Day By Day

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Good President [continued] -- Missing Bush in Afghanistan

Jim Hoft writes:
It’s not just the American people who are sick of the Obama-Pelosi regime.
Afghan leader Harmid Karzai wrote in 2009 that he longed for the “golden age” of US-Afghan relations like during the Bush years.
 A lot of us in this country are longing for a return to the sanity of the Bush years too.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Denis Dutton Has Died

And the world is poorer for his passing. For several years now Professor Dutton has been my favorite go-to guy on the internet. His "Arts and Letters Daily"site  has long been the first thing I see when I fire up my computer in the morning. I also regularly visit "SciTech Daily" and "Climate Debate Daily", also founded by Dutton. The range of informed and literate commentary presented on these sites is amazing.

You can read about Professor Dutton and his many contributions here, here, here, and here.

Here is the man himself talking about his great passion.

Feminism 101

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Iowahawk Strikes Again -- Job Counseling for Former Legislators

A outplacement transition guide to life beyond Washington
for former members and associates of Congress

Losing a job can be a challenging and stress-filled time. Especially during the holidays, and especially for someone like you - the soon-to-be former team associate of the United States Congress. At this moment, you may be packing boxes and moving vans with the cherished mementos and petty cash of your career in Washington. You may be wrapping those last-minute trillion dollar gifts and holiday earmarks for loyal supporters, phoning final farewells to your Washington colleagues, lobbyists, and "escort services." In many cases you may find that they, too, have lost their jobs -- and, if they haven't, will no longer return your calls. And in those lonely moments between, you ask: why me?

Hilarious as usual. Check it out here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Rise of Bourgeois Dignity

Around the beginning of the eighteenth century the world changed for good. It started in Holland and England, and spread from there. Slowly at first, then with ever greater speed and consequence the condition of an ever increasing proportion of the world's population became significantly better and better. Ever since scholars have been trying to understand what happened and why. The latest such attempt is a six-volume work by Dierdre McCloskey, the second volume has just been published under the title Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World.

What changed, she argues, was peoples' attitudes toward the accumulation of wealth.  
At the beginning of the 18th century, people in the Netherlands and Britain began talking about commerce as a good thing — a novelty at that time. They gave dignity to the bourgeoisie. And that drove capitalism, giving birth to the modern world.

What changed was the sociology. That is, what changed was the attitude of the rest of the society toward businesspeople, and with that new attitude came a change in government policy. It was suddenly all right — most clearly in the most bourgeois country on earth, the U.S.A. — to get rich and to innovate.
 It's an interesting thesis, one that rings true with me. This is an idea that I plan to explore.

You can read an interview with the author here.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Good President [continued] -- Bush's Finest Hour

Peter Wehner remembers:
Four years ago this month may have been the low-water mark in Iraq, with the nation gripped by a low-grade but escalating civil war. The American public strongly opposed the war. Almost every Democratic lawmaker in Congress, with the honorable exception of Senator Joseph Lieberman, was in fierce opposition to both the war and what later became known as the “surge.” Republican lawmakers were losing their nerve as well. Three months earlier, in September 2006, Senator Mitch McConnell had asked for, and received, a private meeting with President Bush. Senator McConnell’s message was a simple one: the Iraq war’s unpopularity was going to cost the GOP control of Congress. “Mr. President,” McConnell said, “bring some troops home from Iraq.”

President Bush, to his everlasting credit, not only refused to bend; he increased the American commitment to Iraq and changed our counterinsurgency strategy. And while the situation in Iraq remains fragile and can be undone — and while problems still remain and need to be urgently addressed... — this is a moment for our nation, and most especially our military, to take sober satisfaction in what has been achieved. It has not been an easy journey. But it has been a noble and estimable one.

There is no need here to rehearse the names of the few who did not buckle at the moment when the war seemed lost. They know who they are. In the words of Milton, they were “faithful found among the faithless.” Their faithfulness, and in many cases their courage, is being vindicated.
Read the whole thing here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Another Neat History Toy

Check out the Google "Books Ngram Viewer" [here]. It allows a search function for the frequency with which a word or phrase appears in books published from 1750 to 2008. You can trace the rise and fall of specific words, phrases or concepts over time. I, for instance, set it to trace the occurrence of the word "character". The use of the term peaked in the mid-nineteenth century and steadily declined thereafter, with intriguing upticks during WWII and after 2004. I wonder what that means [the phrase that starts every one of my research projects].

The Top 14 Astronomy Pictures

Check them out at Discover [here].

The Reliability of Scientific Authority

George Johnson and John Horgan discuss recent writings on the question of just how reliable is the scientific enterprise. Their conclusion is unremarkable: there are a lot of problems with the ways in which science is conducted and especially in how it is reported, but ultimately in a free market of ideas truth will out. Though this conclusion is itself problematic [we don't always have time to wait for the gradual, often decades and even centuries-long process by which truth is revealed] and unremarkable, the discussion leading to it is filled with fascinating ideas and references. These are two smart guys talking informally about interesting things.

Check it out.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Emerging Class Conflict

Fred Siegel has a terrific review in the Wall Street Journal of three books discussing the current discrediting of elites, left, right, and center. Globalization and the information revolution have produced in America and throughout the West a new set of elites that have thoroughly displaced earlier industrial elites and have roused considerable critical commentary. The three authors considered in this review [David Callahan, Michael Knox Beran, and Anthony Codevilla] come at their subject from radically different points of view, and all three have interesting things to say about America's new "ruling class". Check out the review here.

Where Immigrants Settled

The "Immigration Explorer"

A visual representation. Really neat to play with. Select a year and a specific immigrant group and see their distribution across the nation. You can even select for county-level data.

So cool! Check it out here.

Where the Obscene Rich Gather

According to census data seven of the ten richest counties in America are in Virginia and Maryland near the nation's capital, otherwise known as Behemoth. Read it here

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Can Blogs Restore the Credibility of Scientific Authority

It is now a given that the current system for evaluating academic research -- peer review and citation frequency in major journals -- has completely broken down. So what can replace it? John Hawks and Dienekes Pontikos have a suggestion: blogging.
Pontikos sees little point in formally publishing his findings. "I can bypass them entirely, and have the entire world review what I write," he wrote in an e-mail. Indeed, comments on his blog — "could you please provide the eigenvalues for the principal component analysis", for instance — read like the niggling recommendations of a manuscript reviewer.
As for Hawks, he writes:
I've often found that the best reviews of my work come from blogs and readers, not from peer review itself.
Read it here.

