Saturday, February 28, 2009
Canada 2020 Speakers Series: Niall Ferguson on the "Great Depression" from Canada 2020 on Vimeo.
This runs more than an hour but well worth the time spent listening to it. Pay particular attention to the question time at the end. There you will see all the major schools of thought -- liberal trans-nationalism, Schumpeterianism, neo-Keynesianism, monetarism, etc. all on display. Ferguson's responses are both amusing and illuminating.
Back a few months ago I posted pictures from the Reading Terminal Market in Philly. This was taken at the Farmer's Market in Reading, across from the Fairgrounds Mall.
This is a segment of the old Schuylkill Canal that linked the anthracite coal region to Philadelphia. In the early nineteenth century it was one of the busiest waterways in the land. Now it just sits, frozen over.
Here's what put the canal out of business. The railroad, which ran parallel to the waterway about twenty yards away. Now it lies quiet too, the rails rusted over.
I've been experimenting with vertical composition lately. This is just a barren field along Rte. #895. I like the washed-out color and the lone tree.
This is another field along the same road. This time I ramped up the contrast to emphasize the difference between the plowed and fallow strips of ground.
Liberals have been using fear to demonize their opponents for generations. FDR did it all the time. Harry Truman claimed his 1948 opponent, Thomas Dewey, was the front man for a fascist cabal. LBJ tried to link Barry Goldwater with the Klan and the (fictionally right-wing) forces who assassinated Kennedy. Bill Clinton was a master of conjuring fears about angry white men and other hobgoblins. Al Gore campaigned in 2000 by decrying every idea he didn’t like as a “risky scheme.” Liberal activists groups stir up panics over food, children, power lines, polar bears, and a thousand other things every day.Read the whole thing here.
Jonah nailed it again.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Hayward hopes that the influence of the Greens is beginning, like that of earlier apocalyptic hysterical movements, to decline. But he notes that its legal and institutional forms are well-developed and will continue to plague our political culture long after the movement itself has passed into obscurity.
Let us hope, for the sake of our country, our culture, and humanity in general that the Green movement, in both its political and institutional forms, quickly passes from the scene. I know it will not go quietly.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
President Barack Obama reveres Abraham Lincoln. But among the glaring differences between the two men is that Lincoln offered careful, rigorous, sustained arguments to advance his aims and, when disagreeing with political opponents, rarely relied on the lazy rhetorical device of "straw men." Mr. Obama, on the other hand, routinely ascribes to others views they don't espouse and says opposition to his policies is grounded in views no one really advocates.Read it here.
This is a standard rhetorical trick of the Left -- to ascribe to their opponents views that no sane person would hold, then to pose their programs and policies as the rational alternative to lunacy. Obama, as Rove points out, uses it to excess. Too bad that the MSM buys into the caricatures of conservativism being pushed by the Left.
Read it here.
Of course he is! Nobody but the senile old fart seems to have noticed that whatever intrusions on Congressional power had been made by the Bush administration, they pale in comparison to what the superczar Obama has proposed.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Read about it here.
Maintaining detention programs outside the U.S. [The Obama administration will continue to incarcerate detainees at Bagram in Iraq, and seem to be backing away from their promise to close Guntanamo, which they have now conveniently found to be in compliance with the standards set by the Geneva Convention].
Blocking the release of records on alleged torture of released Guantanamo detainees.
Blocking the release of records on domestic spying related to suspected Islamic radical organizations.
Continuing the practice of rendition of detainees to other countries.
Refusing to release internal e-mails of Bush administration officials.
Continuing federal contributions to faith-based organizations.
Allowing the Bush tax cuts to continue until their statuatory expiration date.
Gee, sounds as if Obama feels that these Bush administration actions, which so outraged the moralistic posturers of the Left, are in fact sound policy.
Somebody owes Dubya an apology.
Jonah Goldberg's take on the same observation is here. He makes the important point that the media has framed the distinction between liberal and conservative in wildly unrealistic terms and that Obama, like Bush before him, is less an ideologue than a moderate just trying to deal with the problems facing the country.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Zombie snark. Could be interesting.
Read about it here.
Yeah, this guy's a good choice.
You're doing a heck of a job Barry.
The funniest man on the web writes:
NEW YORK - Major stock indexes posted broad gains on heavy trading early Tuesday on news that a rogue group of student protesters from New York University had taken over the White House and barricaded themselves in the Oval Office. The Dow posted a 1100 point (17%) gain in the first hour of trading, wiping out nearly all of its loss since January 20 and almost 35% of losses since November 4.
"Finally, we're seeing encouraging signs of sanity in Washington," said UBS market analyst Jane Cohen.
"They tricked us," complained exiled Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. "They said they were only coming by to chillax with some OG kush and talk about the stimulus bill and shit."
According to Secret Service officials, when the president and aides left the Oval Office in search of a seed tray and some kibble the students barred the door, effectively taking over the executive branch.
