Patterico's Pontifications

3/29/2009

Still Krugman After All These Years

Filed under: General — Karl @ 7:53 am

[Posted by Karl]

Newsweek puts Paul Krugman on is cover as the Loyal Opposition to Pres. Obama, no doubt because Newsweek finds criticism from the Left to be the only possible loyal opposition. But this charming anecdote is tucked inside:

With dry humor, he once told a friend the story of attending an economic summit in Little Rock after Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992. As the friend recounted the story to NEWSWEEK, “Clinton asked Paul, ‘Can we have a balanced budget and health-care reform?’—essentially, can we have it all? And Paul said, ‘No, you have to be disciplined. You have to make choices.’ Then Paul says to me (deadpan), ‘That was the wrong answer.’ Then Clinton turns to Laura Tyson and asks the same questions, and she says, ‘Yes, it’s all possible, you have your cake and eat it too.’ And then [Paul] says, ‘That was the right answer’.” (Tyson became chairman of Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers; she did not respond to requests to comment.)

Left out of the Newsweek account is that Tyson is currently a member of the Pres. Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, and is still churning out agitprop for the nonsensical notion that massive increases in spending on education and healthcare, combined with massive increases in taxes and regulation somehow do not explode the size of government.  Moreover, Tyson is whining about the fact that no one is buying her claptrap:

“We don’t have governments around the world supporting the Obama administration and we don’t have Democrats supporting the Obama administration.”

So here we are, another turn of the 16-year cycle, with Krugman still on the outside, Tyson again on the inside, and we still can’t have it all.  Reality bites, Ms. Tyson.

–Karl

3/28/2009

[Insert Amusing Blog Post Title Here Once Post Is Written]

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 3:03 pm

Ah, the professionalism and layers of editors at the Los Angeles Times.

[h/t carlitos]

A Very Special Episode of “Deport the Criminals First”

Filed under: Deport the Criminals First — Karl @ 7:34 am

Regular readers know that it’s been a pet issue of Patterico for quite some time to Deport the Criminals First. His point is simple: regardless of how you feel about illegal immigration, everyone can agree that the least desirable illegals — and thus the ones we should be deporting first — are the criminals. So once a criminal has served his time, he should be deported.

Most of the stories Patterico has covered on this beat are tragic — cases where an illegal immigrant has killed multiple victims, or a child.

This is not one of those stories:

As it turns out, Kenosha Sheriff’s deputy Russ Preston wasn’t wearing Batman briefs. 

But that didn’t stop the crime-fighting crusader, who was only wearing boxer-brief underwear at the time, from nabbing a drunken driver in his Racine neighborhood Thursday night.

***

“When I told him what he did, he just said, ‘Oh, sorry,’” Preston said. “I don’t think this was his first time. He already told me he had been deported once and he had a fake ID.”

You will want to RTWT, if only for some of the choice details provided by a local bank president.  As funny as this story is, it is also a reminder that there are plenty of cases of illegal immigrants committing crimes, causing property damage, raising insurance rates, etc., that will escape public notice precisely because they are not tragic or shocking.

–Karl

3/27/2009

The “reality-based community” meets reality

Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:35 am

[Posted by Karl]

Ron Brownstein writes about “Why Obama Can’t Satisfy The Left”:

As Democrats settle in to power, two distinct, and somewhat dissonant, lines of complaint are emerging from leaders on the left. One charges that Obama is deferring too much to Wall Street and its party allies in his response to the financial crisis…

The left’s other complaint is targeted at moderate-to-conservative Congressional Democrats resisting elements of Obama’s agenda. Obama’s budget has provided the initial flashpoint…

Brownstein’s discussion of the Left focuses on pundits, the nutroots, Big Labor and the Sorosphere, but the Congressional Progressive Caucus also has its collectivist nose out of joint. 

As Brownstein notes, there is blue-on-blue sniping over the budget:

MoveOn.org and Americans United for Change, the labor-backed organization that serves as the White House’s chief third-party operation, began airing ads Wednesday urging moderate Democrats in both the House and the Senate to get on board with the president’s budget.

Among the targets of Americans United for Change is Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), who declared the ads “not very helpful.”

“The liberal groups need to understand that we are not elected to represent the president,” Pryor said. “We’re elected to represent our states, and we are trying to reflect the attitudes and values of the people who sent us to Washington.”

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) is also unhappy with the friendly fire…

***

Leadership aides were grumbling about the liberal advertising campaigns.

Moreover, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) are quarreling over whether to try ramming a government heathcare scheme through Congress with only Democratic votes as part of budget reconciliation.  (Some may think this is some clever “good cop, bad cop” approach, which ignores the Byrd rule.)

Brownstein is also correct to note the nutroots’ horror (The horror! The horror!) over the notion that Obama is not forcing employees of TARP fund recipients into indentured servitude (though the big banks were forced to take the TARP money, regardless of financial health).  And indignation from the more honest proggs over Obama’s actual record on controversial war issues and his apparent “all in” approach on Afghanistan.

