Monday, October 18, 2010

Recommended Reading

Disheveled former senate candidate Mickey Kaus knocks it out of the park with this one:

Obama's talk Saturday night wasn't as bad as his San Francisco lecture. It was worse, in this sense: It's one thing to say those poor people in Pennsylvania are hostile to gay rights, say, because all their "jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them"—and that they'll change when they get the jobs back. It's another thing to say those poor people will change when they get their jobs back when you've had two years to get them their jobs back and have conspicuously failed. At that point, blaming "false consciousness" becomes a semi-delusional way of dancing around your own inability to remove the root of that false consciousness. A little humility is in order. If true humility is unavailable, false humility will do.

Maybe Obama was cynically making a pitch to his immediate audience—a small crowd of Massachusetts donors who might be expected to respond to the idea that they were defending "facts" and "science" against confused know-nothings. But Obama should know, especially after the 2008 San Francisco incident, that a candidate can't keep his words confined to a fundraiser. And this apparently wasn't a closed-to-press event like the one in S.F. We didn't have to rely on a donor/blogger like Mayhill Fowler to spill the beans. Reporters reported on it. Obama couldn't have been trying to cyncially play to the donors—he's not that naive! This must be what he really thinks.

Now I'm scared! What yesterday's comments suggest isn't just that Obama will get clobbered in the midterms. It suggests that after he gets clobbered he won't be able to adjust and turn the setback into a longterm victory the way Bill Clinton did. Clinton reacted to his 1994 midterm loss by acknowledging his opponents' strongest arguments and pursuing a balanced budget and welfare reform. Obama seems more inclined to just tough it out until the economy recovers and the scared, confused voters become unscared and see the light. Meanwhile, he'll spend his time in a protective cocoon.
Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Shovel Ready!"


The Pasadena City Council on Monday approved a $152 million renovation plan for the 88-year-old Rose Bowl stadium.
The number of luxury seats will be increased from about 550 to 2,500. The site of the annual Rose Bowl game also will get a new scoreboard, safety improvements, more restrooms and more concession stands.

The city plans to pay for the upgrade with federal stimulus funds, a bond issue, money from the Tournament of Roses and profits from previous games.

You'd think they'd send taxpayers free tickets to next year's game, wouldn't you?

If so, you'd be wrong. Suckers!

Sabotage Or Incompetence? Can Iran Tell The Difference?

Fascinating Asia Times column today from David Goldman (nee Spengler) regarding the recent reports of malware disrupting Iran's nuclear program:

Amid the mass of published analysis of the Stuxnet virus, Iran's most obvious vulnerability to cyber-war has drawn little comment: much of the Islamic Republic runs on pirated software. The programmers who apparently cracked Siemens' industrial control code to plant malware in Iran's nuclear facilities needed a high degree of sophistication. Most Iranian computers, though, run on stolen software obtained from public servers sponsored by the Iranian government. It would require far less effort to bring about a virtual shutdown of computation in Iran, and the collapse of the Iranian economy. The information technology apocalypse that the West feared on Y2K (the year 2000) is a real possibility.
A country that steals its software cannot build its own, even if the sort of individual who excels at software development wanted to live in Iran. Most of those who can, leave. A 2002 study reported that four out of five Iranians who received rewards in international science competitions subsequently left Iran; too few Iranians have won international awards since then to gather comparable data. In 2006, the International Monetary Fund noted that Iran had the worst brain drain of 90 countries surveyed.

Iran has so few skilled programmers that it could be that the security services do not have the capacity to distinguish sabotage from incompetence. That may explain why Tehran blames foreign intelligence services for a recent succession of economic reverses, including the near-collapse of the local markets for gold and foreign exchange.
Read the whole thing.

Applebaum Redux

Anne Applebaum has responded to Jonah Goldberg's critique of her Tuesday column by... well, by repeating her points from that column. It's a poor effort, and Applebaum doesn't actually bother to rebut or respond to Jonah's points.

Worse, Applebaum insists on reinforcing her errant implication that degrees from the Ivy League (and the Ivy League alone) represent intellect and merit in American society, and entirely ignores Jonah's point that this stance leads directly to the attitude that the rest of us should shut up and do as we're told when our Ivy-credentialed betters speak. That capable and intelligent Americans might not choose to attend six-figure-tuition snob factories apparently hasn't even entered her mind, and she certainly hasn't considered the thought that an Ivy degree is no guarantee of competence.

I'm willing to bet that the executive suites at AIG and Lehman Brothers and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the time of their respective failures were chock-full of Ivy graduates. Fat lot of good that did them.

UPDATE: Jonah responds.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cracked Peanut

Joe Queenan had a marvelous review of Jimmy Carter's "White House Diary" over the weekend in the WSJ. A sample:

In November 1980, the American people made a disastrous decision whose reverberations are still being felt today. Rather than biting the bullet and re-electing the glum, uncharismatic, hopeless Jimmy Carter to the White House—thereby ensuring that he would return to Plains, Ga., at the conclusion of his second term and keep his blabberpuss shut—they turfed him out into the street.

That made him mad. Really mad. By giving one of America's dopiest presidents the bum's rush, the American people ensured that Mr. Carter would spend the rest of his life trying to even the score, trying to persuade them that they had made a huge mistake when they cast their lot with Ronald Reagan, trying to convince them that they were a bunch of jerks.

