Sunday, February 27, 2011

What Is The Difference Between Hacker Group "Anonymous" And Fascists?

Answer: Not a whole hell of a lot. 'Anonymous' takes down Americans for Prosperity website

The online activist group "anonymous," which has used coordinated denial of service attacks -- a crude but effective Internet weapon -- to temporary disable sites belonging to foes ranging from Scientology to WikiLeaks foes -- has turned its firepower on the Koch-backed conservative group Americans for Prosperity, making the group's site intermittently unavailable tonight.

From the typically immodest press release, which begins, "Dear Citizens of the United States of America":

It has come to our attention that the brothers, David and Charles Koch--the billionaire owners of Koch Industries--have long attempted to usurp American Democracy. Their actions to undermine the legitimate political process in Wisconsin are the final straw. Starting today we fight back.

The manner they chose to "fight back" is to attack the principles of free speech. Evidently free speech isn't meant for everyone, according to this collection of self appointed overmen; a collection, it must be said, who resort to a high-tech form of violence to silence their opponents instead of using rational discourse (which doesn't seem to be their forte anyway.)

All I can say is if the tactics of "Anonymous" appeal to you, you really ought to mature a little and maybe grow a conscience.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

End Of The Century Blues (19th Century Edition)

I saw this interesting look at what 8th graders were expected to know in 1895. I just wonder at what the acceptable answer was for this question:

2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?

Rampant horse and buggy use?

Also, look at this question:

5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fermandez [sic], Aspinwall and Orinoco.

Forget 8th graders, today zero percent of college graduates could answer this. I cannot answer it either - I'd never heard of Hecla (and, even after trying to look it up, I'm not sure which Hecla they are referring to, the small town on the South Dakota/North Dakota border, the small town in Montana now designated a ghost town, or the uninhabited island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.)

Thank goodness we live in an age where not knowing any, what are they called.... oh yeah, facts, is considered a sign of progress.


Evidently, Hecla is Hekla, which would make it an Icelandic volcano. OK, that makes it a little more doable.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

This Is A Rorschach Test

First, let me quote James Madison from Federalist #10:

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.

Now, let me quote myself:

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.

In the above, are you hearing echoes of a different Madison, a place in the Midwest perhaps?

Or maybe you are hearing an echoes of an entirely different debate.

I'd argue both echoes are legitimate.

How 'bout you?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Sic" 'em

I noticed this from Hot Air:

[quoting from Politico] Voters in Wisconsin strongly agree with the working families at the state capitol [sic] and oppose Governor Scott Walker’s anti-worker agenda. Moreover, since the protests began, Governor Walker has seen real erosion in his standing, with a majority expressing disapproval of his job performance and disagreement with his agenda. Strong majorities disagree with eliminating collective bargaining for public employees and believe that if workers agree to concessions on pensions and healthcare benefits that the Governor should drop his plan to eliminate collective bargaining.
“Working families at the state capital”; “anti-worker.” Any guess who funded this particular survey? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

I'm not sure what the "sic" was doing in there. Very obviously Politico was referencing the protests at the state capitol - i.e. the building where the legislature meets, you know Ed, the place where all of these types photos were taken:

Given the news coverage for the last week it should have been pretty difficult to miss the connection between the protests and the capitol building where the protesters spent so much time.

Difficult, but not impossible it seems.

As for the substance of the Hot Air posting, shading doings in a big labor inspired survey, there is more meat there. It's too bad Hot Air undermined their own message with pointless, and inaccurate, carping.

Stupid Media Alert

Stupidity must be a disease because it seems to be pretty virulent: Census: Near-record level of US counties dying

Nestled within America's once-thriving coal country, 87-year-old Ed Shepard laments a prosperous era gone by, when shoppers lined the streets and government lent a helping hand. Now, here as in one-fourth of all U.S. counties, West Virginia's graying residents are slowly dying off.

Hit by an aging population and a poor economy, a near-record number of U.S. counties are experiencing more deaths than births in their communities, a phenomenon demographers call "natural decrease."

Years in the making, the problem is spreading amid a prolonged job slump and a push by Republicans in Congress to downsize government and federal spending.
[emphasis added]

I'm sorry, but what does the Republican proposals have to do with this long standing demographic phenomenon? How are proposals causing anything to "spread"? The answers are, of course, absolutely nothing and in no way whatever.

Let's hear what the people who live in one of these areas has to say:

"There's no reason for you to come to Welch," says Shepard, wearing a Union 76 cap at a makeshift auto shop he still runs after six decades. "This is nothing but a damn ghost town in a welfare county."

