Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Can't A Guy Get A "Do Over"?

Wildwood councilman quits, then asks for post back:

Bruce Colella admits he let his anger get the best of him when he abruptly resigned from the Wildwood City Council during a contentious council meeting Monday night.

In fact, it only took him about an hour and a half to realize his mistake and take back his resignation.

But now, it's uncertain what effect that momentary lapse will have on Colella's ability to remain in office.

Mayor Tim Woerther says he doesn't know if in fact Colella is still a council member.

Just after he informed the audience he was stepping down, Colella followed it up with a message confirming the resignation sent from his Blackberry at 10:05 p.m Monday. It said he was resigning for personal reasons.

Then at 11:32 p.m., Colella changed his mind.

"I may have acted hastily in my previous missive," he wrote in another email. "Please rescind my resignation."

Woerther declined to do so. Instead at 12:28 a.m. on Tuesday, Woerther replied to Colella's initial e-mail, saying that he was accepting Colella's resignation.

The timing is critical.

Colella maintains he made an offer to resign. The resignation wasn't accepted. Then he withdrew the offer. Therefore, according to contract law, he never resigned and is still on the council. The mayor, Colella argues, had no authority to accept his resignation.

Woerther says he's not so sure.

I'd love to see this make it to court. I really would.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Our Cultural Ignorance Shocks Me

I saw this and cringed: Lincoln Was 'The Man' First


Abraham Lincoln wasn't just honest. He was The Man! long before Shaq and others who claim that title. The recently reopened Ford's Theatre Museum reveals that among the artifacts it may display is a Lincoln inaugural medallion etched with these words: "Thou Art The Man." Gloria Swift, museum curator, says, "Every time I hear the current phraseology of that, I'm always thinking of that coin, and I'm like, oh, yeah, let me tell you, it goes way back."

Look, I'm not a huge Bible reader, but even I looked at this and thought "This has to come from scripture."

Sure enough.

2 Samuel 12:7-11


And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.

Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.

Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.

Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.

The connection is pretty obvious, although Lincoln seems to be being equated with Nathan and not king David in that it is Lincoln who is informing us of our sins and leading us towards repentance.

No wonder my students cannot make such connections. Even our journalists can't.

Hockey Sticks Belong In Hockey Games...And Nowhere Else

More of what looks like outright fraud in the wild and wacky world of AGW belief: Cherry Picking of Historic Proportions

The Briffa temperature graphs have been widely cited as evidence by the IPCC, yet it appears they were based on a very carefully selected set of data, so select, that the shape of the graph would have been totally transformed if the rest of the data had been included.

Kieth Briffa used 12 samples to arrive at his version of the hockey stick and refused to provide his data for years. When McIntyre finally got hold of it, and looked at the 34 samples that Briffa left out of his graphs, a stark message was displayed. McIntyre describes it today as one of the most disquieting images he’s ever presented.

Here is the image in question:



Not only does the cherry picking of data to use look bad, but researchers had been denied access to the data for years making any independent assessment of the original findings impossible to carry out. (Yeah, that sounds like science. /eye roll)

Here is QandO's take:

I call it the “great unraveling”. The hoax is coming unglued. And this shameful conduct will set real science back 100 years.

The question is, will the politicians see it before it is too late? Will the administration which promised that science would again take the forefront actually keep its word and ensure that happens? Methinks we’re going to find out that a political agenda and ideology are much more powerful than science. Science, quite honestly, is only useful to politicians – any politician – as long as it advances their agenda. If it doesn’t then the politician will claim it to be false science – regardless of how overwhelming the evidence is to the contrary.

Remember, this now discredited "data" was a main pillar of the IPCC climate change report that is being used to justify the alarmist ideological agenda. This behavior is shameful, and it is time for the scientific community to step forward and correct the record. After all, it was their negligence that has been causing the problems in the first place.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Morons Abound

Really they are everywhere:

The US Secret Service is investigating a poll posted on social networking site Facebook, asking people if they think President Obama "should be killed".

The poll, posted on Saturday, was taken off the site as soon as the company was made aware of it.

It was put up on the site using a third-party application that was unconnected with the social networking site itself.

US Officials will take "the appropriate investigative steps," a spokesman said.

The poll, described by Facebook as "offensive", asked respondents "Should Obama be killed?" and offered four possible responses: "No", "Maybe", "Yes", and "Yes if he cuts my health care".

Really, I have to wonder what the poll creator was smoking.

I also wonder if authorities are gonna try to investigate anyone who answered the poll, if that is even possible.

Commander In Chief? Eh... Not So Much

I can't tell if this is good news or bad news:

The military general credited with capturing Saddam Hussein and killing the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, says he has spoken with President Obama only once since taking command in Afghanistan.

"I’ve talked to the president, since I’ve been here, once on a VTC [video teleconference]," Gen. Stanley McChrystal told CBS reporter David Martin in a television interview that aired Sunday.

"You’ve talked to him once in 70 days?" Mr. Martin followed up.

"That is correct," the general replied.

Part of me finds this shocking and a gross dereliction of Presidential duty. Another part of me is kinda glad that Obama, who seems completely at sea when it comes to anything military, has decided to give the whole Commander in Chief thing a miss.

So, good news, bad news.

I Want The Federal Government Out Of My House

Didn't we kill a whole lot of British once upon a time for something analogous to this?

Cap and trade is back in the news. By the end of this month, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is expected to unveil new legislation along the lines of the Waxman-Markey bill, which passed the House on June 26.

That bill contains 397 new regulations. One of them would affect almost everyone who buys or sells a home. If Waxman-Markey becomes law, homes for sale that qualify as “federally related transactions” — which is almost all of them — would be required to undergo an environmental inspection.

Many politicians are upset about depressed housing prices. And true, environmental inspections are one way to raise them. But this is not the way to do it. Sen. Boxer should see to it that the Senate version of cap and trade leaves the environmental inspection provision out.

Inspections are not free. Nor is fixing the inevitable violations. Compliance with new energy-efficiency standards would make homes, especially older ones, more expensive. Selling one’s home would become even harder than it already is in this down market if Waxman-Markey-style cap and trade becomes law.

QandO sees it this way:

Suppose you wanted to sell your house “as is” and let the person who buys it fix it up, for a suitable discount of course.

That is no longer a choice you’ll have. The buyer and seller wouldn’t be allowed to make that decision anymore. The party that continuously claims that “choice” is important to them apparently believe that particular choice is one neither the buyer or seller should have. The transaction is subject to the regulations of Mr. Waxman and Mr. Markey’s bill and you’ll not sell anything government inspectors haven’t deemed “green” enough to sell and certified as such.

Nothing, of course, could go wrong with that, could it? And of course, the article deals with just one of the unintended consequences. Let me again point out that it includes 397 new regulations – that means there’s at least one unintended consequence for each of them (and possibly more) and it will most likely be a nasty surprise.

This is yet another example of governmental over-reach into the lives of ordinary citizens. I use such language deliberately. We are living in an age of a new elected (and unelected) nobility, which sees itself as the intellectual and moral superior of the general citizenry. The vast number of Americans are deemed by the Democrats (and many Republicans for that matter) to be nothing but sheep that need to be led by shepherds - benevolent of course - who will control ever increasing amounts of their lives for their own good.

To be fair, Obama never really hid his desire to control the minutia of our lives up to and including what temperature we set our thermostats to in our own homes. Now, we will be legally unable to sell our own property unless the Democrats deem it politically correct to do so.

