Patterico's Pontifications

12/29/2010

The emerging Democratic majority vs. the oncoming train

Filed under: General — Karl @ 9:05 pm

[Posted by Karl]

One of the nice things about the 2010 midterm election was that we were largely spared triumphalist punditry about political “realignment.” After all, sentiment among conservatives and Tea Partiers was consistent with the polling data suggesting that the 2010 results were much more about stopping Pres. Obama and the Democrats than any great enthusiasm for or trust in the Congressional GOP.

Nevertheless, there have been some Dems bitterly clinging to the “emerging Democratic majority” thesis, i.e., that demographic changes in the electorate will soon put the Dems back in the dominant position they enjoyed for much of the 20th century. It shows up in this recent post-census Slate piece by Christopher Beam. The Weekly Standard’s Jay Cost does a nice job exposing one major weakness with the thesis — and if you read the whole thing, Jay links back to his prior dissections of the “emerging Democratic majority” thesis, all of which are pretty darn good.

However, there is a major problem with the “emerging Democratic majority” thesis that Jay adresses only obliquely. Those propagating or buying this thesis rely heavily on demographics because they are at least somewhat predictable. Yet discussions of realignment frequently leave out the role of historical events.

Anyone looking US history would surmise that events like the Civil War, the Great Depression and the capture of the liberal establishment by the New Left in the late 1960s to mid-1970s had a little something to do with major political realignments. It is understandable that people are loath to discuss “unknown unknowns.” Pundits and analysts cannot foretell the future, but it is foolish to invest in theories based on demographics without recognizing that historic unknowns are likely to significantly influence the outcome.

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America’s Drill Instructor: Where is Your Honor, Dirtbag? This Administration is a Disgrace!

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 5:32 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

You all know and love R. Lee Ermey for his iconic role as the Drill Sergeant Instructor in Full Metal Jacket.  In real life he was, pretty much the drill instructor in Full Metal Jacket—that is a real D.I. in the Marines.  And as much as you liked him before, you will probably love him even more when you see him go full metal Glenn Beck in this video clip:

And I don’t mean that in a tongue and cheek fashion.  That is pretty much Beck’s theory in a nutshell, love it or hate it.  I tend to be more of a “never assign to malice what can be better explained as incompetence” kind of guy, so that is my explanation for the last two years.  But I admit sometimes you wonder if they are doing it on purpose.

By the way, that headline comes from this line.  And they have a whole page dedicated to his sound clips.  Cool.

Update: Thanks to Lopez in the comments who corrected me for incorrectly referring to the good man as a Drill Instructor. And thanks to AD for another embarrassing typo. Dang that lexdysia!

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Cracked.com Sets the Record Straight on the Tea Party (And Eight Other Major Stories)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 1:35 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; please send any tips here.]

Cracked.com has an unusually harsh critique of how the media treated the Tea Party, contrasting how we heard the story in the media v. the reality:

The way we heard it:

“The Tea Party is just a swarm of redneck doofuses, not only unworthy of serious consideration from the rest of us but 100 percent deserving of scrotum-based epithets. Because they’re just that ridiculous.”

And Christine O’Donnell was the new Queen of the Crazies. It didn’t take long for us to find out that she was personally bankrupt, a dabbler in witchcraft and not all that knowledgeable about this holy document she swore she was building her candidacy around. Plus, everything that came out of her mouth was pure hilarious moonshine. Which was probably why she stopped giving her mouth a national platform six weeks before the election. But that didn’t stop the media from talking about her, because O’Donnell so perfectly represented everything else about the Tea Party.

There were blatant racists and blatant Obama-to-Hitler-comparison-makers. All year we saw misspelled signs and angry, red-faced Colonials. People like Anderson Cooper and President Obama showed how seriously they were taking the party by calling them “tea-baggers.” And nobody blamed them, because all year long, the media gave us a picture of the Tea Party that made it perfectly clear: This is a joke.

But the truth is …

It wasn’t a joke.

