Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Would Be Nice For A Change

Spring has arrived here in the upper Midwest with temperatures hitting the mid to upper 70's today. Scotland and Ireland, however, haven't been so lucky:

Several days after the start of spring, Scotland and Northern Ireland were battered by snow, gale force winds and torrential rain on Wednesday, leaving thousands of people without power and causing havoc on roads.

Scottish police said a teenager on a school trip was killed after the bus she was traveling in crashed into water near Biggar, 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Glasgow. A police spokeswoman said three others were seriously injured, and another eight had minor injuries.

TV footage on Sky News showed the bus turned over on one side on the snowy banks of a stream. Conditions in the area were described by police as "horrendous."

Britain's weather agency said the tough weather conditions will continue through much of Wednesday. High winds, snow in drifts up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) and blizzards are expected. The worst conditions were forecast for the Scottish highlands.

This follows one of Britain's coldest winters in decades.

It's been a bad year.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

AP Has Stopped Trying To Pretend They Are Non-Partisan

This is jaw-dropping: Senate Republican holds up jobless benefits

Once again, a stubborn Senate Republican is blocking speedy passage of a stopgap bill to extend jobless benefits, saying its $9 billion cost should not be added to the national debt.

This time it's Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who's insisting that the measure be "paid for" so as not to add to the nation's $12.7 trillion debt.

Note, this is not an "analysis" or an "opinion" piece, this is sold as a straight "news" story.

Leave it to the AP to make the term "journalistic ethics" oxymoronic.


More "objective reporting" from the AP:

Capping an epic struggle, congressional Democrats applied the final touches Thursday to historic legislation enshrining health care as the right of every citizen.

Never mind the fact that one would have to be an uneducated, dim-witted moron to think "rights" are something given out by legislative fiat (if you think they are do us all a favor and please go take a remedial civics course), but one cannot help but wonder if the AP has now taken to reprinting Democratic party memos unedited.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

More Alarmism Masquerading As Journalism

The headlines screams! Chaos as freak storm batters Australia's Perth

Some 100,000 people were left without power on Tuesday after a freak storm battered the Australian city of Perth, hurling golf ball-sized hailstones and causing floods and landslides.

Western Australia premier Colin Barnett estimated a damage bill of hundreds of millions of dollars after the wild weather smashed into the city late on Monday, paralysing flights and commuter traffic.

Thousands of residents jammed emergency phone lines as falling trees downed power cables and crashed into homes in the worst storm seen in years. Hospitals were flooded and some damaged schools remained closed on Tuesday.

"I think from my memory this would be the most severe weather conditions we've had since the famous May storm in 1994, where we had very, very strong winds and a massive loss of power supply," Barnett told public broadcaster ABC.

"Hopefully the damage to the power supply won't be as severe but I suspect this time we've got a lot more damage to buildings and housing."

Nearly 160,000 homes lost power at the height of the storm, which brought wind gusts over 120 kilometres (75 miles) per hour and dumped nearly 40 millimetres (1.6 inches) of rain.

Omigod! 75MPH gusts and 1.6 inches of rain! Well, I'll assume it is "freakish" though it sounds like most everyday somewhere in the middle of the U.S. from March to September.

The story also provides a graphic to illustrate their point:

Sheesh! It looks like they were hit by hurricane Katrina!

Intrigued, I went to my favorite tropical storm websites to find out more about this monster storm. Funny thing is, there is no record of it. How can that be? The graphic clearly shows a tropical storm coming out of the Indian Ocean and slamming into South-West Australia.

So, I went to the satellite image data to find out. Here are the images every four hours from Sunday, 20:30 UTC until Monday 20:30 UTC.

As you can clearly see, no tropical storm came barrelling out of the Indian ocean, slamming into the poor population of Perth. Instead, convection in the area blew up into a strong thunderstorm. I'm not exactly sure what is freakish about that, especially as the story points out there was a worse storm in 1994.

