Friday, April 30, 2010

What it is:

In the news:
Earlier this month, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) signed legislation allowing “concealed carry permit holders to bring loaded handguns” into establishments that serve alcohol. The law allows permit holders to carry guns in restaurants, “as long as the holders do not consume alcohol.”
This gun stuff is a fetish, pure and simple. What I find interesting is that these folks can’t rest until they can bring their guns anywhere, even to places that were deemed off-limits until recently:

national parks

I’m pretty sure that hospital delivery rooms would prefer not to have someone show up packing heat, but if there was a prohibition of such action, the gun fanatics would raise holy hell until they could bring their pistol or rifle in with them.

Assertively going to location X with your gun strikes me as analogous to mammals pissing to mark their territory.

Yup, that’s exactly what it is.

(I know the pistol/penis parallel has been discussed before, and sometimes it’s overdone, but in this case – “territory marking” – it really fits.)


You know things are totally insane on the right when ...

Rick Moran of Right Wing Nut House calls out Brietbart's BigGoverment for the bullshit Obama-SWAT-team-hassling-harmless-old-lady-Teabaggers story.


Looks like the oil spill will be the big story for the next several weeks:

Because there sure isn't much else going on. Legislation is thin. Elections of all types are far off. About the only thing that could compete would be a financial crisis.

This spill will be different in one sense: We all have many more quality image recording devices and the means to share (digital cameras, Flickr, YouTube), so expect to see some pretty amazing (though disturbing) scenes of how the spill affects much of the Gulf Coast.

UPDATE: CBS reports:
In Congress, Republicans like House Minority John Boehner have yet to speak out about drilling. One House GOP leadership aide says that the party is staying quiet because they are wary about coming on too strong for drilling offshore while the ocean is still on fire ...
Yes, it would probably be best to be silent while the ocean is on fire.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hurrah for our adoption of base-10 notation:
April 29 (Bloomberg) -- Since the U.S. recession began in December 2007, Congress has extended the length of unemployment benefits for the jobless three times. Now, the lawmakers may have reached their limit.

They are quietly drawing the line at 99 weeks of aid, a mark that hundreds of thousands of Americans have already reached. In coming months, the number of those who will receive their final government check is projected to top 1 million.


Obama to nominate housing bubble idiot to the Fed:

In the news:
President Barack Obama on Thursday plans to name San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President Janet Yellen to be vice chairman of the U.S. central bank and two others to fill Fed board vacancies, sources familiar with the process said on Wednesday.
Yellen in an October 2007 speech: (emp add)
Here in California, the rise and fall of house prices has been a lot like the nation's, only more so. In 2004 and 2005, many homeowners gleefully watched the meter tick up and up on their house values. I know I did.
By 2005, it was clear that a housing bubble was likely and by late 2007 - when she made the speech - it was definitely crazytime with literally only months before the bubble popped.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

To hell with Bill Clinton:

In the news:
Bill Clinton Sees 'More Immigrants' As A Way To Reduce Deficit

Former President Bill Clinton enthusiastically weighed into the blistering national debate on immigration today with a resounding assertion that America needs more immigrants -- not fewer -- to ensure its long-term fiscal future.

At a symposium on deficit reduction today, Clinton said that one key to avoiding massive debt is to maintain a good ratio between people paying into the system, and those receiving payouts (through such programs as Social Security.)

That means more jobs and more people working, he said. "Which to me means more immigrants."
Looking to immigrants as a solution to budget problems is pathetic. First of all, the problem lies substantially with the Bush tax cuts and the Bush wars. Second, if we adopted a Europe/Canada/Japan healthcare system, we wouldn't have any problems whatsoever. Bill Clinton's failure to argue those points shows that he'd rather lower the standard of living (overcrowding and strain on existing infrastructre) and lower labor's bargaining power.


Monday, April 26, 2010

This is the way things should be:

Liberty University selects Glenn Beck as graduation speaker

Wise. Mature. Sensible. Entirely correct.


