29 November 2008

This Idiot Goes To Cornell

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about six kids preparing and applying to sundry universities across the United States. Normally, I would read these stories of over-achievers and maniacal parents and move on, but one of the six stories really stuck out to me--for all of the wrong reasons.

Consider Ramond King. Given that his parents hiply-misspelled his name, nothing in this story should come as a surprise.
When Dartmouth College rejected Ramond King last December, he blasted Radiohead's "Let Down" and tried to figure out why he wasn't at least put on the wait list. He had a 3.9 grade-point average his senior year, took five Advanced Placement courses and won the headmaster's cup, an award to the student who showed the most personal growth at the Branson School in Ross, Calif.

A few weeks later, as he was finishing 13 applications, Mr. King's college counselor called with a possible explanation. On his application, where he'd described his course load, Ramond had spelled chemistry as "chemestry" and literature as "literatre." The errors appeared six times.

"When it happened, of course, I'm freaking out," Mr. King says. Before he'd sent that Dartmouth application, his mother, father and sister had studied each word, scouring for mistakes. But the errors were on a page he filled out on his own and gave to the guidance office to complete with recommendations.

In his next round of applications, the errors were corrected. This time, he was accepted to five schools, including Cornell, where he is now a freshman. He says blatant misspellings can be fatal to an application (ed. note: seriously?): "I try and laugh about it now," he says.

Advice: Check every section of an application immediately after finishing it, as well as before sending it. Many college counselors recommend printing out an online application and proofreading the hard copy.

In 13 applications, he misspelled the same two words 6 times. One time on one application--that I would understand, but 6 times out of 13 applications makes me think this kid is a complete idiot who still isn't sure how to spell "chemestry" or "literatre." And it's not like he consistently misspelled those two words in all 13 applications. He only screwed it up 6 times. Presumably he got it right the other 7? Who knows?

Cornell, you deserve whatever you get from Ramond King.

Also, I'm no longer accepting the "Cornell is a 2nd tier Ivy" crap I've been hearing all of these years. Sorry, not when your frosh applicants are pulling stuff like this.

[ed. note: if someone emails me in a couple of years to tell me that King became a Rhodes scholar, I'll eat my words.]


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28 November 2008

Health Care Reform

For the record, I am not (nor have I ever defended) defending the status quo.

I dislike the health care status quo for two reasons broad reasons:
- It is inefficient and costly.
- It gives impetus to the useful idiots clamoring for universal health care.

I am for a reform of health care that would at least do the following:
- correctly align incentives
- eliminate the tax incentive in favor of employer provided health care thereby freeing labor movement AND allow wages to rise
- reduce regulation allowing for greater instate and intrastate insurance competition
- expand Health Savings Accounts and use of "catastrophic" health insurance
- encourage greater use of statistics-based health care evaluation & best practices
- I'm sure there's something I'm missing ...

I further propose that we avoid a federal, one-size-fits-all prescription for health and instead eliminate government-caused, market distorting interventions such as tax free employer provided health care. Wherever possible, the federal government should encourage and allow various states to attempt reform at that level--in the mode of Wisconsin's welfare reform in the early-mid 90's.

As an example & case study, I offer Bobby Jindal's plan to reform Medicaid in Louisiana.

This is the type of reform we should be encouraging.


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27 November 2008

George Washington's Thanksgiving

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

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Thankful For Education

They came first for religious freedom. Now, descendants of the ones who stayed behind, come for the education.
In the media telling, America during the Bush years has been an unpopular and insular country. But one group would seem to differ: young people. The U.S. remains the top destination for students from around the world, while Americans are studying abroad in record numbers too.

The New York-based Institute of International Education's "Open Doors" report, published this week, shows that more foreign students than ever are flocking to American colleges and universities. International student enrollment increased by 7% to 623,805 in the 2007-08 academic year -- the largest annual increase since 1980. The survey, funded by the State Department's Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, accumulates data from 3,000 institutions of higher education.

The easy answer is that American universities are the most liberal, anti-Bush places in America (maybe the world)--that if they don't like us, they will find people sympathetic to their viewpoint at Berkeley & Columbia.

Of course, they aren't attending universities in such high numbers in other countries they supposedly don't like, or of whose leaders they so strongly disapprove.


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26 November 2008

The Moral Hazard Of Secularism

Another reason religion and morality matter. Prop 8 & doing away with Christmas and everything else--it's all of a piece.

Daniel Henninger:
It has been my view that the steady secularizing and insistent effort at dereligioning America has been dangerous. That danger flashed red in the fall into subprime personal behavior by borrowers and bankers, who after all are just people. Northerners and atheists who vilify Southern evangelicals are throwing out nurturers of useful virtue with the bathwater of obnoxious political opinions.

The point for a healthy society of commerce and politics is not that religion saves, but that it keeps most of the players inside the chalk lines. We are erasing the chalk lines.

Read the whole article. I'll take Dan Henninger over Tom Friedman every day of the week and twice on Sundays.


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Hopefully We Can All Hang Out

You know, when Michelle Obama sends those of us in the loyal & conservative opposition to liberal re-education camps, to teach us not to be racists for voting for John McCain & that Prop 8 is bad. Bad! Bad! Bad!

Since my daily blog readership doesn't quite break 4 digits--yet (haters), I'll probably last a little bit longer than my heroes Ace & Iowahawk.

But rest assured, when Michelle's T800s (all designed to look exactly like Rachel Maddow. sick & wrong, I know) put me in the camp, all you'll have to do is look for those guys, and you'll find me. No doubt we'll be planning a little Great Escape-style escape. We'll name our tunnels Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley Jr. (WFB, for brevity's sake), & Milton Friedman.

Be sure and check out Iowahawk's latest offense against his lordship, the high Obama:
WASHINGTON DC - Ending weeks of speculation and rumors, President-Elect Barack Obama today named Bill Clinton to join his incoming administration as President of the United States, where he will head the federal government's executive branch.

"I am pleased that Bill Clinton has agreed to come out of retirement to head up this crucial post in my administration," said Obama. "He brings a lifetime of previous executive experience as Governor of Arkansas and President of the United States, and has worked closely with most of the members of my Cabinet."

Clinton said he was "excited and honored" by the appointment, and would work "day and night" to defeat all the key policy objectives proposed by Mr. Obama during the campaign.

To all my liberal friends: Please show mercy on me now, in your moment of supreme power and might and dominance. I mean, all I did was use Obama's middle name in my posts over and over and over again in a vain attempt to scare Americans into thinking he was a jihadist in disguise.

That's not so bad, right?

Right!?!!

If I promise to take some of those lame 48 loves 52 pictures, will you let me off with a simple, Berkeley-style brainwashing, and a little bamboo under the fingernails? Please?

I don't think I can take the John McCain Experience. (heh. you see what I did there, with "experience?")


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25 November 2008

National Review Sticks Up For Mormons, 1st Amendment

I'm tempting the Fair Use fates (again) by posting this, but I just don't see any other way around it. If you care about the 1st Amendment, you must read this article.
Last week in a Denver suburb, someone lit a Book of Mormon on fire and dropped it on the doorstep of a Mormon temple, presumably as a statement about the church’s support of Proposition 8 in California, an initiative that amended the state constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In a move that may make gay-rights supporters’ heads spin, the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.

The outbreak of attacks on the Mormon church since the passage of Proposition 8 has been chilling: envelopes full of suspicious white powder were sent to church headquarters in Salt Lake City; protesters showed up en masse to intimidate Mormon small-business owners who supported the measure; a website was created to identify and shame members of the church who backed it; activists are targeting the relatives of prominent Mormons who gave money to pass it, as well as other Mormons who are only tangentially associated with the cause; some have even called for a boycott of the entire state of Utah.

The wisdom of hate-crimes legislation aside, there is no doubt that a lot of hate is being directed at Mormons as a group. But why single out Mormons? And why now?

