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Archive for February, 2010

John Hinderaker rips apart Frank Rich’s New York Times column on—well, it’s hard to say, exactly; Joseph Stack, the Tea Party movement, Sarah Palin, the Republican Party, and assorted other things that have nothing to do with one another. Normally, I wouldn’t bother with Rich’s sort of inanity. It’s filled with vague phrases like “It was a flare with the dark afterlife of an omen.” (Kind of like “emanation of a penumbra,” perhaps?) Republicans are somehow to be associated with Stack’s flying a plane into a building because they “gave it a pass.” It’s the sort of column that is so stupid, so mindless, so foolish, and so disconnected that you lose IQ points in the act of reading it.

I point you toward it, and Hinderaker’s masterful dissection of it, because I’ve begun to realize that many people on the Left think that the style of “reasoning” in Rich’s column is actually a sign of great intelligence. They string associations together, assuming, fallaciously, that if A is associated with B, and B with C, A must be associated with C. But A, B, and C don’t have to be associated in the world—those who style themselves as most intelligent would snicker at the suggestion that there is such a thing—but only in their own minds. The less connection there seems to be, in fact, the more intelligent one is for linking them together. In this kind of discourse, in other words, one scores points by making connections that are, on their face, absurd. A guy goes nuts and flies a plane into a building, leaving behind a note filled with Marxist ravings? Must be Sarah Palin’s fault. Tea Party protestors worry that the government is spending too much money? They’re anarchists in favor of political violence. To describe this sort of discourse as cartoonish is unfair to cartoons. But the Left considers it clever, and thinks that moderates and conservatives are stupid for not being able to see the connections they “see,” or, more accurately, imagine.

Shame on the New York Times for printing Rich’s rubbish. And shame on the people who consider it insightful and intelligent.

UPDATE: Ron Radosh (“An Embarrassment to the New York Times“) and Ed Driscoll (“If our Colleges and Universities Do Not Breed Men Who Riot”) join in this morning. Radosh helpfully reminds us that advocacy of political violence has actually been a recurring feature of the Left. But I disagree about one thing. I’m not sure it’s possible to embarrass the New York Times any longer.

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Instapundit challenges you to caption this photo!

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Fierce Moral Urgency?

The Democrats extend the Patriot Act, and President Obama signs it into law. Listen for the screams about injustice, rights violations, and creeping fascism.

<…Crickets….>

So, were those concerns cynical political ploys all along? Or is the idea that handing power to Republicans is dangerous, but handing it to Democrats is perfectly OK?

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ESPN Radio had a quick little blurb that the NFL is considering changes to its OT rules for the playoffs.  The rule change will be discussed and decided on later this year:

The competition committee will discuss the new concept with teams and players at league meetings March 21-24 in Orlando, Fla., when it could come to a vote. At least two thirds of the teams would need to agree to the changes for new rules to be adopted (emphasis added).

Two thirds agree? Isn’t two thirds of the teams restraining to this important bit of legistlation? Wouldn’t Americans be satisfied with a 51% majority? Don’t we need to make it easier for change to occur, regardless of the league founders’ intent? Yet these are the arguments given to convince us that the Senate reconciliation process will be used to jam healthcare legislation through Congress.

Rules and values are important to have, until they affect the Left, and then the rules and values need to be altered to meet the Left’s agenda. The NFL will follow its procedures to bring changes to its game, Congress should too.

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RadioSentry

Philo has given me a key to the executive washroom to post a few notes. I listen to the radio during the day and hear items I think are interesting. A few sentences here and there, a quote, a link, and I will be done. I don’t home in on just talk radio either, but podcasts, livestreams, music, sports, news and stuff.

For example, I began listening to the Dennis Miller Show about a year ago, and now I go to it daily if I have time and remember. Very clever, informed, and humorous, Dennis provides good radio. And if your streaming, all sorts of music instead of commercials.  Today was Miller’s sidekick Sal’s last day. Sal has a rather caustic, dark wit that is usually accompanied by the opening measure of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in d minor afterward. Adios Sal.  PS Dennis had on Jerome Corsi today of World Net Daily – his introduction and theme song on the show is the old Lost In Space music. PS there is a free Dennis Miller Radio app on itunes – plays random segments continuously.

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History of the World

Sports Talk radio is an unlikely source for recommendations to enlightening and educational listening. Yet based on a hearty review by The Ticket’s Bob Sturm, co-host of Bad Radio in Dallas TX, I have decided to give the BBC’s podcasts of “History Of The World In 100 Objects” a tumble.

Of the few I have heard, these little programs are quite listenable, enjoyable, informative, and at about 14 minutes not a huge investment of time.

One episode’s subject is a 2500+ year old bronze Chinese bell, which leads to discussion of Confucius, and his philosophies on music, harmony, and civilized societies. Another is about a mask from the Olmec’s of central Mexico, and elements of their existence.

These podcasts are free downloads off iTunes. So far it appears only 30 have been published, easy to catch up on, and  there are 70 to go – something to look forward to. Get some and expand the little gray cells into a big brain.

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For whatever reason, my personal brand of self-expression seems to tickle Kathryn.

