Saturday, September 06, 2008

For people interested in politics, Sarah Palin is the only story in town at the moment. So I offer below excerpts from three good commentaries about her. Most of the Leftist attacks on her are too pathetic to be dignified with a reply but I do mention one of them below. For the rest, see the great job being done by my co-bloggers at STACLU and Astute Bloggers -- JR

Palin Could Make the Difference In This Close Race


A running mate can have a larger "indirect effect." Mr. Campbell argued the VP choice "emphasized a strength or weakness" for the presidential candidate. Who VP nominees are and how they are selected provide voters information about the values and decision-making abilities of the candidate. This year, both Messrs. McCain and Obama made political picks, not governing choices. The political targets were not states, but attributes and voting blocs.

Mr. McCain made a dramatic, unexpected pick of someone who shares his maverick outsider attitude and is willing to challenge party orthodoxy and politics-as-usual. He selected a gun-owning, hockey-coaching, small-business-running mother of five. As a governor, Sarah Palin is the only candidate on either ticket with executive experience, heading a state government with an $11.2 billion operating budget, a $1.7 billion capital budget and nearly 29,000 state employees. Best of all for Mr. McCain, Mrs. Palin potentially appeals to suburban, independent women and small-town Hillary Clinton voters.

Messrs. Petrocik and Shaw suggest Mrs. Palin might have more impact on the election than previous running mates. If Mrs. Palin is seen as a defective candidate, it will hurt Mr. McCain. On the positive side, however, Mrs. Palin's background could lead voters to see her as someone who understands kitchen-table concerns.

Taking on Alaska's good-old-boy politics and beating the incumbent Republican governor might be seen as evidence of the political courage and independence voters are looking for this year. And with women more undecided than men, Mrs. Palin could add more than a point to Mr. McCain's total -- maybe two or three -- which could make the difference in a close contest.

The threat Mrs. Palin poses is why Mr. Obama's campaign has moved rapidly to disparage her record, and why left-wing bloggers have engaged in nonstop character smears against her and her family. Some in the press have aided and abetted this because they feel left out of the preannouncement vetting process. The danger for Democrats is twofold: in highlighting Mrs. Palin's inexperience, they may focus attention on Mr. Obama's; and the harsh attacks levied against Mrs. Palin could completely undermine the Obama promise of a "new politics." In the vice-presidential debate, Democrats must be concerned about Mr. Biden appearing bombastic and condescending -- which is almost a permanent state of mind for the Delaware senator -- while Mrs. Palin comes across as fresh, straight talking, nonpolitical and therefore appealing.

More here


No enthusiasm gap now

Twenty years after Ronald Reagan left office, Republicans who have long missed him may have found a future Margaret Thatcher. If John McCain wins, conservatives may find one of the most enduring accomplishments of his term will have been what he did before it started: helping to fill the Republican Party's future talent bench with such a fresh and compelling figure. Sarah Palin is a conviction politician, a naturally compelling speaker and someone who can relate to her audience on very human terms. America has just learned why Mrs. Palin enjoys the highest approval ratings of any governor in America.

Some hard-bitten political observers I know were uncharacteristically impressed with the Palin speech. Hal Stratton, a former Attorney General of New Mexico, wrote to me as follows: "That's what we out west call openin' a whole can of whip a- on your opponents."

Sarah Palin probably went down better in Warren, Michigan than she did in Washington, D.C. -- but that was the whole point of her speech and her candidacy. Indeed, while Mrs. Palin certainly won't swing any deeply blue states in John McCain's direction, she may have an impact in swaying independent voters as well as boosting GOP turnout in swing states such as Colorado, Nevada and Michigan.

One of the standard operating theories this Election Year is that Barack Obama and the Democrats are much more energized, excited and willing to work hard for victory in November. After Sarah Palin's remarkably effective speech, I don't think any pundits or politicians will be able to count on a decisive Democratic enthusiasm edge. Sarah Palin electrified the hall, and from what I can tell from my e-mail inbox that excitement is being replicated in living rooms across the country.

More here


Sarah Palin's Surge

With his nomination last night, John McCain is now the leader of the GOP (see here). But win or lose in November, Senator McCain has elevated Mrs. Palin to new prominence and jumbled Republican categories in a healthy way. The reaction at St. Paul's Xcel Center-and the fascination around the country-shows how welcome this is.

For the past several years, the GOP has been caught in the malaise of what we have often called the Beltway status quo. As insurgents challenging Washington mores in the 1980s and 1990s, Republicans were the party of ideas and energy. But over time, as the Bush Presidency ran into trouble and the Tom DeLay Congress began to care most about its own re-election, the party lost its verve, even its raison d'etre.

On Wednesday, Governor Palin offered a new populist excitement, both as a messenger and in her message. By "messenger," we aren't merely referring to her gender, though that seems to be the preoccupation of the media. Her relative youth (44) and large family-complete with its many complications-were themselves a cultural statement. Though many in the media claim she was chosen because she appealed to the Christian right, Mrs. Palin never even raised the subject of abortion. She didn't have to, since her youngest son, the one with special needs, is proof enough of her pro-life conviction.

The same goes for her record of challenging the powers that be in Alaska. With so many Republicans tainted by corruption, GOP voters have been aching for someone willing to challenge that business as usual. By all accounts, Mrs. Palin has done so in Alaska, and is popular for it. In the coming weeks, we'll learn more about her Alaska record, and rightly so. Her governing record is fair-even essential-media game, in contrast to her daughter Bristol's pregnancy.

