30 April 2009

Global Warmism & The Almighty

Quote of the Week, via yesterday's Political Diary: Peter Huber says The Church Of The Holy Gorean Environment 'has it both ways':
Thirty years ago, the case against nuclear power was framed as the 'Zero-Infinity Dilemma.' The risks of a meltdown might be vanishingly small, but if it happened, the costs would be infinitely large, so we should forget about uranium. Computer models demonstrated that meltdowns were highly unlikely and that the costs of a meltdown, should one occur, would be manageable -- but greens scoffed: huge computer models couldn't be trusted. So we ended up burning much more coal. The software shoe is on the other foot now; the machines that said nukes wouldn't melt now say that the ice caps will. Warming skeptics scoff in turn, and can quite plausibly argue that a planet is harder to model than a nuclear reactor. But that's a detail. From a rhetorical perspective, any claim that the infinite, the apocalypse, or the Almighty supports your side of the argument shuts down all further discussion.
If you're looking for consistency; if you're looking for rationality; if you're looking for honesty; if you're looking for untainted science; if you're looking for cost/benefit evaluations; if you're looking for any of this in environment movement, you're going to be sorely, sorely disappointed.

And here's the thing about this movement/religion/phenomenon/whatever: I don't have a problem with these people or their religion so long as they are honest about their beliefs--acknowledge that what you believe in is not science, but something else--religion like all the rest of us believers.

Even if you think you worship science, at least have a little humility about your beliefs and pause before you make huge decisions based on findings and research that may very well be turned on their head tomorrow.


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28 April 2009

Arlen Specter, Democrat (UPDATED)

In case anyone out there still believed that these guys (& gals) made decisions based on principle, Specter's decision to switch parties should open your eyes. As Karl Rove just got done saying on FNC, this is pure political self interest.

Or, as my brother put it, "I suppose we should always assume self-interest of all politicians, that way these moves never surprise us." He--Specter--saw the writing on the wall with regards to Pat Toomey and made the logical, self-interested decision--he went Democrat.

He did what he had to do to remain in office.

Lots of people are saying that this is evidence that there is no room in the Republican party for people with politics like Specter's. If by "politics like Specter's" you really mean Republican In Name Only, then, the Democrat party is a friendlier place for guys like him--"friendlier" in the sense that they are the party in power, not that they like your positions anymore than the Republican party.

It is not as though Specter was super sympathetic with Republicans on one of the big 3 tent poles in the Republican party--fiscal conservatism, social conservatism, hawkish on foreign affairs/national security. On all of these issues, he is almost a doctrinaire Democrat.

There's room in the Republican party for those who like 2 of 3 or even 1 of 3 (of the 3 tent poles), but if you're moderate-to-liberal on all three of those issues, yeah, the Republican party is not the place for you and good riddance.

UPDATE 5:57pm MST: My friend Dan Kim, for whom I have a lot of respect, addresses Arlen Specter's switch, what it means for the Republican party, & responds a bit to my post.

It's one thing to say that the Republican party holds no appeal to centrists--something which which I heartily disagree--and a whole other thing to say that Specter's defection is emblematic of Republican's lack of appeal to moderates.

Specter moved because Pat Toomey was going to destroy him in the Republican primary. Specter isn't a principled anything--apart from being a principled political survivalist. His quote about not letting the voters of Pennsylvania tarnish his 29 year career by voting him out clearly demonstrates the esteem (or rather, the lack thereof) he holds for the will of the voters. The arrogance manifested by this statement is right in line with what it means to be a career politician.

I didn't like him as a Republican. I like him even less as a Democrat. Arlen Specter is the definition of political opportunism--at least his defection means there is one less opportunist in the Republican party and one more in the Democrat party.


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23 April 2009

Universal Health Care Sucks

I've often said that the egalitarian impulse towards universal health care--broadly, socialized medicine--is pleasant sounding rhetoric that really means everyone's health care will suck equally.

