Obama to Make Statement on Vote to Arm the Moderately Extremist Militants; Scheduled for 7PM
The Senate has now also passed the Continuing Resolution to fund the government through December. It also contains money for arming the Syrian fighters.
He says France will join in airstrikes. That's nice, but I still don't hear about anyone willing to contribute ground troops.
He's treating this as an AUMF, suggesting that wars -- or Not Wars -- go better when the President and Congress act together. Dude, this is a CR. And it does not authorize US airstrikes.
Kansas Supreme Court: Ignore Kansas' Election Code, If Applying the Code Would Disadvantage the Democratic Cause
As you will remember, the Democrats urged Chad Taylor to drop out of the senatorial race because, being a Democrat, he was doomed to lose. An independent on the ballot had a better chance to defeat incumbent Republican Pat Roberts, and the Democrats wanted all anti-Roberts votes to flow to one candidate.
So Taylor dropped out of the race, notifying the Secretary of State just an hour or so before the deadline.
However, the code says that a candidate cannot effect a withdrawal at this late stage unless he is "unable" to perform the duties of office if elected.
Taylor wasn't so "unable" to perform his duties -- he was just unlikely to win.
Election codes are usually interpreted strictly -- unless a Democrat needs them interpreted loosely.
And thus, a new Torricelli Maneuver, assisted by the judiciary, again:
Kansas must remove the name of the Democratic candidate against Republican Sen. Pat Roberts from the ballot, the state Supreme Court declared Thursday, in a unanimous ruling that could influence the fight for control of the U.S. Senate.
The court's decision leaves Democrats without a candidate, potentially making it easier for independent candidate Greg Orman to defeat the three-term incumbent. Republicans have counted on Roberts winning re-election in GOP-leaning Kansas as they seek to recapture a Senate majority.
So this one will be harder.
"Pursuant to:" The court based its decision on a strange construction of those words.
[I]t all came down to the meaning of “pursuant to.”
In his brief letter to the secretary of state, Taylor requested his name be withdrawn "pursuant to K.S.A. 25-306b(b)" -- the state law requiring one to be incapable of serving to be removed from the ballot. Citing the Black’s Law Dictionary definition of the phrase as "in compliance with; in accordance with," the court ruled Taylor in his letter "effectively declares he is incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected."
So even though he did not actually declare his inability to perform, as required by the law, and even though he obviously is not unable to perform (this is simply a tactical maneuver), he said he was withdrawing "pursuant to" the law, and the court will fill in the words for him and Deem and Pass him as having said he could not perform his duties.
For Some Reason, GOP Favorability Improving Greatly; Now Tied with Democrats on Unfavorables
I'm really not sure what we're doing right here. I suppose it's just that the Democrat Party is being discredited by events.
Meanwhile, new Quinippiac polls put Jodi Ernst ahead of Bruce Braley in Iowa, 50-44, and show Cory Gardner surging to an eight point lead over incumbent Mark Udall in Colorado, 48-40.
From Rothman's post:
This is the second poll released in the last 24-hours to show the race for U.S. Senate in Colorado is a competitive one. A USA Today/Suffolk survey released yesterday showed Gardner leading Udall by 43 to 42 percent. While this is a statistical tie, it is also a marked shift from the first half of September when a series of public polls showed Udall beating Gardner by healthy margins.
Events, dear boy. Events.
Sure Why Not
Hey, Want to Wear a Suitsie? It's a one-piece (faux) suit. Like pajamas designed to appear to be separate pieces of clothing.
Close it up
Scottish Independence Vote Count Update
The best available information shows "No" with 0 votes thus far counted, tied with "Yes" with 0 votes counted.
Okay so I lied.
But I can give you some polling news: per the Guardian, the latest poll has "No" leading by six.
The campaign against Scottish independence appears to have edged ahead in the final poll of the referendum campaign, with the no campaign at 53% of decided voters compared with the yes group's 47%.
As unprecedented numbers of voters cast their votes on Thursday, Ipsos Mori reported a slight strengthening in the no campaign's lead. The same firm issued a poll on Wednesday night showing no ahead by only two percentage points, based on earlier field work.
Polling stations have been busy across Scotland with 97% of residents registered to take part in the referendum, and 95% of those polled by Ipsos saying they would vote....
In Westminster there are already signs of a backlash regardless of the result, with some Tory MPs complaining about the devolution [of more power to Scotland's local government] offers made to Scotland if it votes no.
Hey remember when Edward Longshanks promised he'd return the Stone of Destiny and then, like, didn't?
All the leading pollsters have now issued final polls suggesting a no win by 53% to 47%, or 52% to 48%, but Labour officials remain cautious, saying it is still unclear how undecided voters will break, or what could be the impact of a high turnout. As few as 200,000 votes could determine the outcome....
Some 95% of Scots say they are certain to vote today, including 90% of those aged 16 to 24. Both sides include supporters for whom this is their first time registered to vote: 13% of yes supporters and 10% of no voters.
In what is often a good predictor of the result, just under half (46%) of Scottish voters believe the Better Together campaign will win the referendum, compared with 30% who think the Yes campaign will win -- while a quarter (24%) say they don’t know.
There are also some data on whether people say they are motivated more by hope or by fear, or more motivated by practical considerations or a sense of national identity. You can check those out but the results, I think, are tainted: People are always going to claim they act out of hope more than fear, and more out of rationality than emotion. (The results say just this -- but that's precisely what you'd expect, and I don't know if we can treat this as a real result, or just people telling pollsters what they know the "right" answer is.)
Three interesting essays for you to read:
This coming Thursday [today] the Scots will vote on whether to make Scotland an independent nation. And I hope they do because it will be a disaster.
Ah, there’s nothing like a primitive, quarrel-torn, disastrous Third World country. And Scotland has everything it needs to be what old-school foreign correspondents fondly call a "shit-hole."
I like Niall Ferguson's essay even more, because while he too Trolls Scotland, he's kind of more serious about it. He thinks Scotland will become a failed state, and he doesn't seem to be exaggerating for humorous effect like O'Rourke.
[W]hat I encountered in Scotland last week was not just a tale of two campaigns. It was a tale of two countries. My Scotland -- as proudly British as it is Scottish, imbued with a sense of our unique historical contribution -- is still there, but it has fallen silent. Another Scotland has sprung up alongside it that is quite different.
It pretends to be multicultural but is in truth subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) anti-English. It could not care less about Scotland’s past, except as something to be distorted for political ends. And this other Scotland is very, very noisy.
I wish I had a fiver -- yes, a Bank of England one please -- for every rude name I have been called since I re-entered this fray. (Most are unprintable, but "weegie bampot" gives you a flavour. A "weegie" is a Glaswegian. I have never been sure what a "bampot" is, but it's a great insult.)
In the lengthy discussion that followed my lecture, virtually every question was from a Yes supporter. (The worst came from that insufferable type of person who is always claiming to feel "offended" by something. Most, I should say, were civil.) The common objection was that my argument for the Union was rooted in the past. But what did history have to do with Scotland’s future as a new Scandinavian-style haven for egalitarianism, inclusiveness, clean energy, world peace and all the other things implicitly repudiated by the gimlet-eyed Tory bampots?
It really is a pungent essay, and a good one. I recommend it highly.
However, reading it, I can see why the Scottish would be inclined to run their own state: Because everyone seems to claim that they're incapable of it.
The New York Times, of all outlets, checks in with this headline:
When you get past the details of the Scottish independence referendum Thursday, there is a broader story underway, one that is also playing out in other advanced nations.
It is a crisis of the elites. Scotland's push for independence is driven by a conviction -- one not ungrounded in reality -- that the British ruling class has blundered through the last couple of decades. The same discontent applies to varying degrees in the United States and, especially, the eurozone. It is, in many ways, a defining feature of our time.
The rise of Catalan would-be secessionists in Spain, the rise of parties of the far right in European countries as diverse as Greece and Sweden, and the Tea Party in the United States are all rooted in a sense that, having been granted vast control over the levers of power, the political elite across the advanced world have made a mess of things.
And so the results [of the Scottish Independence vote] will ripple through world capitals from Athens to Washington: People don’t think the way things are going is good enough, and voters are getting angry enough to want to do something about it.
I have a really terrible reason for supporting a Yes vote (though I strongly suspect No will prevail):
Because there's nothing good on TV and I want something interesting to watch.
"Catalist," Obama's Borg-Like Base-Turnout Machine
Interesting/scarifying post from J. Christian Adams on the power of Obama's voter-targeting software, sent along by @comradearthur.
The Democrats and the institutional left have a new political tool that allows them virtually to ignore moderates yet still win elections.
This tool, the Catalist database, was employed in the 2012 election. That election defied conventional wisdom: Mitt Romney sought and won independent voters overwhelmingly, but still lost. If you wondered why the conventional wisdom about independents and moderates didn’t seem so wise in 2012, the answer is Catalist.
Beyond winning elections, Catalist also allows the Democrats to turn the policy narrative upside down and suffer no political consequence for implementing radical policies which appeal to their base. The Obama administration’s lurch to the far left without consequence can be understood by understanding Catalist. Obama thrives politically by satisfying his base. Simply, Catalist is a game changer not just for politics, but for policy. It is the left’s machinery for fundamentally transforming America.
And candidates, organizations, strategists, and consultants who do not understand what they are up against in Catalist risk being overrun.
Next: two examples demonstrate the power of the institutional left’s data tools.
During the 2012 election, a producer for a conservative news network received a knock at his door in a key swing state. Two neighbors were standing on his stoop campaigning for Obama. They weren’t there to talk to him -- they were there to talk to his wife. They knew that she was employed in a profession which the Obama campaign had decided to microtarget: folks who deliver services to special needs children. The two neighbors were already armed with this personalized information. The Obama campaign didn’t just send a direct mail piece to the target or make a telephone call. Instead, the campaign matched a microtargeted demographic (special needs service providers) with a highly motivated Obama volunteer in close neighborly proximity to the target. Then they armed the neighbor/volunteer with data to visit the target.
The second example involves a recent statewide election. In a state where one Democrat and one Republican must be appointed to run each precinct, an election official described for me a problem encountered with the Democratic Party. It seems the Democrat she nominated to run the polls wasn’t sufficiently ideologically pure. What evidence did the party have to object to her bona fides? A response to a telephone survey many years earlier in which the nominated poll official wasn’t supporting the Democratic nominee for United States Senate.
Republicans don’t have anything even close to this sort of data, where answers to poll questions in years past could be employed in future fights.
Read the whole thing. He doesn't provide actual details on how Catalist works, but does offer a few clues to its success.
First, there's the Tech Gap. Republicans lag well behind Democrats in embracing new technology.
I still remember this NYT piece from shortly after the election, about Obama's "Dream Team" of behavioral psychologists who advised him on how to pull the levers and push the buttons in voters' brains.
Less well known is that the Obama campaign also had a panel of unpaid academic advisers. The group -- which calls itself the "consortium of behavioral scientists," or COBS -- provided ideas on how to counter false rumors, like one that President Obama is a Muslim. It suggested how to characterize the Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, in advertisements. It also delivered research-based advice on how to mobilize voters.
When asked about the outside psychologists, the Obama campaign would neither confirm nor deny a relationship with them....
"[The behavioral psychology consultants were] kind of dream team, in my opinion," Dr. Fox said.
