Patterico's Pontifications


The Real Unemployment Numbers?

Filed under: Economics,Obama — DRJ @ 11:09 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

American unemployed and underemployed may be larger than official announcements indicate [charts omitted, but see them at the “fixed” link]:

“Durden believes that the BLS has biased the data to skew the unemployment numbers — and using the real population data, unemployment (U-3) is actually 12.7% (nearly 30% higher than the “official” 9.9%).

The underemployment (or U-6) rate is even more dire. It represent the “real” unemployment rate that many other countries use in their calculations. Durden states that our true unemployment measure is 22%; 34 million people who are “unemployed, marginally attached, plus total employed part time for economic reasons.

The average duration of unemployment is now a record high of 33 weeks (nearly eight months). Nearly half of the unemployed have been out of work for more than six months.

And the chart shows that this average out-of-work duration continues to skyrocket.”

Remember November, or as Doug Ross says: “It really is November or never to throw these bums out of office.”


Should We Defend Provocative Speech Against Violent Thuggery?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:43 pm

At Hot Air, J.E. Dyer writes that Provocation isn’t the highest form of free speech:

There’s no question the Vilks film being aired in the video clip is provocative. I have no trouble seeing why Muslims would find it offensive. Of course they shouldn’t get away with shutting down the film by turning into a pack of baying hyenas. But neither should we be surprised that this particular manifestation of free speech got no vigorous defense from the crowd.

. . . .

[T]he fact that people sat passively while howling Muslims shut down a showing of the Vilks video isn’t an indictment of the West’s moral courage. Provocative videos with subversive sexual overtones – expressions that some people know will offend and incite others – are not the definition of what is “Western.” They are merely what we tolerate, as the detritus – and yes, I mean the detritus; there is nothing high or noble about lampooning someone else’s religion – of the worthwhile, worth-defending attributes that do define us.

You know, when I first wrote about this the other day, a couple of people made similar comments in the comments section. Beldar said that we shouldn’t offend radical Muslims simply to offend them, because the non-radical ones may get offended too; and MD in Philly said he would be happier fighting other free speech battles instead of battles over people like Vilks mocking people’s religion. As MD in Philly said:

I’m not saying the law should institute new and “higher” standards of acceptable speech, but I’d love to see where society would simply turn away from “Piss Christ” as well as things mocking Islam and it would dry up, at least as much as possible.

I respect both men and understand their points. But here’s the thing. Vilks’s home has now been firebombed and he doesn’t feel safe sleeping at his home any more:

A Swedish artist whose drawing of the Prophet Muhammad with a dogs body angered Muslims said Sunday he doesn’t feel safe in his home at night, after a week of attacks against him.

Lars Vilks told The Associated Press he has started sleeping elsewhere since an attempted arson attack Friday against his home in Nyhamnslage, southern Sweden.

Here is what I said to Beldar and MD in Philly:

I get what you’re saying — and Beldar is probably right in one sense: it’s probably not justified to do absolutely anything that offends the radicals, because you could be offending non-radicals. There is a balance to be struck there .

At the same time, as much as “Piss Christ” offended me, I would start posting images of it in support of Serrano if he encountered the same kind of violent backlash that Vilks has encountered. At that point, my intent is not to offend, but to stand up for free speech. . . . When we pick and choose who has the right to free speech based on its content, then nobody has free speech.

I guess I agree with J.E. Dyer that it wasn’t really incumbent on the crowd at the lecture to silence the howling pack of savages; that was the job of the police and the university. But for the authorities to cave, and tell Vilks he is never welcome back — essentially to sanction violence as a way of shutting down speech — is something we should all be appalled by even if that speech is provocative and even arguably irresponsible.

And the more these people pursue tactics like firebombing people’s homes and attacking them physically, the more I feel like mocking their religion.

Look, South Park got its start by portraying Jesus as a goofy character engaged in silly martial arts antics:

If radical Christians tried to kill Matt Stone and Trey Parker for mocking Jesus in this way, I’d be inclined to mock Jesus myself. Just to tell the crazies to fuck off.

A New Era in U.S.-China Human Rights

Filed under: Immigration,International,Obama — DRJ @ 9:30 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

From John at PowerLine, the Obama Administration apologized for the Arizona immigration law during U.S.-China human rights talks, equating it to Chinese human rights violations:

This is unfreakingbelievable, even for the Obama administration:

The United States and China reported no major breakthroughs Friday after only their second round of talks about human rights since 2002.

