Thursday, January 31, 2008

Political ethics

Bill Clinton never ceases to amaze. James Taranto summarizes a development:
The New York Times uncovers a scandal involving a former president
Late on Sept. 6, 2005, a private plane carrying the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra touched down in Almaty, a ruggedly picturesque city in southeast Kazakhstan. Several hundred miles to the west a fortune awaited: highly coveted deposits of uranium that could fuel nuclear reactors around the world. And Mr. Giustra was in hot pursuit of an exclusive deal to tap them.

Unlike more established competitors, Mr. Giustra was a newcomer to uranium mining in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. But what his fledgling company lacked in experience, it made up for in connections. Accompanying Mr. Giustra on his luxuriously appointed MD-87 jet that day was a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton.

Upon landing on the first stop of a three-country philanthropic tour, the two men were whisked off to share a sumptuous midnight banquet with Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, whose 19-year stranglehold on the country has all but quashed political dissent.

Mr. Nazarbayev walked away from the table with a propaganda coup, after Mr. Clinton expressed enthusiastic support for the Kazakh leader's bid to head an international organization that monitors elections and supports democracy. Mr. Clinton's public declaration undercut both American foreign policy and sharp criticism of Kazakhstan's poor human rights record by, among others, Mr. Clinton's wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Less than 48 hours later, Giustra's company signed a deal giving it the rights to buy into three Kazakh uranium projects. Months later, Giustra secretly donated $31.3 million to Mr. Clinton's charitable foundations.

Shared sacrifices make us feel good about ourselves

To ensure a better future, people in ancient times made sacrifices to their various gods. The instinct that shared sacrifice makes things better must be part of the wiring of the human mind. The idea continues to have adherents. For example, in Denver yesterday, Bill Clinton said:
"We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren."
It is possible that such a statement could represent the result of a thoughtful policy analysis. However, that does not appear to be the case here, though, because in the same speech, Clinton made an apparently contradictory suggestion that a good energy plan would increase jobs and wages.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Teacher's view of government schools

Vin Suprynowicz discusses the views on government-schools of a winner of New York's Teacher of the Year award:
In July 1991, John Taylor Gatto, New York's Teacher of the Year, quit, saying he was tired of working for an institution that crippled the ability of children to learn. He explained why in an essay published that month in The Wall Street Journal.

Let's look at that essay...:

"Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history," Mr. Gatto begins. "It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents.

"Socrates foresaw if teaching became a formal profession, something like this would happen. Professional interest is served by making what is easy to do seem hard; by subordinating the laity to the priesthood. School is too vital a jobs-project, contract giver and protector of the social order to allow itself to be 're-formed.' It has political allies to guard its marches, that's why reforms come and go without changing much. ...

"David learns to read at age four; Rachel, at age nine: In normal development, when both are 13, you can't tell which one learned first -- the five-year spread means nothing at all. But in school I label Rachel 'learning disabled' and slow David down a bit, too. For a paycheck, I adjust David to depend on me to tell him when to go and stop. He won't outgrow that dependency. I identify Rachel as discount merchandise, 'special education' fodder. She'll be locked in her place forever.

"In 30 years of teaching kids rich and poor I almost never met a learning disabled child; hardly ever met a gifted and talented one either. Like all school categories, these are sacred myths. ..."

I found his point about David vs. Rachel interesting because I had had similar observations that: (a) kids learn when they are ready, (b) forcing them to learn before they are ready is a waste, and (c) the age when they first ready to learn something, such as reading or arithmetic, as long as they learn it, very often has little or no influence on their success in adult life. As an example, for the past several decades, algebra has been taught to younger and younger students: Algebra, for example, was taught to 10th graders 40 years ago, then 8th graders, then 7th graders. Yet, when these younger students reach college, there is no evidence that they are any further ahead than the prior generation. If anything, the evidence is the opposite. This observation contrasts strongly with the modern educational system which focuses quite obsessively on achieving learning at the earliest age.

Hat tip: Phi Beta Cons and Ed Driscoll.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The wages of socialism

California farmers get their water at subsidized rates. Now, they figure that they can make a profit by reselling it to California's cities.

Democrats vote their race

Bill Clinton said yesterday: "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here." Depressingly, the facts seem to support Clinton's racist spin as the AP reports: "About half the voters were black, according to polling place interviews, and four out of five of them supported Obama." Similarly, 3 out of 4 So. Carolina's white Democrats voted for white candidates.