That's right, because it is Republicans who are to blame for welfare dependency.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

People Are Just Details I Guess

You know...I understand to some degree the glee shown by commentators like Michelle Malkin (see here and here) while engaging in ritual Republican union bashing concerning the goings on here in Wisconsin. I share the mistrust of the SEIU, and I am aware that it is the intransigence of the teachers unions over the years which has contributed to the Republican way of thinking that "you simply cannot reason with these people." I get it.

However, that is not all that is going on here in Wisconsin. A lot of the people protesting down in Madison are non-unionized university employees; people who have not had a raise of any kind in 6+ years and who have had a 3% reduction in pay the last two years; and who are being threatened with a permanent 13% to 20% reduction in take home pay by Walker now. These are not "fat cats living off the public teet." These are people making less than $25,000 a year. Given that Walker wants to make real raises illegal in the future (no raise could be greater than the rise in the CPI, and you won't get even the CPI raise every year), these workers are doomed to fall ever further behind.

I personally won't be affected by Walker's proposals since I'm an adjunct and, being serf-like already, I don't get any benefits. It just seems to me Walker wants to institute a solution upon the backs of people who were not the cause of the budget problem in the first place. Sure, go after backroom union deals and shady "retirement" packages, and the like. But people making $24,000 a year? Grad students who are living on Kraft Mac & Cheese and ramen noodles?

There is such a thing as too much collateral damage. Walker's nuclear response is a pretty damn clear example of that fact.

Monday, February 14, 2011

We Need A New "Normal"

Let the trumpets blow! The Obama budget has been loosed:

Long on tough choices, short on final answers, President Barack Obama’s new 2012 budget goes to Congress on Monday in what many hope is only an opening bid before he and Republicans come to the table on a bipartisan deficit reduction plan.

For the current year, the White House projects a more-than-$1.6-trillion deficit — even higher than the Congressional Budget Office forecast. But outlays would actually drop in 2012 and stabilize in the $3.7 trillion range, as deficits fall to $1.1 trillion in 2012 and $768 billion in 2013.

I guess where I come from the definition of "tough choices" is a little different. Granted, the spending increases in this budget are modest (2.8%) when compared to last year's budget (16.1%), but Federal spending increases are still rising faster than the rate of inflation.

Whatever you want to call this new budget it is not our entry point into a new era of austerity. When it comes to spending we are still the drunken sailor on leave. I don't think anyone should be applauded because this year we've only maintained our buzz.

Maybe at some point we ought to think about sobering up?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Marxist Times Columnist Longs For The Revolution

The nitwits are out again: When Democracy Weakens

As the throngs celebrated in Cairo, I couldn’t help wondering about what is happening to democracy here in the United States. I think it’s on the ropes. We’re in serious danger of becoming a democracy in name only.

While millions of ordinary Americans are struggling with unemployment and declining standards of living, the levers of real power have been all but completely commandeered by the financial and corporate elite. It doesn’t really matter what ordinary people want. The wealthy call the tune, and the politicians dance.

Uh, yeah. Thanks "Karl" but I'm not buying any "up the proletariat" today. Using the measure of median household income, the United States ranks anywhere from second to fifth worldwide. The vast majority of our "poor" are only poor relatively speaking. Nearly 50% of households earning under $18,500 a year own their own home. Just as a point of comparison, worldwide the median income is $850. Roughly 95% of American households make over $10,000 a year.

Yes, people can and do struggle in this country. However, the largest part of that struggle is not for mere subsistence. It is instead the struggle to get to where people aspire to be for themselves and their families. As a result the severity of the struggle is defined not by some objective standard, as would be Marxists have it, but by the varying standards of those subjective aspirations. It so happens that many people see little or no connection between their personal aspirations and the political process. In effect, they have decided they do not need governmental help in order to get to where they want to go. They may be right or wrong in this belief, but that it exists is beyond doubt. Voter apathy is what it is called.

Don't you fret, however, our Marxist friend knows why this is so.

So what we get in this democracy of ours are astounding and increasingly obscene tax breaks and other windfall benefits for the wealthiest, while the bought-and-paid-for politicians hack away at essential public services and the social safety net, saying we can’t afford them. One state after another is reporting that it cannot pay its bills. Public employees across the country are walking the plank by the tens of thousands. Camden, N.J., a stricken city with a serious crime problem, laid off nearly half of its police force. Medicaid, the program that provides health benefits to the poor, is under savage assault from nearly all quarters.

The poor, who are suffering from an all-out depression, are never heard from. In terms of their clout, they might as well not exist. The Obama forces reportedly want to raise a billion dollars or more for the president’s re-election bid. Politicians in search of that kind of cash won’t be talking much about the wants and needs of the poor. They’ll be genuflecting before the very rich....

In the mad rush to privatization over the past few decades, democracy itself was put up for sale, and the rich were the only ones who could afford it.

