Day By Day

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

S.E. Cupp on "That Rock 'n' Roll Dude"

Superhot S. E. Cupp is promoting Rep. Thaddeus "that rock 'n' roll dude" McCotter for president [here]. The Republicans could do a lot worse. I've seen McCotter in action on Gutfeld's show [S. E. Cupp appears there too] and his intelligence, humor and command of the issues is evident. He is definitely a rising star in the Republican firmament. He won't be the nominee for President, and probably wouldn't want the gig, but he would make an outstanding VP candidate.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Continuing Collapse of Scientific Authority

You can't always believe what you read in elite peer-reviewed journals. Even the top journals in medicine frequently publish erroneous or falsified information. And the problem is getting worse over time. The number of articles retracted in major journals has been increasing in recent years. To some extent this is because journal editors, at last awakened to the scope of the problems, have been combing through past publications to root out false and erroneous articles, but the fact that so much misinformation has been published and has gone unchallenged for so long should serve as a reminder that science is a human enterprise and as such subject to all the foibles of humanity.

I Thought She Was Supposed to Be the Dumb One

From the New York Sun:

The big question as Chairman Bernanke gets set for his first quarterly press conference is how Sarah Palin was able to figure out sooner than everyone else that the Federal Reserve’s campaign of quantitative easing wouldn’t work. Disappointment in the Fed’s policies is being reported this morning at the top of page one of the New York Times. It reports that “most Americans are not feeling the difference” from the Fed’s “experimental effort to spur a recovery by purchasing vast quantities of federal debt.” It reports that “a broad range of economists say that the disappointing results show the limits of the central bank’s ability to lift the nation from its economic malaise.”

It’s a terrific story, and well-timed, given that on Wednesday Mr. Bernanke will break tradition and meet with the press. It is part of the Fed’s effort to get ahead of what is emerging as a public relations catastrophe, as gasoline is nearing six dollars a gallon at some pumps, the cost of groceries is skyrocketing, and the value of the dollars that Mr. Bernanke’s institution issues as Federal Reserve notes has collapsed to less than a 1,500th of an ounce of gold. Unemployment is still high. Shakespeare couldn’t come up with a better plot. But how in the world did Mrs. Palin, who is supposed to be so thick, manage to figure all this out so far ahead of the New York Times and all the economists it talked to?

She did this back in November in a speech at Phoenix, which the Wall Street Journal, in a laudatory editorial at the time, characterized as zeroing in on the connection between a weak dollar and rising prices for oil and food. “We don’t want temporary, artificial economic growth brought at the expense of permanently higher inflation which will erode the value of our incomes and our savings,” the Journal quoted Mrs. Palin as saying. “We want a stable dollar combined with real economic reform. It's the only way we can get our economy back on the right track.” Now here is the New York Times quoting a raft of economists who have reached the conclusion that Mrs. Palin’s warning was right down the line.
The past few years should have been a humbling experience for the self-proclaimed "best and brightest" who arrogantly claim on the basis of achieved academic credentials the right to order other people's lives. Time and again they have erred in judgment and made an unholy mess of things. Nowhere has the failure of expertise been more on display than in the official response to our current economic crisis.The fact that the much derided former Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, a product of public schools and universities, should have more clearly seen the consequences of Fed action than Chairman Bernanke and a host of highly acclaimed economists should be a sobering reminder that effective governance has little to do with technocracy. Wise governance is learned not in textbooks or academic and administrative settings, but in the hurlyburly of practical political striving. Few politicians in my lifetime have displayed such profound understanding of the needs and aspirations of ordinary people as has Sarah Palin. She understands life in ways that Ben Bernanke and the credentialed elites never will. Hers is a voice that should be heeded, but in their blinkered arrogance the beltway crowd will never understand that. It is up to the voters to teach them that essential lesson. 

The Fracking Debate

Friday, April 22, 2011

McCain's Heroes

More and more I am coming to the conclusion that as bad as Obama is [and he is horrible] McCain would have been worse.

From the WaPo:

Libyan rebels welcomed President Obama’s deployment of armed Predator drones and received praise from their most prominent U.S. visitor Friday, as they expressed hope that increased American support would help turn the tide in a conflict that the top U.S. military officer acknowledged is becoming deadlocked.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), an early proponent of helping the rebels in their fight against forces loyal to longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi, arrived Friday in Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital in eastern Libya, and told reporters that the anti-Gaddafi fighters are his heroes.
Read the whole thing here. [emphasis mine]

Were they his heroes when they were trying to kill Americans?