The much derided blogosphere, it seems, may in the end be the salvation of a corrupt scientific establishment the credibility of which has pretty much disappeared.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lies of the Left (continued) -- Erin Brockovich

The environmental left made a lot of fuss over it, some lawyers made a lot of money out of it, and some unscrupulous film makers won a lot of awards, but it was all a lie.

Hinkley, California, the town made famous in the Oscar-winning Julia Roberts movie Erin Brockovich, does not show any evidence of an increased rate of cancers.
Pacific Gas and Electric, which released a toxic plume of hexavalent chromium 6 from a Hinkley-based natural gas pipeline station, paid a record $333 million to settle a class-action suit in 1996. But the California Cancer Registry has now completed three studies that show cancer rates remained normal in from 1988 to 2008.

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Claudio Arrau and the Others

My favorite interpreter of Beethoven plays the "Appassionata" Piano Sonata No. 23; Op. No. 57, 3rd movement. It's a real test for any pianist and You Tube allows us to compare how different artists have approached it.


Now listen to Horowitz perform the same piece:

And now for something a bit different, check out what Faizal Say does with the same piece:

Hey, what's wrong with a bit of over the top showmanship? It is the romantic era after all.

The Continuing Collapse of Scientific Authority [updated]

Leave aside rampant fraud, incompetence, and bias that have infested the scientific enterprise, what about the good science -- you know, the stuff performed by competent, reasonably objective professionals and verified by repeated confirmatory observations? Well, that can't be trusted either.

Writing in the New Yorker, Jonah Lehrer argues:
The test of replicability, as it’s known, is the foundation of modern research. It’s a safeguard for the creep of subjectivity. But now all sorts of well-established, multiply confirmed findings have started to look increasingly uncertain. It’s as if our facts are losing their truth. This phenomenon doesn’t yet have an official name, but it’s occurring across a wide range of fields, from psychology to ecology. 
The most likely explanation for the decline is an obvious one: regression to the mean. Yet the effect’s ubiquity seems to violate the laws of statistics.... Biologist Michael Jennions argues that the decline effect is largely a product of publication bias. Biologist Richard Palmer suspects that an equally significant issue is the selective reporting of results—that is, the subtle omissions and unconscious misperceptions, as researchers struggle to make sense of their results.... In the late nineteen-nineties, neuroscientist John Crabbe investigated the impact of unknown chance events on the test of replicability. The disturbing implication of his study is that a lot of extraordinary scientific data is nothing but noise. This suggests that the decline effect is actually a decline of illusion. Many scientific theories continue to be considered true even after failing numerous experimental tests. The decline effect is troubling because it reminds us how difficult it is to prove anything.
Read the whole thing here.

And Lehrer expands on this argument in Wired [here]:
For many scientists, the effect is especially troubling because of what it exposes about the scientific process. If replication is what separates the rigor of science from the squishiness of pseudoscience, where do we put all these rigorously validated findings that can no longer be proved? Which results should we believe? Francis Bacon, the early-modern philosopher and pioneer of the scientific method, once declared that experiments were essential, because they allowed us to “put nature to the question.” But it appears that nature often gives us different answers.
This is important stuff because it calls into question the bedrock of modern scientism -- the "scientific method" itself. It is upon this rock that claims to scientific authority are grounded, but more and more the rock is beginning to look like a pile of shifting sand. 


Games With Words does an extensive deconstruction of Lehrer's article that discusses the sources of error -- publishers' bias; confirmation bias; a tendency to fudge figures; careerist incentives to publish false data; the fact that most scientists are piss-poor statisticians; etc. In some ways it is an illuminating piece, but in the end it doesn't repudiate Lehrer's basic point -- that much of what is reported as scientific truth turns out on close examination to be questionable at best.

Read the article here.

The Games With Words article notes that with regard to error in scientific publications we are operating on faith. We assume that the proportion of unreplicable results is low because if it is high scientists might as well "question the meaning of [their] own existence". Well, according to David Freedman, writing in the Atlantic, notes that "Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong." and wonders "why are doctors—to a striking extent—still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice?"

Read the whole disturbing article here.

And, check out Daniel Engber's piece in Slate on the inadequacy of the peer review process [here].

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Revisiting Election 2000 -- Bush Won Fair and Square

George Will explains:

Once Gore initiated the intervention of courts, the U.S. Constitution was implicated. On Nov. 7, Gore finished second in Florida's Election Day vote count. A few days later, after the state's mandatory (in close elections) machine recount, he again finished second. Florida law required counties to certify their results in seven days, by Nov. 14.
But three of the four (of Florida's 67) counties - each heavily Democratic - where Gore was contesting the count were not finished deciphering voters' intentions. So Gore's lawyers persuaded the easily persuadable state Supreme Court - with a majority of Democratic appointees - to rewrite the law. It turned the seven-day period into 19 days.

Many liberals underwent instant conversions of convenience: They became champions of states' rights when the U.S. Supreme Court (seven of nine were Republican appointees) unanimously overturned that extension. But the U.S. high court reminded Florida's court to respect the real "states' rights" at issue - the rights of state legislatures: The Constitution gives them plenary power to establish procedures for presidential elections.
Florida's Supreme Court felt emancipated from law. When rewriting the law to extend the deadline for certification of results by the four counties, the court said: "The will of the people, not a hyper-technical reliance upon statutory provisions, should be our guiding principle." But under representative government, the will of the people is expressed in statutes. Adherence to statutes - even adherence stigmatized as "hyper-technical" - is known as the rule of law.

In the end, seven of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices (and three of the seven Florida justices) agreed on this: The standardless recount ordered by the Florida court - different rules in different counties regarding different kinds of chads and different ways of discerning voter intent - violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection of the laws.

Two of the seven U.S. justices favored ordering Florida's court to devise standards that could pass constitutional muster and allowing the recount to continue for six more days. Five justices, believing that the recounting had become irredeemably lawless, ended it.

Once Gore summoned judicial intervention, and Florida's Supreme Court began to revise state election law, it probably was inevitable that possession of the nation's highest political office was going to be determined by a state's highest court or the nation's. The U.S. Supreme Court was duty-bound not to defer to a state court that was patently misinterpreting - disregarding, actually - state law pertaining to a matter assigned by the U.S. Constitution to state legislatures.

Suppose that, after Nov. 7, Florida's Legislature had made by statute the sort of changes - new deadlines for recounting and certifying votes, selective recounts, etc. - that Florida's Supreme Court made by fiat. This would obviously have violated the federal law that requires presidential elections to be conducted by rules in place prior to Election Day.

