Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Taking a Closer Look at Unemployment

Employment as measured by the “establishment survey,” was down by 190,000; and Many feel it is an improvement that we are not falling as fast.

Well, let us take a moment to look under the hood of these numbers. First, while the establishment survey was down 190k,  the number of unemployed soared by 558,000, to 15.7 million, as measured by the household survey. The establishment survey is taken from large businesses while the household survey calls individual households. It is the household survey that sets the unemployment rate. The establishment survey of companies doesn’t count the self-employed and undercounts employees of small businesses. So the economic picture is probably worse than the headlines when it comes to jobs.


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Bogus Civility

Finally someone said what I’ve been thinking about this constant call to civility:

Have we transformed into so brittle a citizenry that we are unable to handle a raucous debate over the future of the country? If things were quiet, subdued and “civil” in America today, as Pelosi surely wishes, it would only be proof that democracy wasn’t working. (Please read the whole article.)

Sure, Pelosi wishes that everyone would behave already, but it is also often conservatives and others arguing over the proper way of dissenting rather than just dissenting already. There seems to be a practical meltdown in areas of the conservative blogosphere over comportment… the theory seeming to be that passion is off-putting to the all-important center. In order to win, therefore, we need to be bland.

Frankly, I think that other than those in power who would rather not be bothered by opposition, it’s only people without ideas who are arguing over civility.


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Voluntary association and Freedom

I’ve been hearing a lot, lately, about how the police over-step when they arrest people for what amounts to “being rude to police officers.” I’ve been hearing a whole lot about how our freedoms are infringed if we can’t even speak our minds just because the other person is a cop or else we’ll get arrested.

It is presented as a matter of freedom and liberty.

So I thought I’d describe what freedom and liberty would actually look like in a situation such as the Gates-Crowley affair.


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Obama on bi-partisanship

I was listening and what I heard sounded an awful lot like this:

We sure aren’t going to do anything your way.   You had your chance and screwed it up.

But when we do what we want to do and would have done anyway but it just happens to be something you aren’t opposed to… that’s us reaching out to you.

And because we do that, you’ve got to support what you disagree with, because that’s bi-partisanship.    You making concessions and us doing what we wanted to do anyway… that’s bi-partisanship.

Not that I was terribly worried about that, but boy oh boy can that man ramble on about nothing for a very long time.

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Iraq – We’re Winning!!!

A funny thing happened on the way to Iraq, President Obama declared that we’re winning.

Anyone who’s been keeping up to date knows we’ve been making great progress, and I say, winning in Iraq. President Obama acknowledges the courage and sacrifice of our troops, while ignoring the sacrifice of the Iraqis, and the choices President Bush made to enable progress to be made.

Under enormous strain and under enormous sacrifice, through controversy and difficulty and politics, you’ve kept your eyes focused on just doing your job. And because of that, every mission that’s been assigned — from getting rid of Saddam, to reducing violence, to stabilizing the country, to facilitating elections — you have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country. That is an extraordinary achievement, and for that you have the thanks of the American people. (Applause.) That’s point number one.

Point number two is, this is going to be a critical period, these next 18 months. I was just discussing this with your commander, but I think it’s something that all of you know. It is time for us to transition to the Iraqis. (Applause.) They need to take responsibility for their country and for their sovereignty. (Applause.)

And in order for them to do that, they have got to make political accommodations. They’re going to have to decide that they want to resolve their differences through constitutional means and legal means. They are going to have to focus on providing government services that encourage confidence among their citizens.

All those things they have to do. We can’t do it for them. But what we can do is make sure that we are a stalwart partner, that we are working alongside them, that we are committed to their success, that in terms of training their security forces, training their civilian forces in order to achieve a more effective government, they know that they have a steady partner with us.

Something’s missing from this. Oh yeah, an acknowledgment that Iraqis have made a huge commitment, and have sacrificed much more then we have towards achieving these goals.

Nor did he, or the press mention that Iraqis already have control of a large number of the provinces, and has been making tremendous progress in the last 2 years.

As of November 2008, 13 of Iraq’s 18 provinces have successfully transitioned to Provincial Iraqi Control (PIC). In fact, the current report, shows that the same provinces that hadn’t transitioned, are still the areas of concern for further transitioning.

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Evangelism in the Science Classroom.

The other day Randy Barnett posted to The Volokh Conspiracy saying that a Republican candidate who believed in Creationism could never be elected President.    A couple of people wrote him nice e-mails explaining that creationism can mean nothing more extreme than that God set evolution in motion.   a href= target=_blankNow he has posted a clarification./anoscripta href=;#1077;#1073;#1077;#1083;#1080; #1074;#1072;#1088;#1085;#1072;/a/noscript

Of a God enabled evolution Barnett says this:
blockquoteThere is absolutely no reason why THIS position would be taught in schools at all, much less in science classs; so/blockquote
And this is where he is wrong.    Not so much in the statement as in the assumptions behind it.    Should the matter of God be brought up in a science classroom?  No.  I don’t think it should.   But is there REASON to do so?   Yes, there really is.

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The Permission for Resistance

Brief except of a talk at the 92nd Street Y between Salman Rushdie and Irshad Manji, discussing the possibility of reform against extremism in the Islamic faith. Rushdie draws a fine parallel with the experience of the Western left during the Cold War. Specifically, its attempt to create a distinction between their non-existent idealized socialism, and the actuality of a destitute, totalitarian nightmarescape on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

At issue is the extent to which the Western left sought to resist criticism of existing socialism in the name of defending it as an ideal. Commendably, Rushdie has little faith in this project reapplied to Islam, much less as a promise to actualize reform.

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The irresistible allure of Sarah Palin

I view this as near proof positive that Sarah Palin has a real, concrete, chance at being President some day.    2012 if Obama messes up too badly, and 2018 otherwise.  I just can’t conceive of any other reason for her to provide such an obvious fascination for so many people.

It seems that Sarah didn’t just energize the Republican base, she energizes Huff-Po as well.

You can just about hear the valley-girl squeal;  Omygawd, Todd is like, destroying the Earth, dude.    And he’s, like, on that snow machine, like, in the snow.    And like, I’m not going to say anything, like,  uncool, but… woah… Sarah must really be a bitch.

The constant criticism of Sarah Palin is so gratuitous that I can only assume that “no publicity is bad” applies.    No one with a brain could take this seriously, and it will get her name out in front of the “other side” and keep it there.    And it will solidify criticism OF her, as being baseless.    A couple of years of this and nothing bad anyone will say about Palin will stick.