Well, let us look at the amount of money we have been spending on Mandatory Spending (i.e. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Other Means-tested entitlements, Pensions, Debt Payments):

According to Congressional Budget Office records, federal outlays for mandatory spending were 33.8% in 1965 vs. 59.9% in 2005. They were highest in the Clinton years: 60% in 1995 and up to 62.6% by 2000.

It is even worse than this as we spend more as a percentage of GDP now than we did in 1965. Total government spending was only 16.44% of GDP in 1965. It was 24.67% in 2009. So, we spend more of a larger pie.

So where exactly is this screwing over of the poor?

As if the corporate stranglehold on American democracy were not tight enough, the Supreme Court strengthened it immeasurably with its Citizens United decision, which greatly enhanced the already overwhelming power of corporate money in politics. Ordinary Americans have no real access to the corridors of power, but you can bet your last Lotto ticket that your elected officials are listening when the corporate money speaks.

When the game is rigged in your favor, you win. So despite the worst economic downturn since the Depression, the big corporations are sitting on mountains of cash, the stock markets are up and all is well among the plutocrats. The endlessly egregious Koch brothers, David and Charles, are worth an estimated $35 billion. Yet they seem to feel as though society has treated them unfairly.

As Jane Mayer pointed out in her celebrated New Yorker article, “The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry — especially environmental regulation.” (A good hard look at their air-pollution record would make you sick.)

Got that? Because the Koch brothers are wealthy and libertarian we have had no pollution standards in this country.

AND this Marxist has a bridge he'd like to sell you.

I'm sorry, but what planet is this person writing about? Because it isn't the one I live on. Last time I checked libertarians have held a majority position in the government of the United States for exactly zero days. This guy is seriously pissed off because in this country as presently constituted people are allowed to have a different conception of politics than he has. AND they are allowed to advocate for their vision! Oh. My. God. How can democracy survive?!?

Oh, wait a second. People with differing conceptions of the good competing for power via elections. Actually, that doesn't sound like a threat to democracy. It sounds like democracy in action.

Hey. Are you a little guy? Do you want to have influence and be heard in the political world? Well, there is an avenue open to you. An avenue almost entirely devoid of scary things like "corporate money." Its called local politics. You know, those elections with ludicrously low voter turnout rates? They actually make up a large part of our democratic process. What's that? You are not all that interested? What is wrong with you? Do you hate democracy or something!? Oh, I see. You simply do not see how it really benefits you to be involved in that way and, besides, Jon Stewart rarely mentions local politics on his show. That's cool. Just remember its there if you ever need it.

Look, do immensely wealthy people have an easier time of it than you or I? Absolutely. Do they enjoy more influence? They sure do. Has there ever been a day in the history of the world when this was not true? No, there hasn't. So what do you call this state of affairs? I call it "life."

Our revolutionary continued:

I had lunch with the historian Howard Zinn just a few weeks before he died in January 2010....

I'm sure you did. I can hear your battle cry ringing in my ears.....

Viva la stupidité!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hmmm...Is It Too Early To Think About A Recall Effort?

From the Chicago Trib: Walker says National Guard is prepared

Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond if there is any unrest among state employees in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights.

Walker said Friday that he hasn't called the Guard into action, but he has briefed them and other state agencies in preparation of any problems.

Walker says he has every confidence that state employees will continue to show up for work and do their jobs. But he says he's been working on contingency plans for months just in case they don't.

Walker says he's not anticipating any problems.

Uh, yeah... sure. I always spend months making plans for things I don't think will be a problem.

I don't know who is advising Walker, but he couldn't sound more like a fascist if he tried.

It's Time To Get A Life, People

The horror: Groupon axes controversial ad campaign

Groupon founder Andrew Mason has pulled a series of controversial ads that began running during the Super Bowl, saying "one thing is clear -- our ads offended a lot of people."

The announcement was on the company's official blog Thursday.

"We hate that we offended people, and we're very sorry that we did -- it's the last thing we wanted," Mason said. "We've listened to your feedback, and since we don't see the point in continuing to anger people, we're pulling the ads."

Mason said some of the ads may run again on Friday before the advertising schedule is fully rescinded.

In three spots that ran before, during and after Sunday's game, commercials that appeared to promote humanitarian and environmental causes -- most notably Chinese government oppression in Tibet -- swerved to become tongue-in-cheek pitches for Groupon deals.

Critics, many of whom took to Facebook and Twitter to complain, said the ads, directed by actor-director Christopher Guest of "This is Spinal Tap" and "Best In Show" fame, made light of serious situations.

Oh, for chrissakes.

I swear, it seems half the US population have turned into church ladies from the 1950's.