What can I say?  After 6 minutes of actuarial foreplay, with a climax of “If you think that [the American people] want a government takeover of health care, I respectfully submit, you aren’t listening to them,” my conservative bodice is officially ripped.   What isn’t shown in the video is the sputtering, rambling, shambling, unfocused, and incoherent response from President Red Pill-Blue Pill.  I sat through it: it was long enough for me to finish my cigarette.

OK, it’s a girl thing.  Philo- keep your shirt on.

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Tripling Down

The Obama administration has staked its policies to a vast expansion of the welfare state, tripling the largest deficit that Bush ever accumulated, just when the European model Obama seems to admire is crashing. The welfare state is best understood as a Ponzi scheme that rewards the present at the expense of the future. It’s a great Ponzi scheme, because  the marks are required, by force of law, to buy in, and because you borrow against the future when you run out of marks. Eventually, however, two problems emerge. People lose faith that the future will be better than the present, so they stop having children. Slowing birth rates slow the growth of the pool of marks, requiring greater and greater borrowing against the future. But people can see the trends, and stop lending. Hence, Greece. The Obama administration, lemming-like, is eager to run off the same cliff.

Here’s how Robert J. Samuelson puts it:

Every advanced society, including the United States, has a welfare state. Though details differ, their purposes are similar: to support the unemployed, poor, disabled and aged. All welfare states face similar problems: burgeoning costs as populations age; an over-reliance on debt financing; and pressures to reduce borrowing that create pressures to cut welfare spending. High debt and the welfare state are at odds. It’s an open question whether the collision will cause social and economic turmoil….

The threat to the euro bloc ultimately stems from an overcommitted welfare state. Greece’s situation is so difficult because a low birth rate and rapidly graying population automatically increase old-age assistance even as the government tries to cut its spending. At issue is the viability of its present welfare state.

Almost every advanced country — the United States, Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, Belgium and others — faces some combination of huge budget deficits, high debts, aging populations and political paralysis. It’s an unstable mix. Present deficits may aid economic recovery, but the persistence of those deficits threatens long-term prosperity. The same unpleasant choices confronting Greece await most wealthy nations, even if they pretend otherwise.

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Snow in Austin!

Cactus in the Snow

It’s snowing in Austin, Texas, with temperatures more than 30 degrees below average for this time of year. Meanwhile, Climategate, which has become a huge scandal with lots of media coverage everywhere but the U.S., continues to reveal the extent to which global warming has been a pseudo-scientific con game. Climate scientists have withdrawn claims of rising sea levels. Charlie Martin paints the big picture:

The emails showed, clearly, that some of the widely mocked conspiracy theories were true. There had actually been a concerted effort to prevent the “skeptics” (or “denialists”) from getting access to data, and to prevent anyone who didn’t accept the AGW theory wholeheartedly from being published. If the skeptics were stubborn enough, there were even conspiracies to attack their professional credentials and to effectively eject them from the scientific community. There were even half-joking threats to “beat the s*** out of them.”….

One primary public relations argument for the warmists has been the threat of the Himalayan glaciers — which are the source for many rivers in India — disappearing by 2035. That turned out to be based on a conversation, reported by a journalist, repeated by the World Wildlife Fund, and included, without citation, in the IPCC AR4.

This showed up on Roger Pielke Sr.’s blog. It spread through numerous outlets (including PJM), and the IPCC was forced to withdraw that statement. Further digging found that the WWF’s unreviewed position papers were used dozens of times to support the “peer reviewed” assessment reports.

Roger Pielke Jr. then demonstrated that peer reviewed research showing there was no evidence that AGW was causing increased storm intensity or storm damage was published by the IPCC as concluding the exact opposite.

An increasing body of evidence suggests that the methods used to “homogenize” global temperature data were very effectively adding a warming bias to that data — a “thumb on the scale” that appears to account for a good bit of the observed warming. Opaque methodology and poor data archiving make it very difficult to reliably, repeatably reconstruct even the homogenized temperatures. And the Climategate emails revealed ways in which people whose research contradicted AGW were marginalized and isolated.

There is more — much more — to come on the science and how it has been distorted.

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Are the Democrats going to seize 401Ks and other retirement accounts? They are the greatest mechanism for achieving financial independence, allowing people of modest incomes to retire as millionaires—millionaires who won’t need government to do everything for them. So of course the Democrats would like nothing better than to obliterate them.

That would not only be disastrous economically—see Argentina—but also disastrous politically, losing the Democrats a gigantic voting bloc for at least a generation. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen; Obama and the congressional leadership seem to want to charge every windmill they can find, let the consequences be what they may. As John Hinderaker says,

When citizens who have the ability to invest in our economy don’t dare do so, for fear that their savings will be stolen by the government, we are reverting to an earlier and far poorer economic era. But that, apparently, is what the Obama administration wants. Here, as in so many other ways, we are sailing in uncharted waters.

Well, not exactly uncharted. Look at Argentina.

You can’t say you weren’t warned.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds doubts it will happen, not only because too many lawyers have 401Ks—that’s Hinderaker’s reason—but for another reason as well: “Aside from that, I think that we would see — literally, not figuratively — members of Congress swinging from lampposts if that happened.” Maybe. But the fact that things like this have taken place elsewhere without sparking revolution gives me doubts.

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