Oh, and remember, we're not allowed to call them socialists. That's name calling.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I Did Not Know That

Evidently if one is an artiste one gets to anally rape children with immunity.

Who knew?

How To Be A Scumbag: 101

Unbelievable:

First Big Business, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Lou Dobbs, the Religious Right, the Wall Street Journal, Mitch McConnell, and Karl Rove came for ACORN, and the Democrats did not speak out -- because they were not ACORN.

So, now Acorn, an organization that has racked up over 30 fraud convictions in the last three years alone AND has scores under investigation at this moment, is the moral equivalent of the victims of the Holocaust!

What sort of moral pygmy could make such a claim? Surprise, surprise, it's a tenured academic.

What were the chances?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Democrats War On The Elderly

From The Washington Times:

Yes, there are death panels. Its members won't even know whose deaths they are causing. But under the health care bill sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, death panels will indeed exist - oh so cleverly disguised as accountants.

The offending provision is on Pages 80-81 of the unamended Baucus bill, hidden amid a lot of similar legislative mumbo-jumbo about Medicare payments to doctors. The key sentence: "Beginning in 2015, payment would be reduced by five percent if an aggregation of the physician's resource use is at or above the 90th percentile of national utilization." Translated into plain English, it means that in any year in which a particular doctor's average per-patient Medicare costs are in the top 10 percent in the nation, the feds will cut the doctor's payments by 5 percent.

Forget results. This provision makes no account for the results of care, its quality or even its efficiency. It just says that if a doctor authorizes expensive care, no matter how successfully, the government will punish him by scrimping on what already is a low reimbursement rate for treating Medicare patients. The incentive, therefore, is for the doctor always to provide less care for his patients for fear of having his payments docked. And because no doctor will know who falls in the top 10 percent until year's end, or what total average costs will break the 10 percent threshold, the pressure will be intense to withhold care, and withhold care again, and then withhold it some more. Or at least to prescribe cheaper care, no matter how much less effective, in order to avoid the penalties.

The National Right to Life Committee concludes that this provision will cause a "death spiral" by "ensur[ing] that doctors are forced to ration care for their senior citizen patients." Every 10th doctor in the country will fall victim to it. Libertarian columnist Nat Hentoff calls the provision "insidious" and writes that "the nature of our final exit" will be very much at risk.

THink about this for a second. They are planning on incentivizing poor care.

No wonder Congressional Democrats don't want to be "covered" by the public option.

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Science Is What We Say It Is, Dammit!"

Wow, wow, wow. It is all over for Global Warming as science, folks. The Dog Ate Global Warming

Imagine if there were no reliable records of global surface temperature. Raucous policy debates such as cap-and-trade would have no scientific basis, Al Gore would at this point be little more than a historical footnote, and President Obama would not be spending this U.N. session talking up a (likely unattainable) international climate deal in Copenhagen in December.

Steel yourself for the new reality, because the data needed to verify the gloom-and-doom warming forecasts have disappeared.

Or so it seems. Apparently, they were either lost or purged from some discarded computer. Only a very few people know what really happened, and they aren’t talking much. And what little they are saying makes no sense.

In the early 1980s, with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, scientists at the United Kingdom’s University of East Anglia established the Climate Research Unit (CRU) to produce the world’s first comprehensive history of surface temperature. It’s known in the trade as the “Jones and Wigley” record for its authors, Phil Jones and Tom Wigley, and it served as the primary reference standard for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) until 2007. It was this record that prompted the IPCC to claim a “discernible human influence on global climate.”

Putting together such a record isn’t at all easy. Weather stations weren’t really designed to monitor global climate. Long-standing ones were usually established at points of commerce, which tend to grow into cities that induce spurious warming trends in their records. Trees grow up around thermometers and lower the afternoon temperature. Further, as documented by the University of Colorado’s Roger Pielke Sr., many of the stations themselves are placed in locations, such as in parking lots or near heat vents, where artificially high temperatures are bound to be recorded.

So the weather data that go into the historical climate records that are required to verify models of global warming aren’t the original records at all. Jones and Wigley, however, weren’t specific about what was done to which station in order to produce their record, which, according to the IPCC, showed a warming of 0.6° +/– 0.2°C in the 20th century.

Now begins the fun. Warwick Hughes, an Australian scientist, wondered where that “+/–” came from, so he politely wrote Phil Jones in early 2005, asking for the original data. Jones’s response to a fellow scientist attempting to replicate his work was, “We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”

Reread that statement, for it is breathtaking in its anti-scientific thrust. In fact, the entire purpose of replication is to “try and find something wrong.” The ultimate objective of science is to do things so well that, indeed, nothing is wrong.

I always label these posts "That Darn Scientific Method" in order to highlight the highly unscientific way the ideological agenda known as Anthropogenic Global Warming is being shoved down our throats by various charlatans and demagogues. Little did I know that one of the major pitfalls at work here was the fact AGW "scientists" are so prone to having their wittle feelings hurt by those meanies who want to replicate their work.

The poor little dears.

Then the story changed. In June 2009, Georgia Tech’s Peter Webster told Canadian researcher Stephen McIntyre that he had requested raw data, and Jones freely gave it to him. So McIntyre promptly filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the same data. Despite having been invited by the National Academy of Sciences to present his analyses of millennial temperatures, McIntyre was told that he couldn’t have the data because he wasn’t an “academic.” So his colleague Ross McKitrick, an economist at the University of Guelph, asked for the data. He was turned down, too.

Faced with a growing number of such requests, Jones refused them all, saying that there were “confidentiality” agreements regarding the data between CRU and nations that supplied the data.

This is the same sort of bullshit we have seen before. (I'll point to this post on how the insurance companies were charging customers loads more money based upon a AGW inspired secret hurricane "model".) Whatever this attitude represents it isn't science.

But, wait, it actually gets worse.

McIntyre’s blog readers then requested those agreements, country by country, but only a handful turned out to exist, mainly from Third World countries and written in very vague language.

Yep. They lied.

And there is more:

Enter the dog that ate global warming.

Roger Pielke Jr., an esteemed professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, then requested the raw data from Jones. Jones responded:

Since the 1980s, we have merged the data we have received into existing series or begun new ones, so it is impossible to say if all stations within a particular country or if all of an individual record should be freely available. Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites, only the station series after adjustment for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e., quality controlled and homogenized) data.


The statement about “data storage” is balderdash. They got the records from somewhere. The files went onto a computer. All of the original data could easily fit on the 9-inch tape drives common in the mid-1980s. I had all of the world’s surface barometric pressure data on one such tape in 1979.

If we are to believe Jones’s note to the younger Pielke, CRU adjusted the original data and then lost or destroyed them over twenty years ago. The letter to Warwick Hughes may have been an outright lie. After all, Peter Webster received some of the data this year. So the question remains: What was destroyed or lost, when was it destroyed or lost, and why?

The cynic would say the data was lost on purpose in order to deny real scientists from being able to critique their "work" of these ideologues.

The cynic would be dead right.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Hope They Try To Build A Bridge Between The Two Peaks

Jessica Biel joins celeb climb:

When Jessica Biel, Lupe Fiasco and Isabel Lucas get together in Africa, they'll have nowhere to go but up.

The entertainers have signed on to climb the continent's highest peak -- Mount Kilimanjaro....