Etiquette tip: Being a moralizing prude makes one freakishly boring.

Besides, for my money you cannot have enough Elizabeth Hurley on TV.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Not Getting It

When it comes to the complaints Conservatives make about discrimination against themselves in academia, the Left simply does not listen. Case in point there is this paragraph from a generally thoughtful piece by Megan McArdle:

In blog years, this is an age-old argument. I find it particularly intriguing because it completely reverses the standard argument about discrimination. Conservatives are usually reluctant to agree that women and minorities are still often victims of structural or personal bias--despite numerical underrepresentation and some fairly compelling studies showing that hiring is not race or gender blind. Yet when it comes to conservatives in academia, they suddenly sound like sociologists, discussing hostile work environment, the role of affinity networks in excluding out groups, unconscious bias, and the compelling evidence from statistical underrepresentation.

This is simply wrong and, frankly, naive. Conservatives have no need to make an argument about "unconscious bias." The complaint is, and always has been, about open bias and deliberate (i.e. conscious) hostility and discrimination.

In brief, he appeared well launched. Out of Yale, he got a job teaching at a small northeastern college. (He asks I not use the name because he's "still got friends there, and it's not a great school; if you had a pulse and money to pay, you got in.") After a year, he was up for an open tenure-track position. But then... the job was offered to someone else, a woman less credentialed and clearly less qualified....

For his part, all Garry knew was that what had happened was not remotely fair. So, after thinking it over, he did the unthinkable: He complained. All these years later, he can only shake his head at his naivete. "The corruption argument never gets you anywhere. Either they're so ideological they genuinely don't see it, or they're so cynical they don't care. It's like thinking you're going to embarrass Claude Rains in Casablanca." Not that he hadn't been warned.

His old advisor from Yale, herself a committed feminist, "yelled at me on the phone. 'Don't contest this,' she said. 'If you know what's good for you, you'll just withdraw and walk away.' I mean, there was this implied Mafioso threat. But she was right. I got a reputation as a troublemaker." He pauses. "The fact is, if I'd been a woman and lodged such an accusation, it would've scared them to death. Even if I'd been totally wrong, they'd have either given me the job or a fat settlement. But as a white male, and a known conservative, I was dead." After that, there were a string of one-year visiting professorships - at the University of Delaware, Brown, and Princeton, plus a year in Lyon, teaching in French - but never another tenure track job.... "They'll find a zillion excuses to obscure the real reasons: 'the scholarship's a little flimsy,' 'it's not a good fit,' or whatever they want.


The Cold War historian Ron Radosh started on the opposite end of the political spectrum...but he too was done in, and far more publicly, by what, on the modern campus, is that most dangerous of traits: intellectual honesty. Having come of age on the left, he was persuaded by extensive research that iconic victim Julius Rosenberg was in fact guilty of the espionage for which he'd been executed, and said as much in a 1983 book, The Rosenberg File, that he co-authored. He expected a vigorous dialogue on the subject; instead, he found himself almost universally condemned by his colleagues for daring to write such a thing at all. "They'd have nothing to do with me," he says. "I wasn't an honest researcher. I was a traitor to the cause. I was at a conference not long afterward and Paul Buell, a leftist historian I'd known for years, walked away when I went to say hello. Later that night, I saw him in the empty lobby, and he said, 'Now I can say hello to you, because nobody's watching. But, seriously, you are a running dog of imperialism.'" Radosh laughs. "There was this other woman from Hofstra, Carolyn Eisenberg, who came up to me and said, 'I just want you to know you used to be one of our heroes and models, but you've betrayed us all; what you did was horrible.' At that, she started crying."

To these and innumerable others in his field, Radosh has remained a pariah ever since: "It never ends. They don't forget. As a result of that, I was blackballed, could never get any other really good job." He cites one episode as especially telling, an interview with the entire history faculty at George Washington University. "They didn't even bother to pretend. There was no discussion of my credentials as an historian, or my writing, just my politics. It was: 'Why are you right-wing?' and 'Why do you write these books saying these victims of McCarthyism were guilty?' Around the table they went, one after another condemning me for my politics.I ended up getting two votes from the whole department."

So the horror stories keep on coming, only now the protagonists are a new generation of conservatives. "I really never believed it could be this bad," admits a young conservative historian named Mark Moyar, on the job market for five years and still looking. A summa cum laude graduate of Harvard, with a doctorate from Cambridge and a highly regarded book to his credit, at this writing he has been turned down for nearly two hundred tenure-track jobs. "I mean, I figured there'd at least be jobs for the token conservative, so that if I worked hard and did a really exceptional job, I'd slip in. At this point, it's just bizarre - especially seeing the caliber of people who are getting hired. In place after place, the Baby Boomers in senior positions demand total and absolute ideological conformity and, if anything, the younger scholars who came up under their tutelage are even worse."

