history.

So true. But it was never ever about global warming as far as those in government pushing the bill are concerned. It is about raising taxes. Massive taxes. And trying to sell that tax raise as a "do gooder" project.

It seems more like a no gooder doo doo project to me designed to destroy the American economy

Here is a chart of two different temperature series (UAH in black, RSS in red) done by Steve McIntyre and posted at Watts Up With That.

Global Temps to June 2009

Any one see a global warming signal in that chart? Me either.

And yet some people still believe global warming is real. They find my lack of faith disturbing. I find their lack of contact with reality disturbing.

H/T commenter Theo Lichacz at Watts Up With That

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

Hungry For Life

Glenn links another calorie restriction study, but I'm skeptical the benefits will extend to humans, even if we develop drugs based on these diets.

These studies are all of things that live much shorter lives than we do. Most likely, the diet causes them to express genes that we express regardless of our diet, such as intracellular antioxidant genes that slow down the rate of mitochondrial replication error and other DNA repair mechanisms . This confers an evolutionary advantage for them, because they will survive through lean times and be able to reproduce again when conditions are better; species that did not have this tendency would tend to die out in those lean times.

You may have noticed humans have somewhat unusual longevity; there are a few mammals that live longer than we do, but not many. We are also unique in another way: we are one of the few species that survives well past reproductive viability (i.e., post-menopause). We evolved this way because it maximizes the benefit of our primary, peculiar advantage: our brains. We learn, and pass what we learn on to our young. This behavior is so valuable to the species that evolution has a use for us even after we can't reproduce -- so it's likely we are already maxing out this kind of gene expression.

I'm as transhumanist as anyone, but I would be very surprised if the benefit was more than 1-2% in humans. Given the pre-existing evolutionary pressure to maximize human lifespan, I don't think we will see significant gene-based extension of human life span until we have the processing power to model protein folding such that we can design artificial genes to splice into ourselves, picking up the design process where Nature left off.

posted by Dave at 03:55 PM | Comments (5)

"proudly ignorant, incredibly smug, incredibly anti-cosmopolitan"

Nearly everyone has been talking or writing about Sarah Palin, and while that makes me feel that I should write another post about her, the notion of "should" acts as a deterrent, and makes me want not to.

But thanks to an email from a friend, finally my neurosis has waned a bit.

I have long found myself fascinated by the amount of hatred she seems to generate without having to do much of anything. As Glenn Reynolds said in the LA Times the other day,

Palin managed to dominate the airwaves and political chatter even amid all the Michael Jackson bathos. What other Republican figure could have made such a splash?
None I can think of. (Unless maybe Larry Craig were caught tapping his foot in the direction of Barack Obama, I suppose....)

Explaining the reaction to Sarah Palin is not easy. Certainly it is not grounded in her conservative politics, for plenty of people (male and female) share similar politics, and they do not generate such extreme, visceral reactions. Seriously, it's almost as if Sarah Palin provides a lightning rod for now-homeless sufferers of Bush Dementia Syndrome with no place to go. Perhaps BDS represents more an addiction than a disease, and Palin offers them a perverse "fix."

In that regard, some of the stuff Michelle Goldberg says in this video debate with Ann Althouse that Glenn Reynolds linked the other day is priceless.

Palin, says Goldberg, is "delusional to the point of being clinical" if she thinks she can be president. (Similar things were probably said about Reagan. And Thatcher.) Goldberg goes on to explain that "the idea that Sarah Palin looks at the work that Barack Obama has done or for that matter any president has done, and thinks 'I could do that,' is delusional."

The work Barack Obama has done? What on earth can that mean? Does Goldberg think that Sarah Palin is incapable of wrecking the economy too?

Godberg also hated the way Sarah Palin "kept winking" and was offended by what she called her "little folkisms." Well how come it was fine when Hillary winked? Or when she "talked Southern"? (Can it be that a Wellesley degree conveys a special license to wink, and to talk Southuhn?)

After listening patiently to this tirade, Althouse finally asked this:

"Why is she bugging you so much?"
Citing what she called Palin's "vulgar and mindless ambition" and chiding the Republicans for selecting what she called a "pitiful imitation of the real thing," Goldbern went on to explain that "part of the reason I hate her" (yes, at least this liberal was honest enough to publicly admit hating) the following:
probably part of the same reason I hated George Bush....she's you know the apotheosis of a kind of proudly ignorant, incredibly smug, incredibly anti-cosmopolitan...."
I guess it is BDS after all. Lefties need a "proudly ignorant, incredibly smug, incredibly anti-cosmopolitan" to hate, and Palin fills the bill.

They especially hate her for having a degree from the University of Idaho (as opposed to a nice Ivy League school).

This reaction is typical.

This can't get any better. The Republican pick for VP went to community college before transferring to a university.

Palin attended North Idaho College for the 1983-1984 school year before she transferred to the University of Idaho. The college takes pride in its "open-door" admissions policy.

For the record, Barack Obama got his B.A. from Columbia University in New York and his J.D. from Harvard. While at Harvard he was president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review.

Sarah Palin only has a bachelor's degree in Journalism/Communication from the University of Idaho. Not to belittle the University of Idaho, but it's not exactly a tough school to get into. I don't want to say Palin is completely uneducated, but she's not exactly one of the brightest people our country has to offer. Well, that's what happens when you want a "regular" person to be VP/President.

Imagine. A regular person with a degree from a school other than Harvard having pretensions of belonging to the ruling class!

Why, that's our class we're talking about here. (Goldberg, BTW, is a journalism professor with a Masters degree from Berkeley, so no one is better qualified to be president than she.)

I think it is Sarah Palin's complete and total negation of the snob appeal factor that really excites those who used to froth at the mouth over poor old Dubya. In that regard, she leaves Dubya in the dust (for he was, after all, educated at Harvard and Yale).

Presidents of the United States simply are not the common man. They do not go to places like the University of Idaho.

Well, except Ronald Reagan, who got his degree from Eureka College.

Or LBJ, who went to Southwest Texas State Teachers' College.

Or Harry Truman, who never graduated from college at all....

MORE: My thanks to Sean Kinsell for the link. Sean (a Palin supporter in the last election, BTW) shares his concerns that some of the Palin mania has taken on a decidedly anti-intellectual flavor (and Sean has another post about excessive Palin groupieism here).

posted by Eric at 02:50 PM | Comments (8)

So who's laughing?

When I saw the supplement to yesterday's newspaper, I was taken by surprise.


I thought maybe a local gay periodical had been dropped on my porch, and I didn't remember subscribing to anything like that, so naturally I had to pick it up to investigate.

It turned out it was just a Detroit Free Press film review of "Bruno" the homophobia exploitation film that's making waves and -- so far as I can tell from reviews like this (although I haven't seen it) -- deliberately calculated to offend nearly everybody.

The problem with me is that I have a dark sense of humor, and I laugh at the sort of comedy that I wouldn't engage in personally, and that a lot of people find offensive. (Howard Stern is a perfect example.) I laughed my head off at the last Borat film I watched, even though I recognized that he had deliberately exploited nice people -- some of whose only real crime was showing hospitality to a man they thought was a clueless Kazakh -- when he made it.

As I read more about Bruno, I thought the deliberate exploitation of this cure-the-homos practitioner looked funny, until I realized that if I said so in my blog, I might appear to be laughing at people's "religion." There are more of Bruno victims detailed here, and I don't know whether it would have been insensitive of me to place the word "victims" in quotes.... But OTOH, is this supposed to be comedy or is it serious? (Like "serious" "journalism," perhaps?)

Are there some things that cannot be made fun of?

[Here I think I should note that Bruno's victims include Ron Paul, who is not amused.]

I mean, it would seem OK to laugh at the GodHatesFags people, but when an individual minister who believes in religious cures for homosexuality is held up for ridicule, a lot of people would say that crosses a certain line. What that line is, I don't know. Certainly, religious cures for homosexuality are not a universally agreed upon element of the Christian faith, so is it really honest to maintain that mocking them constitutes an attack on Christianity itself? I think such debates are generally hopeless because of unshared premises. What I especially don't like is the idea that some disagreements should enjoy special protection as religious speech. (An idea I find nearly as odious as the idea that they are "hate speech.")

I realize that others disagree, but my observations suffer when they are treated as invitations for arguments, with people reading in assumptions and premises (see Sean Kinsell's post here) which make it easier for their "side" -- such as the idea that I am "anti-Christian" because I disagree with their particular religious views, or anti-conservative because I disagree with their view of conservatism. Arguments cannot be won, and I am not trying to win any arguments here.

So I don't know whether I should see this film, whether I should laugh if I think it's funny, and whether I should admit to laughing at it in my blog if I do.

MORE: The gay activist group GLAAD is upset about Bruno (as is the HRC) and has issued the usual demands.


Maybe they can team up with the American Family Association and announce a joint boycott. (I'm sure the Sacha Cohen people could arrange a way to pay them under the table....)

posted by Eric at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

How the Russians ended the Cold War. Despite Reagan!

This is getting to be to be a pattern.

Last month it was President Obama's mischaracterization of Muslim history and his assertion that we were in debt to Islam for Western culture. I wondered whether he really believed what he said, or was merely trying to imply it for political advantage.

And now the president is busily mischaracterizing the Cold War. To the Russians. You know, the guys who were our number one enemy during that period?

(Should I continue to give him the benefit of the doubt? I realize that there's a White House directive that what Barack Obama says should not be taken literally, but this is getting ridiculous.)

This morning Glenn Reynolds linked Claudia Rosett's analysis of the president's words:

In Obama's version of history, Soviet communism (which he referred to not by name but as "old political and economic restrictions") came to an end through some sort of brotherly mass movement: "The change did not come from any one nation," he told an audience of Russian students. "The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful."
Yeah, right. They just sort of sat down and decided to discard that evil old Communism stuff and be good!

As Rosett notes, the United States -- especially the noteworthy leadership of Ronald Reagan -- apparently does not fit into Barack Obama's Cold War narrative.