For all those wackjob birthers captured on film wearing frilly lady blouses and triangle hats, there were thousands of ordinary people just living their lives, being regular, and not liking how their Republican Party had turned out. And even though Tea Party members tend to skew toward older, middle-class white guys, their overall demographics aren’t that far from the rest of the country. Of course, regular people are about as riveting as dry toast, so they didn’t get much screen time. Which is why it came as such a shock to everyone when 32 percent of Tea Party-affiliated candidates won their elections.

By focusing in on the a–clowns the media painted a picture that not only wasn’t accurate, but pretty much made constructive political discourse impossible. They didn’t just fail to do their job — they did the opposite of their job, and they’ve been doing it for years….

So when we watched coverage of O’Donnell and the Tea Party this year, we were only getting the bonkers half of the picture. Now that CNN is teaming up with the Tea Party Express to host the Republican debates next year, we’ll probably see a lot fewer costumed revolutionaries. But everyone will just assume the Tea Party cleaned up its act, when in reality it will be CNN.

That is going to leave a mark.

As they say, read the whole thing.

But I will note that there is one major news outlet I can think of which got this story right.  You know, a certain outlet branded unfair for using accurate terms and allowing us to hear both sides of a debate.

And for my money, I don’t have a single problem with the guys who show up at Tea Party rallies dressed in faux colonial outfits.  They’re just having fun and the history geek in me smiles at the sight.  We should love the lovable parts of our past.

Still, nice job Cracked.  It almost makes up for this.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing]

(Possibly Last) Joe Miller Update

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 10:41 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; please send any tips here.]

Well, he lost again.  The Federal Court has dismissed his case entirely.  You can read the decision, here.  The short version is that the Federal Courts are not willing to accuse the state courts of judicial activism without pretty clear evidence.  Whatever you think of that, this is not unexpected from an institutional standpoint.

Miller might keep on fighting and I will keep half an eye open watching this.  But speaking for myself, I think this story is done and unless there is something big and surprising, I’m not going to post on it anymore.

As for Miller, I think it really is time to contemplate throwing in the towel.  I am not saying you are wrong, just that it looks increasingly like you have little chance of success.  You fought the good fight and if only because I hate nepotism, I was pulling for you.   But I think it’s time to give up.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing]

Megyn Kelly on Vick’s Second Chance (Update: I Guess I am a Racist, Then)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:58 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; please send any tips here.]

Update (IV): For the opposite extreme, we get this story of a woman who saved a dog from drowning and then… gave it mouth to mouth.

Dude.

Update (III): Well, I can’t say this was not predictable. Apparently everyone who thinks Vick shouldn’t have a dog is a racist, or so Earl Ofari Hutchinson claims.

What an asshole.

The real racists are the people who think we should excuse or minimize a person’s behavior because they are black. And it does no one any good, least of all the “beneficiaries” of this soft bigotry of lowered expectations.

Update: See below to hear from one of the people who took in one of Vick’s dogs.

Update (II): In this clip Tucker Carlson calls for the death penalty for what Vick did. Which I think is a bit much, but I suspect a lot of people who love dogs would agree.

We now pick up where the post originally started:

Here is Megyn Kelly debating with two people about Obama’s praising the way the Eagles gave Vick a second chance:

So her point is basically that what he did was so vile he doesn’t deserve this kind of presidential pat-on-the-back.  And the NAACP guy’s argument is that at some point the punishment should end and we should let him rejoin society.  I admit to being of two minds on the issue myself.  But I am pretty clear that this is idiotic:

When the CEO of a “Humane Society” says convicted dog-fighting kingpin Michael Vick “would do a good job as pet owner,” it should raise more red flags than a Chinese parade. That’s just what happened two weeks ago as Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), endorsed Vick’s future as a dog owner.

Of course that was in response to Vick himself saying:

“I would love to get another dog in the future. I think it would be a big step for me in the rehabilitation process,” Vick said[.]…

“I think just to have a pet in my household and to show people that I genuinely care, and my love and my passion for animals; I think it would be outstanding,” Vick said in the interview. “If I ever have the opportunity again I will never take it for granted.