It is surely a vast understatement to say that Moyar's book hasn't exactly helped. Entitled Triumph Forsaken, it argues that the Vietnam war was not only winnable, but should have been won. Then again, who knows?

How do the tenured radicals who run liberal arts departments justify this state of affairs? "We try to hire the best, smartest people available," explains Robert Brandon, the chairman of Duke's philosophy department. "If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire."

What does this says about the smarts of a Duke philosophy professor, who obviously cannot understand John Stuart Mill's quote since they are just as obviously ignorant of the kind of conservatism being discussed (i.e. Tory conservatism of the early and mid 19th century in England, with its emphasis on a powerful,rural, land owning aristocratic class), or how that is completely different from Conservatism in the contemporary American scene. In fact, the traits Mill was espousing in his philosophical/political vision reside almost entirely on the political right in this country today. It's only their special variety of vicious bigotry which confines people like Prof. Brandon within the bubble of their moronic ignorance. However, that's sort of the point in being a bigot, I guess. If they were to actually learn anything that might have to change their outlook... well, what would the fun be in that?

I have personally seen this form of bigotry. I've seen someone denied a job because they were deemed "politically suspect" for the unforgivable crime of merely being able to play devil's advocate on ideological issues. In the academia of today, seemingly, having an open mind is considered a liability.

And it shows.

Monday, February 07, 2011

BREAKING: Iconic Midwest Sold To Toothless Man For Pizza, 6 Pack Of Bud Light

Blogosphere Tycoon Cletus Johnson
Hard on the heels of other media acquisitions in the blogosphere, toothless would-be media mogul Cletus Johnson has announced the outright purchase of the website The Iconic Midwest.

"I had $12 burning a hole in my pocket and a stack of coupons for Little Caesars, so I thought 'Why not start building my empire right now?' It took nearly 15 minutes worth of haggling, but I got what I wanted in the end."

Johnson responded as well to reports of fractious negotiations in the acquisition process: "I thought I had a deal with [Iconic Midwest author Rich] Horton when I offered him extra sausage, but the bastard held out for the beer."

When asked what his next blog addition would be Mr. Johnson was extremely forthcoming: "Well, I've got $5.35 left. If I can get the Daily Kos for its fair market price, I should have enough left to be able to get a couple tacos at the Gas & Suds."

When In Doubt, Make It Up

Another day, another crisis: Droughts, Floods and Food

We’re in the midst of a global food crisis — the second in three years. World food prices hit a record in January, driven by huge increases in the prices of wheat, corn, sugar and oils. These soaring prices have had only a modest effect on U.S. inflation, which is still low by historical standards, but they’re having a brutal impact on the world’s poor, who spend much if not most of their income on basic foodstuffs.

Maybe this wouldn't be the best time to mention another contributing factor, such as green policies which increase the cost of electricity which especially hurt the poor. Evidently, when pain is inflicted upon the poor by the decisions and actions of folks like Paul Krugman that is not a crisis. It's tough love. Otherwise, its a crisis.

The consequences of this food crisis go far beyond economics. After all, the big question about uprisings against corrupt and oppressive regimes in the Middle East isn’t so much why they’re happening as why they’re happening now. And there’s little question that sky-high food prices have been an important trigger for popular rage.

Really? For some reason this "important trigger" seems to have escaped the people actually protesting in places like Tunisia. Indeed, the inflation rate in Tunisia for was only 3.5-4.5% which ranks only 120th in the world in terms of inflation. So, where exactly is this supposed source for "food rioting"? When one looks at the photographs of the protests in Tunisia one does not see people complaining about a lack of food. They are complaining about politics.

In fact, it was the Tunisian regime which attempted to make this all about food prices, and that was an approach rejected by the Tunisian people:

Protesters chanted slogans against President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, a day after he went on TV to promise lower food prices and new freedoms for Tunisians. Demonstrators shouted "Ben Ali, out!" and "Ben Ali, assassin!" One poster read "We won't forget," a reference to the rioters killed, many by police bullets.

Pent-up anger at unemployment and at a leadership many see as controlling and corrupt has exploded into protests and clashes with police over the past few weeks. The official death toll in the riots is 23, but that figure has not been updated in days. Opposition leaders put the figure at three times that.
[ed. emphasis added]

It was, in actuality, the political success of the protests in Tunisia which were the triggers of the protest movements in other repressive regimes in the area.

So, where does this myth of food riots come from? From the global warming cabal, where else?

