Archive for April, 2012

It’s a Dog-Eat-Dog World

From Glenn ReynoldsUPDATE: Reader A. Sorenson writes: “The media now needs to think twice about being Obama’s lapdog.” Heh. Indeed.


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Wretchard, in the comments, gets to the heart of the Leftist impulse, and, while he’s at it, of limited government. I’m going to quote the comment in full, because this strikes me as deeply insightful. It captures the essence of the Obama administration as well as anything I’ve ever seen.

The drama in China features our old friends, the useful fools and the players. In order to climb to the top and displace their rivals, every now and again an enterprising group of villanos undertakes to recruit enough estupidos to back a play to overthrow their rivals. So they sell the estupidos these pie in the sky promises, which are really like callback functions whose true value returns down the road.

Sometimes the scam is called “the new left” other times “the old left”, still others may name it “hope and change”, but it’s the same thing. An async call to the Stash. In the meantime the villains make their way to the center of power while the useful fools are beside themselves with gleeful anticipation.

“Boy when that callback function returns we’re all going to be rich! Our kids are all going to college. Everyone’s going to get an affordable home. We’ll get money for nothing and our chicks for free!”

Well you hope. But in the meanwhile, since its an asynchronous call, the aspiring villano are free to proceed with the process of gaining power while the estupidos sit around spellbound waiting for the promised goodies to come back from the server.

The game is for the villains to get into power and barricade themselves in before the server either returns an error or presents them with an empty data set, which it will if the Stash is after all, nonexistent.

This game is sometimes called the “check is in the mail” and kicking the can down the road. It is a game all politicians know how to play, although one of the best known of these scams, known as ‘communism’ appears to be the most successful since it gets the estupidos to go kill each other so the villanos can live in palaces and live the life of kings.

The whole process of limited government relies on the widespread belief there is no Worker’s Paradise, just a world that, with some luck, can get a little better each year. And there are no saviors or Vanguards of the Proletariat, just representatives who are no better and hopefully no worse, than the Common Man. Only if there are no supply of willing estupidos is there any hope of curbing the antics of villanos.

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Thanks to James Pethokoukis and economists Richard V. Burkhauser, Jeff Larrimore, and Kosali I. Simon for tackling the Left’s absurd claims about income stagnation for the middle class. I’ve never understood how the stagnation argument gets any traction, since it’s obviously false. Anyone who has lived in America for the past several decades knows that there has been a tremendous rise in the median family’s standard of living. Look at the vast and affluent areas of metropolitan Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, Phoenix, Seattle, and a host of other cities—areas that were undeveloped forty years ago—and tell me that increases in income and wealth have been restricted to the top 1%. Someone’s living in all those areas, and there aren’t enough people in the top 1% to explain even a tiny percentage of it.

Here’s the key chart:

See that? Inequality is down over that period. That’s in spite of massive immigration that leads to a flood of newcomers coming in at or near the bottom of the distribution. People in the bottom two quintiles have seen increases of at least 25%; those in the middle quintile, almost 37%. The effect to which leftists point is due chiefly to decreases in the size of households.

Even the above numbers can understate the rise in living standards considerably. Mom and Dad are bringing in $50K while junior is in college. Junior gets a $20K a year job and moves out, filing his own tax form. Per household income has dropped precipitously, from $50K to $35K—a 30% decline! But everyone is better off. Per person income is up 40%.

The moral: Be careful about statistics. You’re going to hear a lot of them during this campaign season, and a lot of them are going to contradict what you see around you every day. Trust your eyes, and watch those statistical arguments very, very carefully.

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I’ve been very busy getting two papers ready, so I haven’t been posting. But there are some stories to which I want to draw your attention.

1. High gasoline prices are just one obvious way in which President Obama’s environmental and energy policies are bearing their intended and foreseen fruits. I’m delighted that people are remembering his 2008 claim: “Under my plan… electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Yes, this is a war on coal: “If somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them.” But it’s also a war on fracking, on oil production (see “Gulf of Mexico, drilling ban”), and on energy use generally. Liberals have begun scoffing at the thought that the President is responsible for high gasoline prices. And when liberals scoff, which is often, it means they have no argument and are trying to deny the obvious.

2. Obama seems to be tying himself to the “higher taxes” mast for the general election. It starts with the Buffett rule, which will affect only 400 families (one of which is Mitt Romney’s) and raise very little money (see above). Maybe the Republicans should respond in kind:

The Republicans could say, sure, we’ll go along with the Buffett Rule if you Democrats will agree to the Reynolds Tax, a 50% surtax on the increased incomes of former government officials when they move into the private sector, working for the same companies they once regulated. Or Republicans could offer an amendment incorporating the Clooney Rule, based on the fact that actors and actresses are such advocates of higher taxes: a new, 80% tax rate on all income in excess of $1 million earned by acting in any film or theatrical production. Or they could counter with the K Street Rule, an 80% tax on all income in excess of $1 million earned by lobbying. Or the Ambulance Chaser Tax, an 80% levy on all lawyer contingent fee income in excess of 10% of a recovery.

But the real issue is tax increases on the middle class, which are already slated to happen in January 2013, and will if Obama wins reelection.

3. James Fallows recalls an episode of Ethics in America, a wonderful program that brought top policy makers, thinkers, and doers together to discuss ethical issues under the brilliant guidance of Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree. I remember the show, and this particular episode, well. It says a lot about the ethics of journalists. Ogletree asked Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace what they would do if they were filming in the company of an enemy unit which encountered and began to plan to ambush an American patrol. Jennings said he would do what he could to warn the American soldiers, but Wallace said he would roll the tape, doing nothing of the kind.

