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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, September 10, 2010

WORD AROUND THE NET

"If I stay too long people try to pull me down
They talk about me like a dog
Talkin’ about the clothes I wear"
-Jimi Hendrix, "Stone Free"

Code Pink has finally noticed that no one seems to care about their agenda now that Republicans are out of power. Previously the darlings of the left, this radical leftist anti-America group has become a pariah. Interestingly enough, although President Obama is continuing or expanding policy after policy from the Bush administration which the left sometimes violently opposed - such as a new surge for Afghanistan like the one for Iraq, Keeping Guantanamo Bay open, continuing warrantless wiretaps, seizing terrorist suspects, and so on - even groups like MoveOn are strangely silent. Afghanistan casualties mount, yet we do not get the daily "grim milestone" death counts in the media. Almost as if the purpose of the Bush era "anti war" protests was never really about war at all.

Greenland's ice cap has only been around for less than a millennia, but it is so familiar that some scientists who really ought to know better think that's how it should always, forever, until the end of time perpetually remain or we face total disaster. So every time they think they've discovered ice melt on Greenland, they hold it up as proof of imminent global doom. Yet even the amount of melt they have proclaimed is apparently much less than they thought. According to Lewis Page at The Register, new research indicates that the ice loss is probably a third what was previously believed - and ice is building up lately as earlier research has found.

Community organizing is the subject of a great article in City Journal's Winter issue. Heather Macdonald writes:
Alinskyite empowerment suffered its worst scandal in 1960s Chicago. The architects of the federal War on Poverty created a taxpayer-funded version of a community-organizing entity, the so-called Community Action Agency, whose function was to agitate against big-city mayors for more welfare benefits and services for blacks. Washington poverty warriors, eager to demonstrate their radical bona fides, funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into Chicago’s most notorious gangs, who were supposed to run job-training and tutoring programs under the auspices of a signature Alinskyite agency, the Woodlawn Organization. Instead, the gangbangers maintained their criminal ways—raping and murdering while on the government payroll, and embezzling federal funds to boot.

The disaster failed to dim the romance of community organizing. But by the time Obama arrived in Chicago in 1984, an Alinskyite diagnosis of South Side poverty was doubly irrelevant. Blacks had more political power in Chicago than ever before, yet that power had no impact on the tidal wave of dysfunction that was sweeping through the largest black community in the United States. Chicago had just elected Harold Washington, the city’s first black mayor; the heads of Chicago’s school system and public housing were black, as were most of their employees; black power broker Emil Jones, Jr. represented the South Side in the Illinois State Senate; Jesse Jackson would launch his 1984 presidential campaign from Chicago. The notion that blacks were disenfranchised struck even some of Obama’s potential organizees as ludicrous. “Why we need to be protesting and carrying on at our own people?” a prominent South Side minister asked Obama soon after he arrived in Chicago. “Anybody sitting around this table got a direct line to City Hall.”
Then-community organizer Obama was surrounded by this as he went to work, but his writings touch very little on this, except to use them as examples of why the city needed even more community organization. Lots of good stuff in the article including the loss of fatherhood in the black community and Obama's inability to comprehend why that might be a problem.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, polls suggest that people there aren't exactly overjoyed with the withdrawal of troops which is taking place. Sure, there's still quite a few soldiers on the ground, but in less than ten years Iraqis have gone from suspicion and dislike of an occupying force to wishing they'd stick around just a little bit longer, if you can trust the poll. I think they probably can benefit from being forced to stand up and take care of more of the burden themselves.

Lawyers, movies, and television dramas have gotten a lot of mileage out of the idea of "repressed memories" but research continues to suggest that its all a bunch of nonsense. The latest study reinforces the idea that much of these alleged memories are the result of incompetent (or malicious) counselors and psychiatrists, as Karen Berkman reports at Australia's ABC:
Professor Grant Devilly, from Griffith University's Psychological Health research unit, says the memory usually works in the opposite way, with traumatised people reliving experiences they would rather forget.

"It's the opposite. They wish they couldn't think about it," he said.

In a briefing to the US Supreme Court, Professor Richard McNally from Harvard University described the theory of repressed memory as "the most pernicious bit of folklore ever to infect psychology and psychiatry".
I expect people can repress parts of memories and the shock they cause, but not the whole thing. Human nature tends to remember bad stuff even better than good.

Anthony Watts continues to be a pain the side of the alarmist movement, compiling and analyzing data that brings their conclusions into doubt, if not total disarray. Recently at his Watt's Up With That blog, he linked this story from Norway:
Recent mapping of a number of raised beach ridges on the north coast of Greenland suggests that the ice cover in the Arctic Ocean was greatly reduced some 6000-7000 years ago. The Arctic Ocean may have been periodically ice free.
Which means that there was even less ice then than there is now, despite hysterical claims by Al Gore and other alarmists. The scientist involved is certain - without a shred of evidence - that the climactic forces of that time causing that melt were different than now. They have to be, or there's no huge warming crisis.