So it was Gore, not Bush, who tried to game the system to steal the election. Of course none of this means anything to Democrat partisans who will go to their graves convinced that Bush stole the election.

Condi Explains How the Real World Works

Well done, Condi. The "Bush lied" charge was always an exercise in deception and the willingness of MSM mouthpieces like Couric to perpetuate it is in itself a travesty.

The Qumran Mystery Jar

This might be even bigger than Al Capone's vault. In 2004 a sealed jar was found at Qumran (the place where the Dead Sea scrolls were found]. Since then speculation has raged as to what was to be found within. Well, after six short years scientists have finally examined the interior of the jar and there they found..., gypsum [and a few pieces of charcoal]. No scrolls, no valuables, just gypsum. There is no truth to the rumor that a TV special starring Geraldo is in the works. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Picture that Says It All

What were they thinking?

In Bill's case it is pretty obvious. Here was his chance to step back into his favorite place, the limelight. Additionally, by acting as surrogate President, he subtly undermines Obama's image and in so doing strengthens Hillary's position should she decide to mount a primary challenge. But what about Obama? Doesn't he realize just how weak and detached this makes him look. Is he really that disinterested in the job of being President? That's sure what it looks like.

Iowahawk Strikes Again -- Obama Resigns

The funniest man on the intertubes explains why Obama called and then walked out of his press conference in order to spend more time with his family.

Obama Names Bill Clinton to Presidential Post

WASHINGTON DC - Ending weeks of speculation and rumors, President-Elect Barack Obama today named Bill Clinton to join his incoming administration as President of the United States, where he will head the federal government's executive branch.
"I am pleased that Bill Clinton has agreed to come out of retirement to head up this crucial post in my administration," said Obama. "He brings a lifetime of previous executive experience as Governor of Arkansas and President of the United States, and has worked closely with most of the members of my Cabinet."
Clinton said he was "excited and honored" by the appointment, and would work "day and night" to defeat all the key policy objectives proposed by Mr. Obama during the campaign.
"I am gratified that the President-Elect has entrusted me with this important responsibility," said Clinton. "I'm looking forward to getting back behind, and under, the Oval Office desk again. As I have told the President-Elect, I pledge to do whatever I can to serve his historic administration by making sure that none of that bullshit he talked about during the campaign will ever see the light of day. Americans can rest assured that he will be safely confined to the East Wing, as far away as possible from any potentially dangerous office equipment or nuclear buttons."
Read the whole thing here.

So it really wasn't all about Hillary after all!

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Romance of Capitalism

Ann Althouse links to a post charging that the Rolling Stones sold out to corporate interests and lost their authenticity and elicits this comment:
In fairness to the author, the divide she discusses isn't political-economic (i.e., capitalism versus its alternatives), it's merely the aesthetic: the perceived continuum between authenticity and crass commercialization.

After R.E.M. declined Microsoft’s reported $12 million offer to license “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” to roll out Windows 95, the Rolling Stones quickly grabbed the money for “Start Me Up.”

When severely tested, R.E.M. stuck to its policy not to lend their music to non-artistic uses. Whether that decision was principled or foolish, the most important factor was that it was their right to choose.


I agree that rock & roll is inherently capitalistic, moreso that than the author gives credit. But the best argument for capitalism, especially to those who are suspicious of it, isn’t that maximum commercial exploitation is always necessarily good, or cool, or even "rock & roll."

It’s that capitalism is the system that best preserves the right of individuals to choose how to order their own affairs in harmony with their beliefs and values. And gives others the choice to embrace or reject the result.
 Exactly! I couldn't have said it better. 

Read the post and the entire discussion here.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Lies of the Left (continued) -- Inherit the Wind

The recent release of a despicable liable of a movie, Fair Game starring Sean Penn, has occasioned much comment around the internet. The reason is that, such is the power of the medium, the falsehoods portrayed on the screen will become [in Richard Fernandez' words] "a reference for history" in the minds of many who see the movie. That is, many people will believe the lies because they have seen them acted out on screen. This, as Fernandez points out, is an old Hollywood tradition -- spinning liberal lies into powerful fables that affect the nation's political culture.

One of the most effective such slanders was the 1960 Stanley Kramer film, Inherit the Wind, which was loosely based on the Scopes evolution trial. It fixed in the public's mind the picture of Clarence Darrow as a crusader for scientific truth standing up to fundamentalist Christian bigots represented by William Jennings Bryan. If you are one of those who still believes that the Scopes trial was a victory for scientific rationalism, check out Edward Larson's Pulitzer Prize wining book, Summer of the Gods. It will set you straight.

Perhaps the most important distortions embodied in the liberal vision is the portrayal of science as objective truth and those who question scientific authority on moral grounds as ignorant bigots. Actually there were many valid reasons to object to the teaching that Bryan opposed and in many ways the religious fundamentalist were far less bigoted than the defenders of "objective scientific truth" who assailed him.

Here [from Jonah Goldberg] is an excerpt from one of the scientific texts being challenged in the Scopes case.

Evolution of Man. – Undoubtedly there once lived upon the earth races of men who were much lower in their mental organization than the present inhabitants. If we follow the early history of man upon the earth, we find that at first he must have been little better than one of the lower animals. He was a nomad, wandering from place to place, feeding upon whatever living things he could kill with his hands. Gradually he must have learned to use weapons, and thus kill his prey, first using rough stone implements for this purpose. As man became more civilized, implements of bronze and of iron were used. About this time the subjugation and domestication of animals began to take place. Man then began to cultivate the fields, and to have a fixed place of abode other than a cave. The beginnings of civilization were long ago, but even to-day the earth is not entirely civilized.

The Races of Man. – At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; the American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest race type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America.

Charles Darwin and Natural Selection. – The great Englishman Charles Darwin was one of the first scientists to realize how this great force of heredity applied to the development or evolution of plants and animals. He knew that although animals and plants were like their ancestors, they also tended to vary. In nature, the variations which best fitted a plant or animal for life in its own environment were the ones which were handed down because those having variations which were not fitted for life in that particular environment would die. Thus nature seized upon favorable variations and after a time, as the descendants of each of these individuals also tended to vary, a new species of plant or animal, fitted for the place it had to live in, would be gradually evolved.

