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  • Archive for October, 2008

    You Should Be Ashamed!

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 24th October 2008 (All posts by )

    Mickey Kaus is a Liberal who will actually try to find out the facts. Kudos to him for that.

    But he does occasionally descend into Left wing incoherence. A prime example is a short post entitled Ride My See-Saw. (Click on this link, and scroll down to the post at the 1:21 PM mark.)

    Mr. Kaus is taken with the concept of “vertical ticket splitters”, people who don’t automatically cast all of their votes for one party. He attributes their motivation for doing this to guilt. People might vote for Obama in this election, but then carefully cast their remaining votes for Republicans because they feel guilty about…

    Well, I’m not really sure why anyone feels guilt. Mr. Kaus seems to think that the bad feelings all flow from racism.

    “M suggested that voters (especially white, swing voters) who don’t vote for Obama may feel guilty about it and compensate by voting for Democrats in downballot races (Senate and Congress). But the converse of this theory is equally interesting–voters who do pick Obama, may compensate or hedge for what they feel is a bold, guilt-expiating risk by picking Republicans downballot.”

    (snip)

    “…more people will be vertical ticket splitters because of the presence of Obama, who is not only an African American candidate–whom you might feel guilty about not picking–but a relatively unknown candidate whom you might want to hedge against, especially if you voted for him to avoid feeling guilty about not picking him (and then felt guilty about that).”

    (An attempt was made to keep the original emphasis intact. The above is how Mr. Kaus wants you to see his work.)

    This seems extremely odd to me. If someone is a racist, then by definition they genuinely believe that a person’s race disqualifies them in some way. Makes the minority candidate unable to do a decent job simply because of their heritage, so to speak.

    Seen in this light, it becomes obvious that racists are not going to be effected in any way by guilty feelings. Why would anyone, racist or otherwise, feel guilty about voting for what they see as the more capable choice? If anything, racists would feel pride in voting for their prejudices because they would think that they are acting for the greater good. So why go on and on about how racists would feel guilt?

    The constant harping on racism from the Left during this election appears to me to have two root causes.

    It seems to me that one cause is pure projection from Liberals. They are going to vote for Obama not because they genuinely believe him to be the best qualified for the job, but due to some bizarre self loathing. White guilt, if you will. Since guilt is the most powerful motivator when they make their political choices, it seems obvious to them that everyone else must also have simmering pools of white hot shame bubbling just beneath the surface. If people just listened to the voice in their heads that said they must make up for being a piece of crap, then everyone would make the same choice. The correct choice!

    The other is a cynical attempt to manipulate swing voters, a propaganda effort to make the Bradley Effect work for the Democrats. If swing voters can be convinced that they will be perceived as racists by voting for anyone other than Obama, maybe a significant percentage will vote for the candidate that they would otherwise feel is too inexperienced to handle the job. Pretty much force people to vote for the least qualified candidate.

    I must confess, dear reader, that it makes me feel distinctly uncomfortable to climb up on my analyst’s couch and try to plumb the mental depths of complete strangers. Not only am I obviously unqualified, it also strikes me as the height of arrogance to even try. But I feel justified since the Left in general, and Mr. Kaus specifically, are not constrained to keep to their area of expertise.

    To close, I would have to say that the only people who should be feeling guilty are the Liberals who scream “Racism!” at the drop of a hat. Have they no shame?

    (Hat tip to Glenn.)

    Posted in Elections, Human Behavior, Leftism, Politics | 4 Comments »

    What More Could Ayers Have Done?

    Posted by Shannon Love on 23rd October 2008 (All posts by )

    Sometime back, I ask a question: What would Ayers (or anyone else) have to have done and what unrepented beliefs would he have to still hold, such that Obama’s supporters would consider it a fatal lapse of judgment for Obama to have associated with Ayers? 

    To this day Ayers has never refuted his Maoist beliefs and he has only weakly repented of his violent acts.  Just to tally up the list of Ayers’s extremism:

    1) During the early ’70s, Ayers’s Weathermen cell attempted to burn a judge, his wife and three children alive with three gasoline bombs. A neighbor risked his life to prevent the largest bomb from detonating. 

