October 2007, Part 4
Jim Miller on Politics
In The To-Read Pile: Bjorn Lomborg's Cool It.
From the introduction (p. 8):
The argument in this book is simple.Should be interesting.
- 1:43 PM, 31 October 2007 [link]
Another Surprise: In the latest economic report.
U.S. economic growth accelerated between July and September as increases in exports and consumer spending overcame the continuing downturn in real estate and turmoil in the mortgage industry.I blame President Bush for this unexpected good news.
- 1:11 PM, 31 October 2007 [link]
D. Parvaz Can Understand Why Someone Might Commit Arson: If they select the right target.
It's one thing to set fire to The Man at the Burning Man festival a few days early -- at least the effigy is built to be burned, albeit at a specific hour. But Paul Addis, the guy who bummed out thousands of burners by torching The Man before festival participants were ready for it, was arrested Sunday on suspicion of trying to torch a historic cathedral in San Francisco.
The Seattle PI editorial writer doesn't favor burning this cathedral — partly because it might damage other buildings, might even "hurt some folks" — but she can "understand" why some might want to burn this magnificent building.
It is tempting to reply in kind, to suggest that burning down the PI building where Parvaz works is something that I could "understand". And it would not be hard to make an argument that parallels hers. Though the PI may not oppress people directly, it is certainly far more friendly to oppressors — as long as they are enemies of the United States — than a decent news organization should be.
But that would be wrong. In a democracy, decent people, regardless of their political views, should reject violence as a way to settle political (or religious) disputes. And so I will say that I have no sympathy for anyone who might want to burn the PI building, the Grace Cathedral, or any other symbolic building in the United States. I don't want such people understood; I want them stopped, and then locked up.
There is some irony here. No doubt, Parvaz, like most on the left, prides herself on her tolerance. But I hope she will forgive me for saying that she would not be my first choice as a poster girl for tolerance week.
Cross posted at Sound Politics.
(Incidentally, Grace Cathedral is an Episcopal church. As anyone who follows these matters knows, Episcopal churches in the United States are often quite far left on social issues. Since this one is in San Francisco, it is likely that the parishioners there agree with Ms. Parvaz on many issues, maybe even most issues.Thanks to Orbusmax for the tip. Similar thoughts here from Newsbusters.)
- 6:07 AM, 31 October 2007 [link]
The New York Times Takes A Look At Obama's Years In New York: And finds the same pattern that the British newspapers found when they looked at other parts of his life. Obama's accounts of his own life do not always match what others say, or what the evidence shows. For example, here's what Obama says about his first job at Business International Corporation:
He takes a job in an unidentified "consulting house to multinational corporations," where he is "a spy behind enemy lines," startled to find himself with a secretary, a suit and money in the bank.And here's what others say:
Some say he has taken some literary license in the telling of his story. Dan Armstrong, who worked with Mr. Obama at Business International Corporation in New York in 1984 and has deconstructed Mr. Obama's account of the job on his blog, analyzethis.net, wrote: "All of Barack's embellishment serves a larger narrative purpose: to retell the story of the Christ's temptation. The young, idealistic, would-be community organizer gets a nice suit, joins a consulting house, starts hanging out with investment bankers, and barely escapes moving into the big mansion with the white folks."Obama's accounts of his own life may not always be true, but they always serve his current political purposes. Is he lying about his past life? Or does he believe these stories? Hard to say, though I think the first explanation is more likely.
I come to that conclusion in part because Obama's stories seem too convenient, too perfect for the picture he wants to paint of this country and his life. And in part because Obama does not want his stories checked.
Senator Obama, an Illinois Democrat now seeking the presidency, suggests in his book that his years in New York were a pivotal period: He ran three miles a day, buckled down to work and "stopped getting high," which he says he had started doing in high school. Yet he declined repeated requests to talk about his New York years, release his Columbia transcript or identify even a single fellow student, co-worker, roommate or friend from those years.One thing that does seem plausible in his recollections is that he saw working as a political organizer as an honorable thing to do, but working in a business as dishonorable. Yet, as anyone who knows something about both can tell you, political organizers are often destructive and businesses are usually doing something positive, providing goods or services for others. The one year in Obama's life that he worked for Business International may be the only time in his adult life where he had a productive job.