Thomas Sowell, as he is wont to do, makes a better point about the difference between health care and medical care. At first brush, it seems like a splitting of hairs, but it is not.

To wit:
Insurance is not medical care. Indeed, health care is not the same as medical care. Countries with universal health care do not have more or better medical care.
We often hear the number--40 million--of uninsured people in the United States as though this were itself a problem begging for a solution. It almost never occurs to anyone that many of these people choose to go without health care--for whatever reason.
The bottom line is medical care. But the rhetoric and the talking points are about insurance. Many people who could afford health insurance do not choose to have it because they know that medical care will be available at the nearest emergency room, whether they have insurance or not.

This is especially true for young people, who do not anticipate long-term medical problems and who can always get a broken leg or an allergy attack taken care of at an emergency room — and spend their money on a more upscale lifestyle.

This may not be a wise decision but it is their decision, and there is no reason why other people should lose the right to make decisions for themselves because some people make questionable decisions.
Enough Sowell-quoting. Read the column for yourself. Universal Health Care isn't about bringing down the costs of health care. I don't care at all that the UK or Sweden or wherever spend less on health care than the United States. We spend more because (and I know this is going to shock some of you) we want to spend more on health care.

Sure, if you want the country to spend less on health care, give over control of it to government bureaucrats who will ration whatever limited medical options they make available--fewer MRIs, surgery only for the young, 1 drug option instead of unlimited, money for research for drugs which most successfully lobbied members of Congress.

And this is just a short list of things that occurred to me at 1:43am.

I'm not going to argue that US health care is the best it could be. I would argue that though flawed, it is the best in the world and further, that deregulation and simplification of insurance markets and de-coupling health care from employment, etc., etc., would make it even better. Socialization/universalization of health care would make it worse.


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22 April 2009

Miss California Added To Hollywood Blacklist

Fresh off the set of their latest film criticizing HUAC & commie blacklists, Hollywood celebs roundly criticized Miss California, and, in what is fast-becoming their go-to move, blacklisted her for daring to stray from SAG-approved politics.

John Fund in today's Political Diary:
Entertainment blogger Perez Hilton wasn't subtle after Miss California Carrie Prejean said she favored limiting marriage to a man and woman in response to a judge's question about gay marriage at the Miss USA pageant. He called her "a bi[0]tch" and "the [seaward]" on camera afterwards. [ed. note: this is a family blog, after all] She responded merely by saying she felt sorry for him.

In a calmer moment, Mr. Hilton insisted: "Miss USA should represent all Americans, and with her statement she instantly was divisive and alienated millions of gays and lesbians, their families, friends and supporters." Hmmm. It was only five months ago that a majority of California voters voted to limit marriage in just the way Ms. Prejean suggested -- to a man and woman. A national survey by ABC News finds that voters still opposed the concept of gay marriage by 58% to 36%. Sounds to me like Mr. Hilton wants Miss USA pageant winners to only represent his viewpoint. Indeed, Mr. Perez told ABC News that her answer on gay marriage sealed Ms. Prejean's loss of the title: "She lost it because of that question. She was definitely the front-runner before that." Ms. Prejean eventually finished second.

Hollywood has spent more than half a century railing against the anti-Communist blacklists of the 1950s that prevented some people from working in the movie industry. Woody Allen, George Clooney and other celebrities have produced liberal-minded films purporting to show how evil the blacklist was and upbraiding those who were silent while it was imposed.

Well, a new blacklist is being created right now, though few celebrities have dared to deplore it. Last December, Scott Eckern, artistic director of the California Musical Theater in Sacramento, the state's largest nonprofit performing arts company, donated $1,000 to the "Yes on 8" campaign against gay marriage. Protests from the producer of the Broadway musical "Hairspray" and many other show business people soon forced him to resign.

