Patterico's Pontifications


Welch and Gillespie: Obama Is Speeding Into Carter Country

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 11:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In a Washington Post article dated tomorrow, Reason’s Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie compare Barack Obama with Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and rate Obama as Carteresque:

“So far, [Obama] seems to be skipping the chapter on Bill Clinton and his generally free-market economic policies and instead flipping back to the themes and comportment of Jimmy Carter. Like the 39th president, Obama has inherited an awful economy, dizzying budget deficits and a geopolitical situation as promising as Kim Jong Il’s health. Like Carter, Obama is smart, moralistic and enamored of alternative energy schemes that were nonstarters back when America’s best-known peanut farmer was installing solar panels at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Like Carter, Obama faces as much effective opposition from his own party’s left wing as he does from an ardent but diminished GOP.

And perhaps most important, as with Carter, his specific policies are genuinely unpopular.”

The article goes on to recite some of Obama’s inconsistencies — how he ran against Bush but is implementing Bush policies, promised an end to wasteful spending while presiding over an explosion of spending and earmarks, and vowed he “didn’t want to take over General Motors on the day that he took over General Motors.” Plus, my favorite part:

“Such is the extent of Obama’s magical realism that he can promise to post all bills on the Internet five days before signing them, serially break that promise and then, when announcing that he wouldn’t even try anymore, have a spokesman present the move as yet another example of “providing the American people more transparency in government.”

The authors also note Obama’s similarity to Bush in that both relied on a crisis mentality to get desired legislation. Gillespie and Welch argue Americans prefer a “semblance of rational deliberation rather than one sky-is-falling legislative session after another.”

The authors encourage Obama to abandon the Carter road map and emulate Clinton but I don’t think that will happen. Obama will have to make too many right turns to follow Clinton’s economic path.


A Sick Leave Policy Question

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 11:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Austin American-Statesman reports on how Austin police officers are cashing in on unused sick leave. This year, one retiring police officer was paid almost $100,000 for accrued sick time, and the policy reportedly results in payments totaling millions each year. The sick leave policy effectively encourages officers not to take time off for illness by paying cash for accrued unused sick time.

The policy means more officers come to work, which is good. But it also means more officers come to work sick, which isn’t so good.

What do you think?


hilzoy: You Can Completely Dismiss Patterico’s Credibility, Which I Have Just Proved by Linking to a Post He Didn’t Write

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:19 pm

The other day I praised hilzoy as a level-headed blogger who manages to disagree with opponents while refraining from nasty, baseless attacks.

I spoke too soon.

In one of her final posts, she draws up a list of bloggers who, she says, “didn’t bother to do the most basic, rudimentary research that any blogger ought to do” regarding the House’s health care bill. Not content with disagreeing, hilzoy contended that the alleged mistake made by these bloggers was proof that they should be completely disregarded for all time as utterly lacking in credibility:

[S]ince life is short, it’s nice to find an actual, objective test for things like intellectual irresponsibility, one that lets you just see that some people are, really and truly, intellectually irresponsible, and thus that you can dismiss them forever, and read them only for laughs, while saving your precious free time for others who deserve it more.

This is just such a test. Tom Maguire passed. The other bloggers I listed failed. That’s useful information.

(All emphasis in this post added by me.)

Among the bloggers she listed who can be dismissed forever: “Patterico.” This, she proved by linking to a post written by . . . Karl.

Mmmm, that’s some crack research, hilzoy!

To be fair, the post by Karl contained hardly any hint that it was written by “Karl” — and not, as hilzoy falsely claimed, “Patterico.” The only clues were subtle indeed:

  • A line immediately under the post title reading: “Filed under: General — Karl @ 11:00 am”
  • A line immediately that reading: “[Posted by Karl]”
  • And a tag line at the end of the post reading “–Karl

I generally consider myself to be a reasonably careful researcher. My training and temperament lead me to document the things I say. Yes, I make mistakes — as does any blogger. Including — here’s a secret! — even hilzoy!

hilzoy’s decision to argue that I lacked credibility for all time, based on a post that I did not write, evinces some pretty sloppy research on her part. If we were to apply the hilzoy standard, we could safely disregard her for all time. Frankly, I think that’s an unfair standard, and I’m not going to make that pronouncement. I’ll simply note the irony.