- 1:57 PM, 30 October 2007 [link]
What Does One Soldier In Iraq Want For Christmas? Answer here.
- 8:56 AM, 30 October 2007 [link]
Republicans Are Looking For Another Reagan: But, as Charles Krauthammer reminds us, the actual Reagan had a few flaws.
Major grumbling among conservatives about the Republican field. So many candidates, so many flaws. Rudy Giuliani, abortion apostate. Mitt Romney, flip-flopper. John McCain, Mr. Amnesty. Fred Thompson, lazy boy. Where is the paragon? Where is Ronald Reagan?And when we remember the actual Reagan more accurately, we should find it easier to realize that the top tier Republican candidates are all impressive men. None are perfect — but Reagan wasn't either.
In contrast, the top Democratic contenders, Clinton, Edwards, and Obama, are much less impressive. Edwards and Obama have no significant achievements as national politicians, and Clinton's are so small that most voters would have trouble thinking of even one. But leftist voters, if the polls are to be believed, are mostly satisfied with their choices. Strange.
- 3:13 PM, 29 October 2007 [link]
Worth Reading: Minette Marrin has seen Michael Moore's latest movie, Sicko, and doesn't like it.
Sicko, like all Moore's films, is about an important and emotive subject — healthcare. He contrasts the harsh and exclusive system in the US with the European ideal of universal socialised medicine, equal and free for all, and tries to demonstrate that one is wrong and the other is right. So far, so good; there are cases to be made.In the comments following this article, you can learn that some in Britain think that the poor in the US have to pay for their own care, or go without. Medicaid is four decades old now, but news of the program has yet to reach many of our friends across the Atlantic. I'm not sure Marrin shares that mistaken idea — though her "harsh and exclusive" phrase suggest that she does — but her description of the problems of the Britain's National Health Service is still worth reading.
(I tried to post a comment with brief descriptions of Medicaid and Medicare in the comments, but it hasn't shown up yet.)
- 8:41 AM, 29 October 2007 [link]
More Money Losing Leftists: Paramount and Hasbro have decided to change one of the great franchises.
Who needs A Real American Hero? Not Paramount or Hasbro it seems. The studio's live-action feature film version of G.I. Joe will no longer revolve around a top-secret U.S. special forces team but rather an international operation.(I checked. That article is not dated April 1st.)
It is hard to believe that this decision will be good for either Paramount or Hasbro. Most of the customers for G.I. Joe are Americans who value his patriotism. They are unlikely to see this movie or to buy the toys linked to it.
(I had not realized — or had forgotten — that G.I. Joe was based on a real hero, Mitchell Paige.
Here's my original post on this curious phenomena, leftists making decisions which are almost certain to lose money for their corporations.)
- 7:31 AM, 29 October 2007 [link]
Candidates As Lawyers: The New York Times sketches the legal careers of Clinton, Edwards, Giuliani, Obama, and Thompson. We learn, for instance, that Fred Thompson didn't like prosecuting moonshiners, and that Hillary Clinton's first case before a jury concerned a rat's . . . well, I'll just give you the paragraph and let you fill in the last half of that familiar phrase yourself.
The first jury trial Mrs. Clinton handled on her own, for instance, concerned the rear end of a rat in a can of pork and beans. She represented the cannery, and she argued that there had been no real harm, as the plaintiff did not actually eat the rat. "Besides," she wrote in her autobiography, describing her client's position, "the rodent parts which had been sterilized might be considered edible in certain parts of the world."(Maybe it tastes like chicken.)
As I have said before, I would want Edwards defending me — if I were guilty. And, again if I were guilty, I wouldn't want Giuliani prosecuting me. Not so sure about the other three.