...missing from Obama's philosophy is the immense role played by the U.S. America stood for decades as a bulwark of freedom. Americans fought real wars in such places as Korea and Vietnam. Americans kept brilliantly alive a philosophy of democratic government and free markets, which offered a beacon to oppressed people of the world, and exported both ideas and inventions that have vastly enriched mankind. Following the fiascoes of Jimmy Carter--on whose watch the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and Iran had its Islamic revolution--Americans elected Ronald Reagan. His version of "reset" was to stop the appeasing and apologizing, and to reassert America's system as one of virtue and America's global role as one of both moral and military strength.
Yes, I lived through that period and remember it well. The fall of Communism (after years of a seemingly eternal Cold War) stands out as one of the most amazing events in my lifetime. For most Americans (even those who hated Ronald Reagan) it's been pretty much a no-brainer that Reagan's policies did more to bring an end to the Cold War than any other single factor.

"Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down this Wall!"

That was in 1987 -- when Barack Obama was more than nine years old. In 1990, they did in fact tear down the wall, and Reagan was there again -- this time actually swinging a hammer at it.


I don't mean to dwell on old, well-known history, and normally I wouldn't. But ths time, President Obama's apparent disdain for history really got my attention. You'd think if there was one thing an American president should remember, it would be the end of the Cold War, and the vital role of the United States and Ronald Reagan during that period.

Still, everyone has memory lapses, and it must be tough to have to give a speech to a group of Russian students and make it mealy-mouthed enough not to offend them. I might have been inclined to stew silently over this if it hadn't been for something Rick Moran linked earlier in a post about Barack Obama's radicalism at Columbia.

The year was 1983. The "Tear Down This Wall" speech was four years away, and in an essay titled "BREAKING THE WAR MENTALITY," Barack Obama called Reagan "intransigent," saying that his policies could "bring about a dangerous rift" (doesn't that sound familiar?) and that he was playing into the Russians' hands.

The Reagan administration's stalling at the Geneva taIks on nuclear weapons has thus already caused severe tension and could ultimately bring about a dangerous rift between the United States and Western Europe. By being intransigent, Reagan is playing directly into the Russians' hands.
Riiight. That's why Communism collapsed.

Like Rick Moran, I realize that people change and sometimes get more sensible as they grow older. But right now I find myself wondering whether the above mindset might still be driving the Obama narrative.

Little wonder that in Obama's mind, the Russians must get the credit for having been the "peacemakers" all along.

No wonder he can't bear to mention Reagan or the United States.

posted by Eric at 04:00 PM | Comments (2)

More Stimulus Needed

Paul Krugman says that another stimulus is needed to get the economy moving. (from July 2nd)

O.K., Thursday's jobs report settles it. We're going to need a bigger stimulus. But does the president know that?

Let's do the math.

Since the recession began, the U.S. economy has lost 6 ½ million jobs -- and as that grim employment report confirmed, it's continuing to lose jobs at a rapid pace. Once you take into account the 100,000-plus new jobs that we need each month just to keep up with a growing population, we're about 8 ½ million jobs in the hole.

And the deeper the hole gets, the harder it will be to dig ourselves out. The job figures weren't the only bad news in Thursday's report, which also showed wages stalling and possibly on the verge of outright decline. That's a recipe for a descent into Japanese-style deflation, which is very difficult to reverse. Lost decade, anyone?

Wait -- there's more bad news: the fiscal crisis of the states. Unlike the federal government, states are required to run balanced budgets. And faced with a sharp drop in revenue, most states are preparing savage budget cuts, many of them at the expense of the most vulnerable. Aside from directly creating a great deal of misery, these cuts will depress the economy even further.

So what do we have to counter this scary prospect? We have the Obama stimulus plan, which aims to create 3 ½ million jobs by late next year.

So let me see if I get this. The current stimulus plan will not create its jobs for about a year and a half. If you believe it will create any jobs at all. So another similar plan with results probably two to two and a half years in the future will fix things? You need a lot of faith in HOPE and CHANGE to believe that.

If there was to be another stimulus, I like the Republican plan better.

Is it any wonder Obama's numbers are tanking?

The public's disenchantment with Barack Obama continues to rise. Rasmussen reports:
33% of the nation's voters now Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Thirty-six percent (36%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -3.
Rasmussen cautions that this could be just statistical noise, and notes:
Tomorrow (Wednesday) will be the first update based entirely upon interviews conducted since last week's report showing higher than expected job losses in June.

Just 27% of voters nationwide favor passage of a second economic stimulus package. Sixty percent (60%) are opposed.

Fifty-four percent (54%) say the average Democrat in Congress is more liberal than they are, while 36% believe the average Republican congressman is more conservative.

Just a statistical blip? The new numbers are out and they are worse for Obama.
Dear Leader's approval numbers continue to tank.

His approval index number has now dropped 38 points in less than 200 days in office. And, that's with 1,000% support from the state-run media!
Rasmussen reported:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Thursday shows that 30% of the nation's voters now Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Thirty-eight percent (38%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -8. The President's Approval Index rating has fallen six points since release of a disappointing jobs report last week (see trends).
So Obama's support has dropped 5% in just a week. So let me see. It is little under a year and a half to the next election. How will our Fantastic President's Party be doing then? Well I have more poll numbers.
Gallup has released a special report that puts the lie to Democrat claims that America has delivered a mandate for vast changes in our political economy along liberal-left lines. The data is worth examining, but the narrative itself is surprisingly direct in its conclusions:
Despite the results of the 2008 presidential election, Americans, by a 2-to-1 margin, say their political views in recent years have become more conservative rather than more liberal, 39% to 18%, with 42% saying they have not changed. While independents and Democrats most often say their views haven't changed, more members of all three major partisan groups indicate that their views have shifted to the right rather than to the left. ...
I don't think things are looking good for the Democrats in 2010. It is true that the Republicans did a lousy job with government when they controlled it. The deal for the Democrats is that they are doing an order of magnitude worse. Changes of that magnitude are hard to hide.

If Obama gets us into a war with his international weakness the Democrats will not only lose ground in 2010, the elections will be a blood bath.

No matter what this country is in for a world of hurt.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:58 PM | Comments (3)

Race Based Spoils

Some interesting things are going on in New York State.

During the long years of Republican control, the all-white GOP "conference" would regularly bemoan its lack of diversity, and make extra efforts to recruit minority Senate candidates and hire minority staff.

During the first five months of this year, with the Senate under the control of its first African-American majority leader, Smith, top Democrats bemoaned the lack of minority Senate staffers.

But instead of trying to recruit new hires, they fired nearly 200 almost exclusively white workers and replaced them with a large number of minority employees, many of whom were seen by their fellow workers to be unskilled at their new jobs.

The move produced severe racial tensions, made worse by the fact that, as a high-level Democratic staffer confided, "We've been told to only hire minorities.''

We have come a LONG way baby.

H/T Gateway Pundit commenter Rick 007

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:35 PM | Comments (2)

Who lied while an alligator died?

While I wouldn't say that the story of Michelle Obama's expensive alligator purse rises to the level of a scandal (much less a crisis), I have to say I'm glad to see it being reported:

Earlier this week (while strolling the wooded landscape outside of Moscow), she carried a sexy black clutch, which Italian luxury house VBH boasts is their shiny black alligator manila bag - with a retail sticker price of $5,950.
Hmmm.... Analyzing this is going to be complicated, I'm afraid, as there are a variety of competing political and cultural factors at play. I don't know which should be a greater concern -- the price of the bag, or its animal origin. Six grand is a lot to pay for a purse, but considering that the president gets in more trouble for swatting a fly than for profligate spending, I'd say that enabling the slaughtering and skinning of alligators should be considered more serious than the amount on the store price tag.

Has PETA weighed in? Not on this specific incident so far as I can tell, but they are very much opposed to the slaughtering and skinning of alligators, and they have run this ad:


On the First Lady's side of the balance sheet, the American Alligator is no longer endangered, and many people consider them scary as well as icky animals. (As I've admitted, I heart the beasties, but I realize most people do not consider them cute.) Furthermore, while it was never proven that they killed anyone, alligators were nonetheless popularly indicted as culprits during the Hurricane Katrina disaster, so the purchase of an alligator bag might be seen (at least in some circles) as a possible retaliatory fashion statement.

However, it also should be pointed out that there is a double standard involved here, as Sarah Palin got into huge trouble over the alleged cost of her clothes, and Condoleezza Rice was excoriated for buying shoes (which might as well have been alligator shoes) in New York when people were dying in New Orleans.

I don't mean to lose track of the subject here, but can anyone tell me whether there's been a time when people weren't dying? Yesterday I noticed that the flag was flying at half staff at the post office, and when I asked a postal official, he told me that it was because a soldier had died in Iraq. (I checked, and found he was right.)

Well, hasn't Obama lied recently? So how come no one says "Obama lied while American soldiers died?"

Anyway, in this instance I don't know who to call a liar, but there does seem to be a credibility gap between the White House and the purse manufacturer:

The White House flatly denies that Obama bought such a high-priced accessory, and says that she was carrying a patent clutch that retails for $875.

The First Lady, who has impressed with her chic, affordable style sense, embracing Everywoman brands like Gap and J.Crew, flashed the shiny handheld while walking with her husband, President Barack Obama, during their Monday meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his wife Svetlana.

Told that Obama's office denied the bag was the high-end VBH clutch, Kelly Vitko, a rep for the company replied, "It's definitely ours."

Whoaooohhh there!

I'd say VBH and Kelly Vitko better be careful. Or else (if I may quote the president) they "will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS."

(By people who don't file returns and don't get audited, of course. Nothing like rule of, um, law.)

posted by Eric at 11:27 AM | Comments (6)

Occasionally I Sign Petitions

Here is one petition I like: Stop Cap and Trade.

If you sign, don't worry about your e-mail. It will not be displayed.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:31 PM | Comments (2)

America's First Non-American President

Barry Rubin tells on Facebook

Why Obama Doesn't Understand Putin; Why Putin Doesn't Like Obama
Mr Rubin then says at this link:
If one looks deeper into Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's annoyance at U.S. President Barack Obama it reveals a lot more than just the differences between the leadership in Moscow and Washington.