PREVIOUSLY, "Democrats urged to 'vote their race'"

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Be careful what you say

Bill Clinton told Sen. Obama: "I was fighting against those ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago." Once a sleazy person has been identified, it is natural that in not too long a Clinton connection would surface: Drudge found a photo of Bill and Hillary posing with "slum landlord" Rezko.

(This is all probably unfair to Mr. Rezko: I have no reason to doubt that his ethical standards are higher than those of the Clintons.)

Legal battle: tree hugger v. global warmist

The law in California says that homeowners are not allowed to let their trees grow if the trees block more than 10% of their neighbor's solar cells. In Sunnyvale, CA, Richard Treanor and Carolynn Bissett, an environmentally conscious couple who drive a prius, planted redwood trees in their backyard. After the trees were planted, neighbor Mark Vargas put solar cells on his roof which charge his electric car. Everything was fine until the trees did what redwood trees do: they grew. Vargas complained and the San Jose Mercury News reports that the county DA is now demanding that the trees be cut. Treanor and Bissett say they have incurred $25,000 in legal fees defending the right of redwoods to grow.

Kurt Newick, a solar cell salesman who also happens to be chairman of the local Sierra Club global warming committee, sides with solar cells which he says reduce global warming more than trees. On the other hand, supposing someone started cutting down, say, national forests, in order to use the land for solar cells, don't you think that the Sierra Club would change its mind.

The law in question was written by Assemblyman Chuck Imbrecht, a Ventura Republican, and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 1978, the height of Pres. Carter's energy crisis.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

CNN makes peace with Obama

At Sen. Obama's urging, CNN has discovered the need to be "unbiased." They have decided not to have Clinton partisans comment on Sen. Obama. Thus, CNN commentators James Carville, Paul Begala, and Robert Zimmerman will be off the network until the Democratic primary has reached its conclusion. CNN political director, Sam Feist, explained: "As we got closer to the voting, we made a decision to make sure that all the analysts that are on are non-aligned," That, of course, is not a concept that anyone would expect them to apply when a Democrat is running against a Republican.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Despite being increasingly unpopular, it is unpopular

The Washington Post (via the Palm Beach Post) reports:
Despite the steady drop in abortions across the United States since the Supreme Court legalized the procedure 35 years ago today in the case of Roe vs. Wade, a new generation of activists is taking up the cause with conviction and sophistication.

Hat tip: BotW.

Democrats urged to "vote their race"

CNN reports:

Recent polls show black women are expected to make up more than a third of all Democratic voters in South Carolina's primary in five days.

For these women, a unique, and most unexpected dilemma, presents itself: Should they vote their race, or should they vote their gender?

No other voting bloc in the country faces this choice.

Democratic analyst Jehmu Greene says, "We've all wanted the day to come where there was a black person in the White House, where there was going to be a woman in the White House. I don't think we imagined it would be having to decide one or the other."

Greene says women, including herself, face pressure to vote their race. In the African-American community, there is a perception that race trumps gender, she says.

Hat tip: BotW.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Wisdom delayed

Regarding Pres. Clinton's scathing attacks on political rivals, ex-Sen. Daschle comments "I think it's not presidential...." That realization is about 16-years too late.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Academics for facism

The Columbia faculty are expressing their support for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

It is not just CO2

A volcano may explain some glacier melting, as reported by the International Herald Tribune:
In an article published Sunday on the Web site of the journal Nature Geoscience, Hugh Corr and David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey report the identification of a layer of volcanic ash and glass shards frozen within an ice sheet in western Antarctica.

"This is the first time we have seen a volcano beneath the ice sheet punch a hole through the ice sheet" in Antarctica, Vaughan said.

Volcanic heat could still be melting ice to water and contributing to thinning and speeding up of the Pine Island glacier, which passes nearby, but Vaughan said he doubted that it could be affecting other glaciers in western Antarctica, which have also thinned in recent years.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Return to perfect nature

In normal environmentalist thought, protected species are good and humans are bad. But, what happens if one protected species (sea lions) is eating another protected species (salmon)? The US government plans to take sides and start shooting.

Honesty in the news business

The New York Times is now admitting that its datelines are mere "anachronism" and "affectation" and do not indicate where the reporter was when the story was filed.