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Bring Back Welfare, Please

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 11.6 million unemployed persons in the United States today. Meanwhile, the current estimate of the total cost of the spending package passed to alleviate this distress is $827 billion.  President Obama has framed his defense of this expenditure largely on job loss grounds. Lately he has gone so far as to warn that without passage of the package in full, the unemployment rate  (currently at 7.6%) could hit double digits.

Let’s assume he’s right. Let’s even assume the total unemployment figure doubles to 23.2 million persons — a number which would likely require massive business failure and the collapse of entire industries to achieve. But for the price of the recovery package to head this off, we could afford to pay each of these 23.2 million future unemployed persons over $35,000 a year…which is almost exactly what the average individual income in the United States was in 2008. But here’s the thing, we wouldn’t have to pay them that, because there aren’t 23.2 million persons unemployed yet. Maybe there will be at some point in the future, but then again maybe there won’t.

The staggering expansion of government spending we are witnessing from those who used to restrict their advocacy to social safety nets for if someone happened to fall, is enough to make you nostalgic. Nostalgic for the days of profligate and wasteful welfare benefits, which seem positively frugal compared to this new invoice. Bring back the caricature welfare queen says me, with her Cadillac in a public housing garage. Incidentally, the base price for a Cadillac CTS is about $35,000 too. We could buy every currently unemployed person two of them with that recovery bill’s price tag.

Looking backward, the great value of the welfare system is that it is reactive, individual and conditional. That is to say, you have to personally lose your job in order to receive federal benefits. Now we’re apparently shifting to a model where massive indirect economic assistance is rendered for people who are currently still employed, because they might become unemployed at some point in the future. I prefer the old model in retrospect.

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How to Order a Hitchens

(image: Rational Response Squad)

Here’s a tip for the uninitiated: When you order a whiskey in a hip bar, request it “Whiskey, Hitchens.” If you’re already slightly sloshed, you might merely say “Hitch me.” What is a Hitchens? It’s not a cocktail, it’s a serving size. It means to fill a glass with scotch whiskey –preferably Johnny Walker– all the way to the rim, in the manner Christopher Hitchens does (see above). This is essentially like ordering a quadruple shot, so I take no responsibility for the state you’ll wander out of the bar in.

As a supplemental device, if a bartender fails to fill the glass to the rim, you can protest “Don’t Dinesh my Hitch!” A nod to Dinesh D’Souza, who is according to Hitchens, his most formidable debating opponent.

Jason adds via email that ordering a Hitchens is an evocative expression of a certain spirit and lifestyle attitude:

“The Hitchens”, in terms of a glass of scotch poured a certain way and to a certain height, embodies the spirit of Christopher Hitchens, a man who doesn’t give a rats ass about you, your feelings, or anything you have to say about his well formed opinions. He can be a great author, debater, commentator, whatever… yet he can still live his life the way you don’t want him to as he goes out every night and gets completely sh*tfaced and in your face. The Hitchens drink embodies that spirit…

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Joe the Plumber can read and write. Amazing!

I happened upon Mark Steyn’s web page today.   (I always mean to bookmark it and check it regularly but for some reason I never do.)    While there I found out something I didn’t know.    Joe the Plumber has written a book.   And not everyone is happy about that.

As an unpublished novelist who has been studying writing for a decade,  all I can say is that Timothy Egan is a twat.   (Trust me… it’s a literary term.)   He writes:

I have a question for Joe: Do you want me to fix your leaky toilet?

I didn’t think so. And I don’t want you writing books. Not when too many good novelists remain unpublished. Not when too many extraordinary histories remain unread. Not when too many riveting memoirs are kicked back at authors after 10 years of toil. Not when voices in Iran, North Korea or China struggle to get past a censor’s gate.

As a writer I was shocked when I read this.

Really and truly.

I’m tempted to post it (without the plumbing clue) on a writing newsgroup I frequent and ask the real, published, and even successfully so, authors what they think of this attitude.   The idea that any of those authors would ever express this sort of elitist tripe is impossible.   And why not?   Surely they view some novels and some books as more worthy than others.   So where does Mr. Egan fail so miserably?

He fails to respect *me*.

Not as a hopeful author, but as a reader. But it’s easy to see why. When your value and self-image is dependent on this noble profession, this higher calling, it’s necessary to dismiss the riff-raff. What do plumbers know? Housewives? Nurses? I recall a discussion long long ago, I think it was on misc.writing: “What is the best job to get if you want to write?” The answer, from writers, was that it was best to get a job as a laborer. Work with your hands, and your mind can consider the universe.

But Mr. Egan thinks that it’s more important to work at wordsmithing than to work at life.

He goes on to fantasize about an even greater horror:

Next up may be Sarah Palin, who is said to be worth nearly $7 million if she can place her thoughts between covers. Publishers: (…) can we set some ground rules for these hard times? Anyone who abuses the English language on such a regular basis should not be paid to put words in print.

Tim, sweetie, that’s what editors are for.

He’s equal opportunity in his disdain for people who buy books… he doesn’t say so, instead he names those unworthy authors of unworthy tomes. “Stop soaking up precious advance money.” he says. Perhaps people will read the worthy books, if only they have nothing else.

But one thing is true: People refuse to buy “literature” because “literature” disrespects them and their lives. With all the word-smithing and all the angst over the exact right sentence structure, pace and timing, it’s really all about exclusivity and driving people off, so only the worthy people remain to read those worthy tomes.

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Where have the strong women gone?

I’ve now read my first real “vampire” book.

Okay, so it’s a werewolf book with vampires, but I’m told this is *the* genre these days. Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn. Not bad, not bad in a lot of ways, but past annoying in others and I was thinking of ranting a bit and putting the rant on my blog. You see, I bought the book to get it signed by Ms. Vaughn at Bubonicon this fall despite the fact that I’m not much into the werewolf or vampire craze, and despite the fact that she stated on one of the panels that she really didn’t like people like me, specifically, women who say they aren’t feminists.

Not that I take that personally.


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The Joys of the Recession Vacation

Don’t complain to me if there aren’t any new posts on ASHC. I’m sitting on a beach in Miami and thus completely out of the necessary frame of mind to bitch about Obama and triumph of statism. Now, these other writers on here have no such excuses I note. In fact, they’re probably sitting at their desks right now wondering “why isn’t Lee posting anything new?” To them I toast a fruity morning cocktail with a plastic palm tree. It’s up to you gentlemen.