Putin is a traditional leader, which means he believes in making his country strong, never apologizing, using power in international relations, and having ambitions to gain influence in other countries. Indeed, he's also somewhat aggressive seeking to restore the glory of Russia past.

Mr. Rubin goes on to say:
One of those "old" and "outdated" ideas of international relations is to reward your friends and punish your enemies. Obama has reversed that concept in his policy.
To which I replied:
Barry says:

"One of those "old" and "outdated" ideas of international relations is to reward your friends and punish your enemies."

And yet Obama understands that very well when it comes to American politics. So the question is: why does he think things work differently in international relations? Unless he is committed to reducing American power.

Barry R. then came back with:
Barry Rubin on Facebook said he agrees with me but he is being jerk and asking me to remove his words posted at Facebook. So they are gone.
Thank you Barry Rubin. And thank you for being what you are.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:18 PM | Comments (0)

Lefties Get Shorts In A Knot

After years of Bush=Hitler the lefties are all upset about this ad comparing Obama to Ahmadinejad. One other parallel they forgot to mention in the ad is people taking to the streets (Tea Parties). It is true that there is no violent suppression in America but otherwise it adds to the parallels. Hitler got about a 3 second mention in the ad while most of it is about Ahmadinejad and Iran.

Here is some left wing reaction to the video and the titles of the articles:

Daily KOS: New Rightwing Ad Campaign To Suggest Obama is Like Hitler

Right Wing Watch: Obama Worse Than Hitler And Ahmadinejad

Alternet: Right-Wing Group Goes off the Deep End, Plans to Air Obama/ Hitler Ads

Salon - War Room: Conservative group: Obama equals Ahmadinejad

The Raw Story: Group plans to launch ads comparing Obama to Hitler

The Village Voice: Rightwing PAC: Obama = Hitler

All very interesting. Hitler is only mentioned for a few seconds in the video. Does that mean some of these lefties think Ahmadinejad=Hitler? If that is the case why do they advocate making nice with the Iranian leader?

OTOH maybe they are so used to using Bush=Hitler that they just assumed their opposition would focus on that now that the tables are turned.

One thing for sure: none of the lefties refuted the points made by the ad. All of the points about the Obama proposals and actions are true. The parallels may or may not be artistic (political?) license but the list of things Obama plans, is doing, or his administration has suggested is absolutely true.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:00 PM | Comments (1)

What I almost once never said

In a comment to an earlier post, "Moneyrunner" (whose own post here seems to assume I'm against Christianity, in favor of out-of-wedlock births, in favor of libertinism, and in favor of anti-conservative "snark") is upset with what I did not say:

Our host... never once says that he would support my right to pray during a commencement ceremony, to exhibit a creche in the public square, in sum, to do any of the things that people in 1950 thought was perfectly right and proper even though we were not ruled by a theocracy.
(My thanks to Sean Kinsell for pointing out that he'd "be very surprised if [I] opposed nativity scenes at Christmas or school prayer as long as non-believers weren't forced to participate.")

Never once?

Do I have to repeat what I have said in countless posts like these? I take a very broad view of the First Amendment, and I think free speech is free speech, regardless of whether the speech involved is religious speech, although I disagree with the idea that some prayers are more equal than others, or that religious speech is entitled to superior protection to other forms of free speech.

So, (and while I think regular readers already know this) for the record, I totally support the following as free speech:

  • praying during a commencement ceremony (or at any other time)
  • exhibiting a creche in the public square
  • (A creche would be free expression, which is of course a form of free speech.)

    As I have pointed out countless times, just because I never said something does not mean I don't agree with whatever it is I didn't say. I also didn't say that I support the following as a "right":

  • to do any of the things that people in 1950 thought was perfectly right and proper
  • That's pretty broad, because I don't know who the specific people are, and what they might have thought was right and proper. People approved of very different things: some approved of racial segregation, while some approved of Alfred Kinsey's best-selling Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. (Others disapproved, of course.) The Mattachine Society was founded in 1950 by a bunch of gay Communists, and while I don't think gay Communists are perfectly right and proper, they obviously were people who thought what they were doing was right and proper. Certainly, in 1950 they had a right to form a group, which they did.

    As it happens, I think the late 40s and early 50s was a very interesting (maybe I should say "very cool") period in American cultural history. In particular, I love the film noir genre, and I would note that many of these films would not have been made just ten years earlier, because of the rigid application of the draconian Hays Code. Fortunately, as many film noir fans have observed,

    The genre also flourished due to some relaxation in the film censorship laws during this time.
    From a cultural standpoint, I suspect that the presence of many servicemen who had returned from World War II -- where they had risked their lives for their country and seen many new aspects of the world -- had much to do with the relaxation of the (IMO) stultifying 1930s morality which had been artificially imposed earlier (in reaction to the perceived excesses of the 1920s).

    There is cultural ebb and flow, and while I can't be sure, I think I would have probably enjoyed life in America in the late 40s and early 50s. Whether that makes me a "conservative," I don't know. My problem with that word is that it invites trouble from people who want to define it -- and me.

    I also think I might be asking for trouble if I declared that people "have a right to do any of the things that people in 1950 thought was perfectly right and proper."

    Too many opportunities in there for commenters to seize upon things that I never said.

    posted by Eric at 11:12 AM | Comments (4)

    Total Control

    It doesn't matter who the Rs run.

    Americans generally favor divided government.

    And given the the #1 Democrat promised that massive spending would keep unemployment from going above 8% and it is now 9.5% and still rising it may be time for Change and A New Hope. (cue up Star Wars theme music).

    Since we are electing politicians the hope may be in vain. But change will be good in any case.

    H/T Althouse

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 10:11 PM | Comments (0)

    Carbon Chips

    Carbon is going to be the next big thing in computer chips.

    Carbon--the basis of all organic compounds--seems destined to displace silicon as the material of choice for future semiconductors. According to researchers, various structures based on the element that sits just above silicon on the Periodic Table can surpass silicon's abilities in thermal performance, frequency range and perhaps even superconductivity.

    "Of the carbon technologies, diamond is probably the closest [to commercialization] at this time, as work in diamond has been taking place for 15 years or longer," said Dean Freeman, senior analyst at Gartner Inc. "Most of the others still have a ways to go."

    Three-dimensional carbon--diamond--offers 10x the heat dissipation of silicon, according to suppliers currently hawking 40nm to 15µm diamond films on silicon wafers. Two-dimensional carbon--3-angstrom-thick monolayers called graphene--could dismantle silicon's roadblock to terahertz performance by attaining 10x the electron mobility of silicon.

    Likewise, one-dimensional carbon--1nm-diameter nanotubes--could solve digital silicon's speed woes. Nanotubes will appear first as printable "inks" that are 10 times faster than competing organic transistors.

    Meanwhile, zero-dimensional carbon--60-atom, hollow spheres of carbon called fullerenes--could answer silicon's inability to attain high-temperature superconductivity. Tightly packed fullerenes intercalcated with alkali-metal atoms superconduct at 38K.

    Over the next few years, carbon process technologies will become available to replace nearly every circuit material in use today: conductors, for interconnecting devices; semiconductors; and insulators, for isolating devices. But how quickly the industry embraces the carbon-based materials, especially during uncertain economic times, remains to be seen.

    So how about some details on how the work is progressing? I have them. Lets look at some Buckyball research first.
    Add a drop of oil to buckyballs, and they join together to form wires like strings of pearls.Finally! Something useful from buckyballs.

    Junfeng Geng at the University of Cambridge, in the U.K., and buddies have found a way to polymerize these microballs so that they line up into buckywires.

    The trick that Geng and co have found is a way to connect two buckyballs together using a molecule of 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene--a colorless aromatic hydrocarbon. Repeat that and you've got a way to connect any number of buckyballs. And to prove it, the researchers have created and studied these buckywires in their lab, saying that the wires are highly stable.

    Buckywires ought to be handy for all kinds of biological, electrical, optical, and magnetic applications. The gist of the paper is that anything that traditional carbon nanotubes can do, buckywires can do better. Or at least more cheaply.

    The exciting thing about this breakthrough is the potential to grow buckywires on an industrial scale from buckyballs dissolved in a vat of bubbling oil. Since the buckywires are insoluble, they precipitate out, forming crystals. (Here it ought to be said that various other groups are said to have made buckywires of one kind or another, but none seem to have nailed it from an industrial perspective.)

    There is more. Go have a look.

    Next there is a most interesting substance called graphene, which is a very thin layer of carbon. Its properties can be tuned by applying an electric field to the material.

    Semiconductors, for example, can be turned off because of a finite bandgap between the valence and conduction electron bands.

    While a single layer of graphene has a zero bandgap, two layers of graphene together theoretically should have a variable bandgap controlled by an electrical field, Wang said. Previous experiments on bilayer graphene, however, have failed to demonstrate the predicted bandgap structure, possibly because of impurities. Researchers obtain graphene with a very low-tech method: They take graphite, like that in pencil lead, smear it over a surface, cover with Scotch tape and rip it off. The tape shears the graphite, which is just billions of layers of graphene, to produce single- as well as multi-layered graphene.

    Wang, Zhang, Tang and their colleagues decided to construct bilayer graphene with two voltage gates instead of one. When the gate electrodes were attached to the top and bottom of the bilayer and electrical connections (a source and drain) made at the edges of the bilayer sheets, the researchers were able to open up and tune a bandgap merely by varying the gating voltages.

    The team also showed that it can change another critical property of graphene, its Fermi energy, that is, the maximum energy of occupied electron states, which controls the electron density in the material.

    "With top and bottom gates on bilayer graphene, you can independently control the two most important parameters in a semiconductor: You can change the electronic structure to vary the bandgap continuously, and independently control electron doping by varying the Fermi level," Wang said.

    For those of you not conversant with transistor design and terms like band gap and Fermi energy you might find this book helpful. It is a history of physics and includes the work by Bell Labs on the transistor.

