Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Quick hits 4/28

Some notables from my recent reading:

Mark Steyn on the fatuousness of our current nuclear weapons policy:

By the way, that’s another example of the self-indulgent irrelevance of Obama. The mound of corpses being piled up around the world today is not from high-tech nuclear states but from low-tech psycho states. It’s not that Britain has nukes and poor old Sudan has to make do with machetes. It’s that the machete crowd is willing to kill on an industrial scale and the high-tech guys can’t figure out a way to stop them. Perhaps for his next pointless yakfest the president might consider a machete nonproliferation initiative.

Nuclear technology cannot be un-invented. All you can do, as President Reagan understood when few others did, is invent something that will render it, if not yet obsolete, at least less lethal. Until that moment, what makes the difference is not the technology but the regime.

Indeed it is. You would think, with the fall of the Soviet Union, the knee jerk anti-nuke movement would have faded away, but now they’ve moved into positions of actual policy influence…scary.

A little more:

[T]here’s no correlation between peace and the number of weapons — except insofar as states with only a few nukes are more likely to use them than states with gazillions: If you’ve only got a dozen, you’re under more pressure to let ’em fly before they’re taken out by incoming. So the principle underpinning Obama’s Seventies-retro nuke summit — that the size of a civilized state’s stockpile adds to the global threat — is not just false but dangerously delusional. Likewise, the urge to forswear nuclear innovation. It would be greatly to the advantage of civilization if responsible powers were to develop new forms of limited, highly targeted, bunker-busting nukes.

Spot on.


Jeff Jacoby on the outcry over Spirit Airlines lowering ticket prices while making excess carry-on luggage an a la carte charge:

[I]f Schumer grieves so deeply about travelers being "nickeled and dimed" when they fly, why has he never gone after the US ticket tax, which adds 7.5 percent to the price of every domestic flight? Or the $16.50 the federal government charges for each international departure and arrival? Or the $17 in customs and inspection fees paid by passengers flying into US airports from abroad? Or the "passenger facilities charges" (up to $18 per round-trip)? Or the "US Security Service Fee" ($2.50 per departure)? Or the "domestic segment fee" ($3.70 per flight segment)? The government's unremitting "nickeling and diming"of airline passengers doesn't trouble the sleep of New York's senior senator. Only when a private firm acts does he toss and turn in anguish.


Jack Kelly on President Bush (43)’s missed opportunity to clean up the CIA:

[I]n the gravest mistake of his presidency, George W. Bush didn't clean house. He just threw money at the existing structure, which made a bad situation worse.

"In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Congress gave the CIA more than $3 billion to increase its deep cover capabilities overseas," Ishmael said. "The CIA was not able to field a single additional effective deep cover case officer overseas. The money was swallowed up into higher pay packages, expensive boondoggles, the enrichment of contracting companies run by former CIA employees, and the expansion of CIA offices within the United States."

As usually happens with government spending…


It’s sad when the people who show up to protest a Nazi rally end up being worse people than the actual Nazis:

A bare-chested middle-aged man with Nazi insignias tattooed on his chest and back walked into a crowd of hundreds of counter-protesters gathered near 1st and Spring streets.

Surrounded, the man mockingly bobbed his head to the rhythm of demonstrators chanting "Nazi scum." About a dozen protesters suddenly began pelting the man with punches and kicks. He fell and was struck on the back with the wooden handle of a protester's sign, which snapped in two. Police eventually reached the man and pulled him from the melee, as blood poured from the back of his neck.

Another man was rushed by a mob on Spring Street. He was punched in the face and kicked for about 20 seconds before police made it to the scene. After that beating was broken up, the man began running south on Spring Street, only to be chased down by a protester and slugged in the face. He collapsed and his face slammed to the curb as protesters began pummeling him again.

The bloodied man was then escorted away by police. Both victims were treated and released, police said.

His sign, unclear in its intended meaning, read "Christianity=Paganism=Heathen$" with an arrow pointing at a swastika.

"Gosh, I think he just didn't have a clear message. I don't even think he was a Nazi," said one man, looking at the broken pieces of the sign left behind.

It turns out that some protests are violent (see also the anti-Arizona immigration law protests), it’s just that Tea Parties are not among them.


James Taranto notes a delicious story of a government assault on freedom gone awry:

Southern California has suffered a "sudden increase of water main breaks that damaged numerous homes, businesses and streets." KCBS-TV reports that the problem was caused by the "conservation"--i.e., rationing--efforts of Los Angeles' Department of Water and Power:

DWP customers were restricted to watering their lawns on Mondays and Thursdays only, which caused everybody to water their lawns basically at the same time. As a result, water pressure dropped, and the pipes were submitted to more cycles of water pressure.

In other words, the maximum water pressure did not change, but the minimum did, and this cyclic pressure created fatigue on corroded pipes.

