Saturday, March 31, 2012


Hot off a study in comparative parenting, the New York Times compares the American and French systems for combating terrorism. No doubt each could learn something from the other.

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Civility unleashed 

Via a very thoughtful piece on how academia is responsible for a good part of the incivility that has affected American political and social discourse in the last thirty or forty years, a side-splitting clip from The Daily Show.

The Daily Show
Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Money politics watch 

For all the talk in the chattering classes about Mitt Romney's heavy campaign spending, Barack Obama actually has been outspending the Republican field:

Obama has spent more than $135 million - more than GOP challengers Romney and Rick Santorum combined - on his re-election apparatus, according to an Associated Press analysis of Federal Election Commission records.
Let us not have any more tedious bleating from the left about the corrupting power of money in politics.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mocking Etch-a-SketchGate 

The Ron Paul campaign takes sharp aim at the media and fellow Republicans for dwelling on the trivial.

I could not agree more.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Weird March 

The many ways in which March has visited weird weather on North America. Personally, I've loved it.

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A short note on gasoline prices and the election 

Here is an example of fun-with-data that may not mean what the author thinks it means:


The graph appears to show a correlation between the percentage of income spent on gasoline and political inclinations. The interpretation at the link suggests cause and effect:

This graph from Trevor Houser, a partner at the Rhodium Group and an energy and natural resources specialist, appears to suggest that the relationship between voting preferences and oil is incredibly strong.

A chart plotting political analyst Charlie Cook's Partisan Voting Index against gasoline expenditures as a share of personal income demonstrates the tight relationship between how much voters spend on gas and how they vote.

Houser explains that Republicans devote a higher share of their income to gasoline purchases than Democrats despite the fact that they actually pay less per gallon:

"It’s not the price of gasoline alone that matters to drivers, but how much they buy. And while my parents in Wyoming get the cheapest gas in the country, they have to drive six hours each way to find a half-decent shopping mall."
Of course, it may simply be that rural states tend to be Republican states, and that greater use of gasoline and lower incomes are directly correlated with lower population density.

My own speculation is that gasoline prices have a big impact on the mood of the average person, insofar as incremental money spent on gasoline is not available for iPads, excellent cocktails, or that long-postponed trip to Branson. That sour mood works against the incumbent, regardless of party. Dubya's background as an "oil man" exposed him to tremendous criticism over high gasoline prices. Barack Obama's incessantly reinforced image as an anti-oil greenie may end up hurting him even more.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Academic exile 

The other night I finished Charles Murray's book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010. The acknowledgments are at the end, and in the midst of great generosity Murray includes this curious paragraph (bold emphasis added):

I asked a variety of scholars to review portions of Coming Apart that either referenced them or dealt with matters on which they were expert. I will not name most of them. Being included in my acknowledgments can cause trouble for people in academia. This has led a few of them to make a public show of denouncing their acknowledgment lest their colleagues think they agree with anything I have written. But I nonetheless want to thank, even if anonymously, those who responded to my queries.
My father, who once stood up for Richard Herrnstein (who, incidentally, co-authored The Bell Curve with Murray years ago), would have understood what Murray was talking about.

In any case, why is it that leftist professors never have to worry that their more conservative colleagues will ostracize them? Or is it that the conservatives, like Murray (and, for instance, Niall Ferguson, who wrote a review at the link first above), simply expect to be ostracized by their colleagues and therefore do not worry about consorting with the other side?

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Liberals day on TigerHawk 

I passed up exercise this morning to take a quick look at the New York Times -- I know, rarely a good choice -- and read two op-ed pieces worth passing along to our worthy readers.

Bill Mahar, who has a dog in the hunt, wants us all to stop "apologizing" for, well, small rhetorical missteps.

If it weren’t for throwing conniption fits, we wouldn’t get any exercise at all. I have a better idea. Let’s have an amnesty — from the left and the right — on every made-up, fake, totally insincere, playacted hurt, insult, slight and affront. Let’s make this Sunday the National Day of No Outrage. One day a year when you will not find some tiny thing someone did or said and pretend you can barely continue functioning until they apologize. If that doesn’t work, what about this: If you see or hear something you don’t like in the media, just go on with your life. Turn the page or flip the dial or pick up your roll of quarters and leave the booth. The answer to whenever another human being annoys you is not “make them go away forever.” We need to learn to coexist, and it’s actually pretty easy to do. For example, I find Rush Limbaugh obnoxious, but I’ve been able to coexist comfortably with him for 20 years by using this simple method: I never listen to his program. The only time I hear him is when I’m at a stoplight next to a pickup truck.
Mahar is partisan as usual, but that that does not make him wrong.

Elsewhere on the same page, Nicholas Kristof explains the cognitive structure of conservatives to his liberal readers.