This got me to thinking about if Perth had many run in with actual honest-to-goodness tropical systems. So, I once again checked out my favorite site and found out that since 1945 Perth has been hit by at least one tropical storm in the years:


All of which makes me wonder just how "freakish" this storm could have been really.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Is This Guy Really This Stupid?

Follow along with this boys and girls:

Proponents of human-caused global warming claim that "cognitive" brain function prevents conservatives from accepting the science that says "climate change" is an imminent threat to planet Earth and its inhabitants.

George Lakoff, a professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California-Berkeley and author of the book "The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist's Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics," says his scientific research shows that how one perceives the world depends on one’s bodily experience and how one functions in the everyday world. Reason is shaped by the body, he says.

Lakoff told that “metaphors” shape a person's understanding of the world, along with one’s values and political beliefs -- including what they think about global warming.

"It relates directly (to global warming) because conservatives tend to feel that the free market should be unregulated and (that) environmental regulations are immoral and wrong," Lakoff said....

On the other hand, he added, liberals' cognitive process allows them to be "open-minded."

Really, any institution that granted a PhD to this fellow ought to immediately demand it back. His inability to follow the basic dictates of logic is shocking. The logical thing to assume is that if on one side you have conservatives who tend to favor the free market over regulatory schemes, then the opposite side (i.e. liberals) wouldn't be someone with an "open mind" but instead someone who favors regulatory schemes over free markets.


Unfortunately, it is this kind of mind numbing stupidity which has come to define modern liberal academia. A lot of the "research" being produced really is this illogical and pitiful. Why is such shoddy and second-rate thinking accepted by people who are supposed to have intellectual standards? Well, largely because academia is a narrowly defined ideological echo-chamber where alternative perspectives are neither sought out nor tolerated. As a result the ideas that "progressives" trot out are never exposed to critical thought. Any college sophomore who has taken a basic formal logic class could have pointed out the elementary errors in logic the good professor had made, but in the land of the feverishly committed it never comes up. The "research" says what they want to hear so, by definition, it must be right.

So, in answer to my question: Is Prof. George Lakoff really as stupid as he sounds? Yes, he is. He is also most likely a proto-fascist (though not a Nazi,) or at least his ideas are proto-fascistic in nature in that they justify the use of political power by one group over another based upon their supposed native superiority.

Berkeley must be proud.

Sorry Wannabe Fascists

More "We Won" theorists:

Yes, the health-care reform bill is now law. Read it and weep, Republicans

Ever heard of laws being repealed? You know, such as all the laws Democrats passed to make blacks sit on the backs of buses and drink from segregated water fountains?


Sunday, March 21, 2010

How Is The "Post-Partisan" Bullshit Working For You?

Maybe the amount of animus young Democrats felt for LBJ rivals it, but I have to say President Obama has done everything in his power to make bile the currency of the day and poison the political culture of this country. That he has managed to polarize this country politically more than anytime since the 19th Century is scarcely to be believed.

Democrats seem to be oblivious to the tonnage of sheer unadulterated hate they have coming their way, and given the immoral and corrupt way they are governing they will have deserved every ounce of it.


I will say this for the "health care" debate, it is fascinating. Basically, we have the Democratic party standing on the ledge of the 45th floor, while the Republicans are busy trying to talk them down.

The activist "base" of the so-called Progressives? They are below chanting, "Jump! JUMP! JUMP!"

Strange days indeed.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Truth, History Deemed "Far Right" By Associated Press

Really, how can the press write things like this and be surprised they are viewed as imbeciles? Texas ed board vote reflects far-right influences

A far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education succeeded Friday in injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons that will be taught to millions of students for the next decade.

Teachers in Texas will be required to cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers, but not highlight the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state. Curriculum standards also will describe the U.S. government as a "constitutional republic," rather than "democratic," and students will be required to study the decline in value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.

Look, I'll agree the "Judeo-Christian influences" part is complete bullshit (if you disagree go read Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding and come back and report where you find Judeo-Christian influences - I'll be here holding my breath). However, we are a constitutional republic. We are not a democracy. That isn't a matter of opinion any more than the existence of gravity is a matter of opinion. If you don't understand that you probably shouldn't be writing anything for the Associated Press.