Artificial Selection. – Darwin reasoned that if nature seized upon favorable variants, then man by selecting the variants he wanted could form new varieties of plants or animals much more quickly than nature. And so to-day plant or animal breeders select the forms having the characters they wish to perpetuate and breed them together. This method used by plant and animal breeders is known as selection.

Improvement of Man. – If the stock of domesticated animals can be improved, it is not unfair to ask if the health and vigor of the future generations of men and women on the earth might be improved by applying to them the laws of selection. This improvement of the future race has a number of factors in which as individuals may play a part. These are personal hygiene, selection of healthy mates, and the betterment of the environment.

Eugenics. – When people marry there are certain things that the individual as well as the race should demand. The most important of these is freedom from germ diseases which might be handed down to the offspring. Tuberculosis, syphilis, that dread disease which cripples and kills hundreds of thousands of innocent children, epilepsy, and feeble-mindedness are handicaps which it is not only unfair but criminal to hand down to posterity. The science of being well born is called eugenics.

The Jukes. – Studies have been made on a number of different families in this country, in which mental and moral defects were present in one or both of the original parents. The “Jukes” family is a notorious example. The first mother is known as “Margaret, the mother of criminals.” In seventy-five years the progeny of the original generation has cost the state of New York over a million and a quarter dollars, besides giving over to the care of prisons and asylums considerably over a hundred feeble-minded, alcoholic, immoral, or criminal persons. Another case recently studied is the “Kallikak” family. This family has been traced back to the War of the Revolution, when a young soldier named Martin Kallikak seduced a feeble-minded girl. She had a feeble-minded son from whom there have been to the present time 480 descendants. Of these 33 were sexually immoral, 24 confirmed drunkards, 3 epileptics, and 143 feeble-minded. The man who started this terrible line of immorality and feeble-mindedness later married a normal Quaker girl. From this couple a line of 496 descendants have come, with no cases of feeble-mindedness. The evidence and the moral speak for themselves!

Parasitism and its Cost to Society. – Hundreds of families such as those described above exist to-day, spreading disease, immorality, and crime to all parts of this country. The cost to society of such families is very severe. Just as certain animals or plants become parasitic on other plants or animals, these families have become parasitic on society. They not only do harm to others by corrupting, stealing, or spreading disease, but they are actually protected and cared for by the state out of public money. Largely for them the poorhouse and the asylum exist. They take from society, but they give nothing in return. They are true parasites.

The Remedy. – If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading. Humanity will not allow this, but we do have the remedy of separating the sexes in asylums or other places and in various ways preventing intermarriage and the possibilities of perpetuating such a low and degenerate race. Remedies of this sort have been tried successfully in Europe and are now meeting with success in this country.

Strong stuff, that. Such was the state of scientific authority at the time of the Scopes trial. It's not surprising that many people, then and now, would find such drivel morally objectionable. From the perspective of several decades later we can see just how dangerous and reprehensible, not to say biased, settled scientific opinion was then. And is it any less now? Will scientists a century from now look back upon our current opinions aghast. The Stanley Kramer version of the Scopes trial should not stand. The whole shameful episode should not be considered a great triumph for scientific liberalism. Instead it should be remembered as a caution against placing too much faith in the pronouncements of scientific authority. In the case of movies, it is important not to believe your eyes, and in the case of science it is good to consider the moral implications of what you are being told.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Progressive Pecksniffianism

George Will has a nice piece on the two most distressing aspects of progressivism -- their naive faith in "science", and their desperate determination to control every aspect of the lives of others [here]. He writes:
Progressivism is a faith-based program. The progressives’ agenda for improving everyone else varies but invariably involves the cult of expertise – an unflagging faith in the application of science to social reform. Progressivism’s itch to perfect people by perfecting the social environment can produce an interesting phenomenon – the Pecksniffian progressive. 
Will traces the impulse back to the 1950s congressional crusade against comic books and notes that since then we have been subjected by progressive legislators and bureaucrats to a staggering series of such scares, the response to which tended to increase governmental control over the lives of the citizenry. But the impulse goes much further back than that. Social control lies at the core of every major progressive reform in our nation's history. Think, for instance, of the nineteenth century antebellum temperance reform that moved rapidly from moral suasion to compulsion. It's goal was to "perfect" society by perfecting individuals and groups within it, an imperative that translated into a determined attempt to control the social behavior of specific groups within American society. Similarly, early efforts at educational reform aimed not so much at teaching students useful skills as socializing them to middle-class norms. In the Progressive Era a "purity crusade" aimed at eradicating a broad range of behaviors that the reformers felt were undesirable. And, let us not forget, Prohibition was a Progressive reform. Throughout our nation's history the urge to probe into and control the lives of others has been a prominent feature of our political culture.

What is relatively new is the "cult of expertise" and naive scientism invoked by pecksniffian reformers to justify their varied agendas, and that is really not so new after all. It emerged not in the mid-twentieth century but in the late nineteenth with the rise of the social sciences, and the invocation of scientific authority formed an essential aspect of reform efforts during the Progressive Era. The Progressive model for reform went broadly like this: muckraking journalists would expose problems; university trained experts would study the problem and issue recommendations for action; and progressive legislators would write those recommendations into law that would then be enforced by bureaucrats, commissions, and courts insulated from the democratic process.

So scientistic pecksniffianism was not new in the post-war era; it has been an important aspect of our political culture for more than a century. But Will is right to note that in recent decades it has become far more common and far more obnoxious than it once was. Belatedly we are beginning to have a serious debate over the relative benefits and costs of these reforms and the claims to scientific authority on which they are based. It's about time!

Travel Planning?

Next time you are planning a vacation, or if you just want to waste some time exploring the oddities of the world, check out the Atlas Obscura [here]. It's a website devoted to strange, mysterious, and sometimes unsettling places you might want to visit someday. The picture above is Ohio's "Great Serpent Mound". I have friends and relatives who travel a lot for their jobs. Something like this might come in handy as relief from the tedium of the endless road.

The Old Time Game

And while we are on the subject of photo archives, here's a link to the A.J. Spalding Baseball Collection of early baseball photographs in the New York Public Library. Lots of good stuff. Check it out!

The picture is of William "Buck" Ewing, whom many consider to be the greatest player of the nineteenth century. Bill James has argued that Ewing may have been the greatest player of all time -- at least that was the opinion of several baseball professionals who saw both him and Babe Ruth play.

Old Photos of Japan

Taken between 1860 and 1930. Some fascinating stuff here. Check it out. This photo is of an Ainu woman playing a traditional musical instrument similar to a Jews harp.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Don't Touch Me

A song to sing when the TSA approaches:

Here Puss Puss

Hilarious! An alternative view of vegetarians.