Conservatives may not like liberals, but they seem to understand them. In contrast, many liberals find conservative voters not just wrong but also bewildering.... One academic study asked 2,000 Americans to fill out questionnaires about moral questions. In some cases, they were asked to fill them out as they thought a “typical liberal” or a “typical conservative” would respond.

Moderates and conservatives were adept at guessing how liberals would answer questions. Liberals, especially those who described themselves as “very liberal,” were least able to put themselves in the minds of their adversaries and guess how conservatives would answer....

“The Righteous Mind,” by Jonathan Haidt, a University of Virginia psychology professor, argues that, for liberals, morality is largely a matter of three values: caring for the weak, fairness and liberty. Conservatives share those concerns (although they think of fairness and liberty differently) and add three others: loyalty, respect for authority and sanctity.

Another way of putting it is this: Americans speak about values in six languages, from care to sanctity. Conservatives speak all six, but liberals are fluent in only three. And some (me included) mostly use just one, care for victims.

“Moral psychology can help to explain why the Democratic Party has had so much difficulty connecting with voters,” writes Haidt, a former liberal who says he became a centrist while writing the book.

It is about as respectfully a rendering as one might hope for in that publication. One is forced to wonder whether anybody else at the NYT will bother with Haidt's book.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Drunk History 

Celebrities get drunk and discuss historical events, then other celebrities act it out. It's pretty awesome, but I can't embed it here. There's a little cursing but it's really funny.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Last week in Texas 

Spring flowers.

Spring in Texas

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Shakespeare's "The Two Gentlemen of Lebowski" 

AKA, The Big Lebowski written in iambic pentameter.

I love the Internet.

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Just for Fun: Questions You'd Ask The Candidates 

I think I'd probably ask: "Speaker Gingrich, as a man who's on his third wife and his third religion, and who left his previous elected office due to an ethics investigation, on what basis do you claim the credibility to decry the 'moral decline' in America to which you so often refer?"

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

When you've lost the New York Times... 

Lest you cannot conceive of the New York Times hammering on Barack Obama and Eric Holder, consider this strip from this morning's paper...

Due Process

That one definitely left a mark.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Advice to the president 

No matter how smart you think you are, it is never a good idea to attack your political opponents for ignorance. Barack Obama is clearly one with many academic liberals, who assume conservatives are the way they are out of ignorance, stupidity, or insufficient evolution. Even moderates notice this about him, and it is not flattering. Indeed, it is -- sure, I'll use the word -- unAmerican.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

A short rant on the regulation of reproduction 

It will come as no surprise that I oppose both the federal mandate to require employers -- actually, any employers -- to pay for prescription contraceptives, and the ridiculous trend in state law to impose gratuitous burdens on women who are confronting the decision to have an abortion (never mind lefty proposals to impose equally offensive burdens on men). Both left and right are amply demonstrating why such mandates are terrible for the United States and its civil discourse. Just because the Dutch, the Swedes, and the Swiss can impose mandates on their homogeneous populations does not mean that we can do or ought to try.

Talk amongst yourselves.

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The path to riches in the age of Obama 

From Yahoo's front page today, a story that lists the "fifteen richest" counties in America. Four of the top five are now located in suburban Washington, DC, and there are five other Virginia and Maryland counties in the top fifteen. Even I find that surprising.

It takes a lot of wealthy people to redirect the spending of a government that has grown as large as ours.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Gloria Allred should be careful what she wishes for 

Feminist lawyer Gloria Allred has demanded that authorities arrest Rush Limbaugh for calling Sandra Fluke a, well, bad name. Allred is basing her request on a Florida criminal statute that theoretically subjects to arrest anyone who "speaks of and concerning any woman, married or unmarried, falsely and maliciously imputing to her a want of chastity." Allred's charge is, in law, asinine, as UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh amply demonstrates here.

However, let us consider for a moment the arrest of Rush Limbaugh and what it might mean. Never mind that it would turn Rush in to a sympathetic figure, give advertisers a path back, and probably boost his audience. How would "progressive" media folk and on-air personalities -- even those who do not support the First Amendment, and there are many such people -- reconcile their hatred of Rush, their belief that words hurt more than sticks and stones, and their desire to say whatever they want about conservatives without fear of censorship? The cognitive dissonance would be, well, arresting, and -- this is the important part -- extraordinarily entertaining.

Give Gloria what she's asking for. Please.

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Friday, March 09, 2012

Unused Commentary for The Fellowship of The Ring 

By, of all people, Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn. This is amazingly funny. Just read like four or five paragraphs in.

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

The funnies 

From my Facebook feed, the morning's flow chart...

Who do I want to wipe my nose?

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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Good pics 

Winners of the world press photography contest, 2011.

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Chasing Andrew 

A closeted Hollywood conservative cries from his heart.

It's the culture, stupid.

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Are stocks still cheap? 

American stocks have run up hard since the first of the year, but by at least one measure they are still cheap:

Corporate profits that doubled since 2009 have left the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index cheaper than at all 34 peaks since 1989, even as options traders push the cost of protecting against losses to the highest in four years.