Roger L Simon at Pajamas Media passes along a story about George Soros which helps understand the man a bit better. Turns out as a teenage boy he helped the Nazis round up Jews and control them easier, despite being Jewish himself. As Simon points out, maybe he (or I) might have done the same thing in his place at that age, but Soros shows absolutely no signs of regret or remorse whatsoever for these acts:

How does Soros feel about what he did as a teenager? Has it kept him up at night?

Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes asked him that. Was it difficult? “Not at all,” Soros answered.

“No feeling of guilt?” asked Kroft. “No,” said Soros. “There was no sense that I shouldn’t be there. If I wasn’t doing it, somebody else would be taking it away anyhow. Whether I was there or not. So I had no sense of guilt.”

Combine that with his leftist monomania and his comments about becoming a god with his power to bankrupt economies and control monetary values and you have a very twisted, troubled man.

Given the price of a college education, which is topping $200,000 in some schools, more people are starting to say that you're better off not getting that degree after all. Thousands of graduates with shiny degrees flipping burgers agree. The argument goes like this: after a certain point, the expense and time of going through a full university education exceeds the benefit you receive in the job world, and as the cost keeps increasing at an acelerating rate, soon if not already a point will be reached which makes it better to just skip the whole thing. Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit believes that tuition prices are in a bubble: an artificially inflated rate which is greater than the market and reason dictates. If that's true, when the bubble pops it couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch of leftist ingrates.

Despite various deals with other countries such as Russia, UN sanctions, and world pressure, Iran continues to enrich and stockpile uranium. Everyone on earth knows why they want to do this - the uranium they are preparing is far too rich for normal nuclear power plant use. They want to make nukes. And almost nobody on earth wants a lunatic religious extremist-run nation to have nuclear weapons, especially one fixated on a gigantic holocaust that triggers the coming of their messiah.

Australia has a goal: under their Emissions Trading Scheme put into place by now-deposed former prime minister Rudd, reduce emissions by 2020 by 60%. This would have an impact of .01% of the world's carbon emissions. How can they achieve this? Well as Joanne Nova writes if they eliminate all coal heating, they can do this by building a mere 8000 solar power plants; each covering dozens of acres. Or they can build 35 nuclear power plants, having only one in the country which greens are trying desperately to shut down. And the one solar plant they're trying to build keeps running into technological limitations and no more than one mirror has been set up since 2007.

Former Vice President Gore has been keeping a fairly low profile after Warmaquiddick turned his pet money making scam into a joke, but he's still been active. A school opened in California recently named after him and Rachael Carson, mother of the modern leftist green movement. Its a natural pairing: DDT wasn't as bad as she said and its banning was for political reasons which has resulted in millions of deaths, and Gore's hysterical warming rhetoric was for political (and money making) reasons and has cost hundreds of billions of dollars. In an appropriate turn of events, we learn via The Blog Prof that the school turns out to have been built on top of a toxic dump:
Critics say the campus' location poses a long-term health risk to students and staff.

School district officials insist that the Arlington Heights property is clean and safe. And they've pledged to check vapor monitors and groundwater wells to make sure.
...
The soil had contained more than a dozen underground storage tanks serving light industrial businesses.

Additional contamination may have come from the underground tanks of an adjacent gas station. A barrier will stretch 45 feet down from ground level to limit future possible fuel leakage.
Is there any plausible danger of contamination? No, but its people like Gore and Carson who've made the potential possible, conceivable risk no matter how infinitesimal and irrational, cause for radical action no matter what the cost. How appropriate.

Speaking of Al Gore, his recent investments with Kingspan, an Irish lumber company, harken back to his earlier years of incredibly dirty coal mining and his vast, energy gobbling homes. Ben Hines writes in Tiny Green Bubble:
According to the NGO Progression Ireland, Kingspan, of which Gore’s Generation Investment Management (GIM) firm owns twelve percent, does not use certifying systems designed to prevent the spread of illegal logging. Since the black market for illegal logging is a huge contributor to global warming, which is supposedly a concern at the heart of GIM’s very existence, the match and investment seem suspect. More concerning? Progressio made Mr. Gore and GIM aware of their concerns over a year ago and haven’t received a response from either yet.
Again, is this really a serious problem? Not for rational people, but for someone like Gore, its like the Pope being caught having an affair.

Remember T J Josepf from Kerala, India? He's the guy who wrote a perfectly innocuous question involving Muhammad in a test, trying to help students identify with the problem in question better, and was beaten viciously then had his hand hacked off for alleged blasphemy as a result. He used to work for a Christian school. I say used to, because the school has fired him. Why? Well the real reason is probably fear and intimidation by radical Muslims, but they say it is because he was "hurting the religious sentiments of a section of the people."