We got a kick out of the headlines on the KCBS Web site, though. The main headline reads, "DWP's Water Rationing Blamed for Water Main Breaks." But here's the subheadline: "Report: Water Main Breaks Were Mainly Fault of Public."

Stupid public. They should have known better than to follow the DWP's idiotic rules.


More Taranto, catching a global warmist being honest:

[From an article in Der Spiegel]:

German climatologist Hans von Storch now wants to see an independent institution recalculate the temperature curve, and he even suggests that the skeptics be involved in the project. He points out, however, that processing the data will take several years.

"There is no other way to regain the trust that has been lost," he says, "even if I'm certain that the new curve will not look significantly different from the old one."

And if it does? "That would definitely be the worst-case scenario for climatology. We would have to start all over again."

That's a revealing quote, isn't it? These climate guys have been insisting we're all doomed, and if it turns out they're wrong, that's the worst-case scenario for them.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Oxes being gored and such

Roger Kimball with a genius passive aggressive call for consistency of thought from media old and new:

Heavens! The extremists are in the streets again. As I write, racially motivated opponents of Arizona’s new law that is intended to curb illegal immigration are festooning the state Capitol with swastikas — swastikas! — made of refried beans and are planning legal action to block the law from taking effect. The world’s most buffoonish political figure, the “Rev.” Al Sharpton, has called for a boycott and is said (though this cannot be confirmed at press time) to be calling on Tawana Brawley to speak at an anti-anti-immigration rally. Naturally, The New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, and kindred media outlets are set to repudiate these new outbreaks of hate and racist incitements to violence, narrow-mindedness, bigotry, etc., etc. Look for it tomorrow on the Daily KOS and other web sites dedicated to rooting out irrational prejudice and exposing the sore losers who don’t understand that elections have consequences and who won’t give a new law a chance but who divisively call for the repeal of the will of the people.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

How bad are they?

We don't know yet, but the Orioles' 2-16 start through Saturday (they somehow won yesterday) does yield some comps:

thru 18 rest of season Final
Year Team Lg W L W L % W L %
1884 Indianapolis AA 2 16 27 62 .303 29 78 .271
1884 Detroit NL 2 16 26 68 .277 28 84 .250
1892 Baltimore NL 2 16 44 85 .341 46 101 .313
1896 Louisville NL 2 16 36 77 .319 38 93 .290
1904 Washington AL 2 16 36 97 .271 38 113 .252
1907 Brooklyn NL 2 16 63 67 .485 65 83 .439
1931 Cincinnati NL 2 16 56 80 .412 58 96 .377
1944 Chicago NL 2 16 73 63 .537 75 79 .487
1988 Baltimore AL 0 18 54 89 .378 54 107 .335
1992 Kansas City AL 2 16 70 74 .486 72 90 .444
1997 Chicago NL 2 16 66 78 .458 68 94 .420
2003 Detroit AL 1 17 42 102 .292 43 119 .265

This does not include five NA and two UA teams that also accomplished the

Thanks to SABR member Mitch Soivenski for the research.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Quick hits 4/22

Notes from my reading:

Larry Elder, from a column on big government economics:

An economics professor asked his class which of these two scenarios the students preferred. First scenario: Japan grows at an annual rate of 7 percent, and the Unites States grows at 4 percent. Second scenario: Japan and the United States both grow at 3 percent. Overwhelmingly, the students chose the second option. In other words, the students accepted their own lower domestic growth rather than allow Japan — a friendly nation — to outpace us. In exchange for "equality," they chose an otherwise lower standard of living. They, at least, acknowledged the existence — and accepted the price — of the trade-off. If people understood the damage done when government takes from A and gives to B, how many would sign on?

It is stunning and sad that these students have become so brainwashed by Marxist rhetoric that they would explicitly choose making everybody poorer for the sake of a Utopian fantasy. That is exactly the position that big government advocates advance, but at least many (most?) of them are ignorant that such a trade-off exists.

Elder recognizes this:

Collectivism is a bargain that most people — if they knew the real price tag — would reject. These trade-offs include lower productivity, diminished initiative, fewer jobs, rewarding reckless behavior and poor choices, a lower-than-otherwise standard of living, less economic freedom, greater government dependency, and fewer resources to spend on national security and to secure our borders.


Michael Barone, from a column on increasing Wall Street regulation and its beneficiaries:
Little wonder that Goldman Sachs likes the idea. It will be able to borrow at lower cost than small competitors and will be assured that its large counterparties will qualify for government bailouts. Big firms tend to favor regulation because it insulates them from competition and protects them against loss. […]

In the 2008 campaign cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics' website, Goldman Sachs personnel contributed $4.5 million to Democrats and just $1.5 million to Republicans.

Add in three other big Wall Street firms — Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup — and the total take was $12.7 million to Democrats and $6.7 million to Republicans. The image of Wall Streeters as solid Republicans is as dead as J. P. Morgan himself.

