Saturday, July 31, 2010

Slapped By The NYT

The paper of record takes note of a particular bigoted academic-backwater pipsqueak:
But the bloggers’ eek-a-mouse posturing wasn’t the most striking part of the affair. Instead, it was the weird vindictiveness of many of the most prominent blogs. The stilted and seething tone of some of the defection posts sent me into the ScienceBlogs archives, where I expected to find original insights into science by writers who stress that they are part of, in the blogger Dave Munger’s words, “the most influential science blogging network in the world.” And while I found interesting stuff here and there, I also discovered that ScienceBlogs has become preoccupied with trivia, name-calling and saber rattling. Maybe that’s why the ScienceBlogs ship started to sink.

...

Recently a blogger called GrrlScientist, on Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted), expressed her disgust at the “flock of hugely protruding bellies and jiggling posteriors everywhere I go.” Gratuitous contempt like this is typical. Mark Hoofnagle on Denialism Blog sideswiped those who question antibiotics, writing, “their particular ideology requires them to believe in the primacy of religion (Christian Science, New Age Nonsense) or in the magical properties of nature.” Over at Pharyngula — which often ranks in the Top 100 blogs on the Internet— PZ Myers revels in sub-“South Park” blasphemy, presenting (in one recent stunt) his sketch of the Prophet Muhammad as a cow-pig hybrid excited about “raping a 9-year-old girl.”

Clearly I’ve been out of some loop for too long, but does everyone take for granted now that science sites are where graduate students, researchers, doctors and the “skeptical community” go not to interpret data or review experiments but to chip off one-liners, promote their books and jeer at smokers, fat people and churchgoers? And can anyone who still enjoys this class-inflected bloodsport tell me why it has to happen under the banner of science?

Hammering away at an ideology, substituting stridency for contemplation, pummeling its enemies in absentia: ScienceBlogs has become Fox News for the religion-baiting, peak-oil crowd. Though Myers and other science bloggers boast that they can be jerky in the service of anti-charlatanism, that’s not what’s bothersome about them. What’s bothersome is that the site is misleading. It’s not science by scientists, not even remotely; it’s science blogging by science bloggers. And science blogging, apparently, is a form of redundant and effortfully incendiary rhetoric that draws bad-faith moral authority from the word “science” and from occasional invocations of “peer-reviewed” thises and thats.

Under cover of intellectual rigor, the science bloggers — or many of the most visible ones, anyway — prosecute agendas so charged with bigotry that it doesn’t take a pun-happy French critic or a rapier-witted Cambridge atheist to call this whole ScienceBlogs enterprise what it is, or has become: class-war claptrap.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Good Point

From the latest Denninger screed:
Something I wrote about many years ago: all production comes from mining something, growing something or manufacturing something.

"Financial engineering" is a stripping operation - that is, it's a tax and redistribution scheme on production - it is not production.

It just happens to be a private tax as opposed to a government one.

Outstanding Piece Of Agitprop

Hard-hitting. Accurate. Devastating.

Link

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

After The Train Wreck

Reasons for optimism.

Pwned!

Deepak Chopra refutes himself due to a laser guided question. It results in a big laugh for everyone involved, leaving Chopra bemused, and (apparently) one of his acolytes decidedly non-plussed.

To The Leftist There Can Be No Higher Outrage Than The Idea That There Are Explicable Reasons Behind Religious Teaching

Hence the firing of Professor Kenneth J. Howell.

Brutally Honest highlights the actual text of the e-mail that got him fired. It is an absolutely calm, rational, charitable explication of Catholic moral teaching. But in the leftist universe such a thing should never be allowed to see the light of day.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Little Children Should Not Have Positions Of Leadership

But they do:
Predictions of cost savings through ObamaCare, like most liberal politics, were based on magical thinking. If they want something to be true with sufficiently intensity, liberals know it must be true.

Small children are natural magical thinkers. Ask any psychologist, pediatrician, or parent. Magical thinkers believe that because they want it or can conceive of it, "it" is so, or will be so. The magically thinking child ties a cape on his back and knows that with it on, he can fly. When he jumps off the roof, he will, of course, fall, not soar like Superman. The usual cure for magical thinking is ToT (tincture of time) and evidence.

People in Congress and in the White House, though not physically small, behave like children: They depend on magical thinking. Because they say it, "it" will be. The latest example is the passage of ObamaCare (HR 3950).

If House Speaker Pelosi says that HR 3590 will save money, it must save money. If President Obama says his health care "reform" will increase care, reduce errors, and improve quality, it will happen (because he said so).

A realistic thinker recognizes that spending a trillion dollars in order to "save money" is like putting on your superhero cape.

The reason most adults do not don capes and jump off roofs is evidence. They may have tried it as a child and have the painful evidence in memory of a broken leg. They may have read in the newspaper or seen on TV the evidence of what happened to a child who tried it. They may simply consider the centuries-old evidence about gravity and deceleration trauma.

Is there any good evidence about health care, evidence that Washington has ignored living in its magical fantasy world? Absolutely!

HR 3590 will "save money"! Practically every entitlement program Congress ever enacted has a) cost more than projected and b) spent money we did not have or do not have. No entitlement program has ever saved money. There is overwhelming evidence to prove this. For instance, there is the GAO report issued 25 years after passage of Medicare showing that it cost 854% of what was projected.

One of my personal favorites is the president's assurance that "HR 3590 will provide care for 30 million uninsured Americans." This is magical thinking in three parts...

...

Magical thinking by children can harm them. Magical thinking by Washington can kill us. Those with power in Washington are not children, but they think like children -- magically -- and ignore mountains of evidence.

We tolerate magical thinking by children; that is part of childhood. Why do we tolerate such behavior in our "representatives" in Washington and the White House?

This Probably Nails It

Jay Tea unravels a probable meaning behind the curious unfolding of the Sherrod affair.

Link

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sullivan: See I'm Not The Only Crazy One!!

That's just super, Andy.

A Ruthlessly Hard-Hitting Piece

And not at all from a usual source.

Leftism In A Nuthshell

Instapundit:
STANDARDS: Leaks that could embarrass lefty reporters: BAD. Leaks that could get American troops killed: GOOD.

What's The Big Deal?

Hugh Hewitt:
The Daily Caller may yet have even more damning e-mails from the collective of peoples' journalists established by the Washington Post's Ezra Klein, but it will be the Ackerman e-mail inciting a campaign of slander again Barnes or Rove that ought to be taught in every class devoted to "ethics in journalism" over the next few decades.

Weeks and weeks in such classes are given over to the Pentagon Papers case, but that drama involved choices made by a handful of senior news media executives and a similar circumstance is highly unlikely to ever confront even a handful of elite journalists.

The Ackerman question, "What should a journalist do when he or she knows one of his colleagues is set out on an immoral and repulsive abuse of their position?" is by contrast one that will recur again and again in the life of most journalists. It certainly confronted every member of JournoList who read the Ackerman post in question, and, apparently, every single one of them flunked the test it presented.

...

Whether the inaction is born of callousness or cowardice doesn't matter much in the minds of most people. The near universal moral judgment about people who could stop harm to victims but don't is that they are guilty of a significant character flaw.

...

There have been many posts and many articles about the episode, but none of the commenting journalists or their bosses has yet thought it necessary to say that what Ackerman did was repulsive and ought to have provoked a strong condemning reaction from any real journalist seeing it.

This silence is a damning admission about the craft of the Manhattan-Beltway media elite. It is, for its overwhelmingly liberal members, a guild, and members of the guild will not readily state even obvious things about the failings of their fellow guild members.

They will not do so even when the offense is one directed at a fellow professional reporter such as Fred Barnes, who is widely admired and understood to be among the real gentlemen of the business. It will be simply impossible to listen to lectures on ethics from any of the editors who have said nothing about this episode, any more than it would be possible to take pointers on ethics from Charlie Rangel's accountant or lawyer.

Either you know disgusting abuse of power when you see it and you condemn it, or you don't.
The second and third explanations for the silence of the lefty lambs are the two mentioned about callousness or cowardice.