He said that the ideas the team proposed were "little things that can make a difference" in people's behavior.
At least some of the consortium’s proposals seemed to have found their way into daily operations. Campaign volunteers who knocked on doors last week in swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Nevada did not merely remind people to vote and arrange for rides to the polls. Rather, they worked from a script, using subtle motivational techniques that research has shown can prompt people to take action.
Many volunteers also asked would-be voters if they would sign an informal commitment to vote, a card with the president’s picture on it. This small, voluntary agreement amplifies the likelihood that the person will follow through, research has found.
In a now classic experiment, a pair of Stanford psychologists asked people if they would display in a home window a small card proclaiming the importance of safe driving. Those who agreed to this small favor were later much more likely to agree to a much larger favor, to post a large "Drive Carefully" sign on their lawn -- "something no one would agree to do otherwise," Dr. Cialdini said.
Well that's kind of obvious. That's just The Foot in the Door effect. A salesman first asks for something very, very small -- something his target would need to be rude to refuse. Later he makes his Asks larger. But he has gotten his target accustomed to agreeing by that point.
(Incidentally, this is why I'm always talking about Baby Steps and Small Buy-Ins. Some people argue that you persuade when you make Large Asks of a voter. That's just not true. In fact, it's completely the opposite of true. You pull people along with Little Asks. When people are confronted with a Large Ask right up front, they refuse, because refusal is now socially acceptable and the easiest, most prudent course of action. It's like sitting down to dinner with a date and proposing sex before even ordering drinks.)
But even thought that's obvious-- be aware, these psyops people signed NDAs and are not permitted to discuss their advice except on the most general, obvious level.
The GOP tends to be suspicious of these sorts of manipulations, owing less to the GOP's native integrity, I think, than to the fact that very few behavioral scientists schooled in the art of manipulation are Republicans who can be trusted to not leak the details of their efforts to the Democrats, or the NYT.
The Replicants know themselves by sight. The rest of us can only guess (absent a V-K test).
The other problem Adams identifies is the lack of any kind of coordination among the various interest groups making up the institutional side of conservative movement.
Conservative groups tend to be in competition with each other. Eager competition. Competition red in tooth and nail.
It's my own personal observation that, in social settings, politically-inclined conservatives will spend about half their time talking about Obama and Democrats. The other half -- the fun half -- happens when someone brings up other conservatives or conservative institutions to trash.
I think we can see this in our own comment section. I don't mean this to be chiding at all. I say it as a straight observation with no judgment or scolding attached.
Conservatives hate progressives, but, you know, progressives are aliens. It's hard to hate an alien. They lack the aspects of humanity that makes animus personal.
Other conservatives are people, and therefore easier to really, really get annoyed about.
I've always been amused by the simple-minded progressive notion that conservatives are all of one mind and readily snap to disciplined order when a Leader tells us to.
We're very fractious. That has its upsides, but it also has its downsides.
Conservative organizations are in direct competition with each other not just as regards capturing Mind Space, but also in competition for resources-- donations. The basic order of the movement is chaos. For a party which is generally skeptical of evolution, we have ironically embrace Darwinian Competition for Environmental Resources and Niches as our ecosystem.
Maybe the left used to be that way too. But not any more.
That, my friends, is an orderly structure with a clear chain of command and readily-understood hierarchy that would make a Borg cry openly in joy.
And make no mistake -- that centralization of cash money resources also results, by necessary consequence, in a centralization of message creation.
He who pays the piper, you know, calls the tune.
I'm not sure if I like the Left's model of Complete Centralization of Command and Control of money, ideas, and data. It's a model that would naturally appeal to the Left, of course, which envisions the same model as the highest aspiration for society generally.
I think centralized control might have some advantages in some circumstances... until centralized control makes large errors, which it then infects all its inferior robots with.
But at the moment, it does seem to be working.
And certainly in the area of Borg-like cooperation and hierarchical command that Adams reports on -- in the area of data sharing -- they are kicking our asses up and down the quadrant. While every conservative group guards its data as if its data were money (which, actually, it is), our Friends on the Left have, per the socialist model, decided that all property and wealth belongs to the collective, to be dispensed by the collective as the Central Organizing Committee of The Collective sees fit.
I don't know what to do about this. I don't want to follow them down this creepy robot road, but on the other hand, I'm also tired of losing.
Australia Arrests 15 Alleged IS Terrorists, Claiming They Planned to Kidnap Citizens and Publicly Behead Them
Police said the planned attack was to be "random." The killers were to behead a victim and then drape the body in the black Islamic State flag, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The Associated Press reported 800 officers raided more than a dozen locations in Sydney, Brisbane and Logan.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says this is "not just suspicion."
"Direct exhortations were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in [the Islamic State] to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a press conference, as the BBC reported. "So this is not just suspicion, this is intent and that's why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have."
There's actually a lot more there. A Christian school -- which contained "Maronite" in its name, and thus might suggest to Middle Easterners that it has some connection with the Christians in Lebanon -- was targeted with death threats, a nun reported.
Below, nightvision aerial footage of a raid on one address.
Thursday Morning News Dump
- Scotland Votes On Independence Today
- Why Is Wikipedia Deleting All References To Neil Degrasse Tyson's Fabrication?
- ISIS Calls For "Lone Wolves" To Attack Service Members In America
- Forgiving Biden
- A War By Any Other Name
- Economies Survive On Hope, Not Jealousy
- The War On Poverty Has Been A Colossal Flop
- Obama Silences Generals On US Ground Troops In Iraq
- Why The Military May Be The Best At Containing Ebola
- So This Is What All That Student Loan Money Is Going Towards
- House Approves Obama's ISIS-Syria Strategy
- Schools Dropping Michelle Obama's Lunch Plan
- The GOP Needs Ted Cruz
- ISIS Has Some Friends At George Mason University
- Looking For Millionaires? Try These US Cities
Follow me on twitter.
Overnight Open Thread (9-17-2014)
And PJ is in rare classic PJ form as he preemptively piles on the future craphole country of Scotland. With love and affection.
I, however, have a personal reason for wanting an independent Scotland. I'm an ex-foreign correspondent, vintage 1983-2003, who retired after the Iraq War, too old to be scared stiff and too stiff to sleep on the ground.
Yet once foreign correspondenting gets in your blood.
Ah, there's nothing like a primitive, quarrel-torn, disastrous Third World country. And Scotland has everything it needs to be what old-school foreign correspondents fondly call a "shit-hole."...Scotland's economy will be the requisite Third World shambles. Scotland's two dominant political parties are the leftist Scottish National Party and the leftist Scottish Labor Party. These can be counted on to vie in out-lefting each other. Cuba-with-chilblains, here we come!
Scottish music is sufficiently - to be kind - exotic. As soon as Scotland descends into barbarous chaos expect the pig-sticking squeal and shagged sheep moan of bagpipes to be frequently heard on NPR. (By the way, NPR newscasters will have to learn to pronounce "Scotland" the way the Scottish do. When asked how to pronounce the name of their country the Scottish say, "Faauhk you.")
...The Scottish have the regulation Third World tales of past glory, featuring such unlikely characters as The Maid of Norway, a King Robert nick-named "The Bruce," an Earl of Atholl (really), and Mel Gibson.They also have the standard-issue yarn about how, after brilliant victory upon victory in defense thereof, their independence was treacherously stolen from them. This would be by the 1704 "Act of Union" with Great Britain, which passed the Scottish Parliament by a vote of 110 to 69.
Well that doesn't sound like so much fun.
And it does seem to be abuse-abuse:
I'm guessing with all the media attention/hysteria focused on the NFL that the official word has gone out to all the players to do absolutely nothing that could possibly cause any more bad PR at all. So the fact that Dwyer still did this when it'll almost certainly mean the end of his season and/or career is a sign that he literally could not stop himself.
Also given the current media frenzy the WAGs and baby-mommas of the NFL have never had so much power - all they have to do is merely threaten to hint at abuse to the media and that player knows he is screwed.
Update: Apparently Dwyer's two incidents happened in July but weren't reported until Sep. 11th.
From the album Stuff Santana Said Vol. III liner notes.
Michael Barbaro is in his mid-30s and graduated from Connecticut's Hamden Hall Country Day School in 1998 and Yale in 2002. He is now a New York Times political reporter.
Now I'm no Shakespeare expert and have never actually read The Merchant of Venice but even as a college freshman if you had quizzed me about the term 'Shylock', I would have at least recognized the term, known that it came from a Shakespeare play and understood why it was controversial just from cultural osmosis alone.
If there are supposedly 100 ISIS fighters from America, here are the proportional equivalent numbers from European countries.
The Netherlands: 2,803
Belgium and Denmark are in some deep caca of their own making.
Every month, the bills get paid on time. The emails get answered, and any orders filled. Which, for HeavensGate.com, is positively extraordinary. Because as far as the public is aware, every last member of the suicide cult died 17 years ago from a cocktail of arsenic and apple sauce. A few stayed behind, though. Someone had to keep the homepage going.
They'll probably catch the next comet-spaceship.
Younger morons may want to ask your parents or grand-parents or trusted elder members of the community what these 'video stores' were and how they worked.
The Group knows what you did.
Tonight's post brought to you by know your NFL memes:
Notice: Posted by implicit permission of AceCorp LLC. Please ftp life tips to Ace. He loves being told what to do and exactly how to do it.
Close it up
Every Cynical Thing You've Ever Thought About Romance, Marriage, and Sex Is True
So what are some harsh truths that the science of sex has shown us?
1) Those things we say we hate actually make us more attracted to people.
When someone plays hot-cold, keeps you guessing, makes you constantly uncertain?
Yeah, that makes you even more attracted:Participants in the uncertain condition were most attracted to the men — even more attracted than were participants who were told that the men liked them a lot. Uncertain participants reported thinking about the men the most, and this increased their attraction toward the men. [Psychological Science]
Playing hard to get? It works.
Had it up to here with narcissists? No, we haven't because they really are more attractive.
You know what we like about them the most?
The worst parts -- their entitlement and exploitativeness:…narcissism leads to popularity at first sight. Second, the aspects of narcissism that are most maladaptive in the long run (exploitativeness/entitlement) proved to be most attractive at zero acquaintance. [Journal of Personality and Social Psychology]
In the original article, there are links to the various assertions.
I know these are "studies" but I'm going to go ahead and believe them because this fits into my theory: Life Is Horrible and People Are Worse.
I got this from Instapundit.
Politico "Experts:" Fareed Zakariah Plagiarized Quite a Bit
It is the slight changes to language -- what Drechsel identified as "patch writing" -- that mask Zakaria's plagiarism. To wit, a sentence in the Time magazine article reads, "... in Dutch-speaking Flanders, locals handed out free French fries, while in Louvain-la-Neuve, in French-speaking Wallonia, free beer was on offer." On CNN, Zakaria stated, "... in Dutch-speaking Flanders, locals handed out free French fries while in French-speaking Wallonia, you could swig some free beer."
Such patch writing is evident in almost all the examples cited by Our Bad Media. In some cases Zakaria blends sentences from multiple reports, as in example #7, where he borrows from both The New Yorker and Al Jazeera. Those same sentences Zakaria read on CNN later showed up in an article he wrote for Time magazine. In neither case was the work attributed to The New Yorker or Al Jazeera.