    2) Ayers personally designed a large anti-personal fragmentation bomb (a mass of explosives surrounded by nails) that he intended to detonate at a dance attended by U.S. Army personnel and their dates. Instead, the bomb exploded during its construction killing two Weathermen.

    3) Ayers was/is a radical Maoist communist who sought/seeks the complete destruction of America. He sought to destroy liberal democracy, basic human rights and institute Stalinist/Maoist totalitarian rule.

    4) In service to his goal (3) he sought the invasion of America by communist powers in the Soviet Union, Mao-ruled China, Castro-ruled Cuba and other communist states. (see 5 below)

    5) He calmly contemplated the mass murder of 25 million Americans [h/t Instapundit] who would refuse to convert to communism following the revolution. 

    Honestly, what more could he possibly do to place himself beyond the pale? What more would he have to have done such that Obama supporters would consider it unacceptable that leftist Chicago embraced him? What more could he have done such that they would say, “Okay, Obama’s association with Ayers casts doubts on his fitness to be president?” 

    What? What? What? What?

    Posted in Leftism, Politics | 29 Comments »

    Why Socialism Will Not Die: Meat!

    Posted by Shannon Love on 23rd October 2008 (All posts by )

    Despite all the death, misery and poverty that socialism has wreaked over the past century on all scales from Stalin to Detroit, one would think that a species capable of learning would figure out that socialism’s negatives eventually outweigh its positives. Worse, looking back across the history of humanity, we see  the core socialist idea of forced redistribution occurring again and again across culture after culture. 

    Why do humans seem to have an in-built urge for socialism? Why won’t it die? I think socialism will not die because primitive humans lacked refrigerators. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Science | 25 Comments »

    Outblogging the MSM

    Posted by John Jay on 23rd October 2008 (All posts by )

    I belong to an internet group called the UCF, who started out as members of John Scalzi’s Wateveresque forum until an army of trolls came in and set up residence in that once-fine space. We gradually retreated to our own blogs and set up an online community for ourselves. Most of us are aspiring writers, all of us are science fiction fans, and we’re all a little goofy, but that’s about where the similarity ends. We run the political spectrum from socialist to me. There is a lawyer, a film and TV location manager, an administrative assistant at JPL, and editor for Linux Journal, several other IT professionals of various stripes, an architect, a marine biologist, and a former Navy Chief Warrant turned writer and woodworker, among others (oh yeah, and me, a chemist). Over time, I’ve come to regard all of them as friends, although I’ve only met two of them in meatspace. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Human Behavior, Science | 23 Comments »

    A Letter to David Kolata at CUB

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 23rd October 2008 (All posts by )

    The Citizen’s Utility Board or “CUB” is a non-profit group that represents the consumers of the state of Illinois against the interests of the electric, gas and telecom utilities. Their web site is www.citizensutilityboard.org and I recently joined their membership ranks so now I see their periodic newsletter. David Kolata is the Executive Director of CUB (his photo is on the article, above).

    HISTORY OF CUB

    CUB was started in the mid-80’s. While there are many elements to CUB, the most relevant was their opposition to the big electric rate hikes that ComEd (now Exelon) was pushing through in the 1980’s, as their giant nuclear plants, plagued by cost overruns, came on line.

    How the “rate setting process” works is that the utility will come forward and request a hike in rates, as well as the changes in rates by customer classes (business, residential, etc…). The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) typically decides whether or not the rate hike will be allowed and how much of the utility’s request to grant. CUB was established to represent the citizens of the state and generally this means fighting to keep the rate increase as small as possible. Typically the utility asks for $100M, CUB says give them nothing (or they owe us a refund), and then the ICC makes a decision somewhere along the continuum.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Chicagoania, Energy & Power Generation | 6 Comments »

    Useful Analysis

    Posted by Ginny on 22nd October 2008 (All posts by )

    What happens when the voter in the exact middle of the earnings spectrum receives more in benefits from Washington than he pays in taxes? Economists Allan Meltzer and Scott Richard posed this question 27 years ago. We may soon enough know the answer.  Paul L. Caron

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 13 Comments »

    Post-Implementation Audit Review

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 22nd October 2008 (All posts by )

    yes, it smelled good

    – of the rendezvous, that is. PIAR Items:

    Issue 1

    • Description: Overcorrected for anticipated too-early arrival time.
    • Area of Improvement: Change Management
    • Root Cause: Assumed functional highway network. Ha!
    • Mitigation: Allow 2x as much time if going anywhere on the Edens or the Kennedy.