It's being said that in choosing Governor Palin, Mr. McCain was making a play for disaffected Hillary Clinton voters. Yet we heard just one line invoke women as a political issue, and then only in a positive sense: "This is America, and every woman can walk through every door of opportunity." Our sense is that the Governor's real political potential lies in her appeal to Reagan Democrats and Truman Republicans, voters Mr. McCain will need in November.

Mrs. Palin was certainly helped this week by the media contempt for her selection. The condescension has been so thick that it offended not just Republicans in St. Paul but others who may have tuned in Wednesday to see if she was as unqualified as Sally Quinn and David Frum said she was. Mrs. Palin's refusal to be cowed is the kind of triumph over media disdain that most Americans relish.

More here



Last Week's Economic News Was a Big Shot in the Arm For McCain: "John McCain may have won the presidential election on Thursday, Aug. 28. That was before Barack Obama gave his stirring acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention. It was four days before the Republican Convention even started. It was also before the media leaked the name of Sarah Palin as Mr. McCain's chosen vice-presidential running mate. Why Aug. 28? On that morning the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis revised its assessment of GDP growth in the second quarter of this year. Rather than growing at the anemic pace of 1.9% as reported in July, the April-June quarter actually registered a healthy GDP growth rate of 3.3%. Growth at this rate exceeds the long-term U.S. growth rate of 3.1% over the past 50 years. Bill Clinton was right. When it comes to presidential elections, "It's the economy stupid."

A prominent Clinton fundraiser has jumped ship and joined the McCain camp: "The legendary Tammy Haddad snags a scoop for Newsweek, sitting down with prominent Washington DC attorney John Coale -- a fundraiser for Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY -- at the Republican convention, now backing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. "Well I'm here to go from supporting Hillary, who I campaigned with, I campaigned with her husband, her daughter, her whole family, brothers, and the mother, over a period of months, big Hillary supporter, pretty big fundraiser for her, I'm here to support John McCain for president," said Coale, husband of FOX News' Greta Van Susteren. Coale has given thousands of dollars in donations to Democrats over the years. ... "I think John McCain is basically what Obama says he is and what Obama is not," Coale said. "McCain brings people together, he has an incredible record of integrity." Coale griped about sexism against Clinton, said Obama isn't experienced enough to be president, and argued that the Democratic party has "been taken over by the types."

Not again: Palin "slashes" another children's program.... by increasing funding: "The Kossified media strikes again. In the wee hours of the morning yesterday, I told you about the Washington Post's false accusation that Gov. Sarah Palin "slashed" funding for a teen pregnancy program, when in reality, there was "over a threefold increase from the government funds they received from all sources in 2006. Many of you have contacted the WaPo ombudsperson about the lie. But she is apparently on vacation until next week. Keep after it - because the meme is spreading. The NYTimes has now recycled WaPo's nonsense with this apoplectic headline: "Palin's Budget Cuts Affect Teenage Mothers." And now, via Brian Faughnan, there's this new smear using liberal math to decry Palin's alleged "slashing" of special-needs funds. They're so screamingly desperate..... The Washington Monthly has retracted the accusation and regrets the error. What about the rest of the MSM?"


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Friday, September 05, 2008

Bulletin from Wasilla

Here in Wasilla, the small Alaskan town where until two years ago Sarah Palin was mayor, her speech officially to accept the Republican Party's Vice Presidential nomination was greeted with tears and disbelief. Crowded into Tailgaters Sports Bar & Grill on Parks Highway, her friends and most ardent of supporters, many of them wearing 'Go Sarah!' T-shirts and badges that read 'The Hottest Governor of the Coldest State' watched the entire performance at full volume on flatscreen televisions, alternatively cheering, whooping, clapping, dabbing at their eyes, and, finally, giving her a standing ovation. Around them, hockey memorabilia hung from the walls - a reminder of Palin's 'hockey mom' background.

Still wearing his blue Postal Service uniform after a long shift, David Parcha, 47, told The Times: "I've seen this coming for four years, man. When she was inaugurated as governor of Alaska, I told my teenage sons, 'go to the ceremony, this is going to be historic.'" He admitted, however, that he was gobsmacked at the speed of her ascent to the race for the White House and impressed with the confidence of her speech. Half way through it, after Palin had witheringly referred to Barack Obama's authorship of two memoirs, Mr Parcha grinned and said, "Not bad, eh?[John] McCain needed her real bad. I wasn't even gonna vote for McCain until he picked Palin. Before that, conservatives didn't have a voice."

Others were similarly impressed. Overheard comments included: "I was on the fence and now I'm blazing the McCain trail" (a middle-aged woman) and "I wasn't excited until this, now I'm all fired up" (a grey-haired man). Meanwhile, at a table directly underneath one of the TVs, Lu Sackett, 70, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the image of a grizzly bear and a floppy hat decorated with flag pins waved his burger in appreciation when Palin laid into the Democrats' tax plans. "She's like a moose going after a cabbage," he marvelled.

A woman at Mr Sackett's table pointed out that Mrs Palin knows how to 'field dress' a moose (which means skinning it and chopping it up after killing it, so that you can take the meat home to make stew). "All Alaskan women know how to field strip a moose," said Mr Sackett, nodding. "Besides, she ain't attackin' anyone," he added. "She's just tellin' it how it is."

The bar roared with approval when Track Palin, 19, who recently enlisted in the US Army and will soon to be deployed to Iraq,appeared on camera. "Look!" someone shouted from the crowd. "Track can't believe he's on TV!" More hilarity ensued when Piper Palin, 7, appeared to spit on her hand and use it to smooth down the hair of Trig, her baby brother. They cheered again for the appearance of Palin's husband, Todd, otherwise known as the 'First Dude'. With Palin's every line of argument, someone shouted "Good Point!", "Yeah!", or "Ser-rah! Ser-ah! Ser-rah!" ...