There are different degrees of plagiarism, to be sure. Case by case, the examples here qualify more as violations or misdemeanors than serious crimes. "Low level," as McBride said. But taken together, they show an undeniable pattern of behavior. For years now, Zakaria has made a habit of borrowing facts, language and style from other sources without attributing the work to its original authors, and he has presented such material as if it were his own.
Yeah I don't get it. Hyperlinking is such an easy thing.
In orally-delivered reports, it's more difficult, especially when you're mostly just cribbing from other sources. You'd have to literally insert a Verbal Citation every several sentences.
I'm not sure I buy this aspect of the charges against Zakariah -- I think this is kind of Industry Standard (as far as "essays" delivered on-air), and I rarely, if ever, hear the people delivering such essays offer Verbal Citations to their sources.
But the lightly-rewritten stuff... Eh, that's bush league.
Great: Amendment To Permit Obama to Arm and Train Allegedly "Moderate" Syrian Extremist Militants Passes House
We're doing this because Obama has no allies willing to contribute ground forces, so any port in a storm.
So supposedly these Moderately Extremist Militants will be "vetted" by Obama and Congress or something.
During a closed-door morning meeting, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other leaders will try to win over their conference by arguing they are curbing Obama’s authority and requiring top administration officials to regularly keep Congress in the loop.
The narrower amendment, offered by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), includes several provisions intended to soothe Republicans and Democrats worried about giving the administration blanket authority to arm and train Free Syrian Army rebel groups, which would be used in the fight against ISIS.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel would have to give lawmakers a heads-up at least 15 days before beginning any training of opposition fighters -- a provision offered by administration officials, aides said.
And the Pentagon would need to give an update to lawmakers every 90 days.
The language also limits presidential authority through mid-December, and states Obama does not have the green light to send in U.S. combat troops.
It passed with bipartisan support:
Final count: 273-156, amdt to arm Syrian rebels passes easily— Robert Costa (@costareports) September 17, 2014
Update: Kerry to Code Pink: if you care about women, you should support this war on ISIS.
After 30 Years in the Vaults, A Long-Suppressed Album is Finally Released, By Prince
Wait I Mean by Bernie Sanders
Wait What the Hell Do I Mean?
For some reason -- and I'm sure it wasn't a good reason -- Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders recorded a folk music album in 1987.
Was it any good?, you don't ask.
Well since you didn't ask I'll tell you.
No. It was not good. It was the metaphysical opposite of good. It was 8-track Hitler.
In the 1980s, facing public panic over references to devils and magic and evil, Dungeons & Dragons changed the alignment system so that "evil" was now represented by "Lawful Bernie Sanders Folk Music Album" and "Chaotic Bernie Sanders Folk Music Album."
At the time, Sanders was a mayor.
Todd Lockwood, a Burlington-based author/photographer/musician, remembers sipping coffee at Leunig's Bistro one morning in 1987 when he came up with the idea of recording then-mayor Sanders at his White Crow Audio studios....
"I was surprised he said, 'Yes,'" Lockwood said. "When I first went to his office he said, 'I have to admit to you this appeals to my ego.'"
I have an ego, but if someone asked me to record an album, I'd say no.
Because of my ego. See, because I don't play instruments or sing, so the whole endeavor would be very embarrassing.
Sanders had the same handicaps.
Didn't stop him, though.
Sanders gave Lockwood a list of songs, mostly from Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, he would be willing to record.
Of course. I'm sure Joni was on the list, somewhere.
It's good to be a Human Cliche. People should work as hard as they can to fashion themselves into a three-dimensional caricature of a one-dimensional socio-cultural stereotype.
The plan was for Sanders to sing relatively straightforward renditions of a handful of them. And that apparently seemed like a good idea to everyone. Until Sanders stepped into the recording booth for the first time.
"As talented of a guy as he is..."
Talented at what? What the hell are you talking about, man?
"...he has absolutely not one musical bone in his body, and that became painfully obvious from the get-go," Lockwood said.
That's all I can swipe. Hit the link to read their solution, and to hear the music -- the aural equivalent of the Katyn Forest Massacre -- that Bernie Sanders made in those sessions.
Is the entire political class actually mentally unwell?
All signs point to yes.
So This Happened
This Cop is Joe Sarcasm.
His other greatest hit is, "I'm mildly interested that you have a publicist, but I will have your ID."
I've had this tab opened since Ferguson -- In California, the cops' wearing of body cameras reduces claims of violence lodged against police, and also reduces actual police use of force.
In short, body cameras on officers makes everyone behave just a little bit better. Cops act a bit better because they know they're on tape, and the people they interact with and arrest also act a bit better -- because they too know they're on tape.
I don't know why we just don't do this already.
Rialto, a small, working-class city that bakes in the San Bernardino foothills outside Los Angeles, appeared in the films Transformers and The Hangover. Among law enforcers, however, it is becoming better known for pioneering the use of body cameras on police officers.
Over the past year all 70 of its uniformed officers have been kitted out with the oblong devices, about the size of stubby cigars, and the results have emboldened police forces elsewhere in the US and in the UK to follow suit.
 Rialto's randomised controlled study has seized attention because it offers scientific -- and encouraging -- findings: after cameras were introduced in February 2012, public complaints against officers plunged 88% compared with the previous 12 months. Officers' use of force fell by 60%.
"When you know you're being watched you behave a little better. That's just human nature," said Farrar. "As an officer you act a bit more professional, follow the rules a bit better."
Whistleblowers: Inspector General's Report on VA Waitlist Deaths "Softened" Conclusions By Applying "Impossible Standard" By Which No Death Could be Attributed to Undue Wait Times
A lot of people died on the VA's secret wait lists.
That's a political problem. It's also a human tragedy and an outrage, but for politicians and bureaucrats, that doesn't matter. What matters is the political problem.
So how do you fix it?
I don't mean "how do you fix the VA." Bureaucrats and politicians have little interest in that. And bureaucrats have a positive interest in not fixing it - the organization didn't get this way randomly: Someone is benefiting here, and that of course is the people who the bureaucracy actually deforms itself to benefit, the bureaucrats themselves.
I mean, "How do you fix the political problem?"
You can't bring those people the VA killed back. But you can write up a report that claims that no one died due to the wait-list.
What they died from, you see, was cancer, heart attacks, and so forth.
That's the cause of death.
There is no generally-recognized medical cause of death called "death due to delayed treatment due to being put on the VA's wait-list."
So, see, in medical terms, no one died due to the wait-list.
The issue surrounds the investigation into whether more than 40 veterans at the Phoenix VA died while waiting to see the doctor. The IG's final report in August concluded that it "[could not] conclusively assert" that long wait times "caused the deaths of these veterans."
According to one whistleblower who spoke to CBS News, however, that crucial assertion was not in the original draft of the report. He told CBS News that the Inspector General added the line about how wait times did not cause the deaths at the last minute....
"The organization was worried that the report was going to damn the organization," the whistle-blower said. "And therefore it was important for them to introduce language that softened that blow."
"We did not find sufficient evidence (that any) delay resulted in death," added the statement.
But that conclusion, that no deaths were caused by delays, seemed to conflict with the rest of the report. For example: "28 instances of clinically significant delays" were found, including delays linked to six deaths. And findings indicated either "treatment" or "an appointment for this patient might have changed the outcome."
Per Hot Air:
The Arizona Republic raised questions about the same issue last week, and what they found makes the "inserted a line" explanation for the finding look suspect. They looked at the IG's methodology for determining correlation and/or causation and asked medical experts to review it, and they concluded that the IG used a "virtually impossible" standard for that effort.
Inspector General Richard Griffin, who oversees the VA's internal watchdog agency, stressed in his Aug. 26 report that investigators were "unable to conclusively assert that the absence of timely quality care caused the deaths" of Arizona veterans who died while on secret wait lists for appointments.
Media outlets widely reported that whistle-blower allegations were exaggerated and that veterans were not severely affected by wrongdoing at the Phoenix VA medical center.
Which was the point: Problem fixed!
But health-care experts say Griffin's report used a measure that is not consistent with pathology practices because no matter how long a patient waits for care, the underlying "cause" of death will be a medical condition, rather than the delay.
Put simply, people die of pneumonia, heart conditions and bullet wounds -- not waiting to see the doctor.
Dr. Gregory G. Davis, current head of the association and chief medical examiner in Jefferson County, Ala., also questioned the standard used in the Office of Inspector General report.
"I can't imagine a circumstance where someone would word it that way," he said.
I can imagine the circumstances: You wish to file a report that says the bureaucracy isn't responsible for anyone's deaths.
Huh. The VA is using deceptive paperwork to cover up their failures? Who'd've guessed.
It is no longer the case that 40 veterans died on the secret wait-lists; the number is now up to nearly 300.
And the IG will, I imagine, similarly find that it cannot quite prove those men died for want of timely treatment, either, though, gosh, it sure tried!
As Everybody Knows.
Scottish Independence: A Brief Acesplanation of the English/Scottish Union and Its Possible Undoing
As an attempt to provide a completely new form of journalism I call "Acespanlojournalism," I have done something wholly original, which is to imitate Vox, which is to further say, read a few Wikipedia articles and present them as original research.
Here then the Acesplanation. And I really have to stress this comes from Wikipedia-- this is all their work, rewritten. And I have to stress I knew nothing before reading Wikipedia, so this is non-expert and probably unreliable. (Not because Wikipedia is unreliable -- but because a non-expert digesting what are themselves digests is going to result in a superficial accounting that probably emphasizes the wrong things.)
The Scottish Wars of Independence, and Why That Has Nothing to Do With Any of This
Scotland was an independent state before the Wars for Scottish Independence depicted (inaccurately) in Braveheart, too. English control of Scotland was a fairly short-lived affair. The Scottish king, Alexander III, died, and then so did his daughter and heir at a young age, leading to a disputed succession.
Edward I -- who I'll just call "Edward Longshanks," because we all know him from Braveheart -- graciously offered to mediate the succession dispute, and came up with a terrific solution pleasing to all parties: He invaded Scotland and declared himself "Lord Paramount," overlord over whatever king should eventually take the Scottish throne.
Longshanks was depicted as the villain in Braveheart, but you gotta admit: That's a Pimp move, man.
This sparked the First and Second Wars of Scottish Independence, which were fought in rapid succession.
Ultimately, Robert the Bruce became King of Scotland and managed to drive out Edward and his pretender to the throne (a man named Edward Balloi), and Scotland was free once more.
These events are actually pretty much unconnected to the union of Scotland and England, and I only mention them to emphasize that: They're not connected. It's not as if Longshanks' forces continued to hold Scotland to the present.
The actual union of England and Scotland was accomplished by a Union of the Crowns and a voluntary treaty, much later.
There is something currently relevant in all this, though: The Scots had traditionally used the Stone of Scone, also called the Stone of Destiny, as an artifact used to solemnize the crowning of new kings.
England and Scotland have fought and argued over the ownership of this Stone. Longshanks captured it during the wars. By treaty, it was supposed to be returned to Scotland, but, get this, the English ignored the treaty and kept the rock.
In fact, the Stone was not returned to Scotland until 1996, when Scots began grumbling about the terms of the political union with England. But they agreed to lend it back to England, for its own coronations.
There's a reason the English want it for their own coronations -- the English and Scottish crowns soon became tangled up and unified.