    Crystals, Electrons, Transistors

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 09:19 PM | Comments (2)

    Michael Jackson still dead!

    Questions like this one from Ann Althouse make me feel so out of touch that they hurt my self esteem:

    I'm watching the Michael Jackson Memorial. Isn't everybody?
    Um, no. I didn't even know it was on TV. While I did take a brief peek at the set earlier it was only to read the TCM guide to see what might be worth recording in the next 24 hours. One was "Grass" -- a 1925 silent documentary about Persian nomads, and the other was "Thoroughbreds Don't Cry" a 1937 film about a racing jockey starring Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland and Sophie Tucker. I think Persian nomads and Sophie Tucker are more interesting than the comings and goings of Michael Jackson's brainless corpse (with all respect to the talent he had while alive).

    Besides, today is the 69th birthday of Ringo Starr. I think that's about as worthy of my attention as the funeral of another musician I didn't care for as much.

    However, this rant by Congressman Peter King makes me almost want to defend Jackson:

    "For the last, I don't know how long now, this low-life Michael Jackson, his name, his face, his picture, is all over the newspapers, television, radio. That's all we hear about is Michael Jackson. Let's knock out this psycho-babble. This guy was a pervert, a child molestor, he was a pedophile, and to be giving this much coverage to him day in and day out, what's it say about us a country?"


    "Yes, he did violate young boys. He did put them in terribly inappropriate positions. And that's a terrible signal to be sending out to society -- that we're somehow condoning that behavior. And you are condoning it when you give him the type of --- when we give him the type of regal coverage! And millions of people fighting to get to this mega-memorial! I mean, this is --- this is wrong!"

    I don't know that it says anything about a country, any more than the fact that Giuliani shook hands with Jackson says anything about Giuliani, or that funeral hype "condones" behavior of which the man was never convicted. Besides, a number of experts don't think Jackson was a pedophile. What is undeniable now that he's dead is that from this point forward, he will never, ever molest any child. If his overwrought critics really do care about America and the need to avoid seeming to condone pedophilia, I think it would better serve their cause (and their country) to say he wasn't a pedophile than to insist that something unprovable is true so they can turn around and blame America for "condoning" what Jackson denied being. (Vehemently. The way some people talk, you'd think he was the president of NAMBLA.)

    So, much as I find all the Michael Jackson hype tedious (and have said so), I'm glad I didn't happen to really care all that much for his music, because if I did, some asshole would probably accuse me of condoning pedophilia. And contributing to a climate of hype, of course. (Am I not doing that by talking about Jackson right now?)

    Blaming Americans for hype is about as silly as blaming them for advertising.

    UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link -- especially for helping to bring into public focus the elusive news that Michael Jackson is still dead. (It may take time for this truth to sink in.)

    A warm welcome to all. Comments invited -- agree or disagree.

    posted by Eric at 05:24 PM | Comments (21)

    Do labels make you resemble the label?

    Linking a poll purporting to show that Americans have grown more conservative, Glenn Reynolds asks a good basic question:

    Hmm. Can this be true?
    To that I'm almost tempted to sneer, "Yes it can!"

    It seems bit counterintuitve that a more conservative America not only elected the most left wing president in United States history, but continues to approve of his job performance despite ruinous economic policies:

    President Obama Job Approval
    RCP Average
    According to the data in an earlier poll, 40% of Americans consider themselves "conservative," so if we take these polls together that would mean that around 4% of conservatives approve of the job Barack Obama is doing, along with 100% of liberals and moderates.

    And now we hear that everyone has gotten more conservative. (Which means Obama should be absolutely doomed in 2012, right?)

    Might there be something that is being left out? What heightened my skepticism was a look at this supposedly comprehensive chart, which bore the title "2009 Detailed Political Ideology." I looked closely, and I even scrutinized the chart in detail. But for the life of me, I was unable to find myself on it!

    Maybe I'm being paranoid and self-centered, but take a look for yourselves.


    Where would I find "libertarian"? How about "libertarian conservative"? Yeah, I realize that to some, the latter term has a sellout ring to it, but I'm damned sure not going to call myself a "moderate." And unless I become a time traveler, I can't honestly call myself a liberal in this day and age.

    Might I fall into the "no opinion" category? I'm afraid that would never fly -- not in the face of six years of setting forth my very detailed opinions in this blog. And why does it have to be "no opinion" instead of "none of the above"?

    So while I might be all alone, I feel left out completely. While I've complained in the past about being "politically homeless," this feels like official certification.

    OTOH, a good argument can be made that the study itself makes me more conservative by the simple mechanism of the labels. Because of this built-in bias, if I were called upon to participate in this poll, I would simply have to force myself into the conservative category -- with predictable consequences I discussed in an earlier post.

    But never mind that. The point is that by having to say I am conservative, I become conservative (which is more conservative than I am) by the act of self labeling.

    It's a bit like saying you're gay. Although the consequences are not quite the same, the fact is that just as saying you're gay will also tend to have the effect of making you more gay than you were, saying you're conservative will make you more conservative than you were.

    MORE: Sean Kinsell takes issue with the label conundrum.

    There almost always seems to be some sort of cognitive dissonance going on: I'm gay but I support gun rights, I've spent most of my adult life abroad but I supported the Iraq invasion, I majored in comparative literature but I support Israel, or whatever. There has a to be an explanation, and the easiest one to to reach for is "conservative." And it wouldn't bother me were it not for the fact that I then become accountable for some nasty thing Glenn Beck (whom I don't listen to) said the other day, or what have you.
    And in the case of these manipulative polls, not only is "conservative" the easiest to reach for, it's the only one to reach for.

    posted by Eric at 10:18 AM | Comments (3)

    Sarah Barracuda

    At Israpundit Mario Goveia has done a guest post on our Sarah. Mario makes a very good point:

    The US left wing is justifiably terrified of Palin and have begun to realize why she earned the nickname Sarah Barracuda as a high school athlete. Unlike them, she stands as a real-life example of real feminism, not their phony selective feminism based primarily on abortion rights. She stands for Reagan-style conservatism based on low taxes and fiscal discipline and an assertive foreign policy. In other words, she stands against everything the political liberals and their chosen candidate, Barack Obama, stand for.

    Now, as a "movement conservative" like Ronald Reagan, whose goal was to promote the objectives of conservative philosophy in addition to governing as a conservative, she has decided that to advance the cause she needs to move on from the day-to-day and time consuming pressures of running a state. Thus she decided not to run for re-election in November of 2010, leading her critics to exclaim that she should have completed the term she was elected to. While this may sound plausible, it really makes no sense.

    While most lesser politicians would have run out their term as a lame duck Governor, without any real power to influence and affect policy and taken their paycheck while marking time, this has never been Palin's style. So, thinking outside the box once again, she decided that she would not waste the state's time and money as a "lame duck" but turn the Governorship over to her Lieutenant, who has a longer term vested interest in the position. It also gives him the time to organize his campaign for re-election in November 2010, and she is now free to promote the conservatism she believes in.

    Don't expect the left leaning American Obama-media to appreciate any of this. Look for some of the most vicious and speculative coverage of her resignation that can get past the editors in the media plus the typical terrified and scurrilous barrage from the left wing blogs.

    Not all left wing blogs. Reclusive Leftist is wondering why all the misogynistic Palin hate from the left?
    I don't usually comment on other blogs; I have little enough time to keep my own gig in working order. But the other day I was over at I Blame The Patriarchy, where I was dismayed to find in the comment threads some of the same Palin-bashing that has become drearily familiar from the rest of the inner tubes. Now, IBTP is just about the best feminist blog going, with a genius proprietor and a thoughtful commentariat. Hence my dismay. Even here? I thought. Fortunately, some of the commenters there did try to set the record straight, though they got significant guff from others.
    Dr. Violet Socks (the Reclusive Leftist) can't figure out where all the hate is coming from. I can. And I agreed with Mario before I read him. It is fear. Naked fear. Here is a powerful woman that can't be controlled. Not by the Left nor by the Right.

    My kind of woman. Fortunately I was able to attract and keep a woman with a will of her own. I love strong women in general and one very special one in particular. Every time I see Sarah I'm reminded of my treasure at home.

    H/T Israpundit and Judith Weiss on Facebook

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 09:41 PM | Comments (9)

    Who betrayed my conservative principles?

    I don't know what I should title this post. Maybe "How I became labeled as a conservative." But labels are the damnedest things. People start calling you something, and pretty soon the label begins to takes on meaning, and if you're not careful, the label can influence your thinking one way or another, and you can find yourself reacting. The reactions might take the form of conforming, rebelling, ignoring, or just passively going with the flow, but if you're a human being it's hard not to react in some way. Even not reacting -- what we would call ignoring -- involves a process of deliberation. You're not ignoring in the true sense of the word, because if you know something, you are not in a state of being ignorant of it.

    I feel compelled to elaborate on a somewhat flippant statement I made in an earlier post:

    Too bad we can't bring back the ideologically easy days when "conservative" simply meant those who supported the war.
    Ideologically easy? Perhaps I spoke too fast. While it is undeniably true that many an American (and many a blogger) found himself or herself labeled "conservative," there's nothing easy about the underlying ideological question.

    Why, how, and since when is it "conservative" to support your country during a war?

    And since I'm on the subject of "easy" ideology, there's another form of "conservatism" which has been on my mind.

    The failure or refusal to believe that President George W. Bush was like Hitler, and was running a Nazi-like regime.

    Or how about not believing that the 9/11 attack was an inside job?

    Just to be clear, yes, I supported the war, and yes, I ridiculed the idea that Bush was a Nazi and that 9/11 was an inside job. That being the case, I became tagged with the "conservative" label no matter how many times I said I was a libertarian. This debate (in which my libertarianism was attacked as suspect) is typical, and I lost track of the number of times I was called a conservative (and worse) by lefties. But hey, I'm one of those annoying snots who rejects all labels and refuses to be bound by them, so I contemptuously ignored most of these references.