Similarly, Los Angeles Film Festival Director Richard Raddon was forced to step down after it was revealed he had donated $1,500 to "Yes on 8." The festival's organizer put out a statement blandly saying: "Our organization does not police the personal, religious or political choices of any employee, member or filmmaker." Behind the scenes, however, many of the festival's board members pressured Mr. Raddon to resign. "From now on, no one in entertainment is going to feel safe making a donation as measly as $100 to a conservative defense-of-marriage campaign," says Brent Bozell, head of the conservative Media Research Center.

Nor if Ms. Prejean's experience is any guide will many people be willing to exercise their free speech rights if they oppose gay marriage.
I believe this is what the kids call "hypocrisy."


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18 April 2009

Civilization & Its Haters

Steyn sums up well the basic struggle between civilized nations and those bad actors seeking their (the civilized) overthrow:
As my colleague Andrew McCarthy wrote, “Civilization is not an evolution of mankind but the imposition of human good on human evil. It is not a historical inevitability. It is a battle that has to be fought every day, because evil doesn’t recede willingly before the wheels of progress.” Very true. Somalia, Iran, and North Korea are all less “civilized” than they were a couple of generations ago. And yet in one sense they have made undeniable progress: They have globalized their pathologies. Somali pirates seize vessels the size of aircraft carriers flying the ensigns of the great powers. Iranian proxies run Gaza and much of Lebanon. North Korea’s impoverished prison state provides nuclear technology to Damascus and Tehran. Unlovely as it is, Pyongyang nevertheless has friends on the Security Council. Powerful states protect one-man psycho states. One-man psycho states provide delivery systems to apocalyptic ideological states. Apocalyptic ideological states fund non-state actors around the world. And in Somalia and elsewhere non-state actors are constrained only by their ever increasing capabilities.
Ah, the appeasing fruits of liberal progressivism.

As McCarthy & Steyn so wonderfully illustrate, civilization--peace, democracy, the rule of law--is not the default condition of humanity.

These things cost blood & treasure to earn and more blood & treasure to maintain.


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14 April 2009

Tax Day: Throwing A Tea Party (UPDATED)

I'm not sure if the Tax Day Tea Partyists are the "right wing radicals" Homeland Security referred to in its spurious report or not, but either way, I support this movement wholeheartedly.

Click this link for the national picture.

And here's the states in which the writers of this blog take particular interest:
- Washington
City: Kennewick, Richland, Pasco
When: April 15, 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Where: John Dam Plaza - Located between George Washington Way and Jadwin Avenue, north of Knight Street

- New York
City: New York City
When: April 15, 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Where: City Hall Park

- Utah
City: Provo
When: April 15, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Where: US Post Office Provo (East Bay), 210 East 900 South CHANGE: Old Utah County Courthouse at the corner of University and Center

- California
City: Simi Valley
When: April 15, 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Where: Reagan Library, 40 Presidential Drive
There isn't a whole lot we can do (until the next election) to let the morons in government know that we will not tolerate increased spending and higher taxes--this is one.

Celebrate a great American tradition and chuck some tea tax in the ocean.

(h/t Wayne B.)

UPDATE 15 April 10:23am MST: Glenn Reynolds wrote a good article in the WSJ about the Tax Day Tea Parties explaining what this phenomenon is all about.

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Walter Lippman On The Warfare Between The Obama Admin & Big Business

History repeats itself, again.
The reason is that there are in fact two main tendencies inside the New Deal, and . . . the President is never able finally to make his choice for the one or the other. Between the conciliatory and irreconcilable New Dealers the crucial difference is . . . that the one group is interested primarily in social reform and the other is interested primarily in the control of the economic system.

Thus the reformers wish to provide relief, to practice conservation, to establish social security, and by law to impose social standards upon business and finance. But in order to do these things, they know that there must be money available, and so . . . they would like to promote recovery, not only for its own sake, but in order to finance the reforms. When they are convinced that a certain tax is "deterrent" to enterprise and investment, they would like to modify it.