Companies in the benchmark gauge of U.S. stocks trade for 14.1 times earnings after advancing 102 percent since March 2009 to an almost four-year high last week, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Valuations are lower than at every 52-week peak since 1989.

We report, you decide. And, well, "sell in May and go away" would have worked great last year, and it may again this year.

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Sunday, March 04, 2012

Anthropogenic global warming: The skeptics' case 

An interesting and, at least to this amateur, compelling distillation of the "skeptics case" in the debate over the seriousness of anthropogenic global warming. This is an article that Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences at the Massachusetts Institute for freakin' Technology, has been making for years.

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Spring in Texas 

I went for a run yesterday along Austin's Town Lake running trail. There are flowers out here, big time.

Texas iris

Looking forward to the same back in New Jersey. Many weeks from now.

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Saturday, March 03, 2012

Gulf coast beach watch 

Have you thought about vacationing on the Gulf of Mexico, but are worried about damage to the beaches from the Deepwater Horizon spill? That would not be my biggest concern.

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Liberals and taxing the rich 

Michael Barone on "why liberals like taxing the rich." This bit is especially true:

ABC’s Charlie Gibson asked candidate Obama if he would raise capital gains taxes even if, as in the past, that brought in less revenue to the federal government.

Yes, said Obama. “I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.”

Ponder that answer for a moment. A candidate for president — president now — said he wants to take more money from people who earned it even though doing so would produce less money for the government.

The philosophy that has to be behind that answer is also behind the Obama administration budgets that have proposed capping the charitable deduction for high earners. The clearly intended result would be a massive transfer of money from the voluntary sector of society into government.

Opposing Barack Obama on the last point is especially important: If we destroy the uniquely American propensity to do good works through private organizations, we will alter the character of the country forever. Not only will we have concentrated even more power in the central government, but we will have specifically undermined one of the principal mechanisms by which we bind our communities together -- charitable, civic, religious, and other voluntary groups that do good works.

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Friday, March 02, 2012

Mitt gets a huge endorsement 

Ted Nugent is now on Team Mittens.

Officially, I do not care what celebrities think about politicians. This works well for me, because most celebrities are communists, or at least like communists. Unofficially, though, it is hard not to enjoy the spectacle of a hard rocker endorsing an unreconstructed corporate tool. Ain't America great?!?

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Another important Iowan 

Another Iowan, another moment of greatness.

The Hawkeye State definitely punches above weight.

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Santorum vs LDS 

An interesting comparison between Rick Santorum and the official LDS stance on issues. Neither are particularly progressive, but LDS usually comes across as less judgemental and sanctimonious. Your mileage may vary, however.

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Thursday, March 01, 2012

Governor Awesome and the little truant kid 

There are natural politicians, and Chris Christie is one of them...

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Two Laws That Make Me Livid 

First of all, in Chicago, it's illegal to film the police. Like, felony illegal. "Even if a cop is caught clobbering a protester on the streets of Chicago, recording the incident can land both amateur photographers and seasoned journalists alike behind bars, where they could face sentencing on par with charges of rape and murder."

Second of all, a "Trespassing" bill makes the peoples lawful right to peaceably assemble completely illegal if the Secret Service is in the area, or if it's just "an event of national significance", like a political convention, or the Super Bowl.

Why do people have to protect themselves from the Government so much? You know that when there's a playground bully, the best way to get him to leave you alone is to punch him back. We should punch them back.

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Mystery Photo! 

Where is this building, and what is its significance?

mystery photo

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Andrew Breitbart has died 


With a terrible feeling of pain and loss we announce the passing of Andrew Breitbart.

Andrew passed away unexpectedly from natural causes shortly after midnight this morning in Los Angeles.

We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior.

Andrew lived boldly, so that we more timid souls would dare to live freely and fully, and fight for the fragile liberty he showed us how to love.

Andrew recently wrote a new conclusion to his book, Righteous Indignation:

I love my job. I love fighting for what I believe in. I love having fun while doing it. I love reporting stories that the Complex refuses to report. I love fighting back, I love finding allies, and—famously—I enjoy making enemies. Three years ago, I was mostly a behind-the-scenes guy who linked to stuff on a very popular website. I always wondered what it would be like to enter the public realm to fight for what I believe in. I’ve lost friends, perhaps dozens. But I’ve gained hundreds, thousands—who knows?—of allies. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror, and I sleep very well at night.
Andrew is at rest, yet the happy warrior lives on, in each of us.
We have lost a very creative voice, one of a recent crop of conservatives who took longstanding tactics of the left and used them for the right.

UPDATE: Left and right are already politicizing Andrew's death on Facebook and blogs, and I suspect he would have preferred it that way. There are those, even on the left, who appreciated him. Josh Marshall, among others, is generous in his obituary.

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