Dozens of church bodies — including the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Christian bishops of California, and a wide variety of evangelicals — supported the proposition. It’s also worth considering that, while gay-rights advocates cannot discuss same-sex marriage for more than 30 seconds without making faulty analogies to Jim Crow-era anti-miscegenation laws, some 70 percent of blacks voted for Proposition 8. While there have been a few ugly racist statements by gay-rights supporters, such vile sentiment has been restricted. Not so the hatred directed at Mormons, who are convenient targets.

To date, 30 states have voted on initiatives addressing same-sex marriage, and in every state traditional marriage has come out on top. But somehow the fact that Mormons got involved during the latest statewide referendum constitutes a bridge too far? In truth, Mormons are a target of convenience in the opening salvo of what is sure to be a full-scale assault on much of America’s religious infrastructure, which gay activists perceive as a barrier to their aspirations. Among religious groups, Mormons are not the biggest obstacle to same-sex marriage — not by a long shot. But they are an easy target. Anti-Mormon bigotry is unfortunately common, and gay-rights activists are cynically exploiting that fact.

There are no websites dedicated to “outing” Catholics who supported Proposition 8, even though Catholic voters heavily outnumber Mormons. And the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not remarkably strident in its beliefs on the subject. So far, no gay-rights activist has had the brass to burn a Qu’ran on the doorstep of a militant mosque where — forget marriage! — imams advocate the stoning of homosexuals.

Churches oppose same-sex marriage in part because it represents an implicit threat to freedom of conscience and belief. California already had one of the broadest civil-unions laws in the country. There was little in the way of government-sanctioned privileges that a state-issued marriage license would confer. But the drive for same-sex marriage is in practice about legislating moral conformity — demanding that everybody recognize homosexual relationships in the same way, regardless of their own beliefs. Freedom of conscience, or diversity of belief, is the last thing the homosexual lobby will tolerate: In New Mexico, a state civil-rights commission fined an evangelical wedding photographer $6,637 for politely declining to photograph a gay commitment ceremony. In California, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously against two San Diego fertility doctors who refused to give in-vitro fertilization to a lesbian owing to their religious beliefs, even though they had referred her to another doctor. And just this week, evangelical dating site eHarmony, which hadn’t previously provided same-sex matchmaking services, announced it had been browbeaten into doing so by New Jersey’s Division on Civil Rights and the threat of litigation. The first 10,000 same-sex eHarmony registrants will receive a free six-month subscription. “That’s one of the things I asked for,” crowed Eric McKinley, who brought the charges against eHarmony.

Where do they go from here? Gay activists are already using the legal system to try to revoke the tax-exempt status of the Mormon church. If you believe that churches and synagogues, priests and rabbis won’t eventually be sued for their statements on sexuality, you’re kidding yourself. Chai Feldblum, a Georgetown University law professor and gay activist who helps draft federal legislation related to sexual orientation, says that, when religious liberty conflicts with gay rights, “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.” A National Public Radio report on the conflict noted that if previous cases are any guide, “the outlook is grim for religious groups.”

Given their cavalier disregard for the freedom of conscience, it’s little surprise that the gay lobby is equally disdainful of democracy: They began pursuing legal challenges to Proposition 8 practically before they were done tallying the votes. Lamentably, the state attorney general defending the will of the people will be former Jerry Brown, the liberal former governor who was an open opponent of the measure and tried to sabotage it. The legal challenges will be heard by the same state Supreme Court that overturned California’s previous law forbidding gay marriage back in May. There’s a real possibility the will of the people will be spurned a second time, democracy be damned. They’ve already burned the Book of Mormon. The First Amendment is next.
(emphasis added)


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Marines Kick Taliban A**, Take No Names

30 Marines vs. 250 Taliban. It's like something out of a movie. Only better.
During the battle, the designated marksman single handedly thwarted a company-sized enemy RPG and machinegun ambush by reportedly killing 20 enemy fighters with his devastatingly accurate precision fire. He selflessly exposed himself time and again to intense enemy fire during a critical point in the eight-hour battle for Shewan in order to kill any enemy combatants who attempted to engage or maneuver on the Marines in the kill zone. What made his actions even more impressive was the fact that he didn’t miss any shots, despite the enemies’ rounds impacting within a foot of his fighting position.

“I was in my own little world,” the young corporal said. “I wasn’t even aware of a lot of the rounds impacting near my position, because I was concentrating so hard on making sure my rounds were on target.”

For an R-rated (you've been warned), Chuck Norris-style lauding of the young corporal's deeds, click the link.

(thanks to Ace)


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24 November 2008

Here's A Link To The Video

After hunting around for a bit, I finally found the video of our discussion on conservatism as a part of PJTV's Conservatism 2.0 thing last week. No embed or keepvid option, so you'll just have to click the link.


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Prop 8: Building A Strong Conservative Alliance

In the run-up to last week's round-table discussion on PJTV, I thought a lot about what I wanted to say. After consulting with my brother and a Wise Man, I concluded that I would speak to the strength of social conservatism, as evidenced by Prop 8's passage in California.

(In the end, it didn't really matter, as they just wanted to talk about conservatism on college campuses.)

Specifically, as prompted by this point from the aforementioned Wise Man, I wanted to talk about Mormonism's inclusion in the broader coalition of socially conservative Christians:
given the demographic change that now favours the Democratic Party and certainly the voting in California on Prop 8 bore this out--young people voted overwhelmingly against it--and seeing the excellent cooperation between Catholics, Evangelicals and Mormons--isn't now the time to embrace Mormons who are bucking the demographic trend (largest families amongst Christian denominations in America) into the Conservative alliance
Indeed, this may be the silver lining to the cloud of persecution facing Mormons post-Prop 8. There is no question that members of the Church of Jesus Christ played a lead role in GOTV in favor of Prop 8 and that they also funded much of the Yes on 8 ad campaign.

Members of other Christian faiths witnessed Mormons' efforts first-hand and have seen the persecution these efforts brought in the wake of Prop 8's passage.

A recent press release from the LDS church notes the common cause coalition being built by the fight for traditional marriage. Michael Barber, Professor at John Paul the Great Catholic University:
As a Catholic school, we stand beside our friends in the Mormon Church and of people of faith who work tirelessly to preserve the freedom of religion in America. We also strongly oppose any attempt to ridicule another person’s faith, even faiths with which we have strong historical and theological disagreements."
This is the key point: theological differences ought to be put aside in favor of a partnership in defense of common goals and values.

Mormons can and should make common cause with other faiths on issues regarding life (abortion, stem-cell research, assisted suicide, etc.), family (marriage, divorce, adoption, etc.) and other issues without having to get into debates about theological questions.

Chuck Colson, The Christian Post:
Two days after the election, 2,000 homosexual protesters surrounded a Mormon temple in Los Angeles chanting 'Mormon scum.' Protesters picketed Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, holding signs reading 'Purpose-Driven Hate.' Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills was spray painted. Church members' cars have been vandalized, and at least two Christians were assaulted. Protesters even hurled racial epithets at African-Americans because African-Americans voted overwhelmingly in favor of traditional marriage. What hypocrisy from those who spend all of their time preaching tolerance to the rest of us!
Apart from highlighting the hipocrisy of the tolerance crowd, this comment groups together 3 churches which never would have found themselves on the same side of any question prior to Prop 8. Calvary Chapel and Saddleback Church have typically been critical of Mormonism, but on marriage, they agree.

Again, this is where the focus should be.

Rod Dreher, Beliefnet.com:
Now is the time for traditional Christians -- Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox -- to come to the aid of our Mormon friends. They put themselves on the front line of the traditional marriage battle like no other church group. And now individual Mormons are paying a terrible price for standing up for something we all believe in. I don't know how we can stand with them from afar, but at least we can thank them, and speak out when we see them being abused. We might also think again about how we view them. … I have deep disagreements with Mormon theology. But they are our friends and allies and fellow citizens, and they deserve our thanks and support.
This is the time. On the most important questions that face American families (especially from a socially conservative, religious perspective), Mormons and "traditional" Christians see eye-to-eye.