Furthermore, our moving off of the gold standard, and its effect on monetary policy is a matter of history, not ideological dogma. Since when it is considered "objective" to hide matters of history from students? In my experience, it is the desire to hide facts that most often represents an ideological agenda at work.

Really, this story is almost criminally stupid.

This Really Has To Be Spelled Out?

All I can say is, Yikes! Nurses' union: Care does not include sex

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – A union representing Dutch nurses will launch a national campaign Friday against demands for sexual services by patients who claim it should be part of their standard care.

The union, NU'91, is calling the campaign "I Draw The Line Here," with an advert that features a young woman covering her face with crossed hands.

The union said in a statement Thursday that the campaign follows a complaint it had received in the last week from a 24-year-old woman who said a 42-year-old disabled man asked her to provide sexual services as part of his care at home.

The young woman witnessed some of the man's other nurses offering him sexual gratification, the union said. When she refused to do the same, he tried to dismiss her on the grounds that she was unfit to provide care.

Evidently, there was a time when being a nurse was only a step or two up from being a prostitute. That time was the 19th Century, folks.

This creeps me out.

Leftist Hack: "Criticism Of Democrats Or Obama = Journalistic Malpractice"

And tools like this wonder why they are routinely dismissed by the American people:

One question has tugged at my professional conscience throughout the year-long congressional debate over health-care reform, and it has nothing to do with the public option, portability or medical malpractice. It is this: Why haven't America's old-school news organizations blown the whistle on Roger Ailes, chief of Fox News, for using the network to conduct a propaganda campaign against the Obama administration -- a campaign without precedent in our modern political history?

Through clever use of the Fox News Channel and its cadre of raucous commentators, Ailes has overturned standards of fairness and objectivity that have guided American print and broadcast journalists since World War II.

Catch the shell game? The real complaint has nothing to do with "fairness" or imaginary journalistic "objectivity." What this fool actually misses is the "good old days" of Democratic party hegemony over the media, itself a deformity of the American political spirit born of the emergence of the Democratic New Deal coalition and its consolidation during the Second World War. It was an era that allowed a self appointed elite to define what was allowable, which they labelled "fair" and/or "objective," and what wasn't, which they called "unfair" and "biased." The real goal, of course, was to marginalize ideas the elite didn't like. Thus you had the New York Times hide the crimes of Stalin from its readers because, somehow, the truth was deemed to be "unfair" and "biased."

My appeal to Stalinism is purposeful, because what dishonest hacks like this really want would be modelled more by the old Soviet Pravda than anything else. Only one elite approved view would be allowed.

This truly moronic and perverse view of journalism largely explains why we no longer have a newspaper culture in this country while places like the UK still does. One knows in Britain that you can read papers with differing editorial views. Going to London is always fun for an American because one can buy three or four different papers that provide a riot of contrasting styles, information, ideological visions, and perspectives. In the United States our papers are nothing of the sort. The are bland, homogenized, and, frankly, a mockery of our free speech protections. Why have a First Amendment when all the papers say the same damn thing?

Television news, because it was born at the moment of Democratic hegemony, had always suffered from the same stultifying ideological conformity that dominated the "New York Times" model of newspapers. The rise of Fox News, which offers a different perspective from the old liberal model, presented American viewers with something of the color and diversity we can see in English newspapers, and, for this reason, the reactionary old guard hate it. They long for the days when they acted as the sole arbiter of what the American people could learn about the social and political world. Just think of the hubris involved in the motto of the Times. "All The News That's Fit to Print" isn't a promise of public service, it's a symbol of the repression of democracy by a benighted elite who view themselves in almost Nitzschean terms. They are the overmen who create the values the rest of us inferiors must live by, and as such they put themselves above questioning or criticism. People like Howell Raines, former editor of the Times and the author of the drivel linked to above, have no respect for honest differences or real diversity of opinion, and when it comes to the tenets of democratic society they are truly amoral beasts.