Justin Timberlake -- who's been romantically linked with Biel -- may also be joining the climbers...

We can only hope this expedition becomes lost and we will be forced to send more celebs out to find them next year.

From Obama's Honduran Friend: "Jews Are Trying To Kill Me!"


You couldn't make this kind of crap up: They're torturing me, Honduras' Manuel Zelaya claims

It's been 89 days since Manuel Zelaya was booted from power. He's sleeping on chairs, and he claims his throat is sore from toxic gases and "Israeli mercenaries'' are torturing him with high-frequency radiation....

Zelaya was deposed at gunpoint on June 28 and slipped back into his country on Monday, just two days before he was scheduled to speak before the United Nations. He sought refuge at the Brazilian Embassy, where Zelaya said he is being subjected to toxic gases and radiation that alter his physical and mental state.

Witnesses said that for a short time Tuesday morning, soldiers used a device that looked like a large satellite dish to emit a loud shrill noise.

Honduran police spokesman Orlin Cerrato said he knew nothing of any radiation devices being used against the former president.

"He says there are mercenaries against him? Using some kind of apparatus?'' Cerrato said.

Obama sure knows how to pick real winners, doesn't he?

It's also funny how he just happens to "accidentally" support people who turn out to be anti-Semites. It's weird how "unlucky" Obama continues to be in that regard.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Answer To Every "Green" Question: Suicide

From the font of much that is stupid and inhuman, Slate:

I'm hosting a dinner party next week, and I'll be serving both beer and wine alongside the meal. But it got me wondering: Which has the lower carbon footprint? Beer has to be kept refrigerated, which requires energy, but shipping wine in those heavy bottles can't be good for the planet, either.

The IMW answer: Neither. Suicide would be, in fact, the best decision you could make on such any "green" matter. After all, the drinking of alcohol implies many things which could result in further enlarging of the human carbon footprint (e.g. fooling around which could lead to carbon greedy progeny.) If you were actually concerned with the well being of the planet you wouldn't settle for any half measures anyway.

On the plus side for those who remain, we wouldn't miss you and your dumb questions.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Madison Envy

You get the feeling sometimes that many on the left side of the American political spectrum feel they have gotten a raw deal when it comes to the divvying up of the important Founding Fathers. Sure, the left got Thomas Jefferson, an imposing edifice of a man who shadows are more than long enough to stretch into the 21st Century. However, after that (and in many ways because of the stature of Jefferson) there are not many of that generation the left would like to call their own today. The anti-Federalist gang may have made up the bulk for Jefferson's supporters back in the day, but their easy affiliation with "State's Rights" and all of the Civil War connotations that go along with that makes them less than suitable to modern liberal palettes. Sure, a case could be made for Andrew Jackson, but he comes too late. Thomas Paine comes to mind, though his status is hurt by the fact he did little of the heavy lifting when it came to making and ruling the nation. No, for better or for worse, Jefferson is the icon of the left par excellence.

The right, on the other hand, have an entire lineup of individuals to draw upon. True, none by themselves have the heft of a Jefferson, but as a group they are undoubtedly more impressive. Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and James Madison all count as touchstones for the right; someone to call upon to make an argument or to set the tone of the debate. For that reason it is generally conservatives who draw upon the sources of the founding with surety and a deft touch. The left's reliance upon Jefferson has left them vulnerable, from the standpoint of historically informed argumentation, to the provincialism that creeps into Jefferson's thinking from time to time. It is true that similar habits can afflict the writers the right draws upon, but because they are not as reliant upon a single individual they can simply find a better judgement from a different source.

This has not gone unnoticed by the left who sometimes, in a desperate attempt to redress the balance, engage in almost Derridaian feats of deconstruction to make Hamilton or, especially, Madison into 21st Century liberal Democrats.

A good example of this phenomena can be seem in this editorial from The New Republic, Madison Weeps

"Among the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction," James Madison wrote in Federalist Number 10. "The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice." Consider us alarmed.

Unfortunately, for The New Republic, the editors didn't continue to read Madison because he makes clear what the real danger is in faction, and it is not the propensity for human beings to engage in it.

Madison writes:

The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils, have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished; as they continue to be the favorite and fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty derive their most specious declamations. [emphasis added]

So, it is the enemies of liberty who use the reality of faction (in all of its quarrelsome distastefulness to be sure) to make "specious declamations" against free government that is the real mortal disease to be feared. Specious arguments are indeed what the editors of The New Republic seem to have in mind:

From the moment Barack Obama entered the White House, the Republican Party has cast itself as the Party of No. Whether it was the stimulus bill--which garnered not a single Republican vote in the House--or the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court--which only nine of 40 Senate Republicans supported--the GOP has defined itself in its opposition to Obama. But our alarm has been tempered by the knowledge that, in a way, this is as it should be: In our form of government, the minority party should be the opposition party; and, while the Obama administration did make overtures to the GOP on the stimulus and its selection of Sotomayor, those overtures were largely symbolic. The factionalism, while regrettable, was understandable. But, this week, as the health care reform battle reached a crucial juncture, the violence of faction has become gratuitous.

We refer, of course, to Max Baucus's long-awaited health care reform bill--and the resounding thud with which it landed on Capitol Hill. There are many flaws in Baucus's bill, but there is one thing that can be said for it: It represents as sincere an attempt in recent memory to achieve consensus.

So, according to the editors of The New Republic, the task Madison gave to himself in Federalist 10 was to ensure the majority faction got their way in the creation of legislation?

What?

What Madison actually said was exactly the opposite:

When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government, on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens. To secure the public good and private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our inquiries are directed.

The great task Madison undertakes then, is not the enabling of the "ruling passion" which seeks to impose itself regardless of private rights and the public good, but the restraining of said passion. It is the republican form of government which Madison is advocating which, he felt, offered the solution to the problem. It is the variety of viewpoints implicit in such a system that Madison relies upon for the restraint of the small "cabal" who would seek to impose its "ruling passion" to the detriment of the public good and individual rights. And, by God, isn't that exactly what has happened? Even Democrats have had to listen to the concern of their constituents and, as a result, decide to actually represent them.

The New Republic seriously misunderstands Madison if they believe he would be concerned that some ruling cabal was unable to shove a so-called compromise down the throats of people who do not want it. It's as if I went up to someone and said, "I want your liver, heart and kidneys to transplant into myself tomorrow." And when they complained I responded, "Ok, let's compromise. I'll just take your heart." The New Republic seems to believe I would have a case that the other person was being unreasonable.

I think they're nuts.

I'm not the only one who is decidedly unimpressed. Here is Ramesh Ponnuru's entertaining take:

Every time you resist Democratic health-care legislation, you make James Madison cry in heaven....

The New Republic's commitment to the idea that minority parties should try to meet majorities halfway is not deep. The magazine never complained about the Democrats' repeated filibusters of judicial appointments, for example. The editorial expresses dismay that only nine Republicans voted for Sotomayor's confirmation. Only four Democrats voted for Alito's. As I recall, the New Republic was urging no votes. In 2005, the New Republic didn't counsel Democrats to meet the Republicans halfway, or even to offer a proposal, on Social Security reform. (I don't think any of this Democratic obstruction made my colleagues at National Review run overwrought editorials about "just how broken our political system has become"—to quote the editorial again.)

I don't fault The New Republic for its lack of commitment to the procedural ideal its editorial endorses. Nobody should be committed to it.