After the takeover, coup leader and presumed acting US President Skyler Lozano appeared on a White House balcony to unfurl a "Free Gaza" banner and recite a list of the group's demands, including "cruelty-free consensus," "vegan lunchboxes," "end of the corporatist empire," and "free Wi-Fi in all dorms." Newly appointed US Secretary of Drum Circles Rachel Morgenthau then ordered all federal employees to go on a general strike until "we reach a democratic consensus on meeting a timetable for agreeing to a community framework for a collective demand consensus."
Read the whole thing here.
Here's tonight's TCM lineup -- The Burmese Harp; Rashomon; Seven Samurai; Kwaidan. All great! If you have never seen the two Kurosawa flicks, you really have to. "Samurai" may well be the greatest action flick ever made [remade in America as "The Magnificent Seven"] and "Rashomon" [remade in the US as "The Outrage"] is one of the essential flicks. Toshiro Mifune, one of the greatest actors in world history, is amazing in both.
So give yourself a real treat -- tune in to TCM tonight. I know I will.
Read it here.
Down in Katrina Kountry people are celebrating "Fat Tuesday", in Rio it's Carnivale, but up here in Dutch Country it's "Fastnacht" [or "Donut Day" for the English among you]. As I write I'm sitting in a booth at Dunkin' Donuts munching on one of their golden goodies, sipping coffee, and watching the long line at the counter inch forward incrementally. The woman who waited on me said this was their busiest day of the year. I believe it! People are not just buying a donut or two -- they're buying a dozen or two at a time to take home or to work in celebration of Fastnacht.
Not for us those fancy costumes, parades, or drunken orgies. We Pennsylvania Dutch are content to just sit quietly, consume the calories, and watch the pounds accumulate around our midsections.
The point here is that the rhetoric of the Democrat campaign, driven by the angry Left, was so obviously out of line with reality on so many issues as to be insane. Clearly nobody except the loony Left and other mental incompetents expected Obama to honor his campaign promises once he was in a position of responsibility.
I think President Obama is to be congratulated for the adjustments to his positions on NAFTA, and likewise on FISA, Iraq, rendition, Gitmo (now that it has suddenly and mysteriously met the Geneva standard), the Patriot Act, etc. These changes of heart enhance U.S. security, I think, and the President is to be commended for supporting them.
What does this say about our electoral process -- that we should elect a man to office expecting, or in many cases hoping, that he has been lying to us all along?
And what does it say about the man we elected?
Things to think about.
Read Professor Hanson's piece here.
Also: Hanson notes that Obama (aware of the legal difficulties involved in attempting, as President Bush did, to wage a relatively humane war) seems to have decided that blowing people to pieces at a distance with hellfire missiles is much less problematic than taking people prisoner and then having to worry what to do with them and their pesky advocates.
"Every drop of blood that was shed or is being shed in Afghanistan and Iraq is the responsibility of bin Laden and Zawahiri and their followers...."
Read it here.
Gee, and all this time the NYT and the Left loons have been saying it was Bush and Cheney's fault.
Glad we got that straightened out.
Monday, February 23, 2009
It's been a long Winter. The temperature is still hovering in the twenties, going down to the teens at night. Each year the first of my wife's flowers to appear are the snowdrops. Here they are, climbing into the light, about two to three weeks later than usual. Like I said..., it's been a long Winter.
First, there is no agreement among economists as to what is the best policy to follow. Ultimately, the "dismal science", despite all its pretensions, is not all that scientific. Expert opinion is to a great extent shaped by ideology and political utility. This means that expert opinion is unreliable as a guide to policy formulation.
This brings us to the second flaw. Policy making is ultimately a political act, and that means politicians will be deeply involved in the process. This is really a good thing, since expert opinion alone is not to be trusted [I would never, ever advocate technocracy], but it does insure that action, good or bad, right or wrong, will be taken, whether it is necessary or not. Politicians cannot afford to be perceived to be uninvolved in a time of crisis [remember how Bush was bashed over Katrina]. What is more, political pressure insures that whatever action is taken it will be extreme, over-hyped, and to some extent misdirected and that is a bad thing.
Jeffrey Sachs, writing in Scientific American, explains what is wrong with the current set of economic policies:
The U.S. political-economic system gives evidence of a phenomenon known as “instrument instability.” Policy makers at the Federal Reserve and the White House are attempting to use highly imperfect monetary and fiscal policies to stabilize the national economy. The result, however, has been ever-more desperate swings in economic policies in the attempt to prevent recessions that cannot be fully eliminated.
President Barack Obama’s economic team is now calling for an unprecedented stimulus of large budget deficits and zero interest rates to counteract the recession. These policies may work in the short term but they threaten to produce still greater crises within a few years. Our recovery will be faster if short-term policies are put within a medium-term framework in which the budget credibly comes back to balance and interest rates come back to moderate sustainable levels.
Read it here.
But a reasonable and moderate response to the current crisis is not politically feasible. Moreover, as the article shows, policymakers over the course of the past two decades have been strongly influenced by calculations of the political impact of their decisions. The result has been to introduce distortions into the markets that have contributed to the severity of the present crisis.