Speaking to The Times before the speech, Ms Clark... expressed support for Palin. "I'm very glad she's governor of the state of Alaska, you couldn't find a more apt individual," she said. "In this country, Alaska, they don't care if you're a man or a woman, they care about your word, your reputation. She'd make a fine vice president."



Conservatism Isn't the Culprit

Thousands of Republican politicians, activists and partisans are now lining up behind John McCain and preparing to advance into the fall campaign. If they hope to win, many pundits maintain, their task is obvious: Ditch conservatism, which is intellectually bankrupt.

That might make sense if you equate the Republican Party with conservatism. The governing style that culminated in the GOP's defeat in 2006, however, shows that Republicans have suffered largely because they haven't been conservative enough. In his unsuccessful bid to become minority leader in the House, Rep. Mike Pence stated the problem plainly. "We are in the wilderness because we walked away from the limited government principles that minted the Republican Congress," he warned his colleagues. "The American people did not quit on the Contract with America, we did."

He's right. While in control of Congress, Republicans could have led the nation toward market-based reforms in Medicare, a program that threatens to overwhelm the federal budget in coming years. Instead, they made the problem worse: They passed a Medicare drug benefit that will leave our grandchildren saddled with trillions of dollars in liabilities. Republicans could have advanced their professed commitment to limited government and fiscal responsibility. Instead, they more than doubled the size of the federal government, hiding their pork in the plain brown wrappers of anonymous earmarks.

Imagining that they could continue to govern by pretending to be conservatives, Republicans have repeatedly betrayed - and finally lost - the trust of their most loyal supporters. The way to win in 2008 is to earn that trust back, since the American people remain committed to conservative ideas....

Liberalism is a bankrupt philosophy that has been tried and found wanting in one major policy issue after another, from national defense to social welfare, from education to the national economic policy. That's why candidates run away from liberal ideas when it's time for a general election. Republicans must run toward conservative policies if they want the tides of history to sweep them back into power.

More here



Susan Estrich (Clintonista) defends Sarah Palin: "Should a mother with five children, one of them a pregnant teen and another an infant with special needs, be running for vice president? The question is being much debated, in newspaper stories and columns, on blogs and Web sites, and, yes, around kitchen tables across the country. No would be asking these questions if she were a man. No one asked whether Arnold Schwarzenegger should run for governor because he has four children. They looked at Maria, his wonderful wife, and said, what a beautiful family. A mother doesn't get the same treatment. This is how the double standard works.... If she thinks she can do it, if her husband and children support the decision, as they seem to, who are we to say otherwise? She deserves what every father running for office automatically gets: a chance to be judged fairly, based on experience and ideology, qualifications and competence, not our second-hand judgments of her most private decisions."

CNN wisdom: "Gathering after the speeches last night by Lieberman and Thompson, the CNN "political team" gathered to tell viewers what was wrong with what they said. No surprises there, except perhaps when Campbell Brown professed herself to be "surprised by the political nature" of the Bushes' speeches. Imagine that! Political speeches at a political convention!

Hollywood Leftism: "Why do so many Hollywood stars turn into Marx-huggers when it comes to politics? Some believe it's embedded in their DNA. Entertainers are professional emoters. People who emote for a living tend to see the whole world through their emotions. Cry for the camera; cry for "social justice." Moan for the microphone; moan for "equality of outcome." Mug for an audience; mug for "welfare rights." Others contend that they all live in Airheadsville"


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Why the Palin Baby Story Matters

What it means to evangelical voters

At 6:30 Monday morning, at a hotel here in St. Paul, a team of senior McCain staffers got word from even more senior staffers that there was news about vice-presidential pick Sarah Palin.... a story would be breaking on the wires in a few hours reporting that Palin's daughter, Bristol, is, in fact, pregnant now. The father is Bristol's boyfriend, the staffers were told, and she intends to marry him.

The McCain aides' assignment was to call a list of about 40 top evangelical and other cultural conservative leaders. Each one would get a personal explanation of the story, and each was asked for his or her reaction. The McCain people reached nearly everyone before the story broke, and the verdict was unanimous - all the leaders supported Palin and her place on the McCain ticket.

When the day's business was over, I drifted around the Colorado and Ohio delegations - two critical swing states - to get a feel for the delegates' reaction. In the Colorado section, I ran into Sue Sharkey, from Windsor. When I asked what she thought, her reaction was not about Palin but herself:

"For me personally, it hit my heart this morning," Sharkey told me, "because I was a 17 year-old girl, just like Sarah Palin's daughter, and I had - I was in those shoes. And my son is with me, who will be 35 years old next week, and so I know what a difficult road there is for her." "I chose to have my son, and from that point I realized that I was a very strong right-to-life advocate," Sharkey continued, her voice wavering ever so slightly. Roe v. Wade had been passed just the year before, and I already knew girls who were going through abortions. It wasn't a choice for me; it wasn't in my heart to do that. So when I heard the news this morning, it struck close to home for me."

A few feet away, members of the Ohio delegation were finishing up business, and I asked Patricia Murray, a delegate from Cincinnati, what she thought. "I don't even think this is an issue," she told me. "It's a family issue. It's a personal issue. The only reason it was made public was because of her mother." Nearby, Ben Rose, a delegate from Lima, said that, "In every case where I heard delegates talk about this, the first thought was to the human nature of it."