Ogletree pushed Wallace. Didn’t Jennings have some higher duty to do something other than just roll film as soldiers from his own country were being shot?

“No,” Wallace said flatly and immediately. “You don’t have a higher duty. No. No. You’re a reporter!”

Jennings backtracked fast. Wallace was right, he said: “I chickened out.” Jennings said that he had “played the hypothetical very hard.”He had lost sight of his journalistic duty to remain detached.

As Jennings said he agreed with Wallace, several soldiers in the room seemed to regard the two of them with horror. Retired Air Force General Brent Scowcroft, who would soon become George Bush’s National Security Advisor, said it was simply wrong to stand and watch as your side was slaughtered. “What’s it worth?” he asked Wallace bitterly. “It’s worth thirty seconds on the evening news, as opposed to saving a platoon.”…

A few minutes later Ogletree turned to George M. Connell, a Marine colonel in full uniform. Jaw muscles flexing in anger, with stress on each word, Connell said, “I feel utter contempt.”

Two days after this hypothetical episode, Connell said, Jennings or Wallace might be back with the American forces—and could be wounded by stray fire, as combat journalists often had been before. When that happens, he said, they are “just journalists.” Yet they would expect American soldiers to run out under enemy fire and drag them back, rather than leaving them to bleed to death on the battlefield.

“I’ll do it!” Connell said. “And that is what makes me so contemptuous of them. Marines will die going to get . . . a couple of journalists.” The last words dripped disgust.

Not even Ogletree knew what to say. There was dead silence for several seconds. Then a square-jawed man with neat gray hair and aviator glasses spoke up. It was Newt Gingrich, looking a generation younger and trimmer than he would when he became speaker of the House, in 1995. One thing was clear from this exercise, Gingrich said. “The military has done a vastly better job of systematically thinking through the ethics of behavior in a violent environment than the journalists have.”

4. Former NASA scientists have come out against the global warming hysteria. A key sentence: “We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data.” There’s some background to this story that few people know. NASA’s administrator, Charles Bolden, asked a team of his top scientists to put together what was known about global warming from the literature and what NASA itself could determine from its own databases and research. They did so—and produced a report sharply critical of the anthropogenic global warming theory. Bolden ordered all copies of the report destroyed, and gave orders that no one was to speak of any of it. Former scientists are speaking out because no one currently with the agency is permitted to speak out. But NASA data casts serious doubt on the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis.

Comrade Chen Xiaodan

5. Richard Fernandez, as always, is spot on:

The thing about Communism, at least to the uninitiated, is that it appears to be identical in all respects to a hereditary aristocracy. If one didn’t know better it would seem that the more Communist a country, such as North Korea, the more it resembles a monarchy. In China the children of the Polituburo members are actually called princesses and princes and they gad about in a style that make the current European royalty look like a bunch of low-rent grifters.

How admirable then, that intellectuals like Cornell West, Van Jones and Bill Ayers can go around and seriously sell socialism and Marxism in the name of “equality” and “egalitarianism”. You know, because they are one with the Common Man. Their superior educations must provide a true insight into the nature of Marxist societies because to uninitiated the whole thing looks like a scam to trick people into waging “revolution”, in which a few odd million will be horribly killed, to create a worker’s paradise and Green society. Except all the resulting outcomes we actually examine reveal only societies ruled by an aristocracy no different from, nay more lavish than the Court of the Sun King’s at Versailles. Versailles didn’t even have indoor plumbing….

Future generations may wonder how it was possible for sophisticated Western intellectuals to actually devote their lives to bringing about Communism as if it were anything more than a swindle.

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Texas Rangers trying hard to get it right in response to horrible accident last year. I believe they did.

Ranger erect statue of Shannon and Cooper Stone. And a tribute to all their fans. What a tough thing to have to go through. To their credit they kept it simple and heartfelt. I think it’s great work.



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Pictured is what’s remaining of Trinity Lutheran in Dallas TX. I got this from Google Maps (what a resource, right?). I looked it up after receiving an email from my brother with a news story that it is to become a branch of Dallas YMCA. From dallasnews.com:

The Y has plans to resurrect the site of the vacant Trinity Lutheran Church — a block away from the present building — into a new branch, and most nearby residents appear to support the project. “We can’t do anything else but get better, hopefully, and more spacious,” Skinner said. The Y has a contract on the church property, at the corner of Gaston and Loving avenues, and the Dallas Plan Commission will consider a zoning-change application in May. If approved, the White Rock branch may open the new facility by 2014.

This news is sad to me because this is where my grandparents worshipped for over 40 years. They both passed away before the church was shuttered. I attended both their memorial services there. I watched my grandfather suddenly interrupt the pastor eulogizing my grandmother, his wife, calling for a hymn to be played and sung, the hymn my grandmother had played at her baptism generations ago, and he sang it without aid of the hymnbook – at a time when he sometimes failed to remember his grown children and grandchildren. An amazing feat to me.

From a very young age, my family travelled from Louisiana up to Dallas, and spend numerous Easter Sundays in the pews before going back to the grandparents house to hunt Easter eggs with the cousins, and of course later I went with my own kids.

It is sad to think there are other weddings, baptisms, Christmas Eves, and weekly Sunday services that will vanish from memory.

Thankfully, my faith tells me God has not forgotten, and welcomes home all those who worked and worshipped here. I am thankful for this place that took care of my grandparents because the results of their lives were wonderful, and I remember them often (my grandfather’s beloved rocking chair sits in my living room).

PS  I got to meet the great Dallas Cowboy defensive lineman Jethro Pugh one Sunday as he also attended here. Enormous thrill.

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