Monday, January 31, 2011

Opposition to GM Organisms Hard to Justify

The basic theme of "Frankenstein" is, "There are things Man was not meant to know". The American Spectator : Opposition to GM Organisms Hard to Justify

Opposition to GMO's usually falls into one of three categories: (1) Biotech and "Big Agribusiness" want to make money at the expense of poor farmers; (2) GMO's are unnatural, and hence, undesirable; and (3) GMO's should not be made until proven safe for humans and the environment.

While #1 might be true, it is a matter of business ethics, not science. #2 is the biological equivalent of the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) argument; it is based entirely on emotion, not facts. Besides, all agriculture is "unnatural." The only truly "natural" way for people to eat is to be hunter-gatherers. Most people probably aren't ready for that lifestyle change.

#3 is the only scientific argument, but it has been mostly addressed. GMO's are already known to be completely safe for human consumption. The vast majority of corn and soybeans in the US are genetically modified. (And corn and soybeans are used in a lot of different foods found in the grocery store.) The concern for the environment is legitimate, but evidence already indicates that GM crops have few adverse effects on the environment. Of course, GM crops need to be carefully monitored for their ecological safety over the long-term, but this is not a sufficient cause to block their use right now.

There might be a case for concern over rogue scientists concocting a The White Plague, but the technology to do this already exists, and scientists out to develop a plague aren't going to register it with the EPA.

Obamacare Unconstitutional

vinsonruling1 31 11
Interesting what you can find in the footnotes.
30 On this point, it should be emphasized that while the individual mandate was clearly “necessary and essential” to the Act as drafted, it is not “necessary and essential” to health care reform in general. It is undisputed that there arevarious other (Constitutional) ways to accomplish what Congress wanted to do.Indeed, I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that "if a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house.” See Interview on CNN’s American Morning, Feb. 5, 2008, transcript available at: In fact, he pointed to the similar individual mandate in Massachusetts --- which was imposed under the state’s police power, a power the federal government does not have --- and opined that the mandate there left some residents “worse off” than they had been before.See Christopher Lee, Simple Question Defines Complex Health Debate, Washington Post, Feb. 24, 2008, at A10 (quoting Senator Obama as saying: "In some cases,there are people [in Massachusetts] who are paying fines and still can't afford[health insurance], so now they're worse off than they were . . . They don't have health insurance, and they're paying a fine . . .”).

Gloria Allred, Pro-Abortion Lobby Jumping the Shark over Tebow Ad

Desperate to find lies where they probably don't exist... Gloria Allred, Pro-Abortion Lobby Jumping the Shark over Tebow Ad - Big Journalism
Ms. Allred’s complaint? That the ad (which she has not seen) will imply or state outright “false” and “misleading information.” You see, Ms. Allred contends that since Mrs. Tebow was living in the Philippines (as a Christian missionary) at the time she became pregnant with Tim, and that since Philippine law prohibits abortion, then she would not have – could not have – been advised by her doctor to have an abortion for health reasons.


Presumably, since Ms. Allred is herself a woman of mature age, she is bound to know that an American citizen, who became pregnant during the late 1980s could very easily have been advised that the pregnancy was in danger, due to prescription drugs ingested by the mother. An American citizen returning to the US from the Philippines to have an abortion – fully legal then – would have been as easy as hopping on a jet plane. Is Ms. Allred suggesting that Mrs. Tebow could not have done this if she had wanted to do it? Surely not. That would be stupid.


Yes, feminists will do everything they can to prevent the other side of the half-choice of abortion from coming to light.

The Closing of the Muslim Mind

Jihad Watch interviews Robert Reilly, author of The Closing of the Muslim Mind
...the Jabariyya (determinists; from jabr - blind compulsion) embraced the doctrine that divine omnipotence requires the absolute determination of man's actions by God. One of the names of God in the Qur'an is Al-Jabbar, the Compeller (59:23), whose power cannot be resisted. God alone authors man's every movement. To say otherwise ties God's hands and limits his absolute freedom. One of the exponents of this view, Jahm b. Safwan (d. 745), argued that man's actions are imputed to him only in the same way as one imputes "the bearing of fruit to the tree, flowing to the stream, motion to the stone, rising or setting to the sun - blooming and vegetating to the earth." As twentieth century Muslim thinker Fazlur Rahman summed up the dispute, "In the eyes of the orthodox, this freedom for man was bondage for God." Their theology made free will anathema. Reality was distorted to fit a deformed theology. Thus we have statements such as this from Ibn Taymiyya, the medieval thinker so in favor with Islamists today: "Creatures have no impact on God since it is God Himself who creates their acts." So freedom for God ended up meaning bondage for man.


It had a very dramatic effect on Islamic theology. It ended it. How can theology explore a God who acts for no reasons? By definition, He becomes incomprehensible. "Allah does what he wills." - Qur'an 14:27 "Dost thou not know that God has the power to will anything?" - Qur'an 2:106 This aspect of Allah was also remarked upon by the Islamist radical Sayyid Qutb in The Shadow of the Qur'an: "Every time the Qur'an states a definite promise or constant law, it follows it with a statement implying that the Divine will is free of all limitations and restrictions, even those based on a promise from Allah or a law of His. For His will is absolute beyond any promise of law." You may also recall the famous remark by Ibn Hazm that the Pope used in the Regensburg Lecture that "God is not bound even by his own word."


Reason was rejected because it is too corrupted by self-interest. But the real, deeper reason is because there is nothing for it to know. Reality is composed of a series of instantaneous miracles directly caused by God's will. Everything is directly done by God, who acts for no reasons. The catastrophic result of this view was the denial of the relationship between cause and effect in the natural world. Therefore, what may seem to be "natural laws," such as the laws of physics, gravity, etc., are really nothing more than God's customs, which He is at complete liberty to break or change at any moment. The consequences of this view were momentous. If creation exists simply as a succession of miraculous moments, it cannot be apprehended by reason. As a result, reality becomes incomprehensible. If unlimited will is the exclusive constituent of reality, there is really nothing left to reason about. In The Incoherence of the Philosophers, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058-1111), perhaps the single most influential Muslim thinker after Mohammed, vehemently rejected Greek thought: "The source of their infidelity was their hearing terrible names such as Socrates and Hippocrates, Plato and Aristotle." Al-Ghazali insisted that God is not bound by any order and that there is, therefore, no "natural" sequence of cause and effect, as in fire burning cotton or, more colorfully, as in "the purging of the bowels and the using of a purgative." Things do not act according to their own natures - they have no natures - but only according to God's will at the moment.

Tucson Tea Party Speaks Out After Weeks of False Accusations & Death Threats

Tucson Tea Party Speaks Out After Weeks of False Accusations & Death Threats | The Gateway Pundit
...This brings us to the second part of the tragedy: the efforts of some to turn this horrific event and investigation into a political witch hunt. The Tucson shooter, by all accounts, acted irrationally and alone. However, the response by certain members of the media and political class was coordinated, pre-meditated, and certainly intended to do harm to people that they disagreed with politically, all the while knowing that there was no real connection.

The term, although rarely now used, is “calumny.” And it didn’t just start on the day of the shooting.

Because lies and intimidation couldn’t silence you, they now seek to ensnare you with a velvet rope of “civility.” The “tone and civility” argument is a wall that will grow ever higher as we try to scale it. No amount of grace, no level of penance, no measure of timidity can ever pay the price of a sin that we didn’t commit. We have been civil, we have shown restraint, we have gathered in large numbers to seek truth and earned the respect of the community for the measured manner that we did this....
For reference: Republican Rhetoric, Right-Wing Terror...

Palin Derangement Syndrome

Why the Left Hates Sarah Palin | FrontPage Magazine

Today, the conversation turned to Sarah Palin and my latest acquaintance blurted out: “Oh I hate her.” Since she did not yet know my politics, and since we were in Los Angeles, it is clear that she expected to hear back what you usually hear back in this city: “Yeah, I hate her, too.” Instead, I asked her why.

At this point I could have predicted her response because it’s the same response you get from liberals no matter who on the Right you’re talking about: “Because she’s stupid.” I replied: “Being stupid is no reason to hate someone, but tell me, which one of her policies do you disagree with?” It wasn’t hard to predict her response: “All of them!”

I continued to push. “Well, then, if it’s all of them, it should be easy for you to name one.” Her reply? “They’re too many to list.”

“So don’t list them, just give me one,” I said.