Cell phone wrecks sleep, maybe

The Independent (UK) has a story running under the title "Mobile phone radiation wrecks your sleep." They write:
A massive study, following 1,656 Belgian teenagers for a year, found most of them used their phones after going to bed. It concluded that those who did this once a week were more than three times – and those who used them more often more than five times – as likely to be "very tired".
If we accept the Independent's description of the study at face value, this only says that frequently carrying on conversations after going to bed leads to being "very tired." To identify the cause as cell phone usage, the researchers needed to compare those who talk too much by wired phone to those who talk too much by wireless (cell) phone.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Projecting hate

Prof. Arthur C. Brooks writes in today's Wall Street Journal on academic research into politics and hatred. Before explaining the research, he starts with some illustrations of lack of self-awareness:
A politically progressive friend of mine always seemed to root against baseball teams from the South. The Braves, the Rangers, the Astros -- he hated them all. I asked him why, to which he replied, "Southerners are prejudiced."

The same logic is evident in the complaint the American political left has with conservative voters. According to the political analysis of filmmaker Michael Moore, whose perception of irony apparently does not extend to his own words, "The right wing, that is not where America's at . . . It's just a small minority of people who hate. They hate. They exist in the politics of hate . . . They are hate-triots."

The University of Michigan's American National Election Studies survey asks American adults to rate their warmth toward people or groups on a thermometer scale from 0 to 100.
  • 28% of people who called themselves "extremely conservative" gave Clinton a zero in 1998
  • 10% of the "extremely conservatives" rated Gore with a zero in 1998
  • 60% of people who called themselves "extremely liberal" gave Bush a zero score in 2004
  • 60% of people who called themselves "extremely liberal" gave Cheney a zero score in 2004
On this, Prof. Brooks writes:
To put this into perspective, note that even Saddam Hussein (when he was still among the living) got an average score of eight from Americans. The data tell us that, for six in ten on the hard left in America today, literally nobody in the entire world can be worse than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
So, the U of Michigan surveys are consistent with the idea that, when liberals talk about others being intolerant or filled with hate, it is projection.

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Rule of Law?

The lead sentence of an AP report reads:
In an effort to help Sen. Larry Craig, the American Civil Liberties Union is arguing that people who have sex in public bathrooms have an expectation of privacy.
The AP claims that the ACLU picked its side of a legal argument "in an effort to help Sen. Larry Craig." Regardless of the ACLU's true motivation in this case, the reporter's sentence pretty well summarizes the liberal view of law: it exists for only the purpose of pursuing temporary personal or political agendas. Contrast this with a conservative viewpoint, as propounded by the Constitution Center:
The Framers considered the rule of law essential to the safekeeping of social order and civil liberties. The rule of law holds that if our relationships with each other and with the state are governed by a set of rules, rather than by a group of individuals, we are less likely to fall victim to authoritarian rule. The rule of law calls for both individuals and the government to submit to the law's supremacy. By precluding both the individual and the state from transcending the supreme law of the land, the Framers constructed another protective layer over individual rights and liberties
Hat tip: BotW.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Changing history to suit the moment

Christopher Hitchens discusses Democrats and irresponsibility:
During the Senate debate on the intervention in Iraq, Sen. Clinton made considerable use of her background and "experience" to argue that, yes, Saddam Hussein was indeed a threat. She did not argue so much from the position adopted by the Bush administration as she emphasized the stand taken, by both her husband and Al Gore, when they were in office, to the effect that another and final confrontation with the Baathist regime was more or less inevitable. Now, it does not especially matter whether you agree or agreed with her about this (as I, for once, do and did). What does matter is that she has since altered her position and attempted, with her husband's help, to make people forget that she ever held it. And this, on a grave matter of national honor and security, merely to influence her short-term standing in the Iowa caucuses.

Pelosi: let them eat cake

Speaker Pelosi decided to take the House cafeteria gourmet and, according to Josephine Hearn at Politico, the prices are now to the point where the staff can't afford it:
“It’s a big jump from high school cafeteria to fancy-pants gourmet. I just wish my pay improved,” said Caryn Schenewerk, a staffer for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

A fruit and cheese side dish with two small wedges of brie and cheddar, six grapes, two saltines and one strawberry cost $4.95, for example.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ten years ago in history

January 17 is the tenth anniversary of Matt Drudge's breaking of the scandal that led to Clinton's impeachment. The MSM had known about the story for some time but had not printed it. Drudge's website forced their hand, marking the beginning of the internet era of news.