Madison sure isn't.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Leader In "World's Worst Father" Competition

Dad tells 4-year-old cocaine is candy

New Jersey police say a 4-year-old boy shared cocaine with his friends at day care because his father told him it was candy.

Newark police say 25-year-old Shaheed Wright of East Orange put several baggies of cocaine inside his son's jacket after police nearly caught him with it. The boy shared the drugs with three other 4-year-olds at his day care center Friday.

I think I know the perfect Father's Day gift for the child to give his father; a restraining order.

How to Win Friends and Influence People, Obama Style

QandO points me to this quote from Lech Wałęsa:

“Americans have always cared only about their interests, and all other [countries] have been used for their purposes. This is another example,” Mr Walesa told TVN24. “[Poles] need to review our view of America, we must first of all take care of our business,” he added.

“I could tell from what I saw, what kind of policies President Obama cultivates,” the former president added. “I simply don’t like this policy, not because this shield was required [in Poland], but [because of] the way we were treated,” he concluded.

Wałęsa is of course wrong here in his categorical statements about what Americans care about.

But, given the back-handed treatment of Poland by the Obama administration, I can see where he is coming from here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Warning: Being A Bigot Makes You Not So Good At Statistics

This is sadly typical of lots of bigots these days:


Is this a surprise to anybody? The following was posted on rhrealitycheck.org Thursday:

U.S. states whose residents have more conservative religious beliefs on average tend to have higher rates of teenagers giving birth, according to a new study forthcoming in the journal Reproductive Health.
It's not surprising to me, because most of those "religious" states are also so-called red states. Generalizations are always dangerous, but lack of education, low or no income, and increased religiosity tend to intertwine and build on each other.

Yes, because God knows, there is no chance there are other variables in play here. Like how about the differences in birth rates between races or the difference in the rates of teen marriage?

We know that nationwide (these stats are from the CDC 2006) the birth rates for unmarried women age 15-19 (per 1000) was:

All Races: 36.2
Non-Hispanic Whites: 21.6
Black: 63.5
Hispanics: 70.6

Using this information I can hypothesize that states with relatively low percentages of non-Hispanic whites will have higher teen pregnancy rates then states where there are high percentages of non-Hispanic white.

Let's see how my hypothesis does. Here are the states with highest rates of unmarried teen pregnancies, along with their non-Hispanic white population as a percentage of total population: (State - Teen Birth Rate - % Pop. non-Hispanic White)

#1. Mississippi - 68.4 - 58.7%
#2. New Mexico - 64.1 - 41.7%
#3. Texas - 63.1 - 47.4%
#4. Arkansas - 62.3 - 75.6%
#5. Arizona - 62 - 58.4%
#6. Oklahoma - 59.6 - 71.4%
#7. Nevada - 55.8 - 57.1%
#8. Tennessee - 54.7 - 77.1%
#9. Kentucky - 54.6 - 87.8%
#10. Georgia - 54.2 - 58.1%

The average percentage of non-Hispanic whites in these ten states is 63.33%

So, let us look at the same numbers for 10 states with the lowest teen pregnancy rates:

#1. New Hampshire - 18.7 - 93.1%
#2. Vermont - 20.8 - 95.2%
#3. Massachusetts - 21.3 - 79.2%
#4. Connecticut - 23.5 - 73.8%
#5. New Jersey - 24.9 - 61.7%
#6. New York - 25.7 - 60%
#7. Maine - 25.8 - 95.3%
#8. North Dakota - 26.5 - 89.6%
#9. Rhode Island - 27.8 - 78.8%
#10. Minnesota - 27.9 - 85.4%

The average percentage of non-Hispanic whites in these ten states is 81.21%

*Please note, in order to make these comparisons I do not have to weight the percentages for population. If you don't understand why that is so, please go find a statistician.*

Gee, my hypothesis seems to be doing alright, doesn't it?

I also note the study did not make any distinction between married teens and unmarried teens in the numbers they used. This will skew the results of any analysis and make their results specious unless they can show there is no difference between the rate of married teens in religious states versus the numbers of married teens in less religious states. This matters because the birth rate for married women seems to be 8-10 times that of unmarried women. (Seriously, doesn't anybody teach research design anymore?)

Well, I went and looked for the data and looky what I found! A CDC report on marriage from 2002. I wonder what I will find on the question of teen marriage rates?

Well, it turns out (page 44 of the report) the chances of you being married by the age of 20 if you are from the South is 31%. The chance if you are from the Northeast? 16% Got that? The (religious) South has nearly twice the rate of teen marriages when compared to the (not-so-religious) Northeast.

At the end of the day all this "study" proves is that the Northeast has more white people in general and fewer married teens in particular than the South.

Nice going Sherlock...you really wow'd us this time.

This Is The Funniest Thing I've Seen In Ages



I know... I know... I'm a dork.

The Best Argument For High Speed Rail

At least if you live in or ever have need to travel to St. Louis for business or pleasure. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the details:

American Airlines said Thursday it will dramatically slash its remaining St. Louis flight schedule next year as part of a dramatic restructuring.

American’s parent company, AMR Corp. announced it will raise or borrow $2.9 billion and will focus service on its primary hub airports, including Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International. The moves will leave St. Louis with 36 daily departures to nine cities on American and American Eagle next April.

"Today’s announcement positions our company well to face today’s industry challenges and allows us to remain focused on the future and on returning to profitability," said AMR chairman and chief executive Gerard Arpey.

American St. Louis officials were briefed on this latest round of flight reductions late Wednesday. Since 2003, American has made a series of deep service cuts at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport — once a thriving midcontinental hub for Trans World Airlines.


The Post provides a graphic which shows the absolute lack of service for a population of nearly 3 million people in stark detail.



This is an insane situation. One can no longer fly to Austin, New Orleans or San Antonio from St. Louis without flying through the Chicago "hub". (One wonders if most flights going to San Francisco would involve the same bit of nonsense.)

Look, I don't fly anymore, unless it is to take a flight to Europe. I simply will not subject myself to the indignities it now requires for domestic travel. Right now that leaves me driving anytime I need to travel.

"Yeah, right," you might say, "Like you don't fly to California when you want to go out there."

Well, it's true. I won't drive to California either. So, I don't go to California anymore. I'm sure California would love my tourist dollars, but there are plenty of other places I can reach via automobile and spend that money which won't require me to lay over for hours in Chicago (or LA or wherever), and which don't subject me to the endless nickle and diming... excuse me... I mean ten and twentying that the airlines are intent upon inflicting on their customers.

The airlines are proving that they only wish to serve a handful of the biggest cities in this county. You know that is true. That anyone can fly out of St. Louis and get anywhere is only because they want to offer the service from the big cities to the St. Louis' of the country.

I've had it.

Look, we are already offering government subsidies for airports and for airlines to fly routes that, I admit, make little sense. (How many people are really going to miss a non-stop flight from St. Louis to Dayton?) So, I would much rather support a new rail system, and allow airlines and airports to get smaller... a lot smaller. Which is exactly what they seem to want anyway. (Yes, I'd be perfectly happy simply shifting around this money to support rail instead of air travel. I'm no libertarian!)