McCain and Obama are indeed chuckleheads, but it is hard to blame them for their follies. They are imprisoned in institutional and ideological formulations that had their origins in the military and economic crises of the mid-twentieth century -- modes of thinking and acting that, in the post-Cold War world, are increasingly obsolete. McCain is a product of the national security state. Obama has embraced the alternative doctrines of liberal transnationalism. Both are irrelevant to the world of the Twenty First Century and attempts to apply them are proving to be destructive.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

These are Supposed To Be the Good Guys

We have been assured that in the Libya conflict we are on the side of angels. Well..., fallen angels perhaps. Pajamas Media links to videos of blatant human rights offenses perpetrated by the anti-Quaddafi forces we are backing, but about whom we know very little. The more we see of them, though, the less deserving of support they seem.
While the International Criminal Court has announced that it is investigating charges of war crimes against Muammar al-Gaddafi and other members of the Libyan regime, harrowing video evidence has emerged that appears to show atrocities committed by anti-Gaddafi rebels. Among other things, the footage depicts summary executions, a prisoner being lynched, the desecration of corpses, and even a beheading. The targets of the most serious abuse are frequently black African prisoners. The ultimate source of the footage appears to be rebel forces or sympathizers themselves.

Check out the whole thing here.

That's right. They took these videos themselves and broadcast them. They seem to be proud of what they are doing and see a political payoff in advertising their barbarity.

Explain to me again just why we are supporting these guys?

We Have Met the Enemy....

and it is the next generation.

ht: Jonah

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Amazing Undersea Photos

It's easy to take photos like this. Alexander Semenov explains:

It’s simple: Take a camera and macro lens, and encase it in an underwater housing. Connect all the cords, close it, check all edges and buttons, and check your underwater strobes. Then lug all (approximately) 8kg of your high tech photography equipment out on the boat, dive into the sea, and find your creature. Manually set up all parameters of the camera and strobes—then be sure not to move or even breath—and adjust your camera to find the right focus point (no auto-focusing, all manual). Press the shutter button, and that's it. Well, almost. There are always some environmental issues, such as currents, icy cold water (-2*C), total darkness below 20m depth, constant turbidity, and more. But you can get accustomed to it after about two or three hundreds dives. Good luck!  
Check out the whole interview, accompanied by fabulous photos here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sarah Hits A Homer

Sarah Palin gave a speech in Madison, Wisconsin and showed just why she has to be taken seriously as a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming election cycle. She takes it to Obama hard, clear, and direct. This is one lady who cannot be ignored. Check her speech out here.


Here's how Reuters reported the event:
Sarah Palin rides to the sound of the guns. It was a chilly, wet and blustery afternoon in Madison, Wisconsin — one more appropriate for a late-season Packers game than a springtime political rally. The stirring NFL Films theme,  “The Classic Battle,” would’ve been a more apt musical choice than Van Halen’s “Right Now” to accompany Palin as she entered the stage outside the state capital building to address thousands of Tea Party members, along with a good number of extremely hostile, expletive-hurling government union rowdies.

In the last few months, political professionals and insiders have been writing off the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate, convinced she won’t run for the GOP nomination in 2012 or ever. Then again, even those GOPers who are running can hardly compete with the MSM’s weird, all-consuming fascination with The Donald.

But all it took was one powerful, pugnacious and presidential speech — just 15 minutes long — for Palin to again make herself completely relevant to the current political and policy battles raging across America.

 Read the whole thing here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Marx and the Academics

Ron Radosh has a nice review of Terry Eagleton's latest whitewash of Marxism over at Pajamas Media. He writes:

For some reason, every time a modern capitalist economy faces a problem such as our current fiscal crisis here in the United States, members of the academy trout out Karl Marx as the solution. The latest example comes from The Chronicle Review, the literary supplement of The Chronicle of Higher Education. It is written by the British activist and writer Terry Eagleton, and is based on his new book, Why Marx was Right.