The radicals, on the other hand, are . . . primarily interested in reducing the power of corporate business men, and the heart of their program is . . . precisely those deterrent taxes and those restrictive regulations which limit private initiative. . . . they would rather not have recovery if the revival of private initiative means a resumption of private control in the management of corporate business.

Among the radical New Dealers the essence of the New Deal is the reduction of private corporate control by collective bargaining and labor legislation, on the one side, and by restrictive, competitive and deterrent government action on the other side. Thus they cling to taxes which do not come anywhere near to yielding enough revenue to balance the budget because those particular taxes paralyze the financial power of the rich and well-to-do. . . .

This is the issue between the reformers and the radicals. Both believe in spending. . . . [But] [t]he reformers regard the spending as an instrument of recovery and a means for improving the condition of the people. The radicals regard the spending as a substitute for recovery and as a means of altering the balance of social policy.

Throughout history, there have always been people who thought they were better, smarter, & more benevolent than the rest of society and as a result, ought to be running things.

We've called them different things, progressives, New Dealers, liberals, progressives again, and sometimes post-partisans.

They always adopt these new names because gradually, the old names took on a negative connotation as people saw them as they really were: self-righteous, condescending, & power-hungry.

'Leave it to us,' they say, with their positivist understanding of the world, 'and we'll solve the world's ills with our social science.'

Looking for another sign you're about to be, in the words of one friend, "shaboozled" by a liberal Nietzschean √úbermensch? Humility is not a defining feature.


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13 April 2009

Richard Posner On FDR & Reason

Via last Thursday's Political Diary, Judge Posner, writing in The New Republic:
[Arguably] what has now plunged the world into depression is a cascade of mistakes by rational businessmen, government officials, academic economists, consumers, and homebuyers, operating in an unexpectedly fragile economic environment, and that what is retarding recovery is not the 'unreasoning fear' of which Franklin Roosevelt famously spoke but the rational fears -- the reasoning fear, to use Roosevelt's idiom -- of businesspeople, consumers, and officials who confront economic uncertainties for which no one had prepared them.

[FDR is the guy on the left]


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12 April 2009

Easter Means We Shall Live Again

This is posted annually on Easter Sunday.

From the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 28, verses 1-6:
In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, cam Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the spulchre.
2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
6 He is not here: for he is risen
And in Mark, chapter 16, verse 6:
6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here
Again, in Luke, chapter 24, verses 5-6:
5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen
Finally, from John, chapter 20, verses 1-17:
The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.
4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.
5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.
6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.
9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
Taken collectively, these are four witnesses to the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: that though we may die, because He died and rose again, so too shall we all live again.


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10 April 2009

Howard Dean, Un-Apologetic Socialist

From Kyle Wingfield in today's Political Diary:
BRUSSELS -- Conservative bloggers went bonkers back in 2006 when then-Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean traveled to Portugal to keynote a meeting of the Party of European Socialists. At last, they clucked, Democrats were showing their true colors, though in truth Dr. Dean never hid his sympathies.
Just calling a spade a spade.
He was back again last week to rub shoulders with his ideological soul mates, albeit without his former title as DNC chief or a job in the new Obama administration. Still, in an interview here amid the latest meeting of the Eurosocialists, he was especially enthusiastic when talking about the Obama health care plan.

A former physician, Dr. Dean is a fan of the cost-cutting merits of President Obama's "comparative effectiveness review," to be funded by $1.1 billion quietly inserted in the recent stimulus bill. Critics say CER would provide a formula, in a future government-run health care system, for denying treatment options to save money -- much as happens today in other countries, where rationing-by-waiting list or outright refusal to provide care are the norm. "That's never going to happen in the U.S.," responds Dr. Dean. American patients wouldn't put up with it. Instead, he says, under Obamacare, doctors will be free to prescribe any procedure or remedy they deem appropriate as long as they're willing to "go through some hoops." Dr. Dean seems to assume physicians will be willing to wade through red tape and risk the ire of government overseers by insisting on prescribing expensive treatments. Others might have their doubts.
Did I ever tell you, dear readers, about the morning I walked past my local Brent Council health clinic? The waiting room was full and there was a huge line out the door and down the sidewalk. At first I thought, "hmm, they must have legalized crack." But then I realized, "nope, they're just waiting for health care, the way the Russians used to wait for half a loaf of moldy black bread."