Robert Samuelson argues that the interference of politics has severely limited the effectiveness of the stimulus plan. Much of the money will be spent on non-stimulus, but politically attractive, applications, and much more will not be spent until [hopefully] the worst of the crisis has passed. And that's not counting the long-term drag on the economy imposed by "temporary" measures included in the bill.
Politics cannot be removed from the political process. But here, partisan politics ran roughshod over pragmatic economic policy.
Read it here.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
ZURICH, Feb 21 (Reuters) - The right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) called on Saturday for retaliation against the United States over a U.S. tax probe into the country's biggest bank UBS that threatens prized banking secrecy.
The populist SVP, the country's biggest party, said Switzerland should not take in any detainees from the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, which the Swiss government said last month it could consider to help shut the camp down.
Switzerland should also reconsider its policy of representing the United States in countries where it has no diplomatic presence, the parliamentary SVP said in a statement.
The SVP said gold stored by the Swiss National Bank in the United States should be repatriated and Switzerland should ban the sale of U.S. funds in the country to protect Swiss investors after the failure of U.S. regulators.
Read it here.
Herschel Smith writes about Obama's "Rapidly Collapsing Foreign Policy" here.
Another one of Bill Clinton's stable of supposedly brilliant economic thinkers has been shown to be not so much. Remember Robert Rubin, the whiz kid who after leaving government worked in community development promoting the kind of investments that brought on the recent credit collapse, and then went to Citigroup where he ran that company into the ground. Well, he's not the only "Best and Brightest" bulb who dimmed out after the Clinton bubble burst.
Everyone remembers Larry Summers' problems at Harvard where he suggested that women just weren't cut out for math and science. Well, now it turns out that Harvard's investment strategies directed by Summers were to say the least catastrophic, costing the corporation hundreds of millions of dollars. Now this clown, who built his reputation by presiding over a tech bubble that burst as he left office, is back in government, advising the Young Messiah on economic matters.
And this is supposed to give us hope for the future?
Read about it here.
The NY Post reports:
Read it here.
A new Citigroup scandal is engulfing Robert Rubin and his former disciple Chuck Prince for their roles in an alleged Ponzi-style scheme that's now choking world banking.
Director Rubin and ousted CEO Prince - and their lieutenants over the past five years - are named in a federal lawsuit for an alleged complex cover-up of toxic securities that spread across the globe, wiping out trillions of dollars in their destructive paths.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
This is John Sanders -- he's the tech reporter for WBAL TV in Baltimore, and he is a creep. He is the idiot who falsified a slanderous video of John Gibson and put it on Youtube. It was picked up by TV-Newser and the Huffington Post and widely broadcast.
Andrew Breitbart's people have tracked him down [here]. This guy claims to be a professional journalist and he is pulling stunts like this! He should be fired, immediately! At the least WBAL owes John Gibson an on-air apology that should then be posted on Youtube like the original slander was.
Yes, I called him a creep, and I meant it.
He's gone! Fox reports that Sanders is no longer in the employ of WBAL [here]. Good riddance!
My wife planted this last summer -- don't know what it is, but with the morning sun shining through it, it's purty. UPDATE: My wife tells me that it's a hydrangea. Whatever.
Melting ice ledge on a small creek. I took this down in Orwigsburg, just behind the Post Office, then headed across the street for lunch at Subway.
Here's the loading dock at the P.O. What made me notice it was all the color. It stood out against the bleak surroundings.
And back to the birds. Driving along the New Philadelphia road the other morning we kept disturbing flocks of birds. Fortunately I wasn't behind the wheel and had my camera in my lap.
Read it here.
Don Surber suggests that Obama owes President Bush an apology for all the nasty things he said about Gitmo during the campaign. [here]
Friday, February 20, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he wants to consider taxing motorists based on how many miles they drive rather than how much gasoline they burn - an idea that has angered drivers in some states where it has been proposed.Read it here.
Time for another tax revolt.
The groundswell is building. Next stop Kansas [here].
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Read it here.
Here's my position on what ended the Great Depression: I don't know. There are a whole lot of theories out there, but with an "n" of 1, no overwhelming evidence in favor of any of them. There are a few that I think most economists agree are not true, like that the spending portion of the New Deal ended the Great Depression through the magic of fiscal stimulus; a few percent of GDP in stimulus are not, at any reasonable multiplier, enough to produce high single-digit economic growth, which is why economists from Friedman to Tobin generally concluded that the decisive moment was either the monetary expansion of the late 1930s, while others credit the massive fiscal stimulus of World War II. But which of those two theories is correct? No idea. The stimulus story and the monetary story both track the time frame reasonably well, and much depends on a counterfactual we can't test about what would have happened if America hadn't gotten into the war in 1941.I also think it's possible that nothing the government did ended the Great Depression. It may be that, like Topsy, it "just growed".
To this I would add two factors: The draft solved the unemployment problem, creating a labor shortage that drew women and minorities into the mainstream workforce; the war itself created a huge foreign demand for American products, one that only grew larger over time as our major industrial competitors bombed each other to smithereens.