And, no, I'm not spouting nonsense about the environment to sell this. I simply believe the airlines have shown it is impossible for them to provide a service that makes sense for the majority of Americans (who, believe it or not, do not all live in one of New York, Atlanta, Chicago, or L.A.) And, yes, it was true that the rail system of the 1950's was not adequate to the needs of the country, but I'm not talking about bringing back the old, slow trains of the 1950's (which were little different than the trains of the 1890's in terms of speed). I'm talking about 21st century trains which would provide speedy service more efficiently and much more comprehensively.

As a bonus, they won't aggravate the living hell out of you.

Damning Us All With Too Much Praise

Let me begin by saying this: I appreciate all the sentiments expressed by the countless numbers of op-ed writers and bloggers praising the life of recently deceased Noble Laureate Norman Borlaug. (A particularly nice tribute can be found at Iowahawk.) Mr. Borlaug was genuinely concerned with the well being of poorer people around the world and spent much of his life living and working among them in an attempt to make their existence better.

However, many praising Borlaug have taken to crediting him with saving billions of lives by averting forecasted famines. As Nick Cullather notes:


Norman Borlaug never liked being called the father of the green revolution. It was “a miserable term,” he felt, for the modernization of global agriculture, and he knew no one scientist could claim all the credit. His obituaries this week repeated it anyway, along with another accomplishment he never disputed, that his work had saved “hundreds of millions of lives.”

It is a low estimate. Writers for The Atlantic and Reason magazines claim “billions” owe their lives to Borlaug. They cite no data or source. Rather, the claim is based on forecasts made in the 1960s that without a major jump in food output the world would be ravaged by famines. It began in 1966 with René Dumont’s Nous Allons á la Famine followed by William Paddock’s Famine 1975! “The battle to feed all of humanity is over.” Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb announced. “In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”

The problem is there is no evidence that these forecast were anything other than Malthusian inspired fantasies. By crediting Borlaug with saving "billions" writers have been inadvertently validating these forecasts.

Now, this isn't to say Mr. Borlaug didn't do some good and important work, but by placing too much emphasis on his preventing of an "imaginary catastrophe" (to use Cullather's phrase) we open ourselves up to the new generation of Malthusians and Rousseauists who believe (as Iowahawk states) "...starvation by native methods [is] somehow beautiful and noble."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

You Get What You Pay For...

...is an adage I've always liked. Generally speaking, it is used in a negative sense; those who are cheap shouldn't complain about the quality of what they receive. However, the opposite is also true. If you spend the money you should get every penny's worth.

I thought of this when I read this comment about the recent 9/12 protests over at The Glittering Eye:

I saw an awful lot of retired people in pix of that protest.

You know what I didn’t see? People carrying signs calling for cuts in Social Security or Medicare or VA benefits or government pensions.

Dave’s right: they got theirs, and they got theirs by raiding their children’s piggy bank, and now they want to strut and posture as upright, hard-working taxpayers when in point of fact they are the bulk of the problem.

When I see old people carrying signs that say “Means-test Medicare” or “Means-test Social Security” I’ll start believing it’s something other than rent-seeking, race-panic and generational resentment.

I have to say, I see this comment as complete and utter bullshit.

Social Security and Medicare are not entitlements, they are social insurance programs. You buy them. Get that. YOU BUY THEM. WITH MONEY. EVERY FREAKING PAYCHECK. Now, these insurance programs only come due once you reach a certain age (or encounter circumstance - like a disability - which can also trigger the benefits), but you know that going in.

At least that is how these programs were sold to the American people. Of course the government, who runs these programs, couldn't keep their hands off the money. They spent it on whatever general purpose they wanted and promised to make up the difference for those drawing benefits from new payments coming in from younger workers.

This was, obviously, a stupid idea if you ever found yourself in a situation where you were top heavy with retirees. But that would never happen, right?

Oops.

Now, people like this commentator are turning to the people who have spent their entire working lives paying for these benefits (and who cannot be blamed for the fact the government decided to spend that money on other things) and calling them the equivalent of leeches.

Nice.

Bigots Everywhere

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on a heinous attack on the Constitution and doesn't even realize it: Downtown St. Louis Schnucks crucifix draws criticism

On the website for its Culinaria store downtown, Schnucks proclaims its manager's mission:

"For Tom, grocery is not just a career," it says, "it's a calling."

Tom Collora has incorporated that calling with another — his Roman Catholic faith — in the form of a crucifix on a wall behind the customer service counter, opposite the new store's checkout registers. And in doing so, he's provoked questions about faith and business in the public square.

Sorry, but no. A grocery store is not "the public square." It is a private business which serves the general public. If you don't understand the difference you should go back and take high school civics.

Collora has worked for the grocery chain for 40 years and said he has displayed a crucifix at two other Schnucks stores he has managed — one on the Hill in south St. Louis and another in St. Charles — and has never had a complaint.

But some customers are reacting angrily to the new display. Lori Weinstock, 40, a health care professional from University City, was shopping a few weeks ago when, after paying, she looked up to see the crucifix.

"It startled me. It seemed so out of place," Weinstock, who is Jewish, said. She was startled enough to write a letter that was published last week in the newspaper the Jewish Light.

"It would have been equally startling if it had been a Star of David or an emblem of another religion," Weinstock said. "It's grocery shopping, and it should be welcoming to all and exclude none."

I'm sorry. Was someone being barred from shopping at this store? Of course not. So what is the complaint? Well, Ms. Weinstock believes everyone else in the world should share her opinion about what constitutes proper expression of religious belief.

That's a bigot. (For those who need the definition: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.)

Luckily, the Post provides us with even more bigots.

D.J. Grothe, 36, is a vice president of the New York-based Center for Inquiry, which promotes "science, reason, freedom of inquiry and humanist values," according to its website. Grothe is an atheist who also happens to live in the building next to Culinaria.

"It's just another example of the disrespect that those without religion or those with minority religions get in our society," he said. "It's bad taste and bad business. Who wants to (shop) where someone else's faith is being pushed down your throat?"

Got that? Hanging a crucifix on a wall in a private business is the same as "shoving religion down your throat."

Look at how far these bigots are willing to go to eliminate our rights to practice our religion by the dictates of our own conscience:

Some critics have said that because more than half of Culinaria's funding came from government sources such as tax credits and the Missouri Development Finance Board (which owns the building in which the store is situated), the store should be held to church-state limitations.

City resident Thomas Duda, who is Catholic, has made the crucifix an issue on his blog, notmymayor.com. He says a company that received public funding to build a store should not blatantly express a specific religious belief that could be offensive or uncomfortable to some who shop there. In an interview, Duda added that he would like Schnucks to prohibit individual managers from endorsing a specific religion.


Such a view represents a monstrous attack upon our human and Constitutional rights. Think about the sheer scope of governmental control over religious expression it demands. Using this criterion what would keep the government from making me take down religious inspired art from my own home? After all, maybe the developer received tax breaks when they built the subdivision.

The only voice of sanity in the piece comes from the Catholic Church:

Lawrence Welch, director of the office of ecumenical and interreligious affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, said Collora — a Eucharistic minister at the Old Cathedral downtown — should be praised, not criticized, for displaying the crucifix at his store.

"In a pluralistic society, we have no problem with anyone displaying religious symbols," said Welch. "We would have no issue with another faith displaying their symbols. A crucifix's public display is not a threat to anyone's religious freedom."