Here is an interesting and slightly different take on this column from Right Wing Nut House: HOWELL RAINS AND JOURNALISTIC STANDARDS

In order to compete with network news, newspapers abandoned straight, factual news reporting and went into the business of using news as a way to convey opinion, infusing “drama” into stories. A young black kid did not kill the old white lady for her purse because he’s a criminal. Racism killed the old lady as surely as if George Wallace had pulled the trigger.

An exaggeration, but nevertheless, the entire concept of “objectivity” had been turned on its head in order to both sell newspapers and satisfy the “new journalism” that was making a mark in publications like Rolling Stone and Village Voice. The young, strongly opinionated writers for those publications and others were the vanguard of new kind of “journalist” who saw newspaper reporting as more than just a means to inform the public about what was going on in their part of the world, but viewed their mission as “reforming” the staid, old institutions of the media in order to promote a decidedly liberal point of view.

Rains has got to know that the New York Times does not report news the same way it did in the 1950’s, doesn’t he?

I understand where this is coming from, but I'd argue that the difference between the way papers like the Times were covering news in the 1950's and how they were covering it the last ten years is a difference of degree not kind. The mid-twentieth-century Liberal "consensus" was already well established and reflected in how the Times of the world did business in the Fifties. The "new journalism" of the late 60's and early 70's is mostly a matter of younger journalists who differed from their elders not in their politics, but in their rejection of existing decorum. In a sense the "new journalists" did interject a first moment of honesty by saying, "Screw this pussyfooting around. Let's just be what we are already (i.e. ideologically motivated activists), and stop pretending we are something else."

To date, that also marked their last moment of honesty.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Democrat Attempts To Ban Salt

Would that I were joking:

Some New York City chefs and restaurant owners are taking aim at a bill introduced in the New York Legislature that, if passed, would ban the use of salt in restaurant cooking.

"No owner or operator of a restaurant in this state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food for consumption by customers of such restaurant, including food prepared to be consumed on the premises of such restaurant or off of such premises," the bill, A. 10129 , states in part.

The legislation, which Assemblyman Felix Ortiz , D-Brooklyn, introduced on March 5, would fine restaurants $1,000 for each violation.

Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion says it best:

Don't think government, if given the chance, will try to control the most minute aspects of your life?

Don't worry that once the bureaucracy gets ahold of the right to regulate your health care decisions -- starting with what type of insurance you are required to buy -- the end result will be absurdity?

Are you one of those people who think that government has the ability to restrain itself from exercising power given to it?

Imagine the mindset one would need to have to even propose such a ban in the first place. Now, imagine trying to square that mindset with basic human rights or democracy. (Hint: It can't be done.)

Hobnobbing With Spies

I never posted anything about it here on IMW, but last summer I experienced a shock when I discovered that one of my old employees from my Washington DC bookshop days turned out to be, along with her husband, spying for Castro. I did write a post, Working With “Agent 123″, that I published over at Blue Crab Boulevard, but for some reason never talked about it here.

A reporter saw my piece on Blue Crab and contacted me to get a little background on Gwen Myers' time at the old Cleveland Park Bookshop. It was published in Washingtonian magazine in October. It is a good article, and I encourage people to go read it.

I'll admit it strikes even me as odd that I haven't until now mentioned my connection to this relatively big news item on the blog. After all, it isn't the sort of thing that pops up every day. All I can say is there was always something profoundly depressing about the story for me.

Life is strange. If I wouldn't admit it before, I will now.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Andrew Sullivan Doesn't Understand Polling Data *sigh*

Really, this is unacceptable in a political journalist: Health Reform Gaining

As this poll of polls shows, if Obama keeps up his performances like yesterday and campaigns like this day after day after day, the first poll - from YouGov/The Economist - showing a clear 53- 47 majority in favor of his reform will become a harbinger of the future.

Got that? A "clear majority," so says Sullivan. The trouble is when you actually look at the poll you discover it has an error term of +/- 3.6%, which means that the poll numbers of 53% and 47% are not statistically different from one another. Oops.