Ah yes, the glories of universal health care.

But wait, there's more.
On the flip side, even Dr. Dean worries about the fate of pharmaceutical research under a system of government-dictated prices. Americans already pay for most the world's drug research because only in the U.S. are drug companies allowed to charge a price that covers their huge sunk research costs. His solution: Sue the European and other countries that put price controls on medicines at the WTO. "The rest of the world must pay their fair share of R&D," he said.
Good luck getting anyone else in the world to fund something they've been getting for free for the last, what, 50 some odd years?

If you have a disease or malady for which your government masters don't deign to provide R&D funding, too bad.

If you're on the list of people deemed unworthy of life saving surgery or limited supplies of meds or a frickin MRI, too bad. Wait in line and hope you don't die before your number gets called.

Look, the status quo sucks, but it's better than socialized medicine and worse by far than the type of health care reform suggested by conservatives.


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08 April 2009

Quantifying George W. Bush's Hate For Black People

From the Washington Times via K-Low @ The Corner by way of DrewM. @ Ace:
Former President George W. Bush's international AIDS-fighting campaign has reduced by 10 percent the mortality rates in 15 targeted countries, primarily in Africa, and has saved 1.1 million lives, according to a study that for the first time quantified the successes of his program.

The study by two Stanford University doctors showed the treatment part of PEPFAR, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which involves making drug treatment available to about 2 million people, has shown solid success while the prevention efforts under the program have not yet produced the same concrete results.
Remember, Bush is one of those conservatives who "only care about babies before they're born" and couldn't care less about them or anyone else after birth or something like that.


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06 April 2009

Liberal Sensitivity Training

This is progress. And by "progress," I mean part of the progressive agenda to outlaw anything they don't like--in this case, speech they find offensive.

Mark Steyn
& Iowahawk are the two funniest political pundits in the webosphere. This is why I bring you their stuff so frequently.

Here's a bit from Steyn's latest:
Ah, but, as the computer wallahs say, that’s not a bug, that’s a feature. If the pen is mightier than the sword, then criminalizing words is a way of disarming potential opposition, of inculcating a reflexive self-censorship in the citizenry. And, after all, self-suppression is the most cost-effective of tyranny. Political correctness isn’t merely the blasphemy law of our time. It makes communication impossible. It renders a people literally illiterate: The conventions of language used by functioning societies throughout human history - irony, indirect quotation, period evocation, and, yes, even comic stereotype - are all suddenly suspect. What a strange fate to embrace. In London, the Lord Chamberlain’s power to censor West End plays was finally abolished in 1968: It was widely accepted by then that there was something absurd in a palace courtier ruling that your script could have three “Bastards!” but not four, and that two specific references to sodomy had to be replaced with one vague allusion to heavy petting. Yet, four decades on, Britons now think it entirely normal for police constables and timeserving bureaucrats to function as literary critics determining the “intent” behind a throwaway jest.
I see a lot of this in higher ed.

Just the other day my brother and I discussed the ever-changing PC words for various things. Right now, disabled is out as the word of choice for those either physically or mentally, well, disabled.

Before "disabled," we called them handicapped.

Now we call them "special needs." (hell, even special has become a pejorative)

As that takes on the same negative connotation as disabled & handicapped (because people feel bad to acknowledge that there is, in fact, anything wrong), we'll find some new, meaningless PC word to describe them and then cast off once it has worn out its welcome.

In today's society, the focus is not on expressing oneself accurately or well, but on offending the fewest amount of people. This is why 30 Rock got so much mileage out of the "Puerto Rican joke."


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