    Times have changed. It now seems that supporting the war, not believing 9/11 was an inside job, and opposing the belief that Bush is a Nazi are no longer conservative positions. Even foot dragging on Gitmo has become suspiciously liberal.

    Where does that leave the previously labeled conservatives?

    Why, they're supposed to be dragged into a contest. Something involving "conservative principles." What are they? Beats me, as it seems to depend on whom you ask. To some, it's enough simply to be against big government, or statism. But to others, you also have to be against all things which are said to threaten "family values."

    Social and religious conservatives often use the term "family values" to promote conservative ideology that supports traditional morality or values.[2] American Christians often see their religion as the source of morality and consider the nuclear family to be an essential element in society. Some conservative family values advocates believe the government should endorse Christian morality,[3] for example by displaying the Ten Commandments or allowing teachers to conduct prayers in public schools. Religious conservatives often view the United States as a "Christian nation".[4] For example, the American Family Association, says "The American Family Association exists to motivate and equip citizens to change the culture to reflect Biblical truth and traditional family values."[5] These groups variously oppose abortion, pornography, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, some aspects of feminism,[6] cohabitation, and depictions of sexuality in the media.
    I don't know how accurate the above list is, but it does not articulate either my political positions or many of my political principles, and to the extent it defines "conservatism," then I cannot truthfully be said to be a conservative, regardless of how devoutly I support the war, and regardless of how much I doubt Bush's Nazism and 9/11 involvement.

    What I want to know is, whatever happened to my conservative principles? Can it be that I was a conservative, but no longer am? How is that possible? Looking back over the six years of this blog, I don't think my positions have changed on very many issues. I think I am conservative about some things, liberal about some things, and in general I still consider myself a small l-libertarian who simply thinks what he thinks. Naturally, to some I will always be a conservative, but to others I will fail the litmus test hopelessly.

    Can I accomplish more with or without the label? I guess that depends on whether the conservative label is a matter of principle or pragmatism. And on whether the label is a definition.

    Should labels be put ahead of principles, or should principles be put ahead of labels?

    I don't mean to sound facetious, but I think it's often forgotten that betraying a label is not the same thing as betraying a principle.

    AFTERTHOUGHT: I think much of the problem is that once you adopt any label shared by other people, they will then insist you adopt what they call their principles. (This can be further aggravated by an unfortunate tendency to confuse opinions with principles.)

    UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all.

    Your comments are appreciated -- agree or disagree.

    UPDATE: Thank you Sean Kinsell for the link. (Especially in a post which does such a great job of barfing at Andrew Sullivan!)

    posted by Eric at 11:51 AM | Comments (39)

    So what's with this double standard?

    Writing about Honduras, and the fact that the US is now taking sides with Castro, Chavez, Morales, and Ortega in showing "revolutionary solidarity" with a would-be dictator, Victor Davis Hanson offers a disturbing but accurate analogy:

    It would be analogous to an Obama or Bush demanding a third term, illegally acquiring ballots to force a plebiscite, ignoring a Congressional conviction of impeachment, and a Supreme Court edict of unconstitutionality, only to be arrested by the Joint Chiefs and escorted out of the country.
    Of course, in a stable democratic country like ours, such a scenario would be laughable, and unimaginable. (If the 22nd Amendment were repealed as Jose Serrano would like, a third Obama term would be perfectly legal, if unfortunate.)

    Which is why I can't understand why our president would support something in Honduras he would surely never support here.

    MORE: From the Wall Street Journal, "Why is the U.S. not supporting the rule of law?"

    This is a moment when the U.S. ought to be on the side of the rule of law, which the Honduran court and Congress upheld. If Washington does not reverse course, it will be one more act of appeasement toward an ambitious and increasingly dangerous dictator.
    If I didn't know any better, I'd almost think we had a president who liked socialist dictators.

    posted by Eric at 08:48 AM | Comments (7)

    Meeting The Targets

    Here is a nice little cartoon about a country that is making real progress in curbing "greenhouse gas" production.

    Life Support

    H/T Duane J. Oldsen at Talk Polywell and Eric at Classical Values who helped format the picture.

    posted by Simon at 10:44 PM | Comments (7)

    A nostalgic look at alternate losing strategies

    Adam Graham takes issue with a number of popular political myths (notably the idea that Sarah Palin is finished), but what really got my attention was an exit poll he linked that I'd never seen before, which confirms my longstanding belief that Hillary Clinton would have been a much tougher candidate for the Republicans to beat than Barack Obama. I think she still would be, even today.

    What I could not understand was why so many Republicans supported Hillary Clinton anyway, and I suspected that they realized something I did not: that Republican defeat was certain (maybe even desirable), and that getting Hillary on the ticket was a form of damage control.

    Or was it?

    Anyway, here are the poll numbers that intrigued me:

    ...16 percent of McCain voters said they would have voted for Clinton, the Democrat, if she had been her party's nominee.
    That's a lot of people -- certainly enough to have made McCain's defeat one of the biggest defeats in Republican history.

    But what about disappointed Obama supporters? Would they have voted for Hillary?

    While 85% of Obama voters said they would have voted for Clinton had she been the Democratic candidate, 13% would not have supported her including 6% who said they would have backed McCain and 7% who said they would not have voted.
    So, Hillary would have gained for the Democrats 16% of the McCain voters (that's 9,334,987 out of McCain's 58,343,671), and she would have lost 13% of the Obama voters (that's 8,694,690 of Obama's 66,882,230).

    Adding in the 6% of the disappointed Obama voters and subtracting the rest who'd have stayed home, here are the final results:

    Clinton: (66,882,230 + 9,334,987 - 8,694,690)

    Total: 67,522,527 (56.01%)

    McCain: (58,343,671 - 9,334,987 + 4,012,934)

    Total: 53,021,618 (43.98%)

    The new vote total would be 120,544,145 (down from 125,225,901) with Hillary's percentage being 56%, and McCain 44% (a more dramatic difference than Obama's 53% to McCain's 46%).

    What irritated me about the pro-Hillary Republican strategy was that I've been around long enough to know that Hillary Clinton would have been harder for McCain to beat than Obama, yet Republicans who damned well knew better kept saying that Hillary would be easier to beat! I suspected they were lying, because they didn't want to admit that the Republicans were doomed no matter what, so supporting Hillary was their way of trying to ameliorate a bad situation by picking the opposition. If they really thought that, why not come out and admit it? Why lie? These same people are not saying now that McCain could have beaten Hillary. Most of them are glad he lost; they just wish he'd lost to someone else.

    Of course, the above poll does not take into account the hard core conservatives (Ann Coulter and the like) who would have demonstrated their hard coreness by voted for Hillary Clinton over John McCain. How many of them there were, I don't know, but the whole approach struck me as a wildly extravagant tantrum at the expense of the country.

    Speaking of polls, what about Clinton versus Palin? According to a Rasmussen poll taken in September, Hillary was preferred by voters overall, but that could change. Plus, there was a gender gap:

    In a head-to-head match-up, [men] prefer Sarah Palin over Clinton 49% to 45% according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Women prefer the former first lady over Palin 57% to 35%.

    Voters overall give Clinton the nod 52% to 41% (crosstabs available for Premium Members).

    In a hypothetical matchup even now (were such a thing possible), I think Hillary would do better against Sarah Palin than would Barack Obama.

    But it has to be borne in mind that there's quite a bit of time between now and 2012, and Barack Obama will do whatever he has to do to ensure his reelection.

    Too bad we can't bring back the ideologically easy days when "conservative" simply meant those who supported the war.

    But the 2008 election was not about war. Or sex. So, Glenn Reynolds' tried and true adage didn't really come into play:

    When the topic is defense, the Democrats lose. When it's sex, the Republicans lose.
    For years I assumed the 2008 race was going to be about defense, and the war in Iraq, and right now I'm assuming the 2012 race will be about the economy. This time, the economic issue helped the Democrats mostly because of the incumbency factor. But if they continue to make things worse, the incumbency factor will work against them.

    But even if the economy were to pick up, things could change overnight with an international flareup, or a single nuclear bomb (even an Iranian test). If a real war breaks out, God help the Democrats.

    And of course, if the war on sex heats up, God help the Republicans. So I can understand why the Democrats would want to do anything they possibly could to make Sarah Palin into some sort of crusading anti-sex warrior (which she is not). So what's with some of the conservatives, anyway? Do they think the war against sex is winnable?

    MORE: Writing in the New York Post, Bill Quick looks at Sarah Palin as a presidential candidate, and sees Hillary as an opponent:

    If Palin is successful, look for Clinton to resign in preparation for her own presidental bid as "the only Democrat who has a chance to beat Governor Palin."
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    posted by Eric at 10:56 AM | Comments (5)

    The Spirit of Independence lives, in Northville, Michigan!

    As regular readers know, I've been talking about the Tea Parties for some time. So today I decided that it was high time I went to one.

    The nearest Fourth of July Tea party event I could find was this one at the Northville Community Park in Northville, Michigan (about a half hour drive from Ann Arbor).

    I have no experience in estimating the size of crowds, but I'd say it was a pretty good turnout, at least a couple of thousand people. Here's a very brief video I took:

    And some signs and faces in the crowd:







    A lot of people are saying that these Tea Parties are organized by political lobbyists or other fat cats. I've been around long enough to spot that sort of thing, and I saw no evidence that this was anything but a true grass roots event. People made and brought their own signs, and they were as genuine and individualistic as the real people, ordinary people who were there. The event did not have any sort of organizational feel that I could discern. Just people who are fed up with high taxation and bureaucracy, and who fear American socialism as much as I.

    It was a nice reminder that the spirit of Independence Day lives.

    MORE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post and a warm welcome to all!

    posted by Eric at 06:50 PM | Comments (7)

    The hallucinatory classes

    A minor story that I found at the Philadelphia Inquirer's web site provides yet another illustration of an increasingly hopeless problem. Police were forced to shoot a "homeless" man whose homelessness was a symptom of his chronic mental illness.

    From a call box in the below-ground concourse of the Municipal Services Building, he kept calling - and hanging up.

