Patterico's Pontifications


Iceland Volcanoes and Weather

Filed under: Environment — DRJ @ 7:51 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Instapundit links a Business Insider post that says the ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull Volcano may impact far more than air traffic. If the history of a prior volcanic eruption is any indication, Iceland’s volcanoes could also affect energy, agriculture, health, and weather:

“Unfortunately what has also to be considered is that there are a whole line of craters, not shown on this map, between Katla and Vatnajokull, which are also a worry. Laki, an even greater threat than Katla, lies along this line.

Iceland’s Laki volcano erupted in 1783, freeing gases that turned into smog. The smog floated across the Jet Stream, changing weather patterns. Many died from gas poisoning in the British Isles. Crop production fell in western Europe. Famine spread. . . . . . .

The winter of 1784 was also one of the longest and coldest on record in North America. New England reported a record stretch of below-zero temperatures and New Jersey reported record snow accumulation. The Mississippi River also reportedly froze in New Orleans.”



What Golf Is About

Filed under: Sports — DRJ @ 7:50 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I grew up playing golf. The way I learned it, the game of golf is about doing your best and playing by the rules:

“[Brian] Davis’s approach shot on the first hole of the playoff bounced off the green and nestled in among some weeds. (You can see the gunk he was hitting out of in that shot above.) When Davis tried to punch the ball up onto the green, his club may have grazed a stray weed on his backswing.

So what’s the big deal? This: hitting any material around your ball during your backswing constitutes a violation of the rule against moving loose impediments, and is an immediate two-stroke penalty. And in a playoff, that means, in effect, game over.

Okay, you can think that’s a silly penalty or whatever, but that’s not the point of this story. The point is that Davis actually called the violation on himself.
But the bigger deal is this — the guy gave away a chance at winning his first-ever PGA Tour event because he knew that in golf, honesty is more important than victory. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but here’s hoping he gets accolades — and, perhaps, some sponsorship deals — that more than make up for the victory he surrendered.”

Golf is about playing the game but it’s also about personal integrity, which is why so many golfers are disappointed in Tiger Woods.


Pew Forecasts a Perfect Storm

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 6:48 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Pew Research Center has released a lengthy poll that covers public opinion on government (federal, state and local), Congress, the President, federal agencies, the Tea Party, and health care. The title and opening paragraphs set the tone:


“By almost every conceivable measure Americans are less positive and more critical of government these days. A new Pew Research Center survey finds a perfect storm of conditions associated with distrust of government – a dismal economy, an unhappy public, bitter partisan based backlash, and epic discontent with Congress and elected officials. Rather than an activist government to deal with the nation’s top problems, the public now wants government reformed and growing numbers want its power curtailed. With the exception of greater regulation of major financial institutions, there is less of an appetite for government solutions to the nation’s problems – including more government control over the economy – than there was when Barack Obama first took office.”

Beginning on page 6, Pew elaborates on the four factors that make up this political Perfect Storm:

  • “The current survey and previous research have found that there is no single factor that drives general public distrust in government. Instead, there are several factors – and all are currently present. First, there is considerable evidence that distrust of government is strongly connected to how people feel about the overall state of the nation.1 Distrust of government soars when the public is unhappy with the way things are going in the country. ***”
  • A second element is presidential politics. Trust in government is typically higher among members of the party that controls the White House than among members of the “out” party. However, Republicans’ views of government change more dramatically, depending on which party holds power, than do Democrats’. Republicans are more trusting of government when the GOP holds power than Democrats are when the Democrats are in charge.

    This pattern is particularly evident in the Obama era. The president’s policies – especially the year-long effort to overhaul the health care system – have served as a lightning rod for Republicans. Currently, just 13% of Republicans say they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right, nearly equaling a low point reached in June 1994 during the Clinton administration (11%).”

  • A third factor is that a particular subgroup of independents, who are financially pressed, chronically distrustful of government and who typically lean to the Republican Party, appears to be especially angry today. Pew political typology surveys in the past have labeled these individuals as “disaffecteds.” This group may explain, in part, why at least as many Republican leaning independents (37%) as conservative Republicans (32%) say they are angry with the government. And identical percentages of Republican-leaning independents and conservative Republicans (53% each) say they agree with the Tea Party movement.”
  • Finally, record discontent with Congress – and dim views of elected officials generally – have poisoned the well for trust in the federal government. Undoubtedly, this has contributed to growing discontent with government even among groups who are generally more positive about it, such as Democrats. Today, many fewer Democrats say they trust
    government than did so during the later Clinton years. And just 40% of Democrats have a favorable impression of the Democratic Congress – the lowest positive rating for Congress ever among members of the majority party.”
  • At some point, will disillusionment with government turn into disillusionment with America? Page 68 notes that opposition to secession has declined slightly, especially among independents who favor the GOP. What surprised me is “there are no significant differences in the percentages that favor allowing secession by geographic region.”