King James I, King of England and Scotland
King James VI of Scotland also became King James I of England when the English crown passed to him. Elizabeth I of England, the so-called Virgin Queen, died in 1603. Being a so-called Virgin Queen, she had no children, so her crown passed to her cousin, James VI of Scotland. This resulted in the "Union of the Crowns," both the Scottish and English crowns now possessed by James VI (or James I to the English).
The Crowns themselves were not united, that is, they were not melted into a single crown; there were two crowns, for the two kingdoms. But they both sat on the same head.
However, this suggested the idea that Scotland and England ought to unite politically and become a single unified kingdom, rather than two kingdoms ruled by the same king.
There were various attempts at this throughout the seventeenth century, but they all came to naught due to various objections to such a scheme. For example, English king's power was circumscribed by the Magna Carta and English constitution and Pariamentary power and so forth; James VI, on the other hand, had more absolute kingly power in Scotland. The English Parliament worried that he would attempt to serve as a more powerful king in England, and rejected attempts at political union.
Scotland, too, objected to a union. It is our right and duty to laugh at England for being silly and weak, like a woman, but England was, at the time, pretty big shakes, at least by the feminized standard of the Weak European Male. It was rich and powerful and its navies ruled the seas and it had overseas colonies.
Scotland, on the other hand, was relatively poor and weak, and feared being dominated by their powerful, rich cousins to the south. The worried about the "lesser being drawn into the greater," and that was them talking when they called themselves "the lesser."
So, you know: They were well aware that any union with England would be an unequal one.
And they didn't agree to such a union until they got themselves into a bit of a disaster.
The Darien Disaster
Scotland decided to try its hand at being a world power. In furtherance of that, they established an overseas colony, just like England had, at the Gulf of Darien, in Panama.
It did not go well. You have probably used Context Clues to guess this, given that it is called "The Darien Disaster" rather than "The Darien Triumph, Scotland's Emergence as a World Power."
The colony ("Calcedonia") was established in 1690 and was a money-suck from the start. It was abandoned ten years later after a Spanish siege, but the Scottish were probably relieved to cut their losses.
And their losses were tremendous. This seems so unfathomable to me that I worry Wikipedia is leading me astray, but per that source:
As the Darien company was backed by 25%-50% of all the money circulating in Scotland, its failure left nobles, landowners -- who had suffered a run of bad harvests -- as well as town councils and many ordinary tradespeople almost completely ruined and was an important factor in weakening their resistance to the Act of Union (completed in 1707).
The Act of Union
Finally, in 1706 and 1707, the Scottish and English parliaments, respectively, passed the Act of Union, and the independent states of Scotland and England became "The Kingdom of Great Britain."
James I had styled himself "The King of Great Britain" earlier, using that term to refer to the whole of the British isle, but there was no actual singular Kingdom of Great Britain, at least not until the Act of Union.
(Later, when Great Britain extended equal dignities to its possession of Ireland, the collective whole became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and later still, when the Irish free state departed the UK, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.)
The English got the promise that a Hanover would succeed then-serving Queen Anne as regent, upon her death. This was important to England, because they didn't want some foreign Scottish king ruling them; English tradition and pride demanded that they be ruled by a foreign German king.
The Scots got access to English markets, and also a payment of nearly 400,000 pounds, which was called "The Equivalent," and meant to offset the future costs of servicing the debt England had accrued. (That is to say, Scotland was, in joining England, also assuming part of England's debts; the Equivalent was meant as a sweetener.)
This money was largely used to mitigate the enormous losses suffered by the shareholders in the Darien Scheme.
There was also -- again, per Wikipedia -- direct bribery as an inducement to the Scots to join the new Kingdom of Great Britain. This led Scottish poet Robert Burns to grumble:
We're bought and sold for English Gold, Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation.
So the Scottish have never exactly been thrilled about this political union with England. It was voluntary, but it was still under duress, given the enormous financial losses of the Darien Disaster. It passed the Scottish parliament with 106 ayes and 69 nays -- not an overwhelming margin.
Interestingly -- or perhaps inevitably -- all the same reasons for the union, and all the same objections to it, persist to this day, over 300 years later.
Scottish interest in the union is still primarily economic. If they exit the UK, for example, their currency will become the Euro. The UK negotiated for the right to keep its beloved pound, when all other countries had to use the Euro. An independent Scotland would not have that deal.
As the poorer half of Great Britain, they also, presumably, receive more cash from the government than they pay in taxes.
On the other hand, the Scots still chafe at being very much the junior partner in the union, just as they feared they would three centuries ago.
The English interest here still seems strategic and military. England was long annoyed by the Auld Alliance, the combination of Scotland and France against their mutual enemy England. I have to think they worry about what treaties an independent Scotland might strike, and whose naval ships might stop by for refueling in Scottish ports.
There's also the more immediate concern: What happens to the UK's armed forces when all those Scottish servicemen are ejected from the services due to being foreigners? The UK can presumably replace them, over time, but not without a period of disruption and understaffing.
And England still seems to be promising more "English gold" in exchange for a continued union.
The entire question seems to be a combination of national security and national insecurity, simultaneously.
One more thing. I actually got this from Vox:
What happens to the bridge that connects Scotland with Norway? The British paid for this bridge, though it originates, of course, from Glasgow. (Although the British deny the Scottish access to the Bridge, of course.)
The Bridge at Brigadoon, Scotland
So who gets that? Who gets that 600 mile bridge?
Update: Commenters point out that Scotland's entry into the European Union, and thus its adoption of the euro as currency, is hardly guaranteed.
It's unclear if Scotland would want to join the EU, or if the EU would want Scotland.
The EU is not exactly running low on poor countries with potentially unstable economies.
More Thoughts, From "The Political Hat:"
Two interesting things:
If Scotland leaves, there wouldn't be an independent England, there would be a "United Kingdom of England and Northern Ireland." Wales is a part of England, as a constituent kingdom.
If Scotland leaves, it is possible that someone in the EU will claim that both the new "United Kingdom of England and Northern Ireland" and "Scotland" are new countries and both would have to apply anew to the EU.
Considering the hatred on the continent for "Anglo-Saxon Capitalism," their entry would not be assured. I could easily see England (UK of E & NI) out of the EU while Scotland joins in.
Um... I kind of doubt that, because the EU needs some countries that are at least close to solvent (or not going bankrupt this year).
I also think an EU rejection of the UK would be... kind of good for the UK. The EU is not terribly popular in the UK anyway, and if the EU made the UK fight to remain within it, to come a-begging... well I gotta think the UK would take that as its leave to leave.
Additionally, Scotland would align themselves as a Scandinavian country.
The crown lands (which are outside the UK) of Mann and the channel islands, would not be effected, as the continuance of a United Kingdom in some form would continue.
As for the UN, they'd probably keep their permanent seat on the security council much like Russia got the USSR's seat.
Interestingly enough, this means that a majority of the countries named in the UN Charter as permanent members of the security council no longer exist or are not recognized as existing.
Close it up
Wednesday Morning Open Thread
Stupid job getting in the way. Discuss our impending doom here.
Top Headline Comments 9-17-14
Happy Hump Day.
Joan Rivers' doctor has some explaining to do.
Is Sen. Cruz the Queen of Summertime?
The NFL's meltdown continues.
The EPA porn-watcher who was banned from the building is still on payroll. He downloaded over 7,000 pornographic files on the job and, among other things, "he had spent four consecutive hours on a site called 'Sadism is Beautiful.'"
IMAX CEO: "Maybe people are getting a little sick of the post-apocalyptic, dark, angst-ridden, suicidal movies."
AoSHQ Weekly Podcast | Stitcher | Download | Ask The Blog | Archives
Overnight Open Thread (9-16-2014) - I Believe Jonah Goldberg Wrote a Book About This Edition
"Or to paraphrase, those who pound the table the loudest voicing complaints about micro-"aggressions" are fighting off the nagging thought: If the person who committed them isn't particularly evil, then maybe I'm not particularly special."
- Ed Driscoll
And then audio of the incident emerged...
Full audio here. I could watch a whole COPS episode just following this policeman around. Best line from him: "I'm mildly interested that you have a publicist, but I'm going to get your ID"
But of course in Britain these days you can only get anti-justice:
Meanwhile, in Rotherham, a 28-year-old woman who says she was victimized by the rape gangs confronted a man on the street who she accused of exploiting her as a teen. She was "arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated public order offences."
But without bothering to check if they're actually true or not. Hence the tale of the Dumb-Americans-and-their-$$$$-Space-Pen:
"During the heat of the space race in the 1960s, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration decided it needed a ballpoint pen to write in the zero gravity confines of its space capsules. After considerable research and development, the Astronaut Pen was developed at a cost of approximately $1 million US. The pen worked and also enjoyed some modest success as a novelty item back here on earth. The Soviet Union, faced with the same problem, used a pencil."
Of course if he (or more likely some assistant) had bothered to read all the way to the end, they would seen that it's a myth: NASA spent $0 developing a space pen - Fisher of Fisher Pen Co spent his own money to create one and sold them to NASA for just $2.99 each. Plus there are good reasons why you wouldn't want lead pencils in a space capsule which is why the Russians use space pens as well.
Next on NDT's list of Sciency! Anecdotes: Blondes will be extinct in 200 years, we only use 10% of our brains, and the Chevy Nova didn't sell in Latin America because its name means 'No go' in Spanish. Also his cousin's best friend's story about his encounter with an escaped psycho-killer with a hook for a hand.
Well the payola-ridden writers for gaming magazines and feminists do have something in common: They despise the magazines' audiences and gamers in general.
"To the feminist campaigners trying to ruin video games for everyone and a press that refuses to reform itself despite clear evidence of professional failure, gamers have responded with all the heroic defiance of Will Smith delivering a nuke into the mothership - and with just as much style. Through a series of fundraisers and lobbying efforts, as well as polite but firm advocacy on Twitter, they have begun to formulate a coherent intellectual and activist response to those who mystifyingly claim that their games and their culture are both somehow ugly, bigoted and evil. . . . #GamerGate has exposed both the feminist campaigners and even some gaming journalists as completely out of touch with the very reasons people play games. . . . The only group that genuinely isn't welcome is that small but noisy battalion of social justice warriors, who bring nothing but gloom and despair, and their loyal band of incompetent, unethical bloggers, who are so desperate to advertise their upstanding moral virtue to the sisterhood that they have forgotten to check their consciences. We should resist this new tyranny."
Because of all America's racism and poverty. Or is it?
"None of the versions of the class-inequality [argument] can explain why black students from similar social class backgrounds, residing in the same neighborhood, and attending the same school, don't do as well as white students," wrote Ogbu. "Within the black population, of course, middle-class children do better, on the average, than lower-class children, just as in the white population. However, when blacks and whites from similar socioeconomic backgrounds are compared, one sees that black students at every class level perform less well in school than their white counterparts."
Ogbu and his team of researchers were given access to parents, teachers, principals, administrators, and students in the Shaker Heights school district, which was one of the country's best. And he concluded that black culture, more than anything else, explained the academic achievement gap. The black kids readily admitted that they didn't work as hard as whites, took easier classes, watched more TV, and read fewer books. "A kind of norm of minimum effort appeared to exist among black students," wrote Ogbu. "The students themselves recognized this and used it to explain both their academic behaviors and their low academic achievement performance." Due to peer pressure, some black students "didn't work as hard as they should and could." Among their black friends, "it was not cool to be successful" or "to work hard or to show you're smart." One female student said that some black students believed "it was cute to be dumb." Asked why, "she said it was because they couldn't do well and that they didn't want anyone else to do well."