Bob Bittman, the deputy prosecutor who questioned Clinton, "was astonished by what he learnt from the tapes and interviews. For
the President to carry on with a 21-year-old intern while facing a sexual
harassment case was 'crazy'." Irresponsible behavior, however, characterized his presidency whether the topic was nukes for N. Korea or social security reform.

The case also marked, I think, a decline in the feminist movement. After listening to self-proclaimed feminists defend a-boss'-right-to-lie in sexual harassment cases ("everyone lies about sex"), it is hard to take them seriously as the civil rights leaders that they had once claimed to be.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Full Faith and Credit in the Government

Jonathan Rees, of The Writing on the Wall, is upset that people like RediClinic for minor ailments:
Wal-Mart (or to be more exact, their sub-contractor) hasn’t solved the healthcare crisis. All they’ve done is given reluctant politicians less incentive to tackle the real problem: fixing the entire healthcare system for everyone....
If you believe in miracles, you believe that our politicians are brilliant and have the wisdom to fix the "entire healthcare system for everyone." (Some liberals envision government as the 'ideal parent' that they never had but who can solve all problems miraculously.) In the real world, government-run health-care systems at their best just substitute one set of problems, such as expense, with another, such as death by queue. People who are honestly concerned about affordable health-care should welcome the option of RediClinics and their competitors for fast, convenient, and inexpensive treatment of minor issues. Instead, Democrats such as Mayor Menino want to use force of law to ban them.

Finding the real racists

On a normal day, Democrats accuse Republicans of racism. So it is a man-bites-dog story to hear Democrats vigorously accuse each other of racism. The Financial Times, for example, writes:

Take congressman Jesse Jackson Jr’s comments following Mrs Clinton’s victory in New Hampshire last week.

“Those tears have to be analysed,” said Mr Jackson, who, like his father, has endorsed Mr Obama. “They have to be looked at very, very carefully in light of hurricane Katrina, in light of other things that Mrs Clinton did not cry for, particularly as we head to South Carolina.” Few of South Carolina’s black voters will have missed the implication. Since most of Katrina’s victims were black, Mrs Clinton is therefore presumably unfeeling towards the black community.

Crowned as “America’s first black president” by author Toni Morrison, Bill Clinton was still accused last week of using racial undertones when he dismissed as a “fairy tale” Mr Obama’s claim to have spoken out consistently against the Iraq war. Mrs Clinton was also accused of insensitivity after she pointed out that Martin Luther King needed LBJ in order to get civil rights legislation enacted.
There is also the racism controversy inspired by Andrew Cuomo's "Shuck and Jive" comment. And, on MSNBC, Chris Matthews decided that New Hampshire Democrats had to be racist for failing to follow the polling numbers.

MORE: Donna Brazile finds racism in Bill Clinton's use of the phrase "fairy tale." Still more at Jules Crittenden.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

When do deaths count?

A survey by the World Health Organization says that 151,000 Iraqis died in the three years after the US invasion. It is not yet clear how that number breaks down among deaths of terrorists in battle, deaths of victims of terror attacks, and deaths caused by the US. Liberals blame Bush for the deaths. For a contrasting view, consider UN Ambassador and later Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's reaction when questioned on Sixty Minutes about an estimate (also likely wildly inflated) of Iraqi deaths during the Clinton years:
Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.
Note that the claimed number was 500,000 deaths from sanctions and contrast that with the 151,000 estimated for the full invasion and liberation.

Inside her mind

Camille Paglia has an interesting summary of what is known about Sen. Clinton psyche:

A swarm of biographers in miners' gear has tried to plumb the inky depths of Hillary Rodham Clinton's warren-riddled psyche. My metaphor is drawn (as Oscar Wilde's prim Miss Prism would say) from the Scranton coalfields, to which came the Welsh family that produced Hillary's harsh, domineering father.

Hillary's feckless, loutish brothers (who are kept at arm's length by her operation) took the brunt of Hugh Rodham's abuse in their genteel but claustrophobic home. Hillary is the barracuda who fought for dominance at their expense. Flashes of that ruthless old family drama have come out repeatedly in this campaign, as when Hillary could barely conceal her sneers at her fellow debaters onstage -- the wimpy, cringing brothers at the dinner table.