Read it here.
The fact that Indian Muslims have stood up in this way is surely due, in part, to the fact that they live in, are the product of and feel empowered by a democratic and pluralistic society. They are not intimidated by extremist religious leaders and are not afraid to speak out against religious extremism in their midst.It is why so few, if any, Indian Muslims are known to have joined Al Qaeda. And it is why, as outrageously expensive and as uncertain the outcome, trying to build decent, pluralistic societies in places like Iraq is not as crazy as it seems. It takes a village, and without Arab-Muslim societies where the villagers feel ownership over their lives and empowered to take on their own extremists — militarily and ideologically — this trend will not go away.
So..., is he saying that Bush was right? Why, yes he is!
So the New York Post runs a cartoon referencing the Stimulus Bill and the rampaging chimpanzee and the race hustlers cry "Racism". This is standard lefty horse hockey. As some commentators have written, invoking Freud's observations about cigars: "sometimes a monkey is just a monkey". I might also point out that over the past eight years several cartoonists on the left have portrayed President Bush as an ape.
Read about it here.
Steven Rose, however, argues that no good can come of such research here.
In a followup editorial Nature tries to compromise these two positions and in doing so lapses into incoherence. On one hand the editors recognize the subjectivity of scientific inquiry:
Scientists have beliefs about what is right and wrong, just like everyone else. And try as they may to put them to one side — some try hard, some not so much — those beliefs will influence the way they do science, and the questions they ask and fail to ask. The scientific enterprise as a whole has to pay particular heed to the risk that preconceptions will creep in whenever what is being said about human nature has political or social implications.But then they turn around and make the absurd argument that scientists, and they alone, can set aside their interests and maintain an inclusive and objective perspective:
Science tries to place no trust in authority; to some extent, society has to. Science tries to define its membership on the basis of inclusion, rather than exclusion; work on altruism suggests, worryingly, that communities more normally need an outgroup to form against. Science insists on the value of truth even when it is inconvenient or harmful; most people's beliefs tend to reinforce their self-interest.Read it here.
Again I invoke Light's Law: "There is no such thing as disinterested authority". Scientists' claim to superhuman objectivity is absurd and, need I mention, self-serving.
I sympathize with the editors of Nature. They are in an extremely difficult position. On one hand their self-image as fearless and objective truth-seekers requires that they explore fully the implications of recent evolutionary and genomic research. On the other they are technocratic elitists, convinced that such information is far too dangerous to be disseminated to the general population, who lack the superhuman abilities of scientists to transcend their biases. They are also forced to recognize that in many ways liberal ideology is profoundly anti-science, perhaps more so than the positions advanced by their boogymen, the religious conservatives.
The tension between the constraints imposed by liberal ideology and their self-serving understanding of the unique role of the scientific enterprise must be extremely painful, made even more so by the necessity, forced on them by the implications of the current argument, of confronting the truth about themselves -- that they are not the paragons of objectivity they claim to be. Looking honestly into the mirror is never an easy thing to do, but the current argument holds the potential to force scientists to at long last confront their humanity.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The schedule is:
Saturday, February 21, at 10:00 PMCheck it out. It should be interesting.
Sunday, February 22, at 9:00 PM
Monday, February 23, at 12:00 AM
Monday, February 23, at 3:00 AM
Sunday, March 1, at 11:00 AM
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
And this, where he squares off against Buddy Rich.
And a more recent clip, from 1980.
In addition to Duke Ellison, Louie performed with Benny Goodman, [hometown hero] Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Harry James, and Ella Fitzgerald. It just doesn't get any better than that. Read about him here.
RIP Louie. You were the best.
1 Whan in Februar, withe hise global warmynge
2 Midst unseasonabyl rain and stormynge
3 Gaia in hyr heat encourages
4 Englande folke to goon pilgrimages.
5 Frome everiches farme and shire
6 Frome London Towne and Lancanshire
7 The pilgryms toward Canterbury wended
8 Wyth fyve weke holiday leave extended
9 In hybryd Prius and Subaru
Read the whole thing here. And be sure to check out the last line!
Things just aren't working out the way they were supposed to. When the Young Messiah ascended to the Oval Office people around the world were supposed to love us. And Hillary was supposed to be an iconic figure of achievement for women everywhere. So why are women in Indonesia protesting Hillary's Asian tour? Why is she not welcome there? Could it be that Bush was not the reason for anti-American sentiment?
And how are things going on the foreign policy front? Our Dear Leader decides to go on Arab TV doing a dead perfect imitation of a weak horse. Then our allies in Pakistan, who had an effective working relationship with the Bush administration, decide to make nice with Islamic radicals in Waziristan. And we get kicked out of Kyrgyzstan, our major supply point in Central Asia. And we insult our allies in India. And the Kid in the Oval Office decides to open relations with Uzbekistan, one of the most despicable regimes on the planet, and so it goes, and so it goes.
It may well be that the incompetence of this administration, already so evident in Obama's choice of appointments to high positions and his terrible mismanagement of the stimulus bill, will be exceeded by his conduct of foreign policy.