    Issue 2

    • Description: Initially parked in wrong garage.
    • Area of Improvement: Documentation
    • Root Cause: Didn’t ask hotel operator for detailed instructions.
    • Mitigation: Ask next time.

    Issue 3

    • Description: Missed rendezvous with Carl.
    • Area of Improvement: Communication
    • Root Cause: Didn’t check comments on planning post after early Saturday morning.
    • Mitigation: Graze (Midwesterners don’t surf) through the blog at T-2 hours. Exchange mobile phone numbers. Buy Carl a plate of barbecue.

    Issue 4

    • Description: Wore Bill out walking too far.
    • Area of Improvement: Planning
    • Root Cause: Unduly elaborate itinerary.
    • Mitigation: Traveling-salesman algorithm; taxicabs (implemented).

    Issue 5

    • Description: Appeared drab and uninteresting by comparison with other attendees.
    • Area of Improvement: Work Error (1959-present)
    • Root Cause: Couldn’t keep up with Bill’s knowledge of Chicago goings-on and economy/tax issues or Tatyana’s tales of camping trips on river islands in Siberia and eye for architectural/design details.
    • Mitigation: Surround self with boring friends, or just get a lot more people to show up next time so I can revert to lurk mode.

    Best Practices (I did do some things right)

    * yep, swiped it from Stephen Green, who I’m pretty sure swiped it from this

    Posted in Architecture, Blogging, Chicagoania, Diversions, Humor, Management, Photos | 2 Comments »

    Obama, the Democrats, and the Economy

    Posted by David Foster on 22nd October 2008 (All posts by )

    As I pointed out in the post below this one, “the economy” cannot be separated from security and foreign policy issues. Security and foreign-policy disasters can easily lead to economic devastation, and voters would do well to bear this in mind.

    But in this post, I’d like to talk about the economy per se. This is the first part of a long post; it will be extended within the next couple of days.

    I think that an Obama administration, combined with a Democratic-controlled Congress, would do grave and long-lasting damage to the American economy. Several specific points:

    1)Energy. The Democrats, and the vast array of “activists” whom they enable, have demonstrated hostility to all practical forms of energy production and distribution. This is not just a matter of oil & gas drilling: as we have discussed many times on this blog, the U.S. electrical system faces a problematic future. There is every likelihood that, under a Democratic administration/Congress:

    a)The building of new coal plants would go from “difficult” to “impossible”
    b)The building of nuclear plants would continue to be virtually impossible
    c)Even the building of new natural-gas-fired plants would be severely delayed by environmental lawsuits and regulatory maneuvering based on the CO2-is-a-pollutant theory.

    Solar and wind, beloved of Democrats, have their uses, but they also have their limitations. I see no evidence that either Obama or the Dem Congressional leadership has any interest in understanding the technical and economic factors that govern the extent to which these technologies can be practically employed. The intermitant nature of wind and usable sun, the difficulty of storing electricity, the supply-chain constraints which govern the large-scale introduction of any new technology–there is much less interest in these things than in the glib repetition of catch-phrases. And even the use of environmentally-blessed technologies will be greatly inhibited by environmentalist protests against the transmission lines required to connect these systems to the cities that need their power. These activists would, of course, gain great impetus from a Democratic administration.

    Obama talks a lot about the middle class. The existence of a large and affluent middle class is enabled by widely available and reasonably priced energy, especially electricity. If electric rates are driven up by a factor of 2X or 3X, as is entirely possible with Democratic policies, there will be not only a direct effect on consumers, but an effect on virtually all workers as U.S. businesses–especially manufacturing businesses but also things like data centers–become less competitive.

    Lenin once remarked that “Communism is Soviet power plus electrification.” Our present “progressives” seem more interested in de-electrification. Where the New Deal (and the Soviets) wanted to build hydroelectric dams, today’s “progressives” are, for the most part, more interested in destroying them.