Hey, now we're talking serious numbers:

Yield on Greek Two-Year Bonds jumps to 13.5%

This whole "everything is under control" attitude of the last six months was bound to end sooner or later.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Public Service Announcement:

A rogue antivirus program called Antispyware Soft appears to have (re)erupted in April and can get on your machine* even if you have genuine anti-virus software running (as I do: AVG on XP machine). From
Once installed, Antivirus Soft will be configured to start automatically when Windows starts. Once running it will scan your computer and display numerous infections, but will state it will not remove them until you purchase the program. In reality, the infected files it detects are all fake and do not actually exist on your computer.

This program also uses aggressive techniques to protect itself from being removed by anti-malware programs. When the Antivirus Soft process is running it will close almost any running program while falsely stating that they are infected. Antivirus Soft will also change the Proxy settings in Internet Explorer so that you cannot browse to any web site other than the site for Antivirus Soft so that you can purchase the program. It does this so that you cannot browse the web to find removal guides or download software that will help you remove the infection. Using these two methods, the program essentially ransoms the normal use of your computer until you purchase the program or use the guide below to remove the infection.
(watch video here)

I advise that, as a defensive mechanism, you download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware module now, so that you can run it (in SAFE MODE) if you get infected. Also, you should run MSIE and under Tools/Connections/LAN uncheck the USE PROXY setting, which is part of the take-over.

* when I got infected, it was not from suspect websites (e.g. adult or gaming oriented - which is often a source). I was using the FireFox browser (v 3.0) while reading the usual political/financial blogs that many of us visit: Salon, Calculated Risk, Kevin Drum. Although it's possible (?) the infection came from an MP3 podcast from a legit radio station.


Friday, April 23, 2010

He's only asking questions:

Jonah Goldberg, in Commentary, has written an essay, What Kind of Socialist is Barack Obama.

Indeed. It makes you wonder about other things. For instance, what kind of serial-killer is Goldberg? A rash and impulsive one, a methodical and patient one, or some other kind?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

If Sue Lowden becomes Nevada's next senator ...

... then it's time to stop following politics. Her remark that people should barter with doctors for services - which she has repeatedly defended - shows that she not a serious candidate for any national office. (ref 1, 2)

UPDATE: The Economist blogs on this story:
It's not clear how far Ms Lowden wants to take this idea of widening the barter economy, but it could have far-reaching ramifications, not just for health-care reform but for financial-sector reform as well. For example, payment in kind would eliminate many of the risky innovations that led to the financial crisis. It would be virtually impossible to structure a chicken-based CDO; sure, you could find buyers for the breast tranche easily enough, but who would take all those necks and feet? Leverage rules become much less necessary when you can only hedge with items that actually exist; it's hard to imagine the notional value of chicken-based hedges greatly exceeding the number of actual chickens on the planet. And all this could be accomplished without any new taxes.

That said, I don't think this paper can come out in support of a sharp move towards reliance on a barter economy. The consensus weighs firmly in favour of the view that the existence of money has been good for the economy.


No Epistemic Closure at the National Review's Corner:

Jim Manzi, responding in a way to an implicit challenge that the right doesn't take a critical look at some of its members, does a pretty good take-down of Mark Levin's book, Liberty and Tyranny, in particular, the chapter on global warming. A excerpt (from a longish post):
[Levin] gets to the key question on page 184 (eBook edition):
[D]oes carbon dioxide actually affect temperature levels?
Levin does not attempt to answer this question by making a fundamental argument that proceeds from evidence available for common inspection through a defined line of logic to a scientific view. Instead, he argues from authority by citing experts who believe that the answer to this question is pretty much no. Who are they? An associate professor of astrophysics, a geologist, and an astronaut. (...)

He goes on to cite a petition “rejecting the theory of human-caused global warming” sponsored by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and signed by more than 31,000 scientists. There are a few problems with this survey that Levin doesn’t mention. More than 20,000 of these “scientists” lack PhDs in any field. There was very little quality control: At least one person signed it as Spice Girl Geri Halliwell. (...)

On one side of the scale of Levin’s argument from authority, then, we have three scientists speaking outside their areas of central expertise, plus a dodgy petition. What’s on the other side of the scale that Levin doesn’t mention to his readers?