We all are all too familiar with the fact that while the world is moving away from social democracy, not to speak of Marxism as a philosophy, it always remains alive and well in our institutions of higher learning. Eagleton is too smart to not be unaware of the serious challenges to Marxism, especially the major defeat it suffered after the fall of the Soviet Union. So he acknowledges this at the start. He writes:
“Were not Marx’s ideas responsible for despotism, mass murder, labor camps, economic catastrophe, and the loss of liberty for millions of men and women? Was not one of his devoted disciples a paranoid Georgian peasant by the name of Stalin, and another a brutal Chinese dictator who may well have had the blood of some 30 million of his people on his hands?”

You know what is coming next, if you are even slightly bit familiar with the Left’s fallback position: Marx was not responsible for the wrong interpretations made of his work by the totalitarians of the last century.  Sure enough, Eagleton argues that “Marx was no more responsible for the monstrous oppression of the communist world than Jesus was responsible for the Inquisition.”

Well, that sets up a nice false equivalency. See how Radosh handles it here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shooting Fish In A Barrel

Add another nail to the coffin of global warming theory and the IPCC report upon which policy recommendations are based. Check out Douglas Keenan's article in the WSJ. He does a pretty good job of explaining just how inadequate was the statistical analysis on which the IPCC relied. Warning: a little familiarity with stat theory is helpful.

Read it here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

150 Years Ago Today -- War!!!

Today marks the onset of open hostilities in the American Civil War. Here's the news that greeted people in Philadelphia on that day.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Beltway Bunch versus America

Mickey Kaus, one of the brightest guys doing political analysis, explains where the real lines of conflict are drawn in the budget debate -- hint, it's not where the media are telling you it is. 
There’s a $1.6 trillion deficit but the feds are still hiring. As of March 23 they were hiring someone to run a Facebook page for the Deparment of the Interior (at up to $115,000 a year). They were hiring equal opportunity compliance officers at the Peace Corps and Department of Interior for $150,000 to $180,000 a pop. They were hiring deputy speechwriters for officials at relatively obscure agencies. …P.S.: The point isn’t so much that these federal employees are overpaid, though they are. The point is that if there were any actual sense of a deficit crisis in Washington these are jobs that would not be filled at all. 
Instead of tightening their belts, denizens of the beltway precincts are attempting to shift attention away from discretionary spending [where their bread is buttered] to entitlements spending [which benefits the public at large]. Kaus admits that entitlements is where the big money is, but the refusal of the beltway crowd to share in the pain is, to him, suspicious.
[I]t looks like a tacit conspiracy of Washingtonians not to sacrifice the jobs of any of their friends, or the local economy, by any kind of actual slimming down (of the sort a private company in similar straits would have undertaken years ago).
He asks, Why not wring the fat out of government first?
Good question.

Read the whole piece here

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Stonehenge Close Up

Lies of the Left (continued) -- "The Kingdom of Lies"

Victor Davis Hanson writes:

I am a subject in a kingdom of lies. At 57, I have grown up with decades of untruth — advanced for the purposes of purported social unity, the noble aim of egalitarianism, and the advancement of a cognitive elite in government, journalism, the arts, and the universities.

Alger Hiss really was a communist operative, albeit an elegant and snooty sort of one. The Rosenbergs were tag-team spies. Noble Laureate Rigoberta Menchu did not really write her own memoir. I admire the lives of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, even as I sensed there were large areas of their biographies that simply could not be disclosed and that the censorship was apparently for our own good. I know that if I did what Eliot Spitzer did I would not be hosting a TV show.

I did not quite know how “witch hunt” characterized the often disreputable tactics of Joe McCarthy — cruel and obnoxious were the better adjectives. You see, there were really communists in Hollywood at a time of a dangerous global cold war against communism, in a way there were never any witches at all in Salem.
But then for some reason I sensed that a murderous, camouflaged Fidel Castro killed more innocents than a murderous, gold-braided Augusto Pinochet. I accepted that we were to be silent about the former’s crimes since his ends were said to be good, while the latter’s crimes were for the bad — though economists of no particular political affiliations have shown that Chileans escaped poverty and dictatorship while Cubans were, and are still, plagued by both.

He's just getting started. Read the whole thing here and ponder the magnitude, persistence and pervasiveness of the falsehoods on which our contemporary culture is based, and how profoundly they represent a repudiation of our national experience prior to the 1960's. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Slowly I Turned....

A conversation with an old friend brought to mind this comedy treasure from burlesque theater. Here's Lucille Ball's version of it. Enjoy!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Obama's Fantasyland

The great debate continues -- are the many and manifest failures of the Obama administration attributable to sheer incompetence, or are they informed by guiding principles?