This is exactly correct. We have to live with one another in this society. We are going to have different opinions, philosophies, beliefs, tastes, interests, and pet peeves. The demand some people make that other people have an obligation to live their lives so that none of those aspects that make up their individuality are visible to others (on pain of government intervention no less), is grotesque in its arrogance and its lack of common human decency. That someone believes doing so is an expression of "humanism" shows just how far our educational standards have fallen in this country. Real humanism celebrates individuality in all of its expressions. For this very reason humanism assumes one will constantly come into contact with differing opinions and ways of living. But, no! These so-called "humanists" demand innocuous conformity!

Then these "humanists" blink.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Spot The Racist!


Welcome to "Spot The Racist!" the new game sweeping the nation!! Brought to you by the same people who gave you such classics as "Your Lunch Is Killing Flipper!" and "Your SUV Is Going To Kill Us All!"
So, are you ready to get started? Let's see the first contestant, and don't be shy! When you see a racist just shout out!



The increasingly hysterical use of the the race card by liberal columnists, bloggers and politicians reflects the last gasps of people who, being unable to win an argument on the merits, seek to end the argument.

While the false accusation of racism is not a new tactic, it has been refined by Obama supporters into a toxic powder which is causing damage to the social fabric of the country by artificially injecting race into every political issue.

DING, DING, DING. Racist?

Of course! Only a true racist would decry the negative effects of labelling one's political opponent a racist!

You are off to a good start! Keep up the good work. Next contestant please...

Maureen Dowd:

The normally nonchalant Barack Obama looked nonplussed, as Nancy Pelosi glowered behind.

Surrounded by middle-aged white guys — a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club — Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t.

But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!

DING, DING, DING. Not a racist?

Hooray! Two for two! Of course only a non-racist would feel comfortable calling other people racists regardless of whether it is fair or not.

Next!

Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies R. Danielle Egan:

DING, DING, DING. Not a racist????

Wow! You are good at this! I didn't even provide a quote yet! Of course someone who is enlightened enough to be a gender and sexuality prof couldn't be a racist (assuming, of course, they are not studying male hetero-sexuality!)

Next!

Elizabeth Scalia

A few months ago, during the Obama-at-Notre Dame controversy, I had a conversation with a journalist, during which I opined that the whole issue of life versus death was—and has been since the time of Moses—a contest between light and dark, and would continue to be so. The journalist said, “you just said ‘black and white,’” and teased me for being a racist.

But I’d said “light and dark,” and he admitted, when he stopped laughing, that he had heard “light and dark,” but had immediately extrapolated it to “black and white” and then thought of Obama, hence the tease.

This fellow is no one’s idea of a racist (including mine), and he was a vocal supporter of President Obama. But it was his mind, not mine, that went there.

DING, DING, DING. Racist?

Perfecto! Obviously, someone who would question the media's perception of race matters has to be a racist themselves. Besides, any "vocal supporter of President Obama" must be a non-racist, thus, logically speaking, any "vocal non-supporter" of President Obama must be racist.

The beauty of "Spot The Racist!" is once you have the rules down you can play it whenever and wherever you feel like it. If people complain about your doing that, well... you know what that makes them.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jimmy Carter On All Opposition To Obama: "They're Racists"

Wow:

In an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, former Democratic President Jimmy Carter attributed much of the conservative opposition that President Obama is receiving to the issue of race.

"I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man," Carter said. "I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way, and I've seen the rest of the country that share the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans."

Carter continued, "And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It's an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply."

You know, if Carter's head was any further up his ass he'd have a fool in his throat.

UPDATING:

I liked this take from Hot Air:

Deep thoughts from the guy whose book on Israel was most recently plugged by, um, Osama Bin Laden. I’m tempted to tout Jesse Walker’s Reason piece for the third time today on HA as an explanation for Jimmeh’s cynicism here, but I can’t quite do it. The difference between Carter and most of the left, I think, is that he really believes this crap. And, to boot, he really believes he’s doing good by mentioning it rather than poisoning race relations by equating opposition to government expansion with white supremacism.

Nonsense On Stilts

Generally speaking, I enjoy the columns of Bill McClellan in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. McClellan is really something of a throwback to the days when newspapers had a much more blue collar air to them, back when reporters and editors thought of themselves as something other than our moral and intellectual superiors.

That being said, McClellan is not above throwing some real silly stuff out there. Yesterday, in a column arguing that Rock and Roll icon Chuck Berry should get a statue in St. Louis (about which I agree wholeheartedly), McClellan makes the following statement about Abraham Lincoln:

As regular readers know, my family has never forgiven Lincoln for the cavalier way he treated Gen. George B. McClellan. "If you're not going to use your army, would you mind if I borrowed it?" Oh, he was a sarcastic one!

I only wish that this country would have had the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity back then. They would have seen Lincoln for what he was — a socialist. Just think of his second inaugural address: "With malice toward none, with charity for all ..."

Charity for all? That's socialism, folks. Read more of that address. He talks about caring for widows and orphans. He's talking about income redistribution right there. He's going to take our money and give it to widows and orphans.

Now, obviously, there is a lot of this that is the result of McClellan's tongue being planted firmly in his cheek. However, that doesn't mean it isn't nonsense.

The idea, for example, that Obama's attempt to enlarge the scope and power of the Federal government, and its myriad bureaucrats and petty functionaries, to a level unheard of in American history is the moral equivalent of Lincoln's call to...

...strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations....

...Is nothing other than rubbish. Furthermore it is rubbish of a particularly mean and intellectually shallow character. Sure, someone could label Lincoln's call for "charity for all" as nothing more than "socialism," but only if they were completely ignorant of both the doctrines of real socialism and the Christian understanding of charity.

Obama's drive is to expand the power of the central government and to have society at large ruled by elites in Washington (call them "experts" or "czars" if you want - it all means the same thing). There is a name for such a political doctrine. It's called socialism.

Indeed, Obama's repeated call for "unity" can also be seen as an example of the same drive for socialism. After all, the entire point of the doctrine of Karl Marx was to bring about a state where politics would cease. According to Marx we would no longer be separated from one another by social classes, because socialism/communism would result in a classless society. A society with no classes means a society with no politics. Voilà unity.

This ideal of "unity" is in contradistinction to the liberal idea of people pursuing their political ideas in a competitive environment. The reason Obama is having so many difficulties is not that meanies like Beck and Limbaugh call him names, but because Obama doesn't understand that most of the country is still committed to their own understanding of politics as an ongoing competition. Obama's belief that he could merely say "I won" and politics were supposed to cease does not indicate to me that he understands the political to be anything like Federalist #10.

Evidently, according to the McClellan's of this world, all of this is illegitimate. He seems to feel we should not be allowed to try to categorize or otherwise make sense of the political actions of President Obama, or attempt to make sense of his principles. To do so, we are informed, would be the equivalent of calling Lincoln a socialist...

Yeah, I don't get it either.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Nobody Here But Us Fair And Objective Media Types"

Yikes.

First watch this time lapse video shot at the protest march in D.C. yesterday:



Next, let us read the news.

First from CNN:

The conservative advocacy group Tea Party Express massed at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday to protest health care reform, higher taxes and what they see as out-of-control government spending.

Marchers en route to the rally held no feelings in check as they waved signs reading, "Proud member of the angry mob," "I didn't vote for this Obamanation," "Fire the czars" and "You represent us, not rule us."

...An official crowd estimate was not available, but reporters at the scene described the massive crowd as reaching the tens of thousands.