Earlier in the day, just after I heard the news, I called Marlys Popma, the well-known Iowa evangelical leader who is now the head of evangelical outreach for the McCain campaign. Like Sue Sharkey from Colorado, Popma had a story to tell. It turns out she had had a child out of wedlock nearly 30 years ago, and it changed her life. "It was my crisis pregnancy that brought me into the movement," Popma told me. "My reaction is that this shows that the governor's family is just like so many families. That's how my first child came into the world, and I'm just thrilled that [Bristol Palin] is choosing to give this child life."

I asked Popma what she thought the larger reaction among evangelicals will be. "Their reaction is going to be exactly as mine," she told me. "There hasn't been one evangelical family that hasn't gone through some sort of situation. Many of us are in this movement because of something that has happened in our lives."

As for now, at least, evangelicals seem to be completely on Palin's side. And McCain's. This is a group that has been skeptical of McCain in the past. Now, it's probably fair to say that he has never been more popular among evangelicals than he is at this moment. Whether that will last, or whether Palin will cost McCain support among other voters, is not yet clear. But within the confines of the Republican Convention, McCain's surprising choice of Palin - and the equally surprising news about her family - is paying off.

More here



Palin consistency: "Sarah Palin has handed down her pro-life beliefs to her young daughter, Bristol who, at the age of 17 and unmarried, has decided to give her unborn child the gift of life. In their official statement on the matter, the Palins seemed far from the "rigid" label attributed to Sarah Palin by liberal critics, but instead assured their young daughter that she had their "unconditional love and support."

A good comment on the Palin family support for their daughter: "Quite a contrast with Barack Obama, who in March said he wouldn't want his daughters "punished with a baby." Congratulations to Bristol, her fiance and the grandparents-to-be."

A fun comment: "I think we can all agree that Palin's pick of an experienced statesman like John McCain to head her ticket shows that she is much better prepared to be VP than Biden who is trying to thrust an unqualified youngster who was a do-nothing state legislator before being elected to the Senate where he put in a few months of attendance before going AWOL to run for president."

'Stop! Or We'll Say Stop Again!': "With apologies to comedian Robin Williams, that's the line that comes to mind when weighing the European Union's declaration Monday on Russia's continued occupation of Georgia. At a special meeting in Brussels, EU national leaders told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to abide by the terms of a French-brokered cease-fire, including a pullback of Russian troops to their preconflict positions. If he doesn't do so, they warned they will hold another meeting."

British Government Chooses Hitler-Loving Abortion Movement Pioneer for Stamps: "Marie Stopes, the notorious early 20th century contraception campaigner, eugenicist and anti-Semite, did for Britain what Margaret Sanger did for the US: preached the doctrines of eugenics and promoted contraception and sterilisation to achieve "racial hygiene." So successful was she at altering British society in favour of her eugenics doctrines, the British government has chosen her to be included in a "Women of Distinction" line of stamps. The Royal Mail announced this weekend that the face of Marie Stopes, who advocated the sterilisation of poor women to promote the "welfare of the race", will feature on the 50p stamp. The stamps will be available beginning 14 October 2008."

Obamanut Predicts Race War If McCain Wins: "Fatimah Ali, who is described as "a regular contributor" to the Philadelphia Daily News, writes today that, "if McCain wins, look for a full-fledged race and class war, fueled by a deflated and depressed country, soaring crime, homelessness - and hopelessness!" I would like to see this column distributed widely, since I believe it would impel many voters to support McCain just to deflate such pompous offensiveness."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Apologies for the absence of substance

Regular readers may have noted that I have not put anything up here today so far.

I have had a cable outage for over 24 hours now so the few bits I put up yesterday and today have been posted from an internet cafe.

I will try to put up a bit more but a lot depends on how soon my cable service provider -- the arrogant semi-monopolist Telstra/Bigpond -- get their cable service working again in my area.


Interview with Charles Murray

by Bernard Chapin

My father always said that anyone who lived through John F. Kennedy's assassination remembers what they were doing at the precise moment the president was shot. This may well be true, but we also lucidly recall the circumstances of far lesser events such as the controversy surrounding the publication of The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray. The furor its conclusions caused is forever ingrained in my memory.

At the time I was a psychology graduate student and found that most of my associates were familiar with the work but deemed it a book to be burned rather than read. I, however, bought it anyway, and like to think that my purchase foreshadowed my eventual defection from the Democratic Party. While the mainstream media may deem Dr. Charles Murray a pariah, he has been a hero of mine for fourteen years. His fame preceded the 1990s, however. Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950-1980 is a work that permanently altered public perceptions regarding the welfare state. Therefore, it was an honor to have him answer a few questions about his latest publication, Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality. Currently, he is the W. H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

BC: Congratulations on the publication of your new book, Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality, why does the future of this nation depend on the education of the gifted? Personally, I find your assumption non-remarkable, but why are so many of our elites offended by the notion that we should assist the strong?

Dr. Charles Murray: The academically gifted run the country. That's not what should be, that's what is. It can be demonstrated empirically that the overwhelming majority of people in positions of economic, cultural, and political influence is drawn from among those in the top ten percent of academic ability. That being the case, they need to arrive at those positions possessing an education-a classic, rigorous, liberal education-that gives them the best possible chance of being wise as well as technically well-trained. The resistance of the elites to this idea? It makes them feel'elitist. And above all else, we mustn't think anything that makes us feel bad about ourselves.

BC: Along these lines, is our nation's devotion to the education of the handicapped-as discernable in the billions spent on special education since 1975-at the expense of higher functioning students-an example of compassion gone mad? In your view, for what reason do we preference the disabled over the abled?