“I miss having a dog right now. I wish I could. My daughters miss having one, and that’s the hardest thing: Telling them that we can’t have one because of my actions,” Vick said in the interview.

Yeah and in related news, Roman Polanski thinks he should be allowed to shoot a movie about a school full of thirteen-to-fourteen-year-old girls who run around in various stages of undress, with the working title of Roman Holiday.

Meanwhile we get a voice of reason coming from…  um…  PETA.  Yes, this whole thing is so off-the-rails that PETA is coming off as reasonable:

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Obama: I’ll Keep My Promises When It Suits Me to Do So

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:36 am

Obama decried Bush’s signing statements, and badly wishes he could somehow limit them:

During the 2008 campaign, Obama promised that would end if he won. “We’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end run around Congress,” he said. (He has since issued dozens of such statements, but also signaled a desire to limit them.)

I have a great way for Obama to signal a desire to end signing statements: stop issuing signing statements.

Except he has apparently discovered the useful (and indeed necessary) nature of yet another reviled George W. Bush practice.

Criticizing is easy. Governing is hard.

P.S.  Even PolitiFact admits that Obama has broken his promise to wait five days to sign bills.  Apparently there is a way to get him to fulfill that promise on occasion: namely, to send him a bill that he can sign in a nice ceremony to get some good PR:

However, five days after Congress left town, a batch of bills it passed have yet to make it to the White House. They include the defense authorization bill, a food-safety reform measure, and a bill aimed at increasing U.S. competitiveness in science and technology fields, the America COMPETES Act. (See update below)

It’s possible some of those measures have been deliberately slowed in being sent to the president so that he has time to stage a signing ceremony next week.

Promises kept when they are convenient — what could be more admirable than that?

12/28/2010

Wired gets tired of Glenn Greenwald (Updated)

Filed under: General — Karl @ 8:22 pm

[Posted by Karl]

More to the point, Wired gets even in a two-part article by EIC Evan Hansen and Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen.  The latter writes:

On Monday, Salon.com columnist Glenn Greenwald unleashed a stunning attack on this publication, and me in particular, over our groundbreaking coverage of WikiLeaks and the ongoing prosecution of the man suspected of being the organization’s most important source. Greenwald’s piece is a breathtaking mix of sophistry, hypocrisy and journalistic laziness.

That’s the tip of an iceberg that includes an undisclosed conflict of interest and more than one major factual error.  But is it breathtaking?  Perhaps the folks at Wired never noticed until now that inaccuracy, sophistryhypocrisy, free-floating rage and undisclosed conflicts are Greenwald features, not bugs.

Significantly, Hansen and Poulsen include Salon in their critique.  Granted, if Salon was serious about maintaining some minimum level of integrity, they wouldn’t have brought Greenwald on board in February 2007, as he had already been exposed as a egomaniacal sock-puppeteer.  It is nevertheless a timely reminder of that lack of standards on the part of both Greenwald and Salon.

P.S. — Remember, it’s only conservative media that makes things up. The establishment media told you so.

Update: Greenwald responds, displaying most of the qualities Wired listed in their reply. For example, Wired noted that one of Greenwald’s columns was based on a NYT story that was incorrect on a key point — and obviously so to anyone who bothered to read Wired’s reporting.  Greenwald’s latest reply ignores this.  Wired noted that Greenwald initially failed to disclose that he was trying to secure an attorney for Bradley Manning.  Greenwald’s response is that he eventually disclosed it, when he started trying to raise defense funds for Bradley Manning. Better late than never — and twice as funny, given that one of Greenwald’s big complaints is that Wired’s Poulsen is too close to his source.  Regarding a litany of other inaccuracies, Greenwald’s response is essentially that he relied on other reports (as he did with the incorrect NYT story).  Yep, tough to see how Wired could call that journalistic laziness.  Greenwald’s main effort here appears to have been e-mailing Polusen — and expecting a response — on Christmas.  You see, it’s Poulsen’s fault that he did not see the warning in Greenwald’s Twitter feed on Christmas Eve.  The one useful point Greenwald makes is that people at Wired took him seriously before their own ox was gored, which was the subtext of my snarky postscript.