With a (massively regressive, it should be noted) Value Added Tax push coming after the elections are safely over, it’s worth looking at their rate history elsewhere. Canada has actually lowered their VAT from the original 7% to 5%, but every other nation has later increased the rate (source: The Wall Street Journal):

Denmark 9-25%
France 13.6-19.6
Germany 10-19
Italy 12-20
Japan 3-5
Spain 12-16
Sweden 17.7-25
Switzerland 6.5-7.6
United Kingdom 8-17.5

Ahh, but maybe they reduced their income tax rates? Not so much.


Jay Nordlinger on our tax code:

The tax code pits Americans against one another. It pits homeowners against renters, married people against unmarried people, people with children against people without children, people with children going to college against people with children going into trades — and on and on. The tax code is packed with social policy, and bias. That’s one reason I say, a pox on it.


More Nordlinger:
I offer you good news out of Havana: “A surprisingly small crowd sweated and sang along to performances by Cuban rock, folk and salsa stars Saturday, at what the communist government billed as a politically important ‘concert for the homeland.’”

The article continued, “Organizers had said the show would be headlined by Cuba’s most famous folk singer, Silvio Rodriguez. But instead the pro-Castro government activist made fans wait for an hour in unrelenting afternoon sun before he took the stage, read a letter defending the single-party communist system — and then left without performing.”

Doesn’t that warm your heart?


From another Nordlinger column:

President Obama has another pick coming up. If I were able to question him, I might ask something like, “When you were in the Senate, you voted against both John Roberts and Samuel Alito. You said they were qualified in traditional ways, but they were conservative — therefore, in your eyes, they were unfit to serve on the Supreme Court. By your standard, should Republican senators vote against your nominees because they’re liberal?”


Finally, Charles Krauthammer on the fatuousness of US nuclear policy:

[T]he Washington summit was part of a larger misdirection play — Obama’s “nuclear spring.” Last week, a START treaty, redolent of precisely the kind of Cold War obsolescence Obama routinely decries. The number of warheads in Russia’s aging and decaying nuclear stockpile is an irrelevancy now that the existential U.S.-Soviet struggle is over. One major achievement of the treaty, from the point of view of Russian president Dmitri Medvedev, is that it could freeze deployment of U.S. missile defenses — thus constraining the single greatest anti-nuclear breakthrough of our time.

The left wing resistance to missile defense has never made any sense to me. I'm sure some of it was the anti-American, pro-Soviet worldview that infected the political left of the 80's, but shouldn't that silliness have been relegated to the dustbin of history as well? Is raw hatred for the US still driving opinion this issue?

Just bizarre.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Quick hits 4/20

Some things i ran across in my reading:

James Taranto, on why the left needs racism:

The political left claims to love racial diversity, but it bitterly opposes such diversity on the political right. This is an obvious matter of political self-interest: Since 1964, blacks have voted overwhelmingly Democratic. If Republicans were able to attract black votes, the result would be catastrophic for the Democratic Party. […]

To keep blacks voting Democratic, it is necessary for the party and its supporters to keep alive the idea that racism is prevalent in America and to portray the Republican Party (as well as independent challengers to the Democrats, such as the tea-party movement) as racist. The election of Barack Obama made nonsense of the idea that America remains a racist country and thereby necessitated an intensifying of attacks on the opposition as racist.

Walter Williams, concluding a superb piece on the destructive effects of minimum wage laws: “Tragically, minimum wages have the unquestioned support of good-hearted, well-meaning people with little understanding who become the useful idiots of charlatans, quacks and racists.”

Via Jay Nordlinger, this Benjamin Netanyahu quote is chilling and sad: “Iran’s leaders are barreling toward developing a nuclear weapon, and openly declaring their desire to destroy Israel. In the face of these repeated pledges to remove the Jewish state from the earth, we encounter in the best case a limp reaction, and even that is fading. We do not hear the necessary rejection, no harsh denunciation, no outcry. The world is carrying on as usual, and there are those who direct their fire at us, at Israel.”

Also via JN, a great Bill Buckley quote: “When you wished long life to Fidel Castro, were you wishing a short life to his prisoners?” Unwittingly or not, yes you were.

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Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln...

How (un)healthy were the Lakers entering this playoff season? Check out the Game 1 report:

Ron Artest (sprained left thumb) will play.
Shannon Brown (sprained right thumb) will play.
Kobe Bryant (avulsion fracture, right index finger) will play.
Andrew Bynum (strained left Achilles tendon) is probable.
Jordan Farmar (strained left hamstring) is probable.
DJ Mbenga (retinal surgery, left eye) is out.
Sasha Vujacic (severe sprain, left ankle) is out.
Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) is probable.

That, beyond anything, is why this repeat effort is so dicey.

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