This went on for awhile until my new acquaintance finally admitted that she didn’t know any of Ms. Palin’s policies. Before she ran off – Democrats always run off when asked to provide facts to justify their hatred for Republicans – I looked her in the eyes and said, “If you don’t know any of her policies, perhaps you should look into them.” She promised she would. She won’t. If there are two things you can count on with Democrats, they are filled with hate and empty of facts.

So why the hate?

First, Ms. Palin is married with children. The Democrat Party’s treasured storyline is that women with children – especially those who take care of them themselves – are oppressed, victimized and doomed to a life without personal fulfillment. Ms. Palin’s life proves them wrong and the Democrats hate her for this. If Ms. Palin were a Democrat she would have offed the last child before he was born so that she could have more “me” time to pursue her own wants and pleasures. There is clearly something very “wrong” with this woman who allowed her “special needs” child to live. They hate her for that.

James Taranto tends to agree.

We'd say this goes beyond mere jealousy. For many liberal women, Palin threatens their sexual identity, which is bound up with their politics in a way that it is not for any other group (possibly excepting gays, though that is unrelated to today's topic).

An important strand of contemporary liberalism is feminism. As a label, "feminist" is passé; outside the academic fever swamps, you will find few women below Social Security age who embrace it.

That is because what used to be called feminism--the proposition that women deserve equality before the law and protection from discrimination--is almost universally accepted today. Politically speaking, a woman is the equal of a man. No woman in public life better symbolizes this than Sarah Palin--especially not Hillary Clinton, the left's favorite icon. No one can deny Mrs. Clinton's accomplishments, but neither can one escape crediting them in substantial part to her role as the wife of a powerful man.


To the extent that "feminism" remains controversial, it is because of the position it takes on abortion: not just that a woman should have the "right to choose," but that this is a matter over which reasonable people cannot disagree--that to favor any limitations on the right to abortion, or even to acknowledge that abortion is morally problematic, is to deny the basic dignity of women.

To a woman who has internalized this point of view, Sarah Palin's opposition to abortion rights is a personal affront, and a deep one. It doesn't help that Palin lives by her beliefs. To the contrary, it intensifies the offense.


What about male Palin-hatred? It seems to us that it is of decidedly secondary importance. Liberal men put down Palin as a cheap way to score points with the women in their lives, or they use her as an outlet for more-general misogynistic impulses that would otherwise be socially unacceptable to express.

Chris Matthews and Michele Bachmann

There are people who just seem to elicit a two-minute hate on the part of otherwise (presumably) sane people. One risk of indulging in the two-minute hate is people who aren't initiates to hater's worldview are liable to tune in to the object of the hatred to see what the fuss is about. Who knows what they'll see? Enough, Chris Matthews. Stop Lying About Michele Bachmann’s Iowa Speech - Big Journalism
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews has gone on a three-day Bachmann-bashing binge over a speech she gave in Iowa last weekend. In the speech, Rep. Bachmann pointed out that the scourge of slavery was a horrible chapter in our country’s history, but we should give credit to our forebears who worked tirelessly to eradicate slavery. As an example, she offered up John Quincy Adams and his relentless efforts on behalf of the abolitionist movement.


Matthews, like a rabid dog with a bone, has twisted Rep. Bachmann’s statement and attempted to make it appear as though she is denying that slavery ever happened, or suggesting that Rep. Bachmann thinks our forefathers eradicated slavery. Get the difference? Adams, Franklin and Jefferson are forefathers, Lincoln, Grant and the politicians of the mid-nineteenth century are forebears. Since Mr. Matthews has had many days to reflect on the actual text of Ms. Bachmann’s speech we can no longer give him the benefit of the doubt and suggest that he is merely mistaken. No, at this point the only conclusion to reach is Mr. Matthews is lying.

Crusader Rabbis

Jeff Dunetz charges 400 rabbis with loshon hora (evil speech): Soros-Funded Attack On Glenn Beck Shames Rabbinical Profession, American Jewry - Big Journalism
In today’s Wall Street Journal, four-hundred Rabbis joined with a socialist Jewish organization called Jewish Funds for Justice (JFJ) to bring shame upon themselves, their holy profession and the entire Jewish people, and even worse have committed a Chillul Hashem (desecration of God’s name) with an open letter to Fox News against Glenn Beck.

Loshen Hora is not permitted even when true, but in this case there is nothing to worry about because it’s not true.

I can guarantee you not one of these Rabbis are listeners of Beck, because if they were, they would know that he hadn’t as the letter they signed said made, literally hundreds of on-air references to the Holocaust and Nazis when characterizing people with whom [Beck] disagree[s]. According to Jewish law, if they sign a letter saying that Beck made hundreds of on air references they should see the proof. So I ask Rabbi Steven Wernick, Executive Vice President, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the movement of Judaism of which my family and I are members, where’s the proof? To Rabbi Daniel Nevins, Dean, Jewish Theological Seminary Rabbinical School which recognized my wife and me for community service who also signed the letter, I ask: is this what you want to teach the rabbis of tomorrow? I invite any of the Rabbis who signed this letter did you watch the three day Soros series or did you just read the partial transcript sent to you? Did you know that almost everything that Beck said in those three days came directly out of the mouth of George Soros?


The Jewish Fund for Justice is waging this battle against Glenn Beck as an agent of George Soros. The group receives significant funding Soros’ Open Society Institute, which gave the organization $30,000 in 2008, $150,000 in 2009 and $200,000 in 2010, (H/T Ken Larrey). I wonder if any of the Rabbis who signed this letter knew the motivation, or that before Beck did his three day special on Soros, there was a meeting between senior staff of the two and Soros’ guy warned Beck’s not to do the expose? Of course not! A true rabbi would have called Beck and asked for his side; none did.


On its website the Jewish Funds For Justice has a online library of articles, leadership and facilitation exercises, templates, and other helpful resources for you to utilize in your organizations. Feel free to download and share any of these materials.

An entire section of the library is about the “White Man” as the oppressor. A series of articles which say even if they don’t know it, the Caucasian is a racist and an oppressor, which gives insight into their beliefs behind social justice. This position seems to echo some of the positions of black liberation theology, which have been exposed by the Fox broadcaster. The thought that we are collectively guilty and our salvation will only come if we collectively repent against the social crimes that we have done.
And B. Daniel Blatt notes an apparent double standard"
Where were liberal rabbis when Democrats compared Republicans to Nazis?

It’s Jennifer Rubin, just read the whole thing.

I agree with her that Beck sometimes crosses a line, but he’s no worse than some on the left, like the aforementioned Tennessee Democrat, who regularly use Nazi imagery in describing Republicans.

Fine, criticize Glenn Beck, but then also criticize Steve Cohen. Why did these rabbis fail organize when Democrats and mainstream media outlets crossed this rhetorical line?

Bookworm Room » Democrat, Corruptocrat!

The tendency of the Democrats is to regulate heavily, and then take "contributions" from partners in big business in exchange for waivers. Bookworm Room » Democrat, Corruptocrat!
Democrats are the friends of big business, Conservatives are the friends of small business. Democrat government inevitably ratchets its way to corruptocracy.

If you don’t agree with this, can we at least agree that Democrats favor highly regulated economies and societies and conservatives don’t?

Let me explain with two examples.

1) The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story about how the EPA has decided that milk, because it contains 4% butterfat, should be regulated under the same environmental control standards as petroleum. Consequently, dairy farmers will have to file Federally approve emergency plans on how to deal with “oil spills” and such. Large dairies (some dairies in California milk 10,000 or more cows at a time) will probably be able to comply. Small dairies (goat and sheep milk farms, Vermont dairy producers etc. ) are just out of luck. I happen to know something about the dairy industry – it’s a highly politicized, highly subsidized industry that operates on very thin margins. I’m sure that they will come to an accommodation with the EPA and Federal Government…at a very steep price, politically and $-wise!

2) As it becomes increasingly clear the degree to which Obama Care really is a pig-in-a-poke, there is frantic activity to opt out of it. The numbers of entities that have received waivers from ObamaCare (other than Congress) magically rose from about 200 to 700+ immediately after the SOTU speech. Those entities are large companies and unions on the inside track. The way you get a waiver is to have a lobbyist obtain it on your behalf. Money exchanges hands. Large companies can afford this, small companies…out of luck! If ObamaCare is so great, why the rush by Congress, favored businesses and union to obtain waivers?