Well, if you cannot say Obama's plan has a majority backing it, you can at least say it is as popular as not, right? Well, yes and no. When you look at the data you discover that support for the plan is "soft." Of those people asked, only 17% of respondents said they "Strongly Support" the plan. 32% "Strongly Oppose" Obama's scheme. What support the Obama plan has is far shakier than the opposition.

Well, maybe the plan is increasing in support from where it had been polling? That would be something we measure with a tracking poll. Sadly, the YouGov poll was not tracking the Obama health plan.

Gallup, on the other hand, has been doing tracking polls on the question, and, Lo! and Behold!, they too released results today. (Sully seems to have missed this tracking poll. Maybe he has never heard of Gallup.)

March 2010 - Support for Obama Plan

For: 45%
Against: 48%

January 2010 - Support for Obama Plan

For: 49%
Against: 46%

The +/- on the Gallup polls is 4 points, which means the numbers are essentially and statistically unchanged.

Really, none of this is very difficult to understand. So why can't Sullivan understand it?

Monday, March 08, 2010

I Don't Know Much About Art, But I Know What I Hate

This is a recap of some comments I've posted today over at First Thoughts. It began when Joe Carter quoted the following:

I’ve heard many people say of contemporary art: “my kids can do that.” I encourage them, then to try it themselves, don’t let kids have all the fun! Try to make drip paintings like Jackson Pollock. Or paint an object with encaustic, layering color upon color, like Johns. Try silk screening images like Warhol. You soon find out that in the ordinary gestures and materials, there are deceptively complicated and sublime twists. Our drips become unnatural and confined, where as Pollock’s drips dance, and form delectable edges that seem to undulate in front of our eyes. Our edges of encaustic strokes become unshapely, because If you try working with wax (as I have tried to in college,) you find out soon enough that it is unforgiving, making it very difficult to create a clean, sharp definition. The melting wax constantly oozes, and moves about, and the colors muddle,. If you are finally able to paint a stripe with bright colors, the stripes would not resonate, in ways that Johns’ Flags do.

And that is to speak only of the method of execution. Johns’ works not only collage materials, but they also synthesize concepts, culture, the zeitgeist of his day. One may be able to copy his technique, but it is impossible to mimic the complex layers of confluences that he is synthesizing as he mixes beeswax and pigments. To Jasper Johns, the medium of his art is not really encaustic, the medium of his art is Time itself.

This prompted me to respond:

If you try working with wax (as I have tried to in college,) you find out soon enough that it is unforgiving, making it very difficult to create a clean, sharp definition. The melting wax constantly oozes, and moves about, and the colors muddle…
This is the reason I let professionals stain my floors and furniture. It is a skill that improves with repetition, the same way my backhand in tennis improves when I work on it (or doesn’t improve when I prefer to smash forehands all the live long day.)

…is impossible to mimic the complex layers of confluences that he is synthesizing…
Exactly why should anyone read something like this and NOT think “What gobbledygook.” I hate to be all pragmatic, but there is no such thing as “synthesizing confluences” except in the brains of the truly fevered. But, of course, explanation by subjective gobbledygook is what you get when the object of discussion is as semiotically empty as much of contemporary art is.

I added:

I think there is another way people mean the phrase “My kid could do that” because, in a very real way, kids DO that all the time. I think of the article in Smithsonian that pointed out that Pollock’s “Mural” was basically an excuse for hiding his signature in plain sight. It is this “Hey! Look at me!” aspect of contemporary art that people are identifying as being child like, if not childish. The difference is when a child does it it can be excused as the faltering steps of the inexperienced. When an adult artist does it, well, it can come across as little more than a narcissistic look at their favorite subject, themselves. In Pollock’s case he was simply trying to make a name for himself, literally.

This prompted an angry response from someone calling themselves ekwas:

Do you know that word, ‘zeitgeist’, ‘Rich Horton’? It’s a word from the German and it means ’spirit of the times’, which is what most everybody is thinking and feeling about life in general at a certain point in time, like right now, 2010, or a while ago, like 1967.