Let's see how this omni-excuse works out for him because I can see it coming in very handy...oh yes.
Robin Thicke was wasted on Vicodin and booze when he helped create "Blurred Lines" ... and that's his defense to allegedly ripping off Marvin Gaye.
Thicke sat for a deposition in the case where Gaye's family sued him for allegedly lifting Marvin's song, "Got to Give it Up."The lawyer for Gaye's family asked Thicke if he was present when Pharrell created "Blurred Lines." Thicke responded, "I was high on Vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio." He goes on to say he was so out of it he really wasn't involved in the creative process.
But what about the GQ interview where he said that Gaye's song was a direct inspiration for "Blurred Lines"? Well he's got a response for that too:
Thicke had a great answer for his GQ interview, telling the lawyer, "With all due respect, I was high and drunk every time I did an interview last year."
The AoSHQ group. Watch yer cornhole.
Tonight's post brought to you by Boys Life, 1933:
Notice: Posted by permission of JonahCorp LLC. No need for tips - he already knows.
Close it up
Folksy Vice President Uses Charmingly Earthy Language to Connect with the Common Man
A heartbeat away folks. A heartbeat away http://t.co/CNIX4LXJBR— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) September 17, 2014
Obama Supporting State Department Official: Hey, I Sort of Watched Hillary Clinton's Top Aides Scrub All Damaging Benghazi Files Out of the Official Records
The way they'd impeach his claims is by saying that he's an embittered former employee, angry about his own failures in maintaining security in Benghazi, rightly censured for his failures, and now making things up for payback.
On the other hand, this Maxwell fellow said he had nothing to do with Benghazi security and was scapegoated so that higher-ranking officials who were in charge of security could avoid accounting.
He also donated personally to Barack Obama and was (is?) an Obama supporter -- so the idea that he has a partisan political motive is unlikely.
As the House Select Committee on Benghazi prepares for its first hearing this week, a former State Department diplomat is coming forward with a startling allegation: Hillary Clinton confidants were part of an operation to "separate" damaging documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating security lapses surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Hillary Clinton? Scrubbing incriminating documents?!
Ridiculous. I've never heard something so absurd in all my life!
According to former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, the after-hours session took place over a weekend in a basement operations-type center at State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. This is the first time Maxwell has publicly come forward with the story.
I find it intriguing that this operation -- which I'm sure we'll hear was all by-the-book -- was conducted on a weekend, when few people are around, in a basement, where there are fewer passers-by.
At the time, Maxwell was a leader in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, which was charged with collecting emails and documents relevant to the Benghazi probe.
"I was not invited to that after-hours endeavor, but I heard about it and decided to check it out on a Sunday afternoon," Maxwell says.
When he arrived, Maxwell says he observed boxes and stacks of documents. He says a State Department office director, whom Maxwell described as close to Clinton’s top advisers, was there. Though the office director technically worked for him, Maxwell says he wasn’t consulted about her weekend assignment.
This is another sign that you're doing things on the Up and Up: When you keep things secret from key managers.
"She told me, 'Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light,'" says Maxwell. He says "seventh floor" was State Department shorthand for then-Secretary of State Clinton and her principal advisers.
"I asked her, 'But isn’t that unethical?' She responded, 'Ray, those are our orders.'"
You'll have to read Sheryl Attkisson for the rest.
I'm sure you'll come away from it asking the same question I'm asking:
Why do people keep telling such monstrous lies about Hillary Clinton!?!?!
Good News: Huckabee Seems to be Running for President; Top Wall Street Backer Predicts Romney Will Run, Too
Mike Huckabee is leading the Republican presidential race in Iowa. And not by just a point or two: in a new CNN survey, the former Arkansas governor, winner of the 2008 Iowa caucuses, is at 21 percent, with his closest GOP pursuer, Rep. Paul Ryan, nine points behind. Rand Paul is 14 points back, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush 15 behind.
Few frontrunners choose not to run. And when Huckabee, not yet a candidate and officially undecided, invited a group of reporters to meet with him at a hotel outside Washington Monday, he certainly looked like a man preparing to jump into the race.
One obvious sign is that Huckabee is talking about world affairs.
Allah has thoughts on that.
Via @allahpundit, one of Romney's top donors says he'll probably run.
One of Mitt Romney’s biggest Wall Street backers predicted Monday that the former presidential candidate would run again in 2016 under certain conditions.
SkyBridge Capital's Anthony Scaramucci said the former Massachusetts governor would run in 2016 if GOP favorites such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush decline to run.
"I don’t think he's 100 percent made the decision," Mr. Scaramucci said in an interview with Fox Business. "But a couple of factors could happen: If Governor Jeb Bush drops out or declares that he’s not going to run, I think that puts Governor Romney in… position."
"I think he’s going to do it," Mr. Scaramucci said. "I don’t think there’s any reason for him not to do it. His family is behind him."
And what the hell: With national security now on people's minds, and the public turning more hawkish, what about another former candidate gettin' into the mix?
Like: Here's a former candidate getting all testy with Rand Paul, asking him if he ever met with "ISIS" like he himself did. (He meant "The Free Syrian Army," probably, but you can understand his confusion on this point.)
That former candidate now grilling Rand Paul and by implication putting himself forward as confident hand for the national tiller?
Let's do this, baby. Everyone in the pool.
Science: Networks Covered Bush's Crumbling Poll Numbers 124 Times in an Eight Month Period; In the Corresponding Eight Month Period, the Networks Covered Obama's Likewise-Crumbling Poll Numbers... Nine Times
Jan 1, 2006 to August 31, 2006 for Bush; and
Jan 1, 2014 to August 31, 2014 for Obama.
Both eight-month periods are located in the respective president's sixth year, in the first half of the year before the midterms.
In both cases, the President's job approval rating hit lows in the low 40s.
Obama job approval is almost identical to Bush's in Sept 2006. Bias is just as much what isn't reported as what is. pic.twitter.com/BfxRSfq2Ub— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) September 16, 2014
You Had One Job, Media
So why did the networks cover Bush's falling approval rating so extensively and barely mentioned Obama's?
The answer is obvious and so simple that it's hardly worth the bother to write out but I don't have anywhere else to be so here goes:
The media is made up of biased, interested partisans (by interested I mean they have an interest in the outcome of their reportage) but they wish to pretend not to be.
If they openly campaign for their political favorites and against their political opponents (something, incidentally, they do more and more of), they are perceived as biased, and furthermore can be demonstrated as biased, by simple quotation of their own words.
So instead of doing that, most of the time they choose to run stories which, while not obviously partisan on their faces, are nevertheless chosen according to partisan motivations.
For example: Bush's falling polls. On its face, not partisan. Facts, after all, have no political leaning. No one can say that a fact is partisan -- without sounding like a dickish partisan himself.
However, the choice to hammer Bush's poll ratings again and again is itself a partisan choice. The choice of whether to report a specific fact, or conceal it, or whether to give it Big Play, or a minor mention on page A24, is frequently a partisan decision.
But the decision-making is hidden from the audience, so accusations about it are by nature speculative and cannot be proven.
The media did not like Bush. They were annoyed that the public liked him. He was a Cowboy, you know.
They were heartened when the public turned against him, and furthermore wished to communicate to fence-sitters that it's okay to turn on Bush, because look at how many other Americans are doing it!
Thus, Bush's fall from the 50s to the 40s gets mentioned 124 times in a six month period. You can't say that the polls themselves are partisan; but you do suspect there is a motive behind the nonstop coverage of Bush's long fall.
Compare to Obama's similar fall. Nine times the networks mention it. One cannot help but suspect the media does not report these polls for the same reason that I, an acknowledged partisan, don't mention polls that I don't like: because they sting me on an emotional level. I want to be an optimist, and how can I be that with Bummer Polls?
In addition, of course, the same logic that leads to reporting Bush's falling polls 124 times leads to all but concealing Obama's bad polls: The media suspects that fence-sitters are amenable to the bandwagon effect, and may begin to get off the fence in the direction of the popular majority just because people do not, generally, like standing out from the crowd. (Humans are pack animals and you're safer from predators in the midst of the pack, rather than being out On Point or outriding on the flanks.)
Thus, if the media reports that the American public has soured on Obama, fence-sitters may decide that they too have soured on him, and reporting Obama's bad polls may cause them to become even worse.
The media greeted that possibility in the case of Bush; they dread it the case of Obama.
You know, the media was very fond of reporting on Bush's Annus Horribilus (a Latin phrase meaning "swamp-ass") and its effect on his popularity. War weariness, the much-promoted civil war in Iraq, Grim Milestones, middle class wage stagnation, Katrina.
You know the litany-- the press sure repeated it often enough.
Obama has now had two terrible, terrible years in a row. All signs point to a third.
Why no interest in that? No... journalistic interest in the interesting, important story of How Someone Who Started So High Fell Down So Very Low?
And so we see the exact same story, more or less, being treated in precisely contradictory ways by a press which is an all-but-acknowledged arm of the Democrat National Committee but wishes to maintain its nominal independence for tax purposes.
These things aren't complicated. Lies and corruption and hypocrisy and tribal cheerleading are pretty simple things, really. Simple and crude, and very easy to explain.
Update: A love of science compels me to correct this and note that January through August is eight months, rather than "six" as I wrote, at least according the traditional, orthodox manner of counting typically favored by The Establishment.
By the non-traditional, freethinking Eastern-inflected folkways I prefer, it could be any range of numbers from three to seventeen. I chose "six" as both a poetical, numinous number filled with mythic resonances and whispered truths, as well as being a good compromise figure between 3 and 17 calculated to not upset the more hidebound, numerically-orthodox minds out there in my readership.
But I see now that even this minor gesture in the direction of open-mindedness and aesthetic daring is now being challenged and mocked.
So, thus harassed by vicious critics, I have changed the number to the Establishment-preferred "eight."
So The Establishment wins again. Quel surprise.
What Exactly Are We Going to Do With Neil DeGrasse Tyson?
More Tyson "quotes" that serve no purpose except to stroke his own ego while he simultaneously strokes the egos of his fanbois and fangurlz.
I was taken aback by the first episode of the Cosmos reboot. That episode also contained, get this, a generally dishonest accounting of a mad monk named Giordani Bruno who challenged the prevailing theory that the sun was singular in the heavens in its possession of a planetary system.
That story was fable-ized -- stripped of the complicated reality of truth, turned into a simplistic Aesop Fable for children* -- in order to flatter the sensibilities of the I Love Science Sexually camp while insulting anyone of even a mild religious disposition.
This is quite jackass, if you assume that the show's creators actually wanted to evangelize for science among those who had come to distrust science. The show began by making things up in order to denigrate those who distrust science -- certainly not evangelizing them to join Team Science at all.
I watched the first episode of the original Cosmos. Sagan avoided any touchy material in that first episode. He did begin to get into it in the second episode, but the first episode served as a good hook for interesting people before making the various socio-culturo-politcal points he wanted to make.
The new Cosmos, on the other hand, immediately went stampeding for the clitoris.
But this approach does make sense if one assumes their stated motivations for the show (evangelize for science among the "science pagans," if you will) were not their real motivations.