Some will admit over a drink or two or three that they read the Ackerman post and didn't think it was that big of a deal. Ackerman's a third-tier scribbler without much swing, they will explain, and a known hothead to boot. There was no need to rebuke a bit player.

Others will shrug and admit that they didn't need the grief that would follow if the lefty hive turned on them for daring to point out that Ackerman had suggested the very sort of smear campaign that was a favorite tactic of the old East Bloc nomenklatura about the business of disciplining dissident writers. The Union of Soviet Writers may have officially disbanded, but its spirit lived on in the JournoList.

Keep watching for any big name inside the Manhattan-Beltway media elite to step forward with a focused, thorough and tough assessment of what JournoList generally and Ackerman specifically means for the news business. As in the aftermath of Rathergate in 2004, you will be waiting a long time...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

You've Shown That It Is True, But You Haven't Explained Why It Is True. Therefore It Is False.

Good insight:
The reason "Who then created God?" is not a good objection is because the cosmological argument already addresses that issue. The whole point of these arguments is that there must be a cause that is not an effect of a previous cause itself. To ask why this first cause is this way is to ignore the argument that has just been made that this first cause is this way. Of course, showing that something is the case is not the same thing as showing why it is the case. (I would argue that one can answer the "why" question, but that's another issue.) But the atheist is claiming -- at least with this objection -- that unless the argument proves why something is the case, it doesn't prove that it's the case. This is obviously false.

So, for example, I could say that the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter equals pi (in Euclidean space). I could then prove this mathematically. The atheist objection would be "Why should this ratio equal pi?" The answer would be, "It does. Here's the proof again." The atheist would then object "Your mathematical proof doesn't explain why this ratio equals pi." And again, the answer would be, "It does equal pi. Here's the proof again." "But why should it be this way?" "It is this way. Here's the proof again." Etc. It reminds me of a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin balks at his math homework. You put two numbers together and they magically become some third number. No one can say how or why it happens, you just have to accept it on faith. "As a math atheist, I should be excused from this."

So when an atheist asks why God should be excused from having to have a cause, the answer is simply to repeat the argument, which (allegedly) demonstrates that there must be a first cause that does not have a cause itself. Perhaps the argument fails to demonstrate this, but the objection that God would then require a cause doesn't even address it.

I Scored 91/90 On This One.

Link.

I Knew It. This Is Why I Tend To Think Of Militant Atheism As Little More Than "The Revenge Of The Chess Club Poindexters."

P.Z. Myers serves up some helpful biographical information here:
We're happier out of a straitjacket than in one.

I saw something wonderful at a science fiction convention a few weeks ago. At these events, people often put on odd and extravagant costumes, and I saw one rather obese young man who'd made a minimalist choice: he'd come as one of the Spartans from the movie 300, which meant he was standing in the crowd wearing a red speedo and a bright red cape…and nothing else.

Now imagine this same young fellow at an event at your high school. It would have been brutal. I know; when I was in high school, I was a little poindexter, ostracized, laughed at, and treated like a space alien, and I was treated mildly: being even more different, being the fat kid or the gay kid or the homely kid or whatever excluded you from the Jock Clique or the Heathers or whatever ideal the majority of the student body worshipped meant merciless torment and unremitting cruelty. Often in our culture socialization is achieved by maltreatment and unkindness and is directed towards shaping superficialities.
But do rest assured: Myers' militancy is based on purely rational considerations.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

From The Hard Drive

I just stumbled across a Word document I wrote a while back that treats of the idea that Christianity leads to bad science:

---------------

Would it be fair to say that a principle should be regarded as sincerely and honestly held only if it is applied consistently? And conversely, that if it is invoked only when convenient and ignored when inconvenient, then it is not honestly held and, hence, not really a principle?

Would it be fair to say that you are invoking the principle that ideological/worldview biases can result in untrustworthy or incorrect science?

Would it then be fair to say that the degree to which faulty science will be done or asserted depends on how crucial a particular scientific stance or result is to upholding a particular ideological/worldview bias?

Would it be fair to say that if apparently unguided evolution via random variation and natural selection (AUEVRVANS) turned out to be true that a great many theists would be able to shrug their shoulders and say “well, that’s the way God did it?” For example, I personally have been informed on many occasions by proponents of AUEVRVANS that one can be both a theist and acknowledge the truth of AUERVANS. I believe this is the position of the NCSE. On the other hand, I’ve read frustration expressed by scientific atheists that theists go on believing regardless of scientific arguments, because they can always say “that’s the way God did it”. Thus, the atheist himself testifies that he is aware that the question has little de facto impact on many theists (even though he thinks it *should*). I’ve also seen theists berated by atheists for not changing their views due to the atheist’s understanding of the scientific evidence. In effect, these atheists are telegraphing that they hold the scientific evidence to be absolutely pivotal to the worldview question. So we have some atheists proclaiming (or complaining) that AUEVRVANS is no threat to theism, while others proclaim that it is a decisive support for atheism (otherwise why would Richard Dawkins have proclaimed “Darwin makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”?). In effect, they are saying that AUEVRVANS is a “don’t care” for the theist position, but very much *not* a “don’t care” for the atheist position. And a great many theists would certainly agree.

Would it be fair to say that if AUERVANS turned out to be demonstrably false then a great many atheists would find their atheism to be untenable? For example, I personally have never heard or read an atheist proclaim that if it turned out that evolution were a guided process that this would have absolutely no effect on their atheism. I don’t believe that opponents of AUEVRVANS typically inform atheists that one can be both an atheist and a believer in guided evolution. After all, it is Richard Dawkins himself who said, “Darwin makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” Do you assert that Darwin being essentially wrong would not matter?

Given this asymmetry in cruciality-to-worldview of the truth of AUERVANS, then wouldn’t it be at least equally prudent to consider how atheism might have skewed the interpretation of scientific evidence?

Would it be fair to say that if scrutiny only needs to be applied to theism as a skewer of scientific interpretation, then a non-existent general principle is being disingenuously invoked, and therefore that if atheism does not really *need* to be scrutinized as a skewer of scientific interpretation then neither should theism, and finally that if theism does, in fact, *need* to be scrutinized as such a skewer due to such a principle, then so does atheism?


Possible weasel out:

Theism is obviously false, therefore anyone who believes in it has an incompetent intellect, therefore anything they have to say scientifically would obviously also be false.

Would it be fair to say, then, that the work of Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Pasteur, and Maxwell should be ignored?

A Veritable Fusillade

A bravura John C. Wright post.

It begins:
A reader, briefly named EdV, hurls down his gauntlet at me. He makes the asseveration that Christianity retards the progess of the arts, sciences, and the cause of liberty.
I humbly submit for your candid consideration that Christianity provides the only rational ethical basis for human liberty, and the only rational metaphysical basis for empiricism.
The ethical basis of liberty is the obviously counter-intuitive principle that all men are created equal in dignity and should be equal under law, and that the law is not make by law-makers but is discovered by them, since it exists in a metaphysical or ideal form, produced by a source beyond human making.

Logically, there are only two possibilities: law are manmade, like poems, or laws are discovered, like geometry proofs.

If laws are manmade, any man with the power to change the law is right to do so, and law is merely the will of the stronger. No liberal or equal laws can be erected on such a basis.
If laws are discovered, then they must pre-exist mankind, and the justice of those laws must be a stubborn fact no human will can change, and ergo their justice must derive from a non-human source.

Justice cannot come from the material universe, from the merely by-play of atoms in motion, because Justice is a non-material and non-temporal thing. Justice is a mental thing: an ideal or an idea. Mental things only exist in minds. Justice is also universal and eternal, or else it is not justice. Ergo the only mind that could have invented or decreed the idea of Justice is an eternal and universal Mind. And this all men know to be God.

Without such a Divine Mind, there can be no justice, merely partisan interest or temporary Hobbesean armistices. Without justice, there can be no liberal or equal laws.
Since men are evidently not equal in every measure except their dignity as human beings, only a mystical belief in the dignity of human beings, that is, the belief that men are made in the image of God, can sustain that dignity.