Even though this excursion is more business than pleasure, the economic conditions here in South Florida remind me of how much I love vacationing during recession. The worse and deeper the downturn, the better the leisure to be found. Hotels to yourself, fire sale prices for everything, pretty girls in bikinis who are more easily impressed with a boring software executive. It’s a fine time to travel to a tropical paradise. The traditional problem being how to pay for it in a recession. Ahem. As cruel a Catch-22 as there is.

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Government by Rich and Poor

Sadly, Myrna Bushell, Bideford (UK) town councillor and stripper/phone sex business owner, is resigning her office due to a lack of respect from colleagues.

But in parting she also cited the time constraints necessary for local councilpeople, concluding that you either had to be wealthy or unemployed to have time and interest in the work. I consider that to be a profound political insight applicable to more than one level of government the world over.

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JP Morgan, Lehman and Nightmares

I am often asked about individual bank stocks, especially JP Morgan. Generally my answer is that Bank of America, JP Morgan and a few others look to be likely survivors, but how profitable they will be I am really unsure.

JP Morgan is a special discussion, because I point out a rather astonishing fact, they have a notional exposure to around 90 trillion in derivative contracts, or did last March (pdf.) 58 trillion of it swaps of some sort. Probably credit default swaps (CDS) are the majority. Which means…what? I don’t know, and frankly if anybody really does they aren’t telling me. In essence I am left telling people that I have to treat that as a “black box.” Not exactly confidence raising. Personally there are better ways to make money than hoping a company with 90 trillion in derivatives exposure has a handle on it in my book, but then again, I am admitting that I have no idea what I am talking about, and cannot find anyone else who does either.

Warren Buffet often speaks of defining a circle of competency when investing and staying inside it. It doesn’t matter how big the circle is, just knowing when you are inside it. Well, 90 trillion in derivatives exposure is outside of my circle of competency to assess.

The nightmare is what if it is outside of JP Morgans circle? I suspect it is, and the massive exposure of two other banks as well (Citibank and Bank of America have approx. 38 trillion apiece.)

What makes me wonder about it today? Personally I have always felt that there was a good chance that JP Morgan was who was being saved when the Fed brokered the acquisition of Bear Stearns. Bear goes under and JP Morgan would have to come up with huge payments on CDS contracts. Also, I suspect that Bear was a counterparty for a large number of derivatives, which if Bear was insolvent might not have all been paid up. Or maybe not. Then I see this over at Barry Ritholtz’s:

“Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s main lender and clearing agent, JPMorgan Chase & Co., caused the liquidity crisis that led to Lehman’s collapse, creditors said.

JPMorgan had more than $17 billion of Lehman’s cash and securities three days before the investment bank filed the biggest bankruptcy in history on Sept. 15, the creditors committee said in a filing Oct. 2 in bankruptcy court in Manhattan. Denying Lehman access to the assets on Sept. 12, the bank “froze” Lehman’s account, the creditors claimed.

JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank by deposits, financed Lehman’s brokerage operations with daily advances, while money market funds and other short-term lenders provided overnight loans, according to bankruptcy court documents. When JPMorgan shut Lehman off from funds, Lehman “suffered an immediate liquidity crisis that could have been averted by any number of events, none of which transpired,” according to the filing.

The creditors asked the judge in charge of the case to let them interview a witness and request relevant documents from JPMorgan and to pursue possible legal claims. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James M. Peck is scheduled to hold a hearing Oct. 16 on that request, the creditors said.”

Hmmm, so Lehman may have been torpedoed by JP Morgan? Hardnosed but not weird, until this little tidbit in the update:

Ron Kirby notes: “I wrote about a very strange occurrence – the reporting of J.P. Morgan “transferring” 138 billion dollars to Lehman, after Lehman had already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy early last Monday morning…It is highly likely [or a certainty on my planet] that J.P. Morgan was INSOLVENT and was “BAILED OUT” last Monday, September 15, to the tune of 138 billion dollars. This would explain why the Fed and Treasury dictated that Lehman fail – to disguise or otherwise obfuscate the recapitalization of or illicit transfer of 138 billion to A MUCH SICKER, TEETERING ENTITY, J.P. Morgan Chase.”

The link is filled with some rather out there speculation (and I have no intention of confirming or discrediting it) but this is a very odd transaction. Immediately after sending Lehman 138 billion they received 138 billion from the Federal Reserve. What were they off loading? Meanwhile they allegedly cut off Lehman.

Back to Bear. Was allowing JPM to take over Bear and the Fed guaranteeing most of their debt a back door method of recapitalizing a banking behemoth? Are the acquisitions that JPM has been making under very favorable terms a sign of strength or weakness? Gifts from the Federal Reserve to recapitalize them? How much trouble is in that book of derivatives?

I have already pointed out the problems in Europe, problems which the failure of AIG would have exacerbated due to their massive involvement in the CDS market. Is it possible that JPM was also heavily exposed to a failure by AIG? With 90 Trillion in nominal exposure it is hard to imagine they were not. With that much exposure who could possibly be more of a candidate for the “too big to fail” label. Could the Fed be manipulating these events to save them without causing the kind of panic that Bear and the later victims have caused?

I don’t know, which is the real tragedy. Nobody knows what the exposure of anybody is, so we are all left guessing. The Federal Reserve, our government, the financial institutions themselves are all busy obscuring rather than bringing things to light. In order to avoid panic by showing us all how deep the problems are, they are busy spreading suspicion, distrust and panic by keeping everybody, including financial institutions they have to deal with, in the dark. The hope of generous terms from the government keeps banks from admitting what their books really look like, or to try and sell in an orderly manner what they have. Who needs to expose your books to potential lenders when the Federal Reserve will take a used car as collateral and at a lower rate.

How bad off are these institutions? We have no idea. We are left with our imagination and our nightmares.

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Les Miserables

You know, I’m a little tired of all of the snide comparisons of Ike and Katrina, in particular the comparisons of New Orleanians to Houstonians. Why is there almost no news coverage of Ike’s aftermath vs. that of Katrina? For the same reason there’s no coverage of the aftermath of Gustav in New Orleans: in terms of the relative strengths of the storms at US landfall, the size of their relative storm surges and scope of the damage done, Ike and Gustav just don’t compare to Katrina.