Thus does the self-proclaimed “reality-based community” attempt to come to grips with certain realities.  Other nations have issues with US foreign policy, regardless of the person sitting in the White House.  It is far easier to be united in opposition than it is in governing (though the GOP is fumbling that at the moment).  The separation of powers creates some checks and balances, even when one party holds Congress and the White House.  Voters will be merciless in punishing the party in power if the economy continues to lag.  Stabilizing financial markets actually requires working with people experienced in financial markets, because demonizing them could cause the collapse of the entities into which the US has poured billions.  The president may have to treat a war like a war, even if he names it something else.  Governing is tough.  Reality bites.

–Karl

Light Posting Until Tuesday — From Me, Anyway

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:01 am

When I say “light” I may mean “non-existent.” Hopefully Karl and Jack Dunphy will step into the breach, to the extent they can. In the meantime, I leave you with Barney Frank’s pathetic defense of his attack on Justice Scalia as a “homophobe,” and Ed Whelan’s explanation of why it’s B.S.

This is how the left has operated for eight years: foster a cartoonish view of someone based on a distortion of their words taken out of its proper context (in this case a legal one), and then level an inflammatory charge. In the legal context, the game is to judge every decision by its result rather than its reasoning.

Antonin Scalia is not a homophobe, he’s a justice who leaves matters from the culture war to the political realm. But making that argument requires an audience that can handle subtle distinctions, such as the distinction between policy preferences and legal results. More and more nowadays, such distinctions are bulldozed by demagogues out to make everything black and white, and demonize the other side for their political views. God help us if Barney Frank’s method of political discourse becomes the blueprint for the way Republicans speak.

3/26/2009

Did the JournoList Leaker Violate the Privacy of List Members?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:10 pm

Interesting question raised by the Mickey Kaus JournoList leak: isn’t it wrong for the leaker to have leaked this? Everyone on that list had an understanding that the communications between list members would be off the record. So, even though it was a big listserv, that understanding gave people a legitimate expectation of some privacy.

Then again, as someone who has seen the contexts of his supposedly private e-mails summarized in a comments section to show what a bad guy I am, I think you have to recognize that there will always be cretins who don’t respect normal conventions regarding e-mail privacy, keeping their word, etc. The larger the group, the greater the chance of such a turncoat leaking your e-mail.

And (as I have said before), as long as every journalist on the list is already identified as a openly left-leaning writer (like Eric Alterman, for example) I don’t see the list as Dangerous or Evil. So it’s not like there is some clear overarching societal benefit to breaking the off-the-record understanding.

Whether Kaus did anything wrong is a different question. Is it wrong for a journalist to repeat something that another journalist reveals he was told off the record? If the journalist revealing the comment knows he will be quoted for the record?

I say: not always.

For example, I once interviewed former L.A Times reporter Chuck Philips, who told me about things he claimed the FBI had said to him off the record. I repeated the statements. I thought they made Philips look bad for revealing them. He knew he was on the record when he talked to me. And what he was revealing — that the FBI believed Steven Seagal had not been involved in the plot against Anita Busch — was unlikely to be embarrassing to the FBI, in my estimation.

Under those circumstances, revealing the off the record statement told my readers something about Chuck Philips the reporter — that he was willing to sell out the confidences of his sources if he felt that it helped his agenda. That, I think, was worth sharing.

Reading the content of the e-mails published by Kaus, I think these may have been worth sharing as well.

JournoList Revealed!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:45 pm

Mickey Kaus goes inside JournoList and reveals a set of messages from the secret and elite cabal. Shockingly, the participants sound like a bunch of fighting morons, just like everyone else on the Internet, with feverish e-mails bearing sober subject lines like: “BREAKING: Marty Peretz is a Crazy-Ass Racist.”

I have to admit, though, that I got a Very Special Chuckle when I read this line:

Everyone I know who likes Olbermann also acknowledge that he is egomaniacal and has a penchant for hysterical drama. The main difference, which is glaringly left out by anyone who conflates him with the Savages and O’Reillys of the world, is that Olbermann doesn’t tend to, you know, lie about stuff regularly.

Oh, man.

It’s glaring!

Read it all, and revel in how familiar and idiotic it all sounds.

UPDATE: Did the JournoList Leaker Violate the Privacy of List Members?

Pres. Obama’s Unilateral Cowboy Foreign Policies

Filed under: General,Obama,Politics — Karl @ 11:01 am

[Posted by Karl]

In advance of the G20 summit on the global recession, France and Germany disagree with Pres. Obama’s push for larger economic stimulus plans, favoring tighter regulation and transparency instead.  China continues to buy US government debt, but concerns that China and Japan may get the jitters over Obama’s borrow-spend-and-inflate policies are affecting the bond and stock markets.  The Obama Administration’s policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan look to be increasingly unilateral.  And Obama seems committed to a unilateral policy on Iran, in keeping with his campaign rhetoric.