Any other measure leads to immediate inequalities. If we say the dignity of man is based on his capacity for reason, then logically neither babies nor senile crones nor anyone who can be painted as ignorant or stupid has any right to enjoy the benefits of equal and free laws. Indeed, it cannot have escaped the notice of any observer of the modern world that those political parties and regimes who base their laws on any principle other than the divine equality of man all too soon become elitist: the Soviets were run by the Nomenklatura; the Democrat Party in America is surrounded by an atmosphere of sanctimonious elitism so thick that you could scoop it into bowls and eat is as soup.

(The Political Correctors in the US and Britain are composed of people stupider or wickeder than average whose only claim to moral superiority is their laughably transparent claim to be smarter and purer than average. They are so braindead and morally retarded that they cannot even tell if babies are human or not. They cannot deduce whether or not members of the same sex can mate, and need laws to protect their mating rituals and vows. Even the simplest moral calculation, such as asking whether minorities can be ‘racist’ or such as asking whether it is right to concede civilization, unfought and undebated, meekly to the Jihad, is too complicated for their pea sized brains, and requires moral courage beyond the power of their subpea sized testes. All these things are beyond their allegedly titanic intellectual efforts. ‘A is A’ is something they don’t know what it means, these paragons of the intellect. Fie on them all.)

But, my scorn for the anti-intellectual intellectuals to one side, whether you agree or not of the moral and mental caliber of these Morlocks, let us at the minimum agree that they are elitist: they believe a cadre of experts, learned, or concerned citizens should have the right to order the affairs of the layman, the ignorant, or the unconcerned, based on the superiority of their learning and their compassion. They do not believe in the equality of man (or the privacy of property, which is a corollary thereof).

The modern intellectual does not believe that a stupid man or an evil one has a right to earn his
own money as he would, and spent it as he would, to speak as he would, worship as he pleases, consume as he pleases, dig up or drill as he pleases, and burn what he pleases on his own land. The only liberty that the modern intellectual is eager, nay, is sanctimoniously devout to grant the subjects of his enlightened despotism is the right to sin as they please, especially sexual sins.

In short, the claim that all men are created equal cannot be based on any empirical or scientific claim, because then it can be empirically disproven. It must be based on a mystical claim, a spiritual reality that all enlightened men perceive by spiritual means, because then to dispute or dismiss it is benighted.

Without equal government, a liberal (I mean liberty-protecting) government is not logically possible. Once you grant that the elite moiety has the right to dictate the education and behavior of the benighted majority, the idea of restrictions on the government, the idea of Constitutional prohibitions on that the state may do, the very idea that the state is only authorized to do those things the governed authorize, will be greeted with Pellosian bewilderment and indignation. “Are you serious?”

...
And that was just the warm up.

Excellent Point

One I've not seen made before:
New Atheists claim that science can determine whether or not God exists. When they actually attempt to be specific about the type of evidence they would count as scientific evidence for God’s existence, it immediately becomes clear they are demanding gaps. Thus, it makes no sense to complain about God-of-the-gaps reasoning while demanding people use God-of-the-gaps reasoning to show God’s existence. The New Atheists’ problem with Francis Collins is not that he invokes a gap, but that it is not gappy enough for them. This is a glaring example of employing double standards, and is disingenuous.

Cultural Stasis

Gagdad Bob:
So the birth of rock as a cultural phenomenon can be traced to early 1956. Even as it was occurring, the seeds of its subsequent rebirth and transformation were being sowed, for it was at the St. Peter's Church Hall fĂȘte in Woolton on July 6, 1957 -- almost three years to the day that Elvis had revealed it in the studio -- that John met Paul. Like early Elvis, there was a purity to what the Beatles were doing at the time. In fact, I would say that they were motivated by the identical spark that animated Elvis that day.

Eventually the spark was extinguished and the fire put out. Elvis entered the military in 1958, at which time he was taken into captivity and replaced with the "false Elvis" who put out all that lame music and made all those crappy movies. Buddy Holly in the grave, Chuck Berry in jail, Little Richard in the ministry, Jerry Lee Lewis in his fourteen year-old cousin. The music business quickly "contained" the messianic revelation, so that by the early 1960s, popular music was again almost as banal as it had been prior to Elvis. (Of course, there were exceptions.)

But then the Beatles arrive in early 1964, eight years after Elvis, and just eight years later the Beatles are already a thing of the past.

Now, eight years ago is 2002. Has anything in music changed since then? Does 2002 feel like a different era? Is anyone nostalgic for 2002? How about 1992? 1982? I mean, people still listen to U2 like they're contemporary, but their first album came out over 30 years ago. 30 years! I sometimes listen to music that came out in the early 1980s, say, early REM, but it doesn't feel at all like nostalgia. But very few people in 1975 listened to the music of 1945. And if they did, they were certainly aware of how different it was from contemporary music. No one confuses disco and swing.

And yet, to listen to Elvis in 1964 was already nostalgia, just as to listen to the Beatles or Beach Boys in 1973 was already nostalgia.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Worth A Thousand Words

Seen here:

Illusions

Some of these are fun, especially the spinning cat.

Plunder

Yahoo news:
BELL, Calif. – Three administrators whose huge salaries sparked outrage in this small blue-collar suburb of Los Angeles have agreed to resign, the City Council said Friday.
Council members emerged from an hours-long closed session at midnight Friday and announced that they'd accepted the resignations of Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo, Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia and Police Chief Randy Adams.

Rizzo was the highest paid at $787,637 a year — nearly twice the pay of President Barack Obama — for overseeing one of the poorest towns in Los Angeles County.
Spaccia makes $376,288 a year and Adams earns $457,000, 50 percent more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.

The three will not receive severance packages, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. Rizzo will step down at the end of August and Spaccia will leave at the end of September. Adams will also leave at the end of August, after completing an evaluation of the police department, the Times said.

"I'm happy that they resigned but I'm disappointed at the pension that they're going to receive," said Ali Saleh, a member of the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse or BASTA.
Rizzo would be entitled to a state pension of more than $650,000 a year for life, according to calculations made by the Times. That would make Rizzo, 56, the highest-paid retiree in the state pension system.

Adams could get more than $411,000 a year.
Spaccia, 51, could be eligible for as much as $250,000 a year when she reaches 55, though the figure is less precise than for the other two officials, the Times said.

...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

They Hate Violence...

But sometimes...sometimes...

More Good Stuff From Strata

Link

This Is Why I Ran As Far Away From Academia As I Could After Matriculating

Megan McArdle:
The arguments for academic tenure have always struck me as pretty weak, and more to the point, transparently self-serving. The best you can say of the system is that it preserves a sort of continuity in schools that is desireable for the purposes of cultivating alumni donations. But the cost of such a system is simply staggering.

Consider what the academic job market now looks like. You have a small elite on top who have lifetime employment regardless of how little work they do. This lifetime employment commences somewhere between 35 and 40. For the ten-to-fifteen years before that, they spend their lives in pursuit of the brass ring. They live in poverty suck up to professors, and publish, for one must publish to be tenured. It's very unfortunate if you don't have anything much worth saying; you need to publish anyway, in order to improve your chances. Fortunately, for the needy tenure seeker, a bevy of journals have sprung up that will print your trivial contributions. If nothing else, they provide a nice simple model which helps introductory economics professors explain Say's Law.

At the end of the process, most of the aspirants do not have tenure; they have dropped out, or been dropped, at some point along the way. Meanwhile, the system has ripped up their lives in other ways. They've invested their whole youth, and are back on the job market near entry level at an age when most of their peers have spent ten years building up marketable skills. Many of them will have seen relationships ripped apart by the difficulties of finding not one, but two tenure-track jobs in the same area. Others will have invested their early thirties in a college town with no other industry, forcing them to move elsewhere to restart both their careers and their social lives. Or perhaps they string along adjuncting at near-poverty wages, unable to quite leave the academy that has abused them for so long.