Following Katrina, at this point New Orleans had been maybe 50% dewatered. We were at about 1200 dead, even though a far higher percentage had evacuated for Katrina, a monster category 5 storm that was so powerful it damaged pipelines laying on the the freaking bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Ike made landfall barely rated a Category three, and was even weaker by the time it got to Houston, while Katrina made landfall a Category five with New Orleans experiencing sustained Category three winds. But of course the big destroyer in a hurricane is the water, and while in 2005 New Orleans drowned, two weeks ago Houston, and even Galveston, did not.

Although I am a native of New Orleans, I’ve been in Texas so long that I consider myself a Texan, and a proud one at that. Houston is doing a great job dealing with the aftermath of Ike, as is the state. Texas learned an enormous amount from Rita. But the main reason southeast Texans are responding better to Ike than New Orleanians did to Katrina is because we didn’t go through anything remotely like New Orleanians suffered through, and still suffers; not even close.

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CEO’s as Pirates

Vox Popoli

The executive class is not, for the most part, capitalist, it can be more accurately understood as a sort of pirates union that is loosely allied in common cause against the capitalists who actually own the companies that they are systematically pillaging under the guise of “managing” them. Until this distinction between executives and owners is properly understood by the American people, the irresponsible rape-and-pillage will continue to the detriment of the shareholders, the employees, the economy and even the government.

Interesting view of the executive class.  Seems they are about as useless as the current political class.  Easy access to Other People’s Money (I heard Sarah Palin call it OPM the other night on Hannity) is at the root of both the executive and political failings.

Vox Day argues this is not “a reflection of the free market” and that government intervention has allowed this.

Their power is the result of government interference in the free markets

I can see this as a micro argument but it seems to me that, at a macro view, this is the free market at work.  “They” will take what they can get away with – what the market will bear.  Government interference is part of what defines the current “market”.  When the shareholders decide this is no longer acceptable, they will influence the market to change.

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Substantive Debate vs Pot Shots vs Mudslinging

An interesting debate occurred through email over my short jab at Obama’s experience. Now, I think it’s great when we have substantive debate about important issues, but I’m not above taking pot shots at our political class. A little sarcasm can go a long way towards highlighting a particular issue.

Mudslinging – the act of throwing around outright lies, innuendo, and gossip, in the hopes of tarnishing the opposition. There may be the whiff of truth somewhere, but it’s usually hidden beneath a partisan agenda.

Pot shots – humorously pointing out a negative feature of the opposition. Should be true in and of itself.

Substantive debate – the point/counter-point revealing of facts about a topic.

Now, I’m not claiming that the following is a complete debate about the issues brought up. But it does show that, a pot shot may lead to a greater discussion of the issues. I think if you look through some of the comments on recent posts about Palin you’ll see examples of mudslinging. Actually you can look through the mainstream media and see enough mudslinging.


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Luck, Good Karma, and Preparing for the Worst

I had a lesson in all three this past Friday (8/29.) As I was riding my brand new Triumph Bonneville (with 2 weeks & 650 miles on it,) to work, not more then 2 miles from my house I had a collision with a raccoon. The short story is that the bike and I are in about the same shape, a few dings, and some scrapes, but salvageable. Currently the bike is at the dealer, waiting for inspection by the insurance agent. The rider is at work, and other then a little pain from his knees, is doing fine.

Read the whole story, and view the gory details below the fold.


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Blog Graphics Retrospective

I was searching for an image on my backup drive today and came across a cache of header graphics I’d thrown together for posts over the years. The diversity of subjects was kind of interesting as a gallery. Here’s a few rather random selections:

The HIV Epidemic:
The HIV Epidemic


Slobodan Milosevic:
slobodan milosevic

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Family in Trouble

American Daily

The single most important building block of any nation is her families. Destroy that and you can easily lay claim to a nation’s soul.

I agree. I think we have failed to maintain the nuclear family and lost the fundamental building block. Part of the reason so many folks are enticed by government support (socialism – and why the liberal left is making headway today)is that they don’t have strong family ties and are looking to replace that support structure with something.

Read the whole thing. I don’t agree with his last few paragraphs where he gets religious and I am not as pessimistic but I do believe that our families suffer at our own peril.

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Bad News for Pakistans’s Government

Belmont Club

In the words of the Economist,
“the danger is that, once Mr Musharraf has gone and it has no common hatred to
unite its disparate parts, it descends into feuding and paralysis

This would not be good news for the US and the war against the Islamists either. The aftermath of Musharraf’s resignation is difficult to predict but it seems likely the US will lose influence in Pakistan. Which means that Al Qaeda and the Taliban continue to have safe haven.

We have been worried about Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons and their link to terror. Pakistan already has nuclear weapons and could become influenced by the terrorist organizations. This may be an even more imminent danger than Iran.

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Hello from Mike Roark

Hello to all – fellow bloggers and readers. Lance has graciously invited me to participate. I have been reading blogs for several years now (late bloomer) and have watched their influence in the media grow. I am happy to see a viable antidote to the MSM and a place to promote discussion. I have not commented regularly anywhere and just, very recently, started my own blog. I’m not sure if I will continue to post on both blogs or just here. I’ll see how that develops. I ran into Lance several years ago, making comments somewhere, and have stayed in touch with him on and off since then.

I am fairly conservative but lean towards the center. I describe it as a little bit classic liberal, a little bit libertarian and little bit whatever else makes sense. I will post more info on the “about” page.

I rarely post long discussions. Most of my contribution will be in the “Around the Web” category. I enjoy scouring the conservative blogs for tidbits of news and posting things I find interesting with just a bit of comment.

Glad to be here and looking forward to participating in the discussion.

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Surprise, Central Planning is Still Stupid (Even in China)

shanghai housing construction china
(photo: 2 Dogs)

Modern China has a curious capacity to make otherwise very sensible capitalists instantly forget every experience they’ve ever had with government central planning. The Western businessman on a trip to Shanghai looks up and sees all those gleaming skyscrapers going up on the Yangtze, and he thinks massive state planning must be different somehow in the People’s Republic. It isn’t.


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Suppose He Wins…

John McCain
(photo: Dan Bennett)

Dick Morris writes that it’s beginning to look like McCain can win (if he follows his advice of course). Also, McCain has had an (insignificant) advantage with leaners in the Rasmussen tracking poll for two days now. That’s coupled with some peculiar pro-McCain shifts in their public trust ratings. McCain is now more trusted on a score of issues and dead-even with Obama (45%) on the economy.