‘Rich Horton’, if your teacher gave you an assignment to make one picture about everything you’ve been thinking and feeling in the last year, about yourself, the economy, your friends, God, our President and Congress, people in other countries, what would you put in it? You can see right away it would take a whole lot of thinking and figuring out, wouldn’t it? How about if you didn’t even have to make a picture, you just had to write it all in 1000 words, that’s hard enough! So you can imagine that Mr. Johns works very hard, very long hours to make his famous pictures, that so many people think are very, very good.

I love the fact that my name is continually put into quotation marks by this individual. It strikes me as all the proof I need that the contemporary artistic temperament is semiotically empty. After all, a proper name is by definition a signifier of something real. However, the act of placing my name in quotation marks is a rather aggressive attempt to deny my personhood or humanity; to deny that my name signifies anything real; to demand that it too be semiotically empty.

I responded thusly:

Actually, my field is political philosophy, which has its own tradition of using nonsense terms to mask a lack of meaning (eg. “scientific Marxism,” “politics of difference”, “eternal recurrence”), so my resistence to “persuasion by subjective enthusiasm” is higher than most.

Actually, this all reminds me of the best defense of contemporary art I’ve read, Ortega y Gasset’s essay “The Dehumanization of Art.” Being Ortega, it is of course, a defense of elite privilege against the pernicious, democratic, mediocritizing influence of the masses. For Ortega, when the masses have shown the ability to recognize a beautiful painting, a stirring or lovely melody, a sonorous poem, etc., the only way for the elite to signal their non-mass status is to champion that which isn’t beautiful, stirring or sonorous. Art, in such a view, has a fundamentally political function. It is part of how an aristocracy identifies and defines itself.

Granted, when Ortega was writing he probably had in mind Debussy using discordant or atonal moments for effect in a composition, or the distortions of a cubist painting, but if art is going to be defined by its political/social function, well, then there is no distinction to be made between a Pollock painting or a “sculpture” of a crucifix submerged in urine or a “painting” of the Madonna using the medium of manure. The goal has been achieved, i.e. defining the elite who supposedly find artistic meaning in such material in opposition to the masses who do not.

Contemporary art is built almost entirely along Ortegean lines these days, and as a result it is profoundly alienating. It is sometimes amusing to see the aristocratic qualities of the champions of contemporary art clashing with their egalitarian impulses. They know that most people do not care for it (be “it” atonal music or abstract art or what have you), but the best response they can offer is “People would like it if only they were exposed to it, or weren’t so stupid.” Which is of course impossible, as its raison d’etre is to be disliked.

I've been ill all day, so this certainly cheered me up.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

More Krugman Dishonesty (Or Incompetence)

This makes my day: James Taranto nails Krugman's intellectually dishonest backside

Former Enron adviser Paul Krugman takes note in his New York Times column of what he calls "the incredible gap that has opened up between the parties":

Today, Democrats and Republicans live in different universes, both intellectually and morally.

"What Democrats believe," he says "is what textbook economics says":

But that's not how Republicans see it. Here's what Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, had to say when defending Mr. Bunning's position (although not joining his blockade): unemployment relief "doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work."

Krugman scoffs: "To me, that's a bizarre point of view--but then, I don't live in Mr. Kyl's universe."

What does textbook economics have to say about this question? Here is a passage from a textbook called "Macroeconomics":

Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect. . . . In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker's incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of "Eurosclerosis," the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries.

So it turns out that what Krugman calls Sen. Kyl's "bizarre point of view" is, in fact, textbook economics. The authors of that textbook are Paul Krugman and Robin Wells. Miss Wells is also known as Mrs. Paul Krugman.