    Calling - and hanging up.

    After the 40th time, a police officer was dispatched at 8:25 to see what was going on.

    What started as a response to disorderly conduct ended with two police officers fatally shooting the homeless man - the 12th person killed by city police this year.

    Police were withholding the identity of the 59-year-old man pending notification of his family, said Sgt. Ray Evers, a police spokesman.

    Evers said the man had no identification on him and had to be identified using fingerprints.

    Homicide and Internal Affairs units are investigating the shooting. Both officers, whose names were not released, have been on the force for more than 20 years.

    After arriving on the scene, a foot-patrol officer was joined by a bike officer. Evers said that as the foot-patrol officer approached the man, he was again using the emergency call box.

    "He confronted him, saying, 'What are you doing? You can't do that,' " Evers said.

    A security guard inside the municipal building, who did not give her name, said she saw the officers chase the man through a tunnel leading to the concourse.

    Once he was outside and near a bench where he often slept, the man pulled out a utility knife.

    Evers said the knife was the type used to cut drywall or carpet. "The officer tells him over 50 times to drop the knife," Evers said.

    Police said he lunged at the officers. They fired, hitting the man in the torso.

    The victim was pronounced dead at Hahnemann University Hospital at 9:02 a.m.

    I've seen and had an occasional close encounter with this type of person. They're in a paranoid, hallucinatory and hostile state, and they often seem to be yelling at no one in particular, as if carrying on angry conversations with demons only visible to them. But because they have eyes, they can see other people, and if you get too close to them in a crowded train station, you might find yourself suddenly factoring into their demonology and become a target for an incomprehensible torrent of threatening abuse. Now, the poor guy who does this might only think he is defending himself, and he might see a perfectly harmless citizen as a menacing alien to be engaged in immediate combat by any means necessary (one "homeless" man in New York felt compelled to saw another man's chest open with a nearby contractor's power saw), and then we all wonder "why?" The left pontificates about "housing rights" for the "homeless" (or proposes criminalizing knives) while the right demands crackdowns on crime in the streets. The problem is, this is no more ordinary "crime" than a rabid dog biting someone is a "behavioral problem." It's illness, and it goes untreated because of a twisted interpretation of rights theory on the one hand, and a desire to save money on the other. Yes, mental hospitals are very expensive, and rights theory has made them more so. As a result, the guy who got shot to death in Philadelphia can be (and probably has been) committed for a couple of weeks to get "stabilized" on his meds, then released so that he can start the process of getting un-stabilized all over again. Of course, when they release him, they'll give him a piece of paper (called a "prescription"), and they'll tell him to take it to a pharmacy to have it filled, and take it as directed. (Riiight! And they'll do this with a straight, bureaucratic face -- as if he's no different from a guy who went to a clinic to get treated for strep throat! I say this because I've witnessed it firsthand.)

    Hallucinating in public is perfectly OK, and yelling at total strangers is, well, free speech or something. Try calling the cops if a crazed "homeless" man with fire in his eyes calls you Satan and threatens you. Even if you're not laughed at, nothing will be done. Because nothing can be done. They might ask him to move, but only normal people (college drunks and the like, who show up in court and actually pay their fines) are going to be arrested and booked on disorderly conduct charges. Not that I blame the cops. Putting myself in their position, I'd probably do the same thing. As I explained in another post about "homeless" "crime," I saw how the system worked firsthand:

    When I served as a Berkeley Police Review Commissioner, I used to hear laments from officers who just didn't know what to do with crazy people when they were the subjects of complaints. Some -- not all -- were called "homeless," and this was reflected on police cititions with the word "NOMAD" appearing as the "address." The cops knew they'd never show up for court, and they didn't want them to. They didn't want crazy filthy homeless people urinating in their nice clean police cars either.

    Do I blame them? Hardly.

    One time, a homeless man broke into my car, tore open a bag of dog food I'd left inside, ate some dog food, washed it down with engine coolant I had in the back seat, then passed out. I know this because the next morning when I saw a man sitting in my car and angrily told him to get out, he promptly puked all over himself and the front seat -- and after he staggered away I saw the open coolant container and dog food bag along with the mess he'd made. I say this not to engage in mindless homeless-bashing, but to illustrate a simple fact of life: no one wants to deal with mentally ill, dysfunctional people. I'm not sure the problem is that they slip through the cracks so much as it is society's game to ignore them in the hope they'll just go away. Only when they finally do something really serious do they get attention. Until then, there really is no system.

    And in Philadelphia, one of them finally did something serious enough to get attention.

    Needless to say, the jailers don't want members of the hallucinatory class in jails, and the wardens don't want them in prisons. And obviously, the nice people who run mental hospitals don't want them there.

    What should be done about the hallucinatory class? Go on ignoring them by calling them "homeless"? Most citizens -- you know, the decent normal people using the train stations to go to and from work and stuff like that -- pretend they're not there. They hope that if they just ignore them, they won't become targets of their hallucinations.

    But what about not seeing something that is clearly there? Isn't that almost hallucinatory behavior? I said almost because the good citizens actually can see these people; they just deliberately avoid seeing them. I don't blame them one bit, as I do the same thing myself. Avert my eyes. I ignore them in the hope that they'll just go away. Not seeing them is a good, common sense way to get around when you have to wait in train and subway stations in the big city.

    I realize that they don't belong anywhere -- and that they are not welcome in any of society's nice clean institutions. So they must wander the streets instead while ordinary people are forced to hallucinate them out of existence.

    Hallucinating them out of existence may be fine for ordinary people, but is it good social policy?

    posted by Eric at 11:25 AM | Comments (7)

    Happy Fourth of July!

    I complain a lot (probably more than I should -- although that seems to be the nature of blogging), so I like it when I find something that seems worthwhile. As a pragmatic libertarian, I enjoyed Roger L. Simon's Fourth of July thoughts, especially the conclusion:

    We should junk the liberal and conservative orthodoxies that have divided - and blinded - us for so long and go back not to Eighteenth Century America, but Nineteenth, to the days of that most American of philosophies - pragmatism. "The pragmatists rejected all forms of absolutism and insisted that all principles be regarded as working hypotheses that must bear fruit in lived experience." Now there's a thought that might brighten even grumpy me on the Fourth of July.
    Imagine. Principles as working hypotheses instead of dogmatic restraints.

    I like it so much I won't even get into the definition of principles!

    Happy Fourth!

    posted by Eric at 09:09 AM | Comments (2)

    The eve of what?

    Sarah Palin has resigned -- on the eve of the Fourth of July, and right in the middle of the reporting of a Republican family feud.

    I hope M. Simon is not right about this:

    It looks like Andrew "I had Trig Palin's Baby" Sullivan and the rest of the Palin haters have caused Sarah Palin to decline to run for a second term as Alaska's Governor.
    Because if Simon is right, people will say that Sarah Palin should have stood up to Andrew Sullivan and stayed.

    Sean Kinsell links Stephen Green, who says this:

    I can describe this move in three words: Stupid, stupid, stupid. And the reason doesn't matter.

    She needs more time to run for President? What does she think holding the job is like, time-wise? President Obama could manage to serve as a totally undistinguished Senator while running for the White House; surely Palin could manage to govern half a million people a bit.

    She wants to protect her family? Heat, low tolerance, kitchen, stay out of. And again, if she wants to be President, how does she think her family would fare in the White House?


    No matter the reason, however, Palin made a commitment to the people of Alaska, and she's turning her back on them. Maybe I'm rash in saying this, but I think that makes her unfit for higher office.

    It's a shame. But in terms of proximity to 2012, it is only a week closer than the eminently forgettable news of Mark Sanford's adultery.

    As the old saying goes, two weeks is a long time in American politics...

    Via Glenn Reynolds, here's Bill Quick with some advice:

    Caveat: What follows is based on the notion that Palin will continue her political career, and is setting herself up for a run for the White House in 2012.

    1. Start putting her national team together now. Recruit from the best and the brightest of real conservatism.

    Maybe, but what is real conservatism? Does it include the paranoid anti-sex wing of the Republican Party, and the WorldNetDaily Birth Certificate Truthers? As a libertarian, I would hope not, but if I were working for Obama, I'd hope so.

    (OTOH, it could be argued that the best thing for the libertarians might be to have as little a hand as possible in losing 2012.)

    MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, Katie Granju sees the resignation as a shrewd move with no downside, and concludes with this:

    Don't underestimate Sarah Palin. Any woman who can calmly stare down David Letterman, without blinking, forcing a humiliating public apology out of a man who routinely makes lesser mortals weep via his withering excoriation is a woman with a plan. A big plan.

    You wait and see.

    I see her biggest asset as her biggest problem -- what Granju calls her "very enthusiastic and cohesive base: the rightest of right wing Republicans, plus Evangelical Christians."

    And what about the paranoid anti-sex wing of the Republican Party, and the WorldNetDaily Birth Certificate Truthers?

    Well, at least her performance with Letterman showed that she knows how to handle snakes.

    posted by Eric at 11:49 PM | Comments (6)

    Sarah Palin Will Be One Term Governor

    It looks like Andrew "I had Trig Palin's Baby" Sullivan and the rest of the Palin haters have caused Sarah Palin to decline to run for a second term as Alaska's Governor. From Facebook.

    Some say things changed for me on August 29th last year - the day John McCain tapped me to be his running-mate - I say others changed.

    Let me speak to that for a minute.

    Political operatives descended on Alaska last August, digging for dirt. The ethics law I championed became their weapon of choice. Over the past nine months I've been accused of all sorts of frivolous ethics violations - such as holding a fish in a photograph, wearing a jacket with a logo on it, and answering reporters' questions.

    Every one - all 15 of the ethics complaints have been dismissed. We've won! But it hasn't been cheap - the State has wasted THOUSANDS of hours of YOUR time and shelled out some two million of YOUR dollars to respond to "opposition research" - that's money NOT going to fund teachers or troopers - or safer roads. And this political absurdity, the "politics of personal destruction" ... Todd and I are looking at more than half a million dollars in legal bills in order to set the record straight. And what about the people who offer up these silly accusations? It doesn't cost them a dime so they're not going to stop draining public resources - spending other peoples' money in their game.