The particular form of retribution Carter chose was as sinister and cruel as any known to man. He took his pen in hand and began to write books. Long books. Boring books. Dour books. Yes, long, boring, dour, numerous books. Books with sanctimonious names like "Keeping Faith" and "Living Faith" and "Leading a Worthy Life." Books with pompous names like "Turning Point," "Our Endangered Values" and "Always a Reckoning." Books with hokey names like "Christmas in Plains" and "Everything to Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life." And yes, even books with names like "The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer" that defy classification.

He has not set his pen down since.

Read the whole thing. H/T: Powerline.

A Foolish Column From Anne Applebaum

I'm generally a fan of Anne Applebaum's work--she's one of the few national media writers who's willing to honestly state just how bad Soviet Communism really was--but she really laid an egg with her WaPo column today. It's a convoluted defense of David Brooks' infamous "educated class" (although Applebaum mentions neither Brooks nor his unfortunate phrasing), i.e. graduates of Ivy League colleges:

[T]hese modern meritocrats are clearly not admired, or at least not for their upward mobility, by many Americans. On the contrary -- and as [sociologist Daniel] Bell might have predicted -- they are resented as "elitist." Which is at some level strange: To study hard, to do well, to improve yourself -- isn't that the American dream? The backlash against graduates of "elite" universities seems particularly odd given that the most elite American universities have in the past two decades made the greatest effort to broaden their student bodies.
The rest of the column is an encomium to the wonders of Ivy alumni (I bet you can't guess where Applebaum went to college) and the perfidy of the little people who resent them.

It's a deeply foolish and self-serving piece. Applebaum's pricey Yale education apparently didn't include any introductory courses in logic; her entire thesis proceeds from the false assumption that to be an intelligent person on the continent, one must by definition have gone to an Ivy school. Applebaum's lazy and (yes) elitist conceit that the 'best and brightest' are the sole property of a dozen or so expensive Northeastern colleges goes beyond elitism or snobbery and very nearly into the realm of flat bigotry.

The idea that anyone with a functioning brain might have willingly chosen not to attend an 'elite' private college with six-figure tuition just doesn't occur to her. One is moved to suppose that such a notion would be entirely too shattering to her own sense of self-worth.

At times like this it's worth recalling Megan McArdle's observation from the early fall of 2008. Megan was speaking at the time of decidedly non-Ivy Sarah Palin, but her point carries through to Applebaum's snide dismissal of today's Tea Partiers:

[She] speaks to the sense of people who didn't go to Ivy League schools that Harvard grads think they're not quite bright, and definitely not competent to run their own lives without a Yale man supervising things. And they're entirely right that a lot of Ivy League grads do think this way, consciously or unconsciously.

… I may not like what she stands for, but I have to acknowledge its power--and yes, that frequently, the coastal elites earn the revulsion of Middle America. They don't, to coin a phrase, hate us for our freedoms--our homosexual coddling, abortion loving ways. They hate us because we act like we think we deserve to rule them.

Apparently Applebaum suffers from precisely this delusion. That's a shame--and the shame is hers.

UPDATE: Jonah concurs.

UPDATE UPDATE: Applebaum responds... poorly.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Happy Tymes Are Over in Alabama


FBI agents swept across Alabama this morning arresting state lawmakers and lobbyists as part of a federal probe into efforts to pass gambling legislation last spring.

The biggest name arrested so far has been VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor, who was arrested at his Montgomery home this morning.

Also arrested today have been state senators Jim Preuitt, R-Talladega, Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, Larry Means, D-Attalla, Harri Anne Smith, I-Slocomb and Montgomery lobbyist Jerrod Massey.
I've known Milton McGregor since I was a kid, although it's been a good 20 years since I've so much as laid eyes on him. Back in the late 70's and early 80's, he ran a vending machine business in my hometown of Enterprise.

Around 1982, Milton cashed in on the early 80's video game fad by opening the town's only video arcade, a little strip mall joint called "Happy Tymes." For about three years, it was hands-down the number-one hangout for anybody in 'Weeviltown' between the ages of 10 and 20.

That taste for "gaming" might have been what led Milton to become the public face of Victoryland, a dog track in east-central Alabama, when the track was first developed about 25 years ago. McGregor was brought in as a junior partner to Alabama's real gambling godfather, one Paul Bryant, Jr.

"Cub" Bryant did not then and does not now like to be identified with gambling--the foundation of his personal wealth--in the media. The garrulous McGregor was a perfect foil. Milton loved the limelight, and quickly became the face of the state dog tracks, and later the moves towards turning them into full-on casinos--which, as of this writing, are still illegal under Alabama law.

His work paid off, and handsomely. After Victoryland opened, McGregor became fabulously rich in his own right, and has been playing the game of Alabama politics with the big boys for a couple of decades now. Unfortunately, that game has been as corrupt as any in the nation for quite a bit longer than I've been alive, and it looks like the law may finally have caught up with Milton, as well as a whole bunch of dirty politicians.

Alabama's beyond-dirty legislature has needed a thorough defumigation for most of its sordid history. Here's to hoping that today's arrests mark the first influx of disinfectant.

Headline Of The Day

From the Orlando Sentinel:

"Florida man trying to shoo skunk accidentally shoots himself in face."
Insert your own Alan Grayson joke here.

Friday, October 1, 2010


CNN: "To say Allred, 69, is well-known is an understatement."

Ann Althouse: "To say CNN is a news organization is an overstatement."

H/T: Blogfaddah.