Krugman is right about one thing, Republicans are living in a different moral and intellectual universe from Krugman; Republicans still seem to believe lying one's ass off if dishonorable. For Krugman, lying is standard operating procedure, no matter how stupid it makes him look.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Friday Afternoon Means They Must Be Bored In The White House

It must have been a slow news day in Washington, because someone in the White House had time to visit my poor corner of cyberspace:

Referrer No referring link
Host Name
IP Address [Label IP Address]
Country United States
Region District Of Columbia
City Washington
ISP Executive Office Of The President Usa
Returning Visits 0
Visit Length 0 seconds
Browser IE 7.0
Operating System WinXP
Resolution 1280x1024
Javascript Enabled

Funny. They usually do some of their best work on Friday afternoons.

I see they haven't updated to Windows 7 yet. Tsk tsk.

Harry Reid Has Big Plans For America


Obama Nominates An Utter Fool For Our Courts

This is blood boiling: Unqualified, and Hostile to the Constitution

Goodwin Liu [is] a left-wing law professor whom President Obama has nominated to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. To say that Liu is thinly qualified would give him too much credit, as he has scarcely ever practiced law at all. Now, an attack Liu launched against John Roberts in 2005 has surfaced and has raised new questions about his nomination.

When President Bush first nominated Roberts to succeed Sandra O'Connor, Liu responded with an attack that tells us nothing about Roberts but a great deal about Liu. First, Liu criticized Roberts' associations:

Before becoming a judge, he belonged to the Republican National Lawyers' Association and the National Legal Center for the Public Interest, whose mission is to promote (among other things) ``free enterprise,'' ``private ownership of property,'' and ``limited government.'' These are code words for an ideological agenda hostile to environmental, workplace, and consumer protections.

Private property, free enterprise and limited government are "code words"? No one holding such a bizarre, anti-Constitutional view should hold public office in any capacity, certainly not as a judge.

Liu went on to attack an opinion that Roberts authored as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the famous "french fry" case, Hedgepeth v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. You might have to be a lawyer to fully appreciate the dishonesty of Liu's description of the case and of Roberts' opinion:

Last year, for example, he wrote an opinion rejecting the civil rights claims of 12-year-old Ansche Hedgepeth, who was arrested, searched, handcuffed, booked, and detained by police for eating a single french fry in a subway station in violation of D.C. law. Although an adult committing the same infraction would have received only a citation under D.C. law, Roberts said the police's treatment of Hedgepeth served the "goal of promoting parental awareness and involvement with children who commit delinquent acts."

From Liu's account you might think that Roberts was the D.C. official who wrote the law, not a judge called upon to rule on its constitutionality. Here is how Roberts began his opinion on the case:

No one is very happy about the events that led to this litigation. A twelve-year-old girl was arrested, searched, and handcuffed. Her shoelaces were removed, and she was transported in the windowless rear compartment of a police vehicle to a juvenile processing center, where she was booked, fingerprinted, and detained until released to her mother some three hours later -- all for eating a single french fry in a Metrorail station. The child was frightened, embarrassed, and crying throughout the ordeal. The district court described the policies that led to her arrest as "foolish," and indeed the policies were changed after those responsible endured the sort of publicity reserved for adults who make young girls cry. The question before us, however, is not whether these policies were a bad idea, but whether they violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. Like the district court, we conclude that they did not, and accordingly we affirm.

Roberts did, here, exactly what a judge is supposed to do--not impose his own opinion as to whether a law or ordinance is foolish, but evaluate its constitutionality according to established principles and precedents. It is worth noting, too, that Liu described Roberts' opinion in this case as though it were outside the mainstream, while in fact Roberts wrote for a unanimous court, and every judge who looked at the case ruled the same way. Liu here betrays the arrogance of the left-wing academic: anyone who disagrees with me is an extremist, even if his disagreement represents a consensus among competent jurists.

This is not a question of differing philosophical approaches to the Constitution, this is a question of pure and simple incompetence and stupidity. Throw in a modicum of intellectual dishonesty, of which Liu has more than a modicum, and you have a nominee the Republicans should go all out to sink.