    NOTE: Page 66 of the report addresses Tea Party demographics.

    — DRJ

    Poland’s State Funeral

    Filed under: International — DRJ @ 2:45 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    Poland held an elaborate state funeral for Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, Maria. Many Western leaders were unable to attend because of the Iceland volcanic ash, but regional leaders did make it:

    “The volcanic ash from Iceland did not deter everyone. The leaders of Baltic and Balkan states came by car for the stately event.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev flew by plane from Moscow for the funeral. His presence was a further sign of the warming ties between the two countries, which was strained for centuries, most recently because of communism and the 1940 Katyn massacre.

    Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, acknowledged those ties in remarks to the congregation, noting that the tragedy had given rise “to many layers of good between the people and nations.”

    “The sympathy and help we have received from Russian brothers has breathed new life into a hope for closer relations and reconciliation between our two Slavic nations,” Cardinal Dziwisz said. “I direct these words to the president of Russia.”

    I think the image of Russia’s Medvedev paying tribute to the Polish President — especially since he was the only major world leader to attend — will impact the Polish people for a long time.

    — DRJ

    We’re All Tim McVeigh Now

    Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 1:48 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    Byron York summarizes former President Bill Clinton’s remarks that “movements like the Tea Party, characterized by extreme right-wing rhetoric, could lead to political violence.” Clinton’s inflammatory remarks generated lots of response, including this by the Instapundit (and others at the link):

    “Lies and smears aimed at their fellow Americans, for short-term political gain. This is who they are, and this is what they do. It worked better, however, when there were fewer alternative channels of communication, and when their character was less well-known.”

    Tom Maguire describes it as Clinton believing Tea Partiers “are all potential Tim McVeigh fertilizer bombers,” but Tom doesn’t want Clinton to worry about him:

    “The fertilizer I spread around here will not explode. Just so you know.”


    — DRJ

    Law Student Summer Jobs

    Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 1:47 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    The declining job market has left its mark on everyone, including law student summer jobs. Once characterized by wine-and-dine summers hosted by generous law firms, some of today’s law student summer jobs aren’t that great.

    — DRJ

    Tim Rutten: Tea Partiers Are Just Angry White Males

    Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 12:50 pm

    Today at the L.A. Times, Tim Rutten has a column that well embodies the typical media misunderstandings of the Tea Party movement. Rutten says: “The group is conventionally portrayed as a burgeoning populist expression of discontent that sprouted spontaneously from the grass-roots and cuts in new ways across sectional, class and gender lines.” Not so, claims Rutten, relying on a recent NYT/CBS recent poll to drive his entire column:

    If all this is beginning to have a familiar ring, it’s because you’ve met these guys before: They’re the “angry white males” we’ve been reading about since political strategist-turned-analyst Kevin Phillips first identified them as an electoral presence during Richard Nixon’s successful presidential campaign in 1968.

    . . . .

    They aren’t, however, implacable foes of “big government” or even of taxes. More than half (52%) told the pollsters they think their own “income taxes this year are fair,” just 10% less than all American adults. Moreover, a majority told follow-up interviewers that, though they wanted “smaller government,” they didn’t want cuts in our largest social programs, Social Security and Medicare.

    So much for the surge of a new anti-government populism.

    Allahpundit has the correct analysis, which Rutten doesn’t seem to understand:

    They’re not some fanatic “zero tax” movement, in other words. They’re willing to pay what they’re paying now; what they want is a government small enough to make ends meet with what they’re paying. By The One’s logic, if he lowered the top marginal income tax bracket to one percent, we should expect tea partiers to fall on their knees and shout hallelujah even though it would mean annual deficits many times the trillion-dollar leviathans we’re currently saddled with. Anyone think that would happen? Anyone except Obama not yet grasp that conservatives want fiscal responsibility, not lower taxes at any and all costs?

    Yes, Allahpundit. Tim Rutten does not grasp it.

    It’s true that the numbers on Social Security and Medicare are disquieting to us foes of Big Government — but (as Allahpundit again explains) the responses are easily explained by the age of the tea partiers:

    Most tea partiers are older, which doubtless helps explain those numbers on Medicare and Social Security. Among the general population, 50 percent of the Times’s sample was 45 or older; among tea partiers, it was 75 percent, with 29 percent 65 or older. Still, the point remains — even among the most devoutly fiscally conservative populist movement in America, self-interest trumps ideology when it comes to entitlements.

    Mr. Rutten, it’s not that taxes have gone up immediately. And (however much some of us might wish otherwise) it’s not that all Tea Partiers think all government entitlements are too large.

    It’s that projected deficits like this:

    Obama Projected Deficits

    mean that we are robbing from our children’s future. Income taxes may not be higher now — but that is guaranteed to change.

    Don’t dismiss us as Angry White Males, Mr. Rutten. We’re people who care about our country’s future — and who don’t want our children to have to pay for our excesses.