Increased regulation is inversely proportional to lobbying activity. The less regulation there is, the less the need to influence government. The more regulation, the more the need to petition the royal aristocracy at a heavy price.
Years ago, I wrote an essay titled "Let's Hear It For Corruption!" Corruption is valuable because it shows where government has assumed too much power. Where you see corruption, that's a sign that there you need to roll back government power and turn things back to the private sector.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Andrew Klavan: The Highway to Hell, Leftist Remix Edition

Blood Libel? You and Sarah Palin Turned Jared Loughner Into a Cold, Calculated Killer

YouTube - PJTV: Blood Libel? You and Sarah Palin Turned Jared Loughner Into a Cold, Calculated Killer

‘Selective Editing’: Jon Stewart Unfairly Rips Bill O’Reilly and a Complicit Left-Wing Media Helps Him - Big Journalism

‘Selective Editing’: Jon Stewart Unfairly Rips Bill O’Reilly and a Complicit Left-Wing Media Helps Him - Big Journalism
I respectfully disagree with O’Reilly that Stewart should be held to a lower factual standard because he’s a “satirist.” Stewart isn’t a satirist, he’s a political partisan disguised as a satirist, a man as determined to defeat the right as Nancy Pelosi and Bill Maher. The difference between Pelosi and Maher, though, is that they step into the arena of political battle and fly their flag. At the very least you can respect them for that. They come to wage open war whereas Stewart and Colbert come to throw rocks while wearing the protective shield of a clown nose.


Another point O’Reilly made that should be highlighted, is how the so-called “objective” or “legitimate” media too often takes what Stewart and Colbert do as some kind of gospel. Because Stewart is a “comedian,” the liberal media uses that as an excuse to blow up what he does on their air or online without bothering to fact-check, even when the stakes involve reputations. We’ve seen this before. Nobody watches “Saturday Night Live” but everyone saw Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin impression. With a smirk, and as though it didn’t matter, the left-wing media let Tina Fey do their dirty work on Palin with the endless looping of those SNL clips all in the name of “fun.” Well, it’s not fun, it’s an attempt to dehumanize someone into a national punchline and the media knew it.

DIY Western Civ Courses

Instapundit has some answers: THE OTHER DAY, READER JASON WHITWORTH ASKED: “For those of us that were in school in the late 80’s/early 90’s and never had a Western Civ course, can you or your readers recommend one?”
Why, yes, he can. Or his readers can.

An anonymous reader emails: “Try The Rise of The West – W H McNeill…”
Rev. Todd Hester emails: “Glenn, Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation is forty years old now, but peerless in my estimation. Clark was an avowed humanist and anti-Marxist, and it showed. I was an English major in the early nineties; it was the basis for my humanities coursework, and was still deeply relevant. I suspect it is more so now.”
Prof. Stephen Clark writes: “In response to Mr. Whitworth, let me bang the drum for Jacques Barzun’s, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life 1500 to the Present. A life’s worth of scholarship has been distilled in this work. Beautifully written, Barzun takes you on a grand 500 year tour of the Western world that will leave you in awe of all that has preceded you, but also in awe of a model of classical scholarship that Barzun represents.” I read that, and it’s excellent.
Linda Seebach emails: “Columbia’s course was called Contemporary Civilization, and Amazon has a number of used copies at reasonable prices (new are ~ $85). I took a version at Gettysburg in the late ’50s, but I don’t think that was ever commercially published. Also links to reading list, study guides online, for instance at”
Reader Dwight Green writes: “I saw the request one emailer made for Western Civ classes. There are many online courses available now at sites like Academic Earth ( or Open culture ( There really is a burgeoning online industry for courses that I’m happy to see. For those that feel overwhelmed at taking courses, their best bet may be exploring the flourishing world of book blogging. Anyone interested, even casually, in reading is sure to find several that fits their tastes and style. For example, I’m currently working my way through Thucydides and posting my thoughts on it…it’s a challenging read but so well worth it.”
Josh Mandir sends: “I think a good start on Western Civilization is the book Carnage and Culture by Victor Davis Hanson. It covers 9 battles in world history from the Battle of Salamis to the Vietnam War, describing the unique properties of Western Civilization. I learned more about Western Civilization (and, really, history overall) than I did in college.”
Reader William Berry emails: “In response to reader Jason Whitworth’s query about a course in Western Civ for one who missed out on it the first time around, I would suggest the seminar reading list at St. John’s College, available at this link . There is Western civilization, laid out in all its glory. St. John’s is the best college most people have never heard of, where the humanities still flourish. Our eldest son is a student there now, and loves it. But if you can’t go there, the next best thing is to work through the readings on your own.”
Claudia Brown writes: “Your reader who’s looking for a Western Civilization course might consider purchasing the textbooks to the Providence College (Rhode Island) two-year Civ core. Two of my kids went to Providence, and we were really impressed with the course. During various campus visits we met other parents who had themselves attended Providence, and looked back on the Civ course as one of the best they ever took, regardless of what they ended up majoring in or what profession they pursued. (You don’t declare a major at Providence until late in Sophomore year — that’s a good sign.) Even without a course, I’m sure the readings textbook would be valuable.”
Andrew Morriss writes: “The Teaching Company has many, many marvelous courses on the essentials of western civilization. Prof. Rufus Fears’ courses on Rome are spectacular – he’s got a great voice! The best ‘why we got rich’ book is Deidre McCloskey’s Bourgeois Dignity – fabulous, well written, erudite, etc. Basically: don’t kill entrepreneurs and be nice to them and your society will prosper. It is the only explanation that fits the data. Her web page is here, and her website has the book for downloading, reviews (including mine), etc.”
Speaking of how-we-got-rich, the classic is Nathan Rosenberg’s How The West Grew Rich. Many readers recommended this.
Reader Will Danford recommends Roots Of Freedom: A Primer On Modern Liberty. “It was written (by my dad – sorry) for college students, but it was adapted from lectures delivered via Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty before the wall fell. It’s a concise summary of the Western political tradition.” Nothing wrong with plugging your dad’s work.
Reader Jonathan Good recommends this video series on the Western Tradition.
And, of course, if you’re in a big hurry, there’s always Andrew Klavan’s video history of Western culture in 2 1/2 minutes.

Pythonisms - Figures of Speech

Rhetorical devices used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Pythonisms - Figures of Speech

PEASANT: “I didn’t expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.”
Cardinal Ximinez: “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise…. Our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency…. Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope…. Ourfour …no… Amongst our weapons…. Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise…. I’ll come in again.”

Figure: metanoia (met-ah-NOY-a), the self-correcting figure.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

David Brooks on the Faults of the Tea Party — Faults That MOST DEFINITELY!!!1!!1! Are Not Shared by Obama

Patterico's Pontifications » David Brooks on the Faults of the Tea Party — Faults That MOST DEFINITELY!!!1!!1! Are Not Shared by Obama
Double Standards in action.

Three Myths about Trash

Three Myths about Trash - Floy Lilley - Mises Daily

There are three things everybody knows when we talk trash:

1. We know we're running out of landfill space;
2. we know we're saving resources and protecting the environment by recycling; and
3. we know no one would recycle if they weren't forced to.

Let's look at these three things we think we know. Are they real or are they rubbish?

James Kibbie - Bach Organ Works

James Kibbie - Bach Organ Works

Political Correctness

Ultimate Issues hour today (11/9/10) dealt with Political Correctness, and Dennis' theory about why the phenomenon exists.

Dennis defines PC as the denial of painful truths. His springboard for this definition was a letter to the editor in response to his essay in the Jewish Journal, "Are People Basically Good?"

He discusses this letter in his response:

"Most revealingly, Mr. Beckmann writes, 'What a sad world it would be if we all believed as Dennis Prager that mankind is inherently evil.'

I did not write that man is inherently evil. I wrote that he is not basically good. And, yes, that does make the world sad. So do disease, earthquakes, death and all the unjust suffering in the world. But sad facts remain facts. A distinguishing characteristic of liberals and leftists is their aversion to acknowledging sad facts (the Soviet Union wasn’t evil; Islam has no more moral problems than Judaism or Christianity; the Palestinians don’t seek Israel’s destruction; there are no inherent differences between boys and girls, just sexist upbringing; the United Nations isn’t a moral wasteland, it’s mankind’s greatest hope; the list is almost limitless)."

Balint Vazsonyi wrote that political correctness originated under Communism, and the term was devised to distinguish "politically correct" things from "factually correct" things. The whole point of "politically correct" is that it refers to things that are *not* factually correct. A political correctness is something which we agree to claim, even though at some level we know it's not true. (Or at the very least, we fear it might not be true?)

One symptom of PC is that when someone goes against PC, the response is one of indignation, and taking offense. In short, one "strikes a nerve". When you strike a nerve in a discussion of purported truths, I think that's a sign you've wandered afoul of someone's notion of PC.