Is this producing better education? Doubtful; there's no particular relationship between scholarship and the ability to teach. How about valuable scholarship? Well, define valuable--in many liberal arts fields, the only possible consumer of the research in question is a handful of scholars in the same field. That sort of research is valuable in the same way that children's craft projects are priceless--to their mothers. Basically, these people are supporting an expensive hobby with a sideline business certifying the ability of certain twenty-year olds to write in complete sentences.

And what about the people who do get tenure, and are producing scholarship in areas that other people care about? Doesn't tenure protect free intellectual inquiry? Diversity of thought? Doesn't it allow teachers to be more demanding of students?

Perhaps--but the question is, at what point? Most scholars in their sixties are not producing path-breaking new research, but they are precisely the people that tenure protects. Scholars in their twenties and thirties, on the other hand, have no academic freedom at all. Indeed, because tenure raises the stakes so high, the vetting of future employees is much more careful--and the candidates, who know this, are almost certainly more careful than they would be if they were on more ordinary employment contracts. As a result, the process of getting a degree, getting a job, and getting tenure has stretched out to cover one's whole youth. So tenure makes young scholars--the kind most likely to attack a dominant paradigm--probably more careful than they would be under more normal employment process.

The same is true of diversity. Academics within the tenure system are probably more careful about weeding out heresy, because they'll be stuck with it if it manages to sneak in. Tenure can easily be used to entrench the ideological or scholarly commitments of a department's powerful members, reducing diversity rather than enhancing it...

But Can't We Just Keep Playing "Let's Pretend"? Our Revenues Depend On It!

Denninger:
Amazing stuff here...
The new law (financial reform) will make ratings firms liable for the quality of their ratings decisions, effective immediately. The companies say that, until they get a better understanding of their legal exposure, they are refusing to let bond issuers use their ratings.
So let me see if I get this right.

The Ratings Agencies get "privileged" access to deal information. Individual loan data, aggregates, all sorts of stuff that is not released to the potential buyers of a particular issue.

They then issue a rating based on both the known-to-all and the known-to-only-them data.

But they refuse to take responsibility for that rating.

Well now isn't that special. The issuers, of course, are unhappy:
Several companies are shelving their bond offerings "indefinitely," according to Tom Deutsch, executive director of the American Securitization Forum, which represents the market for bonds backed by assets such as auto loans and credit cards. He said he knew of three offerings scheduled for coming weeks that are now on hold.
So these issues are unmarketable without a rating, but the rating has no meaning because the agencies won't stand behind it - particularly, if it is found that they were negligent in some fashion down the road.

If you think this is the worst bit of circular logic you've heard in a while, you're not alone. A thing that is only marketable with a rating is obviously only marketable if the rating actually means something.

If nobody will stand behind their "rating" then in fact there is no rating at all and the issue is unmarketable in the first instance.

I offer my congratulations to the ratings agencies for finally bringing this little inconvenient fact into full public view, and defining themselves not as "ratings agencies" but rather as advertising departments for the major banks, puffery and all.


May they rest in peace.

Who Are The 11 Percent?

Their Moms?

Eleven percent of Americans say they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"What A Bunch Of Emo Idiots"

Vox Day, at the top of his game.

Complete Annihilation

Oh, let it be so!

"Like Cheap, Canned Cat Food"

Good piece re: the latest diktat from the Politburo.

Symbolic Truth



Gotten from here.

Succinct

The latest from the Journolist:
MORE FROM JOURNOLIST: Obama wins! And Journolisters rejoice. They seem to be planning for “epistemic closure.”

Spencer Ackerman: “Let’s just throw Ledeen against a wall. Or, pace Dr. Alterman, throw him through a plate glass window. I’ll bet a little spot of violence would shut him right the f*ck up, as with most bullies.”

And Eric Alterman adds his own incisive analysis: “F*cking Nascar retards…”

Didn’t the “best and the brightest” used to be, I dunno, better and brighter?

UPDATE: Reader Elliott Davis emails: “The best part about Eric Alterman’s participation in Journolist is his authorship of What Liberal Media?: The Truth About Bias and the News.”

Heh. Indeed. You gotta love this. Thanks again, Ezra!
No asterisks in the original.

Also this:
JAMES DELONG: JournoList As A Management Problem. “The real problem with JournoList is that much of it consisted of exchanges among people who worked for institutions about how to best hijack their employers for the cause of Progressivism. Thus, the J-List discussion revealed yesterday in the Daily Caller was about how the group could get their media organizations to play down the Reverend Wright affair and help elect Barack Obama. Were I an editor of one of these institutions, I would instantly fire any employee who participated in this gross violation of his/her duty. For example, the J-List included Washington Post reporters, and the idea that the paper has been turned into a propaganda organ is a big reason it is bleeding readers and influence. Of course, it is possible that the Post’s editors were on the list, since the membership is not known, in which case the corporate executives should fire the editors, or the board should fire the executives, or the stockholders should fire the board. (If Director Warren Buffet was on J-List, I give up.)”


And this:
WHISTLING PAST the JournoList graveyard: “Leftist writers and pundits have been trying to stroll past the crater left by the Daily Caller’s JournoList bombshell, hands stuffed in their pockets and eyes rigidly forward. . . . The symphony of whistles from the Left as they try to creep past the JournoList graveyard is deafening. It’s not going to work, comrades. This scandal is going to draw blood. Here are a few reasons why the wounds won’t be closing any time soon. . . . For independents who don’t follow politics closely, the JournoList scandal provides a simple, blatantly obvious narrative about fraud and propaganda. A sizable segment of the ‘journalist’ population stands revealed as sputtering extremists, who talk about killing stories and destroying people’s lives to protect their favored political candidate.” Sure makes reports like this 2004 story on Iraq seem a lot more plausible, doesn’t it?

Plus this: “The public is looking for ways to forget it voted for Obama. A narrative of fraud and deception is building around the 2008 election, as the polls for this disastrous presidency plummet. People who don’t want to admit they voted for Obama have an appetite for believing they were tricked into doing so. Laying blame at the feet of a media they increasingly distrust will be very attractive. . . . I don’t think it’s healthy, or desirable, for the public to let itself off the hook so easily. America must fully understand the Obama mistake to ensure it is never repeated. However, I can see why people would prefer to embrace a simpler explanation.”

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

"Liberal journalists suggest government shut down Fox News"

Lots of damning quotes from the Journolist chuckleheads.

Legally Actionable?

Instapundit:
QUESTIONS FOR THE CLASS: ‘Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, Who Cares? . . . Call Them Racists’. Is this quote from Spencer Ackerman evidence of actual malice? Could it be invoked in a future libel case against Ackerman or his employer to show a habit of recklessness? Would you hire someone who had made statements like that as a journalist? If you did so, would that be evidence of reckless disregard?
It is about time that the MFM faced the music.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Super

Ace Of Spades:
Union Thug Who Roughed Up Videographer At Meg Whitman Rally ID'd...

Moe Lane ID'd him.
Mike Griffing was CNA’s 2009 Director of Collective Bargaining, with a salary of just under $164K. I was not aware that you could make this kind of money by going to anti-Whitman rallies and sneak-attacking people who have had the effrontery to put you and your group on the public record! Clearly we all picked the wrong career path.
You know, I don't want to encourage violence, but these guys with cameras have to start bringing their bigger buddies. At some point someone needs their teeth loosened up.

All You Need To Know About The MFM

Smoking gun:
The thing that surprises me most about the Journolist revelations is the openness of the particpants in creating a paper (that is, computer) trail of their machinations, complete with identifying names. Apparently they either thought what they were doing was noncontroversial, or they trusted their fellow-Journolistos to keep the transactions sancrosanct, never suspecting that one day a member would turn tail and rat.

But that day has come, and as a result we are treated to such thoughtful missives as this one from Chris Hayes of the Nation:
I’m not saying we should all rush en masse to defend Wright. If you don’t think he’s worthy of defense, don’t defend him! What I’m saying is that there is no earthly reason to use our various platforms to discuss what about Wright we find objectionable.
Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent [sic] responded:
It’s not necessary to jump to Wright-qua-Wright’s defense. What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a rightwinger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously I mean this rhetorically.