- 2:37 PM, 28 October 2007 [link]
Southern Greenland Is Getting A Little Warmer: Those who live there think that's a good change.
When using the words "growing" in connection with Greenland in the same sentence, it is important to remember that although Greenland is the size of Europe, it has only nine conifer forests like Mr. Bjerge's, all of them cultivated. It has only 51 farms. (They are all sheep farms, although one man is trying to raise cattle. He has 22 cows.) Except for potatoes, the only vegetables most Greenlanders ever eat — to the extent that they eat vegetables at all — are imported, mostly from Denmark.It may even get to be as warm there as it was in the 10th century, when it was settled by Vikings led by Erik the Red.
As I have been arguing for years, global warming would benefit some parts of the world. Apparently Greenlanders agree.
- 12:28 PM, 28 October 2007 [link]
Good News? On balance, yes.
Shortly after winning a majority last year, Democrats triumphantly declared that they would put Congress back to work, promising an "end to the two-day workweek." And indeed, the House has clocked more time in Washington this year than in any other session since 1995, when Republicans, newly in control, sought to make a similar point.On the whole, I think it is better for the nation if the Democrats spend less time legislating and "investigating", even though that will give them more time to spend campaigning.
But perhaps I have just gotten too cynical over the years.
(The graphic accompanying the article is worth some study. You'll see that the amounts of time the House and Senate have spent in session each year between 1981 and the present are about equal — and remarkably constant, with the exception of 1995. There does seem to be some tendency in recent years for the two houses to take a little more time off in election years, but less than I would have expected.)
- 3:47 PM, 27 October 2007 [link]
Lassen Trailhead: Before we hiked down to Bumpass Hell, we had lunch at the trailhead, and watched the hikers going up and down .
I had planned to climb Lassen on this tour, but decided to see more of the surrounding territory instead. It's said to be the easiest of the principal Cascade volcanoes to climb.
Here's a picture from Google Earth, which will show you the location of today's photo, and earlier photos.
We drove in from the south, stopped at the Sulphur Works, which is not far from the south entrance, and drove up to the trailhead for lunch. (If you are having trouble locating the trailhead, it is a little above the middle of the picture, and almost exactly in the center, left to right.) Bumpass Hell is below, and a little to the right, of the trailhead.
The area looks like a jumbled mess, because it is. According to Stephen Harris, during the last three million years there have been "at least five large andesitic stratovolcanos" in the general area. They have been built up one by one, and then destroyed by eruptions and erosion. (Harris describes Lassen's immediate predecessor, Mount Tehama, but doesn't say much about the other four. I found a little more on two others here.)
(You can find the previous 2007 disaster area tour posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
You can find the last posts, with links to earlier posts, for the 2006 and 2005 tours here and here.)
- 2:07 PM, 26 October 2007 [link]
How Good Are Those Climate Models? Not very.
Climate change models, no matter how powerful, can never give a precise prediction of how greenhouse gases will warm the Earth, according to a new study.Those who have read my global warming disclaimer will recall that I have been saying for years that climate may be inherently unpredictable. If this account of the study is correct — and I will have to look at the article in Science soon to be sure — then the authors, Gerard Roe and Marcia Baker of the University of Washington, are arguing that climate can be predicted — but only within very broad limits.
- 12:37 PM, 26 October 2007 [link]
Worth Reading: John Iwasaki of the Seattle PI talks to some homeless people. What they say supports what I reported three weeks ago. For example, consider John Studley:
Studley may be homeless, but he is not broke. He receives regular social security checks, so he should have enough income to pay for housing, maybe not fancy housing in the best neighborhoods, but housing nonetheless. Studley is choosing to be homeless.
And, as the article shows, Seattle is subsidizing his choice, encouraging him to be homeless. This is, as I said in this follow-up post, bad for Seattle, and bad for the homeless, including John Studley.
Those who care about Seattle — and Mr. Studley — will want to change these policies, will want the city to stop encouraging people to be homeless.Cross posted at Sound Politics.
- 8:22 AM, 25 October 2007 [link]