And welcome to the meme of the day. "Your eyes deceive you!"

Yeah, right.

The BBC played along:

Tens of thousands of people have marched from the White House to Capitol Hill in Washington to protest against Barack Obama's healthcare reforms.


You know...I've been in crowds of "tens of thousands" every time I've gone to a Cardinals baseball game. I'm sorry, but the crowd didn't look like this in any way, shape or form. (Nor does the crush last for 3 and a half hours.)

Look, I have no idea how many people were there, but the idea that no more went to this then a garden variety sporting event is ludicrous. That the media feels comfortable enough to basically peddle these outright falsehoods so baldly should concern us all. The question becomes, what won't they lie about?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Weird Radar

I just looked at the radar for the Twin Cities area and I saw the following images:











I'd say something is coming my way based upon that thin line marching across Minnesota. (And I'm talking about the really thin one in front of the line of storms, which is moving in a different direction then the rest of the weather.)

I hope it's friendly.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Obama Does, In Fact, Lie...

But, we have a system here. The President (any President) gets to tell his lies without interruption, at least when he's speechifying.

Get with the system Rep. Wilson.

ADDING: Just a link (above.)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Anti-Semitism: A Field Guide

This came up in the comments of another post where I had labelled (now former) Obama administration "green" czar Van Jones an anti-Semite for claiming the entire history of Israel since 1948 was an "occupation" thus making Israel an illegitimate state.

Oh no(!) claimed a commentator. This is merely "criticism" of Israel! Not a statement about it's right to exist!

Nonsense. Not only is it nonsense, it is unthinking, uncritical nonsense. This can be proved by looking at the history of the region. If the intervention of the UN and other Western powers makes the existence of Israel an occupation, well why isn't Jordan, which was created by the same kind of mechanism not also an illegitimate occupation? (A Google search of the sentence "Jordan is illegitimate" returns 3 hits. "Israel is illegitimate" returns 491,000.)

Now, given the similarity in the manner of their birth, what distinguishes the primary difference in the responses to the creation of the state of Jordan versus the state of Israel? Could it be that Israel is a Jewish state while Jordan isn't? Sure seems like it to me.

It should seem like it to every thinking person.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Anti-Semitism: Obama Administration Style

This is from Obama's "Green Czar" (and 9/11 Truther) Van Jones:

No American would put up with an Israeli-style occupation of their hometown for 53 days let alone 54 years. US tax dollars are funding violence against people of color inside the US borders and outside the US borders.

I guess when Obama appoints a "Czar" its because they too would condone pogroms.

(H/T The Crabitat)

UPDATE:

Damn. We won't have Van Jones to kick around anymore. Obama adviser Van Jones resigns amid controversy

President Barack Obama's adviser Van Jones has resigned amid controversy over past inflammatory statements, the White House said early Sunday.

Van Jones, an administration official specializing in environmentally friendly "green jobs" with the White House Council on Environmental Quality was linked to efforts suggesting a government role in the 2001 terror attacks and to derogatory comments about Republicans.

The resignation comes as Obama is working to regain his footing in the contentious health care debate....

"On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me," Jones said in his resignation statement. "They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide."

Jones said he has been "inundated with calls from across the political spectrum urging me to stay and fight."

"Across the political spectrum" here probably means Demcorats, Marxists and Hamas.

Good riddance.

Friday, September 04, 2009

A Double Shot Of Incompetence

Ezra Klein, who must be cashing checks from the White House, writes the following:

“We’re entering a new season,” senior presidential adviser David Axelrod told Politico. “It’s time to synthesize and harmonize these strands and get this done." That will begin as early as next week, when President Obama puts his full weight into health-care reform. It will begin, as these things often do, with a speech. Not a town hall, or a press conference, or a Q&A, but a speech.
Oh, so that's it. The President hasn;t really been trying to set the agenda on Health Care. Gee, that doesn't seem to be the world I've lived in. I'm not the only one to think so.

Mickey Kaus is unimpressed with Klein's grasp of recent history:

"Our CBS News tally shows that Mr. Obama has given 27 speeches specifically on his health care objectives. Add in other remarks, events and statements in which he mentioned health care and the number soars to 119."

27? Maybe Klein was just in the bathroom. Or Bolivia.

QandO is similarly unimpressed:

If Obama hasn’t “forcefully entered the [health care] debate” what was that ABC infomercial? What was the purpose of the series of town halls – if he wasn’t “forcefully entering” the debate.

In fact, Obama has been trying to push his health care agenda since he’s been in office.

Well, that certainly conforms to the world I've been living in. Maybe Ezra should join us here. It's a lot more reality based.

But, on the other hand, in the reality based world, the President has proved to be singularly inept (the second shot of incompetence of the title.) That is probably why Klein prefers to live in a world of his own construction.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Say Hello To Rip Van Dionne

Some things are so stupid they are hysterical. From E.J. Dionne:

Health care reform is said to be in trouble partly because of those raucous August town hall meetings in which Democratic members of Congress were besieged by shouters opposed to change.

But what if our media-created impression of the meetings is wrong? What if the highly publicized screamers represented only a fraction of public opinion? What if most of the town halls were populated by citizens who respectfully but firmly expressed a mixture of support, concern and doubt?

There is an overwhelming case that the electronic media went out of their way to cover the noise and ignored the calmer (and from television's point of view "boring") encounters between elected representatives and their constituents.

It's also clear that the anger that got so much attention largely reflects a fringe right-wing view opposed to all sorts of government programs most Americans support. Much as the far left of the anti-war movement commanded wide coverage during the Vietnam years, so now are extremists on the right hogging the media stage -- with the media's complicity.
[emphasis added]


Yeah, that's right E.J., that only happened 40 years ago.

Jeeezus. It is amazing that old E.J. never noticed the wall-to-wall coverage of the anti-war marches this past decade, especially when every opinion poll told us they made up a small minority opinion in the country. (Let alone the wall-to-wall coverage of the anarchist nuts that show up for every G-8, G-12 or World Bank meeting.) Maybe he fell asleep back in 2001.

Hmmm...so what are people saying about health care reform, based upon opinion polls? Well, it seems 64% don't think the reforms would help them. Hmmm...do people normally support things they think will not help them? Maybe E.J. thinks so, but I sure don't.

What is more disturbing is that Dionne fails to notice the only reason health care is a "crisis" in the first place is because the Democrats, with a complicit media's help, has been attempting to make it into one.



Isn't it amazing that only 3 percent ranked health care as a major concern as recently as this January? Dionne somehow missed that too.

Maybe he was asleep.

British Censors Ban Youthful Looking Models

Really.

The UK advertising watchdog has banned a campaign by the retailer American Apparel for using a partially nude model, who appeared to be under 16, in a series of images that suggested she was "stripping off for an amateur-style photo shoot".

American Apparel's press campaign, which appeared in Vice magazine, featured a series of images of a young-looking girl in states of undress.

The Advertising Standards Authority received a complaint that it was offensive, unsuitable to appear in a magazine that could be seen by children and inappropriate because the model seemed "young and vulnerable and [the ad] could be seen to sexualise a child".


Actually, there is a lot of BS here on all sides. Here is the ad, which is made up of six photographs in total.





Where to begin...