Krugman links to this piece from "Climate Progress" (gee, with a name like that you simply HAVE to trust their objectivity, right?):

Expert consensus grows on contribution of record high food prices to Middle East unrest

Uh oh. It's time for another "consensus," eh? OK, so who are your "experts" Climate Progress?

"Experts" linked in the story include:

Ben Grossman-Cohen, press officer for Oxfam. (enough said.)

Derek Thompson of The Atlantic who writes on economics, and actually had this to say about Egypt:

Blame President Hosni Mubarak, who has shut his country off from the global economy. As Zachary Karabell reports in the Wall Street journal, the country ranks 137 in the world in per-capita income (behind Tonga, ahead of Kirbati). The government has failed to capitalize on $2 billion in annual U.S. aid, $5 billion in Suez Canal dues and $10 billion in tourism, which flourishes despite, not because of, the country's infrastructure.

Egypt's brand of socialism strangles the private sector in at least two significant ways. First, most investment projects must be reviewed by the government and with public ownerships dominating finance, that makes it especially difficult for entrepreneurs to get access to funding. Second, corruption is rank. Egypt ranks 111th out of 180 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index for 2009, according to the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedoms, and "bribery of low-level civil servants seems to be a part of daily life."

So, this expert, doesn't blame the "acute shock" of the rise in foodstuffs. He blames Mubarak's brand of crony socialism. Thomson doesn't blame floods; he blames corrupt political policies.

Another expert cited by Climate Progess is economist Nouriel Roubini who said...

Rising prices are "leading to riots, demonstrations and political instability," New York University economics professor Nouriel Roubini said during a panel discussion. "It's really something that can topple regimes, as we have seen in the Middle East."

However, a look at Prof. Roubini's vita shows no published work on the question of food/commodity prices and political instability. Now, Roubini may have a gut feeling on the matter, and his experience generally on issues of political economy may give his gut feelings a little more weight than some others, that is hardly the basis to declare "consensus" on the matter.

The last "expert" Climate Progress invokes to create "consensus" is...wait for it... themselves!

So, creating consensus seems to be a little like Napoleon crowning himself emperor. (It's probably good work if you can get it.)

But here is the crux of Krugman's lying:

While several factors have contributed to soaring food prices, what really stands out is the extent to which severe weather events have disrupted agricultural production. And these severe weather events are exactly the kind of thing we’d expect to see as rising concentrations of greenhouse gases change our climate — which means that the current food price surge may be just the beginning.

This is simply wrong scientifically. There is no evidence conecting these weather events to climate change. None. Oh, there is plenty of speculation on the part of economists, journalists, press officers, and partisan hacks of all stripes, but there is no proof. There is no evidence that we are witnessing extreme weather events that are more servere or which occur more often than in the past.

Sadly, a complete lack of evidence is never enough to deter the truly fevered.

Krugman continued:

As always, you can’t attribute any one weather event to greenhouse gases. But the pattern we’re seeing, with extreme highs and extreme weather in general becoming much more common, is just what you’d expect from climate change.

Typical Krugman. "You can't do X, but I'm gonna do it anyway."

Until the warmists tell us what weather wouldn't "be expected" by their theory (i.e. what would count as falsifying their hypothesis), there is no reason to pay attention to them. For them, every possible occurrence is compatible with their theory, which is the same thing as saying their theory is meaningless.


Noel Sheppard points to the following graph charting wheat prices:

Commenting on this graph Roger Pielke Jr. states:

Good luck disentangling a long-term climate signal in the long-term data, which shows a significant decline in grain prices, much less attributing such a signal to a particular cause. Efforts to link short-term wiggles to the effects of greenhouse gas emissions go well beyond the canons of empirical science, to use a polite euphemism from The Climate Fix.

Whatever Krugman is on about, it isn't science.

Gleaned from Memeorandum.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Think Progress: Super Geniuses

Let us all bow down to the wisdom that is Think Progress:

With record-breaking climate disasters crippling the United States...

The link "proving" there have been "climate" disasters is a post recapping the latest snow storm to hit Chicago. For starters, a snow storm in the middle of winter, even one that produced the third highest snowfall totals in the area, is not "climate." It's weather. If you don't know what the difference is between the two you really ought to keep your ignorant mouth shut.

In the cast of Think Progress we won't get off that lucky. They continue:

...defenders of global warming pollution are growing increasingly desperate. Gordon Peterson, host of PBS’s weekly Inside Washington show, noted the scientific fact that “there’s about a four percent more water vapor in the air now in the atmosphere than there was in the ’70s because of warmer oceans and warmer air, and it returns to earth as heavy rain and heavy snow.”

And what scientific proof do these people rely on here? The first link goes to a statement by Al Gore, who is not a scientist. The second link goes to a New York Times op-ed writer Gail Collins, also not a scientist, who was quoting as her authority on the matter one Al Gore. You can't make up this junk.