And I think this threads the needle. If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes *them* sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction.
There are also some interesting windows on the past. The Nation’s Katha Pollitt reminisces about how distateful it was to her, as a feminist and a woman, to have to whitewash Bill Clinton’s sexual offenses back in the 90s: “I am really tired of defending the indefensible.”

Not tired enough, Katha, not tired enough.

But Ackerman rallies the wearying troops, including Kevin Drum of Washington Monthly, who naively wonders:
I think it’s worth keeping in mind that Obama is trying (or says he’s trying) to run a campaign that avoids precisely the kind of thing Spencer is talking about, and turning this into a gutter brawl would probably hurt the Obama brand pretty strongly. After all, why vote for him if it turns out he’s not going change the way politics works?”
Ackerman replies:
Kevin, I’m not saying OBAMA should do this. I’m saying WE should do this.

Hey, They're Waiting, Just Like The Rest Of Us

The MFM just doesn't know what to do about the impossible mystery. Woe is them.
[Richard Cohen]:
There was never a question about who Reagan was and what he stood for. Not so Obama. About all he shares with Reagan at this point are low ratings.

What has come to be called the Obama Paradox is not a paradox at all. Voters lack faith inhim making the right economic decisions because, as far as they’re concerned, he hasn’t. He went for health-care reform, not jobs. He supported the public option, then he didn’t. He’s been cold to Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu and then all over him like a cheap suit. Americans know Obama is smart. But we still don’t know him. Before Americans can give him credit for what he’s done, they have to know who he is. We’re waiting.
That’s precisely the problem — the media is waiting. While they parachuted dozens of reporters to Wasilla in order to investigate a Vice-Presidential candidate in the general election, the media didn’t bother at all to trek to the much more accessible Chicago to get any sense of Barack Obama’s politics or connections to the corrupt Daley Machine. It’s not as if the issue of corruption in Chicago was an arcane political topic, either, but the only mainstream media interested that topic were the newspapers in Chicago.

Nor did the media exactly fall all over themselves to look at Obama’s track record of leadership, or more accurately, the lack thereof. Obama rarely if ever led on any legislative activity that had notable controversy. Instead, he preferred to vote “present” on those issues, an option afforded by the Illinois legislature, and did so over 130 times during his seven years in the state Senate. In one famous encounter, an Obama campaign surrogate couldn’t name a single legislative accomplishment of note for Obama during his time in either the state legislature or the US Senate that would provide a basis for voters to trust him with an executive position at the top of the American political system. Yet the media acted as if Obama had credibility and refused to report anything that contradicted the notion.

However, there were some who continuously pointed out these shortcomings in a vain attempt to get the media to pay attention. That’s why Cohen’s “we” gets Bruce, well, we-we’d up:
Who is “we” Mr. Cohen? And where were you and your kind when the vetting process was supposed to take place. Why are you still waiting for an introduction? Why didn’t you do your job?
It’s not just Cohen who failed to do the job, but the entire American media that sold us the Obama bill of goods.
Cohen's brain-dead little screed also contains this:
Until these measures prove popular, they can be mischaracterized by Republicans and other evil-doers.

You Can’t Take The Back Alley Out Of Abortion

Excellent First Things piece.

Monday, July 19, 2010

He Has It Coming

J.R. Dunn:
Which brings us to Barack Obama.

Two weeks ago, the White House informed the state of Oklahoma that it could expect no federal aid to help deal with the damage caused by recent flooding. There was no explanation, no expression of sympathy, no offer of alternatives.

Last week, it was revealed that NASA's new mission will be centered on making Muslims "feel good" about their scientific achievements of roughly a millennium in the past. This comes right on the heels of the cancellation of the Constellation program, which employed tens of thousands and promised to put the U.S. back into space in a big way.

At roughly the same time, J. Christian Adams, a former Department of Justice attorney, revealed that the voter harassment case against the New Black Panthers had been dropped for purely racist reasons, and that the word had come down to "never bring another lawsuit against a black or other national minority, no matter what they do."

While this doesn't match killer baboons, it'll do until Obama gets his pack trained.

Consider these actions. If anyone during the 2008 elections had implied, or even speculated, that Obama was capable of anything of the sort, he'd have been dismissed as a demagogue, a hater, even a lunatic. But today, after his abandonment of the state of Tennessee (also wracked by flooding); his betrayal of the Georgians; his pulling the rug out from under the Poles and Czechs; his dragging and cold response to the Gulf blowout; and his insults to the U.K., the GOP, the Supreme Court, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Dalai Lama, it scarcely raises a shrug. That's Obama. That's how he acts -- with arrogance, superciliousness, and indifference. We can search the entire roster of American presidents, and we will not find a match. This is not the behavior of an elected chief executive; it's the conduct of a divine right monarch, and a pretty inadequate one as well.

Conduct of this sort inevitably produces a reaction -- contempt from equals and hatred from victims. Obama has created a lot of victims in eighteen months of power, and that reaction has been growing. In plain fact, Obama is on his way to becoming the most hated president of the modern epoch. More so than Roosevelt, more so than Nixon, more so than Bush -- keep in mind that W. was truly hated only by the hard left. With steady and unrelenting pressure over a period of six years, the left did succeed in planting doubts and discomfort in the country as a whole...but never extending to actual hatred.

Obama is different -- in part because of the way he was so relentlessly hyped during his ascension to office, and the way he played along with it, toying with the public's expectations and transparently enjoying his status as demigod. But he is no longer the godling of legend, the Illinois messiah here to lead us to a left-wing Eden. He is merely a community organizer in over his head. The blowback triggered by disappointments of such depth can be ferocious. FDR was never foolish enough to make promises on this level (listen to his 1933 inaugural speech), and it served him well over three full terms. Obama was, and now he must pay the piper.

Obama is hated for a good reason -- for causing suffering to no purpose. A president must cause grief and pain; in this fallen world, he has no choice. He must and he will make decisions that hurt people. Hard decisions, decisions that kill. This is one of the reasons that presidents age so swiftly. The classic case here is Lincoln. No president caused more bloodshed and sorrow than Lincoln. No president suffered more for it, as much as it was done for a good and transcendent cause. The result is apparent in his photographs -- the somber but healthy figure about to take office transformed into the wraith of 1865, with his haunted eyes and skin stretched parchment-tight across the bones of his face.

But the suffering generated by the reign of Obama is unnecessary and uncalled for, as any short examination will reveal:

The Economy - Obama has made the same errors as FDR in his first term, without FDR's charm and earnestness to make up for it. Without even grasping that they were errors, for that matter. Of course, giving most of the stimulus money to the same financial industry that kicked off the crash was a brilliant ploy. We have to admit that worked.

The Border - A state under siege attempts to reimpose order through accepted legal means, and Obama's response is to unleash Eric Holder, the only person in the country (possibly even the galaxy) more arrogant than he. This is going to haunt him.

Health Care - Even now, the chicks are coming home. The system is starting to go, four years before anything will be ready to replace it. A former colleague of mine was told this week that her doctor will no longer accept Medicare. She lives in New York City, not friendly to Medicare patients in the best of times. She is understandably distraught. That story is being repeated across country in thousands -- perhaps hundreds of thousands -- of cases. And what is O's Plan B? You tell me.

The Gulf - During the worst ecological disaster of the era, as all levels of his administration repeatedly fumbled the ball, Obama golfed, partied, listened to Paulie Beatle, and went on vacation no fewer than three times. Let them eat cake!

In direct consequence of these actions and countless others, Obama has become a hated man. That hatred will only grow.

What would the prudent man do? He'd put away his purple robes, give up his grand schemes, cease the bullying and arrogance, and simply try to get through the next two years without civil disorder or other forms of ugliness. But Obama is not a prudent man. Nor are the members of his personal baboon pack -- Emmanuel, Axelrod, and the rest.

So to avoid a state of permanent crisis, it will be necessary to dismantle the Obama presidency while it still exists. The new Congress will put a halt to much of the programs already in motion and must also move to assure that the levers of power are moved out of Obama's reach. The Supreme Court will step in regarding a number of questionable decisions and programs. The sheer pressure of democratic checks and balances, so blithely ignored by Obama up until now, will begin to squeeze like a vise.