It makes sense if you assume their actual motivation was to tell the Science Flock that They're Awesome and that the people who do not believe in The God Science are apes and monkeys.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson's position grants him power; it also imposes on him responsibility. I would never myself have nominated what is essentially a planetarium manager as Head of Science of the Western World; but the I Love Science Sexually brigade, the fanbois and fangurlz, did, so this is what we have.
By Tyson's own lights, is he actually popularizing science, or is making science look rather shabby and stupid by confusing actual science with its sorta-lookalike, "Science"? **
I think the latter. He doesn't seem to be talking about science; he's talking about "Science," which is not an intellectual discipline, but a tribal signifier and I Win Button for stupid internet political arguments.
He's becoming a buffoon, if he's not become one already, and a buffoon can't popularize anything.***
* The accounting of Bruno omitted the part, in narration, that Bruno's heresy charges were almost all about denying the divinity of Christ, believing in magic and sorcery, and the sort of things that routinely got people in Dutch with the Inquisition.
By the way, I certainly think it's horrible that the Inquisition burned him at the stake. I'm not engaging in apologism for the excesses of a church I don't believe in.
But the truth is that the bit about denying the uniqueness of the solar system was but one count in a long list of heresies. To claim he was burned for that is, at the very least, highly misleading.
At the very least, it's highly misleading to suggest that as a fact, because the facts suggest otherwise. Tyson & Co. may say "Well it is our interpretation that the solar speculations were the real reason for the burning;" but this is a speculation, and not a fact, and the show sure didn't signal it was now turning towards historical speculation.
The show gets cute when it tries to cover its bases on this score. It does have the cartoon of the Inquisition (yes, this cartoony deformation of history is actually presented as a literal cartoon) mention "denying the divinity of Christ" in the list of charges.
But Tyson's narration had never mentioned that. When I heard the Cartoon Inquisitor say that, I assumed, wrongly, that that was a bogus charge they were making up in order to support their charges on the thing that he was really being tried for, which was suggesting that many stars had planetary systems.
And I thought this because the Inquisitors were presented as shifty characters who just made crap up. Which might not be an inaccurate description -- but the show including a mention of denying Christ's divinity does not really "cover" the show for honestly noting that, as the people claiming this -- out of the blue -- were presented as, quite literally, scary monsters whose shadows fall long and menacing before them.
In fact Bruno was a sorcerer -- or a wannabe at least -- and did deny the divinity of Christ. The Inquisitors weren't making that up.
I didn't learn that from Cosmos, a show supposedly about The Truth. I learned it from Wikipedia, after I looked Bruno up, and also learned that his status as a Martyr for Science had long been controversial -- disputed -- within the scientific community, precisely because it's not clear he was burned at the stake for his scientific heresies.
Indeed, it seems he was burned for his religious and magical heresies, like so many other victims of the Inquisition.
But Neil DeGrase Tyson, Ann Durand, Seth MacFarlane, all involved, really, decided not to treat the audience as informed adults capable of handling complicated reality, but as little children in need of Fables so that they could know the Good things to do and the Bad things to do.
The show needed a Cartoon Hero for its big start, and so they made Bruno into one.
And this in the first episode. Right out of the gate, Cosmos took off its mask and revealed itself not as primarily about science, but about how science (and history, actually) can be distorted, deformed, and fable-ized to promote a particular religious cult, and to denigrate other competing religious cults.****
** I have a theory. Call it the HuffPo Rule. If your "Science" gets linked by HuffPo, then it's not science, because HuffPo readers are not scientists and are not interested in science. If they take self-congratulatory delight in it, it can't be science.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson's work as a public "scientist" -- his public work, his popularization -- all seems like the kind of shit that goes viral on Buzzfeed and HuffPo because most people don't know any better, and just want to hear that They're Awesome.
** I'm also struck by Tyson's apparent eagerness to engage in just the sort of lazy, self-aggrandizing faith-based thinking he presumably disdains in others.
Tyson would say of those Not of His Tribe that they work backwards from Received Wisdom, and they find, choose, and even invent evidence to support those already-believed dogmas and bigotries. Motivated reasoning, they call it -- "reasoning" which is actually engaged in only to "discover" a truth which is already known.
And yet -- especially with the Mad Monk story, and now this apparently bogus story about George W. Bush -- we find Tyson eagerly inventing Parables and Fables which support his already-determined Religious Writs.
Sometimes when I argue with commenters about the intersection of Faith and Science, it will be offered to me that Science is merely just another Faith, just another religion, every bit as predicated upon unprovable metaphysical assumptions as Faith. (But, of course, it is further urged that the metaphysical assumptions of Science are derived from the shabby source of mankind's ego rather than received from the divine mind.)
I disagree with this premise. I do not believe that Reason is "just like" Faith. Or, I should say, I do not believe Reason or Science are "just like" Faith in requiring a metaphysical belief in something when Reason or Science are actually being utilized properly.
Now, humankind being humankind, what is called "Reason" or "Science" frequently is turned into a silly little game of Magical Thinking that may occasionally involve putting up .gifs of the Milky Way.
But that's not a knock on reason or science; that's just what humans do. Most humans are kind of lazy in their thinking and engage in motivated thinking all the time.
But here we have Neil DeGrasse Tyson, offered to us as the Avatar of All Which Is Science (a bit like Obama was offered as the Avatar of All Which Is Elevated Political Reasoning), engaging, it sure looks like, in embarrassing fabulism for rather crude political purposes.
That's a quote from a newspaper headline, by the way. Here's the citation: "Newspaper Headline."
He is basically proving the more aggressive critics of Science (or "Science") right -- that whether you call it "Faith" or "Science," man is just going to take a few unprovable metaphysical precepts as being unquestionably true and then batter and deform all "Evidence" to conform with those Cosmic Revelations, so what is the difference, apart from whether the Fish on your bumper is the Christian one or the Darwin parody?
If you say you're dedicated to Truth, and to putting aside sloppy bigotries and Magical Thinking to observe the Universe as it really is and not how it may please you, on the level of ego, to be -- if you're committed to the proposition that neither the Earth nor Neil DeGrasse Tyson and his Teenage Fanclub lie at the center of the Universe -- then you really ought to act that way.
Or does that ask too much of Tyson?
**** Incidentally, the story could have been told accurately and still conveyed this message. It just would have been slightly more complicated and taken a little more time.
Bruno was definitely a Martyr for Free-Thinking. Whether or not he was a Martyr for Science is highly disputable; but there can't be much dispute that he was burned at the stake for thinking, believing, and speculating about Forbidden Things.
It is critical to science that people be allowed to speculate about Forbidden Things. Ideas are tested in a lab, or compared against physical measurements, but those ideas are first born in the mind, out of speculation, skepticism, or simple contrarianism.
If people cannot speculate and guess about the nature of the universe, there are huge areas into which science is forbidden -- upon threat of violence and execution -- to inquire into.
Framed like that, the Bruno story would have served its purpose. Tyson could have freely mentioned Bruno's denial of Christ and belief in sorcery not as science in and of themselves but as the sorts of wondering about questions that science absolutely relies upon to discover the truth of things.
But instead, the show was made into a Cartoon -- literally and figuratively -- and Bruno's complicated backstory was simplified into "He was burned at the stake for guessing, correctly, that many (or all) stars had planets."
This is a Fable. This is the sort of thing we tell to children because children's minds are too simple to grapple with complicated and sometimes contradictory reality.
And this was Episode One.
They didn't have to do this.
It was just Easier.
And of course: Dumber.
And so Cosmos, the Show For Smart People, just followed the Golden Rule of our Stupid Age:
Dumb is Easy, and Easy is Holy.
Open Thread [Y-not]
Maybe if I put this up it'll get stomped.
Here's Don Quixote:
Close it up
Tuesday Morning News Dump
- The Great Unraveling
- Another Day, Another Quote Fabricated By Neil Degrasse Tyson
- Labor Relations Board Orders CNN To Rehire 100 Employees
- 10 Ways Obama Has Failed As A President
- War Of Principles
- US Commits 3,000 Troops To Combat Ebola
- Administraton Threatens To Cut Off Obamacare To 360,000
- The Russian Autocrats Eternal Return
- The President Pushes Back
- Good News, Huckabee Gear Up For 2016
- Democrats Unveil Benghazi Website
- Planned Parenthood Wants To Make It Harder To Get Birth Control
- Do Reporters Know Nothing?
Follow me on twitter.
Top Headline Comments 9-16-14
This is all I've time for this morning.
Obama job approval is almost identical to Bush's in Sept 2006. Bias is just as much what isn't reported as what is. pic.twitter.com/BfxRSfq2Ub— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) September 16, 2014
Have a good day.
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Tropical Storm Odile (tmi3rd)
Good evening, Morons and Moronettes. As you can tell from the title, we've got some tropical weather to talk about, and this time, it's going to be a problem for the desert southwest, particularly the cities of Phoenix, El Paso, and areas in between. If you're in these areas, you don't need me to tell you you don't need any more rain in that neck of the woods.
More below the fold...
First of all, the good news is that you won't have to deal with hurricane-force or even tropical storm-force winds as this storm reaches the southern border of the US. Tropical cyclones don't like being over land, so they spin down pretty quickly.
The other good news is that it should be going pretty quickly by the time it gets there. Current speed is (as you see) to the NNW at 12 mph, but it should maintain that speed as it turns northeast.
The current thinking is that it's going to interact with a cold front that's going to sweep it off to the northeast at a high rate of speed. Now let's look at the flood advisories and severe weather statements...
As you can see, Arizona, New Mexico, and west Texas are going to get mighty wet. The thinking right now is three to five inches of rain, and that's going to start tonight as the outer bands of Odile start pushing in. As I mentioned beforehand, you've already had a wet end to the summer, and the timing of this stuff is pretty poor, to say the least.
I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the local rivers and streams, so if you've got hydrology questions, you're going to need to consult your local National Weather Service office's webpage. The only river I ever spent any time around was the Guadeloupe outside of San Antonio, and I saw it come up in one hell of a hurry.
So here's the long and short of it: stay the hell away from floodwaters. Flooding is what kills the most people in any tropical system, and with the way water comes up in the desert, it can sneak up on you with little to no warning.
Don't drive over visibly running water, don't get close to rivers and streams, and you can expect this system to start moving out sometime on Thursday. Flooding should be the only major concern, as the other usual elements of tropical cyclones don't really apply this far inland.
If you've got questions, best bet is to hit me on Twitter. I'll be around. I'll reiterate that I don't know that area of the country well enough to tell you what rivers and streams are going to rise, nor how much they'll come up. Just stay safe!
Close it up
Overnight Open Thread (9-15-2014)
Are we about to learn what happens when the United States goes to war with a commander-in-chief who doesn't really want to go to war? A president who's ordering a particular military action because he feels he has to in order to placate public opinion, but that he has deep doubts about? How can that possibly turn out well?
-- Jim Geraghty
Why can't the world just let him vote Present and get back to his waffles.
Note what a harsh indictment of President Obama that statement is: Obama is "reluctant to decide" because "deciding often forces you into a more one-sided position than you're comfortable with." Of course it does! Before you decide, you can ponder the pros and cons, the one hand and the other hand, the various shades of gray, and leave it at that.