Among the organizations that don’t reject the notion of man-made global warming are: the U.S. National Academy of Sciences; The Royal Society; the national science academies of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand. Russia, South Africa, and Sweden; the U.S. National Research Council; the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the American Chemical Society; the American Physical Society; the American Geophysical Union; and the World Meteorological Organization. That is, Levin’s argument from authority is empty.
The response to that at the Corner? Two posts supporting Levin. One by Andy McCarthy and one by Kathryn Jean Lopez. Neither of them discuss the merits of Manzi's argument. They either complain about the tone or say that Levin is a good guy.

UPDATE: Anonymous Liberal has two posts (the first since going silent in November). Both about the Epistemic Closure of the right. The first was a general overview. The second was an observation of the Manzi post and Corner reaction (similar to this blog's view)


Goldman Sachs worse than Bear?

Regarding the SEC suit against Goldman Sachs, Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism writes: (emp add)
SEC Sues Goldman for Fraud

A number of journalists and commentators ... have taken issue with the fact that some dealers (most notably Goldman and DeutscheBank) had programs of heavily subprime synthetic collateralized debt obligations which they used to take short positions. Needless to say, the firms have been presumed to have designed these CDOs so that their short would pay off, meaning that they designed the CDOs to fail. The reason this is problematic is that most investors would assume that a dealer selling a product it had underwritte was acting as a middleman, intermediating between the views of short and long investors. Having the firm act to design the deal to serve its own interests doesn’t pass the smell test (one benchmark: Bear Stearns refused to sell synthetic CDOs on behalf of John Paulson, who similarly wanted to use them to establish a short position. How often does trading oriented firm turn down a potentially profitable trade because they don’t like the ethics?)
Bear Stearns wasn't particularly liked on Wall Street. From
... Bear Stearns's aggressiveness earned it an unsavory reputation. The firm was known to wage proxy battles against its own clients, as it did in 1982 against Global Natural Resources after deciding that Global's management had undervalued its assets and could realize greater profits. In 1986, Bear Stearns developed an option agreement that essentially allowed clients to buy stock under Bear Stearns's name, a tactic that facilitated corporate takeover attempts. (...)

Bear Stearns became the focus of negative attention in 1997, however, when it came under investigation by the SEC for its role as a clearing broker for a smaller brokerage named A.R. Baron, which had gone bankrupt in 1996 and defrauded its customers of $75 million. Traditionally, courts had not held clearing firms accountable for losses incurred by the customers of their client firms, but in this case Bear Stearns was accused of overstepping its bounds as a clearinghouse by continuing to process trades, loan money, and extend credit to Baron in the face of mounting evidence that the firm, then in serious financial jeopardy, was manipulating stock prices and conducting unauthorized trading while raiding the accounts of its customers.
So, Bear Stearns wouldn't deal with the John Paulson paper, but Goldman Sachs did. Bear eventually went down and got purchased by JPMorgan Chase. Goldman Sachs, on the other hand and with lots of AIG money, survived the 2008 bank crisis and thrives today.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

You can't make this up:

Mark Theissen, mega-fan of torture, has penned an op-ed about - get this - pain.

But not the pain a adult might experience while being tortured. No, it's the issue of what pain (if any) a fetus might experience. Presumed abortion-related pain was part of the reasoning behind Nebraska's just-enacted law banning abortions after 20 weeks.

Thiessen doesn't come out and outright defend the Nebraska law. But he clearly tilts in favor of it and ends his essay with:
... the consensus will continue to grow that pre-born babies are indeed human beings, deserving of our love, our compassion and, most important, our protection.
But apparently there should be no compassion or protections for suspects picked up in the chaos of war.


If Obama nominates Diane Wood to the Supreme Court ...

She'll be only 2 years younger than Clarence Thomas. He's already had 19 years on the court. There is no way she can match him in terms of expected years-of-service.


I wonder if this story has legs:
Republicans Mitt Romney and Michael Steele headlined a Republican National Committee fundraiser six days ago at the home of the hedge fund titan at the center of the Security and Exchange Committee's fraud charges against Goldman Sachs.

A spokesman for the RNC confirmed the Tuesday evening event at the Manhattan home of John Paulson, who made a fortune betting against the housing market, and whom Goldman is accused of working to structure products sold to unwitting investors.
Probably not.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

You deside:

Over at Slate, Jacob Weisberg has written a short essay subtitled Who Killed the Responsible Republican? Bill Kristol, of course. It's gotten some attention from the blogs.