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Raising The Bar

This is up there with saying that ol' bi/post-partisan-Obama is governing from the "center-right" because he nominated Hillary Clinton--friend of conservative-Republicans everywhere--as Secretary of State. (thanks to Morgan H. for the image)

Reads the Washington Post headline: Obama Sets Expansive Goal for Jobs - Plan Aims to Create or Save 2.5 Million Positions by 2011

Has the WaPo turned into the Onion? How can they put something like that on the front page ... and keep a straight face? Could you imagine if President Bush had made such a claim? Yeah.

If you thought the media's inthetankedness for Obama would end with the election, think again: They got him there, now they aim to keep him there for 8 years (or longer, Obama willing).


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22 November 2008

Happy Victory In Iraq Day


Congratulations and thank you to our men and women in uniform
.

Two years ago this fall, things looked pretty bad. Iraq was falling apart, our troops were playing whack-a-mole with the insurgents, Sunnis and Shiites were resuming their blood feud. For a reminded of how bad it was, read my post from two years ago. You'll note that Joe Lieberman figures prominently.

Though the hard fighting may be done, Iraq still needs our support. A hasty withdrawal, or cessation of Iraqi troop-training--pretty much anything that ignores the advice of GI Joe General Petraeus--could endanger hard-won gains in that country.

I guess that's why this is my biggest Hope for Obama: That he listens to and takes the advice of good generals like Petraeus & Odierno.

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21 November 2008

Michael Yon On The Way Forward

Let me be clear: I'm joining in the celebration of 22 November as VI-Day (Victory in Iraq) not because I want to give whoever more fodder with which to ridicule those of us who want to win, but because I want to celebrate the accomplishments and sacrifice of our men and women in the military.

What they have achieved in Iraq is an incredible feat of arms. It ought to be celebrated. If, indeed, it works out that Barack Obama is able to withdraw on any timeline whatsoever and that withdrawal does not result in chaos and a failed state, it will have been because of what our military accomplished in Iraq.

I've said this before, but I repeat it again now: If you want to know what's really going on in Iraq and now, Afghanistan, you had better be reading Michael Yon. He doesn't do drive-by reporting, just visiting combat zones a few times a year, he is fully immersed, living in country and filing regular reports. He is funded and supported by the voluntary donations of his readers (in fact, this would be a good place to donate). He is not a cheerleader, but tells it like it is. His reporting is indespensible and, as far as I can tell, can't be had anywhere else.

His 10 November report talks about the success in Iraq but also warns President-elect Obama about the many challenges that we face in Afghanistan. Like everything he writes, it's a good read.
The Iraq war is over. Barring the unforeseen, the darkest days are behind, though we are still losing soldiers to low-level fighting with enemies that are true “dead-enders.” Last month we lost seven Americans in combat in Iraq. Peace, however, is not upon us. Another thirty or so Iraqis died today in suicide attacks. Nobody suffers more at the hands of Islamic terrorists than other Muslims.

A new President will soon begin to make critical decisions about Iraq and Afghanistan, the economic crisis at home, and countless other matters. While the Iraq war began, then boiled and finally cooled before President-elect Obama will be sworn into office on January 20th, 2009, the Afghanistan-Pakistan spectacle is just getting started. He was always a fierce opponent of our involvement in Iraq. And, as with so many Democrats in the Senate, he argued frequently, during the campaign, that we should have been focused on Afghanistan all along, because it is the real incubator of the international terrorist threat. Timing being everything, our new President will get his wish. Afghanistan now moves to center stage. The conflicts in Afghanistan and between Afghanistan and Pakistan have the simmering potential to overshadow anything we’ve seen in Iraq.
Click to read the rest of what Yon "hopes" Obama understands.

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20 November 2008

Michael Crichton: 'Take Your Consensus And Shove It'

From Michael Crichton's lecture delivered at the California Institute of of Technology on 17 January 2003:

Cast your minds back to 1960. John F. Kennedy is president, commercial jet airplanes are just appearing, the biggest university mainframes have 12K of memory. And in Green Bank, West Virginia at the new National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a young astrophysicist named Frank Drake runs a two-week project called Ozma, to search for extraterrestrial signals. A signal is received, to great excitement. It turns out to be false, but the excitement remains. In 1960, Drake organizes the first SETI conference, and came up with the now-famous Drake equation:

N=N*fp ne fl fi fc fL

Where N is the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy; fp is the fraction with planets; ne is the number of planets per star capable of supporting life; fl is the fraction of planets where life evolves; fi is the fraction where intelligent life evolves; and fc is the fraction that communicates; and fL is the fraction of the planet's life during which the communicating civilizations live.

This serious-looking equation gave SETI a serious footing as a legitimate intellectual inquiry. The problem, of course, is that none of the terms can be known, and most cannot even be estimated. The only way to work the equation is to fill in with guesses. And guesses -- just so we're clear -- are merely expressions of prejudice. Nor can there be "informed guesses." If you need to state how many planets with life choose to communicate, there is simply no way to make an informed guess. It's simply prejudice.

The Drake equation can have any value from "billions and billions" to zero. An expression that can mean anything means nothing. Speaking precisely, the Drake equation is literally meaningless, and has nothing to do with science. I take the hard view that science involves the creation of testable hypotheses. The Drake equation cannot be tested and therefore SETI is not science. SETI is unquestionably a religion. . . .

The fact that the Drake equation was not greeted with screams of outrage -- similar to the screams of outrage that greet each Creationist new claim, for example -- meant that now there was a crack in the door, a loosening of the definition of what constituted legitimate scientific procedure. And soon enough, pernicious garbage began to squeeze through the cracks. . . .

I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.

Let's be clear: The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period. . . .

I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way. . . .

To an outsider, the most significant innovation in the global warming controversy is the overt reliance that is being placed on models. Back in the days of nuclear winter, computer models were invoked to add weight to a conclusion: "These results are derived with the help of a computer model." But now large-scale computer models are seen as generating data in themselves. No longer are models judged by how well they reproduce data from the real world -- increasingly, models provide the data. As if they were themselves a reality. And indeed they are, when we are projecting forward. There can be no observational data about the year 2100. There are only model runs.

This fascination with computer models is something I understand very well. Richard Feynman called it a disease. I fear he is right. Because only if you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen can you arrive at the complex point where the global warming debate now stands.

Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours ahead. Now we're asked to believe a prediction that goes out 100 years into the future? And make financial investments based on that prediction? Has everybody lost their minds?


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19 November 2008

Thomas Sowell On 'Intellectualism'

This stuff is pure gold:
Among the many wonders to be expected from an Obama administration, if Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times is to be believed, is ending “the anti-intellectualism that has long been a strain in American life.”

He cited Adlai Stevenson, the suave and debonair governor of Illinois, who twice ran for president against Eisenhower in the 1950s, as an example of an intellectual in politics.


Intellectuals, according to Mr. Kristof, are people who are “interested in ideas and comfortable with complexity,” people who “read the classics.”

It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

Adlai Stevenson was certainly regarded as an intellectual by intellectuals in the 1950s. But, half a century later, facts paint a very different picture.

Historian Michael Beschloss, among others, has noted that Stevenson “could go quite happily for months or years without picking up a book.” But Stevenson had the airs of an intellectual — the form, rather than the substance.

What is more telling, form was enough to impress the intellectuals, not only then but even now, years after the facts have been revealed, though apparently not to Mr. Kristof.

That is one of many reasons why intellectuals are not taken as seriously by others as they take themselves.

As for reading the classics, President Harry Truman, whom no one thought of as an intellectual, was a voracious reader of heavyweight stuff like Thucydides and read Cicero in the original Latin. When Chief Justice Carl Vinson quoted in Latin, Truman was able to correct him.

Yet intellectuals tended to think of the unpretentious and plain-spoken Truman as little more than a country bumpkin.

Similarly, no one ever thought of President Calvin Coolidge as an intellectual. Yet Coolidge also read the classics in the White House. He read both Latin and Greek, and read Dante in the original Italian, since he spoke several languages. It was said that the taciturn Coolidge could be silent in five different languages.