Usually incompetence in an administration is restricted to one or maybe two areas, the ones to which the President pays the least attention, but here it is an across-the-board phenomenon with each department and agency seeming to try to outdo the clownishness of the others.
What is it Dukakis said? Oh yes..., "The fish rots from the head."
The first development was the reporting of medical surveys that showed differences across population groups in terms of their susceptibility to diseases and conditions, as well as responses to treatments. These studies suggest that, far from being all the same under the skin, different groups of humans exhibit deep-seated physiological differences.
The second developing theme was a scientific enterprise that used to go under the name of "sociobiology". Today it is called "evolutionary psychology." Basically it posits that human cognitive tendencies and capabilities are the product of biological evolution.
Just as human physiology and evolutionary physiology have worked to identify physical adaptations of the body that represent "human physiological nature," the purpose of evolutionary psychology is to identify evolved emotional and cognitive adaptations that represent "human psychological nature."[here]Perhaps the most widely reported, and popularly accepted, narrative emerging from this perspective is the argument that Ashkenazi Jews are cognitively superior to other population groups because during the Middle Ages they formed a separate breeding group and experienced powerful selective pressures that favored the development of high intelligence. [For one recent example see here.] Although this argument has long been widely accepted, few have until recently dared to apply its implications to other groups.
The third major development has been rejection of the old assertion that human evolution came to a halt with the emergence of culture. Not only has a rising generation of anthropologists and geneticists soundly rejected this argument [see here] they have argued the contrary -- that human evolution is actually accelerating [here].
Put them all together: Different interactive populations of humans display different physiological, emotional, and cognitive characteristics; these evolutionary divergences are not only continuing, but accelerating; these differences to some extent determine the extent to which a population group is advantaged or disadvantaged in relations with other groups of humans. What do you have? Nothing less than "scientific racism". As one anthropologist recently wrote in summary:
The major breakthrough of 2008 was the application of microarray technology to the problem of inferring ethnic ancestry.Read it, along with links to supporting research, here.
At the beginning of this year, it may have been tenable to consider ethnic groups as mere cultural constructs, divorced from nature; at its conclusion, this opinion has been conclusively falsified.
It is now clear that ethnic groups are not only cultural-political formations, but also (at least in part) distinct biological entities, emerging naturally as clusters of similarity from the genetic continuum.
As one commentator wrote, "this is dangerous ground we travel." Indeed it is!
Ever since WWII throughout the West we have systematically denied any suggestion that there are any meaningful racial or ethnic variations across groups, attributing disparities instead to socio-economic conditions or cultural differences. The research referenced above threatens to undermine or delegitimize that entire intellectual construct. Are we heading for a time when to call someone a "racist" is simply to recognize his scientific acumen?
Let us sincerely hope not.
There is a new book out discussing recent research on human biodiversity. It is titled "The 10,000 Year Explosion" and it is by Gregory Cochrane and Henry Harpending. I haven't read it yet, but it is stirring up a lot of controversy. Here is a possitive review by a professional anthropologist who works in the area. Here is a much more critical review from the New Scientist.
Check it out..., I intend to.
Will suggests a new law -- "The Law of Clarifying Calamaties" which states "Real calamities take our mind off hypothetical ones." and notes that public concern about the environment has declined as our credit crisis has worsened. Perhaps coincidentally, in recent years rather than warming, the climate has been cooling.
Read it here.
This is all great fun for journalists and pundits. But why should we have more confidence in the economic doomsters than in the now-discredited environmentalists? I would suggest that everyone avail themselves of Peter E. Tetlock's "Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?" (Princeton University Press: (2006) [here] In it Tetlock shows that expert opinion little better than non-expert in judging the future course of events, and no better than linear models. In other words, expertise in a subject does not better a person's judgmetn regarding future events. [Read the New Yorker review of Tetlock's work here.]
So why pay attention to expert opinion? Well, they are diverting, just like reading your horoscope, and they can focus public attention on important problems -- but as Tetlock would recommend, listen to them but think for yourself. And as you do so remember "Light's law" -- "There is no such thing as disinterested authority."
Sunday, February 15, 2009
- 1) They are selective. They know how to say "no" and are not afraid to refuse new things. They ban more than they adopt.
- 2) They evaluate new things by experience instead of by theory. They let the early adopters get their jollies by pioneering new stuff under watchful eyes.
- 3) They have criteria by which to select choices: technologies must enhance family and community and distance themselves from the outside world.
- 4) The choices are not individual, but communal. The community shapes and enforces technological direction.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
A few months after Dr. Michael Kamrava helped Nadya Suleman become pregnant with octuplets, he transferred at least seven embryos to another patient.
She was in her late 40s and wanted just one baby.
Read about it here.
What is it with this guy?