Victor Davis Hanson has another terrific article up, this time articulating something I've been considering writing about for a while but never got around to. He looks at why President Obama seems so thin skinned and is complaining about being treated "like a dog:"
Various explanations come to mind. Like the early presidential years of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, Obama has experienced a radical drop in approval ratings. His preconceived notions about the world abroad have proven shockingly therapeutic. He must be disappointed that an Ahmadinejad or Putin is not swayed by his charisma and does what he pleases, which is mostly to oppose America and its interests whenever he can. Messianic disappointment with an unappreciative lesser world can explain a lot.

Keynesian economics did not pan out. Pundits without the responsibility of governance, who advised him to borrow trillions, now abandon him for not borrowing more trillions. He must be confused why he is both being attacked by friends and yet unable to borrow his way to recovery.

Yet Obama’s petulance, I think, more likely derives from a certain surprise — leading to anger — that originates from novel and sudden demands for accountability. Quite simply, no one has dared question Obama before — much less press him for deeds to match his mellifluous words.
Hanson has much more to say (and I recommend reading it all), then ends with these words:
Given all that, it is understandable both why America is very worried about what it has wrought — and why Barack Obama is miffed and lashes out.

You would too if both accountability and criticism were novel experiences at 49.
Indeed. My only disagreement with Mr Hanson is that Obama isn't an example of the Peter Principle, he's an entirely different principle in action: the Obama Principle. Rather than simply being promoted beyond your level of competence, Obama was promoted far beyond that, entirely based upon being politically correct. It wasn't affirmative action, because just being (half) black wasn't the sole cause. He was half black and leftist and academic, a dream triad with an exotic sounding name that appealed to the leftist love of the other and the underdog. Oh, and don't miss the comments, there's a treasure trove of great thoughts there, too.

Also from Victor Davis Hanson is this quick quip about taxes and the idea of what level is fine to nail and who should be left alone:
...at some point his arbitrary economic Mason-Dixon line — dividing the bad 1 percent that pays 40 percent of income taxes from the good 40 percent who pay nothing — gets too close to home.
Consider that a while. He's writing in the context of leftists getting uncomfortable with their taxes going up and how $250,000 isn't as much as it seems in some parts of the country, but look at that, almost 50% of the country pays no federal income tax, and 1% pay 40% of the entire country's income taxes.

Just about every leftist will agree that we need higher taxes in the US to help pay for their ever progressing list of entitlements and welfare projects. You'd think the fact that so many are so very rich would make them dislike higher taxes, but based on recent news, perhaps we know why it does not. Andrew Mofhwo writes in the LA Times Top of the Ticket blog:
The Post's T.W. Farnum did some research and found that out of the total sum, just 638 workers on Capitol Hill owe the IRS $9.3 million in back taxes. As in, overdue. The IRS gets stiffed by the legislative body that controls its budget. How Washington works.
...
Privacy laws prevent release of individual tax delinquents' names. But we do know that as of the end of 2009, 41 people inside Obama's very own White House owe the government they're allegedly running a total of $831,055 in back taxes. That would cover a lot of special chocolate desserts in the White House Mess.
Its not just Geithner and Tom Daschel, or even Willie Nelson. Its apparently the thing to do if you're a leftist government drone: taxes are for the little people. Oh, and raise them.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration, working with Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid, have jacked up the national debt by such a vast amount it took over 200 years of previous presidents to equal it. Terrence P Jeffrey writes at CNS news:
In the first 19 months of the Obama administration, the federal debt held by the public increased by $2.5260 trillion, which is more than the cumulative total of the national debt held by the public that was amassed by all U.S. presidents from George Washington through Ronald Reagan.
But hey, its all President Bush's fault, right? Its those darn Republicans who, powerless in congress, somehow compelled the Democrats to spend and spend and spend.

Deficits are historically gargantuan in the US too, with the total deficit a larger number than at any time in human history, three times larger than President Bush's biggest. In fact, when compared to the Gross National Product, this year will run the second highest deficit ever in American history. The number one? The previous overspending hard left president during bad economic times who tried Keynesian remedies ran it up during World War 2: FDR.

Dr Terry Jones has decided not to burn Korans on 9/11, and some rumors indicate that this is part of a deal to get the Ground Zero Victory Mosque not built. He got his attention and publicity, so I guess the actual event wouldn't be necessary. As Don Surber reports, even had he done it, the press had agreed not to cover it; its news but they didn't want to hand him publicity or outrage Muslims world wide. Well I respect that and commend their choice but I can't help thinking their reasoning had more to do with fear of burning property and threatened reporters than any high moral standards. If someone burned lots of Bibles as a huge stunt I suspect they'd have been there in full force showing every last flickering ash, but maybe I'm just too cynical these days.

Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA) is another member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Like Eddie Bernice Johnson before him, he misused funds from the CBC, according to Politico:
Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) awarded three scholarships from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to his stepdaughter and wife’s niece between 2003 and 2005, according to records from the non-profit group.
This, again, is in violation of the scholarship's rules. How deeply this nepotism and misuse of funds go is anybody's guess, but I suspect a hard audit would discover many such problems over the years.

And that's the Word Around the Net, September 10, 2010.

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