The intellectual levels of politicians are just one of the many things that intellectuals have grossly misjudged for years on end.

During the 1930s, some of the leading intellectuals in America condemned our economic system and pointed to the centrally planned Soviet economy as a model — all this at a time when literally millions of people were starving to death in the Soviet Union, from a famine in a country with some of the richest farmland in Europe and historically a large exporter of food.

New York Times Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize for telling the intelligentsia what they wanted to hear — that claims of starvation in the Ukraine were false.

After British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge reported from the Ukraine on the massive deaths from starvation there, he was ostracized after returning to England and unable to find a job.

More than half a century later, when the archives of the Soviet Union were finally opened up under Mikhail Gorbachev, it turned out that about six million people had died in that famine — about the same number as the people killed in Hitler’s Holocaust.

In the 1930s, it was the intellectuals who pooh-poohed the dangers from the rise of Hitler and urged Western disarmament.

It would be no feat to fill a big book with all the things on which intellectuals were grossly mistaken, just in the 20th century — far more so than ordinary people.

History fully vindicates the late William F. Buckley’s view that he would rather be ruled by people represented by the first 100 names in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard.

How have intellectuals managed to be so wrong, so often? By thinking that because they are knowledgeable — or even expert — within some narrow band out of the vast spectrum of human concerns, that makes them wise guides to the masses and to the rulers of the nation.

But the ignorance of Ph.D.s is still ignorance and high-IQ groupthink is still groupthink, which is the antithesis of real thinking.
(emphasis added)

Just remember: Conservatives are stupid and anti-intellectual and liberals are smart and debonair.


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Love Dennis Miller




Thanks to Scott L.


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18 November 2008

Conservatism 2.0

Billed as "a discussion about the future of conservatism," Pajamas Media's TV outlet, the aptly named, PJTV, will broadcast a round table discussion featuring Mike Huckabee, Glenn Reynolds, Dr. Helen Smith, Michelle Malking and some college conservatives & Young Republicans.

If you're a subscriber, check it out. I don't know if it will be made available to non-subscribers or not.

I'm meant to contribute in some manner, but it remains to be seen exactly how much I'll be seen--that is to say, my part might get cut. If it does, I'll update later and fill you in on what I said that they thought wasn't worth airing.

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.

Stephen Hadley, Awesome American

In the week-long run-up to VI-Day (Victory in Iraq Day), I'll be posting good articles related to the success of our troops, The Surge, and those who supported The Surge against the Democrat and public opinion tide.

One of the people to include in the pantheon was Stephen Hadley
.
[...] one fact trumps everything else: Without this good man's courage and persistence, there would have been no surge.

I don't think I am talking out of school to mention facts that have been recorded in newspaper articles and books as different as Bing West's "The Strongest Tribe" and Bob Woodward's "The War Within." The surge story begins back in 2006, when al Qaeda finally succeeded in setting the Shia and Sunni at each others' throats. That October, with Baghdad consumed by sectarian fires, Mr. Hadley tasked William Luti to come up with a new way forward.

Mr. Luti was then serving in the National Security Council (NSC) as special assistant for defense policy and strategy. A retired Navy captain who had commanded an amphibious ready group that included thousands of Marines, he was familiar with war planning. The briefing that he came up with was called "Changing the Dynamics: Surge and Fight, Create Breathing Space and Then Accelerate the Transition." You know it as "the surge."

The difficulty for these two men was that outside their colleagues in the NSC and West Wing, few wanted to hear about sending more American troops to Iraq. The Democrats wanted out and were declaring the war lost. Some Republicans were joining in. The Iraq Study Group offered a face-saving out, and many in the Defense and State departments wanted to take it. The American public was weary.

By having Mr. Luti draw up the concept for a surge, Mr. Hadley ensured that when options were presented to the president, one of them would be to fight. In Mr. Luti's strategic conception, securing the population became the top priority. In public, advocates like retired Army Gen. Jack Keane and military strategist Fred Kagan did yeoman's work to press the case for a surge. But within the White House decision-making process, it was almost this simple: No Steve Hadley, no surge -- and no success.

What can this possibly mean for Mr. Obama? The answer is plenty. Many things have changed since he first came out against this war. For one thing, he is now the president-elect instead of an opposition voice in the Senate -- which means he now bears the responsibility for how the war turns out. For another, back when he first called for U.S. troops to be withdrawn, President Bush's victory talk was treated as a joke. It is no longer a joke.

As Gens. David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno are keen to remind us, the gains in Iraq are fragile and reversible. But they are nevertheless real. And that means that if Mr. Obama is not careful, he could be the president who loses Iraq.

It need not turn out that way. At bottom, Mr. Obama's war stance boils down to reducing our presence in Iraq and increasing our presence in Afghanistan. The success of the surge permits him [Obama] to carry out this strategy from a position of strength. In fact, the security pact just approved by Iraq's cabinet suggests that Mr. Obama is now in a position to achieve most of his Iraq aims without jeopardizing the hard-won gains our troops have made -- provided he keeps his word to listen to our commanders on the ground.

(per usual, emphasis added)

What a difference 2 years makes.


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Goldberg On Social/Religious Conservatives

The Republican party needs them. And, as evidenced by Prop 8's passage in California, being socially conservative does not lose elections.

Goldberg:
It turns out that people who buy into the logic of social liberalism, not just on abortion but racial and other issues as well, usually find themselves ill-equipped ideologically to say no to additional spending on causes they care about. They even find it difficult to stay Republicans, as we can see from recent example Colin Powell, who endorsed Barack Obama for president for largely ethereal reasons.

It should be noted that it’s also difficult to be fiscally conservative and socially conservative if you’ve jettisoned the conservative dogma of limited government. We saw this in spades as President Bush embraced “activist government” and ended up wildly increasing government spending over the last eight years.

And that should serve as a warning to those, on the right and left, who would like to see the GOP defenestrate millions of actual, living, breathing members of the party — e.g., social conservatives — in order to woo millions of largely nonexistent jackalopes. The GOP would simply cease to exist as a viable party without the support of social and religious conservatives.
Keep the social cons.


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No H8ers Allowed

In the liberal paradise that is the Castro district of San Francisco, tolerance, peace, & love abound.

Or not:



Michelle Malkin has the YouTube author's story about his experience.

Lovers of the Constitution beware, from Hot Air:
The violence wasn’t captured on camera this time; read the boss for a description of that. The media’s unwilling to place blame where it belongs in these incidents since the identities of the harassers and harassed confound the established Narrative, so they resort instead to feeble, evenhanded tsk-tsking about how “both sides” need to “cool down.” Look out for that as the coverage of this breaks big.

There’s only one man now who can rescue Prop 8 opponents from the terrible trappings of democracy — and luckily, not only has he had a lot of practice at it, this particular issue is one of his specialties. Expect a major 5-4 equal protection decision striking down the referendum sometime next year, with you-know-who writing for the majority. A surefire consolation prize for conservatives? Angriest Scalia dissent evah.

Looks like I'm going to have to break out my judicial activism rant after all.


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17 November 2008

Success In Iraq (UPDATED, x3 & Bumped)

Most everyone I know wrote off Iraq sometime in 2006 or 2007. I'll admit, it was rough going and things looked bleak--especially in summer and fall 2006 ahead of The Surge.

But General David Petraeus and his #2, Ray Odierno and all the many brave soldiers in their command executed the principles of The Surge masterfully, with the result being that Iraqis (and Americans) can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. As I've mentioned numerous times before, John McCain deserves a lot of credit for supporting it early, consistently, and to his detriment.

George W. Bush deserves the lion's share of the credit. He could have succumbed to his Democrat critics and pulled out of Iraq, leaving American military and domestic morale in a shambles and handicapping our influence for at least a generation. But he didn't.

My suspicion is that in 40 years, fair-minded historians will treat W's presidency with far greater equanimity than either today's opinion polls or pundits. I would guess that even many of his more sober critics would probably admit that they agree.