One really surprising result was that McCain is now more trusted on Social Security (44% to 38%). That’s pretty uncommon even in Republican years. Ruh-roh, says me. There’s some structural movement under the surface of things.

If the Republicans somehow won this thing, I truly fear that some of my Democratic friends might spontaneously combust. They are as far from mentally prepared for this election to be close as can be. Much less are they even willing to entertain the possibility of a McCain victory. Predictions of such might as well be written Klingon. They will explain to you why it’s “impossible” if asked. Not that it’s unlikely, or improbable, but physically impossible to happen. It’s just not in within the realm of their vision.

When I sent Darryl Holman’s calculation of a 100% probability of Obama winning to a Democratic friend of mine (hoping to cheer him up), he responded that he didn’t need to do the electoral math to know there was no conceivable possibility of “McSame” winning the election. Ruh-roh again. There’s a little too much confidence in that camp for a scenario such as this, where polls aren’t exactly painting a picture of 1964.

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Dissonance Control in Political Paranoia

Bird watcher
(photo: companyink)

After writing about the Ronpaulist fear mongering of Jordan Page, and then reading Lance’s splendid post on the latest contheorist pandering of Glenn Greenwald, a common insight has reoccurred to me: the absurd amount of cognitive dissonance conditional to political paranoia.

This is something Christopher Hitchens explored quite adeptly last year at the “Four Horsemen” chat with his three fellow atheist luminaries, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris (, skip to 8:17). In a response to a point by Dennett, Hitchens argues that the stress of cognitive dissonance is the inevitable state deriving from belief in political unreality, and furthermore, that this condition exists and persists on purely survival grounds (seems true in miniature too).

I’d add that it’s the compartmentalism that political paranoia necessitates in an open society that is the most conspicuous betrayal of its essential cynicism. Something especially apparent when you run into it face to face.

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Moving Day

Newhouse As a Realtor, I often am able to congratulate folks on a move to a wonderful new home.

Today, good wishes are extended to Professor Keigh Burgess-Jackson on his new abode.  The Professor won’t be cooking in his new home, and he will not need to clean out the gutters nor scrub the tub.  Nevertheless, I am certain it will be a delightful spot in which his thoughts can reside.

May both Keith and his readers enjoy his new home!

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Dude, I have found your recession-Updated

I understand that many find the media’s treatment of the economy under Bush biased. I agree with that. No argument from me. So I understand where Instapundit and others, including many denizens of this site, are coming from.

That being said, that does not mean the media is being too pessimistic now just because if Clinton, Gore or Obama were in office they would tend to be a bit more positive, and would have been much more positive when the economy was doing well. They are in fact being way too positive, especially business and finance oriented media. Yeah, it is so bad out there that the doom from the media is understating it. First Insty:

DUDE, WHERE’S MY RECESSION? (CONT’D): “Consumers boosted their spending at a 1.5 percent pace in the second quarter. That was up from a 0.9 percent growth rate in the first quarter and marked the best showing since the third quarter of 2007 when the economy was still performing strongly despite the severe housing slump.” On the other hand, the inflation picture isn’t so great.

True as far as it goes, and it was pretty much a one time shot from the stimulus package, and that is only the early estimate. It will probably be revised down eventually.  Let us dig into the details of the latest data:

  • GDP: Despite all of the gloom, 1.9% was significantly below expectations of 2.3%. As I suspected the impact of the stimulus was muted, and I believe will detract down the road.
  • Initial Jobless Claims: 448k. That’s the worst level since April 2003 and continues a string of reports over 400k.
  • First Quarter GDP Revisions: Revised down to 0.9% from 1.0%. First revised up, now back down, and likely to be revised downward again.

Now here is the big one:

  • Q4 GDP Revisions: Revised from +0.6 down to -0.2%. I have been arguing that it was highly unlikely the economy didn’t go negative in the fourth quarter of 2007, and that was true even if the quarter as a whole was positive, because that only meant that the negative activity in the latter half of the quarter wasn’t enough to overcome the growth in the first part. This adds to my conviction that the first quarter will be revised further downward. The second quarter will likely eventually be ruled negative as well. Folks, the evidence is pretty darn solid that we are in a recession. It would be mind boggling if we were not given the collapse in housing, construction and in the financial sector. In fact, I suspect the fourth quarter of 2007 to be revised even further down.

Why am I so convinced of the direction of the revisions?

  • Inflation: The personal consumption expenditure price index rose at a 4.2% annual rate. Bad enough in and of itself. However, here is an odd data point. The GDP price index has been running lower than the PCE index. I think that anomaly will narrow. It was at an extreme level in the second quarter. The GDP price index only rose 1.1% in the second quarter! The two price index’s do measure different things, but the gap from 4.2% to 1.1%, especially given my anecdotal experience of inflation, seems indefensible. I expect a significant revision.
  • Consumer Spending: The government mailed out $100 billion in rebate checks. Yet:

    Real gross domestic purchases — purchases by U.S. residents of goods and services wherever produced — decreased 0.5 percent in the second quarter, in contrast to an increase of 0.1 percent in the first.

Here is more on the revisions which go back twelve quarters:

The annual revisions don’t change the overall view of the economy: From 2004 through 2007, the economy grew at an annual rate of 2.6%, a tenth of a percentage point slower than earlier estimates. Growth was revised lower in all three years covered by the annual revision, with 2007 now coming in at 2%, rather than 2.2%.

Most economists believe the economy’s long-run sustainable growth rate is 2.5% to 2.75% per year.

Eight of the 12 quarters were revised lower, three were revised higher, and one was unchanged.

Some of the details look a little different. Over the past three years, consumption was a bit weaker than assumed, while business investment was slightly better. The housing collapse was worse than thought. Profits and income from assets were higher, while wages and salaries were lower.

Consumer spending has averaged 3% growth over the past three years. Business investment was revised up to a 6.5% pace from 6.1%. Disposable personal incomes rose 2.6%, unrevised.

Profits were revised higher for all three years, by a cumulative $237.1 billion. Profits in the financial industries were lowered by a cumulative $61 billion, while profits from nonfinancial companies were revised up by $254 billion over the three years.

Before the revisions, profits had been at historic highs in relation to national income.