His own cronies, with no honor among them, will peel off as the downward spiral becomes evident. They will move to save themselves -- cut their deals, make their testimony, cop their pleas. We will learn a lot we don't now know about why certain decisions were made. The collapse will accelerate.

Thanks to the Gulf blowout, we know that Obama's crisis mode is to retreat. And retreat he will, until he can retreat no farther. Eventually he will become a ghost in his own White House, querulous and isolated, afraid to go out among his own people. In the end, he may well become the first president forced to live in foreign exile. And this is the best he can expect.

...

But it's far from hopeless. Those of us who lived through Watergate are aware that this country prevails even when the leadership is derelict. America is resilient, Americans at their best amid crises. America's "decline" is situational, not permanent. We can look forward to a period of renewal when it's all over and we've cleared away the Styrofoam columns. A lot of illusions will be dead, a lot of worthless ideas exposed. Those who hold them will be have to come to terms with the fact that no, Americans will never be glad to "mutate."

Just Because The Government Never Fires Anyone Doesn't Mean The Sane Don't

And the government is about to be fired by the sane. Excellent AJ Strata post.

Heh

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tell Us Lies, Tell Us Sweet Little Lies

Legal Insurrection:
There were two important developments recently in the continued unraveling of the Obamacare public relations BS.

First, the Obama administration cemented its legal position that the health care mandate is a tax, which means that Obama is raising taxes on people making less than $250,000 a year contrary to his campaign promise.

Second, the promise that you could keep your doctor is evaporating as health insurers, in a desperate attempt to keep down premiums under the burden of Obamacare requirements, are reformulating their plans by limiting choice of physicians.

Read Obama's Tax Lips

Read Obama's lips: I will not raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 per year.

Read Obama's lips: The health care mandate is not a tax, so even though people making less than $250,000 per year have to pay it, I have kept my promise.

Read the Obama administration's legal defense of the mandate:
When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”
And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.

Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations.
You see, it all depends on what the meaning of "is" "tax" is.

He will say anything, because he doesn't really care whether it is a tax or not.

He just wants to force you to pay it.

You Cannot Keep Your Doctor, Sucker

[read the rest]

Pick-Up Lines From The Philosophers

Amusing, if you know your philosophy.

Klavan Pours On The Ridicule That The MFM Has So Richly Earned

Link

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Too Many Have Forgotten The Meaning Of 'Disgrace'

But that must be what happens when you are incessantly taught that everyone is a winner.

Neoneocon:
Here’s Greenwald on the subject of Obama’s excuses:
Imagine a man who is up for a sales job at a company in crisis. He tells his prospective boss that not only will he rescue sales but he’ll also lower costs, turn out a better product, get the competition to cooperate instead of compete, raise wages, improve the food in the company commissary, and redecorate the offices to boot. This man then gets hired. For a year, sales continue to lag, and everything else stays the same. The new employee explains that the guy who used to have his job left behind an unconscionable mess, which has made it very hard to do the things he had promised in the interview phase. After a year and a half, sales hit an historic low, the product is being recalled, competitors have formed a guild and are pulling ahead, everyone at the company has taken a salary hit, a few people have gotten food poisoning in the commissary, and the offices are more dilapidated than ever. On top of that, vendors can’t get him on the phone, he’s insulted his co-workers, and he’s taken more vacation time than the company allows. The boss finally asks him what’s gone wrong. “I could never have lived up to your expectations,” the man says.
It’s not just the blaming and the excuse-making itself, it’s the fact that such behavior is unprecedented in a president in my lifetime. What’s more, it’s that nearly half of the American public isn’t yet turned off by this sort of thing in a POTUS. Back when I was growing up, such an approach by a president would be unthinkable and even (yes, I know this isn’t PC) unmanly. It just wasn’t done; it was weak and unseemly and showed lack of leadership.

The fact that it now seems acceptable is probably a result of the decades-long abdication of the idea of personal responsibility, beginning in the school system with the self-esteem movement. Obama may be the first president who not only is a product of that system, but more importantly, was elected by people raised in that system. He knows his audience well.

"We Have No Use For Someone Who Thinks ObamaCare Is An Awesome Machine That Just Needs A New Transmission And Some Mag Wheels To Reach Its Potential"

Doctor Zero takes it to Mitt Romney:
Even as the starting bell rings for the first round of the Republican presidential free-for-all, we’ve got a couple of anonymous Mitt Romney advisors coming off the top rope, aiming elbow smashes at Sarah Palin’s back. They said she’s “not a serious human being” and “if she’s standing up there in a debate, and the answers are more than 15 seconds long, she’s in trouble.”

This childish and incoherent nonsense does a lot more damage to Mitt Romney than Sarah Palin. What, exactly, are the criteria for being considered a “serious human being?”

...

The crack about fifteen-second debate answers is slightly more coherent, but utterly ridiculous. Anybody who can rock a sitting Presidential administration with Facebook posts has nothing to prove to the faceless minions of a voiceless bystander to the ObamaCare drama.

...

Let me offer Romney, and the other GOP contenders hoping to climb into the steel cage with him and Palin, what we’re looking for in a serious candidate.

This election will not be fought over the fine details of a few specific pieces of legislation. It will not be a contest to find someone who can escort an unpopular Barack Obama from the White House, then trot back inside and continue shoveling trillions of dollars into the deficit furnace. We don’t need a national CPA to provide a lecture on deficit reduction during his inauguration, then return for a State of the Union speech in which he explains spending cuts are pretty much impossible, while forklifts roll in with massive new tax packages. We have no use for someone who thinks ObamaCare is an awesome machine that just needs a new transmission and some mag wheels to reach its potential.

...

The Republican candidate for president must be determined and sober about the magnitude of the change facing us, but also able to draw strength from an enduring belief in the spirit and capability of the American people. It’s not hard to be a “happy warrior” when you stand in the front ranks of such a mighty force. Our candidate must understand the fatal flaws of Obama’s ideology, not just the weaknesses of individual bills he has supported. A comprehensive knowledge of America’s socialist history, from inception to its current death throes, will be required. The Republican candidate must be able to explain why individual Americans will succeed, where the State has failed. It will be necessary to describe the love of liberty to a people who don’t universally share it. They must learn to celebrate freedoms judged too dangerous for their feeble minds by the Democrat Party. They must learn to focus their will against a leviathan State that has no intention of dying quietly. Like Sarah Palin, they must be ready for their very humanity to be questioned, through dark insinuations of greed and racism.

We certainly do need some serious people to apply for the Oval Office job that will be opening in 2013. Mitt Romney disqualified himself when he failed to speak out against ObamaCare. Next, please.

Friday, July 16, 2010

How To Win Friends And Influence People

Barbarian:
It’s like he’s not even trying, anymore:
Obama couldn’t even get his manners right. Ever the partisan, he took a shot at his host, Holland Congressional representative Pete Hoekstra who was in the audience. Despite opposing the Recovery Act, Hoekstra attended the ground-breaking ceremony, he told The View, “out of respect for the office of president.”
The respect was not returned. “Some made the political calculation that it’s better to obstruct than to lend a hand,” sneered Obama at the end of his remarks. “Now that doesn’t stop them from being at ribbon cuttings, but that’s OK.”

'Stunning Success' Has Come To Mean Not Obviously Causing Catastrophic Damage

Mish explains. Read it and weep.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

We Want You To Teach This Subject, And If You Do, You're Fired

Persecution.

Keep Your Friends Close And Your Enemies Closer

The Anchoress on she who waits in the wings.

A Contraction, Not A Possessive

Heh:
OBAMA’S KATRINA:
This CBS poll suggests that the Obama administration, in order to be better liked, basically needs to pack it in. It’s the economy, and he’s acted stupidly.

It’s an ugly picture, looks like a hurricane just rolled through or maybe an oil rig exploded or the Basij militia just quelled a public disturbance. Only 13 percent say the stimulus helped them. Large numbers think he wasted time on that health care thing, spent too little time on the economy. I don’t know … looking at what he did when he did spend time on the economy, it’s hard to think that devoting more time running up the deficit to benefit a few hacks and push pork and assorted lefty agenda items would have helped much.