Now to the morsel that provokes my comment here. Dennis claimed that PC exists only on the left. I suppose that's a reasonable belief, particularly if Mr. Vazsonyi has correctly identified the origination of the term. Something invented on the left may be supposed to have stayed on the left. However, I suspect the notion that PC exists only on the left may itself only be politically correct. I can think of at least a few examples of things which provoke the same sort of indignation that Dennis saw in response to his piece. Nerves are just as easily struck on the right as on the left.

I could mention evolution, but I wont. (Oops, I guess I just did. "This is not the Droid you are looking for.") I actually have another example of a topic that strikes Dennis right on an exposed PC nerve: IQ.

Dennis doesn't seem to like the notion of IQ. When "The Bell Curve" came out, he expressed considerable outrage at the notion that people might actually believe in differences in IQ, and he was most especially outraged at the notion that people actually believed different races might have different average IQs.

His argument has been along the lines of: 1) There is no difference between races, so there can be no difference in average IQ between races.
2) IQ doesn't mean anything.
3) If someone claims to find a difference in average IQ, this finding is either wrong (see point 1) or meaningless (see point 2).
4) Anyone who fails to see the validity of the preceding three points is SIXHIRB.

As a result of this PC attitude, the question, "what if there are real differences" may not be asked or considered in any way. The absolute homogeniety, as opposed to equality, or different racial and ethnic groups is taken as an article of faith, because believing otherwise is just not PC.

Media messages

Samizdata quote of the day
It didn’t used to be so hard to get the liberal message heard over the screams of reality. Journalism was once a respected profession where liberals ignored reality to portray themselves as unbiased newsmen while actually pushing people towards liberal ideas and away from thuggish reality. Reality still found ways to occasionally get people to listen to it, whether through economic conditions or war, but its message could be contained. Eventually, though, reality weaseled its way into the media, first through talk radio, then Fox News, and now the internet, where pajama-clad imbeciles with brains too simple to understand anything other than reality spout reality on numerous websites on a daily basis.

Rhetoric during the 80s

Commentary » Blog Archive » Will Rewriting History Silence Conservatives?
Steven Hayward does us a public service by reminding us of what things were really like, with O’Neill saying, among other things, that “evil is in the White House at the present time. And that evil is a man who has no care and no concern for the working class of America and the future generations of America, and who likes to ride a horse. He’s cold. He’s mean. He’s got ice water for blood.”

To Hayward’s examples I would add a January 30, 1984, Associated Press story, which reported this: “Ronald Reagan has been a divider, not a uniter. He has divided our country between rich and poor, between the hopeful and the hopeless, between the comfortable and the miserable. He has not been fair and the people know it. The American people will reject four more years of danger, four more years of pain,’ [Thomas P.] O’Neill said.”

Ronald Reagan was, in fact, a deeply hated figure by liberals when he was president.

How I profited from the Tucson shooting

Within minutes of the announcement that a Congresswoman had been shot in Tucson, the web was awash in a flood of speculation about who the shooter would turn out to be, and what would turn out to make him tick. One of my facebook friends posted a link to the announcement along with his comment: "I bet the shooter gets all his news from Fox News."

So I posted a comment asking how much he'd be willing to bet. He suggested, "A nice dinner at a fancy restaurant."

Monday morning, he conceded that he had lost the bet. At my suggestion as to what I'd consider a "nice enough" dinner at a "fancy enough" restaurant, he mailed me a $20 gift card for Souplantation. (I was being nice, and so did not suggest Ruth's Chris, Gulliver's, or Yamashiro.)

Now what would have led me to make that sort of bet? I should point out I've been blessed with Dennis Prager's instinct for gambling. I could easily walk out of a casino with a million dollars in winnings, but I'd have to walk in with two or three million to gamble with. If I'm going to bet on something, I want it to be along the lines of Hideko Kawasaki and Ted Baxter.

My bet -- my willingness to take someone up on his bet -- was based on a difference in theories we held. My theory is that the people who watch Fox News -- and indeed, any of the news outlets -- are decent people, and are not being exposed to propaganda that is revving them up to go out and slay the evil opposition. In particular, the tendency to dismiss Fox News as "Faux News" or "Fox Noise" is part of an ongoing smear campaing, aiming to delegitimize the messanger because they can't handle the message. Because of this, I figured the shooter was no more likely than anyone else in the population to watch Fox News -- maybe a 10% chance. Not bad odds, but not quite enough to make me jump on the bet.

If we stipulate that Fox News viewers are predoinantly conservative, I note that conservatism (in contradistinction to liberalism) does not encourage people to think of themselves as victimized by others. There are other ideas I see as linked with conservatism and not liberalism, such as personal responsibility, being responsible for one's own actions, and the like. On balance, I think this is enough to have driven nutcases away from Fox News and other conservative outlets.

If a person sufficiently unbalanced to commit this sort of rampage follows any sort of news source at all, my theory is that the conservative message from Fox News (and Townhall and NRO) will drive such a person away. Far more congenial would be news outlets that give him permission to blame his troubles on Sexism, Intolerance, Xenophobia, Homophobia, Islamophobia, Racism, and/or Bigotry.

So I offered to take him up on his bet.

So far, my theory seems to be a good one.

Is Any Part of the Constitution Unconstitutional?

Sounds like an impossibility due to self-referential logic, but...
The American Spectator : Is Any Part of the Constitution Unconstitutional?
The 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which provides for the direct popular election of senators, was enacted in 1913, at the height of the Progressive Era. Originally, the Constitution had provided for state legislatures to appoint U.S. senators, a realistic reflection that the Constitution was a compact of sovereign states. It meant that senators would not be focused on public campaigning; they could do what they were elected to do. They would represent the interests of the states that sent them -- not the people in the states, but the states as sovereign entities.


As the Tea Partiers educate themselves about what is good law and can stay, and what is bad law and must be purged, I would urge them to take a second look at the 17th Amendment and consider whether more democracy is what we want, or if it's really more checks on the voracious federal appetite for power that we need.
No, not unconstitutional. But maybe a bad idea.

Pfc. Manning = Mumia?

Jed Babbin argues that Bradley Manning, the Army private alleged to have provided WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of State and Defense Department classified e-mails, has become the left's "new face for the 'injustice' committed in America's name." Jed argues that Manning is perfect for the role because he enables leftists to indulge two of their pet views: that our justice system oppresses dissenters and that America, and by extension it secrets, is unworthy of protection. The fact that Manning is gay makes him an even more ideal "victim."
Power Line - The uses of Pfc Manning
The left has found a new face for the "injustice" committed in America's name: Pfc. Bradley Manning, the Army private alleged to have provided WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of State and Defense Department classified e-mails. Manning is now the focus of a campaign that accuses his jailers of torture.

Liberal core values -- to the extent that liberals have any values at all -- proceed from two assumptions. First, that American criminal law must be unjust because people are not prosecuted -- or protected -- on the basis of their political beliefs. Second only to that, is that America -- and by derivation, its secrets -- are not worthy of defense.
The American Spectator : The New Mumia

The Discoverer of the Double-Helix Says Cancer Can Be Cured in the Near Future

If the FDA would get out of the way, that is.
“The FDA has so many regulations,” Dr. [James] Watson says. “They don’t want you to try a new thing if there’s an old thing that might work. . . . So you take the old thing, but we know cancer changes over time and we would really like to get it whacked early, and not late. But the regulations are saying you can’t do these things until we give you a lot of s— drugs,” he snorts. “Shouldn’t this be the patient’s choice to say I would rather beat the odds with a total cure rather than just to know that I am going to have all my hair fall out and then after a year I’m dead? . . Why should [FDA commissioner] Margaret Hamburg hold things up? There’s the cynical answer it gives employment to lawyers.”
The Discoverer of the Double-Helix Says Cancer Can Be Cured in the Near Future | John Goodman's Health Policy Blog |

More Palinoia

Media Matters Lies About Media Coverage of Sarah Palin North Korea Slip - Big Journalism

"North Korean Allies" was very obviously a slip of the tongue, just like those made by any number of other politicians.

The abuse of the term "blood libel"

Sarah Palin has taken a lot of heat for "misunderappropriating" the term "blood libel". Team Sarah Points to Even More Recent Uses of ‘Blood Libel’ - By Jim Geraghty - The Campaign Spot - National Review Online
Because of the numerous earlier uses of the phrase on both sides of the aisle, with no discernible objection or controversy, it is easy to conclude that voices driven to great outrage by Palin’s use of the term are just looking for any old excuse to be outraged.