Hillary's willingness to tolerate Bill's compulsive philandering is a function of her general contempt for men. She distrusts them and feels morally superior to them. Following the pattern of her long-suffering mother, she thinks it is her mission to endure every insult and personal degradation for a higher cause -- which, unlike her self-sacrificing mother, she identifies with her near-messianic personal ambition.

Unpleasant childhoods do seem to be common to the biographies of great liberals.

MORE analysis of Sen. Clinton's anger at DrSanity.

UN is reading the portents

As part of a Reuters article entitled "World warming despite cool Pacifica and Badhdad snow," Mr. Amir Delju, senior scientific coordinator for the UN's World Meteorological Organization, explains the "signs of [global] warming":

Delju said climate change ... would bring bigger swings in the weather alongside a warming trend that will mean more heatwaves, droughts, floods and rising seas.

"The more frequent occurrence of extreme events all over the world -- floods in Australia, heavy snowfall in the Middle East -- can also be signs of warming," he said

The world has always had "extreme [weather] events" and always will. This guarantees that Delju will see more "signs of warming" and this will assure job security for many UN bureaucrats, such as Mr. Delju. Looking for signs in the wrong places is not new. Tacitus lists the "signs" of worse times to come as observed in 54 AD:
In the year of the consulship of Marcus Asinius and Manius Acilius it was seen to be portended by a succession of prodigies that there were to be political changes for the worse. The soldiers' standards and tents were set in a blaze by lightning. A swarm of bees settled on the summit of the Capitol; births of monsters, half man, half beast, and of a pig with a hawk's talons, were reported.
In modern times, there have been attempts to attribute "swarm[s] of bees," or the lack thereof, to global warming but this has so far not stood the test of science.

To share pain, you must first create it

According to the International Herald Tribune, the California Energy Commission wants to control all household thermostats in the state:
The changes would allow utilities to adjust customers' preset temperatures when the price of electricity is soaring. Customers could override the utilities' suggested temperatures. But in emergencies, the utilities could override customers' wishes.

Final approval is expected next month.

"You realize there are times - very rarely, once every few years - when you would be subject to a rotating outage and everything would crash including your computer and traffic lights, and you don't want to do that," said Arthur Rosenfeld, a member of the energy commission.

Reducing individual customers' electrical use - if necessary, involuntarily - could avoid that, Rosenfeld said. "If you can control rotating outages by letting everyone in the state share the pain," he said, "there's a lot less pain to go around." [emphasis added]

In previous decades, the obvious solution to the problem would have been to build more plants to provide peak power. Alternatively, one could create a voluntary program that would give discounts to PG&E customers who agree to reduce power usage during emergencies. There are probably some energy-intensive businesses as well as individual households that would find this quite advantageous. However, from a liberal's view that would miss the point which is to "share the pain" and thereby achieve togetherness.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Health care crisis faces threat. Democrats respond

Wal Mart and other stores are opening convenient care clinics that allow quick, easy, and inexpensive access to nurse practitioners. Some people like the service. This has scared Democrats such as Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino who, presumably because of the threat such clinics pose to the "health care crisis" rhetoric, wants to ban the clinics. Some physicians are concerned also:
They apparently are going to do everything I do, and for a cheaper cost, because NPs cost less than MDs. .... Peeved!? Yes, I am. They're infringing on my territory, .... [T]he American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has signed an official agreement with the RediClinic for adhering with its "desired attributes of retail health clinics." Et tu, Brutus?
Change can be painful.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rules are for other people

In 1939, World War II had broken out in Europe (but not yet in America) and France and England had mobilized to fight for their lives. What was President Roosevelt thinking about at this time? He was thinking of rules for other people to follow, as Algis Valunus explains:
As war was just breaking out in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a plea that all combatant nations do the decent thing and refrain from bombing civilians.
The other side had already decided differently: Both Mussolini and Hitler were followers of Guilio Douhet who had proclaimed as early as 1921 that air power made the distinction between civilian and military targets obsolete. Soon after the US entered the war in Europe, FDR dropped his rule-making instincts and US policies were adapted to the realities of the war.

The above is strikingly similar to modern times when liberals are busy proposing rules for how to fight the war on terror of the kind that only make sense to those who don't have responsibility.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Pro-Crime Liberal

In a column for Advertising Age entitled "Why Even Hardened Racists Will Vote for Barack Obama," NPR personality Bob Garfield explains his view of race in America:
1) Even hardened racists feel the impulse to believe they are no such thing.