HT: Instapundit

Sarah Palin, Neanderthals, and Mass Extinction

Listen to this clip from the John Batchelor show. It's the most interesting talk show on radio, largely because he follows his interests into so many fascinating areas.

Pride of Baltimore 2

There she is, anchored at the Light Street Pavilion at the Inner Harbor. I took the picture from inside the National Aquarium.

Looking east toward the National Aquarium.

The ropes you are supposed to learn.

And of course, lots of hungry birds.

Federal Hill from the north side of the harbor.

Hoagy's Skylark

Here's Hoagy Carmichael's classic, "Skylark" as performed by a young Aretha Franklin.

And here's the same song done by Ella.

It's interesting to listen to the differing qualities these two great peformers bring to the song. I actually prefer Aretha's arrangement, but Ella has that marvelous instrument that nobody, not even Aretha, can hope to match.

And here is a wonderful version by Helen Forrest, the best of the big band singers, backed by Harry James and his orchestra. Forrest is wonderful, but the real treat here is the orchestral arrangement.

I think that this performance by Maxine Sullivan is my favorite. Unfortunately, embedding has been disabled, so you have to go here to listen to it.

And finally, a couple of instrumental versions This is by the amazing Lee Konitz.

Aaaaahhh! That's what an alto sax should sound like. Now for a final treat, this is how Art Blakey and the Jazz Messingers interpreted the old standard as an exercise in bop. Not bad for a kid from Pittsburgh.


Oh my! I just came across this: "Skylark" done by Andre Previn.

Interesting. Verrrrrry interesting!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

C. S. Lewis on the Tyranny of Science

From God In the Dock:
[T]he new oligarchy must more and more base its claim to plan us on its claim of knowledge. . . . This means they must increasingly rely on the advice of scientists. . . . Now I dread specialists in power because they are specialists speaking outside their special subjects. Let scientists tell us about science. But government involves questions about the good of man, and justice, and what things are worth having at what price; and on these a scientific training gives a man's opinion no added value. . . . On just the same ground I dread government in the name of science. That is how tyrannies come in. In every age the men who want us under their thumb, if they have any sense, will put forward the particular pretension which the hopes and fears of that age render most potent. They 'cash in'. It has been magic, it has been Christianity. Now it will certainly be science.
 Read more about Lewis and threats to freedom in the modern world here.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Return to the Dying Earth

If you were ever enchanted, as I was, by Jack Vance's "Dying Earth" stories, rejoice. George R. R. Martin and Gardener Dozois had put together a collection of new stories set in Vance's magical realm. Tor Books, the publisher has given us all a taste of what is in store for us. Read "The Green Bird" by Kage Baker here. Hint: it stars Cugel the Clever, my favorite Vance character.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Another Diplomatic Breakthrough

The Obama administration announced that the State Department has concluded successful negotiations with another "moderate" Taliban figure, Mullah Iowahak Muhammadavi al-Burjihad, whom officials described as the #2 man in the Taliban body & paint shop. Iowahawk has the details here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Watching Russell Crowe

We went to see "The Next Three Days". Not many people in the theatre -- but "Harry Potter" next door was packed, mostly with families. "Days" attracted only old couples like us. Makes you wonder just what the marketing strategy for this film was.

There is a lot of talent on display in "Days", but to little effect. The narrative, copied from a 2008 French film, is a by the numbers heist flick with the difference that the treasure being liberated is Russell Crowe's wife. We have the setup, the planning, the usual complications, numerous cameos by established stars, and a nail-biting, coincidence laden, escape sequence. Nothing particularly interesting there. The direction, by Paul Haggis, is conventional and competent, no more, no less. Not very interesting either. So, why did I enjoy it so much?

Well, there was the setting. I grew up near Pittsburgh and it was fun to spot landmarks and recognize neighborhoods and to note what has changed over time. And there is a certain enjoyment in just sitting back and letting a conventional story wash over you. No matter how implausible the situations, coincidences and tension points, you know where you are going and pretty much how you will get there and there is some comfort in that. That's why so many people are willing to sit through genre flicks, being led through the same tropes time and again.

That brings us to the acting, and here we see a lot talent on display. Russell Crowe repeats his suffering everyman/unstoppable hero roles to good effect. Elizabeth Banks transitions from idealized housewife and mother to hardened, defeated, suicidal inmate, to action sidekick. Familiar stars Olivia Wilde, Brian Dennehy, Liam Neeson, and Daniel Stern, are all quite good in what are essentially cameo roles. The other secondary roles are all competently played. There really are no weak performances. But, with one exception, there are no standout ones either, and that is the fault of the writing and directing which do not allow the actors, other than Crowe, much scope to shine. I was most impressed by Liam Neeson's short bit as an expert on prison escapes. Watching him and Crowe together was a treat.

So, all in all, was it worth it? I would say "yes". Go see it if there is nothing better on tap. The trouble is, this week there is an awful lot of decent competition out there so the grosses are bound to be disappointing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

All You Could Want to Know About Aztec Blood Rituals

Check it out here. Note, this is the first of two articles -- more to come.

Making Sense of the World

In recent decades three books, purporting to explain the state of affairs in the world have been published. All have been widely read by elite policy makers; all have been extremely influential; and all three have inspired vigorous debate. They are:

The End of History and the Last Man, by Francis Fukuyama,

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, by Samuel Huntington,

and The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, by John Mearsheimer.

I would urge everyone to read all three; each gives you a useful, but limited, prism through which to view the endless debate over foreign policy. But to get a general sense of the books' arguments you can simply peruse "Conflict or Consensus: Three Visions Revisited" by Richard K. Betts, published in Foreign Affairs. [here] Check it out, then read the books. You will find that the interminable arguments on international affairs in the press and in government circles will make a lot more sense. At least, that has been my experience.

Megyn Kelly in GQ

Here she is!

Read about it here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Penn and the TSA

Magician/comedian/libertarian Penn of Penn and Teller fame had his first experience with the new TSA procedures and has decided to sue.

Here's how it went down:
Last Thursday I was flying to LA on the Midnight flight. I went through security my usual sour stuff. I beeped, of course, and was shuttled to the "toss-em" line. A security guy came over. I assumed the position. I had a button up shirt on that was untucked. He reached around while he was behind me and grabbed around my front pocket. I guess he was going for my flashlight, but the area could have loosely been called "crotch." I said, "You have to ask me before you touch me or it's assault."