Morality in Six Dimensions

The Science of Libertarian Morality - Reason Magazine

Rather than a five-dimensional morality scale, maybe there's a sixth scale that's been overlooked.

In his earlier work, Haidt surveyed the attitudes of conservatives and liberals using what he calls the Moral Foundations Questionnaire, which measures how much a person relies on each of five different moral foundations: harm/care, fairness/reciprocity, ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity. Typically, conservatives scored lower than liberals on the harm and fairness scales—that is, they gave those issues less weight when making moral judgments—and scored much higher on ingroup, authority, and purity.


Haidt and his colleagues eventually recognized that their Moral Foundations Questionnaire was blinkered by liberal academic bias, failing to include a sixth moral foundation, liberty. They developed a liberty scale to probe this moral dimension. Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that libertarians dramatically outscored liberals and conservatives when it came to putting a high value on both economic and lifestyle liberty. Haidt and his colleagues conclude, “Libertarians may fear that the moral concerns typically endorsed by liberals or conservatives are claims that can be used to trample upon individual rights—libertarians’ sacred value.”


Don Surber writes, Liberals ain’t that smart about Palin

Bad theories kill people

This piece looks at the result of a bad theory killing people: Commentary » Blog Archive » Incitement Kills — but Not Always Its Intended Target

The inquiry concluded that “doctors believed Abu Rahmah was sickened by phosphorous fertilizer and nerve gas. She was therefore treated with atropine and fluids, without Palestinian doctors realizing that she had in fact inhaled tear gas.”

Atropine is the standard treatment for poisonous gas. But it can be deadly if given in large doses to someone who hasn’t inhaled poison gas.

And this is where incitement comes in. Anyone who knows anything about Israel would know that the IDF doesn’t even use nerve gas against combatants armed with sophisticated weapons, much less against rock-throwing demonstrators.

But wild allegations of preposterous Israeli crimes are standard fare among Palestinians, and indeed throughout the Arab world. Israel has been accused of everything from poisoning Palestinian wells with depleted uranium to sending sharks to attack Egypt’s Red Sea resorts in order to undermine that country’s tourist industry.

In this case, the theory is "Some gassed by Israeli police will have been gassed with a nerve agent". Acting on this theory -- giving the specific antidote -- killed the victim.

A theory is not just idle woolgathering. It's an explanation which helps you bring order to otherwise chaotic facts. If you have a bad theory, you don't wind up with nothing, you wind up with the wrong answer.

The Lizard Brain (Wizbang)

The Lizard Brain (Wizbang)
Got a fight on our hands.

Heads up, folks. This is yet another "damn, just when you think Charles Johnson has gone as loony as humanly possible, he just doubled down again on crazy" pieces. Proceed at your own risk.
This might be a good time to buy stock in Patterico.

You see, he's just become the latest target of choice for Charles Johnson and his (rapidly-diminishing) gang of rump-swabs, bum-kissers, and other sycophants. And if history is any lesson, that means he's going to be one very hot property. (This is becoming known as the Robert Stacey McCain principle.)

That's when Patterico apparently got under the lizard's skin. He and Charles got into a Twitter fight that Charles didn't do so well in. And making Charles look bad (usually by letting him do all the heavy lifting on that front) tends to provoke Charles and his legion of sycophants. Charles decided that it was time to go after Patterico's job.

Patterico's co-blogger, Aaron Worthing, found it amusing and made a casual reference to the whole thing in the context of an entirely different topic. That casual reference was enough for Charles to latch on to and proclaim that Patterico, through his co-blogger, had threatened his life.

Here's the part Charles quoted:

"we just chopped off Charles Johnson's head and mounted it on a pike on our collective front lawn..."
Here's the full quote, for context:

Okay so metaphorically, we just chopped off Charles Johnson's head and mounted it on a pike on our collective front lawn, so why not go for Andrew Sullivan next?
Here's where Charles could use a little grammar lesson. A "threat" is the declaration to do a certain action. "To do," as in "in the future." Aaron used the past tense -- "we just did this." If anyone was threatened, it was Excitable Andy. And if Charles is still able to whine about what Aaron said, it's pretty self-evident that the action was entirely metaphorical. I have to wonder if Aaron had said "handed Charles his ass," Charles would talk about the grave threat to his buttocks. 

The Curious Case of the Martyrdom of Frances Fox Piven

The Curious Case of the Martyrdom of Frances Fox Piven - Big Journalism

Frances Fox Piven has a history of flame-throwing. She's better known as one-half of the infamous Cloward-Piven strategy wherein she and her husband published a theory detailing how people could overwhelm the system, break the system, and then get higher, guaranteed income. From magic.
Now that Piven's calls for violent revolution have landed her in the ... spotlight (you thought I was going to say crosshairs, didn't you! You vitriolic person!) and the media is circling the wagons.
Progressives who speak of Piven's threats remain silent on the threats (worse ones) directed at Sarah Palin, whom progressives targeted online in death threats on Twitter and pages devoted to her death on Facebook
Again, situational compassion. Death threats are unacceptable in any fashion against anyone, but you'd be hard pressed to find a single progressive blogger or MSM character who has, or ever will, condemn death threats against conservative women. That's because progressives happily sanction (when they're not issuing the threats themselves) such behavior against conservative women. But that's a post for another day.

Piven defends her remarks:
“That is not a call for violence,” Ms. Piven said Friday of the references to riots. “There is a kind of rhetorical trick that is always used to denounce movements of ordinary people, and that is to imply that the massing of people itself is violent.”
Come again? Nice semantics, but no dice. Piven specifically called for a violent uprising. Her verbatim quotes and quotes in her own voice are above. If she's second-guessing her remarks, the thing to do is to apologize for them, say she was wrong, and move on. Sadly, progressives don't operate in such a manner; as we saw after Arizona: when there was more evidence to tie Jared Loughner to the progressive-Communist movement, progressives double-downed on blaming the tea party. You have to give them credit: they are tenacious to a fault.
Instead, Piven insults the intelligence of conservatives, even her own ideology, by calling criticism of her remarks ungood and saying that she meant something else other than the very clear language which came from her mouth. How does she insult her own ideology? By dumbing down their discourse to mere rhetoric and making them defend falsehoods as truth.

Patterico's Pontifications » Glenn Beck’s Warning More Prescient Than Previously Realized, But Let’s Shut Him Up Anyway

With every passing day, the left attempts to recharacterize standard political rhetoric as violent — even as we learn more about real violence on the left . . . violence that Big Media has chosen to hide from our view.

Power Line notes how the New York Times is publicizing a letter from the Center for Constitution Rights which seeks to muzzle Glenn Beck for telling the truth about Frances Fox Piven. As Power Line notes, Piven has engaged in rhetoric supportive of violence; Beck has pointed that out; and this supposedly means that Beck is responsible for a handful of anonymous Internet threats on her life.
Meanwhile, people lie about Sarah Palin, creating an explosion of death threats against her, and that doesn’t rate concern from the Center for Constitutional Rights or the New York Times. (Thanks to Dana for that point.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Socialized medicine articles

From National Review Online Socialized Failure by John C. Goodman
The health-care systems of all developed countries face three unrelenting problems: rising costs, inadequate quality, and incomplete access to care. A slew of recent articles, published mainly in medical journals, suggest that the health-care systems of other countries are superior to ours on all these fronts. Yet the articles are at odds with a substantial economic literature.

What follows is a brief review of the evidence. As other writers demonstrate elsewhere in this issue, the American health-care system has plenty of problems. But it is not inferior to other developed countries’ systems — and we should therefore not be looking to these systems, most of which are characterized by heavy government intervention, for inspiration.
Scott Atlas at the NCPA concludes:
Conclusion. Despite serious challenges, such as escalating costs and the uninsured, the U.S. health care system compares favorably to those in other developed countries.
Wall Street Journal
But the comparison between public and private plans is a false comparison. Private insurance and public benefits are not the same business. For all its warts, private insurance tries to manage care. Medicare is mostly about paying the bills presented to it.

Many who favor a public plan as part of comprehensive health-care reform dismiss the administrative "overhead" of private plans as having little or no value. Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark (D., Calif.), for example, insists that "most private plans are poorly managed." Contrasting them with the supposedly sleek and efficient Medicare program, he labels commercial insurance "the General Motors of medical care."