    It's pretty insane - my staff and I spend most of our day dealing with THIS instead of progressing our state now. I know I promised no more "politics as usual," but THIS isn't what anyone had in mind for ALASKA.

    Even more interesting is that she is considering resignation from the Governor's Office.

    So what is my prediction for her next move? She is going to start running for President of the USA.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 09:37 PM | Comments (3)

    Support your local (non-AFA) Tea Party

    I like and support the Tea Party Movement. But as I explained in this post, I don't like the idea of anti-sex crusaders in the form of the American Family Association taking it over.

    So naturally, I was disappointed to see that the supposedly mainstream conservative Human Events, in its writeup of tomorrow's Tea Party Events, saw fit to discuss and link only the American Family Association's Tea Parties (which the group's website refers to as "AFA Registered"), in a manner clearly implying the AFA is responsible for the movement -- a preposterous notion.

    I can't think of a better way to destroy the Tea Party movement than for the AFA take them over, and I sincerely hope that is not allowed to happen.

    Unfortunately, there's not much I can do much one way or the other, as I'm not in a leadership position with any of the groups, and I'm not the type who goes to meetings. I'm not much of an activist, and I really don't like going to organized events with speakers. But I figured the least I could do was to donate some money to Tea Party Patriots.

    Go to a Tea Party event if you can tomorrow. And if you can't, I suggest making a donation.

    posted by Eric at 08:54 PM | Comments (3)

    The Latest Bikini Edition

    This year's July 4th Bikini edition is up at Power and Control (I keep GMT). Here are a couple of samples to give you an idea or ideas. You can click on the pictures for more information.

    Seeing Stars
    Ladies. I guarantee that most men watching this bikini will be seeing stars. Unless they are distracted by the stripes.

    For those who still may need a calendar, not exactly an American Flag motif. But still.

    The young lady in the picture sure has some great guns. The rifle she is holding looks pretty interesting too.

    You get the idea.

    I also have links to past bikini editions. Have a happy and exciting Fourth.

    posted by Simon at 08:05 PM | Comments (0)

    Art critics with better brains? Yes, it is scientifically possible!

    From a friend who asked "Who's paying for THIS?", I just learned about a study which trained pigeons to be art critics:

    Pigeons, it seems, can discriminate between art techniques and can even judge their quality.

    According to scientists, given the incentive of food, racing pigeons can be trained to study the colour, pattern and texture of paintings and evaluate them like an art critic.

    Like an art critic? Considering the state of art today, I'm not sure that that's much of an accomplishment, even for avians.

    But as I read more closely it appeared that professional art critics were not involved:

    Their experiment was divided into two halves: the first saw four pigeons placed in a chamber with a computer monitor displaying watercolour and pastel paintings by schoolchildren.

    The paintings were divided into 'good' and 'bad' categories by 11 adults, including an art teacher, depending on whether the images were clear and precise.

    Clear and precise? That's a dead giveaway that professional art critics were in no way involved in teaching these pigeons, who are probably by now better qualified to judge art than most art critics.
    The pigeons were shown some of the paintings from each category and rewarded with food when they pecked at the good pictures, but not the bad ones.

    They were then presented with a mixture of new and old paintings from both categories and the researchers noted the birds consistently pecked at the 'good' paintings more often.

    I have to say that while I don't approve of wasting taxpayers' money on studies like this, think of the money that could be saved by failing newspapers like the New York Times. Instead of paying out huge salaries to bird-brained art critics, they could simply keep a few pigeons on the roof, and they'd only need to spring for an occasional, say, $5.99 for a 5 lb. bag of pigeon food. For better bird brains! (Besides, pigeons already know how to hunt and peck, so they have basic keyboard skills, and while their reviews might need editing, isn't that what all those layers of editors and fact-checkers are for?)

    As the study proves, not all bird-brains are equal. A trained brain is better than an untrained brain.

    By the way, an earlier study by the same psychologist found that pigeons can distinguish Monet from Picasso, as well as between impressionism and cubism:

    psychologist Shigeru Watanabe and his colleagues at Keio University in Tokyo, describe how they trained pigeons to distinguish a Picasso from a Monet, and more generally, impressionism from cubism, by pecking the correct picture.

    They trained the pigeons to distinguish between Monet and Picasso with 90 per cent accuracy. Once trained, the pigeons maintained their ability even for works they had never seen before. And when presented with paintings of other impressionists, such as Cézanne and Renoir, the birds lumped these in with Monet's portfolio but distinguished them from works by cubists such as Georges Braque.

    The cluckings by protesting art critics were anticipated and addressed:
    Art critics might protest that these pigeons have not developed any aesthetic sensibility but have merely learnt to respond to simple cues, such as the sharp angles and bold colours of cubism compared with the fuzzy contours and pastel shades of the impressionists.

    But Watanabe and his colleagues showed the pigeons remained accurate judges of style even when the images were blurred, or shown only in black and white. "We integrate several cues to recognise which is impressionist and which is cubist," he says. "The pigeons may do the same thing."

    Indeed, the art critic's only remaining advantage is that they do not peck the paintings.

    Yes, and they probably don't leave their droppings on the drippings either. But so what?

    Again, the cleanup work is a job for the layers of editors and fact checkers.

    MORE: While it wasn't easy, I just taught this pigeon to quote Disraeli!


    Truly, art criticism is for the birds!

    posted by Eric at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)

    Pot Goes Legit

    I remember when the micro-computer trade shows started. A few years after the first ones we had an industry. I think hemp/marijuana will follow a similar track.

    This video was put out by the same folks who put out the It Gave Me Hope video. If you want to grow your own hope this book might be helpful:

    Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower's Bible

    H/T Drug Policy Forum of Texas

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:04 PM | Comments (0)

    Thank you for ignoring my heresy

    A post linked by Glenn Reynolds yesterday (about Barry Goldwater's revenge) reminded me of an excellent observation which bears rerepeating:

    "I became a conservative by being around liberals, and I became a libertarian by being around conservatives."
    That was Greg Gutfeld, in a hilarious ReasonTV interview.

    My experience was somewhat different. I became a libertarian by being around liberals, and I remained a libertarian by being around conservatives. In general, though, while I prefer hanging around conservatives to hanging around liberals, sometimes hot-button cultural issues will surface, and because I don't conform to the usual stereotypes, people misread me. Liberals assume I'm like them, and conservatives assume I'm like them. I probably put out the "wrong" signals, all the time, without meaning it. Liberals will assume I couldn't possibly be a life member of the NRA, and social conservatives will assume I'm a Rush Limbaugh fan who must take a dim view of homos. But in general, though, conservatives are more welcoming of political differences than liberals. If you say something a conservative disagrees with, he's not as get likely to get angry or turn pale like a seminary student who just met an admitted Satanist.

    Ann Althouse put it well a few years ago:

    the bloggers on the right link to you when they agree and ignore the disagreements, and the bloggers on the left link only for the things they disagree with, to denounce you with short posts saying you're evil/stupid/crazy, and don't even seem to notice all the times you've written posts that take their side.
    To which a commenter added,
    the Right is looking for converts and the Left is looking for heretics.
    John Hawkins weighed in, and cited Charles Krauthammer's fundamental law:
    Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.
    Actually, under Bush that rule became a bit fuzzier, because under the new liberal meme we had a conservative president who was both very stupid and very evil. A guy who couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time, yet who managed to plant explosive timers inside the World Trade Center just before having fake planes pretend to fly into the buildings -- while alerting the Jews not to go to work. Amazingly (and despite a plethora of government whistleblowers), that stupid evil genius never got caught!

    It was a little tough living through the Bushitler years, but I made it, and I voted for the evil stupid one twice -- all the while still managing to consider myself a libertarian. Plus, I voted for McCain, and considered myself a libertarian through that. While I like conservatives, and agree with them on many if not most things, I have stubborn little philosophical differences with certain aspects of the conservative philosophy, and I just don't want to be in bed with people like Ann Coulter and Michael Savage. Red meat culture war conservatism just plain turns me off. Plus, I don't think it's likely to remove Barack Obama from office.

    However, the fact remains that I have more in common with red meat conservatives than I do the liberals. They're also more likely to ignore my heresy.

    posted by Eric at 10:42 AM | Comments (13)

    Your candidate's adultery is worse than mine!

    Speaking of adultery (which almost everyone agrees is bad) I'm wondering whose adultery is worse -- Mark Sanford's or Newt Gingrich's. I realize that I'm not the only one asking, but the question was just sort of thrown in my face earlier as I read yet another strong online moral condemnation of the eminently condemnable Mark Sanford, only to see Newt's mug staring at me from an ad placed right smack in the middle of the text I was reading.


    Hey wait a second! I wondered. Newt had an affair, right? How come he gets to run for president and Mark Sanford not only shouldn't, but the latter should be kicked to the curb?

    Are some adulteries more immoral than others? Actually, yes. When Tom Delay discussed his adulterous affair in his book, he specifically said it was less immoral than that of Newt Gingrich:

    The difference between his own adultery and Gingrich's, he said, "is that I was no longer committing adultery by that time, the impeachment trial. There's a big difference." He added, "Also, I had returned to Christ and repented my sins by that time."
    So because Mark Sanford's affair is more recent (even if he has cut it off), he's still a lot guiltier than Tom or Newt.

    While there is a certain logic to the proximity in time argument, 2012 is still a ways off. But the problem I'm having is with the argument that adultery should be a disqualification from office, but only for some candidates.

    MORE: Commenting below, TigerHawk raises an interesting point about prostitution:

    Eliot Spitzer tried to claim that routinely patronizing prostitutes was less bad than what Sanford did, because he did not fall in love. We took a light-hearted poll on the subject, and our readers see it quite the other way.
    Unfortunately for the purpose of polling, this issue is so hopelessly contaminated by the partisan political considerations (as well as Spitzer's personal dishonesty and his background in prosecuting prostitutes) that it's tough to get a reading of how people might feel if polled in a politically neutral manner.