He said, "Once you cross that line, I can do whatever I want."
I said that wasn't true. I say that I have the option of saying no and not flying. He said, "Are you going to let me search you, or do I just throw you out?"
I said, "Finish up, and then call the police please." 
Read the whole thing here.

This is going to be fun. 

Krauthammer's Take on the TSA

Charles Krauthammer puts a positive spin on the TSA groping kerfluffle. He writes:

Don’t touch my junk is the anthem of the modern man, the Tea Party patriot, the late-life libertarian, the midterm-election voter. Don’t touch my junk, Obamacare — get out of my doctor’s examining room; I’m wearing a paper-thin gown slit down the back. Don’t touch my junk, Google — Street View is cool, but get off my street. Don’t touch my junk, you airport-security goon — my package belongs to no one but me, and do you really think I’m a Nigerian nut job preparing for my 72-virgin orgy by blowing my johnson to kingdom come?
He thinks that the outrage the TSA has inspired will be a turning point:

The junk man’s revolt marks the point at which a docile public declares that it will tolerate only so much idiocy.
I certainly hope he's right, but the forces of PC seem to be implacable.

Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rome Reborn

Check it out here.

Here's Another One I'm Going to Have to See

S. E. Cupp Explains

Why some people get so upset over Sarah:

The reason Palin has become such a lightening rod, a kingmaker and a punching bag, a celebrity and a power player, is simple. It's because she's so gosh darn happy.

For her fans... she's refreshingly upbeat and resilient, the bubbly friend from childhood who was always great at cheering you up and cheerleading you on.

But for her detractors, nothing raises the ire of cynical liberals more than a happy-go-lucky, totally unburdened, freethinking and self-assured conservative woman who has everything she wants and then some. And without anyone's help.
She's right. For those who have embraced victimology Sarah shouldn't exist, and the fact of her existence is a repudiation not only of their belief system, but of their sense of who they are and what they can be.

Read it here.

The Continung Collapse of Scientific Authority

Patrick Coffee has a new book out on the history of modern chemistry. Its full title is Cathedrals of Science: The Personalities and Rivalries That Made Modern Chemistry. It's the "Personalities and Rivalries" part that attracted my notice because it is a recognition that "Science" is not an objective enterprise, far from it. As a review states:

Most scientific biographies put their subjects on pedestals. But times are changing, and Coffey's book is representative of a new candor. Weaving together the lives of the leaders of modern chemistry, Coffey shows how fights over priority, backstabbing, cronyism, and grudges shaped the history of chemistry just as much as the actual discoveries. It is an effective antidote to the bromide that science is the work of selfless, Spock-like automatons.
Indeed! "Science" is a fundamentally human undertaking and as such is liable to all the quirks and foibles of humanity. The myth of objective scientific authority is pernicious and has poisoned our public policy debates for decades. It is good to see historians of science finally recognizing the fact that it is quite simply a myth.

Read the review here.

Lies of the Left (continued): "Profiles in Courage"

In 1957 JFK was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Biography for his book "Profiles In Courage". Almost at once allegations rose that Theodore Sorenson, not Kennedy, was the author, something that both men strenuously denied. We now know that they were lying but for decades now most journalists and historians uncritically swallowed the lie. Now that both men are dead and the Democrats have wrung every last possible benefit out of the Camelot myth, the truth is being revealed told. "Profiles in Courage" was written by a committee. Sorenson and Jules David wrote a first draft which was then edited and revised by other scholars, most of whom were told that the draft had been written by Kennedy. We now know that Kennedy's involvement in the entire affair was marginal, that Sorenson indeed was the primary author of the work, and that Kennedy's reputation as an intellectual was at least in part based on lies.

As has so often been the case the lies of the Left long served a powerful political purpose and, once finally exposed, were simply dropped. Few people today care whether or not Kennedy and his acolytes lied.


Read about it here.

Ferguson on the Future

Niall Ferguson writes on fiscal policy and imperial decline here.

He notes that swelling interest payments on our enormous national debt will consume more of the nation's GNP in future decades and as they do discretionary spending will be squeezed. The most obvious candidate for cuts will be the American military and as it declines so too will American influence. What makes things worse is that much of the debt payment is in the form of revenue transfers to China, our major military rival. He further notes that imperial collapse can come rapidly and that we are hurrying down the same path toward insolvency as other earlier imperial powers that experienced rapid decline.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We Lost the Election

P.J. O'Rourke argues that the people lost the election to professional politicians. A couple of his observations: 
politics is like vivisection—disturbing as a career, alarming as a hobby.

In a free country government is a dull and onerous responsibility. It is a parent-teacher conference. The teacher is a pompous twit. Our child is a lazy pain in the ass. We undertake this social obligation with weary reluctance. And we only do it at all because the teacher (political authority) deserves cold stares, hard questions, and maybe firing, and the pupil (that portion of society which, alas, needs governing) deserves to be grounded without TV and have its Internet access screened and its allowance docked.
 Read the whole thing here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Iowahawk Strikes Again -- "Proctology Is Such A Lovely Trade"

Now he's writing song lyrics -- "Comply With Me"

Comply with me, before you fly away
Remove those shoes and take a cruise
Through my peekaboo X-ray
Comply with me, I'm your friendly TSA

Comply with me, you domestic coach class bums
If you opt out I'll just give a shout
To my icy-handed chums
Comply with me, bend over here it comes

Check out the whole thing here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Conversation with Jacques Barzun

One of my intellectual heroes, Jacques Barzun, still active at the age of 103 years. His body is failing, but his mind is still strong.

A Conversation with Jacques Barzun (2010) from Leo Wong on Vimeo.

It's About Time!

Good news from Iraq, reported in the Newser:

(Newser) – Eight months after the country went to the polls, Iraqi politicians have reached a tentative deal to form a government. The Sunni-backed Iraqiya alliance has agreed to support a unity government headed by Nouri al-Maliki, who will return for a second term as prime minister, the New York Times reports. Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani will remain as president under the pact, although the role of Iraqiya leader and former prime minister Ayad Allawi in the new government has yet to be determined.

Members of Iraq's parliament are expected to meet Thursday, for only the second time since the election, to confirm the new pact.

Read the whole thing here.

Yes it took a long time, and the governing coalition is unwieldy and unlikely to govern very effectively but it is a step forward, if only a small one. Slowly, slowly but surely a democratic state is emerging in the region. It just takes some patience on everybody's part.