    Remember, electrical infrastructure is a long-leadtime item, and if we dig outselves into a deep hole in this matter, it will take a long, long time to dig ourselves out.

    No one should kid themselves that because gasoline prices are on a downtrend at the moment the gas-price problem is solved. Even if economic stagnation in the U.S. persists for a long time, a recovery in the Far East will drive demand–and, absent new supply, prices. Drilling in the U.S. is important not only for gasoline and diesel supplies but for supplies of natural gas–this commodity also comes from wells, and often from the very same wells that produce oil. This is something that Nancy Pelosi, with her apparent belief that natural gas is not a fossil fuel, does not appear to grasp.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Elections, Energy & Power Generation, Politics, Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

    Important Reading

    Posted by David Foster on 22nd October 2008 (All posts by )

    Ralph Peters on some of the foreign policy and national security issues at stake in this election.

    Those planning to cast their votes based primarily on economic issues should consider: there is a strong link between national security and the economy. If we have multiple terror attacks of the 9/11 scale (or higher), the economy will be in shreds. If the Iranians close the Straits of Hormuz, gasoline prices will soar. If the Russians bully Western Europe with sustained natural gas shortages, the result could be an actual global depression.

    (via Maggie’s Farm)

    Posted in Elections, Europe, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Military Affairs, Terrorism | Comments Off on Important Reading

    “Managing by the Numbers”

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 22nd October 2008 (All posts by )

    A recent article in Business Week is titled “Managing by the Numbers” and it focuses on IBM’s attempt to build a system to assign staff to appropriate engagements around the world. Rather than relying on manual processes, a central planning group is gathering capabilities for each of their employees and attempting to let the computer match skills to opportunities.

    I have a lot of experience in consulting at a number of different organizations. If you are interested in the challenges (and opportunities) of running or being part of a professional services organization, I suggest that you read “Managing the Professional Services Firm” by David Maister.

    The types of examples given in the book are staffing a web services engagement in the Philippines; there is an expensive (high ranking) consultant on the bench (meaning – unassigned and not currently earning income for the firm) in a faraway country vs. a less skilled (and cheaper) local consultant who could also be assigned to the job – which to choose? This is the type of “problem” that the program is supposed to solve. The implied conceit is that consultants are interchangeable, and you can just build a team out of individual skill sets, have them show up at the work site, and pull off the engagement.

    When I worked at one of the large consulting firms, in order to save space, they went to a “hoteling” concept. Since consultants were usually on the road and not in the office, some bean counter figured that it would be cheaper to not give anyone a permanent office and just have them occupy whatever space was available on the occasion that they had to work in town. The company did attempt to link your phone to your location and sometimes even had a nameplate ready for you, along with a little cart for your office supplies, so you were able to get started working with a minimum of effort. The company only had to have office space for the people likely to show up, which was maybe 25% of the total staff on a given day, saving them in rent money.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Human Behavior | 6 Comments »

    Opting for a Really Big Deductible

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 21st October 2008 (All posts by )

    Our fellow Chicago Boy, Steven den Beste, has posted some thoughts about piracy on his own personal blog. He thinks that the recent plan to allow NATO warships to form an anti-pirate patrol off of Somalia is not the optimal solution to the problem. Instead he thinks that a few heavily armed squads of soldiers, placed on a civilian ship as it traverses pirate infested waters, would do the trick.

    I have been writing regularly about maritime piracy for years now. Most of my previous posts were lost when my former ISP abruptly terminated service, but the idea of hiring mercenaries for short term security in dangerous waters is hardly new. The concept of having regular military troops perform the same job merely transfers the cost from the private shipping company to the taxpayer.

    But the same problem which prevented the shipping companies from hiring private soldiers keeps them from allowing government troops on board. And that problem is higher insurance premiums.

    Back when I first became interested in the problem in 2001, ship captains who had to navigate through areas with heavy pirate activity were given $20,000 in cash. The idea was that the money was to be kept in the ship’s safe, and paid to any group of pirates who managed to make their way on board. Danegeld on the high seas.