Of interest is this comment from a reader: (minor spelling errors corrected)
Responsible Republicans? That's just another name for a RHINO. My fellow Republicans should block every single bill coming out of this Communist government, even budgets. They should filibuster every single bill in the Senate and refuse to confirm anyone, including Supreme Court justices. One last thing: fellow Republicans need to arm themselves heavily, as this country is certainly heading for a revolution. We're going to need to build a lot more prison in order to house the millions of Communists and terrorist sympathizers (aka Democrats) in this country, before they destroy us.
Question: Is this for real, or a parody?


Saturday, April 17, 2010

I like this theme:

At the Los Angeles Times, this story: (excerpts)
Pointless deals line Wall Street pockets, Goldman Sachs suit shows

The real issue isn't what Goldman knew or didn't know about the larger economy. The issue is that Wall Street's business model has become corrupted into one dependent on creating transactions that spin financial wheels to virtually no economic end, merely to generate fees and profits.

You see, the synthetic financial instruments and insurance contracts on subprime mortgage securities at the center of the commission's case didn't have anything to do with raising capital for the broad economy, much less helping to expand the nation's housing stock or ownership by financing the building and purchase of homes. (...)

The SEC complaint concerns an April 2007 transaction called ABACUS 2007-AC1, cooked up by a Goldman employee named Fabrice Tourre ...

... the ABACUS deal wasn't a mortgage or a bucket of mortgages. It wasn't a mortgage-backed security or a portfolio of mortgage-backed securities. It wasn't a collateralized debt obligation, which is a security backed by securities backed by mortgages. It was a "synthetic" version of the latter, which is to say an investment that tracked the performance of certain collateralized debt obligations without actually requiring ownership of them. (...)

In other words it was four degrees of separation, maybe five, from anything that provided money to a human being to buy, improve, or refinance a home. (...)

Let's not pretend that Goldman is unique in its impulse to treat high finance as a self-contained game. This is the way Wall Street has operated for years: An enormous amount of effort has gone into ginning up outlandishly complex deals that are miles removed from the business of economic growth. Bankers take home millions of dollars in bonuses for these achievements, while the economy at large stagnates for want of capital.
The question remains, why did anybody purchase these synthetic instruments? Maybe it was a (futile) search for high returns.


No time for laughing:

At TPM, this lead paragraph:
On The Daily Show last night, Jon Stewart called out Fox News for insinuating that the logo for the Nuclear Summit was actually a coded message to Islamic nations.
You can watch the video at that link. Of interest, this comment exchange:
Seriously what is left to do with Fox and the folks that watch and listen to their silliness, but laugh out loud.

I would agree, except for all those dittoheads who believe everything that Fox, Rush, etc. ad nauseum spew forth on a daily basis! The Right has truly entered parody land. But no one should be laughing.
And at Gawker (which also has the video), this comment:
I think Jon Stewart is hilarious, but this shit is bone-deep crazy. The people at Fox News are inciting the most vulnerable (ignorant/mentally unstable) members of our society to violence and hatred. This is serious shit.
It is serious when a professed news channel peddles nonsense which is meant to portray Obama as a secret Muslim.

UPDATE: In a different context, but with the same reaction, here are Charles Blow's final words in his essay about attending a Tea Party Rally:
Thursday night I saw a political minstrel show devised for the entertainment of those on the rim of obliviousness and for those engaged in the subterfuge of intolerance. I was not amused.


Friday, April 16, 2010


That's what Obama was yesterday, or so The Hill reports: (emp add)
President Barack Obama struck a hyperpartisan note Thursday, telling Democrats that he was "amused" by the Tax Day Tea Party rallies.

Obama, addressing a Democratic National Committee (DNC) fundraiser in Miami, did little to endear himself to the Tea Party groups protesting around the country, saying "they should be saying thank you" because of the tax cuts he has signed into law.

The president went as far as to say that this week's special election in Florida, which was won by Democrat Ted Deutch, was portrayed by Republicans as "a referendum on healthcare, a referendum on the stimulus."

"And you know what, it was," Obama said to applause.