I guess it’s a moot point, since she’s not going to be posting any more. I’ll just leave it at this: I thought I was going to miss her blogging (which I didn’t read often, but did occasionally). Now I’m not so sure. To have my 6 1/2 years of careful and well-sourced blogging so cavalierly dismissed on the basis of a post written by someone else — well, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

This is not a minor issue. If I leveled a broadside against hilzoy, and cited as evidence a post written by, say, publius, I think hilzoy would be offended. And rightly so. Well, this is the flip side of that coin.

Plus, when you leap upon your high horse and excoriate others for allegedly sloppy readings of text, it’s generally a good idea to refrain from even sloppier readings of others’ texts — at least in the same post. You know?

P.S. On the substantive issue of the correctness of Karl’s post, let me say this:

I don’t pre-screen the posts of my guest bloggers. I trust them, and they have repeatedly shown that they have earned that trust. I do not always agree with them, and I do not have time or inclination to fact-check every one of their assertions.

If I believe one of my guest bloggers may have gotten an issue wrong, I will of course take steps to rectify it. And I did so here. When I saw hilzoy’s post, I sent an e-mail to Karl alerting him to Tom Maguire’s analysis. Karl has posted an update and clarification that more carefully explains the nature of the bill, and notes that the quoted language from Investor’s Business Daily lacked the necessary nuance to make its explication accurate. I am satisfied with Karl’s update, and believe that no reader who sees it will be misled.

What’s more, if you look at the entirety of Karl’s work on the health care issue, it’s quite clear that he understands the issue well, and has done great work in helping make it clear to readers here. It would not have been fair to dismiss his credibility on the basis of one post with an allegedly misleading passage — any more than it would be to dismiss the entirety of hilzoy’s work simply because she carelessly attacked my reputation based on a sloppy and lazy reading of a post on my site.

And yes, I will be writing hilzoy and asking for a correction.

Obama: We’ll Get Crushing Deficits if We Pass Don’t Pass Health Care Reform

Filed under: Obama — Patterico @ 5:47 pm

Obama on passing health care reform:

Make no mistake: If we step back from this challenge at this moment, we are consigning our children to a future of skyrocketing premiums and crushing deficits. There’s no argument about that.

I thought there was no argument that passing it would consign our children to a future of crushing deficits.

Then again, the consignment has already happened, hasn’t it?

The 2009 British Open (Updated)

Filed under: Sports — DRJ @ 5:43 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

American pro Tom Watson, age 59, has a one-stroke lead going into the final found of the British Open golf tournament at Turnberry.

I grew up playing golf and while my favorite players were Palmer, Trevino, and Littler, Tom Watson is and was a great player. He is also a man of principle. In 1990, Watson resigned from the Kansas City Country Club, the club he grew up in, because it refused membership to a Jewish applicant. The club changed its policy within a year.

In addition, Watson is the Honorary Chairman of the Bruce Edwards Foundation honoring Bruce Edwards, Watson’s caddy for 30 years. Edwards was diagnosed with ALS in 2003 and died April 8, 2004, the first day of play in his favorite tournament, the Masters Tournament. Watson also founded Driving 4 Life, a fundraising campaign that supports ALS research.

In a 2006 interview, Watson said he still played in the Masters and the British Open because “I’m still competitive, I know I’m still competitive. In certain situations, I can beat the kids.” This may be the week he proves he was right.

UPDATE: Tom Watson lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink. It was a hard loss for Watson but he handled it graciously, as did Cink.


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