    But we all know what happens if you pony up the Danegeld. The idea that a mere $20K would satisfy a self respecting pirate band today is ludicrous. And it will probably get worse before it gets better.

    Anyone interested in maritime piracy is encouraged to read the ICC Piracy Report, a free weekly update listing attacks on shipping. One thing that becomes painfully obvious very quickly is that pirate attacks are becoming more frequent, the pirates are demanding ever increasing amounts to return control of the ships they take, and the pirates are becoming ever more violent in an effort to coerce the shipping companies to pay up.

    One would assume that the huge amounts demanded by pirate bands recently is a prime motivator for shipping companies to hire some mercs, but that is only if you discount the enormous number of vessels that daily move through the major shipping lanes. Four, eight, ten, a dozen ships might be held for big money, but hundreds more manage to move through those waters every day without having any problems. The increase in money paid to the insurance companies if troops were allowed on board is still greater than the cash paid out to the pirates.

    Right now we are seeing a fluid situation that is trying to reach equilibrium. The pirates won’t stop because they get some really good money for attacking maritime vessels, and there is very little risk. The shipping companies will continue to pay ransom money as long as it is cheaper than increased insurance premiums. The pirates will continue to demand ever larger payouts as long as they are ultimately handed the cash.

    If things are allowed to develop as they have been, eventually the shipping companies would begin to balk at the huge amounts that the pirates would demand. Then I expect the pirates would turn into terrorists, executing the captured crews in public and highly visible ways in an attempt to get the money spigot turned back on. It would only be at this point, with insurance premiums climbing because of the increased chance of murder, that the shipping firms would begin to look to resisting piracy in an aggressive and effective way.

    The decision by NATO to begin anti-piracy patrols is probably seen by the shipping companies as a possible solution, and one that they won’t have to pay for out of their own pocket. It would work if the warships tasked to hunting down the pirates would actually shoot a few of them, but I really don’t expect that to happen.

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Military Affairs, Predictions, Transportation | 17 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st October 2008 (All posts by )

    Jeff Medcalf in a comment on a post by Rand Simberg:

    It’s funny, but Adelman exactly fits a pattern I’ve been noticing. Excluding low-information voters, who largely vote on emotional or tribal bases, the people that I am seeing supporting Obama largely hope that he doesn’t mean what he says, while those that oppose him largely believe he means exactly what he says.

    Hmm, where have we read similar ideas?

    UPDATE: Richard Epstein’s thoughts.

    Posted in Politics, Quotations | 6 Comments »

    First Tobacco, Now Food

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 21st October 2008 (All posts by )

    I was not happy with the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement for many reasons.

    One of my main objections was that the entire premise behind the complaint against the tobacco industry was that they used advertising to control the minds of their customers. It seems extremely obvious that the dangers of using tobacco were well established long before my birth in 1964, yet it was claimed that tens of millions of Americans were too stupid or weak minded to pay attention. Consenting adults in this country could be trusted to choose political leaders in elections, but they were helpless to resist when confronted with a picture of the Marlboro Man.

    One of the most moronic claims by the anti-tobacco crowd was that the cartoon advertising mascot Joe Camel was enslaving the youth of America. It was said that children recognized Joe more readily than they did Mickey Mouse, even though the cigarette ads only ran for 9 years and giant amusement parks featuring the anthropomorphic camel were never constructed. It looked to me to be a blatant attempt to demonize an industry in order to force them to pony up some cash.

    The title of this article is “10 Things the Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know”, and it shows that some people figure the same methods used against Big Tobacco will work just fine when applied to the food industry.

    Click on that last link and all the same tricks are on display. Food companies target little kids to advertise unhealthy food. They sponsor studies that obscure the fact that unhealthy food is bad for you. The industry puts pressure on legislators to keep them from passing laws limiting consumer access to fattening and sweet foods. They bankroll front groups which fight anti-obesity laws. And so on.

    This appears to me to be exactly the same tactics used against tobacco companies. They are evil, unconcerned with the health of their customers, and all too willing to employ Jedis working on Madison Avenue to use their powers on the minds of vulnerable little children. (“Broccoli is not what you want to eat! Ice Cream would be much nummier!”)