Friday, February 13, 2009
What we saw was a cliched, poorly plotted, left-wing political diatribe. Director Tykwer seems to really, really, really hate bankers [remember how he portrayed the father in "Lola"]. In "The International" he and screenwriter Eric Singer posit a global conspiracy by the directors of the world's "fourth largest bank" [based loosely on BCCI, the Pakistani bank that was embroiled in many scandals about a decade ago] who seek, not money but control, which they hope to achieve by sponsoring third world conflicts, which they expect will generate massive debt, which they will then use to oppress the world's people. No, it doesn't make sense, but we are in left-looney conspiracy land here.
The point is driven home time and again. Western capitalists are evil corruptors. Communists used to be the good guys, but with the fall of the Soviet Union, they have fallen from grace and become tools of the evil capitalists. If there is to be hope for the world it lies with selfless public servants who pursue justice at all costs, with the guilty conscience of former leftists who have abandoned their dreams, with young idealists who reject the cynicism of their elders, and [bizarrely] with the Mafia.
There is plenty of action, including an absurd shootout at the Guggenheim, but it isn't presented coherently. Time and again things grind to a halt while characters spout nonsensical lefty platitudes. The acting is competent, but no better, and there is absolutely no chemistry between the male and female leads. There's a lot of pointless shifting from one exotic locale to another. All the elements of an espionage thriller are there, but they just don't add up to much.
Don't waste your money and precious time on this clunker. Read a good book instead.
Recent comments by the CEO of Caterpillar have demonstrated the lying techniques being used to sell this horrendous stimulus bill to the American public. Now another White House lie is being exposed. All along Obama and his minions have claimed, time and again, that economists overwhelmingly supported the bill. Well, it just ain't so.
Read the whole thing here.
WASHINGTON — The compromise economic stimulus plan agreed to by negotiators from the House of Representatives and the Senate is short on incentives to get consumers spending again and long on social goals that won't stimulate economic activity, according to a range of respected economists."I think (doing) nothing would have been better," said Ed Yardeni, an investment analyst who's usually an optimist....
What we are seeing from the Obamination is a replay of Al Gore's dishonest technique for selling a bad idea -- simply claim, in the face of a mountain of contrary evidence, that the expert opinion overwhelmingly supports you. Systematic denial of reality is fine in an Ivy League seminar room, where the real world is seldom allowed to intrude, or among community activists who build group solidarity by nursing and reinforcing their common perceived grievances, but it is a damn dangerous way to craft and sell public policy.
In his efforts to pimp the stimulus farce, Obama has repeatedly claimed that the CEO of Caterpillar Corporation assured him that he would begin hiring back employees as soon as it went into effect. Well, not so. CEO Jim Owens [who has a Ph. D. in economics] told ABC News that rather than hiring back laid-off employees, he would be letting more go and that the stimulus bill would have little immediate effect on employment.
At the least this shows that Obama is completely out of touch with what is happening in the real world. Are the serial screwups emanating from Obama's White House due to the fact that the President's staff is a cluster of clowns; is it that the Chief Clown himself has spent his life in an activist/academic bubble where lefty theory has insulated him from reality; or is it just that our fine Young Messiah is terminally incompetent?
You make the call.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
This is actually good for Republicans because it means that they keep control of the New Hampshire seat, and it is yet another embarrassment for the Obama administration, which is rapidly showing itself to be an arrogantly inept cluster of clowns.
The story gets better with time. It now appears that the Black Congressional Caucus and their lefty allies were outraged that a Republican had been named to head up Commerce, which has responsibility for running the census. It seems there is a plot afoot on the left to rig the 2010 Census -- to use statistical inference to inflate the count of Blacks and Hispanics and, as a result, to increase their representation in Congress. Gregg would not go along with that and that's why the White House decided to take control of the Census. It also appears that Obama pressured Gregg to support the stimulus package. He refused to. Those were deal-breakers for both sides and so Gregg, to the relief of his colleagues, withdrew.
Keep an eye on this census debate. I can remember back in 2000 there were calls from the left to change the procedures so that minority population totals would be based on inflated statistical estimates rather than an actual count. This time, with a Democrat in the White House, there will be a real push on to corrupt the Census. Republicans and those who support honest government will have to be very watchful and heavily publicize this travesty in the making.
Hans A. von Spakovsky recounts the efforts of lefties to rig the census so as to increase Democrat representation here.
From the Telegraph:
Read it here.
Fahim Ansari is accused of helping to plan the attacks in which 173 people were killed in November.
His lawyer, Ejaz Naqvi, has filed legal papers with Mumbai magistrate's court, claiming the "white woman" removed all his clothes and showed him pornographic films.
In the papers, he claims that three foreigners, including the woman, sexually abused him, causing him "severe itching and wounds" on his body, including his genitals.Mr Ansari, a devout Muslim, claims this amounts to torture because it is against his religion....
Face it guys. After Abu Ghraib you got a lot of mileage out of the torture meme, claiming to have been tortured every time one of you wound up in U.S. custody. Here in America lefty pundits, lawyers, and pols got a boost out of it too. But, now I think it's time to retire the torture bit. It has clearly jumped the shark.
Listen carefully..., that sound you hear is people laughing at you.
Here and here are his takes on the stimulus debacle.