Thanks to Branden B. for the tip: Click the link and view a solemn reminder of some of the costs of victory in Iraq. The WSJ graphic shows the coalition troop losses over the course of the war. Best of all is the "biography" option which allows you to click on the dots (which represents soldiers who died) and read a short biography.

My fear (shared by many) and probably the greatest danger, is that Barack Obama will seize defeat from the jaws of victory by pulling coalition forces out of Iraq before Iraqis are able to defend themselves from interior and exterior threats. They are on the path to that goal, but they are not there yet.

To leave before they are ready would waste the sacrifice and work of thousands of brave American and coalition soldiers and would amount to the single greatest American defeat since the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese. It would be an unmitigated disaster that would destabilize the entire region.

UPDATE 11:50pm BST: Steve M. writes:
Sometimes in life we have to finish a job that was started by someone else or in error, but it must be finished in order to not marginalize, minimize, or totally negate the sacrifice of others.

Sorry, but I spent two years living in South America under a dictatorship and watched people suffer from the autrocities of oppression. Regardless of whether this was to fight the war on terror (which I believe it was, but our liberal friends have no concept of how to bring an unseen enemy out of the shadows to fight), or to keep control of oil, it can and has created a country where people have the freedom to choose their direction. Who are we to say they aren't worth that effort. What if we were the ones oppressed, wouldn't we welcome the restoration of our liberties? Or would we refuse the help because it was too hard and continue suffering?
UPDATE 18 November 2:54am BST: More good news from Iraq, this coming from General McCaffrey's AAR:
THE BOTTOM LINE:

a. The United States is now clearly in the end game in Iraq to successfully achieve what should be our principle objectives:

• The withdrawal of the majority of our US ground combat forces in Iraq in the coming 36 months.

• Leaving behind an operative civil state and effective Iraqi security forces.

• An Iraqi state which is not in open civil war among the Shia, the Sunnis, and the Kurds.

• And an Iraqi nation which is not at war with its six neighboring states.

b. The security situation is clearly still subject to sudden outrage at any moment by Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) or to degradation because of provocative behavior by the Maliki government. However, the bottom line is a dramatic and growing momentum for economic and security stability which is unlikely to be reversible. I would not characterize the situation as fragile. It is just beyond the tipping point.

• Daily attacks hit a high of 180+ in July of 2007--- they are now down to 20+ per day.

• Civilian deaths dropped from 3700 per month in Dec 2006 --- to 400 + in October 2008.

• US military deaths dropped from 110 in May of 2007---to 10 in October 2008.

• Iraqi Security Forces KIA dropped from 310 in June 2007--- to 50 in October 2008.)

Like his denunciation of Nafta, I hope Obama's promise to 'withdraw, regardless of conditions on the ground,' was just empty primary campaign boilerplate, designed to get the anti-war moonbat wing of the Democrat party on board, and not, you know, his grown-up position.

(thanks to Ace)

UPDATE 18 November 1:38pm BST: VICTORY IN IRAQ DAY: Alright, folks, this Saturday is Victory In Iraq Day. The day in which we celebrate the triumph of the American military over its many foes in Iraq and the establishment of a free democracy in the Middle East--by my count, the 2nd such democracy in that part of the world.

As you'll read when you click the link: don't expect the media, or either the outgoing (just trying to keep his head down) or incoming (didn't think it was possible, owes early success to our struggles there) Presidents.

Save the date and celebrate it. Thank members of the military wherever you see them for their hard work and sacrifice.


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Help Dave Beat The KosKidz

Remember the scholarship contest to which I linked and for which I encouraged y'all to sign up? Well, I don't know if any of my readers did, but Dave Cameron of USS Mariner fame is in the contest.

And he's leading.

I voted, because I love his stuff and am grateful for the sabermetric understanding he gave me of baseball and how it cross applies to things beyond baseball. I don't know what his politics are; USS Mariner has a strict, no-politics-allowed discussion policy. But given his background--studying econ stuff at UNC Charlotte (pretty sure)--I don't think he's an Obama hipster. So there's that.

Anyway, beyond telling a few friends who also read his blog, I wasn't going to publicly support his bid for the scholarship here at OL&L. But then I found out the haters over at DailyKos were promoting one of their own. Every day. Even though they don't normally read him. Just because he's a member of their groupthink. And, well, that really peeved me off.

So now I'm appealing to you, the several hundred of you across the United States, UK, and occasionally Uzbekistan, to click the link and VOTE FOR DAVID CAMERON. If you have a blog and you want to stick it to DailyKos, post a link and encourage your readers, friends, family to vote for David Cameron. Email everyone. He's behind by about 700 votes.


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16 November 2008

No On 8 Folks Really Helping Their Cause (Not Really) (UPDATED, Bumped)

As I've written several times in the past: For the homosexual community, this fight was never and will never be just about being allowed to be married. It is about forcing the rest of the United States to accept as normal every aspect of their lifestyle. It's about forcing it into our churches, schools, and the institution of marriage.

The word marriage has always described, for thousands of years, the unique relationship between man and wife. Words matter. Understandings and definitions of words matter. They affect how we look and think about the objects and ideas behind them.

I won't lump all homosexuals together, because I know there are many who just want to live and let live. But there are many, some in the video below, for whom the main goal is to militantly break down and destroy the thousands of years old understanding of marriage. They've demonstrated this over the course of the campaign for Prop 8 and violently in the aftermath of their loss by 600,000 votes in the liberal state of California.



(thanks to Lance G. for the vid)

And, of course, the Prop 8 loss caused someone to send suspicious white powder (code for 'maybe anthrax') to the Mormon temples in LA and SLC.

This sends a very clear message: 'Accept our lifestyle or die.'

Do they really think this will help their cause?

UPDATE 16 November 5:11am BST: Laura W. writes: "Not sure if you heard, but the little old lady who was spit on and vilified in that vid is pressing charges, and they are using that vid to identify the suspects...
Go, Little Old Lady!"

Sure enough, here's the article.

You know, in a democracy such as ours, these people have alternatives: They can try and persuade people to see the world the way they do and then vote accordingly, or they can harass sweet old ladies, threaten, vandalize, assault, send suspicious white powder (this is just a short list, readers have written me about more).

Given that they failed in California (California!), I wonder where they can succeed? This makes pro-marriage amendments 30 for 30 in terms of approval by statewide initiative (that is, amendments like this one have passed in the 30 states that have put it to a vote).

So, they'll follow the time honored tradition of liberal activists throughout the ages (like, the last 30 years or so): Get some liberal, activist judge to overturn the emphatically voted will of the people, you know, because she/he is more enlightened and knows better than the millions of Californians who voted to amend their constitution to protect marriage.

Mind you, this is a preemptive rant (the Bush Doctrine at work). I hope I don't really have to use it.


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15 November 2008

More Examples Of Liberals Being Ubertolerant

Another one of the many myths of liberalism is that they, and only they, are open minded and tolerant and enlightened in the glory of their many graduate degrees and minorities (both racial and sexual) and on and on, etc., amen.

Of course, the truth is that they are only tolerant if you share their doctrinaire liberal beliefs. Otherwise, you might get "crucifixed."

Consider the response of one girl's classmates to her "McCain Girl" t-shirt, worn, unbeknownst to them, as a social experiment. This experiment was conducted in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago.
"One person told me to go die. It was a lot of dying. A lot of comments about how I should be killed," Catherine said, of the tolerance in Oak Park.

But students weren't the only ones surprised that she wore a shirt supporting McCain.

"In one class, I had one teacher say she will not judge me for my choice, but that she was surprised that I supported McCain," Catherine said.

If Catherine was shocked by such passive-aggressive threats from instructors, just wait until she goes to college.
Yup, those liberals, so tolerant and open minded.

Look, see how enlightened they are compared to the redneck, backwoods, no-nothing, conservatives living in flyover country.

The message from these liberals (like some of the gay liberals) is clear: Join us in our dogmatic groupthink, or else.

(h/t Amanda B.)