But when you decide, you have to choose: to go to war; to bomb; to take a side; to incur casualties; to face the consequences. When a president makes hard choices that involve life and death, in all likelihood he will be "force[d] into a more one-sided position than [he is] comfortable with." It is always more comfortable to stay on the fence. But making tough decisions, knowing that there are pros and cons, that every course is perilous, and that the consequences of any decision will be mixed, is what we have presidents for. After nearly six years, Barack Obama still doesn't seem to understand that.
You have been warned.
But not as powerful as Leftism and Islamophilia. Which is why the Yale Women's Center is trying to bar Ayaan Hirsi Ali from speaking on campus.
On paper and in public statements they will be held to the same standards as male Ranger School candidates. But the implementation details make it very clear that no Ranger Instructor who values his career will fail a female candidate no matter how much she screws up.
Retrophin recently purchased the marketing rights to the drug Thiola and they are increasing the price from $1.50 per pill to over $30 per pill. Surprisingly, Thiola is off-patent. Ordinarily, we would expect such a large price increase to be met with entry and price pushed to marginal cost. To enter into the market, however, a generic producer must prove bio-equivalence which requires that the generic producer obtain a small quantity of the branded drug. Branded drug firms don't like competition from generics and they try to impede the process but it's typically not a big deal for a generic producer to obtain some of the branded drug for their bio-equivalence trials.
In 2007, however, the FDA was officially authorized to approve drugs conditional on the firm implementing a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS). The FDA approved thalidomide, for example, only if physicians signed a patient-physician agreement and enrolled each of their patient's directly with the producer. Indeed, a unique prescription authorization number was required for each prescription which could be filled only at specially authorized pharmacies. The idea, of course, was to prevent anyone from taking thalidomide during pregnancy. The purpose of the regulation was probably not to create monopoly power but it didn't take firms long to realize that REMS regulations could be co-opted. Simply put, a REMS agreement can make it illegal for generic firms to obtain a sample of the branded drug through ordinary channels. In the thalidomide agreement, for example, it's even the case that all unused thalidomide must be returned to the producer! Retrophin is hoping to use a similar REMS strategy to keep generic competitors out of the market for Thiola.
REDDIT IS A KIND OF GOVERNMENT: It's just a lousy, un-transparent, full-of-itself government. Reddit was doing a lot of censorship over the whole GamerGate thing, too.
On one hand I'm surprised that donated organs are only shared within regional districts which means that whether you get a transplant or not can just depend on what state you live in. On the other hand given the huge disparities in organ donation rates why should the south serve as an organ farm for the northeast when they're not willing to donate to save their own neighbors?
The disparities for getting a liver are wide, according to an article published last year in the American Journal of Transplantation that proposed new regional maps. The 90-day probability of a wait-list death for a liver transplant varies from 14 percent to 82 percent among donation service areas, the article noted.
Dr. Seth Karp, director of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center, said reconfiguring liver allocation regions is a more complicated solution than others that should be considered. In Tennessee, around 80 percent of individuals and families say yes when approached about organ donation, he said, which is significantly higher than in California, New York or New England.
So I wonder how much they paid for this fashion abomination?
The designer of the uniform for the Colombian women's cycling team decided to put a flesh colour in the most awkward place, which has caused some people to question whether it's sexist.
The skin-toned colour on the kit was located around the groin area and stomach, which made it look like the outfit was see through.
The Yahoo AoSHQ group - it's got electrolytes.
And my twitter thang.
Tonight's post brought to you by me too:
Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp-Whamo LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips to maetenloch at gmail. Otherwise send tips to Little Ace.
Close it up
Hardy Perennial: Some Prog Sissy Whines that the Star Spangled Banner is Too Militaristic
In Politico Magazine, but discussed at the National Review.
Our anthem is too militaristic? Um, we're not even in the top fifteen.
Here are the first few stanzas of the French national anthem. I've bolded my favorite parts.
Let's go children of the fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny's
Bloody flag is raised! (repeat)
In the countryside, do you hear
The roaring of these fierce soldiers?
They come right to our arms
To slit the throats of our sons, our friends!
Grab your weapons, citizens!
Form your battalions!
Let us march! Let us march!
Let their impure blood
water the furrows (of our fields).
Tremble, tyrants! and you, traitors,
The disgrace of all groups,
Tremble! Your parricidal plans
Will finally pay the price! (repeat)
Everyone is a soldier to fight you,
If they fall, our young heroes,
France will make more,
Ready to battle you!
Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors,
Bear or hold back your blows!
Spare these sad victims,
Regretfully arming against us. (repeat)
But not these bloodthirsty despots,
But not these accomplices of Bouille,
All of these animals who, without pity,
Tear their mother's breast to pieces!
Gotta love a single lyric that mixes racism ("impure blood") with psychopathic imagery ("Hey I've got a sexy little notion -- let's water our squashes with their impure blood").
It goes on a bit. Bear in mind that part about "watering our furrows with the invaders' impure blood" is repeated about seventy-three thousand times. *
Cracked has digested five more national anthems that make the Star Spangled Banner look like a transcript of a very special episode of The View about Vajazzling.
Here's a quote from the Algerian anthem:
"We swear by the lightning that destroys, By the streams of generous blood being shed"
"When we spoke, none listened to us, So we have taken the noise of gunpowder as our rhythm, And the sound of machine guns as our melody"
So this jackass needs to shut up. We can't go to war with countries singing about their blood gushing from their wounds like eternal serpents (Turkish national anthem) when our boys are stuck singing something that wouldn't upset our more sensitive progressive sitzpinklers.
By the way: You know what song this pus*y wants to replace the Anthem with?
Imagine our Marines singing that as they wade into mud and bullets. But not ironically.
Okay he doesn't really suggest that song but that's about his speed.
* There's actually a stanza of the French National Anthem that doesn't usually get sung:
Except the Germans, except the Germans
Let the Germans eat of our fields
and dance with our women
And when we say dance we mean "for starters"
You can do whatever, really
We really haven't any shame to speak of.
O Germans, we will make you such fine workers.
Like children, we crave boundaries.
We yearn to live under your Teutonic yoke
We are jackals and you are lions.
We're not even jackals. We're baby-jackals.
You're all so handsome and tall
and you wear snazzy boots
Living under your rule is wonderful
as wonderful comme etre baise dans la bouche
par Monsieur Gros-Pied, which we enjoy greatly.
I don't know how to translate that bit near the end; it appears idiomatic.
Close it up
An Important Question I've Never Seen Asked, And Would Like the Answer To
Update: Answered? See end of post.
I am convinced that nearly the entirety of the modern environmentalist movement is an attempt to obtain absolution for modern First World life.
Why one would think they need absolution for that is beyond me.
I read this wrong the first time and did not see the words "modern environmentalism movement." The way I read it -- and frankly, I like my misreading better -- is that leftist politics generally is an attempt to obtain absolution for modern First World life.
Have more money than some urchins in Kinshasha? Vote Democrat; it's your redemption.
I would also say, in line with my observation that Dumb is Easy and Easy is Holy, partisan politics and placard-waving is the easiest possible way to assuage one's guilt over having it better than someone else.
Are great numbers of Obama Voters enlisting to do the harder work of achieving that desired absolution? Are they working in soup kitchens, signing up for the Peace Corps (a sort of secular missionary effort)?
Are they doing anything real about the troubles they claim to be so deeply concerned by, or are they just tuning into to Rachel Maddow's nightly revival-tent sermon to hear some more of that Old Time Religion?
Remember this video?
There have been a lot of claims that Obama supporters would pledge to give more selflessly of themselves on behalf of others.
Michele Obama famously claimed that Obama won't permit you to be complacent about all the evils in the world.
So here's my question:
Has there in fact been any measurable increase in charitable donations (of time or money) by the Obama coalition or the left generally?
The left is notably stingy and selfish with their money and time -- every survey and study demonstrates the right (especially the religious right, of course) gives more.
Obama repeatedly called upon his voters to do good in the service of mankind.
For example, per that article I just linked, the day before his first inauguration, Obama exhorted his supporters thusly:
Whether or not the Obama campaign realized it, that demand for faith was an updated echo of innumerable passages in the Gospels: "Everything is possible for him who believes"; "Whoever lives and believes in me will never die"; and so on. If the first component of the Obama creed was faith, though, the second was surely hope--the audacious hope whose name famously adorns one of the president's two autobiographies. We need only add charity to have what Catholics call the three Theological Virtues, which Paul mentions in First Corinthians. Perhaps we should not have been surprised, then, when a day before his inauguration, Obama breathtakingly upended the meaning of Martin Luther King Day, transforming a holiday devoted to the memory of a civil rights leader--and perhaps also to such ideas as equality, tolerance, and the evils of racism--into a day of public service. "It's not a day just to pause and reflect--it's a day to act," Obama announced. “Today, ordinary citizens will gather together all across the country to participate in the more than 11,000 service projects they’ve created using USAservice.org. And I ask the American people to turn today’s efforts into an ongoing commitment to enriching the lives of others in their communities, their cities, and their country.”
So: Have they?
Here is my guess: No, they have not, because if they had, the increased social giving of Obama's minions would be a frequently-noted phenomenon in the media, frequently cited as one of the things Obama did to benefit us all.
And frankly, Obama needs some Wins like that.
So if he had this Win, I assume the media would have told us about it.
Given that the media has not told us about it, I assume the opposite: that it has not in fact happened.
So I have two further questions:
1. Why does the media not report upon this? Whether Obama called the left into service and the left responded, or whether he called them into service and they did not respond-- it's a story either way.
What excuse does the media have, except for sheltering itself and its political coreligionists from criticism, for not reporting the less-flattering possible version of the story?
2. Hey, look, the media is not going to report this, obviously -- so why doesn't the right-leaning press look into the question and report the answer itself?
I just don't think that the hopelessly corrupt and self-dealing corporate media is going to blow the whistle on itself, or on President Boyfriend's inability to even inspire his own zealots into any tangible change in behavior, anytime soon.
We are now in the seventh or eighth year of the Obama Phenomenon, depending on what year you date it from.
Maybe it's about time the press tried to examine it dispassionately as a curious political phenomenon in need of explanation, contextualization, and actual evaluation (to wit: did it actually achieve its grandiose promises or not?), sometime this decade.
Of course, that would require the press examining Obama's voters -- that is, themselves -- as if they were exotic animals and irrational actors prone to sudden passions.
And of course we know the press reserves that sort of examination for the Right.
Grammar Note: On "borne" vs. "born."
I have to admit, I wasn't consciously aware (does this make me stupid?) that "borne" was the past tense and past participle of bear. Though maybe if you put a gun to my head and said "Tell me the past tense of 'to bear,'" I might have blurted it out as an educated guess.
Frankly, I had no idea that "born" was also the past participle and past tense of "bear," too-- but in the context of giving birth.
Jeeze, now that I look at the words -- well, it makes sense.
Close it up
How the Left Got Religion, and The Rest of Us Got Obama
If, like me, you're very interested (and concerned) by the fusion of mysticism and politics to form a full-spectrum tribal identity platform which satisfies its adherents desire for political goods, personal affirmation, and religious meaning in a largely secular world, you'll enjoy this long article on the deification of Barack Hussein Obama, by Benjamin Plotinsky in the City Journal.
Update: This article is actually from Spring 2010. I forget where I got it from -- probably either Hot Air, or Instapundit, or maybe someone's mention on Twitter.
The article speaks in the beginning about "Obama's plunging poll numbers."
Hey, you can't blame me for taking that as a reference to current events!
Even if Old, it remains True.