Some of those profits flowed through to the owners. Income from assets was revised up by a total of $61 billion for the three years.

Meanwhile, the compensation of workers was revised lower by $47 billion. Most of the decrease in compensation was accounted for by smaller health-care benefits due to lower-than-assumed medical payments made by bosses on behalf of their employees.

Update: From Econoday




Data Source: Haver Analytics | Consensus Data Source: Market News International and Thomson Financial

Also from Econoday:

Jobless Claims Consensus Forecast for 7/26/08: 398,000
Range: 375,000 to 420,000


Data Source: Haver Analytics | Consensus Data Source: Market News International and Thomson Financial

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Investing at Home in Africa

(photo: William Bedzrah)

One of the traditional problems of economic development in sub-Saharan Africa is that internal African investment dollars tend to be spent outside the continent. Thus it’s interesting to see Nigerian investment in Ghana has now reached $580 million. Something that has sparked quick calls for a Nigeria-Ghana Chamber of Commerce and further liberalization of trade laws.

[George Kumi, Ghana’s High Commissioner to Nigeria] noted that what Nigeria and Ghana need is increase in trade investment and not foreign aids, said the business cooperation between the two countries would go along way in alleviating poverty.

“We need to move away from the old way of over protecting our internal trade. There should be free flow of goods from Ghana to Nigeria and vice versa.”

Good stuff, to be sure.

One of the factors that makes these two countries compatible investors in each other is monetary policy and the (new) tendency of their currencies to retain value. Nigeria’s inflation rate which was as high as 16% in 2005, fell to 6.5% this year (comparable to Chile). Ghana has been experiencing an equally dramatic fall in inflation, from an astronomical 26.7% in 2004, to 11% in 2008 (better than Russia).

With falling inflation of this kind, the temptation to send your profits to Switzerland as soon as you make them is substantially reduced.

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Landham Returns

Taking fecklessness to new levels of embarrassment, the Libertarian Party of Kentucky is now considering rescinding its unanimous de-endorsement of genocidal fantasist Sonny Landham, and formally renominating him as its candidate for US Senate.

“We’re really stuck,” said Libertarian Party chair Ken Moellman. “We don’t necessarily want to kick him off the ballot.”


“Our goal was not to kick him out,” added Moellman. “We are in a tough spot.”
(PolitickerKY via Last Free Voice)

Unbelievable. The wide ranging praise the party received for its rejection of a raving lunatic, must have alerted them that they weren’t demonstrating levels of incompetence and irresponsibility commensurate with the Libertarian Party’s long established traditions.

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The Tidal Empires of War

Bashar Assad stickers in Syria
(photo: Charles RoffeyCharles & Fred)

Someone once said that in Damascus you truly can get a little bit pregnant. It’s a good aphorism, because if you asked the foreign minister of almost any state in the Middle East or the Mediterranean what his government’s policy relationship was with Syria, he would automatically furrow his brow and call it “complicated.” You always seem to be about half-way somewhere with Syria. Lately that appears to be true even for Tzipi Livni. If so for Israel, doubly so for Lebanon.

Surveying it, Jihad Yazigi describes the situation that exists between the two countries as customarily “complicated”, but the dimension of complication he’s seeing is something relatively new. Where before thirty years of Syrian military occupation (and often not very covert political subversion) might be the most obvious locus, Yazigi is today talking about labor and direct investment in Syria by Lebanese:

Syria would probably not be liberalizing its economy and going through a revival of its services sector without the thousands of Lebanese managers that are running Syrian firms. Lebanese managerial know-how is being exported throughout the Arab world and Syria will continue to need it if it wants to further the opening up of its economy.
(The Syria Report)

That’s a very new economic relationship, as historically it is Syrian labor that has traveled to liberal and cosmopolitan Beirut. It is Syrian enterprise that has worked to create a paternalistic relationship between the two countries with one-way investment, generally government directed.


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Fountain of Youth

Want to stay youthful?  No magic potion, pill nor surgery will deliver it to you.

But, you can follow this prescription to ward off Father Time:  keep active and working!

Thanks to my friend and very smart guy Mitch Perlstein at the Center of the American Experiment for this fine column.

You might note that Mitch cites both conservatives and liberals who are following their passion, irrespective of their ages.  You might also note that in my own life, my dad has been an exceptional role model.  Despite hitting his 87th birthday a week ago, Dad still remains busy throughout the day.  An industrial realtor for scores of years, he continues to manage properties.  On a volunteer basis, Dad daily assists friends and strangers throughout my parents’ community with all kinds of technical issues:  computers, printers, DVD’s and the like.  He has served on the Board at their association and done mentoring in local inner city schools.

My mom sometimes wishes he would slow down.  I maintain that part of why Dad is in such fine shape is due to his constant motion and giving!

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Our New Housing Bill

What a gem. Speaking of Jims, Jim Lindgren wonders if it can be as bad as claimed by the Wall Street Journal:

In the Wall Street Journal editorial on the new housing bill is this ominous paragraph:

Likewise, the bill’s $300 billion to refinance and insure distressed loans through the Federal Housing Administration will supposedly cost just a few billion dollars. That assumes few homeowners and lenders will sign up for the program because lenders will have to take a 10% haircut to be eligible. If no one needs this program, why is it there? If lenders do take advantage, they’re bound to dump their worst loans on the feds. So as with the Fan and Fred bailout, the FHA guarantee will be either superfluous or much more expensive than we’re led to believe.

From this account, I can’t tell exactly what the bill provides. Perhaps a knowledgeable VC reader can decipher the exceedingly complex statute.

Could this bill really allow banks to get the FHA to guarantee all its worst loans at 90% of their original value, even loans worth only a half or a third of their original value? Then if the homeowner defaults, the bank gets paid and the homeowner still loses his or her home. I doubt that the bill could be that silly.

$300 billion is a lot of money, representing over a quarter of all US income tax receipts in 2005.

I don’t know if it is that silly, but I can easily imagine that it is exactly that stupid.

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Ch-ch-ch-Changes …

I won’t bore you with the details, but I’ve been invited to blog at QandO and I took it.

That’s right, I hopped all over that opportunity like a starving alley cat on plate of tuna fresh and a saucer of milk. And I like it. So sue me. Just remember that I’m a lawyer so I can sue you back … hard.

