May 30, 2013

Obvious Question, Obvious Answer

Where are the moderate Muslims? Why don't they oppose Islamist terrorists more strongly?

This and this aren't authoritative references, but I've read elsewhere and it seems plausible that most Muslim violence is directed against other Muslims.

While that answers the question, presumably there's more to the situation.

Unlikely Pair

The Atlanta Journal Constitution's Cynthia Tucker and the Hoover Institution's Michael Finn.

Cynthia TuckerVoting Rights Act: I was wrong about racial gerrymandering
Unfortunately — like so many measures designed to provide redress for historic wrongs — those racially gerrymandered districts also come with a significant downside: They discourage moderation. Politicians seeking office in majority-black or –brown districts found that they could indulge in crude racial gamesmanship and left-wing histrionics.
As Richard Harpootlian (cq), chairman of the South Carolina Democratic party, told me: “When the only issue is race, idiots win, black and white.”

...Particularly lamentable is to see academic standards for fourth graders turn into a “tea party” issue that’s used to bludgeon GOP office holders to repudiate a sound reform out of fear that they’ll be clobbered from the right during the next Republican primary. (One sorry outcome of both parties’ twenty-year quest for “safe” legislative seats is that nearly all of today’s credible electoral challenges come from the fever swamps and fog banks within the parties.)
The thrust of Finn's piece is that grassroots conservative activists are wrongly opposing a voluntary set of educational standards that was developed in a federalist spirit.

Give the Position to the Best Qualified? Fascism!

Via Instapundit, Advice Goddess, and Michael Kinsley, the dean of Johns Hopkins Medical School commented on Ben Carson's disapproval of gay marriage:
"It is clear that the fundamental principle of freedom of expression has been placed in conflict with our core values of diversity, inclusion and respect," Rothman said.
I didn't get the memo, or see it in the Constitution, that diversity and inclusion are core values. They certainly aren't mine. (Respect, yes, because of the fundamental dignity of each human being.)

...My analysis is that, at a crucial moment, the dean failed to defend a real core value of the university: tolerance.”

Free speech and tolerance were only important back when communists and gays were being gone after. Now that the worm has turned, those bourgeois values no longer obtain.
Free speech, free inquiry, and tolerance were viewed as vulnerabilities and exploited accordingly. Common decency is for naifs.

Totalitarian propaganda contrasts hypothetical utopias with the imperfections of democratic republics. When the audience is dumb, who can successfully argue against utopia?

May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Walter Russell Mead:
...Those who die for freedom, or to protect their homes and families from invaders and aggression cannot be pitied and dismissed as victims. They must be honored and respected as warriors, as men whose service ennobled them and calls forth an answering sense of dedication among the living.
As should the conscripts who did not want to fight, but went and did their duty even unto the ultimate price.
Pity and compassion can be noble emotions, but wallowing in these feelings is not what Memorial Day should be about. Our duty to the fallen is not just one of remembrance, or of caring for the wounded or those the warriors left behind. We also owe a debt of emulation: to continue to fight and if necessary to die for the great causes of our time. To fight an ideology of hatred that masks itself as religion is a noble and a generous thing to do; those who give their lives in the fight against this great evil are not victims. They are heroes, and they deserve to be remembered as such.

...The generals who ordered those boys and young men into No Man’s Land in Flanders were incompetent bunglers more often than not. This does not vitiate the heroism or render meaningless the sacrifice of those who laid down their lives in that war.

The Americans who have fallen in battle, and especially those who have fallen since 9/11, demand more from us than our pity. Their sacrifice demands that we live up to the values for which they gave their lives. Their memory demands that we embrace the generosity with which they placed themselves in harm’s way for our sake and that we dedicate ourselves to the values of liberty and toleration whose banners they followed to the end of the world.

May 24, 2013

Randians Strike Me as Nuts, But...

...there's this. Multiculturalists...
...hold that the basic unit of existence is the tribe, which they define by the crudest, most primitive, most anti-conceptual criteria (such as skin color). They consequently reject the view that the achievements of Western— i.e., individualistic— civilization represent a way of life superior to that of savage tribalism.
(HT Instapundit. Boldface is mine.)

Sometimes the village madman is the sanest guy in the place.

Such times aren't the best of times.

May 21, 2013

Social "Conservatives" on the Administration Scandals

This is terrible! Our system of government is in danger! terrific! Now we can outlaw abortion and gay marriage!

(And impeach Obama, of course.)

The people who wrecked the Reagan coalition will blame anyone but themselves for the genuinely alarming condition of the country.

Ramesh Ponnuru gets it. (Last week I posted Is Impeachment Talk a Trap? Yes It Is!)

May 18, 2013

Omen? Metaphor for Embittered US Politics?

Two bald eagles fought in midair, locked talons, and crashed to the ground. One flew away; the other is expected to survive.

The national bird. Usually depicted as proud and dominant. The picture at the link is creepy.

It would have been really creepy if they'd died.

May 16, 2013

What the Hell Is Wrong With Me?

The Left screams that the Right is crazy. The Right screams that the Left is crazy.

From where I sit, they both look crazy. (Ditto for the libertarians, commies, etc.)

Who am I to criticize? I'm sure as hell no hero. No saint. No mental or moral giant.

What the hell is wrong with me?

I'm lonely.

May 15, 2013

Is Impeachment Talk a Trap? Yes It Is!

The Politics

Da Tech Guy warns that the Left is pitching in. He discusses the politics of Watergate, what had to happen and what had to not happen to bring Nixon down.