Taken with the oil thing, the assorted foreign policy things, it’s starting to look like Obama’s Katrina is going to be … Obama.
So when people say “Obama’s Katrina,” it’s a contraction, not a possessive . . . .

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Deflation Checklist

From this Mish post:
In Humpty Dumpty on Inflation I proposed a series of conditions one might expect to see in deflation. Let's take a look at the current state of those conditions.

Falling Treasury Yields - Yes
Falling Home Prices - Yes, as measured by Case-Shiller
Rising Corporate Bond Yields - Not substantially - Yet. However sovereign credit spreads are widening
Rising Dollar - Yes
Falling Commodity Prices - Yes as measured by the $CRB from the beginning of 2010
Falling Consumer Prices - Yes (or at least close) as measured by the CPI. My preferred measure would directly include home prices and that would/will tip the CPI negative soon enough. I consider housing (but not the land it sits on) a consumer good.
Rising Unemployment - It is high and essentially steady. My model suggests no improvement at best, and far more likely new highs above 11%
Falling Stock Market - Yes as measured since the start of the year
Falling Credit Marked to Market - Yes, most assuredly
Spiking Base Money supply as Fed fights Deflation - This depends on your timeframe, but charts sure show a spike - Another spike is likely
Banks Hoarding Cash - Falling consumer loans - Declining bank credit - Yes, Yes, Yes
Rising Savings Rate - Yes. The US savings rate rose to an 8-month high in May
Purchasing power of gold rising - Yes
Rising numbers of bank failures - Yes

Nearly every condition one would expect to see in deflation is happening, The few that aren't are close at hand and likely. If those are the things one would expect to see in deflation, and the scorecard is close to unanimous, I suggest that those who say this is not deflation have the wrong definition.

...

Bernanke's Deflation Prevention Scorecard

In case no one is keeping track, Bernanke has now fired every bullet from his 2002 “helicopter drop” speech Deflation: Making Sure "It" Doesn't Happen Here.

Bernanke's Scorecard

Here is Bernanke’s roadmap, and a “point-by-point” list from that speech.

1. Reduce nominal interest rate to zero. Check. That didn’t work...
2. Increase the number of dollars in circulation, or credibly threaten to do so. Check. That didn’t work...
3. Expand the scale of asset purchases or, possibly, expand the menu of assets it buys. Check & check. That didn’t work...
4. Make low-interest-rate loans to banks. Check. That didn’t work...
5. Cooperate with fiscal authorities to inject more money. Check. That didn’t work...
6. Lower rates further out along the Treasury term structure. Check. That didn’t work...
7. Commit to holding the overnight rate at zero for some specified period. Check. That didn’t work...
8. Begin announcing explicit ceilings for yields on longer-maturity Treasury debt (bonds maturing within the next two years); enforce interest-rate ceilings by committing to make unlimited purchases of securities at prices consistent with the targeted yields. Check, and check. That didn’t work...
9. If that proves insufficient, cap yields of Treasury securities at still longer maturities, say three to six years. Check (they’re buying out to 7 years right now.) That didn’t work...
10. Use its existing authority to operate in the markets for agency debt. Check (in fact, they “own” the agency debt market!) That didn’t work...
11. Influence yields on privately issued securities. (Note: the Fed used to be restricted in doing that, but not anymore.) Check. That didn’t work...
12. Offer fixed-term loans to banks at low or zero interest, with a wide range of private assets deemed eligible as collateral (…Well, I’m still waiting for them to accept bellybutton lint & Beanie Babies, but I’m sure my patience will be rewarded. Besides their “mark-to-maturity” offers will be more than enticing!) Anyway… Check. That didn’t work...
13. Buy foreign government debt (and although Ben didn’t specifically mention it, let’s not forget those dollar swaps with foreign nations.) Check. That didn’t work...

Bernanke has failed. "It" has happened.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Plain Common Sense

John Hussman as quoted by Mish:
There is little question that we have, for more than a decade, squandered our productive resources in the pursuit of bubbles. Almost unbelievably, real private gross domestic investment is lower today than it was 12 years ago, and much of the gross domestic investment that we have made in the interim has been destroyed in mispriced speculative activity such as residential construction and commercial real estate development.

If our only response to excess consumption is to pull out all the stops trying to "stimulate" consumption every time it falters; if our only response to reckless lending is to defend the bondholders every time their poor allocation of capital threatens to produce a loss for them, then quite simply, we will destroy our economy, our future, and our standard of living. The last thing I want to be is a cheerleader for the bears here. But quite honestly, it's difficult to envision a return to long-term saving, productive investment, and thoughtful allocation of capital until - as happens every two or three decades - the speculative elements of Wall Street are crushed to powder.

...

If we as a nation fail to allow market discipline, to create incentives for research and development, to discourage speculative bubbles, to accumulate productive capital, and to maintain adequate educational achievement and human capital, the real wages of U.S. workers will slide toward those of developing economies. The real income of a nation is identical its real output - one cannot grow independent of the other.

An MSM Media Outlet Whose Standard Policy Is (Therefore) The Withholding Of Facts, Explains That Facts Don't Really Matter Anyway.

Chutzpah.

The Mattress Economy

Explained by Michael Barone.

"For All The Excitement Of His Election, Having Lied His Way Into Office, Barack Obama Was Essentially DOA His First Night At The White House."

Concludes this Roger L. Simon analysis.

The Lefties Come Up With An Asinine Court Ruling, It Is Appropriately Satirized, And The Lefties Then Screech In Outrage At Seeing Their Principles "Applied"

Satire here.

Screeching here.

Followup by satire's author here.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Trouble With Leftism Is Its Excruciating Dullness

American Thinker:
Obama will become unlikable as people tire of fluff news stories or smiling photos of Barack and Michelle on the cover of Vogue. Much worse for Obama than becoming unlikeable is becoming boring -- and he will become more and more boring every day. Why? Marxists like Obama have nothing new to say. The whole sum of human problems, according to the goateed gurus of radical socialism on college campuses, is the unfair distribution of wealth, and the only solution to this "problem" is coercive redistribution.

It is hard to overestimate just how dull, dumb, and monotonous radical socialism is to people who are forced to listen to it all the time. The Marxist-Leninist paradise of Soviet Russia died of poverty, of party privilege, of suppression of nationalities, of many things -- but perhaps the most underrated cause of its implosion was sheer, mind-numbing boredom. No one, from the members of the Politburo to the local party bosses, actually believed the drivel of capitalist exploitation. Slavish, ritual expressions of the brilliance of Marx were simply a way of culling out honest and interesting people and insuring that only power-hungry hacks ever had any power in the Soviet Union.

The grotesque curiosity of living Marxism on American campuses will inspire future historians to compare these mad and malicious men to Nazi racial theorists or Hindus who compelled widows to immolate themselves or Aztec priests building mountains of human hearts to appease savage gods. It is no coincidence that both Nazism and Fascism, so different in other ways, both were conscious derivatives of Marxism. This evil, stupid doctrine seems to be the sole catechism of Obama.

That dooms Obama to descend into uninteresting, unhip, and utterly predictable rhetoric. Already we see signs of this slow political death. People are simply not watching his television addresses as much these days. A story of Obama sitting down with Medvedev to eat a hamburger is no longer thrilling or even interesting. Americans are not so much angry at Obama as indifferent to him. Most presidents have had a grand objective to their administration. Eisenhower wanted the interstate highway system. JFK wanted a man on the moon. Nixon wanted realpolitik engagement of China and Russia. Reagan sought to win the Cold War. George W. Bush tried to bring democracy to West Asia. These may not all have been good ideas, but they were at least novel ideas.

Obama seeks nothing more ordinary than an acceleration of Fabian Socialism long after most socialists had given up on their hoary doctrine. He has all the originality of a Young Communist reciting a lecture on the brilliance of Lenin to his fellow communists. He has all the glamour of Brezhnev reading the next Five-Year Plan to the Central Committee of the Communist Party. He has all the stirring insight of aging leftists in Hollywood pontificating about the evil of the land they choose to live and to prosper in.