    The author of the article claims that obesity is a major health concern, and I have no problem with that. But I do object to the idea that people in this country are so stupid that they just can’t figure out that eating unhealthy foods will make you unhealthy.

    How long will it take before state legislatures combine resources to blackmail the food industry into making a huge payment? I figure about ten years on the outside.

    I see the campaign against the tobacco industry, and now the food industry, as an attack on the free market system. Free markets means free choice, which means that individuals have to be allowed to make bad personal choices if that is what they want to do.

    I mean, isn’t that the very basis of American society?

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Political Philosophy, Predictions | 10 Comments »

    Swimming, Soaring, and Biting Dragon

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 21st October 2008 (All posts by )

    There are a few essays filed today at Strategypage.com that concern how China is developing into a credible future threat.

    One of the most exciting developments in weapon systems over the past several years has been the emergence of sophisticated Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, robot planes that are controlled from the ground which are unfettered by the frailties that come with having a human pilot on board. This article details how the Chinese are looking to field their own version of the Global Hawk, one of the more capable UAVs in the US arsenal.

    The reason why this is interesting to observers in the West is due to the fact that this new aircraft is intended to be used for maritime patrol, even though China is hardly a great naval power. The only credible justification of the expense for development and deployment of the new weapon is as yet another tool to be used in the military conquest of Taiwan, a goal the communist government of China has never been shy about expressing.

    The Chinese have no real chance of landing troops on Taiwan unless they first neutralize any US aircraft carriers in the region. This article details how Chinese submarines are stalking American carriers, something that strongly reminds me of the bad old days of Soviet/American cat and mouse naval games during the Cold War.

    If you should be moved to click on that last link, please note how some Chinese subs are being deployed even though they are unsuited to this kind of work because of excessive noise. This shows that the Chinese military understands that real world training is paramount if one is to have an effective military. It also indicates that they are well aware that the Americans are very unlikely to attack the Chinese vessels, and so they can gain that training at very little risk to their scarce and expensive submarine fleet.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in China, International Affairs, Military Affairs, War and Peace | 3 Comments »

    USS Juneau

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 21st October 2008 (All posts by )

    While visiting Alaska we toured the capital city Juneau. Juneau lies on a small flat section of land among towering mountain peaks and is very scenic. Along the water front huge cruise ships were moored, disgorging tourists to wander the local shops. So what catches MY eye…

    A plague commemorating the USS Juneau, of course. The USS Juneau was a US light cruiser of the “Atlanta” class, and was relatively small in size. “Light” cruisers at the time generally carried 6 inch guns, and “Heavy” cruisers carried 8 inch guns (for comparison, battleships carried guns in the 14 to 18 inch range). The Atlanta class light cruisers had five inch guns, in twin mount turrets, and in some ways were just larger destroyers. On the other hand, they were revolutionary in that they were Anti-aircraft cruisers, similar to the British “Dido” class, which performed valuable duties especially protecting the Malta convoys which ran through heavy Axis air attack routes.< While I knew this right away it probably isn't common knowledge that the Juneau was the ship that, in a way, inspired the movie "Saving Private Ryan". The Juneau was the ship where the famous five Sullivan brothers all served as sailors. The Juneau was sunk by the Japanese off Guadalcanal in late 1942; the ship was struck by one of the powerful torpedoes and it sank quickly. Three of the brothers died when the ship sank and the other two died at sea while awaiting rescue. I did not realize it until I read the wikipedia site that the situation of the survivors was comparable to that of the Indianapolis, which was immortalized in “Jaws”, in that they were adrift at sea for several days before they were rescued, and that is why only ten survived out of a compliment of 700 sailors.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Military Affairs | 1 Comment »

    An Old Topic

    Posted by Ginny on 20th October 2008 (All posts by )

    Todd Zywicki has a post “Intelligence versus Glibness”.  It rehashes arguments we sometimes discuss here (sufficiently that we probably don’t need to start again, though Shannon is often quite interesting when he discourses on the articulate in empty suits).  Still if any of our readers long to analyze Palin’s sentences, they can take themselves to the sanctuary of Volokh’s comments.  (It was inspired by Randall Hooven’s American Thinker essay, “Judging who’s Smart.”) 