How could anyone argue against this collection of uncredentialed intellectual firepower?

Oh, I know...maybe they could actually hold a doctorate in the field? Like Dr. Roy Spencer:

No serious climate researcher — including the ones I disagree with — believes global warming can cause colder weather. Unless they have become delusional as a result of some sort of mental illness. One of the hallmarks of global warming theory is LESS extratropical cyclone activity — not more... satellite measurements of precipitation which shows that the annual amount of precipitation that falls on the Earth stays remarkably constant from year to year.

Got that super geniuses? We know, for a fact, there has not been an increase in global precipitation. Al Gore is either lying or willfully ignorant. (You can see graphical representation of the satellite data here courtesy of NASA.)

Here is how Think Progress quotes Charles Krauthammer who had pointed out the unscientific nature of the Global Warming hysteria:

Look, if Godzilla appeared on the Mall this afternoon, Al Gore would say it’s global warming, because the spores in the South Atlantic Ocean, you know, were. Look, everything is, it’s a religion. In a religion, everything is explicable. In science, you can actually deny or falsify a proposition with evidence. You find me a single piece of evidence that Al Gore would ever admit would contradict global warming and I’ll be surprised. [ed. moronic highlighting by Think Progress]

That's right, Think Progress. The key to this point is the bit about Godzilla, and not the discussion concerning the scientific requirement of falsifiability and the Left's refusal to be bound by scientific evidence.

Think Progress goes on to prove my point by claiming the oceans are warming, when the evidence shows this simply is not true. [Warning! That link leads to another actual scientist and not an op-ed writer or a washed up politician looking to make a buck.]

What is most scary about this crap is the degree to which people like those at Think Progress operate in a realm beyond rational discourse. It is that aspect which reminds people of arguing with someone on a religious matter, though it needn't be viewed in that light. Ideological "true believers" are just as irrational, though more dangerous as they wish to hold political power which can be used against the recalcitrant. To this end the recalcitrant is demonized by equating them with neo-Nazis via the constant and mindless use of the term "denier" to describe their "enemy." It is sad, vicious, stupid, and has absolutely nothing to do with science.

Friday, February 04, 2011

On Being An Idiot Or A Terrible Liar

The New Republic has hit a new low thanks to Jonathan Cohn:

The conservative legal brief against the Affordable Care Act rests heavily on a simple proposition. Government can’t make us obtain private insurance because, as the argument goes, that would be forcing us to buy a private product.

Politically and constitutionally, it may be an effective argument.

Given that we are dealing with a political and constitutional question what else would an argument need to be?

But do the law's harshest critics, the ones screaming about tyranny, actually believe that? In particular, do they think it's even scarier than a single-payer, government-run program, as they argue in their briefs and Judge Roger Vinson suggested in his Monday ruling?

Well, thanks for admitting a single-payer system would be scary and tyrannical.

I thought it would be harder to get TNR to admit that. Who knew?

There is more:
I have my doubts. And while I offered some of my reasons yesterday, I left out a big one: Social Security privatization.

You remember privatization, don’t you? The idea was to take Social Security, a mandatory public pension program, and turn it into a system of mandatory personal investment accounts.

There may have been a President Bush who attempted to install mandatory personal investment accounts in a Social Security system, but not in this galaxy.

On Earth (a big blue planet, third one from the can't miss it Mr. Cohn), Bush's plan was a little different:

In the State of the Union address Wednesday evening, President Bush answered some important questions about his plans for Social Security reform and the creation of individual investment accounts. Many issues remain unclear, however.

Here are some of the topics Bush addressed and some further details from a fact sheet on his proposal.

Would reform affect everyone? The president has said all along that any reform would not affect the benefits of current and near retirees. On Wednesday, he specified that benefits of anyone age 55 and older will not be changed.

Who could open an investment account? The accounts are voluntary. But participation would be phased in over three years according to age. In the first year -- 2009 -- workers born from 1950 to 1965 could open accounts. In the second year, workers born from 1950 to 1978 could open accounts. In the third year, anyone born after 1950 could opt for an account.
[emphasis added]

I wonder what part of the word "voluntary" Mr. Cohn doesn't understand?

Obviously the entire word is confusing to Mr Cohn (and others according to Memeorandum). But, I'm a sport. I'll help them out.

Something that is "voluntary" is not "mandatory" and vice-versa.

So, Mr. Cohn has a choice. He can either admit to lying about the voluntary nature of the Bush Social Security reform efforts, or he can admit he's not sure what the word "mandatory" means.