Dr. Charles Murray: I am an impassioned advocate for the proposition that none of us deserves the academic ability we possess, whether it be high or low. So I am happy to see money spent on the academically handicapped, as long as the money actually accomplishes something. Most of it doesn't, and meanwhile we have neglected the kind of education that might really make a difference in their lives (e.g., teaching them ways of making a living despite their handicaps). But neglecting the gifted is just as morally bankrupt as neglecting the handicapped. We don't consider deliberately withholding special training from the athletically or musically gifted-we would think it unfair (even spiteful) to the child to do so. The same logic applies to the academically gifted.

BC: The major group tests given to college applicants-such as the SAT and the ACT-assess academic skills, is it your position that new evaluation measures should be normed and implemented that incorporate cognitive capacity as well (due to it better identifying, for employers, students who will excel in a vocational setting)?

Dr. Charles Murray: The SAT and ACT are actually pretty good measures of cognitive ability. But I'm in favor of moving toward certification tests that are specific to a vocation (the CPA exam is the archetype), and that measure what a job applicant knows, not where he learned it or how long it took or, for that matter, what his cognitive ability is. If I'm hiring a carpenter, I want to know if he's a good carpenter. The same principle should apply if I'm hiring management trainees, physicians, or even, God help us, public policy analysts.

BC: For those of us who have been to college, the correlation between a Bachelor of Arts degree and future vocational achievement is not readily evident. What brought about the state wherein the four-year degree is a prerequisite for white collar employment? It seems that what many students learn at college is completely superfluous to the tasks they must perform after graduation.

Dr. Charles Murray: Except for a few technical majors such as engineering, a bachelor's degree does not signal professional competence, but is a no-cost (to the employer) screen for perseverance and a certain degree of intelligence. As the number of BAs grew from the 1950s onward, it has made more and more sense for employers to use it as a screen (as more people get BAs, the fewer good job prospects the employer is missing by requiring a BA). The problem is: It's a very coarse, low-information screen. Certification tests would give the employer more information by orders of magnitude.

BC: In your opinion, how politically corrupted are the liberal arts colleges within our universities? One always hears leftists say that the radicals in the news-as profiled in books like David Horowitz's The Professors-are not indicative of the whole.

Dr. Charles Murray: One of my daughters finished at Middlebury a year ago, got an excellent liberal education (in the classic sense of that phrase), and experienced little political correctness among her professors. Another of my daughters told me matter-of-factly that of course she had to incorporate the right feminist perspective in her senior thesis, because otherwise her thesis supervisor wouldn't accept it-and that was at Harvard. So I don't have a good answer to your question. It all depends. I'm sure my Middlebury daughter could have found courses that were corrupt and that many Harvard thesis advisors would be appalled at the idea of letting politics contaminate scholarship.

BC: How likely is any educational reform with the teacher's unions as strong as they are?

Dr. Charles Murray: In my experience, the teachers' unions are mostly a problem in the big-city systems. My younger two children went to the public schools in a small town. The teachers are unionized, but I can't see how it created any serious problems. I'm one of those who thinks that teachers are getting too much blame. The real problem with public education (again, except for the big-city systems) is the awful curriculum that the teachers have to work with.

BC: Even for higher functioning children-males in particular-given the exorbitant cost of a college education would not a career in the trades be a more prudent choice?

Dr. Charles Murray: Have you checked out the going rate for master stonemasons these days? Forget the ridiculous costs of a college education. Just take a close look at the real and large rewards, monetary and intrinsic, of becoming a master craftsman in almost any trade.

BC: I know a great many educators and the vast of majority of them wholeheartedly believe that educational deficiencies in urban settings are due to a lack of funding. Of course this is totally fallacious. Washington D.C. has some of the worst schools in the country and they are third on the list in terms of per pupil spending while Chicago is well above the national average. In your estimation, what's the best way to refute the horrendous argument that in education cash equals quality?

Dr. Charles Murray: It's been done. The technical literature has documented the unimportance of differences in per-pupil funding for more than 40 years, going back to the massive Coleman Report. So how do you get newspaper editorial writers and politicians to become technically literate? Beats the hell out of me. Maybe we should pass a No Journalist or Politician Left Behind Act.

BC: Thanks so much for your time, Dr. Murray.




Carpooling: Green, cheap and illegal in Canada: ""There's an online free global ride-sharing service called PickupPal that has been gaining traction with Internet users lately, most notably by partnering with concert promoters and other event planners to spread the word about their service. PickupPal matches up drivers and passengers who are headed to the same destination, tracks and publishes their reputations eBay-style and allows them to work out mutual arrangements for splitting the gas money and other costs of the trip. ... It is hard to see how such a thing could be anything less than a nifty social benefit of the Internet, but in Ontario, it is considered illegal. The province's Public Vehicles Act states, 'No person shall arrange or offer to arrange transportation of passengers by means of a public vehicle operated by another person unless that other person is the holder of an operating licence authorizing that other person to perform the transportation.'"

TSA = "Totally Senile Assholes"?: "With the news that hit the mainstream media on Wednesday, but has been part of the blogosphere for a day prior, Taking Scissors Away has morphed from a frightening tyrannical agency to a clear and present danger to the traveling public. Not content with turning airports into poorly run copies of East Germany, not content with stealing passenger's water, making mothers drink their own breast milk, harassing and/or torturing the handicapped, wand-raping pretty women, stealing medication, trying to steal a medal of honor from the NRA president, depriving travelers of their constitutional rights and imprisoning those who object, Totally Senile Assholes have crossed the line from seeing terrorists where none exist to manufacturing their own terror attacks."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The "death's door" argument

An email from a reader:

The Democrats' main line of attack against Palin is this: McCain is at death's door; he could go any minute; we don't want someone with limited experience having to step in. (Let's ignore the fact that the Democrats want to put someone with limited experience in the Oval Office right away).