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14 November 2008

Michael Steele, Conference Call

Listening in on a conference call with Michael Steele on Friday. Steele is the headline candidate for the RNC chairmanship. I've been impressed with him for a long time and became even more so impressed after interviewing him at the RNC and listening to his speech there.

So far, I've been very impressed with his emphasis on the importance of how we communicate conservative ideas. Steele says, for example, that we need to be careful about saying that we want to "cut government." Government employees hear that and think, "these guys want to fire me." We need to say that we want efficient and effective government, because then those same employees will say, "the guy in the cubicle sitting next to me didn't do anything all day, he better watch out."

This is one example of the importance of communication.

Steele on communication: We are going to try every mode of communication open to us. We won't mimic the Obama campaign, but we will steal some of their communication strategies. Obama wasn't interested in communicating his VP choice, he wanted to get people's cell and email information. This kept them excited and interested and made them feel as though they were in the game.

Steele wants to actively engage bloggers to test ideas and see what things are animating people outside of Washington. Republicans don't feel a part of anything and connected to anything. That's not going to cut it. We only ask for their checks. We want them more involved than that.

Paraphrasing Steele: I want you guys involved. I want a free-flowing exchange of ideas. Those conservative bloggers can use these tools to go out and fight the good fight. This is an important opportunity for everyone who has good ideas to get involved.

[ed. note: Clearly talking about tapping into the democracy of ideas that is the internet.]


Ok, the call is done. Steele is smart--smart enough to know that he doesn't know everything. By all accounts he would be a good fundraiser, communicater, and organizer. He seems willing to listen to ideas from all sides. And, importantly, he seems to be a true conservative.

Given the social conservatism of the African-American community (see Prop 8), it's possible that Steele could reach out and begin building some bridges.


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13 November 2008

What This Election Wasn't, Part 137

There is so much misinformation floating around out there, I could spend all my time reading and debunking the electoral interpretations of various pundits. Don't worry, I won't. I'll focus on the ones that interest me most.

Andrew Gelman, no conservative partisan, has the first one:
The election was pretty close. Obama won by about 5% of the vote, consistent with the latest polls and consistent with his forecast vote based on forecasts based on the economy.
(emphasis in original)

After all the reports we got about how transformational this election would be, how the youth vote would turn out in record numbers and how turnout itself would blow every previous election out of the water.

Well, it didn't. 18% of young voters turned out compared to 17% last time.

Yeah, Obama-hipsters, speak truth to power!

And overall turnout? Roughly comparable to 2004--even with all of the fake, dead, & felonious signed up by ACORN.

As for realignment? Nothing to see here. Jennifer Marsico of AEI:
The 2008 election was an important election. But it can hardly be considered realigning.

Mr. Obama won by portraying the Bush presidency as a series of mistakes that need to be avoided in the future -- essentially encouraging voters to think about the short-term past, not the long-term future.

Put another way, Mr. Obama got about 40,000 fewer votes in Ohio than John Kerry got four years ago. Mr. Obama carried the state when Mr. Kerry did not because Republicans stayed home. Nationally, the anticipated record turnout didn't materialize. About the same percentage of registered voters came out this year as in 2004. And was that a realignment year?

(emphasis added)

Wholesale rejection of conservatism? Nah, not buying it. I'll give you rejection of Bush and critique of the current economic crisis, but neither of these things are a knock on conservatism as an ideology. Republicans may be down for the count, but it's not because of their ideology. There is a wide divide between ideology and implementation.

More from Gelman (click the link for accompanying scatterplots):
The red/blue map was not redrawn; it was more of a national partisan swing. The standard deviation of the state swings (excluding D.C. and the unusual case of Hawaii) was 3.3%. That is, after accounting for the national swing in Obama’s favor, most of the states were within 3% of where they were, compared to their relative positions in 2004.

The standard deviation of these state swings was 2.4%. This was even less variation–2004 was basically a replay of 2000–still, the relative state swings of 3.3% in 2008 were not large by historical standards.

Again, Obama didn’t redraw the map; he shifted the map over in his favor. (Or, to put it more precisely, the economy shifted the map over in the Democrats’ favor and Obama took advantage of this.)

(italics added, bold in original)

Folks, the election is no more complicated than this. Trace the trajectory of the polls and the take a look at the exit poll data (Scroll down to the last bit of data. I think you'll find that the economy numbers match up pretty well with the overall election numbers).

The tanking of the economy in middle September through October lost John McCain this election. Granted, correlation doesn't prove causation, but we've got some pretty strong evidence.


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Stealing The Election For Franken

Up in Minnesota, Democrats are doing what Democrats do--whatever it takes to win. By hook or crook. From the WSJ:
For example, there was Friday night's announcement by Minneapolis's director of elections that she'd forgotten to count 32 absentee ballots in her car. The Coleman campaign scrambled to get a county judge to halt the counting of these absentees, since it was impossible to prove their integrity 72 hours after the polls closed. The judge refused on grounds that she lacked jurisdiction.

Up in Two Harbors, another liberal outpost, Mr. Franken picked up an additional 246 votes. In Partridge Township, he racked up another 100. Election officials in both places claim they initially miscommunicated the numbers. Odd, because in the Two Harbors precinct, none of the other contests recorded any changes in their vote totals.

According to conservative statistician John Lott, Mr. Franken's gains so far are 2.5 times the corrections made for Barack Obama in the state, and nearly three times the gains for Democrats across Minnesota Congressional races. Mr. Lott notes that Mr. Franken's "new" votes equal more than all the changes for all the precincts in the entire state for the Presidential, Congressional and statehouse races combined (482 votes).

Reagan help us if Democrats somehow steal the election in Minnesota, pull off a win in Georgia, and beat the felon in Alaska. It's not quite 60--the number necessary to forestall a filibuster--but it makes it that much easier to pressure 1-2 Republican Senators into following the Democrat crowd.


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More Evidence Sarah Palin Didn't Lose The Election

Don't listen to David Brooks. He doesn't like Sarah Palin and doesn't like social conservatives. You know this before you read his column. This is his bias. Dick Morris hates the Clintons and wants to win. This is his bias. Here's his read on Sarah Palin's effect on the election:
Sarah Palin made a vast difference in McCain’s favor. Compared to 2004, McCain lost 11 points among white men, according to the Fox News exit poll, but only four points among white women. Obama’s underperformance among white women, evident throughout the fall, may be chalked up, in large part, to the influence of Sarah Palin. She provided a rallying point for women who saw their political agenda in terms larger than abortion. She addressed the question of what it is like to be a working mother in today’s economy and society and resonated with tens of millions of white women who have not responded to the more traditional, and liberal, advocates for their gender.
Add this to the numbers Palin drew to her campaign events--literally tens of thousands of people showed up. She rivaled Barack Obama. Nobody turned up to listen to Joe Biden. And John McCain didn't pull those kinds of numbers and the base wouldn't have turned out to GOTV for him either.

Don't believe the haters. Palin isn't responsible for the loss and McCain supposed "hewing to the right" didn't do it either.

On what positions, pray tell, did McCain go right and lose? Drilling? Polls throughout the summer showed Americans in favor of drilling, 70-30%.

Similarly, on immigration, Americans are opposed to amnesty and in favor enforcement. But McCain pretty much didn't say anything about immigration because he's personally in favor of amnesty.

Oh, and all that stuff about Palin supposedly believing that Africa was a country, and not a continent, get over yourselves, it was a hoax. Who's the idiot now?

Obama did in 2008 what Tony Blair did in 1997--he coopted traditionally conservative principles--like fiscal responsibility and tax cuts. How in the world could McCain let Obama steal tax cuts? But he did, by proposing "tax cuts" for 95% of Americans. On foreign policy, Obama even out-hawked John McCain with regard to Pakistan (proposing bombings and special forces incursions).

John McCain did not lose this election by being too conservative or adding Sarah Palin to the ticket.


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12 November 2008

National Review On Prop 8 & Attacks On Mormons

Thanks to Blake C. for this one:
On Tuesday, by a margin of 52 to 48 percent, voters in California amended their state constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, as did voters in Florida (62 to 38 percent) and Arizona (56 to 44 percent).