In fact, the administrative expenses of private insurance plans represent money well spent for their members. Here are four reasons:

First, private insurers must build provider networks. These networks can include high-value providers and exclude low-quality providers. Except for certain circumstances, including criminal acts, Medicare is forbidden from excluding poor quality providers. It lets in everyone who signs up. So one question to ask is, will the public plan have Medicare's indifference to quality -- or invest in the cost of a network?

Second, private insurers must negotiate rates. Medicare just fixes prices using a statutory and regulatory scheme. And anyone who imagines a public plan would be less costly than private plans must keep the following issue front and center: In the many procedure categories where Medicare's statutory price does not cover full provider costs, shortfalls are shifted to private payers who end up subsidizing the public program. So, will a public plan negotiate rates or simply use fiat as a means of gaining subsidies from private insurance?

Third, private insurers must combat fraud -- or go out of business. Indeed, these payers have every incentive to invest in antifraud personnel and strategies down to the point where return and investment are equal. But anyone who thinks that a public plan could serve as a "yardstick" for the private sector needs to consider Medicare's dismal record with regard to fraud, waste and other abuse.


Fourth, private insurers must incur the administrative cost of marketing. Medicare, of course, does not need to market. A public plan competing with other alternatives would have to market itself to the public, and this means tax dollars used to advertise against private plans. Or the public plan could "compete" by using heavily subsidized marketing channels not available to private insurers, such as Social Security mailings, welfare offices, unemployment check stuffers, and the constellation of government-funded "advocacy organizations."

The Logarithmic Effect of Carbon Dioxide | Watts Up With That?

The Logarithmic Effect of Carbon Dioxide | Watts Up With That?
The influence of increasing carbon dioxide is not linear, but logarithmic. The radiative forcing works out to be:

F = 233.6 + 2.94 log2[CO2]

More on the NY Salt Ban Bill

The nanny state strikes again.

Last week, New York state assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn) introduced a bill to ban the use of all salt in restaurant cooking and impose a fine of up to $1,000 on violators. Like all legislators who introduce absolutely insane legislation, he says he is trying to "make sure that we bring awareness."
Oddly, Ortiz seems to be raising awareness about someone else's bill. In an interview on Fox News today, he described the bill as offering consumers the choice "to ask the waitress and chef to don't put any additive sodium in their items." He further explained that "the bill clearly state that the consumer will have the right to ask whether that item is being prepared with sodium and also to either minimize or maximize [and] will allow the chef and the consumer to have a conversation about what we can add or no add."
That is not what his bill says. It says:
That's no salt, anywhere in the preparation of the food. Period.

Ortiz is right when he says that the bill doesn't prevent customers from adding salt after the fact. But any serious cook will tell you that sprinkling on salt at the end of the process isn't the same as using it in cooking. Pasta water must be salted, for instance, to flavor the noodles themselves. Salting onions at the right moment is key to successfullycaramelizing them. Salting eggplant before cooking reduces bitterness in the final dish. And then there's brining and pickling, not to mention the vital importance of salt in the science of baking.

Violent Rhetoric Strikes Again

I Guess It Depends On Whose Ox Is Being Pitchforked... (Wizbang)
The big hysteria going around now is how some of the Congresscritters who voted for ObamaCare are getting threats now. I suppose I should put on my grown-up pants and denounce all threats of violence related to politics, but I have to admit I'm pretty much inured to them by now. Quite frankly, my threshold of perceived threats is pretty high.


I recall an effigy of Sarah Palin being hanged off some idiot's house.

I remember a parking lot full of vehicles Republicans had rented for "get out the vote" use in Milwaukee getting their tires slashed -- by some rather well-connected young Democrats employed by the Kerry campaign.

I remember Carlos Mantos, a Democratic Party official in Philadelphia, turning away Republican poll watchers, arguing that his district was 100% Democrat, so they had no business there.

I recall two armed Black Panthers stationing themselves outside another Philadelphia polling station, making sure that every white voter knew that The Black Man was gonna win.

I remember "community organizers" organizing protest "field trips" to the homes of top banking executives, making sure that all their people knew precisely where these people lived.

And I remember seeing actual protests featuring actual idiots armed with actual torches and pitchforks.

So, I'm not going to make an effort to condemn these threats of violence. Instead, I'm going to try a different tactic:

Hey, Democratic members of Congress. I don't speak for anyone, really, but I'm one of those largely moderate-to-right-leaning citizens and voters. I've been to a Tea Party rally, and I don't like what you're doing. But I don't care for these threats of violence.

Right now, those are coming from a very, very small portion of the larger group to which I belong. And the fact that they're a minority means you don't have to worry about huge mobs coming after you.


The Coffin on Carnahan's Lawn Was Part of Prayer Vigil, Not Threat

The Coffin on Carnahan's Lawn Was Part of Prayer Vigil, Not Threat | The Weekly Standard
It occured to me, as it would to any honest person not interested in painting anti-Obamacare protesters as irretrievably violent, that the coffin in question was likely a prop in a political protest. The Left used countless flag-draped coffins for eight years to symbolize the war dead in protests. As recently as this week, the use of such coffins was reported as "Symbolic coffins mark anti-war protests in Washington."


As it turns out, my hunch was right, and a Carnahan spokesperson admitted as much to a St. Louis publication.
Communications Director Sara Howard said about a dozen people brought the coffin to Carnahan's private St. Louis residence. After holding a vigil they took the coffin away.

The coffin is one of a list of incidents and threats made toward Democratic lawmakers in the days since the health care bill was approved.
If it was part of a "vigil," it was not a threat.


The Carnahans and Carnahan spokespeople also told reporters the coffin was left on their lawn. Hoft, who was part of the demonstration, says this is not true. He says the coffin is now in a garage, and was taken away by protesters after their Sunday vigil.
But rhetoric from the right kills, don't you know?

L.A. County Red Light Cameras Drain Taxpayers, Not Drivers

L.A. County Red Light Cameras Drain Taxpayers, Not Drivers - Big Government
And it turns out citations they generate are not properly served, under California State Law. And can thus be ignored?
However, the real lunacy of this program is that Los Angeles Superior Court judges have ruled that the citations are unenforceable. The successful legal argument was that because a human being did not actually hand the citation to the offender that the citation was not properly served.

If the citation is not legally served, then there is no crime to enforce. So people in Los Angeles County can ignore the citations with no repercussions. That’s right — drivers actually do get off scot-free. Yeah, you get sent to a collections agency, but even then there is no civil suit possible because no crime has been committed because no service was performed. Nor can the agency report your lack of payment to a credit agency or the DMV. Meanwhile, dozens of other court cases have made the camera enforcement a farce statewide.
And so the contract for red-light cameras has been renewed...

Health Care Mythology

There has been much recent debate about the merits of traditional capitalization weighted indexing, the chief propents being Jack Bogle and Burton Malkiel, and newer “fundamental weighted” indexes advocated by the likes of Rob Arnott, Jeremy Siegel, and
Myth #1 Health Care Costs are Soaring
You cannot judge the “cost” of something by simply what you spend. You must also judge what you get. I’m reasonably certain the cost of 1950’s level health care has dropped in real terms over the last 60 years (and you can probably have a barber from the year 1500 bleed you for almost nothing nowadays).
Myth #2 The Canadian Drug Story
So, repeat after me. We could go with the Canadian system and have super cheap drugs, if only we can find a much bigger, more medically advanced, freer country right next to us to make miracle drugs for themselves, and then we insist that we pay them only a bit above their variable cost for our share, and then they in turn agree to let us be their parasite. Mexico, would you mind helping us out?
Myth #3 Socialized Medicine Works In Some Places
This is a corollary to the “Canada as parasite” parable above. The funny part is socialized medicine has never been truly tested. Those touting socialism’s success have never seen a world without a relatively (for now) free US to make or pay for their new drugs, surgical techniques, and other medical advancements for them. When (and I hope this doesn’t happen) the US joins in the insanity of socialized medicine we will see that when you remove the brain from the body, the engine from a car, the candy from the striper, it just does not work.
Myth #4 Socialized Medicine Is Better Because Their Cost/GDP For Health Care is Lower
* Measuring cost/GDP is inaccurate as it leaves out most of the cost, the cost of lower GDP growth. As one would expect, countries with larger government sectors (including socialized medicine) generally seem to experience slower GDP growth. People are great at measuring costs that they easily can look up, but those are not all the costs!