PALO ALTO, CA - An international mathematics research team announced today that they had discovered a new integer that surpasses any previously known value "by a totally mindblowing shitload." Project director Yujin Xiao of Stanford University said the theoretical number, dubbed a "stimulus," could lead to breakthroughs in fields as diverse as astrophysics, quantum mechanics, and Chicago asphalt contracting.
"Unlike previous large numbers like the Googleplex or the Bazillionty, the Stimulus has no static numerical definition," said Xiao. "It keeps growing and growing, compounding factorially, eating up all zeros in its path. It moves freely across Cartesian dimensions and has the power to make any other number irrational."
Today marks the 200th birthday for Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. This will occasion a lot of silly and misleading commentary in the MSM. This is perhaps unavoidable. Both men have been apotheosized and the process has drained them of their essential humanity. They are now symbols rather than men, enlisted in the service of various causes. That's the way public memory works. It destroys the past and recreates it in useful forms, selecting from what is known those things that it finds useful today's controversies. Historians have a term for this -- searching for a "usable past".
Wilford McClay has a very nice piece over at Humanities [here] on the various ways in which Abraham Lincoln has been understood by different groups and at different times. Take a few minutes and read it -- it raises some important issues, ones of which we should be aware when we appeal to the past in our public discourse. IT Wire links to a selection of articles on Darwin and his legacy [here].
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
When we got home I checked out some major reviews and was surprised to see how negative they had been. The NYT was offended that the women were not Thelma and Louise, wreaking violent vengeance on the men who didn't appreciate them. Variety worried that none of the characters had any economic worries to distract them from romantic complications. Salon complains that in the end the film adopts conventionally bourgeois attitudes. Roger Ebert is upset because some of the relationships in the film have happy endings. Rolling Stone is outraged because the images of women in the film are traditional and not modern enough. You get the idea. The critical community, at least at the most remunerative levels, despises or is bored by the traditions and values of middle-class America. "She" and I do not agree. We found the film, if not memorable, at least inoffensive and fairly entertaining. We did not regret the time spent in the company of these characters.
People across Europe awoke on 6 January 1709 to find the temperature had plummeted. A three-week freeze was followed by a brief thaw - and then the mercury plunged again and stayed there. From Scandinavia in the north to Italy in the south, and from Russia in the east to the west coast of France, everything turned to ice. The sea froze. Lakes and rivers froze, and the soil froze to a depth of a metre or more. Livestock died from cold in their barns, chicken's combs froze and fell off, trees exploded and travellers froze to death on the roads. It was the coldest winter in 500 years.Check it out here.
Of course, the article concludes with a call for further research into past climate conditions. Weather may be hard to predict, but the scientists' lust for more money for more studies is a constant.
From the Financial Times:
Read the whole thing here.
Has Barack Obama’s presidency already failed? In normal times, this would be a ludicrous question. But these are not normal times. They are times of great danger. Today, the new US administration can disown responsibility for its inheritance; tomorrow, it will own it. Today, it can offer solutions; tomorrow it will have become the problem. Today, it is in control of events; tomorrow, events will take control of it.
And even in his own party Obama don't got no respect.
The Huffington Post reports:
Read it here.
Administration officials were greeted with sarcasm and laughter Monday night when they briefed lawmakers and congressional staff on Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's new financial-sector bailout project, according to people who were in the room.The laughter was at its height when Obama officials explained that the White House planned to guarantee a wide swath of toxic assets -- which they referred to as "legacy assets" -- but wouldn't be asking Congress for money.
You gotta admit -- that's pretty bad. But I would wait a few more weeks before writing the whole thing off.
Read the whole disgusting thing here.
A Saudi judge has ordered a woman should be jailed for a year and receive 100 lashes after she was gang-raped, it was claimed last night.
The 23-year-old woman, who became pregnant after her ordeal, was reportedly assaulted after accepting a lift from a man.
He took her to a house to the east of the city of Jeddah where she was attacked by him and four of his friends throughout the night.
And these are supposed to be the good Muslims.
And don't forget, lawyers for Muslim communities in America are arguing that the courts should allow domestic matters to be settled according to Sharia law.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
From Der Spiegel:
As the global economic crisis deepens, tempers around the world are getting shorter. French and British trade unions are organizing strikes, Putin is sending troops into the streets and Beijing is trying to buy itself calm.Read it here.
One name immediately springs to mind... Soros. Could he have been..., naaah! But still....
Read about it here.
David John explains that the outflow of funds was simply "hot money" chasing higher interest rates. [here]
Monday, February 09, 2009
Two things distinguish "Taken" from most its predecessors.
First, the heroic lead can actually act. Liam Neeson is a marvelous actor who has done some wonderful work over a long and distinguished career. This is not one of his strongest performances, but even so he out-classes his predecessors by miles.
The second notable thing about this film is that the bad guys are not Americans. They are Muslims and Euro-trash. An American studio would not have made this picture, or if it did, the villains would be Americans or neo-Nazis. "Taken", however, is a French production and can get away with violating current American PC standards. And, I must admit, that is a refreshing, and even a bit thrilling thing to see.