As Instapundit Glenn Reynolds might say, “They told me that if I voted for John McCain, we would get unilateral, cowboy foreign policy… and they were right!”

–Karl

GOP Submits Its Own Plans

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:28 am

Politico:

House Republicans have begun unveiling detailed alternatives to President Barack Obama’s policies — a concerted effort to push back against Democratic efforts to label them “the Party of No.”

On Wednesday, it was a housing plan. Thursday, it will be a big, TV-friendly stack of budget blueprints, “The Republican Road to Recovery.” That’s to match the president’s own platitudinous budget title, “A New Era of Responsibility.”

The House Republicans’ budget document, provided to POLITICO ahead of its release, makes sure no one can miss the point: Each chapter begins “The Republican Plan,” and each section is divided into “The President’s Budget” and “Republicans’ Solution.”

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the housing proposal that he rolled out with eight other House Republicans on Tuesday was “in response to the administration — and the president himself, who continues to say that Republicans don’t have any ideas.”

“We’re here today to say yes we do,” Cantor said. “This is one in a series. It will not be the last. We are committed to trying to pull the agenda back to the mainstream and to respond to the problems facing America’s families today.”

Is this a good thing? It depends on what the ideas are.

If you want to be taken seriously, you need your own solution. If your solution is a true return to smaller government and personal responsibility, great. But if your solution is more of the same, stick to fighting the other guy’s solution.

I can’t tell which this is, and I don’t trust the Republicans implicitly. Show us the details.

Dallas Police Turn to “Plain Language” Instead of Codes

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:12 am

The Dallas Morning News has a fascinating story about the local police department’s move to replace specialized radio codes (like “10-4″) with “plain language” terms (like “understood”). The idea is to create common understandings in situations where there is coordinated activity between separate jurisdictions that use different codes:

Through the years, departments developed their own unique codes or signals that were different from even neighboring agencies. So one department’s 10-13 (“officer in trouble”) was another department’s “request wrecker.”

Police officers also have different ways of saying things.

When East Coast officers say “collar,” they mean arrest, but in Nevada, officers say “rip,” said Tim Dees, a retired police officer and senior editor for lawofficer.com, a law enforcement Web site. With many agencies working together, “if you use the wrong word in the wrong context, people will look at you funny,” he said.

Good idea? I think the answer is: “It depends.”

Every profession has specialized terminology; in theory, this creates more precise understandings within the profession, and less clarity to those outside it. Whether to use the jargon or plain words depends on why you’re using it and whether you care about being understood.

For example, law enforcement has particular terms that cops and prosecutors routinely use. A cop talking to me in casual conversation may say that he saw a “187” and chased a guy with a “burner” until the guy “TCd.” That’s fine in my office, but when he’s talking to the jury, he had better tell them that he saw a murder, and then chased a guy who was armed with a gun until there was a traffic collision.

If he’s telling the story at mealtime, the terms he uses may vary depending on whether his companions are his partners at lunchtime, or his wife’s family at a bar-b-q. Using the same jargon is natural in one context, but may be rude in another, if nobody understands what he’s saying — even though his intent is the same in either context.

Note that people sometimes use specialized terms even when they don’t add clarity. Saying “one eighty-seven” instead of “murder” conveys no more specialized meaning, and takes twice as many syllables. Still, cops and DAs do it all the time. Part of the point may be to emphasize that “we understand this and others don’t.” Every profession or group potentially has an insular “only we understand” aspect; taken to an extreme, it can become cult-like, where members are taught a new language and instructed that members must know the terms or be cast out.

If you’re concerned about being understood by a broader audience, plain terms are better. If you care only about developing a small group of people who share common understandings, code words may be preferable.

But at all times, you need to keep in mind who your audience is, and how they will hear what you’re saying. If you’re selling cars to Latin America and you insist on calling your model the “Nova” out of pride, you’re taking a stand: I won’t change my name to suit my audience. You’re also an idiot who will sell fewer cars, because “no va” means “it doesn’t go.”

Getting back to the police department example, if the department is regularly working with outside agencies and suffering because of misunderstandings, that counsels in favor of a plain language approach. But if the police department mostly speaks to each other, and has a common understanding about certain terms, you might endanger lives by forcing veteran officers to abandon familiar terms in high-stress situations. They may overthink their speech, and that in itself can cause a lack of communication.

There are no easy answers. But deciding on how to express what you need to say depends critically on how it will be understood by your audience. That’s because communication is a two-way street. And while theories are great, communication has to work in the real world. Sometimes, when it doesn’t, people may die as a result.

This is a fascinating topic, and I’d love to hear our resident police officer Jack Dunphy weigh in.

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