Those who argue social conservatism is behind the GOP’s current electoral malaise take note: In Arizona marriage outperformed John McCain by 2 percentage points, in Florida by 14 percentage points, and in California by 15 percentage points.

The Arizona win, reversing a defeat for a marriage amendment in that state in 2006, also restores to state marriage amendments an unblemished record of victory: They have won in 30 out of 30 states where they have been on the ballot.

What lesson can we take from Tuesday’s marriage victories? Here’s one obvious one: Americans still care a great deal about this issue. The California supreme court may have believed that the public would acquiesce when it foisted same-sex marriage on the state earlier this year. But the successful campaign to overturn its ruling was an astonishing effort, unprecedented for a social issue, that raised more than 100,000 volunteers and almost $40 million from over 60,000 donors.

How have the leaders of the movement for same-sex marriage responded to their California loss at the ballot box? The same way they usually do: by getting lawyers to make ever more outrageous arguments to impose their values on unwilling people. (The ACLU is preparing to argue that a one-sentence definition of marriage constitutes such a wholesale revision of California’s constitution that the California Supreme Court should invalidate Prop 8.)

Just before they lost on Tuesday in California, same-sex marriage advocates in California descended to a new low. A group affiliated with Moveon.org, United Healthcare Workers, and the California Nurses Association released a television ad, “Home Invasion,” which portrayed Mormon missionaries as ransacking a California home: “We’re from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We’ve come to take away your rights.” (The ad was referring to the financial contributions Mormon citizens had made to the initiative campaign.) Are there any other religious minority groups whose political giving liberals believe should be stigmatized? Can we expect the Anti-Defamation League to speak up?

So far, not a single same-sex marriage advocate in California or outside of it has been willing to repudiate this vicious tactic: not MoveOn.org, of course, and not the ACLU or the Human Rights Campaign either. But also not, for example, Sen. Diane Feinstein, who appeared in an anti-Prop 8 TV ad saying that “we must always say no to discrimination.” But not, it seems, to bigotry.

The current conflict over marriage is in part a proxy for a larger ongoing conflict about the role of religious people and religious values in public life. As courts come to endorse the principle that sexual orientation is just like race, American government is going to find itself in the position of treating traditional faith communities just like racists. Voters should beware — if they are consulted on the matter.
(emphasis added)

Religious bigotry is the last acceptable form of bigotry in this country.

One of the lessons to be drawn from this election is that social conservatism is alive and well. Coupled with fiscal conservatism and strong-on-defense foreign policy positions, conservatism as a whole, has a bright future.

Conservatives must do as Ronald Reagan always did when confronted with a new problem: Return to first principles. It's why we are conservatives--because we have sure principles which we can always apply to new problems, if we work and think hard enough.


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Michael Crichton, RIP

I'm trying to think how many Michael Crichton novels I've read: Jurassic Park, for sure, Congo, and Sphere. I think that's it. They were all enjoyable reads.

I was saddened to learn that Crichton died over the weekend. In losing Crichton, we lose a man who wasn't afraid to poke fun at the accepted wisdom of the elites--like global warmism.

(or climate change or whatever it is they're calling it today because global temperatures aren't going their way, if you know what I mean)

John Miller, writer for the National Review, penned an excellent obit op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. My brother, Matt, pointed out the best part:
His workaholic habits were legendary, and he must have been a hard man to live with. Four of his five marriages ended in divorce. He displayed a vindictive streak, too. In 2006, Michael Crowley of The New Republic wrote a negative critique of Mr. Crichton's work. Rather than responding with a letter to the editor, Mr. Crichton retaliated in "Next," a novel about transgenic animals. It included a minor character named Mick Crowley, a child rapist who, like the real Mr. Crowley, had attended Yale.
Haters, beware. I'll be working you into my next novel.

(h/t Scott L.)


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That Mark Hemingway, He's A Funny Guy

Don't worry, everyone on this side of the pond is super excited about Obama winning too. That must mean they like US now, right? Right?

Anyway, over at The Corner, Mark Hemingway tackles the notion that newsworthy events = a baby boom. Specifically, one reporter speculated that Obama's win would create a minor baby boom 9 months from now--you know, because liberals have so many children.
A blast email that a reporter from a New York publication sent out today:

"I'm working on a funny piece about the potential for an Obama baby boom 9 months from election night. Did you make love in the name of Obama on election night? Were you feeling particularly romantic because your candidate won? If you seriously plan to conceive, are you happy you'll be bringing a child into an Obama administration?

I'm looking for funny and/or stories and anecdotes. If you're not comfortable having your name used, please let me know and we can likely work around that."

Well, once again we have a reporter who flunked statistics:

"Because variances in birth rate are an ordinary phenomenon, spikes in the number of births will occasionally coincide with a newsworthy event that took place three-quarters of a year earlier. Those who cling to the belief in blackout babies fail to accept that the same communities they point to as proof of the theory saw even greater leaps in number of births in years that weren't preceded by memorable events. Blackouts, snowstorms, and the like are more usually followed by perfectly ordinary birth rates nine months afterwards, but because human nature is what it is, we tend to remember only the events that fit the pattern we're determined to see and unconsciously discard all the rest [...]"

Such a query does, however, seem to confirm that no one was more turned on by Obama's victory than the media.
9 months from now, check your local hospital to see how many little Barry's, Barack's, and (for the girls) Obama's there are on the baby register.


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Sarah Palin Remains Awesome




Thanks to Jim Treacher for sharing.

Thanks also to Batton Lash.


If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.

11 November 2008

Remember The Vets

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs,
President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
Since that original designation, 11 November has been expanded to be a day in which all veterans of all wars are remembered and their sacrifices honored.

Commander Salamander suggests--and I recommend--that you make a donation to Valour-IT, a fund set up to purchase laptops and other necessary IT equipment to help injured vets on the path to recovery. See CS's. post for more info.

Finally, you must read David French's article, Soldiers Win.


Thanks to Ace.


If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.

Programming Note: Dialing It Back A Bit

As many of you have noticed (an emailed as such), I've taken a bit of a break over the last weekend. In the run-up to the election I was posting sometimes as many as 10-12 times a day. Needless to say, with a PhD that needs researching and writing, that's a pace I cannot maintain.

But I won't let this thing die altogether. Too many of you are reading and emailing me good stuff. I'll carry on posting--though probably closer to 1-2 times per day--while picking my NewsBusters stuff up a bit. I'll be sure and posts links here when I write something there.

One of my duties at NewsBusters is posting links to interesting articles in the "Editors' Picks" sidebar. If you come across something particularly good that you think would be of interest to 300,000 readers of conservative, media-bias hating readers, email it my way and I'll get it posted.

Thanks again for all your emails--complimentary and not. Keep 'em coming. Our guy may not have won the election, but that doesn't mean the fight is over. We won an important victory in California by passing Prop 8, but that fight isn't over either.

Now we have to do what we can to oppose His Oneness's liberal-socialist agenda and continue to defend marriage at the state and federal level. One woman or man standing up for what's right inspires others around them to do the same.

Be that person.


If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.

08 November 2008

Happy 233rd Bday, Marine Corps

In honor of the Marine Corps's 233rd bday, may I direct your attention to the story of one the Corps's greatest heroes, Colonel John Ripley. Professor Mackubin Thomas Owens tells the tale in an article at NRO.
John graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1962, receiving a commission in the Marine Corps. In October of 1966, he assumed command of “Lima” Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment in Vietnam. During this tour he was wounded in action and awarded the Silver Star medal for valor.

John had a successful career in the Marines, serving as an infantry battalion and regimental commander. He also earned the
Quad Body distinction, graduating the Army’s Rangers School (he is the only Marine in the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame), the Army’s Airborne school, Marine reconnaissance training, and Britain's Royal Marines training course.

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.

07 November 2008

Barack's Call For Unity

Subtitle: Support My Leftist Proposals Or Else

Reader Matt P. provides some excellent analysis of Obama's bipartisanshipness:
"If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. You make a big election about small things. And you know what? It's worked before, because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government."