Go see "Taken". It's a reasonably well-crafted thriller, at least as good as [actually a good bit better than] the Bourne films, which in some ways it resembles. And, you will be doing good. If "Taken" makes a pile of money [as it seems to be doing] it will send a message to the dimwits in Hollywood that it is OK to present the world as it is, not as some left-wing loons would want it to be.
Based on my experience (admittedly, only at one location) I reached a conclusion which is utterly opposed to almost everything ever written about Wal-Mart. I came to regard it as one of the all-time enlightened American employers, right up there with IBM in the 1960s. Wal-Mart is not the enemy. It's the best friend we could ask for.
Read the whole thing here.
I agree wholeheartedly. We spend a lot of time in a small community nestled high in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania. The Walmart superstore is a blessing to the entire region.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
[I]t has taken precisely two weeks for the illusion that brought [Obama] to power to be exposed for the nonsense that it so obviously was. The transformational candidate who was going to sweep away pork-barrel politics, lobbyists and corruption has been up to his neck in sleaze....It goes on and on:
He has been appointing one tax dodger, lobbyist and wheeler-dealer after another....
In foreign policy, Obama has started by trashing his own country through grossly misrepresenting its history and grovelling to America’s enemies such as Iran, which has flicked him aside with undiluted contempt. He has gratuitously upset America’s ally India by suggesting that America should muscle in and resolve the Kashmir question.
Tax cheats, pork-barrel politics, ancillary child abuse, incompetence, chaos, treachery and infantilism. America – what have you done?!Read the whole thing here.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
WASHINGTON - U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu announced his resignation this morning amid new reports that Alameda County workers had unearthed more than a dozen additional dead hobo bodies at his former home in Berkeley, California. The Nobel Prize-winning physicist had been the subject of a week-long controversy after he amended his White House application form to declare "3 or 4" hobo corpses in his crawl space, but after this morning's discovery, Chu said he felt he could no longer serve as an effective spokesman for Administration energy policy.
"It was an honest mistake on Dr. Chu's part," said the President. "The section of the screening questionnaire about dead hobos has been confusing for a lot of nominees. In his defense it only specifies 'basement/crawl space/storage shed,' so I can somewhat understand why he didn't mention the ones discovered by the backhoe yesterday. That said, it's important that we move forward with revitalized American energy leadership. I'd like to thank Dr. Chu for his service and delicious home-made beef jerky, and wish him well in his future endeavors."
Read the whole thing here.
Her rationale: the mother doesn't have the economic resources to pay for the kids' medical bills, therefore the burden falls on us, the taxpayers. Therefore we have a right to restrict this woman's reproductive rights.
After years of railing against abortion laws — [championing] reproductive rights — of saying its my womb and I’ll do what I want with it — Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Ellen Goodman is now calling for the regulation of reproduction.
In a column today, she wrote: “Does anyone have a right to tell anyone else how many kids to have? Can only people who can afford them bear children? Do you need a husband to have a baby? These are questions that make us feel queasy when we are talking about old-fashioned families. But they take on a new flavor in the unregulated wild west of fertility technology.”
So much for a woman’s choice to have a kid. Or 2. Or 8. Or 14. Mrs. Goodman wants the government to dictate the number.
Great catch, Don. Read it here. Followup here.
So kids, there you have it. Goodman has abandoned “reproductive rights” in favor of the government dictating the size of families.
And she has abandoned the call for universal health care because, gee, it is so expensive.
Liberals used to have principles. I think.
"She Who Must Not Be Named" likes to garden, but that's going to be out of the question for at least several weeks. Meanwhile, her gardening stuff just gathers snow.
And new-fallen snow keeps a record of just who or what passed in the night.
And then there's this. Turkey tracks, sorta messed up because they move in a bunch. A troop of turkeys wandered across our yard while we slept. Neat! They are shy critters and only occasionally do we catch a glimpse of them. A few years ago I was walking in the woods behind our place and heard something behind me. I turned around and there they were, lined up single file, following me. I counted eighteen of them. As soon as I turned, though, they moved off into the brush. If only I had been carrying my camera!
Well, sorry to say, it didn't work. Electing Obama has not changed world opinion much at all. We are still widely hated. BBC did a global poll and found that:
Views of the US showed improvements in Canada, Egypt, Ghana, India, Italy and Japan. But far more countries have predominantly negative views of America (12), than predominantly positive views (6). Most Europeans show little change and views of the US in Russia and China have grown more negative.Read the whole thing here.
So what can we conclude?
First, "world opinion" doesn't exist. Opinions vary from place to place depending upon local and regional conditions.
Second, the opinions of foreigners are not driven by American domestic politics. It doesn't matter much who we elect, foreign opinions are not going to change greatly.
Finally, opinions regarding the United States are driven to some extent by the national interests of the country being polled. China gets frisky, Japan and India draw closer to the United States. The Russian bear begins to growl and its neighbors begin to seek American involvement in their countries.