The worst curse in modern politics is the yawns of voters. When no one wants to watch you, when no one really listens to you, and when most people do not even bother to dislike you anymore, then you (and your party) face a case of slow, terminal consumption. Obama is a fast-fading comet, and his party, having foolishly linked its fate to such an anachronism, may face with him extinction. Barry is becoming boring.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Excoriated By Ignoramuses For Stating The Obvious

A doof at Salon.com caterwauls and screeches against a David Klinghoffer piece at Huffington post which simply states that Darwinism inspired particular Nazi policies (duh!).

Getting A Few Things Straight

A commenter at GayPatriot:
You already have equal protection. All the same rules of marriage apply exactly to you as they do to anyone else. Every adult American can marry a person of the opposite sex, who is also an adult and is not an immediate family member. NO ONE may marry a person of the opposite sex. These rules apply equally to every person in America.

Then, of course, you will argue that you cannot marry the person you love. Which does nothing to prove that you are being treated unequally by the law, indeed, no marriage license in any state requires or even asks that the couple be in love. There is no “love” test for any marriage anywhere. There is a sex test. Every marriage must contain exactly one person and only one person of each of the sexes necessary for human procreation. One man, one woman.

What you are actually demanding is that the government NOT treat you equally to everyone else, which they are already doing, but that the government must treat homosexuality as though it were equal to heterosexuality, which only the most abject fool can even begin to claim is true.

As absolute proof, I submit to you the planet Earth, which contains approximately 6.5 BILLION human beings, each and every one of whom has exactly one female mother and one male father. NONE of whom would even exist were that not true.

Until such time as you can produce a planet that contains even ONE human being created by homosexuality, the “equal protection” argument is demonstrably, utterly, scientifically, logically, empirically, totally false.

So what you are really arguing is not that the law must treat you equally — it does — or even that the law must treat equal things equally — it does that too. You are demanding that the law must treat fundamentally, consequentially, existentially DIFFERENT things as though they are equal.

Which is simply silly.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Friday, July 02, 2010

Giving 'Em What For

Popular Science (PopSci) has a hit piece on global warming denialists "villains". Commenters are giving 'em hell. Here's a great one:
I really shouldn't be surprised that Popular Science...oh excuse me, that should be "Pop Sci", has become one of those publications which, with the passing of the torch to younger staff, has abandoned its long and proud history of objectivity and disinterested coverage in favor of a blatantly partisan stance and biased and subjective articles. Shame on you.

It amazes, and saddens me some, to see the grande dames of the print news media such as the New York Times, and the venerable weekly and monthly magazines of general and specialized interest, such as yours, as they flounder in the increasingly desperate search for the way to keep circulation from slipping away entirely. We readers...well, former readers for the most part...can almost feel the rising panic in management and staff of these once great edifices as they seek what apparently seems to them to be the great secret to stemming the huge loss in circulation which they have suffered for years.

What is saddest is not the looming (and by this point all but certain) deaths of these once-great publications, but the self-delusion which keeps the staff and management from taking necessary steps to save their publications and their jobs. Because they are deceiving themselves about what the problem is and what can be done to fix it.

The print media industry has already written the narrative of its demise. Like the old newspaper practice of writing celebrities' and public figures' obituaries long before their deaths, the news media and related media have been preparing the story of their demise for a few years now. But unlike an obituary for Madonna, the news media and magazines are already easing out their story about how they died. Tossing it out there so that they can "soften up the beach" and prepare the public for when it really happens. That way they can control the story, and thus write history before it happens. The sad thing is, they are so wrong about why they will have died. What's sadder: it was entirely avoidable...that is if they hadn't let their vanity and partisanship get in the way.

They want to world to think they are dying because of the "free news" of the internet. Yep, o woe unto them, the Internet killed the newspapers and magazine industry. That bastard Internet! That's the story they're putting out; that's the story that soothes their egos and allows their world view to remain intact. It almost looks like they're intentionally failing so that they can "prove" this scenario.

How else to explain the NYT's ludicrous attempts a few years ago to charge for virtually every bit of the Tines online? It failed miserably...as some would say was always the intended result. But it isn't the Internet which is killing off the tree media: it's the arrogance and ignorance of the publishers, managers, editors and staffers.

It's their arrogance in dismissing, and often overtly insulting, anyone who might remotely support an idea which smacks of political conservatism. It is beyond rational dispute that the news industry is a politically monochrome institution. Somewhere around 90% of the entire industry's population of reporters, editors, managers and publishers, down to its proofreaders, fact-checkers, support staff and photographers, describe themselves as among the most politically liberal members of American society. It might be nice to think of the press room gang, truck drivers and distribution team as Archie Bunker-type blue-collar heroes, etc., etc. Except the old printing operation that took 100 guys in little newspaper hats has been forever replaced by a $20-million computerized production line run by 5 middle-manager types. And those guys are hardcore union men, along with the truck drivers, distributors and circulation managers.

So it's no secret that conservatives are few and far between in the news media. They're simply not welcome. Now, if the news industry followed those principles of objectivity and disinterested coverage which they used to proudly parrot (they don't even bother with the facade today), there would be no problem.

Indeed, the news industry once was pretty good at that stuff. From, say, the 40's through the mid-70's, sticking pretty much to the "5 W's (and 1 H)". There was no opinion masquerading as fact; the personal perspective, much less the biases, of the reporter were usually absent; and news was covered without regard (in the best of cases) to who was involved and what the consequences might be for parties involved.

But with the coming of Watergate, and the lionization of Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, all that went to hell. Reporting became "a calling". From a vaguely disreputable undertaking seen to be largely peopled by job-hopping low-grade alcoholics who had failed at many other jobs, news reporting was transformed into a sort of spiritual quest, a modern reshaping of the Grail legend into the search for Truth by the (Self-)Righteous Knights of the Holy Typewriter.

And it only got worse, as "the news" was changed from the traditional search for reliable information about events of all types which had occurred in the community, into a way to "change the system". Kids left high school intent on becoming "journalists" now, who would "make the world a better place". Anyone who felt a need to improve the lot of mankind (and that's what they called humanity then) before, say, 1975, became doctors, nurses, teachers, firemen, policemen, pastors and members of the Peace Corps. After Watergate, everybody wanted to be Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.

And non-liberals stopped becoming reporters, uh, "journalists". And true to human nature, those liberals who remained couldn't stay intellectually honest. They often skewed stories to help Democrats and hurt Republicans; they spiked anything which might hurt their team. This kind of partisanship has reached its apogee with the coming of The One. It was embarrassing to watch the way the news media prostrated itself for Obama. It's still going, as scandal after outrage after crime is intentionally going unreported.

And finally, why have the newspapers and magazines lost their subscribers? Because that majority of the news-users, the news-buyers, area actually conservative and libertarian in their outlook on things in general. We're actually a majority of the market. We're the heavy news-eaters. We're intelligent; we're successful; we're experienced; and we can tell BS when someone serves it up to us as BBQ. We're tired of being pissed on by the news media. Of being ignored if we're lucky, insulted and accused if we're not. It is primarily the rise of an far more objective news outlet in Fox News which has hurt the traditional news media the most. Even in their mockery and frothing accusations against Fox News, the leftward leaning media members prove the case against themselves: because if they were able to look with unbiased eyes they would see that Fox is not a conservative organ, but a more nearly objective news organization than has been available for some three decades.

From Fox's astounding success has flowed the conservative blogosphere, which is cutting gaping wounds into the traditional news media. We consumers of these blogs and news aggregators don't require pristine objective reporting; we just want bias and interest acknowledged, and we'll make the decisions from there. That inability to admit bias is what has hurt the traditional media the most, by far.

And now "PopSci" has made the same mistake. I promise you, that if you follow this path, you'll die too. Just like the NYT; just like Newsweek; just like MSNBC and even CNN. For they are all stumbling toward their deaths. And all because they can't bring themselves to admit that their arrogance, their bias and their slanted coverage has driven their readers and viewers away.