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Elections | 6 Comments »

    The Longing for a Messiah

    Posted by Ginny on 20th October 2008 (All posts by )

    Update:  If the links below the jump haven’t sufficiently creeped you out, here’s another example a friend sent:  the Obama Votive candle.

    Teaching  eighteenth and nineteenth century writers, I wonder about the “Awakenings” of  the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Looking back, we see the passion they generated. Edwards says in a letter that

    This town never was so full of love, nor so full of joy, nor so full of distress as it has lately been.  Some persons have had those longing desires after Jesus Christ, that have been to that degree as to take away their strength and very much to weaken them, and make them faint.  Many have been overcome with a sense of the dying love of Christ, so that the home of the body has been ready to fail under it. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Elections, Religion | 7 Comments »

    The Rotten Acorn

    Posted by Shannon Love on 20th October 2008 (All posts by )

    A lot of people like to explain that the fake registrations that ACORN submitted resulted from either (1) the inevitable mistakes of registering millions of voters or (2) workers paid for meeting quotas defrauding ACORN itself by filing false registrations. 

    I think both the explanations superficially valid. Given my experience in large corporations and a grasp of statistics, I find it perfectly creditable that:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Politics | 9 Comments »

    Random Thoughts

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th October 2008 (All posts by )

    The big war (not the Iraq campaign) isn’t over. We have continuing problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but we’ve suppressed our enemies for a while in most places. However, eventually we are going to have to fight large battles again, because our enemies will eventually attack us in a way that we can’t ignore. I suspect that we are now in a situation like that of Israel, which has never been allowed or willing to defeat its enemies decisively and so has to fight a major campaign every decade or so. We will probably have to keep fighting until we develop the political will to win decisively. This is going to be true no matter who is President or which party is in charge in Washington.

    One counterexample to my speculations is Korea, where we have been in a mostly peaceful stalemate for more than fifty years. And there are always conflicts simmering around the world that rarely do us harm. But North Korea is an isolated regime that seems likely to fall apart eventually. Radical Islam is a much more distributed, dynamic, ambitious and aggressive enemy that does not seem likely to stop fighting unless it is defeated. Remember the anecdotes that suggest that the Syrians and Iranian mullahs and Hamas want Obama to win? The usual assumption by Obama critics is that Hamas et al favor Obama because they think he’s one of them. I suggest that they are favoring him because they think he’ll pursue policies that will make it easier for them to defeat us.

    In the old days America could walk away from wars, because most of the costs of our walking away would be borne by non-Americans. Technology has removed this security and we should update our sense of security accordingly. Most of us haven’t, or have become complacent, because 9/11 now feels like distant history. But the metaphor of distance is misleading here. We are not physically more distant from threats; advances in technology and in the technological sophistication of our enemies may even make us more vulnerable. Like it or not we are probably going to be at war for many more years, even if it doesn’t feel like war most of the time.

    Posted in International Affairs, Israel, National Security, Predictions, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 15 Comments »

    Questions from Outside the Loop

    Posted by Ginny on 19th October 2008 (All posts by )

    Andrew Sullivan can still write well; he can even be thoughtful and interesting; A&L links to “Why I Blog,” in the November Atlantic.  The essay makes several points about the difference between writing an essay, writing for a newspaper and blog writing.  He remarks 

    Blogging is therefore to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.

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    Posted in Blogging | 6 Comments »

    Quick Climate Change Debate

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 18th October 2008 (All posts by )

    You might be interested in this 38 minute video. It is a debate between Bjorn Lomborg and Myles Allen.

    If you will excuse the pun, it gets a little heated.

    (Hat tip to Milo.)

    Posted in Science | 13 Comments »

    What’s Next?

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 17th October 2008 (All posts by )

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008 is likely to be a decisive day in the credit crunch. That day is when credit default swaps (CDS) on Lehman Brothers debt will be settled.