Of course, this argument fails if one assumes (as everyone who plans to vote for McCain does) that McCain will not only serve out his first term but perhaps a second as well. In the meantime, Palin obviously grows in experience with every passing month and year.

Now then, what about the Democrat side of the coin? Everyone says: "Well, if something should happen to Obama, we've got good ol' Joe Biden waiting in the wings." (Let's ignore the fact that virtually no one wants Biden as President -- after all, he was utterly and overwhelmingly rejected by the Democrats themselves during the primaries).

But wait a minute. Biden is old, too: he will be 66 in November. And he has a history of life-threatening brain aneurysms. For all we know, he's more likely to keel over than McCain is!

And if that happens . . . then guess who becomes President? Nancy Pelosi. Yes, the facelifted but brain-dead Nancy Pelosi. So, if we're going to play the "death's door" game, the Democrats lose.



Comment by Jeff Jacoby

If it did nothing else, John McCain's choice of Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate instantly changed the subject from Barack Obama's dramatic acceptance speech in Denver the night before. But that wasn't all it accomplished. With one stroke, McCain defied convention, galvanized Republicans, and gave Hillary Clinton's legions another reason to consider crossing party lines in November: It is McCain, not Obama, who will be sharing a national ticket with a gutsy and accomplished woman. The Palin pick is a vivid illustration of why the label "maverick" is so often applied to McCain.

Those who have observed the 44-year-old governor up close speak highly of her political skills and personal appeal. She took on her own party's ethically challenged leadership and beat it handily, and has gone on to earn stratospherically high approval ratings for her own performance in office. Unlike Alaska's better-known politicians, she is a spending hawk and a committed porkbuster; notably, she pulled the plug on her state's notorious $400 million "bridge to nowhere."

Palin is about as far from a "Washington insider" as anyone in US politics can be -- a striking contrast to Obama's running mate, six-term Senator Joseph Biden. Her family story is thoroughly all-American, authentic, and charming: The former beauty contestant and self-described "hockey mom" is married to her high school sweetheart, with whom she has five kids, ranging from the 18-year-old in the Army to the infant with Down syndrome. And it certainly upends familiar stereotypes to have a national GOP candidate whose spouse belongs to the Steelworkers Union and races snowmobiles for fun. Nothing "community organizer" about this candidate.

Of course McCain is taking a big gamble. Palin has been governor for less than two years, has no foreign-policy or national-security experience, and has never been through the gauntlet of a national campaign. Whether she can hold her own on the stump and under the withering glare of the national media, we will all know soon enough. Many voters will understandably read McCain's choice as cynical, in part because he has made such an issue of Obama's limited record. But surely Palin's lack of expertise on defense and international issues makes *Obama's* inexperience all the more conspicuous. The Democratic nominee is as green and untested as McCain's new running mate. (Arguably even more so, since Obama has never been an executive.) There is, however, one key difference between them: She's not running for president....

For all the ink and bandwidth devoted to the Veepstakes, it is almost always the candidate at the top who seals the deal with the electorate -- or doesn't. Palin and Biden will enliven the nine weeks remaining until Nov. 4, but barring some extraordinary development or colossal blunder, they won't change the outcome. The race isn't about them. It is about Obama and McCain. It is between the uplifting but insubstantial charisma of the former and the battle-tested experience and judgment of the latter.

More here



Bureaucratic parasites: "Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has been checking up on the attendance records of federal employees. And he doesn't like what he's found. Civil servants have been away from their jobs without permission much too often in recent years, Coburn says in a new report. Records from 17 federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service show that workers were absent without leave for 19.6 million hours between 2001 and 2007, the study found. That's the equivalent of 2.5 million missed days of work, or 316 employees skipping out for entire 30-year careers, says Coburn, the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on federal financial management."

The Timing of Hurricane Gustav 'Just Demonstrates That God's on [the Democrats'] Side?: "We all say things we regret, and many of us speak in public places - like, say, an airplane coming back from the Democratic convention - without thinking how they would look captured on YouTube. Having said that, former DNC Chair Don Fowler would be wise to apologize for his giggling comments suggesting that the timing of Hurricane Gustav making landfall, and the potential it could hit New Orleans, "just demonstrates that God's on our side."

Crazy Prediction: "Picture this scenario... One month from now, the Palin pick has proven a bonanza for the McCain campaign. A large chunk of Hillary's 18 million voters have been won over. Conservatives are unified and energized, and the previously-undiscovered "Maxim magazine vote" is suddenly giving McCain large margins among young males. Joe Biden will disappear from the campaign trail, and we will later learn it was to see a doctor. A previously-undiscovered, vaguely ominous health issue will be discovered, and Biden will sadly announce that he cannot continue as Obama's running mate. With a sudden need for a new one, Obama will turn... to Hillary Clinton"


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Monday, September 01, 2008


It's tempting but I am not going to add anything to the uproar over Sarah Palin today. My fellow bloggers over at STACLU are doing a fine job shooting down the frantic Leftist and media criticisms of her. It's amusing how most of the things that Leftists criticize in her apply even more to Wonderboy (e.g. lack of foreign policy experience; insufficient administrative experience). They're really desperate. They say that running Alaska is "not enough" experience. As far as I am aware, Wonderboy has never even run a raffle.

I will say this, however: I predict that she will one day be President of the United States.