Obama continued to dare Republicans to run on a platform of repealing healthcare reform, telling the audience "they won't be very successful."
Wow. That's serving up some pretty raw meat to the crowd:
  • he is amused
  • opponents should say thank you
  • Republicans won't be very successful
Extremely tough talk from Obama. He really should tone it down.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Health Care Sharing:

You'll be hearing a lot about that from now on. The first time I'd heard about it was on Friday's Limbaugh show when a caller extolled the virtues of a sharing plan - which had some sort of connection to a church or faith organization. Limbaugh didn't know what it was about and said that you have to be careful with some of these kinds of operations - it might be a scam.

Over at The American Prospect, there is an article on this subject, The Lord Is My Insurer. There's a lot of conformity demanded to participate (religious & social), but here's the basics of the operation:
[Members] must agree to pay their membership fee and monthly share ...

Members pay for their medical costs out of pocket, and submit their receipts to the ministry, which then "publishes" members? "needs" in a monthly newsletter. There is a $100,000 cap on reimbursements, and certain medical conditions, including some pre-existing conditions, pregnancies of single mothers, abortions, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and sexually transmitted diseases, are excluded. Each member then sends their monthly "share" to a member who has a published "need."
There is this critique:
[T]he National Association of Insurance Commissioners has consumer-protection concerns about [Health Care Sharing Ministries], noting, "Such arrangements are not insurance and the participants do not have the protections available to purchasers of licensed insurance plans." Michael McRaith, director of the Illinois Department of Insurance, says, "This is not an issue of whether faith-based communities are appropriate vehicles to share health-care costs. The issue is: Are consumers in fact receiving what they?ve been told they?re paying for?" Unlike conventional insurance companies, McRaith says, sharing arrangements are not required to maintain reserves to pay out claims; the contracts are not subject to the same conventions and interpretations as insurance contracts; and consumers do not have recourse to state regulators or private litigation if their claims are denied.
Looks like a shaky system for health care. Limbaugh might have been right to surmise that, at the very least, it's a risky venture.


Monday, April 12, 2010

How Sullivan described a photo on his blog:

In this post:

(Photo: torture supporters Liz and Dick Cheney, at a party for torture supporter Brit Hume, at a party at the pro-torture Fox News Corporation. By Brendan Hoffman/Getty.)
What's he getting at?


Nothing "indelicate" about it:

Josh Marshall:
An Indelicate Question

Here's a question I'd like to hear people's answer to. We're hearing a lot of names tossed out as Supreme Court nominee possibilities. But here's a question my mind keeps turning back to. How old should a Supreme Court nominee be? Not for their ability to do the job necessarily but, given the governance stakes involved, for their ability to do it well for a long period of time?

We all know that life is unpredictable. Someone in their forties can be befallen by terrible illness and someone like Justice Stevens can keep on going alert and in apparent good health on the verge of 90. But given the odds, does it make sense for the president to put someone on the Court who is already 60 or over? Scalia was 50 when he joined the court in 1986. Thomas was a mere 43. Alito was a comparative old 56.
Because of the increasing tendency of Republican presidents to nominate young justices, along with life tenure on the court, it means that Democratic presidents should do the same - until the Constitution is amended to prevent this sort of lifespan-lottery that determines the character of the Supreme Court.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Limbaugh on the Upper Big Branch mine disaster:

Was there no union responsibility for improving mine safety? Where was the union here? Where was the union? The union is generally holding these companies up demanding all kinds of safety. Why were these miners continuing to work in what apparently was an unsafe atmosphere?
The mine was not unionized.


Friday, April 09, 2010

A puzzle:

The lastest news on the Catholic molestation story is about a priest in California and a letter the now-Pope Benedict wrote. But there's something odd about the report. From the story, a rearrangement of elements to make clear the chronology: (emp add)
[Rev. Stephen Kiesle] had been sentenced in 1978 to three years' probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two young boys in a San Francisco Bay area church rectory.

As his probation ended in 1981, Kiesle asked to leave the priesthood and the diocese submitted papers to Rome to defrock him.

The diocese recommended removing Kiesle (KEEZ'-lee) from the priesthood in 1981, the year Ratzinger was appointed to head the Vatican office that shared responsibility for disciplining abusive priests.