* If I’m right about the US subsidizing the world of course their costs would be lower!
Myth #5 A Public Option Can Co-Exist with a Private Option
The government does not co-exist or compete fairly with private enterprise, anywhere. It does not play well with others. The regulator cannot be a competitor at the same time. It cannot compete fairly while it owns the armed forces and courts. Finally, it cannot be a fair competitor if when the “public option” screws up (can’t pay its bills), the government implicitly or explicitly guarantees its debts. We have seen what happens in that case and don’t need a re-run.
Myth #6 We Can Have Health Care Without Rationing
Rationing has to occur. This sounds cold and cruel, but it is reality. A=A. If you have a material good or service, like health care, that is ever increasing in quality, and therefore cost, there is no way everyone on Earth can have the best at all times (actually the quality increases are not necessary for rationing to be needed, it just makes the example clearer). It’s going to be rationed by some means. The alternatives come down to the marketplace or the government. To choose between those alternatives you judge on morality and efficacy.
Myth #7 Health Care is A Right
Nope, it’s not.

Fox News Makes You Stupid? - Brent Bozell - Townhall Conservative

Fox News Makes You Stupid? - Brent Bozell - Townhall Conservative
Here's Exhibit A: Fox viewers were more likely to believe "Among economists who have estimated the effect of the health reform law on the federal budget deficit over the next ten years, more think it will increase the deficit."

That is misinformation? This question is not about facts at all. It's about the opinions of economists looking into a crystal ball, and PIPA's "economists" estimate that herding 35 million uninsured Americans into a new federal entitlement program is going to reduce the deficit. This assertion by liberals that ObamaCare would cut deficits isn't technically a "lie" -- yet. It is merely a patently ridiculous claim that doesn't acknowledge the real world. But somehow, Fox News viewers are tagged as the "misinformed" dummies, because their opinions are grounded in logic.

Here's Exhibit B: Fox viewers were more likely to believe "Most economists who have studied it estimate that the stimulus legislation saved or created a few jobs or caused job losses." Once again, this isn't about facts, but about economists and their estimation. The idea that there is "misinformation" afoot, and it's not about the incredibly nebulous and politicized notion of "saving or creating" jobs -- something so nebulous it can never be factually verified -- shows you the bias of the PIPA pollsters.


They're not alone in trying to nail Fox. In August 2009, an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll reported 72 percent of self-identified Fox News viewers believed the health-care plan will give coverage to illegal immigrants, 79 percent believed it will lead to a government takeover, 69 percent thought it would use taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, and 75 percent believed that it will allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing care for the elderly.

Sadly for NBC, this "misinformation" is already coming true: On Christmas, The New York Times reported "death panels" are back in the ObamaCare regulations, and we knew by midsummer that states were funding abortions through ObamaCare.

These polls identify the real liberal fear: that someone will trust Fox News to tell them things the liberal media try to crush and bury.

Jonah Goldberg on Marriage

HoBos - By Jonah Goldberg - The Corner - National Review Online
All I can say is that my position on gay marriage and civil unions is the same as it’s always been. I would prefer civil unions for all the reasons people following this debate already know, but I suspect that eventually the state(s) will require that we call these unions marriages and that the sky will not fall as a result. I think that delaying that eventuality would still be good for society, but I’m sympathetic to the impatience of gays who believe that justice delayed is justice denied.


Marriage is an ancient, bedrock institution born thousands of years before anyone even knew how to spell democracy. It is impossible to even guess how many other institutions it supports. As Friedrich Hayek noted, such institutions are the real storehouses of human knowledge: “[M]ore ‘intelligence’ . . . is incorporated in the system of rules of conduct than in man’s thoughts and surroundings.”

And that’s why I’m willing to wait a while longer — to muddle through as we sort all this out — before we radically redesign marriage. If Andrew is right about gay marriage, waiting is no doubt unfair to gays seeking to have their monogamous relationships legitimized by the state. But it was Edmund Burke — the champion of temperamental conservatism — who noted that sometimes we “must bear with infirmities until they fester into crimes.” Indeed, the conservative must point out that the beaches of history are littered not only with the human wreckage of bad ideas rushed out too quickly, but with the wreckage of good ideas rushed out too quickly as well.

Althouse: "History tells us" something that history doesn't tell us, say sociologists stumbling to protect Frances Fox Piven.

Althouse: "History tells us" something that history doesn't tell us, say sociologists stumbling to protect Frances Fox Piven.
Among things Ann Althouse notes is:
...vigorous debate about Piven's ideas is really important, but it better be the right kind of debate by the right kind of people and most certainly not that terrible, terrible man Glenn Beck. She's very lofty and serious, so, while she should be challenged, she must be challenged only by lofty and serious individuals, and of course, Glenn Beck is not one.
Comments by Jim Lindgren include:
So let's see if this makes sense:

1. Fances Fox Piven advocates left-wing violence by the unemployed against the government.

2. Glenn Beck criticizes her for this, calling such talk dangerous.

3. Then an unstable unemployed left-wing radical engages in violence against the government.

4. Glenn Beck then repeats his criticism of Piven.

5. Finally, the Am. Sociological Assn blames Glenn Beck for his criticism of Piven AND indirectly for the left-wing violence.

The logic of the Assn escapes me.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Metrology of Thermometers

How do we take the temperature of a planet? How do we know the temperature to less than a tenth of a degree, when typical errors are on the order of a degree? Do we? The Metrology of Thermometers | Watts Up With That?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

No, Charles Johnson, Glenn Beck Did Not Tell His Viewers to Shoot Anyone in the Head

No, Charles Johnson, Glenn Beck Did Not Tell His Viewers to Shoot Anyone in the Head: "
On Twitter, Charles Johnson excitedly says:
He links to a post, evidently written by an LGF user, which provides no context for the clip, but simply embeds it. Here is a screenshot of the entire post:
And here is the short and misleading video the post embeds:
Now, here is the context Charles and his blogger omit.
The full transcript is here. When you read it, you will see that the word “you” refers to the leftist politicians in Washington and their pals in the media, and “they” refers to their radical leftist friends — who, Beck warns, actually believe there must be violent revolution . . . and if they don’t get what they want, they may start one.
Beck is warning the comfortable pols that the people who put them in power aren’t going to be satisfied with seeing just a little of their agenda accomplished. They want it all. Because they are revolutionaries at heart — people who have called for violence and never repudiated it. And if they aren’t satisfied, Beck tells the pols, they will come after you. Violently.
You’re going to have to shoot them in the head. But they may shoot you.
Johnson wants you to believe that the “you” is Beck’s audience, whom Beck is inciting to violence. Nothing could be further from the truth.
But Charles Johnson doesn’t care about context or truth any more.
Now that this video has surfaced, expect it to spread like wildfire. Be prepared, with this post and the linked transcript, to rebut the lies.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A manifesto for the simple scribe – my 25 commandments for journalists | Tim Radford