2) Hence, they are always in the market for someone "acceptably black."

Yes, the market. And, yes, acceptably black. We used that term the other day on "Hardball with Chris Matthews" to talk about Sen. Barack Obama and watched the interviewer visibly flinch. "I'm gonna take some of the edge off of what you just said," he said.

What edge? Acceptably black means being nonthreatening to white people inclined to feeling threatened by black people. It means standard English, clean-cut appearance (or, as Joe Biden fumbled, "clean") and the most Caucasian features possible. These obviously are not objective measures of character or worth; just as obviously, they are measures of what sells to the vast, white audience. Halle Berry and Denzel Washington are acceptably black. Your local news anchors are acceptably black. Tupac was not.
So, according to Mr. Garfield, anyone who finds Tupac Shakur "unacceptable" is a "hardened racist." Mr. Shakur (1971-1996) had been convicted of multiple violent crimes including sexual assault and wrongful death before his own death in a gang-related drive-by shooting.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

LBJ vs. the Civil Rights Act of 1957

James Taranto digs up some history:
As Bruce Bartlett explains in "Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party's Buried Past" (available from the OpinionJournal bookstore):

In his January 10, 1957, State of the Union Address, Eisenhower renewed his request for civil rights legislation, which had passed the House but died in the Senate in the previous Congress due to Southern Democratic delaying tactics. . . .

Everyone knew that the critical fight on the civil rights bill would be in the Senate. . . . In that body, the key figure was Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson, who represented the [former] Confederate state of Texas and had been installed in his position by Southern Democrats precisely in order to block civil rights legislation. Until the 1950s, Johnson's record of opposition to all civil rights legislation was spotless. But he was ambitious and wanted to be president. . . .

After dragging his feet on the civil rights bill throughout much of 1957, Johnson finally came to the conclusion that the tide had turned in favor of civil rights and he needed to be on the right side of the issue if he hoped to become president. . . .

At the same time, the Senate's master tactician and principal opponent of the civil rights bill, Democrat Richard B. Russell of Georgia, saw the same handwriting on the wall but came to a different conclusion. He realized that the support was no longer there for an old-fashioned Democrat filibuster. . . . So Russell adopted a different strategy this time of trying to amend the civil rights bill so as to minimize its impact. Behind the scenes, Johnson went along with Russell's strategy of not killing the civil rights bill, but trying to neuter it as much as possible. . . .

Eisenhower was disappointed at not being able to produce a better piece of legislation. "I wanted a much stronger civil rights bill in '57 than I could get," he later lamented. "But the Democrats . . . wouldn't let me have it."

Liberals criticized Eisenhower for getting such a modest bill at the end of the day. But Johnson argued that it was historically important because it was the first civil rights bill to pass Congress since 1875. "Once you break virginity," he said, "it'll be easier next time."
To put it mildly, LBJ was not a consistent advocate of racial equality. Bartlett (both in his book and in this article) quotes LBJ's explanation of why he backed the Civil Rights Act of 1957:

"These Negroes, they're getting pretty uppity these days and that's a problem for us since they've got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we've got to do something about this, we've got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference. For if we don't move at all, then their allies will line up against us and there'll be no way of stopping them, we'll lose the filibuster and there'll be no way of putting a brake on all sorts of wild legislation. It'll be Reconstruction all over again."

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Seeing only what you want to see

Dick Meyer, the editorial director of, explains Sen. Obama's appeal:
Sen. Obama is a Rorschach test. I see hope! I see brains! I see a whole new kind of politician! I see an amazing life story! I see an orator! I see a natural! I see a hero!

Well, real people aren't Rorschach tests. They aren't blank slates. And by January 2008, Senator Blank Slate, D-Ill., will be a messy chalkboard.

Seeing what you want to see ("a Rorschach test") is common in politics.

A news story that appears to me to be as much a Rorschach test as Sen. Obama is the disappearance of some colonies of bees, dubbed "Colony Collapse Disorder." Some reporters claim the cause is "global warming." Some blame "cell phone radiation." Others blame genetically modified crops. What all these explanations have in common is only that they represent currently popular liberal anxieties. More plausible explanations, such as a new virus (plagues are as old as history), do not appeal to liberal imaginations.