In all seriousness, blogging at QandO is more of an expansion than a change of domain. I don’t intend to leave ASHC, so you’ll still be able to not read such great hits as “A Torturous Dilemma,” “Metternich-ing the Middle East“, and “Propaganda and Insurgency” when you come to visit. Only now, you can not read me at two sites! [/snark]

Anyway, there’s probably not a lot that will change because of this new opportunity, except that maybe I will be able to drive a few more eyeballs over here to ASHC. With all due respect to QandO, I still believe that this is the place to get some of the most intelligent and diverse opinions on myriad different topics, and that some of the best writers on the internet reside right here. I am a proud denizen of ASHC whose fortunate enough to have dual citizenship. But this will always be my home.

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A Retreating Periphery

Indian Frontiers
(photo: Mani Babbar)

After 9/11 widened Al Qaeda’s ambitious war against most of the world, Osama bin Laden described his own axis-o-evil as being composed of “Crusaders, Zionists and Hindus.” But at some point, without anyone much noticing, that seems to have changed for Hindus.


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Exit Trinity. Exit Church.


Well, Mr. Obama has finally quit that ludicrous Chicago institution known as Trinity United Church of Christ. His membership had survived Rev. Wright, but was ultimately done in over the visiting Rev. Michael Pfleger’s bizarre self-hating white guilt trip, and radicalized political rally in sacred masquerade.

Having seen the deranged, obscenely ideological sermons of Wright and then Pfleger, it may be that conservatives are experiencing for the first time in national politics what the left has endured for decades: the insufferable and corrosive experience of seeing clergy involved in brutish political editorializing from the pulpit, done allegedly under the sanction of God, for and toward His rather famously unpredictable purposes.

Perhaps there might then be a collective recognition in this country that aggressively involving the church in politics isn’t such a swell idea. Perhaps even a deeper understanding that God –who by His nature rules only through decree– might not be such a logical source for consultation in a democracy, which rules through consent of the governed.

Too much to hope for, I know. But one can dream of a better day. Even in an era where the preacher pirates in the Evangelical social conservative movement hold a cutlass at the Republican party’s throat every election. And thereby a patently preposterous, explicitly theocratic ignoramus like Mike Huckabee, can experience significant support within that party for its vice presidential nomination.

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A Sexual Imagination is Not a Crime

Leggy sexy model

(photo: Serguei Kovalev)

Christopher Hitchens once said that the trouble with biographers of Thomas Jefferson, is that there appears to be the collective assumption on their part that the great man was without a penis. I’m reminded of this truth in reading about the very hot water Mr. Al Franken –the all-but-certain Democratic nominee for US Senate in Minnesota– has gotten himself into, over a satirical and sexually explicit essay he wrote for Playboy magazine in 2000. Hot water originating not only from GOP women, but also from within the Democratic Party.

The piece is without doubt salacious, even enormously kinky (naughty NSFW excerpts available here). But one could be forgiven the crime of commonsense in expecting that a writer tasked with composing anything for such a magazine on contract, would tend to produce something somewhat sexually suggestive if he wished to be paid. One might even go so far as to posit that writing something entitled “Porn-o-Rama,” for an unabashedly pornographic publication, isn’t all that shocking. I mention the title because in defiance of reason we are told by Liza Porteus Viana that the title itself (and neither the publisher nor the substance of the essay), is what is most politically objectionable here.


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Food Porn

If any of you were wondering how BBQ is done down in Texas, check out this Brisket Pictorial that will no doubt leave you craving some good Q. Here’s what we start with,

naked brisket
He messes up the cabbage a little, but it still came out alright. Finished product after the jump.


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Ill chosen words… and digging deeper

As at least one person has said, there’s the type of slip of the tongue where one accidentally says what one really thinks.Has everyone seen by now Obama’s take on why small town Midwestern sorts cling to religion, guns, racism, and anti-illegal immigrant notions? They’re bitter.

“It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

So now he’s conceded that his remarks were ill chosen and that of course religion and the second amendment are good things. He attempts to say the same thing but with better chosen words. He also seems to have left out the “antipathy to people who aren’t like them” part. (Which, frankly, I hadn’t seen anyone make much of a deal about but there is a lot I don’t see so…)

“Lately there has been a little typical sort of political flare up because I said something that everybody knows is true, which is that there are a whole bunch of folks in small towns in Pennsylvania, in towns right here in Indiana, in my hometown in Illinois who are bitter,”

My “home town” is between 200 and 300 people. I had to go to the next town for school and my graduating class numbered Forty-one. Anywhere that I have gone in my 20+ years of adult life no one has had the first clue of what “depressed local economy” actually means. They just don’t know.


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Charlton Heston, Disarmed.

Charlton Heston has died.

I was hesitant to put the title on this post that I did but decided that someone was going to say it so I might as well say it with profound regard and respect for the man and his message.    As an actor I knew who Charlton Heston was but I simply don’t pay that much attention to Hollywood.  Rather, I knew him as a handsomely craggy and very old man who had been in movies and now was an advocate for the NRA.

I approve, sir.

Rest now in peace and lay down your arms.     It is right and appropriate to do so.     Few will leave such a legacy.

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Clifford Stoll

Fantastic mania.

From the Department of Good Ideas

Cross-posted to

Nothing says “we’re aware of a delicate political situation” like unilateral strikes on an unstable country:

Independent actions by U.S. military forces on another country’s sovereign territory are always controversial, and both U.S. and Pakistani officials have repeatedly sought to obscure operational details that would reveal that key decisions are sometimes made in the United States, not in Islamabad. Some Pentagon operations have been undertaken only after intense disputes with the State Department, which has worried that they might inflame Pakistani public resentment; the CIA itself has sometimes sought to put the brakes on because of anxieties about the consequences for its relationship with Pakistani intelligence officials.

U.S. military officials say, however, that the uneven performance of their Pakistani counterparts increasingly requires that Washington pursue the fight however it can, sometimes following an unorthodox path that leaves in the dark Pakistani military and intelligence officials who at best lack commitment and resolve and at worst lack sympathy for U.S. interests.

Top Bush administration policy officials — who are increasingly worried about al-Qaeda’s use of its sanctuary in remote, tribally ruled areas in northern Pakistan to dispatch trained terrorists to the West — have quietly begun to accept the military’s point of view, according to several sources familiar with the context of the Libi strike.

“In the past, it required getting approval from the highest levels,” said one former intelligence official involved in planning for previous strikes. “You may have information that is valid for only 30 minutes. If you wait, the information is no longer valid.”