A summary of Olavo de Carvalho on the Leftist mind

Olavo de Carvalho is a Brazilian philosopher so his views principally reflect Lefism as it exists in Latin America -- but most of what he says is recognizable in the Anglosphere too

The Left (which he calls the "revolution") is not a unified ideology or agenda at all, but rather a way of seeing the world, and specifically it is an inversion of what normal people call common sense. And this inversion is the sole unifying factor, the one common thread running through the revolution since the 13th and 14th centuries

According to de Carvalho, revolutionary thought as we know it did not exist before about the 13th century; nor is it a function of chronological age. The myth that the young tend to be revolutionaries arises from the Left itself and serves the purpose of making the Revolution appear to be a natural phenomenon. Instead, this revolutionary inversion has its origins in an early Christian heresy (arrogating to itself the role of Christ the avenger) and has at least three aspects:

1-Inversion of the perception of time.

Normal individuals, based on common sense, see the past as something immutable and the future as something that can be changed (it is contingent, as de Carvalho puts it). Not so the leftist revolutionary, who sees the utopian future as a goal that eventually will be reached no matter what and the past as something that can be changed, through reinterpretation (what we call "rewriting history"), to accommodate it.

One example the author gives of this is how Soviet propagandists reinterpreted Dostoevsky, an anti-revolutionary of the first order. In his novel "Crime and Punishment," young revolutionary Raskolnikov kills his wealthy elderly landlady as an act of solidarity with the poor class, in keeping with his world view that ownership of private property is immoral and that the revolutionary is entitled to take possession of it by any means at his disposal. But Raskolnikov is caught and goes to jail where the only book available to the prisoners is a Bible, which he reads, and is converted to Christianity, abandoning his revolutionary ideology, which he now understands as immoral.

While fully aware of Dostoevsky's anti-revolutionary mindset, the early communists liked his novels and considered them too thoroughly Russian to ban, so they simply reinterpreted him posthumously and declared that his novels were written to highlight the need for more social justice. Thus the Left reached back into time and manipulated the thoughts of a man who would have been their adversary, making him posthumously a fellow communist.

2-The inversion of morality

De Carvalho points out that because the revolutionary (leftist) believes implicitly in a future utopia where there will be no evil, this same revolutionary believes that no holds should be barred in achieving that utopia. Thus, his own criminal activities in achieving that goal are above reproach. The author cites Che Guevara, who said that the revolutionary is the "highest rank of mankind." Thus, armed with such moral superiority, Che was able to cold-bloodedly murder his political enemies wholesale.

Another example cited in the lecture is Karl Marx, who had an illicit liaison with his maid and then, to keep bourgeois appearances, made his son, the offspring of that liaison, live in the basement of his home, never even introducing the boy to his brothers in wedlock. The boy was never mentioned in the family and went into historical oblivion. De Carvalho compares this despicable behavior with the more noble conduct of Brazilian landowners who had illegitimate children but made them heirs, yet made no claims of moral superiority!

To the revolutionary mind, it is normal that the revolutionary should pay no mind to the bourgeois morality, because after all, nothing he does can be construed as immoral, since the sum total of his actions hasten the revolution when justice will prevail. This is why conservatives frequently refer to the Left's hypocrisy (for example, environmental champion Al Gore's 20-fold electricity consumption compared to yours and mine).

By contrast, the author shows that by the Left's own definition of "revolution," the American revolution is not a revolution at all because our founders were men who held themselves (not just others) to high moral standards, and in no way tried to usher in a novel experimental utopian system, basing their actions and policies on older English traditions and common law, and modeling our Republic on these tried and true common-sense precepts.

3-Inversion of subject and object

When revolutionaries like Che, and Hitler's operatives, for example, killed innocent people, they would blame the people they killed for "making" them do it by refusing to go along with their revolutionary notions. This is one example the author gives of the inversion of subject and object.

De Carvalho also points out a number of other inversions and makes many fascinating points, but my purpose here is simply to clarify what the Left really is, to stimulate thought and to predispose the reader to buy his book when it comes out. You will be a better American for having read the writings of - a great American.



Democrats oppose secret ballots

The better to intimidate people

Democrats narrowly avoided a major embarrassment before holding their abbreviated roll call of the states here on Wednesday night. reported that the Obama campaign was seriously considering letting delegates vote by secret ballot, the better to avoid intimidation and fear of reprisal from local party bosses. But the plan -- which was pushed on the Obama camp by supporters of Hillary Clinton -- was suddenly dropped when it was realized that a key plank of the Democratic Party platform backs a so-called "card check" provision being added to the nation's labor laws. Card check would effectively strip workers of the protection of secret ballots in union elections. Business groups and former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern oppose the measure on the grounds that it exposes workers to harassment and intimidation.

That was precisely the concern of Democratic delegates who wanted to cast a secret ballot vote on the convention floor. The Obama campaign thought seriously about accommodating them until it realized how such a naked contradiction to the party's stance on union balloting might look to voters and the media.



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Moose Hunting "Barracuda"

Everybody and his dog can see that McCain's VP nomination is a brilliant grab for all the disgruntled Hillary supporters. You can almost hear the election ads already: "There's no glass ceiling in the Republican Party". She is much more than just a woman, however -- as Dick McDonald notes below:

Sarah Palin was the point-guard on the state's winning basketball team. The team members nicknamed her "Barracuda". She and her father are big "moose hunters". Her son will be fighting in Iraq soon. She opted to keep her new baby son with "Down's Syndrome" at the same time as the woman was the Governor of Alaska. Her first act as Governor was to sell the Governor's private jet. She won the race promising to clean up the corruption, including destroying Republican Senator Ted Stevens and his "Bridge to Nowhere". Today John McCain has chosen her to be the nominee for Vice-President of the United States.