The case then languished for four years at the Vatican before Ratzinger finally wrote to Oakland Bishop John Cummins. It was two more years before Kiesle was removed; during that time he continued to do volunteer work with children through the church.

In the November 1985 letter, Ratzinger says the arguments for removing Kiesle were of "grave significance" but added that such actions required very careful review and more time. He also urged the bishop to provide Kiesle with "as much paternal care as possible" while awaiting the decision ...

The future pope also noted that any decision to defrock Kiesle must take into account the "good of the universal church" ...
If the priest wanted out, and the diocese agreed, then why wait at all?

This is not a case of a priest being sheltered by the Catholic church at the priest's request.

So why did it unfold the way it did?

I don't know much about the Catholic church, but this sure looks like a case of theology dictating action. I'm guessing that priests are deemed to be in some sort of sacred bondage with God, and that puts them into a different category from everybody else. In addition, the priest is part of the collective and can't be tossed out summarily without, somehow, injuring the church.

An organization that works according to that principle will find itself repeatedly in trouble, at least to most observers. The Catholic church will be seen as acting slowly to dismiss priests who do all manner of illegal or unsavory acts.

Although I wonder if priests that supported "liberation theology" were defrocked in a similar (i.e. slow) manner. Is the Catholic church evenhanded when it comes to expulsion for different acts?


Obama's pick to replace Stevens:

Should be a liberal thirty-five year old Asian female (who visits all four of her grandparents on weekends). You know, somebody from a demographic with the longest life span.


Jesse Ventura on Fox:

Highly recommended that you watch the video (or at least read the summary).


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Palin quote for 8 April 2010:

Sarah Palin on Sean Hannity about President Obama’s nuclear review that promises not to threaten nuclear action against a country in compliance with international proliferation standards:
"It’s kind of like getting out there on the playground, a bunch of kids ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, ‘Go ahead, punch me in the face and I’m not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me.’”
The new treaty's provisions are "kind of like" the playground scenario Palin suggests. Her ability to simplify complex problems is a true gift. This country should be grateful that she's out there spreading the message that, if the United States was a seven year old kid let out for recess, it's pure folly to brandish a nuclear arms treaty at the other classmates. How many times have we made that very same mistake when we were so very young and innocent?

But let's not give Palin all the credit here. She's clearly benefited from the strategic thinking of Michelle Bachmann who joined her for a meeting of the minds.

UPDATE: For an even more cerebral analysis of Obama's foreign policy, Liz Cheney has a boffo speech (at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference) where she points out his multiple failings.


Jonathan Chait is right about this:

The Quintessential Fox News Image


Screenshot of the day:

Thanks guys.


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

What about that other part?

Virginia governor Bob McDonald is getting some heat for his declaring April to be Confederate History Month. That declaration reads: (emp add)
WHEREAS, April is the month in which the people of Virginia joined the Confederate States of America in a four year war between the states for independence that concluded at Appomattox Courthouse; and

WHEREAS, Virginia has long recognized her Confederate history, the numerous civil war battlefields that mark every region of the state, the leaders and individuals in the Army, Navy and at home who fought for their homes and communities and Commonwealth in a time very different than ours today; and

WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to reflect upon our Commonwealth’s shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present; and

WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history; and

WHEREAS, Confederate historical sites such as the White House of the Confederacy are open for people to visit in Richmond today; and

WHEREAS, all Virginians can appreciate the fact that when ultimately overwhelmed by the insurmountable numbers and resources of the Union Army, the surviving, imprisoned and injured Confederate soldiers gave their word and allegiance to the United States of America, and returned to their homes and families to rebuild their communities in peace, following the instruction of General Robert E. Lee of Virginia, who wrote that, “...all should unite in honest efforts to obliterate the effects of war and to restore the blessings of peace."; and

WHEREAS, this defining chapter in Virginia’s history should not be forgotten, but instead should be studied, understood and remembered by all Virginians, both in the context of the time in which it took place, but also in the context of the time in which we live, and this study and remembrance takes on particular importance as the Commonwealth prepares to welcome the nation and the world to visit Virginia for the Sesquicentennial Anniversary of the Civil War, a four-year period in which the exploration of our history can benefit all;

If you're going to talk about "the people of Virginia" joining the Confederacy, then you've got to include West Virginia, which also was in the Confederacy for a few years. And then you have to explain why it seceded. (The historical developments were fairly complex.