A manifesto for the simple scribe – my 25 commandments for journalists | Tim Radford:
I wrote these 25 commandments as a panic response 15 or more years ago to an invitation to do some media training for a group of Elsevier editors. I began compiling them because I had just asked myself what was the most important thing to remember about writing a story, and the answer came back loud and clear: 'To make somebody read it.'
Ultimately, there's no other reason for writing. Journalists write to support democracy, sustain truth, salute justice, justify expenses, see the world and make a living, but to satisfactorily do any of these things you have to have readers. Fairness and accuracy are of course profoundly important. Without them, you aren't in journalism proper: you are playing some other game. But above all, you have to be read, or you aren't in journalism at all.
I wrote down what was in my mind and once I'd started numbering things, I had to go on. I got past 10, and then 20, and stopped guiltily at 25. I then didn't have time to reduce the text to a formal Ten Commandments. The 25 things got distributed among the Elsevier editors the next morning and then some time later I got asked to talk to some staff at Nature, so I used the same set of prompts, and one or two people asked me for copies.
I gave it the not-very-serious subtitle of 'manifesto for the simple scribe' and at around the same time, I realised that when stories that I had tried to write turned out wrong, it was because I'd broken one of my own rules. So I decided I might have written something quite useful, after all.
1. When you sit down to write, there is only one important person in your life. This is someone you will never meet, called a reader.
2. You are not writing to impress the scientist you have just interviewed, nor the professor who got you through your degree, nor the editor who foolishly turned you down, or the rather dishy person you just met at a party and told you were a writer. Or even your mother. You are writing to impress someone hanging from a strap in the tube between Parson's Green and Putney, who will stop reading in a fifth of a second, given a chance.
3. So the first sentence you write will be the most important sentence in your life, and so will the second, and the third. This is because, although you – an employee, an apostle or an apologist – may feel obliged to write, nobody has ever felt obliged to read.
4. Journalism is important. It must never, however, be full of its own self-importance. Nothing sends a reader scurrying to the crossword, or the racing column, faster than pomposity. Therefore simple words, clear ideas and short sentences are vital in all storytelling. So is a sense of irreverence.
5. Here is a thing to carve in pokerwork and hang over your typewriter. 'No one will ever complain because you have made something too easy to understand.'
6. And here is another thing to remember every time you sit down at the keyboard: a little sign that says 'Nobody has to read this crap.'
7. If in doubt, assume the reader knows nothing. However, never make the mistake of assuming that the reader is stupid. The classic error in journalism is to overestimate what the reader knows and underestimate the reader's intelligence.
8. Life is complicated, but journalism cannot be complicated. It is precisely because issues – medicine, politics, accountancy, the rules of Mornington Crescent – are complicated that readers turn to the Guardian, or the BBC, or the Lancet, or my old papers Fish Selling and Self Service Times, expecting to have them made simple.
9. So if an issue is tangled like a plate of spaghetti, then regard your story as just one strand of spaghetti, carefully drawn from the whole. Ideally with the oil, garlic and tomato sauce adhering to it. The reader will be grateful for being given the simple part, not the complicated whole. That is because (a) the reader knows life is complicated, but is grateful to have at least one strand explained clearly, and (b) because nobody ever reads stories that say 'What follows is inexplicably complicated ...'
10. So here is a rule. A story will only ever say one big thing. If (for example, and you are feeling very brave) you have to deal with four strands of a tale, make the intertwining of those four strands the one big thing you have to say. You may put twiddly bits into your story, but only if you can do so without departing from the one linear narrative you have chosen.
11. Here is an observation. Don't even start writing till you have decided what the one big thing is going to be, and then say it to yourself in just one sentence. Then ask yourself whether you could imagine your mother listening to this sentence for longer than a microsecond before she reaches for the ironing. Should you try to sell an editor an idea for an article, you will get about the same level of attention, so pay attention to this sentence. It is often – not always, but often – the first sentence of your article anyway.
12. There is always an ideal first sentence – an intro, a way in – for any article. It really helps to think of this one before you start writing, because you will discover that the subsequent sentences write themselves, very quickly. This is not evidence that you are glib, facile, shallow or slick. Or even gifted. It merely means you hit the right first sentence.
13. Words like shallow, facile, glib and slick are not insults to a journalist. The whole point of paying for a newspaper is that you want information that slides down easily and quickly, without footnotes, obscure references and footnotes to footnotes.
14. Words like 'sensational' and 'trivial' are not insults to a journalist. You read what you read – Elizabethan plays, Russian novels, French comic strips, American thrillers – because something in them appeals to your sense of excitement, humour, romance or irony. Good journalism should give you the sensation of humour, excitement, poignancy or piquancy. Trivial is a favourite insult administered by scholars. But even they became interested in their subject in the first place because they were attracted by something gleaming, flashy and – yes, trivial.
15. Words have meanings. Respect those meanings. Get radical and look them up in the dictionary, find out where they have been. Then use them properly. Don't flaunt authority by flouting your ignorance. Don't whatever you do go down a hard road to hoe, without asking yourself how you would hoe a road. Or for that matter, a roe.
16. Clichés are, in the newspaper classic instruction, to be avoided like the plague. Except when they are the right cliché. You'd be surprised how useful a cliché can be, used judiciously. This is because the thing about journalism is that you don't have to be ever so clever but you do have to be ever so quick.
17. Metaphors are great. Just don't choose loopy metaphors, and never, never mix them. Subs on the Guardian used to have a special Muzzled Piranha Award, a kind of Oscar of incompetence, handed to an industrial relations reporter who warned the world that the Trades Union Congress wildcats were lurking in the undergrowth, ready to dart out like piranhas, unless they were muzzled. George Orwell reports on the case of an MP who claimed that the jackbooted fascist octopus had sung its swansong.
18. Beware of street cred. When Moses ordered his commanders to slay the Midianites he wasn't doing it to show that he was well hard. When he warned Pharaoh to let his people go he wasn't saying 'give us room to breathe, man, and Pharaoh's, like, no way feller!' The language of the pub or the café has its own rhythms, its own body language, its own signalling devices. The language of the page has no accent, no helpful signalling tone of irony or comedy or self-mockery. It must be straight, clear and vivid. And to be straight and vivid, it must follow the received grammar.
19. Beware of long and preposterous words. Beware of jargon. If you are a science writer this is doubly important. If you are a science writer, you occasionally have to bandy words that no ordinary human ever uses, like phenotype, mitochondrion, cosmic inflation, Gaussian distribution and isostasy. So you really don't want to be effulgent or felicitous as well. You could just try being bright and happy.
20. English is better than Latin. You don't exterminate, you kill. You don't salivate, you drool. You don't conflagrate, you burn. Moses did not say to Pharaoh: 'The consequence of non-release of one particular subject ethnic population could result ultimately in some kind of algal manifestation in the main river basin, with unforeseen outcomes for flora and fauna, not excluding consumer services.' He said 'the waters which are in the river ... shall be turned to blood, and the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink.'
21. Remember that people will always respond to something close to them. Concerned citizens of south London should care more about economic reform in Surinam than about Millwall's fate on Saturday, but mostly they don't. Accept it. On 24 November 1963, the Hull Daily Mail sent me in search of a Hull angle on the assassination of President Kennedy. Once I had found a line that began 'Hull citizens were in mourning today as …' we could get on with reporting what happened in Dallas.
22. Read. Read lots of different things. Read the King James Bible, and Dickens, and poems by Shelley, and Marvel Comics and thrillers by Chester Himes and Dashiel Hammet. Look at the astonishing things you can do with words. Note the way they can conjure up whole worlds in the space of half a page.
23. Beware of all definitives. The last horse trough in Surrey will turn out not even to be the last horse trough in Godalming. There will almost always be someone who turns out to be bigger, faster, older, earlier, richer or more nauseating than the candidate to whom you have just awarded a superlative. Save yourself the bother: 'One of the first ...' will usually save the moment. If not, then at least qualify it: 'According to the Guinness Book of Records ...' 'The Sunday Times Rich List ...' and so on.
24. There are things that good taste and the law will simply not let you say in print. My current favourites are 'Murderer acquitted' and (in a report of an Easter religious play) 'Paul Myers, who played Jesus Christ, emerged as the star of the show.' Try and work out which one has the taste problem, and which one will cost you approximately half a million per word.
25. Writers have a responsibility, not just in law. So aim for the truth. If that's elusive, and it often is, at least aim for fairness, the awareness that there is always another side to the story. Beware of all claims to objectivity. This one is the dodgiest of all. You may report that the Royal Society says that genetic modification is a good thing, and that depleted uranium is mostly harmless. But you should remember that genetic modification was invented by people who were immediately elected to the Royal Society for their cleverness, by people already in there because they knew how to enrich uranium fuel rods and deplete the rest. So to paraphrase Miss Mandy Rice-Davies (1963) 'They would say that, wouldn't they?'

WikiLeaks memos the mainstream media doesn't want you to read (Wizbang)

WikiLeaks memos the mainstream media doesn't want you to read (Wizbang)
Lots of evidence of WMD.

Political axis systems

Zombie » The Electric Tea Party Acid Test
I've also read a proposal for a third axis, reflecting morality.
And then there are those whose coordinate system doesn't match reality. Off the grid.

"a big lie just like Goebbels" (Wizbang)

"a big lie just like Goebbels" (Wizbang)
And it was last night that this took place on the floor of the House of Representatives:
In an extraordinary outburst on the House floor, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) invoked the Holocaust to attack Republicans on health care and compared rhetoric on the issue to the work of infamous Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

"They say it's a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels," Cohen said. "You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, and eventually, people believe it. Like blood libel. That's the same kind of thing. And Congressman Cohen didn't stop there.

"The Germans said enough about the Jews and people believed it--believed it and you have the Holocaust. We heard on this floor, government takeover of health care. Politifact said the biggest lie of 2010 was a government takeover of health care because there is no government takeover," Cohen said.
Do understand that the call for civility on the part of the leftists in this country is complete and total bovine fecal matter. They're as interested in civility as Michael Moore is in veracity. Not very. Or as the wider media is in telling this story.

Imagine for a moment what the hue and cry might've been if Republicans were saying things like this about Democrats. We'd be hearing about it for days. But let a Democrat say this kind of crap and it's largely ignored.


Stick it in your ear.
Or as Don Surber might put it, "Bite me."