Nile Gardiner, writing in The Telegraph, thinks it is the former. He sees "a clueless presidency adrift in a sea of confusion" of which the Libya misadventure is only the most recent instance. [here]. Steven Metz, over at the New Republic, disagrees. He strives mightily to discern within the seemingly random impulses generated from the White House a coherent strategy. He writes:
Put simply, Obama’s Libya strategy is designed to avoid the most undesirable outcomes rather than optimize the chances of a desired outcome, to do something without “owning” the conflict, to maintain maximum flexibility as the situation evolves, and to do all of this in the face of powerful constraints. The question is whether this strategy can actually work.
Read it here.

I will give Metz credit for ingenuity. He alone seems to have some idea of what is going on in Obama's mind. I, on the other hand, think the wise course is never to ascribe to conspiracy what can just as easily be explained as incompetence. At least I hope so. Responding to Metz' article Richard Fernandez notes that if he is right then Obama has fled the real world for a fantasyland of legal fictions.
In that strategic world, no matter the galaxy it inhabits, neither victory nor defeat exist.  It’s gone. Poof. Finished. Kaput. America can tag along on expeditions which it pays for, but cares not where it leads. Best of all, it isn’t war, repeat: it isn’t war. Therefore the President doesn’t have to ask Congress for permission to make it.
[S]uch a strategy, if accurately described by Metz may really represent the ultimate triumph of lawfare over common sense. Of fantasy over reality. Of the cartoon network over the news channel. Strategy becomes ultimately an affair of words, perceptions and formulations. There is no objective correlative between these fancy concepts and physical events like death, the occupation of cities, looting, curfews, the forced movement of persons or things of that sort.
But Fernandez notes fantasies are not innocuous. They do have real world consequences.
You may tell a man that if he feels a boot in his face or a bayonet in his gut to imagine it isn’t there. Unfortunately he still feels it, but so long as all the gunpowder and blood remain overseas, and only ink and talking points are shed domestically, then a boot isn’t a boot and a bayonet isn’t a bayonet.
Read the whole thing here.

So in the end it really doesn't matter whether the failed policies are attributable to incompetence or malfeasance. What matters is that the failures have real world consequences from which millions of people are and will be suffering. As I have pointed out in a number of posts, the objective state of the world became much better during the Bush presidency. I doubt that we will be able to say the same of his successor.

Film Studies 101 -- The Future of Film

"The Future of Film" by Joseph Susanka
Film is not dead.
Well, film as a format might be dead. When such cinematographic greats as Dante Spinotti, John Seale, and the criminally underappreciated Roger Deakins begin proclaiming the extraordinary technical and artistic benefits of shooting digitally, the writing is definitely on the wall.

But film as an art form? As an exciting, engaging way to tell stories; to explore human nature in its many fascinating facets; to communicate with others and challenge them to consider great truths? Borrowing from Twain's immortal words, the rumors of film's death have been greatly exaggerated.
Read the whole thing here.

Film may have a future, but does Hollywood?

Mark Harris writes:
[L]et's look ahead to what's on the menu for this year: four adaptations of comic books. One prequel to an adaptation of a comic book. One sequel to a sequel to a movie based on a toy. One sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a movie based on an amusement-park ride. One prequel to a remake. Two sequels to cartoons. One sequel to a comedy. An adaptation of a children's book. An adaptation of a Saturday-morning cartoon. One sequel with a 4 in the title. Two sequels with a 5 in the title. One sequel that, if it were inclined to use numbers, would have to have a 7 1/2 in the title.
Can Hollywood continue to survive churning out such crapola?

Harris thinks so. Read why here.

Burning the Koran

Yes, Terry Jones act of book burning was provocative, offensive, and irresponsible.

No, he should not be prosecuted, investigated, or the subject of any official response. We do have rights, and he was exercising his.

Jones is a moron, but he is in no way worse than those infantile "artists" who deface or offensively represent Christian symbols. They are offensive, irresponsible morons too.

Nor is he any worse than Bill Ayres or any of the other creeps who deface or destroy the American flag.

In no way is Pastor Jones responsible for the deaths of people in Afghanistan. If you wish to condemn him, then you must assign equal responsibility to the news media who publicized his actions, to Hamid Karzai who exploited those reports for political gain, and to the Muslim religious zealots who instigated riots. But, in the final analysis, the only responsible parties are those sub-human wretches who carried out the murders.