McDonald should have issued a joint declaration with West Virginia celebrating the Confederacy. But that would never happen.



Over at TNR, there's an interesting essay, What Does Palinspeak Mean?

Palin is given to meandering phraseology of a kind suggesting someone more commenting on impressions as they enter and leave her head rather than constructing insights about them

Part of why Palin speaks the way she does is that she has grown up squarely within a period of American history when the old-fashioned sense of a speech as a carefully planned recitation, and public pronouncements as performative oratory, has been quite obsolete.
The most concrete observation by the writer, John McWhorter, is this:
Palin frequently displaces statements with an appended “there,” as in “We realize that more and more Americans are starting to see the light there...” But where? Why the distancing gesture? At another time, she referred to Condoleezza Rice trying to “forge that peace.” That peace? You mean that peace way over there — as opposed to the peace that you as Vice-President would have been responsible for forging? She’s far, far away from that peace.

All of us use there and that in this way in casual speech — it’s a way of placing topics as separate from us on a kind of abstract “desktop” that the conversation encompasses. “The people in accounting down there think they can just ....” But Palin, doing this even when speaking to the whole nation, is no further outside of her head than we are when talking about what’s going on at work over a beer. The issues, American people, you name it, are “there” — in other words, not in her head 24/7. She hasn’t given them much thought before; they are not her. They’re that, over there.

This reminds me of toddlers who speak from inside their own experience in a related way: they will come up to you and comment about something said by a neighbor you’ve never met, or recount to you the plot of an episode of a TV show they have no way of knowing you’ve ever heard of. Palin strings her words together as if she were doing it for herself
The writer goes on to look at various utterances that Palin has assembled, and finds peculiarities (e.g. converting an adjective to an adverb because - look out! - it's got to "make sense" with a noun that's suddenly emerged from her thoughts).

While this is mostly armchair analysis and speculation, what I'd really be interested to know is, how well does Palin communicate in a task-oriented environment? Fishing. Driving to point A. Assembling a bicycle. Does she speak in the manner that most of us expect of her, or does she clearly articulate the what, the how, the where, necessary to move forward? Does she give the impression that necessary equipment is "there" (where it should be), when in fact it's not? Only someone who has seen her function in a task-oriented environment would know.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Shorter David Brooks:
Glum about the economy and the future of this country? Don't worry folks, in the coming years the United States population will surge. A whole lot. And that enormous labor pool, by my reckoning, will get paid really well (just ignore the fact that it's really businesses that benefit from such situations).


Monday, April 05, 2010

Who done it?

Over at FrumForum, what we'd call a moderate Republican has penned How the GOP Purged Me.

Of interest are two excerpts. First this:
I voted for Nixon and for Reagan. ... I voted for Clinton, twice. I thought he was the best Republican president since Ike. No, I did not make a mistake. Bill Clinton was closer ideologically to Eisenhower and Nixon than Bush I and II could ever be. I thought that Clinton practiced and articulated true Republican ideology in his fiscal discipline, job creation, smart tax cuts, and foreign policy better than anyone since Ike.
I agree, which makes me wonder why so many Democrats were, and remain, thrilled by Bill Clinton.

Then there's this:
Then something happened in the 1990s. The leaders of the GOP grew belligerent. They became too religious, almost zealots. They became intolerant. They began searching for purity in Republican thought and doctrine. Ideology blinded them. I continued to vote Republican, but with a certain unease. Deep down I knew that a schism happened between the modern Republican Party and the one I grew up with. During the fight over the impeachment of President Clinton, the ugly face of the Republican Party was brought to the surface. Empty rhetoric, ideological intolerance, vengeance, and religious zealotry became the common currency.
That development is something I associate with Newt Gingrich and his takeover of the Republican party. Gingrich really did start the move to eliminate moderates from within the Republican party.


Thursday, April 01, 2010

Shorter Ross Douthat:
As far as the priest abuse stories go, 'something in the moral/cultural/theological climate of the 1960s and 1970s encouraged a spike in sexual abuse', and I should know, I was there to witness it.