She must be something special she has five kids and was runner-up in the Miss Alaska contest in 1984. She has the toughest job in America - a mother. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they celebrate their 20th anniversary today. Right at this moment she is speaking for the first time and she is one powerful speaker who will make mincemeat out of many of her detractors. She is a reformer with a record and she has all those attributes men celebrate - and sometime wither under - a phenomenal memory and an ability to make us toe that line we so often want to cross.

I am learning more about her as the minutes pass. My first impression is that we may have found our Margaret Thatcher. Her spirit shines through her face and the visage is much more attractive than Margaret's. The 2008 race has become a lot more interesting just when you thought it couldn't get any more interesting than Obama's love fest at Mile High. She will be the pit bull for McCain and boy she sounds as if she will be effective. As a woman she will be a softening influence on his administration - she was Miss Congeniality in 1984.

She is a hockey mom and the wife of a commercial fisherman, a member of the NRA and a pro-life advocate. Can this election be more different? Her approval rating in Alaska is above 80% which is totally phenomenal in any state. Apparently her reputation with the people is that the countryside is littered with the bodies of those who challenged her. Wow! McCain you did it again. You found an attractive and effective women - I can't wait to for this to all play out. The first call I got on this pick was from one very strong Republican woman who said she was in tears - of joy - after hearing Sarah talk


John McCain's introduction of her and her acceptance speech are on video here. It is a "Don't miss" video. McCain is not as good as The Gipper but he has The Gipper's straightforward sincerity. Details on how McCain came to pick Palin here


What Palin Does

1. Steps on the story of Obama's speech (and convention), and possibly the bounce coming from them, and wipes them off the news cycle. The Sunday news shows will be all-Palin, all of the time.

2. Sends Republicans into their convention on a huge head of steam.

3. Wipes out the image of McCain as the crotchety elder and brings back that of the fly-boy and gambler, which is much more appealing, and the genuine person.

4. Revs up the base AND excites independents, which no one else in the party, or perhaps in the world, could have accomplished.

5. Puts youth, change, and history on both of the tickets.

6. May detach some young people, especially women.

7. May attach some women pissed off about Hillary.

8. As a pro-life super-achiever, puts feminists in a tizzy.

9. Revives some of the double-edged nature of the Democratic primary, which featured a black vs. a
female trail-blazer, and put both sides on notice on sensitivity issues. Democrats used to raising charges of racism against Obama's critics may face charges of sexism and/or condescension if they try to diss her.

10. Steps on Obama's claims to have been a reformer, as he reformed nothing (much less the corrupt mare's nest of Chicago arrangements), while she was a dragon-slayer up in Alaska.

11. As a mother of five, one a Down Syndrome baby, helps her side take on the Democrats on abortion extremism and the Born Alive bill.

12. Reignites the deep and unhealed stresses inside the Democrats, some of whom will now wonder more loudly than ever why they didn't pick Hillary.

13. Counters Michelle in a way Cindy couldn't.

14. Counter-intuitively, makes the issue of Obama's light resume more potent than ever. Her lack of experience is no more than his is. And he's--to use a term from Alaska, and the Iditarod--their lead dog.




Obama: No Mathlete : "In last night's speech Barack Obama claimed that, "we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office." So what? Senator McCain has been in office for 26 years. That's an average increase of 4.2% per year (with compounding). Second, and more importantly, what does that have to do with anything? John McCain is one senator out of 100. His biography is full of amazing stories of courage, sacrifice and accomplishment. Surely, though, Senator Obama is not saying the John McCain has been single-handedly responsible for US energy policy for the last 25 years. What else can we put on his shoulders? US GDP has increased by 200% since McCain took office. Hamburger sales have skyrocketed. Shark attacks have been almost eliminated since McCain was elected. Maybe he's an oil importing, GDP raising, hamburger eating, shark killing leviathan. If so, he has my vote."

The strange Veep choice: "Joe Biden wasn't even on Barack Obama's short list until August 7, when Russia suddenly invaded the neighboring country of Georgia. That's the word from key Democrats meeting here in Denver who say the Obama campaign's need to shore up its foreign policy bona fides helped push the Delaware senator to the top of the pack. `We didn't pick our nominee. Vladimir Putin did,' is how one Democrat, who professes to be pleased with the Biden choice, put it."

The prophets of doom never give up: "The US economy expanded at a 3.3 per cent rate from April through June, far faster than first thought, but analysts are warning that the outlook for the remainder of the year remains grim. Even as investors celebrated with a rally in the stockmarket, pushing the Dow up more than 200 points, economists cautioned that consumer spending and foreign demand would probably dry up in the months ahead. With layoffs on the rise, corporate profits falling, and the housing slump still in full swing, the report was seen by many analysts as something of a last gasp. "Don't lull yourself into complacency looking in the rearview mirror," Joshua Shapiro, chief US economist at the research firm MFR, said. "The view out of the windshield is a lot scarier."

No good economic news in socialist-run Britain: "Britain's Treasury chief has told a newspaper that the country is suffering its worst economic crisis for 60 years, and more pain is yet to come. The Guardian newspaper has quoted Alistair Darling as saying the slump is ``going to be more profound and long-lasting than people thought''. In an interview for the paper's weekend edition, Darling said the economic conditions faced by Britain and the world ``are arguably the worst they have been in 60 years''. Darling also acknowledged that voters were angry with the governing Labour Party, which has been in power for 11 years."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)