    Credit default swaps are sort of like insurance. One party offers, for a fee, to guarantee a certain bond against a “credit event,” usually something like a default, missed interest payment, restructuring, etc. If that happens, the insurer (seller) pays the difference between the bond’s face value and what it is worth after the event. In the case of Lehman Brothers, the company’s bankruptcy means that the sellers of the CDS will have to pay about $91 for every $100 of par value insured, since those bonds were selling for $8.65 per $100 par value at auction on October 10. Because there is no central market or clearing house for CDS trading, no one has a complete story on who will be paying and who will be trying to collect. The gross notional amount of credit default swaps on Lehman Brothers debt is believed to be approximately $300 billion to $400 billion. One hopes that the net amount is a lot less, maybe less than $10 billion after offsetting positions are netted out. One hopes, but one does not know.

    (Update 10/19/2008: SEC Chairman Christopher Cox has a piece on the CDS issue in the New York Times.)

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    Posted in Economics & Finance, Markets and Trading | 7 Comments »

    Obamian Acolytes vs Joe the Plumber

    Posted by David Foster on 17th October 2008 (All posts by )

    Ever since Joe Wurzelbacher had his interchange with Barack Obama, “progressive” websites and left-leaning media have been working to discredit Joe and harm him. Indeed, much of the media has shown more interest in investigating Joe than they ever showed in investigating Senator Obama or asking him tough questions. The Anchoress has a summary and round-up of links; see also Hot Air and the thoughtful post at Bookworm Room.

    The message is pretty clear: If you dare to challenge a candidate beloved by the “progressive” movement, they will do everything they can to destroy you. You’d better be careful that all aspects of your life are squeaky clean and that your family can stand abuse: otherwise, just keep your mouth shut and don’t challenge those who know better than you. Mess with Obama, and you’ll never plumb in this town again.

    John McCain:

    Last weekend, Senator Obama showed up in Joe’s driveway to ask for his vote, and Joe asked Senator Obama a tough question. I’m glad he did; I think Senator Obama could use a few more tough questions.

    The response from Senator Obama and his campaign yesterday was to attack Joe. People are digging through his personal life and he has TV crews camped out in front of his house. He didn’t ask for Senator Obama to come to his house. He wasn’t recruited or prompted by our campaign. He just asked a question. And Americans ought to be able to ask Senator Obama tough questions without being smeared and targeted with political attacks.

    Neptunus Lex quotes the old Japanese saying: “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” Today’s “progressives” want very much to hammer down nails in America.

    Here’s what I think is going on: Over the last 20 years, too many of America’s universities have become places in which conformity is at a premium and genuinely independent thought is discouraged–“islands of repression in a sea of freedom,” as someone put it. It was inevitable that the spririt of repression inculculated in the universities would begin to poison the larger society, and that is now happening.

    Here’s an item which I think is related: It’s been reported that at a (rare, small) McCain rally in NYC, somebody grabbed a McCain sign and beat up the woman carrying it. Beat her up physically, not metaphorically.

    We seem to have a substantial population of “progressives” who simply cannot abide the idea that anyone would disagree with their policies and/or principles, and these people are, increasingly, a primary constituency–maybe the primary constituency–of the Democratic party. What would happen to free speech in a country with a Democratic administration and a Democratic-controlled Congress and (after a lapse of time) a court system dominated by Democratic appointees? I don’t want to be alarmist, but I think there’s something to be concerned about here.

    More on Joe the Plumber from Neo, who has video and sees a rather “sneering and condescending” attitude on Obama’s part. “Sneering” might be a little too strong, but “snide and condescending” would IMNSHO be appropriate.

    Snideness and smears should not be a recipe for electoral success in this country.

    (some of the above links via Instapundit)

    Update: See If the jackboot fits from Iowahawk; also Villagers with Torches.

    Posted in Education, Elections, Leftism, Politics | 21 Comments »

    Hungry? Pizza!

    Posted by Jonathan on 17th October 2008 (All posts by )

    pizza joint

    Have a slice on us.

    Posted in Photos | Comments Off on Hungry? Pizza!

    Bits to Remind Us – The Election Nears

    Posted by Ginny on 16th October 2008 (All posts by )

    1)  I, for one, am glad Americans fit my assumptions better than those of snarky reporters:  that’s the subtext of the Great Aggregator’s aggregation.  And we wonder yet again at the power of transference.

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    Posted in Education, Elections, Music | 10 Comments »