Continuing on the subject of presidential candidates, but touching on a separate theme, Dick Meyer also writes
So tell me how you're feeling about Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama. Because I think you are in denial about some very important issues your fellow citizens have in their relationships with these two potential parent figures. [emph. added]
Here we see yet another appearance of the bizarre president-as-parent analogy which is just one member of a larger group of childhood analogies.

Hat tip: Dr. Helen.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Huckabee on the left

David Sanders analyzes Gov. Huckabee's policies and finds them more left than right:
With increasing frequency, Mr. Huckabee invokes his faith when advocating greater government involvement in just about every aspect of American life. In doing so, Mr. Huckabee has actually answered the prayers of the religious left.....

As governor, he championed the ARKids First, which extended free health insurance not only to children of the working poor but to some lower middle-class families. He pleased teachers unions with his consistent opposition to school choice and voucher programs. He satisfied labor by signing into law a minimum-wage hike of 21%. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me"--Mr. Huckabee's oft-cited scriptural justification for growing government--proved costly for Arkansans, who saw government spending double and their taxes rise about a half-billion dollars during his tenure.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

What have you changed your mind about in 2007?

The Edge asks the question. Among the respondents is anti-Christian author Sam Harris who writes:
Like many people, I once trusted in the wisdom of Nature. .... Might we be better off just leaving things to the wisdom of Nature? I once believed this. But we know that Nature has no concern for individuals or for species.
Liberals, like Sam Harris, often claim to be guided by science and rational thought. But what that usually means is that they do not know what guides their thoughts. Often they hold a religious belief in which nature is anthropomorphised and they trust in the "wisdom of nature." Environmentalist often imagine nature to be "perfect" and any human-caused deviations from the natural state to be sinful. Give Sam Harris credit for discovering, after writing several anti-religion books, that he himself had been religious.

Monopoly power

Did anything important happen to you 10+ years ago for which you might need records? Legal settlement? IRS dispute? House purchase? Legislation or business meeting minutes? Employment contract? If the documents were kept in Microsoft Word format, you might be in for trouble. Microsoft is reportedly disabling Office support for old file formats, including Word and Excel.

Economic reasoning by childhood analogy

The RIAA has been suing people who download copyrighted music to their PCs. Information Week columnist Alexander Wolfe has a solution:
Now that times are tough, though, the record companies have shown they're clueless. Rather than forge a new business model to make money in the age of the Internet, they're fighting a losing battle to hold on to an era that's already passed. OK, if they're unable to handle the copyright benefits they've been like generously awarded, we should do what we do when a child shows they can't handle a privilege they've been granted. We should take it away.

How about we cut the copyright terms down to five years. Retroactively. So now "Stairway to Heaven" is in the public domain. Hey, the ongoing RIAA lawsuit problem is gone in one fell swoop. [emphasis added]
This blogger is fascinated by what politicians try to pass off as thought and logic. Here is a case of a computer columnist making the same reasoning-by-inappropriate-analogy-to-childhood, possibly inspired by childhood trauma, that seems to characterize much of liberal thought (and Gov. Huckabee's).

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

"Angry youths"

"Angry youths," whose religion must not be mentioned, torched 372 cars in France over new year's. This is less than last year. The improvement is possibly because "the sale of petrol in cans was banned in some places." That is one way to stop burning.

Hat tip: LGF

WashPost bitter that Pres. Bush is insufficiently pro-crime

The editors at the Washington Post complain that "one of the stingiest presidents in American history when it comes to pardons." They say that crack cocaine laws are "absurd" and that Pres. Bush would show "courage" and "compassion" if only he would return more crack dealers to the streets.

Discrimination against undocumented day visitors

From Calexico, California, the AP reports:
Every day along the 1,952-mile border, children from Mexico cross into the United States and attend public schools. No one keeps statistics on how many.

Citizenship isn't the issue for school officials; district residency is.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled illegal immigrants have a right to an education, so schools don't ask about immigration status. But citizens and illegal immigrants alike can't falsely claim residency in a school district.

Calexico is a small town (pop. 38,000) across the border from the large Mexican city of Mexicali (pop. 750,000). Naturally some of the Mexicali residents choose to send their children each morning across the border to schools in Calexico, inconveniencing Calexico residents such as former mayor Torres:
Fernando Torres, a former mayor, was upset when the district said his grandchildren would have to transfer because there was no room in their neighborhood school. "It's not right" for U.S. taxpayers to build classrooms for Mexican residents, he said. The district eventually relented.
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