The Varieties of Liberal Enthusiasm
The Left’s political zealotry increasingly resembles religious experience.
It all seems so long ago now, as one contemplates President Obama’s plummeting approval ratings and a suddenly resurgent Republican Party. Yet it’s worth looking closely and seriously at the election-year enthusiasm of media elites and other Obamaphiles, much of which was indeed, as the wags recognized, quasi-religious. The surprising fact is that the American Left, for all its claims to being "reality-based" and secular, is often animated by the passions, motivations, and imagery that one normally associates with religion. The better we understand this religious impulse, the better we will understand liberal America’s likely trajectory in the years to come.
Consider... what Samantha Fennell, formerly an associate publisher of Elle, wrote on the magazine’s website[:]Barack Obama must be elected President of the United States. . . . I have thrown myself into a new world--one in which fluffy chatter and frivolous praise are replaced by a get-to-the-point directness and disciple-like devotion. It’s intense and intoxicating. . . . When I attended my second "Obama Live" fund-raiser last week at New York City’s Grand Hyatt, . . . I was on my feet as Senator Obama entered the room. Fate had blessed me in this moment. . . . In a moment of divine intervention, he saw me, . . . grabbed my hand, and gave that brilliant smile of his. I literally said out loud to the woman next to me who witnessed my good fate, "I'll never wash this hand again."
How can we explain this sudden, brief eruption of messianic fervor into our politics? Perhaps by looking at the religious climate of the country and the world, which have been witnessing a religious revival over the past 30 years. Whether you call this phenomenon the "revenge of God," as the French scholar Gilles Kepel does, or "resacralization," as the sociologists do...
The worship of a charismatic leader was just one reason that twentieth-century intellectuals regarded the great totalitarianisms as inherently religious. Another was their immense scope, which included not just matters traditionally considered public--war, taxes, even the offices of the welfare state--but also the private lives and practices of individuals. "The totalitarian movements which have arisen since World War I are fundamentally religious movements," wrote the political scientist Waldemar Gurian in 1952, in part because they "cannot conceive of realms of life outside and beyond their control." Sixteen years earlier, the legal scholar Marcel Prélot had commented that "the totalitarian state, naturally extending its field of action far beyond the recognized domain of the conventional state, claims to constitute both a political entity and an ethical and spiritual community, . . . the state itself being a church."
Obamaism is far narrower, and far more benign, than that. But another strand of modern liberal politics encroaches so far on the private sphere that it begins to resemble the political religions.
Potinsky's piece does a good enough job of presenting the evidence that Obamaism is essentially a religious/mystical movement (as were Fascism, Naziism, and Lennism/Stalinism, though he explicitly disclaims any attempt to claim that Obama has the twisted ambitions of those regimes).
But I have a question: Why? Or, more specifically: Why now?
Even if one postulates (as I would) that mankind has a basic hunger for connectedness and making connections between the stars (that is, a general tendency towards curiosity about large questions, and a tendency to supply metaphysical answers to those questions when other answers aren't coming), and even if one says, along with GK Chesterton, that a disbelief in God often leads to an affirmative belief in a great many silly substitute religions and religious dogmas, why now? Why this particular moment?
Was it just that Obama was especially well-positioned to play the Cult Card, being handsome and young and a member of a persecuted race? (That latter credential being especially resonant in religion and myth -- Redeemers tend to come from persecuted groups, not the class in current power.)
Or perhaps it's merely that he was the only politician in recent memory narcissistic and cynical enough to play the Cult Card?
Could it be played again? Are the legions who were so willing to Believe so deeply in the fundamental metaphysical Perfection (capital intended) of Obama ready to Believe again in the next politician to position herself as High Priestess of a Grand Church of Providing Meaning to the Spiritually Empty?
Or is there something in particular about this moment -- perhaps the traumas of 9/11 combined with the special trauma experienced by the left in seeing Bush elected president, and then their doctrines widely repudiated after the attack of 9/11 -- has left the American people (and the left especially) spiritually, socially, and intellectually disoriented and therefore in an Apocalyptic frame of mind?
Could it be then that this is really little different than someone finding himself open to conversion to a religion after an especially traumatic personal setback? Except that it is a mass example of this effect?
I don't know.
All I know is that I find it troubling and ominous when the people who keep telling me they're strict rationalists and empiricists begin chanting prayers to strange new gods.
Generic Ballot 2000-2014
I've been tinkering with the generic ballot releases I could get my hands on for the last seven elections, and comparing them, if possible, to the current batch of releases.
After a brief correction from Nate Cohn of NYT's Upshot, here's the draft version which we will update every Thursday at @aoshqdd. Please note that this week's Rasmussen release has not been updated, it will on Thursday, as will any other pollster who drops anything between now and then:
What you are looking at is a snapshot of where each pollster found the generic Congressional ballot at this point (draft set for September 18th) in the last seven elections and today. Emphasis on the generic ballot isn't advisable when determining the outcome of Senate races, as there is a clear divergence in who leads in the state-by-state, and who leads by this national metric.
Some interesting things: quite a lot of pollsters had shifted into Likely Voter mode at this point in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2010, but hardly any had done so in 2002, 2006, or 2012. In fact, in the year 2006, nearly all polling released to this point wasn't even of registered voters, but adults.
DHS Won't Renew the Tenure of Controversial "Moderate Muslim" Advisor Mohammad Elibiary
Many critics, such as Patrick Poole, didn't think Elibiary's rhetoric sounded particularly "moderate." Elibiary had tweeted his enthusiasm for the "inevitable" return of the Islamic Caliphate.
That seemed controversial enough when he tweeted it -- but it's poisonous now that we have not one but two slaughter-happy pretenders to the Islamic Caliphate title.
And maybe something else, too.
A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) adviser long engulfed in controversy over his radical views was let go from his role in the department last week after a long fight by lawmakers and others to revoke the individual's privileges at DHS.
Mohamed Elibiary was until last week a senior member of DHS' Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC). After years of controversy about his status at DHS, Elibiary announced his final day with the department on Twitter earlier this month and said he would remain close to the agency.
New documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon indicate that Elibiary had no choice in the matter, and that he may have been let go by DHS in order to minimize the fallout from an investigation into allegations that he improperly accessed and used classified materials obtained with his security clearance.
As to the latter, Patrick Poole says that DHS' claim to have investigated the allegation was itself a lie, and that there was no actual investigation.
You Should Send This to Your Mom Before She Sends It To You
via @doreenHdixon, a relaxing video.
Kind of like waterfalls, but involving cats giving massages to each other.
I'm told this is some sort of instinctual thing. Apparently kittens do this to their mother's belly when they're nursing.
So they just do it out of memory. Including to dogs.
Close it up
Atheists Sam Harris, Bill Maher: Part of the Problem With Islamic Jihad is the "Islamic" Part
The progressive media consensus on Islam is stultifying, and deliberately so. It's a series of simplistic claims intended to drown out any adult discussion on the issue in favor of childish happy-talk which serves no purpose except to preserve the fragile progressive voting coalition.
The progressive media consensus frequently finds the truth to be "divisive" -- by which they mean "contrary to the solidarity of the Democrat/Socialist alliance" -- and this is yet another case of that.
But there are dissident voices.
Bill Maher not only trashes Charlie Rose's Progressive Happy Shut-Up Talk on Islam as false and "naive" -- but he goes on to also trash Rose's insistence that "extremist Christians" are just as bad as Islamic Jihadists.
Bill Maher plainly despises conservative Christians, which makes his refutation of Rose's false claim all the more potent.
Maher is contemptuous of believing Christians -- But he will not accept the palpably false claims by Rose and other Happy Talk Warriors that believing Christians are engaging in female genital mutilation and murder of "apostates."
Sam Harris, another atheist, has every political reason to claim that "all religions are just exactly alike and just as bad about encouraging violence."
But he doesn't claim that, because it's not true, and he is one of the few progressives who think that a claim's patent falsity ought to count against it a bit.
After quoting Obama's various "the Islamic State is not Islamic" assurances, Harris writes:
Pondering when this scrim of pretense and delusion will be finally burned away--either by the clear light of reason or by a surfeit of horror meted out to innocents by the parties of God. Which will come first, flying cars and vacations to Mars, or a simple acknowledgment that beliefs guide behavior and that certain religious ideas--jihad, martyrdom, blasphemy, apostasy--reliably lead to oppression and murder? It may be true that no faith teaches people to massacre innocents exactly--but innocence, as the President surely knows, is in the eye of the beholder. Are apostates "innocent"? Blasphemers? Polytheists? Islam has the answer, and the answer is "no."
More British Muslims have joined the ranks of ISIS than have volunteered to serve in the British armed forces. In fact, this group has managed to attract thousands of recruits from free societies throughout the world to help build a paradise of repression and sectarian slaughter in Syria and Iraq. This is an astonishing phenomenon, and it reveals some very uncomfortable truths about the failures of multiculturalism, the inherent vulnerability of open societies, and the terrifying power of bad ideas.
[A] belief in martyrdom, a hatred of infidels, and a commitment to violent jihad are not fringe phenomena in the Muslim world. These preoccupations are supported by the Koran and numerous hadith. That is why the popular Saudi cleric Mohammad Al-Areefi sounds like the ISIS army chaplain. The man has 9.5 million followers on Twitter (twice as many as Pope Francis has). If you can find an important distinction between the faith he preaches and that which motivates the savagery of ISIS, you should probably consult a neurologist.
Understanding and criticizing the doctrine of Islam--and finding some way to inspire Muslims to reform it--is one of the most important challenges the civilized world now faces....
But there is now a large industry of obfuscation designed to protect Muslims from having to grapple with these truths.
I wrote about this basic idea myself on Friday: There is no avoiding the fact that if Islam is to live peacefully in the world, it needs a substantial reformation.
And I do not see how the West falling over itself to reassure Islam that nothing at all about it is in need of reform (or even reconsideration) is likely to spur action on that front.
Senate Races: NH, Iowa Both Tied
In Iowa, where farmer-insulting Bruce Braley is fighting to keep the senate seat in Democrat hands, Braley has only a 1% advantage over Joni Ernst, making it a statistical tie.
His rival, Joni Ernst, emerged as something of a sensation en route to winning the GOP nomination, but now she, too, is slipping in the polls amid attacks over her stated support for privatizing Social Security and sponsorship of a bill that would outlaw abortion.
With just seven weeks to go, a CNN poll released Friday gave Braley the slimmest of leads over Ernst, 49% to 48%, within the margin of error. It was in line with other surveys that showed the coin-flip race has budged ever so slightly back in his direction.
Polling has usually found an edge for Braley so I'm not sure why the LA Times gives the latest poll the gloss that it's good news for Braley. What I generally assume is that the neutral, objective media gives races the same sort of good-news-for-your-side spin that I do, less out of a desire to deceive and more out of rooting interest in one's party.
Which would be strange, given that the media is supposedly non-partisan, yet behaving exactly like an admitted partisan does.
A few weeks ago a poll put Scott Brown within two points of Jeane Shaheen. Shaheen had been leading by a somewhat comfortable margin in other polls, so there was a question as to whether this was an outlier, or real movement towards Brown.
It seems to be the latter:
Meanwhile, Politico has presidential approval at 44/56 and finds the GOP with a slight lead on immigration.
Allison Lundergan Grimes: I'm Totally Into Guns N Stuff. Pathetic.