Update x2: Foreign Policy’s Blake Hounsell writes, “What still remains a mystery to me is what, exactly, Greenwald thinks is being covered up here.”  That earned him a Greenwaldian response via Twitter, in which GG explains he’s just interested in the truth (having just written at length about his ongoing support for Manning and repeated attacks on Wired’s big source).

–Karl

A Video Fisking of that “Fox Viewers Are Stooopid” Study

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 12:23 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; please send any tips here.]

Via The Blaze we get this high quality take down of the study allegedly showing that Fox Viewers are the most uninformed.  I did my own fisking of it, here, but bluntly Lee Doren has completely outclassed me.  There isn’t much I said that he didn’t, but there is a ton he said that I didn’t.  Nice show:

Meanwhile in related news, the Washington Post is now “misinforming” readers the exact same way Fox has by explaining that Obamacare is increasing costs, but not increasing coverage by very much.

Update: By the way, liberals, isn’t the crass politicization of this kind of social “science”–where liberals put out bogus study after bogus study claiming that liberals are smart, normal, well educated and well-endowed, but conservatives are dumb, psychologically screwed up, ignorant and so on–fatally undermining your argument when you get to global warming? I mean you say, “The Science! tells us that there will be no more winters. And the Science! also says that you are an idiot. Don’t you dare question the Science!” It’s a dumb argument. First, there are plenty of conservatives who know they are not any of the things this supposed social science claims all or most conservatives are, so after hearing the science! lying to insult them, how receptive do you think they will be to the Science! on another topic? And second, you would tend to think the Science! might teach you that “listen to me, you moron!” is not the most persuasive argument even when it is true (and it obviously isn’t, here).

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing]

Most Awesome Legal Letter EVAH

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:02 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; please send any tips here.]

First the set up.  Via Deadspin we get a typically ridiculous “nastygram” (aka cease and desist letter) from 1974, written to the Cleveland Stadium Corporation, from way back in 1974.  They are asserting that fans throwing paper airplanes can cause injury and inform them that if any occur, they will sue (so setting them up for suit, basically):

And then the response from their corporate counsel (and trust me do not drink fluids as you read this):

As a lawyer who constantly gets and occasionally sends nastygrams, I wonder if that actually worked.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing]

Happenings In Global Warming Land

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 5:33 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

(Half man, half bear, half pig... all terror!)

For starters, Investor’s Business Daily has another example of devastating analysis of the unscientific nature of global warming climate change claims:

This is a big problem for those who see human-caused global warming as an irreversible result of the Industrial Revolution’s reliance on carbon-based fuels. Based on global warming theory — and according to official weather forecasts made earlier in the year — this winter should be warm and dry. It’s anything but. Ice and snow cover vast parts of both Europe and North America, in one of the coldest Decembers in history.

A cautionary tale? You bet. Prognosticators who wrote the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, global warming report in 2007 predicted an inevitable, century-long rise in global temperatures of two degrees or more. Only higher temperatures were foreseen. Moderate or even lower temperatures, as we’re experiencing now, weren’t even listed as a possibility.

Since at least 1998, however, no significant warming trend has been noticeable. Unfortunately, none of the 24 models used by the IPCC views that as possible. They are at odds with reality.

Karl Popper, the late, great philosopher of science, noted that for something to be called scientific, it must be, as he put it, “falsifiable.” That is, for something to be scientifically true, you must be able to test it to see if it’s false. That’s what scientific experimentation and observation do. That’s the essence of the scientific method.

Unfortunately, the prophets of climate doom violate this idea. No matter what happens, it always confirms their basic premise that the world is getting hotter. The weather turns cold and wet? It’s global warming, they say. Weather turns hot? Global warming. No change? Global warming. More hurricanes? Global warming. No hurricanes? You guessed it.

Indeed, in today’s Best of the Web, we learn about how Judah Cohen is declaring that the cold winter weather is because of global warming…  I mean climate change… er, Manbearpig:

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