    Is that really so difficult to understand?

    A Guy at a Tea Party Holds a Sign Saying: “REVULSION AT INTERRACIAL IMAGES IS ALTOGETHER NATURAL!” How Would You React?

    Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:45 am

    The other day I embedded this video:

    I asked:

    Is this a “ritual distancing”? — an attempt by someone to squelch free speech and rewrite/airbrush history? Or an appropriate pushback against someone smearing the Tea Party movement?

    Most of you found the cameraman’s actions appropriate. Typical of many of the comments was this one by J.R. Taylor, who said: “Tea Party rallies are open to the public, and the public have the right to express scorn towards creeps who use the gathering of good people as an excuse to flaunt moronic beliefs based on prejudice instead of politics. I’m impressed that the Tea Partiers have no intent of blissfully marching alongside the same anti-Semites that the Left marched with during the protests of the past decade.”

    For my part, I agreed, although I also voiced some concern over the seemingly defensive nature of the cameraman. I said: “I think sometimes people reasonably seek to distance themselves from opinions and/or people they find offensive — although they should also refuse to accept the premise that guilt by association is proper.”

    Today I have a different question: what if the guy wasn’t wearing a shirt with a swastika? What if, instead, he was carrying a sign that read:


    Assume that, when approached, the guy tells you he’s not a racist. Instead, he says, he’s fighting a battle with white supremacists. His sign is designed to “negate or preempt the most obvious appeals” of the argument made by the worst of these supremacists.

    Here comes a TV reporter. She tells her cameraman to get the man’s sign in the shot, and heads towards you to ask you what you think of a sign that says: “Revulsion at interracial images is altogether natural!”

    What will you tell her?

    Perhaps more to the point: would it be wrong to treat the man with the sign the way the guy in the video treated the guy with the swastika?

    P.S. I’m going to go ahead and apply my strict no-personal-attacks rule in this thread. Comments must be strictly about ideas, with absolutely no personal comments whatsoever. Comments that do not follow this rule will be summarily deleted. Comments that blatantly violate the rule may earn the offending commenter a time-out or a ban.

    Given my restrictive rules, I will accept comments from banned commenters, as long as they follow the rules I have set forth. No personal digs are allowed, no matter how small — but any articulation that hews strictly to the expression of ideas will be allowed.

    UPDATE: A commenter complains that I included an asterisk with a link to the context of an actual quote very similar to the sign held in my hypo. Fair enough; it was included for context but could be construed as repeating an accusation that drags personalities into the mix. Accordingly, I have removed the asterisk.

    More on the L.A. Times vs. Daryl Gates

    Filed under: Dog Trainer — Jack Dunphy @ 8:32 am

    [Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

    Yesterday our host posted his own thoughts on the Los Angeles Times‘s shameful editorial reflecting on former LAPD Chief Daryl Gate’s life and death. I submitted my reaction to Pajamas Media, where it was posted today.

    Just when I thought that paper couldn’t possibly sink any lower, it once again explored new depths.

    –Jack Dunphy

    UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I hope Jack will not mind if I excerpt a couple of paragraphs to whet your appetite:

    Former Los Angeles Police Department Chief Daryl Gates died of cancer on Friday at the age of 83. A long-running theme in his life was the deep mutual antipathy he shared with many — but by no means all — writers and editors at the Los Angeles Times. The Times published a 1,500-word editorial on the occasion of his passing, and one is not surprised to see they were no kinder to him in death than they were in life. He probably would have been disappointed had it been otherwise.

    . . . .

    And as to the Times’s contention that it was Gates’s desire that cops “stay in their patrol cars rather than fraternize with the enemy, to focus on arrests and sweeps rather than crime prevention,” this too is ahistorical. . . . Far from being hostile to community-based policing, Gates encouraged it, but any success the program might have had was precluded by a chronic lack of manpower. I recall having to excuse myself from a community meeting in South Los Angeles when a man was shot just down the street. Such occurrences were fairly typical during the 1980s and early 1990s, yet few people outside the affected neighborhoods and LAPD seemed to care.

    Dunphy also takes on the editors’ notion that the Rampart scandal flowed from a failure to implement recommendations from the Christopher Commission — a problem, editors claim, that was rectified by Bill Bratton, who (editors claim) turned LAPD into “far more diverse, professional organization with vastly improved community relations.” Actually, Dunphy says, a quest for “diversity” was actually part of the problem:

    Inconveniently for the Los Angeles Times, the Rampart scandal can just as easily be blamed on the LAPD’s quest for a level of “diversity” within the department that the Christopher Commission found lacking. Rectifying this came at the price of hiring minority applicants whose questionable backgrounds would have otherwise disqualified them from employment as police officers.

    This is not debatable to anyone familiar with the facts — but I don’t include L.A. Times editors in that group.

    Now that your interest is hopefully piqued, go read the whole thing.

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