Senator Tom Coburn on Earmarks

He's against them. Read it here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mirror Mirror....

For your viewing pleasure

My wife has some dried up plant doohickeys sitting in a vase on my desk. The other night I was fooling around with my camera and took some low-light pictures of them. Here's how they came out:

Lies of the Left (continued)

Lefties like to assert that the United States has a higher infant mortality rate than developed countries with national health care systems. That is a lie. The United States ranks lower than other countries because we calculate infant mortality differently than they do. Dr. Walt explains here.

And as for the assertion that life expectancy in the United States is lower than in other developed countries there is a good explanation for that, too -- one that has nothing to do with the nature of our health care system. If we factor out violent deaths due to automobile crashes and homicides Americans actually have longer life expectancy than other developed countries, and immigrants from other parts of the world [Japan for instance] often have longer life expectancies than they do in their home countries. Jonah explains here.

More On the Good President

Julian E. Zelizer, Princeton professor of history, writes in the WaPo about "Five Myths" Bush's critics, left and right, have promulgated about the good president. To wit:

1. The idea that Bush was "an uninformed Texas cowboy",
2. The charge that "compassionate conservatism" was just a campaign slogan,
3. The charge that Bush committed the United States to "nation building" in Iraq and Afghanistan,
4. That Dick Cheney ran the Bush White House, and
5. That Bush left conservatism in ruins.

Read it here.

The first draft of history, the journalistic accounts, were uniformly anti-Bush, but the second draft that is beginning to emerge is far more balanced. The rehabilitation of his reputation is already underway.

The Death of Socialism

The late Twentieth Century saw the collapse of the totalitarian version of socialism. Now in the early Twenty First Century we are seeing the disintegration of its democratic form. Janet Daley writes that in Europe:
there is now a broad understanding that the social democratic project itself is unsustainable: that it has grown wildly beyond the principles of its inception and that the consequences of this are not only unaffordable, but positively damaging to national life and character. The US, bizarrely, is running at least 10 years behind in this process, having elected a government which chose to embark on the social democratic experiment at precisely the moment when its Western European inventors were despairing of it, and desperately trying to find politically palatable ways of winding it down. 
 She points out that the transition away from the disease of socialism will not be easy and may well be very disruptive, but that dismantling the welfare state has become, outside the ruling elite, a moral imperative.

Interesting piece, read it here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Jonah Goldberg on American Exceptionalism

Jonah takes on the lefties who are currently assaulting the idea that the United States is fundamentally different from other countries here. It's a good short read and true, so true.

The Boy Who Runs Like a Duck

That's how Barry Obama was known when he lived in Indonesia. Interesting article here.

The Good President Talks With Matt Lauer

I think he did well on this one. It will be interesting to see how different venues handle their time with him.

Most of the MSM interviews focus on the war and Katrina. The WSJ interviews him on his economic and fiscal policies here.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Alyssia Finley Has Had It With California

From the WSJ:
Listen up, California. The other 48 states—your cousin New York excluded—are sick of your bratty arrogance. You're the Lindsay Lohan of states: a prima donna who once showed some talent but is now too wasted to do anything with it.

After enjoying ephemeral highs and spending binges, you suffer crashes that culminate in brief, unsuccessful stints in rehab. This cycle repeats itself every five to 10 years, as the rest of the country looks on with a mixture of horror and amusement. We'd feel sorry for you if you didn't constantly flip us the bird.

Instead, we're making bets on how long it will be before your next meltdown. Oh, wait—you're already melting down.
 Read the whole thing here.

In the Sixties and Seventies a large part of the allure of California was its youthful orientation, its party atmosphere, its golden timelessness. It was never-never land where we could cavort on the beach forever. Today most people find that whole "scene" repulsive and silly. Could it be that the nation is growing up and repudiating their youthful enthusiasms? Let's hope so.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Boys Explain the Significance of the Republican Blowout

Neo's Dance Class

Neo-neocon, a former dancer, has a really nice post about the qualities of tap dancing back in its heyday and as it is currently performed. The technique, if anything, has advanced, but the quality of the performance has declined. Check out her illustrated comments here. Her main complaint is one I have often made -- the current emphasis on technique as an end in itself rather than a necessary means to a greater end, the elevation of virtuosity over musicality.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Lets Not Forget

Today is the one-year anniversary of the Fort Hood Massacre. Here is a list of the victims.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Elizabeth Scalia, the Anchoress, has a nice roundup of day-after punditry [here]. I particularly like her comment regarding those figures, including the president, who are touting the Democrats' significant legislative achievements.
“Legislative success” should have some relation to the actual representation of you know, the desires of the constituency. Otherwise it is not “legislative success.” It is arrogance and tyranny.

 One reaction to which she does not link, but is well worth checking out is Glenn Beck's morning after gloat [here]. He may be crazy, but he sure is funny.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Best Comment of the Night

Came from Eliot Spitzer who observed on CNN that Democrats have had essential control of the government -- President and both houses of Congress -- two times now, in 1992 and 2008 and both times they tried to enact a progressive agenda. Both times they paid a terrible price because the American people do not want progressiveism.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Hating Capitalists, Old Men, and other Cliches

"She Who Must Not Be Named" wanted to see "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest" yesterday, so off we went to see it. I have now sat through nearly eight hours of the Lizzy Salamander trilogy. Thank God it is over.

The premise of the films, and the novels on which they are based, is standard leftist claptrap. Women [particularly lesbians] are victims, exploited and brutally abused by evil men. Corporate executives are particularly evil. But most evil of all are elderly men of the generation that fought the Cold War and committed terrible acts in their country's service.

The State is good, but its functionaries are often clueless and ineffective, and within it can be found rogue elements, especially in the intelligence services, consisting of evil men who hide desperate secrets and are willing to commit unspeakable crimes to keep their past sins hidden. Fortunately, however, there is a new generation of enlightened, socially conscious men and women -- investigative journalists, honest police, and brave female attorneys -- willing and able to investigate, prosecute, and punish the criminals.

The main character suffers terribly at the hands of evil men, but has plenty of opportunities to wreak vengeance on those who have wronged her utilizing whatever comes to hand, fire, an axe, a conveniently placed nail gun. The films are pretty gruesome, but women in the audience -- including "She" -- seem to enjoy them.

I understand that there are plans for an American remake of these Swedish horrors and that the wonderfully named Rooney Mara is going to play the lead. I don't see the need for them. The originals display many of the most offensive features of recent Hollywood disasters. In terms of plot, characters, and themes, there's nothing you haven't seen time and time again. But the violence is very explicit and women of a certain age will find some degree of satisfaction in seeing bad men dispatched by our heroine in various gruesome ways. So I guess there is money to be made in a remake. Too bad.