I believe that last bit is a not-so-subtle reference to the well-known incident of a Predator tracking Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in the late 90’s, and approval for an American strike did not come through in time and the trail went cold (Ahmed Shah Massoud’s men were contracted to hit a nearby training camp, and though they transported missiles and guns on mule-back, the secondary strike was ineffective).

It is also an historically unique situation; amongst the locals in Waziristan, the whereabouts of Taliban militants is no secret. While the ability to bomb a supposedly allied country at will with robots has a pleasing, gee-whiz aspect to it, those sorts of strikes pose a very grave risk, which Joby Warrick and Robin Wright note: Washington loves technological, low-risk solutions to its problems, but in Pakistan itself we lose support every time that path is chosen.

Look at it from a broader perspective: years of bowing before Musharraf’s parlor games have created a situation in which there is no reliable HUMINT in western Pakistan. Rather than looking at a top-down review of U.S. policy, and how a sustainable, long-term solution might be crafted (even if that meant abandoning our precious, yet deeply unhelpful Musharraf), we rely on robots armed with anti-tank missiles.

Sounds to me like a bigger problem than just picking off a few bad guys. know what I mean?

Note: kudos to Warrick and Wright for calling the tribal areas “tribally ruled,” rather than “lawless.” The latter is a particularly unctuous term that has evolved, alongside “Spring Offensive,” into a pet peeve.

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Whaaa? When did this happen?

Last week?

…but I can no longer stand idly by and watch the media and independent voters continue to throw themselves at the feet of John McCain.

Because I’m trying to remember anyone swooning over McCain and I’m not having much luck at all.

The John McCain they fell in love with in 2000 — the straight-shooting, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may maverick – is no more.

Oh. EIGHT YEARS AGO. Now it all makes sense.

But… I have felt fondly for McCain. It happened when I saw this:

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Am I anti-Intellectual or…

…am I just not impressed by YOU?

Jules Crittenden responds to a column by Susan Jacoby The Dumbing of America. She concludes…

It is past time for a serious national discussion about whether, as a nation, we truly value intellect and rationality.

The short answer is… yes, we truly value intellect and rationality.

It just doesn’t look like what you want it to look like. In fact, I’m tempted to start quoting The Princess Bride… “This word? I do not think it means what you think it means.”


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Is it racism when…

… people don’t want to admit to pollsters that they aren’t voting for the black candidate?

Instapundit frames it so it sounds like Susan Estrich is saying that Democrats are racist and we should assume that in a general election everyone else is even *more* racist.   I was going to dispute that baseless assumption.   (That Democrats are less racist than other people.)

But I’m not sure what she thinks.     I read the column and I’m not sure what she thinks.    The “racism” she describes is simply that people, when asked, are likely to lie and say they’re planning to vote for the black guy.     But surely it’s not *required* to vote for the black candidate!   Not wanting to be labeled a racist is far from the same thing as being one.    Though it may well return false positives when people are polled.
But she does seem to be implying that racism is an issue with Democrats and will be even more of an issue in the general election… it just doesn’t make sense with the rest of what she said.

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Does it matter who said this?

Karl Rove and George Bush and Dick Cheney will have many disastrous legacies, but one of the most despicable and enduring will be how they used fear to deeply and deliberately divide our country

I don’t think that it really does. The author is sort of famous and stuff but I prefer to ignore the politics of certain classes of people (ie. entertainers or artists) if at all possible.

But it makes my fingers itch, and I just want to go leave a comment where I found this and point out that the *division* started before Rove or Bush or Cheney were actually in power. The *division* started when Gore deliberately and purposefully decided that public confidence in the *process* was less important than a chance of him winning and deliberately and purposefully decided to undermine and destroy public confidence in the democratic process.

And it went on, before 9-11 and any issues of “fear”, as those buying into the whole “he stole the election” thing demanded that Bush carry on a Democrat agenda (because he didn’t *really* win) and that Bush ought to tell those Republicans who might think he owed *them* a Republican agenda, to shove it. Do you remember this pre-9/11 attitude? I sure do.

There never was any “meet in the middle”. There never was any bi-partisanship. And blaming that on Bush and Cheney and Rove is just a wee bit obtuse.

If we want to find blame for the deliberate division of our country (not that it’s a particularly *new* thing) perhaps we ought to look to those who made outright opposition to the administration a party loyalty test and threw out (or tried to) those who didn’t turn against the decisions they had participated in and approved of once the initial hot feeling from 9-11 was over.

Utterly refusing to participate and then stomping and howling that it’s all the the other guy’s fault that you can’t play together isn’t the behavior of grown-ups.

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Proto-sperm created from female stem cell

This is fascinating, though the idea of destroying a female embryo to show that females could reproduce is sort of grotesque.

The researcher is applying for permission to use stem cells from bone marrow instead of embryos because it would be more practical, which leads me to wonder why it was necessary to try with embryonic stem cells first, and if it was easier to get permission to do so. (Certainly, women who want to produce sperm to fertilize another woman’s egg aren’t going to be doing it from an embryonic state.)

Overall though, this is really cool.

The article explains that sperm was created from male cells previously. The problem with creating sperm from female cells is that the information to do so is in the Y chromosome.

h/t Ann Althouse

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Why object to the “Trail of Death”

Blackfive posted a response by an editor and the author of a New York Times article about how the military turns people into killers.

Essentially the response is “that’s not what we meant.”

Taken together they paint the patchwork picture of a quiet phenomenon, tracing a cross-country trail of death and heartbreak.

Yet that’s what it said. It said that returning veterans are dangerous psychos.

Now, the purpose may well have been to help, as the author claims. And we ought all agree that those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan (or elsewhere) need to have access to help to reintegrate into civilian life and readily available psychological help if they need it. Certainly the issue has been addressed in the most naked manner at Blackfive.

So why object when well meaning persons express themselves poorly?

I was browsing Flickr last evening and came upon an excellent reason…

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This is a test of the Mantis Broadcasting System

Because baby bugs are just so cute. They even have cute names, like nymph. You can see the size of this one next to my daughter’s finger tip. To feed these little guys I had to buy fruit flies off the internet. This is the sort of thing that my father finds infinitely funny… like buying dirt.

I do that too.

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Calvin Coolidge explains taxes

Clear, accurate, conscious of liberty and sensible. Hat Tip: Doug Mataconis

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