For starters, the young woman looks young. Shocking! But let's get a grip here. She doesn't look 15. I'm around lots of 18-22 year old young women (funny how that happens on a college campus), and lots of them look younger than this model. I have a hard time going up to these women and telling them they look wrong or illegal. Frankly, anyone who looked at this ad and saw a newly pubescent girl has something seriously wrong with them. Fine, she isn't exactly Marilyn Monroe in terms of her figure, but that hardly makes this ad child porn.

As Sp!ked puts it:

Here, the ASA ruling is based on the watchdog second-guessing what people might think the ad shows, regardless of the facts of the matter. Because the 23-year-old girl, according to the ASA, could pass for 16 in parts of the ad, and because the ad could be interpreted to be sexually suggestive, it must be banned.

Of course, the fashion and advertising worlds have always conveyed images of glamour, beauty and desirability and there is often a discrepancy between appearances in advertising and the reality of everyday life. We all know that wearing a hoody might make us feel warm, but it won’t turn us into sex bombs, just as we know that doing the laundry is not a life-affirming experience, as many detergent ads seem to suggest, or that deodorants don’t turn women on.

What is apparent from the ruling on the American Apparel ad is that for some strangely oversensitive individuals and for the self-appointed moral custodians at the ASA, facts and reality do not matter, either. Instead, the spectre of paedophilia haunts their imaginations to such an extent that even a 23-year-old woman could be seen as a child in need of protection.

All true. But even admitting that, the response of American Apparel is almost as laughable, especially for its gutlessness.

American Apparel said the ad was meant to depict the 23-year-old model in a relaxed "home" environment and that the hoodie shown was "soft to the touch" and could be worn directly against the skin. The company added that the ad focused on the hoodie and did not portray the model as "a sex object or in a negative or derogatory light".

Oh, give me a break. Whatever is supposed to come across from this ad about the nature of the product being sold, the model herself was selected in part because of her sex appeal. Hell, it's a unisex garment, so they could have put my 270+ lb ass in the hoodie if they didn't want people to get a whiff of sex. Of course we are supposed to notice the model as sexually attractive. What ad that employs young good looking models doesn't count on getting people's attention that way?

It's the prudishness of it all, by the advertising gestapo AND by American Apparel's wimpy response that I find so disheartening. If we let our self-selected betters decide what we can and cannot see based upon nothing but their subjective perceptions of things, what are we allowed to decide for ourselves.

For example, let's say two 18 year-olds want to get married, but the young women looks 14. Should the state step in and stop the proceedings because the false perception would be of state sanctioned child sex? I'm sorry but law has to limit itself to factual content and cannot be bent to accommodate some people's perceptions only.

But, if we really want to go the other way, well, I'm available for any high priced photo shoots.

"Death Panels? Of Course Not! We Just Want A British Style NHS! Or Maybe Not."

Uh, yeah.

Once government takes over health care, we won’t see death panels. We’ve been repeatedly assured of this by the Obama administration and the national media. At least thus far, they’re right, but our friends in the UK apparently aren’t as fortunate. A group of doctors have blown the whistle on the NHS for suspending hydration to supposedly terminally ill patients to hasten their demises:

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.
Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.

But this approach can also mask the signs that their condition is improving, the experts warn.

As a result the scheme is causing a “national crisis” in patient care, the letter states. It has been signed palliative care experts including Professor Peter Millard, Emeritus Professor of Geriatrics, University of London, Dr Peter Hargreaves, a consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Luke’s cancer centre in Guildford, and four others.

These actions did not result from instructions in living wills, or from demands by next of kin. Patients got killed through sedated dehydration in order to save time and money for the resource-strapped NHS. It’s called the “death pathway,” initially designed as a humane way of hastening death in the final hours. However, the application has broadened to more diseases and diagnoses than its formerly narrow scope, and the triggers have become more ambiguous. That leads, these doctors warn, to a self-fulfilling prophecy of death when it might be avoided.


See, this is the way politics works in this society. You have the left wing of the political spectrum which is constantly telling us, "No! We don't actually want to impose the radical prescriptions you hear about from those complainers on the right. Oh sure, we buy the books of the radicals; we hire them to speak to us; we make sure they have tenured positions in academia; but that doesn't mean we want to do what they advocate!"

So, what we have been fed over the last month is all this junk about how great the NHS is in Britain, in the following fashion.

"Oh, what we really want is..."

[pause to look at a sheet of polling data]

"...hmm...yeah...insurance reform! Yeah, that's the ticket. So, don't believe those, including ourselves, who have claimed we are trying to institute a NHS style of system in an underhand fashion. But even if we were doing it, that wouldn't be bad because the NHS is damn near perfect! Much better than American care. Not that we want it anyway."

It's enough to give a rational person more than a headache.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

In Praise Of Hardcover Books

I read this over at First Things: The End of the Hardcover?

As a free market bibliophile, I love the idea of living in a world where every book is sold at “between zero and $9.99″ (and since my own book doesn’t sell for much more than that, I’m fine with it as an author too). My favorite format is the trade paperback, though I now read ebooks on my Kindle and iPhone. Hardcovers have always been too bulky and expensive. And I hate paying $10-15 more for a book when I know that in a few months it will be released in my preferred form.

Large publishing houses like Hachette Livre may suffer in the short term because of technological changes and market pressures, but the end of the hardcover would be a boon to authors, publishers, and book buyers. By reducing the distribution cost—and reducing the cost of entry into the world of publishing—new companies could enter the market, providing a range of new opportunities and options for writers and readers.

But maybe I’m missing something? What would be lost of the era of the hardcover were to end?


This caused me to respond as follows:

I’m sitting here in my office looking at my shelf and my eyes falls upon a hardcover book. It’s an 1895 3rd edition of “The Foundations of Belief” by Arthur Balfour. Inside I see marbled end papers and gold embossing informing me that the book was bound by E. H. Wells in London. Another label tells me the book was sold by W. Whiteley, Scribner and C., located on Westbourne Grove (London as well.) I flip through the book and I notice it is rock solid. Even after 114 years not a page is loose and the spine is perfectly intact. But mostly, it feels like a book, a real book. It feels like it is meant to last, and not simply a commodity to be consumed.

Near this book I see another book, a paperback; a good quality paperback. It’s a Dover paperback, printed sometime after 1966, “Charles S. Peirce: Selected Writings”. The back of this book solemnly informs me, “The binding will not crack or split. This is a permanent book.”

I notice the binding is split in two places. The front and back covers are creased, and a small piece has been torn from the back cover (the result of one of too many moves probably.) There are no loose pages (despite the cracks), so there is no thought of replacing the book. It still can provide everything it provided me when I bought it in the 1980’s. Yet…there is nothing beautiful about this book. If I lost it tomorrow I could just buy a new one and that would be that. It is merely a thing. Yes, it contains interesting ideas and theories, but, as an object, it has no history, no connection to other human beings. Consequently, it feels like less of a book then the bound volume.

As I look at my shelves in general I see a pattern. The books I really love are in hardcover, regardless of the format I originally read them. I didn’t do it on purpose. I’ve just seen them in a used bookstore and thought, “Oh it would be nice to get this.” Why? They contain the same words. I could just go home and pull out my old trade or mass market paperbacks and it would be exactly the same experience, right?

Yet, there they are. William Dalrymple’s “From the Holy Mountain,” Richard Adams’ “Watership Down,” Pope John XXIII’s “Days of Devotion,” and many others. Now, I could chalk it up to my being nothing more than a profligate spender…but, for the life of me, that doesn’t ring true.