Iowahawk Strikes Again

You Have 24 Unanswered Messages

Hello, this is Congressman Chuck Harbinson calling to remind you to vote tomorrow, Tuesday November 2nd. As your representative from the 3rd District, I have worked hard to bring positive change through my support for the Health Care Reform Act, as well as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which created the new Turnip ethanol plant and nearly a dozen new high-paying jobs right here in the Quint Cities. I am proud to have earned the endorsement of the Claxon-Ledger, the United Turnip Workers Union, and President Obama. So when you cast that vote tomorrow, Tuesday November 2nd, won't you please pull the lever for me, Congressmen Chuck Harbinson? Thanks, and have a great evening.
Hello, this is Congressman Chuck Harbinson again. Look, I just wanted to make sure you didn't get the wrong impression from that last robocall. I think I mentioned something about an endorsement from President Obama. Okay, yeah, he endorsed me, technically, but really, don't read too much into that. It's really more of a formality kinda thing. Candidly, I'm considered a pretty big independent here in DC, reaching across the aisle and all that. So pull that lever tomorrow for me, Congressman Chuck "The Maverick" Harbinson.
What exactly do we know about Mike Pflugenboom? Sure, Mike Pflugenboom says he is a small businessman. But who is pulling Mike Pflugenboom's strings? The Claxon-Ledger reports that Mike Pflugenboom has taken nearly $5000 in secret donations from Big Turnip and their foreign friends. Mike Pflugenboom -- too extreme for the 3rd District, too extreme for America. I'm Chuck Harbinson and I approve this message.

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Myth of Disinterested Science Redux

Two historians of science discuss the relationship between political ideology and evolutionary theory and in the process invoke one of my favorite themes -- the fact that there is no such thing as a disinterested authority and that includes scientific authority. Scientists, no less than other people, see in nature what they want to see there. It's an interesting discussion. Check it out.

Is Obama a Keynesian?

And these people, in their impenetrable ignorance and self-regard, consider themselves to be the informed, sane, reasonable segment of the American public.



An argument between two liberals -- one sane, the other a PC bigot. You guess which is which.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Good Presidents

The two Presidents Bush earlier tonight at the World Series:

The good guys have their moment. Brings back memories -- good ones.

Wretchard's Prediction

Wretchard [Richard Fernandez] expanding on observations by Charles Krauthammer, has an interesting take on the aftermath of the upcoming election. If, as many expect, the Republicans gain control of at least one house of Congress, the only way Obama can continue to put his reforms in place is through the federal bureaucracy. This sets up an interesting situation:
Democrats will advance their agenda on Obamacare, financial reform and energy by means of administrative regulation, such as carbon-emission limits imposed unilaterally by the Environmental Protection Agency.”  That will be the main card for 2011 and what a humdinger it will be. If a conservative Congress attempts to cut back on the agencies, the giant bureaucracy will be fighting for its life. In that capacity it will be formidable. In zero-sum game against the President and the agencies, Congress may be the political underdog without allies.

Where will it find them? The only plausible allies that Congress can line up behind it are the States. The States are the other separate power in the Federal structure. Their stake in the outcome is as great as anyone else’s.  At some point in an all-in political conflict, especially when money and authority is concerned,  the several states are likely to play a part in proceedings.  It is unlikely they will watch completely passively from the sidelines. With Washington in a meltdown and a divided capital struggling in unparalleled acrimony, there’s a possibility the states will be drawn in, perhaps through Interstate Compacts, or simply through political persuasion. What will they do about Obamacare, financial reform and carbon emissions?

What may occur after the Tea Party breaks over the capital is not that the wave will dissipate, but that the impetus will return to to the States and spread downwards from there. 
Read it here.
Some degree of conflict between federal mandates, largely unfunded, and State governments is inevitable. State governments simply cannot afford to comply with many federal dictates. And the response by Democrats and the MSM to State insubordination is equally inevitable. They will invoke the mid-twentieth century struggle for civil rights and howl "RAAAAACISM". But that tactic has lost much of its sting and is unlikely to be very persuasive. For half a century and more we have seen a continual trend toward concentration of power in the federal government and in the non-elective elements of that government [the bureaucracy and the courts]. Perhaps in the coming struggle that tendency can be halted, or even reversed, and that, to quote a famous criminal mastermind [Martha Stewart], would be "a good thing".

Bob Hope Nails It


Sarah Nails It Again

"Corrupt bastards" -- that's what Sarah called the creeps at Alaska CBS affiliate, KTVA, who were conspiring to embarrass Republican senatorial candidate Joe Miller. She suggested that the lack of journalistic integrity and outrageous bias displayed in the incident were generalized throughout the MSM. I think she's right.

Read about it here. Breitbart has a transcript here.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Relatively Sane Look At the Tea Parties

John Judis, writing in the New Republic, identifies four "myths" being promulgated in the MSM about the Tea Parties.

1. The Tea Party is not, as many MSM commentators would argue, a coherent movement. To call it such is to impose [and this is an important insight into elite thinking] "continental European" categories onto what is a quintessentially American phenomenon.

2. The Tea Party is not, as the Left claims, "fascist" in any way. Fascists seek to deny civil liberties, the Tea Party promotes them. Fascists are violent, the Tea Party is not. Etc. Again Judis makes the important observation that elite comment reveals a continental European mindset that is inappropriately applied to America. Moreover, he makes another pertinent point -- to the extent that it looks toward the past it is an American past, which was relatively respectful of individual freedom, rather than toward a European past which was repressive. I don't agree with his view that the Tea Party is reactionary -- progressives always identify their critics as being reactionary -- but his point about the American past is spot on.

3. The Tea Party is not, as Leftists charge, racist. It stands for solid middle-class values and resents those who ostentatiously spurn them. That includes many non-whites, but also  Wall Street moneymen, academics, Hollywood celebrities, etc. The resentments are class-based, not racist.

4, The Tea Party is not, as some Democrat hacks have claimed, a creation of the Republican Party or of Big Business. The Republicans and business interests are likely to benefit from the Tea Party's emergence, but they certainly did not create it nor do they control it.

A provocative and interesting take -- one of the best I have seen from a progressive writer. Check it out here.


The other day after the rains I took some pictures of the fall foliage through rain-spattered window screens. The result was an interesting effect.