That's all valid, but IMHO the Clinton impeachment is at least as instructive. Consider the 1998 midterm elections:
The balance of the Senate remained unchanged at 55-45 in favor of the Republicans. Because of gains made in the House of Representatives, it was the first time since 1934 that the out-of-Presidency party failed to gain congressional seats in a mid-term election, and the first time since 1822 that the party not in control of the White House had failed to gain seats in the mid-term election of a President's second term.
The Democrats would looove to make the 2014 midterms a national election, i.e. a repeat of 2012. Protect the President! Protect the Constitution! Protect the nation! Protect them from evil Republicans, of course.

Is the Right dumb enough to fall for this? Well, there are reasons why they're called the Stupid Party. Some of them have been howling for impeachment all along, a fact which the Left will not decline to mention.

The Merits?

Obama is a Chicago machine politician with ties to race hustlers and violent radicals. His favored Senate-race opponents were destroyed with "illicitly obtained, lurid allegations from their pasts", so I am shocked, shocked at the recent revelations.

May 14, 2013

Famous Churchill Quote Is Outdated

Attributed to Churchill (?): A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

You wish. Modern communication technology makes the former speed of dissemination glacial by comparison. The truth also gets help from Google and such, but the lie's advantage during Churchill's time has grown enormously.

Moreover, the lie itself has been made obsolete by Frankfurtian bullshit.

May 12, 2013

Climate Analogs in the Laboratory?

Jack Risko is a smart, savvy aerospace CEO with an investment banking background who occasionally posts about climate change. He has interesting things to say although he persists in thinking he can crack the thing on the back of an envelope.

His latest is here. I am submitting the following as a comment:
1. This conference focuses on theory but Paul Williams' presentation, the second talk on the list, touches on the kind of thing you have in mind. See also Schumacher's talk and perhaps others.

2. I had a similar idea: build a miniature analog of the Earth and include the heat flow from the Sun.

How to scale everything perplexed me, though. For example, the stratosphere extends up to about 30 miles on a planet whose radius is 6000 miles. Not only that, the dynamics within the atmosphere is complex. How do you infer what happens on the Earth from what happens in the scale model (if you can even build it)?

Nevertheless, IMHO suggestions like yours have merit as exploratory research. How well can current scientific models characterize simplified heat transfer environments? If the models work well there, that somewhat enhances confidence wrt their applicability to the Earth. If they don't work well there...

May 10, 2013

Reynolds' Fourth Law: A Modest Proposal

The first three:

1. Subsidizing the markers of status doesn’t produce the character traits that result in that status; it undermines them.

2. The more a government wants to run its citizens’ lives, the worse job it will do at the most basic tasks of government.

 3. Whatever politicians control, they will use against you to get what they want.

Actually, the third has been proposed by Will Collier. Reynolds has not explicitly embraced it.

So here is:

0., 3., or 4. When confronted with a public policy decision, politicians will prefer the option that maximizes graft.

The Right to Print Weapons is the Right to Be Free?

The federal government is trying to prevent CAD files for printable weapons from being displayed online. As Glenn Reynolds notes, they (the Clinton administration) tried to do this with cyptography.

Will they go SOPA on 3D printers by trying to cripple them and/or prevent the price from dropping?

Addendum 20130512: When I made this post, I was unaware that on 20130504162807, AR15 forum member grendelbane had written:
My new sig line may be, "The right to print weapons is the right to be free", with apologies to A. E. van Vogt.
The linked site does not assign addresses to individual posts, so click the link and search for Vogt.

May 6, 2013

Ted Cruz

He impressed me from the get-go. He's impressed James Carville too.

For once, no staircase wit for me. Per my LI link, I posted the following back in January:
What a brilliant individual. He emanates it. Listen to how quickly, how seamlessly, he reconfigures the questions.
My guideline is that, before seeking higher office, a politician should be reelected to their current slot by a greater margin than they were elected by.
Cruz heads my list of potential exceptions.
Time will tell.

May 5, 2013

I'm Too Late on Electoral College "Reform"

In January I commented:
Here’s a simple two-step recipe for a prosperous career as a leftist intellectual.
a. Write an essay titled The Electoral College: Mend It, Don’t End It. Follow with a book.
Argue that the Electoral College should be revamped with electors representing the classes of multicultural identity politics.
b. Hire an assistant to screen the flood of job offers from elite universities, foundations, and think tanks.
Alas, I was way too late. Mel Watt, former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, has been nominated to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Daily Caller reports:
“There would be a substantial majority of white voters who would say that under no circumstances would they vote for an African American candidate,” Watt said Oct. 14, 2005 during a Washington hearing held by the National Commission on the Voting Rights Act.
The Voting Rights Act should be expanded to “adjust districts to take [racially motivated voting] into account,” Watts said.
Such voters “need to be factored out of the equation,” Watt said, because “I’ve got no use for them in the democratic process.”
The former head of the CBC openly called for the disenfranchisement of voters whom he doesn't like. Let's see if he gets confirmed. I bet he does. (Given a choice between a white candidate and a black candidate, who, whites or blacks, are more likely to vote extra-racially?) 

May 4, 2013

American Entrepreneurs In Trouble?

So worries Via Meadia, commenting on an essay by Pethokoukis. (HT: Instapundit.)

My interpretation of this chart is that job creation at startups grew, peaked and began to decline under Clinton, declined under Bush, and declined under Obama with perhaps an emerging plateau or modest recovery.

My interpretation is consistent with the view that an elite ruling class is accumulating power and wealth without regard for the country's overall welfare.

The foregoing will be submitted as a comment to the linked Via Meadia piece. (Added: it's here.)