    As I observed in reply to TigerHawk, many Victorian women used to consider prostitution a necessary evil. Have evolved in our thinking to a better, cleaner world in which loveless sexual cheating is more evil than sexual cheating with someone who is loved? Has sex ceased to be a matter of getting one's rocks off? Common sense would suggest to me that while cheating on a spouse is bad, loveless cheating would be less of a threat, and thus better.

    But that's just me. How about a poll?

    If your spouse cheated on you, which of the following would you consider worse?
    Sex with someone he or she loved.
    Sex with a paid, unloved prostitute.
    It would make no difference at all as both are equally wrong.
    I'd be delighted to have an opportunity for retaliatory cheating!
  free polls

    If you don't like being polled on this issue, don't blame me! It was TigerHawk's fault -- for being a bad influence and creating a light-hearted poll climate!

    AFTERTHOUGHT: Looking at that poll, it occurs to me that women and men might answer the questions very differently.

    Also, I revised the poll to change "It would make no difference at all" to "It would make no difference at all as both are equally wrong."

    posted by Eric at 08:35 AM | Comments (8)

    Whose favorite villains are to blame for the latest horror?

    When I wrote about the Mark Sanford sex scandal, I had no idea that it might be considered even remotely related to gay marriage. Well, apparently it is -- at least to some people. Rod Dreher explains:

    The argument goes like this:

    1. Mark Sanford is a social conservative who advocated against same-sex marriage rights.

    2. But by having an adulterous affair, he dishonored his own marriage vows.

    3. Therefore it is hypocritical for him -- and by extension, other social conservatives -- to argue against same-sex marriage.

    4. Because some opponents of same-sex marriage are unfaithful to their spouses, there is no good reason to oppose same-sex marriage.

    To demonstrate the absurdity, Dreher analogizes to the latest horror story from Duke University, in which a gay administrator adopted and then allegedly molested a small boy:
    It's an absurd argument, but that doesn't stop more than a few people from pushing it. If you are one of the people who find its logic persuasive, though, then surely you agree that the arrest of a gay Duke University official on charges of having prostituted his adopted five-year-old son on the Internet is a convincing argument against allowing gay adoptions.

    It is in no way a convincing argument against gay adoption, and no argument at all. Neither does Sanford's failings have a thing to do with the rightness or wrongness of the case against same-sex marriage.

    He's right of course. There are plenty of arguments to be made against gay marriage and gay adoption, but saying that because a gay man molested an adopted child there shouldn't be gay adoptions is about as logical as saying that because a gay man murdered his lover there shouldn't be gay marriage. I'm sure there are people who would make such arguments, though. (Yes, there are.)

    As it turns out, the man accused of prostituting his five year old was also very active in the Episcopal Church. Should such truly horrific acts reflect badly on the church? According to some, yes, it should.

    The poor child subject to this sordid event should symbolize the horrid evil being promoted by [The Episcopal Church].
    What horrid evil is that? Is the Episcopal Church promoting pedophilia? If so, then why is the local church scrambling to remove pictures of the man from the web site?

    I'm sure some will say this awful case implicates Duke University as well. Considering the way so many at Duke behaved towards the falsely accused Lacrosse team, there will probably be people who will want to retaliate by somehow using this case against Duke, but I don't see much of a connection. Maybe a double standard, though, were the case to be ignored or go unreported. (Uproar over the innocent Lacrosse players, and silence over the pedophile.) So far, the latter does seem to be receiving considerable press attention -- at Duke and elsewhere. (CNN, however, does not mention that the adopted boy is black.)

    The frenzy to blame people other than the accused reminds me of the way some people reacted to the murderer at the Holocaust Museum.

    In what has become a numbingly familiar pattern over the decades, when deranged killers strike, people with political axes to grind will invoke their favorite demons for blame. In what I'll call the "Columbine tradition," the Columbine killers were said by leftists to be a product of "the gun culture," and by rightists to be a product of the "climate" of the 1960s. (And, of course, "depravity on the Internet.")

    Why people don't focus on the individuals themselves, I don't know. It would be one thing if a killer were acting on behalf of (or with the approval of) someone else, or an actual identifiable organization. But when a murder is committed by a single individual, it makes about as much sense to blame "the right" or "the left" (much less a "climate" created by either) as it would to blame the Republican or Democratic Party if he happened to belong to one of them.

    Well, at least no one (so far) is blaming the Duke child molester on a climate created by Mark Sanford.

    This stuff gets a little tedious.

    MORE: Townhall writer Mike Adams implicates the deceased Michael Jackson for a symbolic coincidence:

    That Frank Lombard was arrested on the day of Michael Jackson's death is highly symbolic. Christians need to take a break from worshipping this culture and the idols it produces.
    Hear hear! A guy commits a heinous crime and the culture is to blame.

    If it weren't all so predictable.... Really, I feel as if I've written this post a hundred times over the years.

    posted by Eric at 08:25 PM | Comments (2)

    Hating Sarah Palin is so gay!

    As regular readers know, I love Sarah Palin. (So does co-blogger M. Simon).

    What I don't love, though, is this attempt by Stacy McCain to link hatred of Sarah Palin to homosexuality (which McCain sees as synonymous with Andrew Sullivan's view of motherhood and vaginas). Because the man is an influential conservative as well as a supporter of Sarah Palin, I think this will hurt Sarah Palin more than it hurts Sullivan, or Ken Layne, or the allegedly mother-hating homos.

    Moreover, as a Palin supporter who still clings to the belief that a libertarian-conservative alliance might be possible, I think it is very poor strategy.

    But it might be that McCain's goal was more to build blog traffic than to help Palin. I can't be sure, but I like the way Glenn Reynolds summarized James Joyner's post yesterday:

    Stacy McCain = Ken Layne = Andrew Sullivan
    All three use ad hominem insults to build traffic. Layne is the vicious editor of the vicious Wonkette, which launches vicious attacks like this against Palin. Vicious though he might be, I fail to see how that makes him a "cocksucker" as McCain claims. Maybe it's to contrast him with Sullivan, the mere mother hater with an anti-vagina obsession. There's no denying that these approaches get lots of hits.

    Sean Kinsell does a great job of attacking the bad logic behind the proposition that gays hate Palin because they hate moms with vaginas. Such a great job, in fact, that I don't feel the need for extended comment on the nature of the logic. (After all, don't we already know that your typical white conservative hates Obama because conservatives are racists and Obama is black? Yawn...)

    McCain seems to think that he has now destroyed (and eviscerated) Andrew Sullivan. Has he? I looked, and Andrew Sullivan doesn't seem to have been slowed down at all, much less destroyed. Has he been "smacked down" * as another conservative leader claims? Apparently in the minds of his critics, but does anyone honestly think that those who read and agree with Sullivan will be persuaded in the least by this? Will the readers of Ken "Wonkette" Layne now desert him because McCain has finally exposed him as a "vicious cocksucker"? I don't think so. No; all this will do is generate more mutual animosity. I admit, that's quite a feat, and it took some doing, because the present levels of animosity seemed at an all time high.

    Sure, he has the First Amendment right to call Andrew Sullivan and Ken Layne anything he wants, just as they have the right to malign a retarded baby and promote crackpot conspiracy theories. (Theories that BTW have become an independent form of Trutherism beyond that advanced by Andrew Sullivan. Yeah, so maybe I should say "there's nothing gay about Trutherism" while I'm at it.)

    When Ann Coulter used the word "faggot" to characterize John Edwards, I defended her right to say it, but wondered whether any good would ever come of it. Once again, I think that Republicans in positions of leadership ought to pick their battles and choose their words more carefully.

    The only message I can see that will be remembered from this is that a lot of right wingers think that those who hate Sarah Palin are gay (as if there is no greater insult) and should be called names. A new meme for the left to proudly wave.

    I fail to see how this will resonate in Sarah Palin's favor.

    I realize that many people are saying that Stacy McCain is only doing this for the traffic. I can't blame any blogger for wanting traffic, but I do think that if he likes Sarah Palin as much as he claims does, McCain might think twice about whether getting more hits is worth the damage he does to his cause.

    When the dust settles, no one will remember the traffic he got. What they will remember is the shining new conservative principle he established.

    If you hate Sarah Palin, you must be gay!


    Does that mean if you like her, you must be straight?

    * One thing I've learned in six years of blogging is that no one is ever "smacked down" or "destroyed" by blog posts. (I say this because I was once naive enough to imagine that I had smacked down an unscrupulous news site called Capitol Hill Blue. Silly me.)

    UPDATE: McCain has now gone from attacking gays to attacking lawyers. And damning them:

    Damn lawyers.

    Adding insult to personal injury, as it were, the tort-bar vultures run TV ads -- illiterate submorons watch lots of TV, y'know -- encouraging everybody who has ever been in an accident to sue the bejeebers out somebody.

    Damn lawyers.

    All legislation is written by lawyers, for the exclusive benefit of lawyers. The paperwork must be approved by lawyers. The various disclaimers and questionaires and the valuable time wasted in complying with all this bureaucratic nonsense . . .

    Damn lawyers.


    In this case, I happen to agree. But only because I'm a self-hating lawyer!

    MORE: My thanks to Sean Kinsell for the link. Sean has some further thoughts about Sarah Palin:

    ...if the only feedback she's getting comes from her media supporters, the only message she's getting is that Real Americans love her to pieces just the way she is and that the only detractors she has are motivated by pro-abortion, anti-gun, anti-family, misogynist animus. I think that's cause for worry.
    Especially for her supporters who want her to win.

    As Franklin said, "Love your enemies, for they tell you your faults."

    UPDATE (07/03/09): Now that Sarah Palin has resigned, I naturally find myself wondering about the timing of this fascinating blame-the-gays meme.

    posted by Eric at 03:34 PM | Comments (4)

    That Should Work
    That Should Work

    H/T R. Dave via e-mail who sent me to Gateway Pundit to get the whole picture.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:02 AM | Comments (2)

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