Hell, every Democrat who isn't actively a socialist should also want to sink a nominee openly hostile to free enterprise, the private ownership of property, and limited government. One cannot be against those things and be for the Constitution.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Another Global Warming (tm) Problem: A Lot More Ice

Passenger ships stuck in ice off Sweden

Thirty to 40 ships -- including several passenger ships -- were stuck Thursday in ice off the coast of Sweden, said a spokesman for the Maritime Search and Rescue Center in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The area of the Baltic Sea worst hit by the ice were the waters bounded by mainland Sweden, the Stockholm archipelago and the Finnish island of Aland, said Tommy Gardebring, press officer with the Swedish Maritime Administration.

Several passenger vessels from Viking Line were stuck, he said. One of them had been freed.

"It has been a lot colder than normal in the southern parts of the Baltic sea, but in the north all is normal with normal levels of ice," Gardebring said. "However, in the worst-affected areas, the ice breakers that normally operate haven't been able to cope with the ice, which is why we are sending additional ice breakers."

I think we could all do with some Spring soon.

I'd Kill For This Schedule

Funny the things one can read on the Internet. Take this CNN story: Students, professors to protest education cutbacks

A movement born of $1 billion in budget cuts to California's state university system has blossomed into a nationwide protest, as students and professors in 33 states will challenge administrators and state lawmakers to ante up.

Most of Thursday's demonstrations will focus on cuts to state-funded colleges and universities, which supporters say drive up tuition, limit classes and make higher education unobtainable to many.

A blog called Student Activism said in a Twitter update that 122 events are slated from coast to coast -- most on campuses, and some at state capitals.

Dissatisfaction, anger and an uncertain future have led professors and students to call for a day of action to defend education.

Alright, that's fine, particularly as college adminstrations are being rightfully targeted as a big part of the problem.

However, the CNN story then goes on to relate an anecdote that, to my mind, completely undermines the rational of the "upset" profs:

More students take particular classes, not because they are interested in the topic or are even fulfilling their requirements, but because they are unable to register for anything else, says Vivian Chavez, an assistant professor at San Francisco State University.

Furlough days and a 10 percent salary decrease have affected the morale of professors and students at the school.

"We are doing more with less," Chavez said. "I normally teach 45 students, and last semester I taught 68 students. It was so difficult to remember student names. How do you give each one individual attention?"

Now, look, I've been furloughed like a lot of other professors, but having a schedule where I only had 68 students in a semester sounds like Nirvana. I have 172 students this semester (and, in case you were wondering, no, I don't have any teaching assistants.)

So, when I hear about Prof. Chavez and her 68 students I have a hard time not thinking to myself, "Slacker!"

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

You Wanted Him, You Got Him

See where it gets you: More Diplomatic Incompetence from the Obama Administration

One wonders: does the Obama administration deliberately try to screw up our foreign policy, or is it just a matter of ignorance and incompetence? This is painful reading: "Argentina celebrates diplomatic coup as Hillary Clinton calls for talks over Falklands."

Argentina was celebrating a diplomatic coup yesterday in its attempt to force Britain to accept talks on the future of the Falkland Islands, after a two-hour meeting in Buenos Aires between Hillary Clinton and President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Responding to a request from Mrs Kirchner for "friendly mediation" between Britain and Argentina, Mrs Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said she agreed that talks were a sensible way forward and offered "to encourage both countries to sit down".

Her intervention defied Britain's longstanding position that there should be no negotiations unless the islands' 3,000 inhabitants asked for them. It was hailed in Buenos Aires as a major diplomatic victory, but condemned in the Falklands.

So, once again, the Obama administration has sold Great Britain, formerly our #1 ally, down the river, along with the inhabitants of the Falklands, whose opinions would seem to count for something. We are past the point where anyone could doubt that the Obama administration's hostility toward the U.K. is intentional. Obama seems to have substituted personal pathology for national policy.

I love the UK, but I cannot help but remember the general disdain they lately held George Bush in and the acclamation they showered on Obama. Now, Obama seemingly can't go a week without giving Britain the middle finger salute.

How's that working out for you?