I found this little tidbit interesting. I couldn't quite catch the context while reading it. I can't imagine that he was talking about McCain running on "small things," seeing how it seems to describe the Obama run up to the presidency so well. They were able to present trifles, meaningless platitudes and empty rhetoric as big, grandiose policy positions in such a way that he was even able to convince 20% of self-proclaimed conservatives to vote for him.

Oh, and if you didn't catch that quotation, it was in his acceptance speech. Not the one from last night but from the August convention.

There was one other theme of his that I would also like to touch on that has been discussed at length many times and evident again in his Presidential acceptance speech - his lack of bipartisanship.

In the DNC acceptance speech he spoke only of bipartisanship in the role of things that truly lack political division (i.e. his ethics reform bill, nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists and better care for veterans) and instances in which conservatives crossed the aisle to meet on the left side. This was evident again last night when he spoke of bipartisanship in vague terms and then followed it with a "call for unity" that only Barack could give: "And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too." Really?

(see http://patriotpost.us for additional thoughts on the partisanship on display as I cannot lay claim to that original thought)
(emphasis added)

As Matt P. points out, it's easy to be bipartisan when the partisans on the other side are forced to come to your side because they have no other option. And, it's easy to be bipartisan when the issue isn't one of those that divide the country and the two parties.

When Obama demonstrates that he will work with Republicans on issues that truly divide the two parties and this country, then--then, I will begin to believe that maybe he is a bi/post-partisan.


If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.

Voter Fraud &c.

This was hardly the first year people questioned the efficacy of our voter system. I mean, just because ACORN signed up more dead and imaginary people than every before doesn't mean this is the first time this has happened.

People, as I recall, were pretty ticked in the aftermath of 2000 with the Florida recount and other stories about voting issues.

JFK famously won the election with the help of tens of thousands of double & dead voters in Chicago. Tammany Hall in NYC was particularly good at this sort of thing and was/is the model for the Chicago machine.

It won't surprise any of you to know that these are all Democrat party machines.

It also won't surprise any of you to know that they are the ones who, year after year, oppose efforts to standardize voting requirements to bring a modicum of legitimacy to our electoral system. Heaven forbid we actually require a picture ID when someone votes.

After following this pretty regularly for the last couple of months and posting Morgan H.'s experience voting in LA, reader Victor S. emailed me the link to his new blog where he wrote a bit of a counterpoint to my many attacks. He's a good guy and his blog is worth a read.

He writes, in part:
The point I'm driving towards is this: the elections are as fair, in my view, as humanly possible. No, they are not perfect. Yes, there are sometimes minor errors, but the elections are fair, and those involved try to do the best job possible.
Yes, Victor, I've no doubt they are as fair as humanly possible. I'd like to make them as fair as inhumanly possible. That is to say, I'd like to subtract, as much as possible, the possibility for human caused error and fraud.

Requiring photo ID in every state would be a good start.


If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.

I Still Like President Bush

Much, if not most, of the criticism President Bush has received over the last 8 years has been unfair and in some cases, slanderous.

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro recently wrote a pretty good defense of the President.
The treatment President Bush has received from this country is nothing less than a disgrace. The attacks launched against him have been cruel and slanderous, proving to the world what little character and resolve we have. The president is not to blame for all these problems. He never lost faith in America or her people, and has tried his hardest to continue leading our nation during a very difficult time.

Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can be when our president needed loyalty -- a shameful display of arrogance and weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House.

(h/t Amanda B., Scott L., lots of others)


If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.

Bi-Lateral Free Trade Agreement Follow-Up

I don't think there's any doubt that Rahm Emmanuel aka "Ari Gold" is a partisan Democrat--he just happens to be one of the few partisan Democrats willing to buck the influence of unions and promote free trade. That doesn't give him a pass, but it does give him the benefit of the doubt on an issue that is a big deal to me: Free Trade.

A bunch of you emailed me in response to Dan K.'s comments and I appreciate the emails. They've been very illuminating. I'll post a couple of them below but can't post everything you've collectively sent. Don't be mad if yours doesn't get posted, it's because many of you wrote very similar comments.

Ryan D.*
I liked Dan K's comment about FTAs and how they can undermine global efforts.

A note should be made, however: many realists argue that FTAs are better for America because in bilateral agreements, the big country can push the little country for better terms. In other words, lately a lot of big countries have been seeking bilateral or small regional agreements simply because they can get favorable terms.

So to true economic liberals, as Dan K appears to be, FTAs are often perceived as a problem. But for foreign policy realists, FTAs may make more sense.
And Branden B.
Dan is right on bi-lateral FTA's. That may seem obvious given his credentials, but we both know that there are a lot of nuts out there with great credentials. I forget how all the math works, but I remember solving the bi-lateral fta models in Econ 257 and being surprised. His position is absolutely correct. Strong support for all-inclusive trade agreements (Doha, WTO) and opposition to bi-laterals. The bi-laterals might have a few political benefits so they are not altogether detestable, but for a free trader like yourself they are not what you are looking for.
I have just a couple of points to make in response. I don't necessarily disagree, I just think there may be more things to add to the equation.

In the case of the United States, the ag lobby is powerful (I know firsthand) and has been effective at maintaining the various price supports in place. This lobby probably explains, in part, some of the difficulties the US has had at the WTO generally and with Doha in particular.

However, according to my reading of the various Doha reports, the US seemed fairly reasonable willing to compromise. Lacking movement there, it's understandable that they would move to bi-lateral agreements where, as Branden B. and Ryan D. noted above, they could effectively out negotiate the little guy.

To the extent that these types of agreements hinder accomplishing a comprehensive FTA that moves us closer to global efficiency, that's a problem, obviously. But, as both Ryan D. and Branden B. and even Dan K. noted, there are 'political benefits' to be had from these bi-lateral agreements.

In the case of Colombia, there are economic benefits in the tens of billions of dollars in increased, free flowing trade. And we ought not dismiss the strategic benefits of bolstering our relationship with a key ally--especially when that ally is on the frontline of the fight against the drug trade and a help in countering an increasingly belligerent Chavez-ruled Venezuela.

On South Korea, I'm not quite as clear on the details. But Dan K. has spent a number of years examining the many factors at play there, so I'll gladly defer to him. I think it's fair to say that the argument could be made for bolstering a key ally in that region as well--especially if an agreement with South Korea is just a precursor to a multi-lateral Pacific Rim FTA I've heard about.

All of this brings me back to Nafta. Where does that, tri-lateral, agreement fit into the overall discussion of free trade. Everything I've read suggests that it is an unmitigated success. Has it, too, been damaging to efforts to adopt a world-wide FTA? I don't know.

Clearly, political reality plays a role in every one of these scenarios. I've said many times that if I had ultimate power, one of the first things I would do would be to eliminate barriers to trade worldwide--that I think it is the single act that could to the most good for the most people.

But I'm also not so naive that I would make the perfect enemy of the good. That may be what we're looking at with these bi-lateral FTAs, but I don't know. I'm open to persuasion on this point.

Let's bring this home, again: Dan K. chided me about Obama's anti-Nafta primary rhetoric. I hope he's right. I hope it was just that--rhetoric--and not a commitment to actually seek an massive re-write of the agreement. He has, as Dan K. & Ryan D. have said, surrounded himself with people who support free trade. But as both of you know, that's no guarantee.

Indeed, Democrats willingness (and narrow defeat in this Congress) to pass "card check" legislation, effectively destroying secret ballot unionization, signals a disturbing amount of willingness to bend to the demands of their union supporters. No less a leftist than George McGovern (George McGovern!) opposed this legislation.

Let me put it this way: If Obama is willing to go along with that type of legislation, I don't think free trade is the sacred cow many of you believe. Even if he does, initially, protect Nafta and support free trade, resurgent unions in the US, as a result of this new legislation, would have even more clout than they do today and could exert significant pressure on The One.

It might take one of his much hoped for miracles to resist them.


*Ryan D. blogs at Pendulum Politics.


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