The most dangerous and dismaying aspect of the whole affair is the opinion expressed by various government and media figures to the effect that Pastor Jones should be investigated, the subject of other official actions, etc.

That's all I have to say on the subject.

I leave further comment to Christopher Hitchens [here].

The Good President (continued) -- Guantanamo

Well, it took a while, but our fine young President, on the very day he announces his re-election bid, finally admits that President Bush was right on Guantanamo, he just can't bring himself to say the worlds. Instead we get [from the NYT]:
WASHINGTON — In a major reversal, the Obama administration has decided to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for his role in the attacks of Sept. 11 before a military commission at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and not in a civilian courtroom. 

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is expected to announce on Monday afternoon that Mr. Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the attacks, and four other accused conspirators will face charges before a panel of military officers, a law enforcement official said. The Justice Department has scheduled a press conference for 2 p.m. Eastern time. 
Read it here.

Another tacit admission that on all the things that really matter, Bush was right.

Things Fall Apart

The liberal-progressive synthesis that has dominated our political culture through most of the past century is rapidly disintegrating. Jonah Goldberg points out some of the most prominent instances:
For the last two years, the old ways of Washington have been crashing down like pillars of Mordor at the end of The Lord of the Rings.

Then-candidate Obama was himself fond of noting that the conventional wisdom — or “CW” — was that a black guy with a funny name could never be elected president.  

Coming into office during a wrenching financial crisis, the conventional wisdom was that the American people would rally around New Deal policies. At least that’s what liberal historians and political scientists said they should do.

The experts were wrong.
He discusses a number of other areas in which the 

The reason, of course, that the conventional expert opinion has regularly, and sometimes spectacularly, been wrong in its assumptions is that the political culture is changing. In hindsight you can see the harbingers -- the tax revolt, Perot, the success of anti-Washington candidates, etc. but intellectual habits die hard. It will take a real shock to the system to finally convince the political class that the old progressive nostrums no longer apply.

Now who is going to administer that shock.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Good President (continued) -- TARP

In the avalanche of anti-Bush hysteria ginned up by political opportunists and journalistic know nothings in the past few years every one of his actions has been subject to intense criticism -- none more so than TARP [Troubled Asset Relief Program] created by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, signed into law back in October, 2008. Variously attacked as a "bailout" for Wall Street, a "takeover" of the banking industry, and a mean-spirited and limited failure to respond effectively in the face of economic collapse, TARP has actually been one of the most successful government responses to an economic crises in history. At least that is what Robert Samuelson has argued. He writes:
It isn’t often that the government launches a major program that achieves its main goals at a tiny fraction of its estimated costs. That’s the story of TARP — the Troubled Assets Relief Program. Created in October 2008 at the height of the financial crisis, it helped stabilize the economy, using only $410 billion of its authorized $700 billion. And most of that will be repaid. The Congressional Budget Office, which once projected TARP’s ultimate cost at $356 billion, now says $19 billion

This could go lower.

One lesson of the financial crisis is this: When the entire financial system succumbs to panic, only the government is powerful enough to prevent a complete collapse. Panics signify the triumph of fear. TARP was part of the process by which fear was overcome. It wasn’t the only part, but it was an essential part. Without TARP, we’d be worse off today.
Indeed we would! One might quibble with some ways in which the Obama administration has administered the program -- I certainly would -- but as originally conceived and signed into law by President Bush it has been a stunning accomplishment. It is important to appreciate this. TARP is one of the few examples in which the government has responded effectively to economic crisis. There will be other such crises and it will be to nobody's benefit if the shining example set by President Bush should be buried under a cloud of politically-inspired acrimony.

Read Samuelson's column here.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Film Studies 101: Gone With the Wind as a Postapocalyptic Epic

An interesting take on one of the greatest films of all time. A world destroyed and then the saga of survivors' attempt to rebuild their ruined lives.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Obama and the "Three Graces"

Victor Davis Hanson, the great summarizer, asks the question:
how did Obama, the archetype war critic, find himself bombing—in optional and preemptive fashion, and without congressional authority — an Arab Muslim oil-exporting country, and one that posed no immediate threat to American national security, despite being governed by a monster who, nevertheless, had been recently courted by Western intellectuals, academics, universities, and diplomats?
His answer is the best, most coherent, short summary of the crisis I have seen yet.

Read it here.