In This Instance It Ought To Be One Strike And You Are Out


David N. Cox says he was merely exercising his right to petition the government, but a state Department of Transportation official has raised allegations that Cox committed a misdemeanor: practicing engineering without a license.

Cox and his North Raleigh neighbors are lobbying city and state officials to add traffic signals at two intersections as part of a planned widening of Falls of Neuse Road.

After an engineering consultant hired by the city said that the signals were not needed, Cox and the North Raleigh Coalition of Homeowners' Associations responded with a sophisticated analysis of their own.

The eight-page document with maps, diagrams and traffic projections was offered to buttress their contention that signals will be needed at the Falls of Neuse at Coolmore Drive intersection and where the road meets Tabriz Point / Lake Villa Way.

It did not persuade Kevin Lacy, chief traffic engineer for the state DOT, to change his mind about the project. Instead, Lacy called on a state licensing agency, the N.C. Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors, to investigate Cox.

Cox says Lacy is trying to squelch dissent.

"All we ever tried to do was express our view about this," said Cox, a computer scientist. "We never expected something like this. We think it's wrong. We're just trying to make our neighborhood safe."

Lacy said his complaint "was not an accusation" against Cox.

"I'm not trying to hush him up," Lacy said.

The technical term for this claim by Lacy is "bullshit".

Lacy is a public servant and nothing more.

Lacy ought to be a former public servant starting today. He obviously is not interested in protecting the people of the state in their rights and liberties, but is interested in using the power of the state to silence dissent. As a result Lacy has forfeited his right to work for the people. Ever.


From Instapundit on this matter:

Stay in your place, proles, and don’t challenge your betters.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

I've Found The Only Thing More Moronic Than Jimmy Cater's Book...

...and it's the lawsuit attacking Jimmy Carter's book:

More than four years after its publication, five disgruntled readers have filed a class-action lawsuit against President Jimmy Carter and his publisher, Simon & Schuster, alleging that his 2006 book “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” contained “numerous false and knowingly misleading statements intended to promote the author's agenda of anti-Israel propaganda and to deceive the reading public instead of presenting accurate information as advertised.”

The five plaintiffs named in the lawsuit are seeking at least $5 million in compensation. The hard cover edition cost $27.

The suit accuses Carter and his publisher of violating New York consumer protection laws because they engaged in “deceptive acts in the course of conducting business” and alleges that they sought enrichment by promoting the book “as a work of non-fiction.”

Oh, grow up already. I agree that Carter's book is simplistic, shoddy and worse than morally questionable, but welcome to America the land where we have the right to be all of those things in print.

Right wing political correctness is just as unacceptable as left wing political correctness.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I'm Sorry, But Why Is This A Story?

The free fall of the American press continues: WikiLeaks suspect is deteriorating mentally, physically, friend says

After more than six months in maximum confinement in the U.S. Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia, the prime suspect in the WikiLeaks case "seems frazzled," says one of the few people to visit Army Pfc. Bradley Manning.

STOP THE PRESSES!!!! Someone isn't entirely enjoying their incarceration!

I'm sorry but how is Bradley's situation any different from thousands of other prisoners getting the exact same treatment? The answer is, of course, it isn't different.

There are some unwritten rules to journalism. Number one of those is the Who gives a shit? rule. This "story" fails to ask that question.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Good Luck To Queensland... (Updated)

...According to the BBC they are gonna need it:

Meteorologists have upgraded Cyclone Yasi to a category five storm, the most severe level. With winds of almost 300km/h (185mph), they are warning it poses an extremely serious threat to life and property, especially around the cities of Cairns and Townsville. People in low-lying areas especially are being urged to evacuate.

I've not been able to find an updated forecast that reflects the Category 5 designation. The last advisory listed at has a time stamp of 0000UTC (10am Queensland time - it's 2:20pm now), and they still say "125 KT, GUSTS 150 KT" with a forecasted high of "130 KT, GUSTS 160 KT" which would mean a strong Cat 4 storm.

Now, it could be the Australians have other assets they can use when dangerous storms loom. The general practice in that part of the world is to rely on satellite images to pinpoint position and make a guesstimate of wind speed based upon the visual organization of the storm. However, I'm not seeing any reference to pressure readings, so it doesn't seem the upgrade is based upon instrumental measurements.

Either way this is a bad storm coming at a bad time for already weary Queenslanders.


Ah, here is the issue with the Cat 4 vs. Cat 5 designation. The Australians do not use the Saffir-Simpson scale as we do in the states. In Australia any storm over 107kt is classified as "Category 5" while a hurricane hitting the U.S. at 108kt would be called a strong Cat 3 storm. So a 130kt storm, like this one, would be a Cat 4 for us and a Cat 5 for Aussies. (Info gleaned from WUWT.)