The Obama administration wants to push Beijing to treat its citizens better, but it also needs Chinese support on Iranian and North Korean nuclear standoffs, climate change and other difficult issues. …

[Assistant Secretary of State Michael] Posner said in addition to talks on freedom of religion and expression, labor rights and rule of law, officials also discussed Chinese complaints about problems with U.S. human rights, which have included crime, poverty, homelessness and racial discrimination.

He said U.S. officials did not whitewash the American record and in fact raised on its [sic] own a new immigration law in Arizona that requires police to ask about a person’s immigration status if there is suspicion the person is in the country illegally.

What an idiot! China murdered millions of its citizens who opposed the government’s Communist policies and allows most of its people little or no freedom. We, on the other hand, enforce our immigration laws. No, wait–actually we don’t. That’s why Arizona had to take a shot at it. Oh, by the way, Michael Posner, you clueless moron–China actually does enforce its immigration laws.

These dopes are actually proud of themselves for being morally and historically ignorant …”

The PowerLine post also looks at the Administration’s statements and positions, and explains why they are even worse than the AP report suggests.

Thus, the Obama Administration had a choice between siding with a red State or with a red nation. Is this decision really that surprising?


The Lost Hiker’s Will to Live

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 9:29 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Last week I posted on a Houston woman who lost all her limbs to a ravaging infection but neither she nor her husband doubted her will to live. This week’s inspiring story details an Austin hiker and nature-lover’s will to survive after he became lost in the Big Bend:

Merritt Myers spent two days eating cactus and praying for rescue.
On the canyon floor, the 33-year-old Austinite walks to the far end, hoping to see the river. Instead he finds himself standing atop a sheer 70-foot cliff. He scrambles back to the ledge he’d just jumped from but finds the canyon walls too slick and steep to climb. His heart pounding, he searches the V-shaped canyon for an exit, a foothold, a less than deadly incline. He finds nothing. He screams in frustration. He is trapped.

Somehow, he thinks, he will have to keep himself alive in this rocky ravine.

Is this how it ends? he thinks. Will I ever see my wife again? Will I see anything again? My parents will worry so much about my last moments.

The thoughts tear through his body like a punch, leaving him doubled over and groaning.

He quickly banishes them. Crying means losing moisture, and he knows he’s got to conserve all he can. The sun is growing stronger. He spots a small opening in a stack of boulders and worms his way inside to escape the heat.

It’s Wednesday, April 7, just after noon. Myers knows that park rangers won’t come looking for him until Friday at the earliest.

Lost hikers have died in far less time in Big Bend.”

Myers lost 16 pounds in 2 days but he survived, thanks to his indomitable persistence and his mother’s long-ago lesson on how to get moisture from cactus. He also has a new perspective:

“He says he’s a much wiser, more cautious hiker now, with a stronger respect for the wilderness and its power. He advises other hikers to always bring more equipment and supplies than they think they’ll need.

“Never assume the itinerary that you have planned will go exactly according to plan,” he said. “And if you have a choice between two routes, when in doubt, take the sure route even if you know it’s longer. Don’t take a chance trying to find it on your own in the wilderness.”

Other lessons are less obvious. “I understand some things I couldn’t understand before,” he said. “When you experience near death and go through the process of letting go of your will, or of any plans you have, it’s a very freeing process. … It’s scary in the moment, but it sure is freeing and gives you a deeper and greater appreciation for everything at every moment.”

And something else became clear to him as he sat alone on the ravine. He had always gone to the wilderness to find his connection to higher forces, to replenish his spirit.

But trapped in the canyon, he imagined never seeing his wife again.

“That affected my perspective on needing to retreat to nature,” he said. “People, and love from people, come from God as well.”


Conversation Between Humpty Dumpty and an Intentionalist, 1

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:23 pm

Humpty Dumpty: “Sometimes I think you and I are the only ones who get it.”


Humpty Dumpty: “You understand what I mean when I say: ‘When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ Like when you said this:

Yes, Leviticus showed up, called the readers here goons, insulted me, then provided (rather poor) answers to some of the questions. I responded by addressing his arguments one by one, and asking follow up questions. Leviticus didn’t return.

“There’s probably a lot of people who would call that a flat-out lie — or at least a recklessly irresponsible falsehood. After all, the comment where you say you responded was #114. You then claim he “didn’t return” — but Leviticus left seven comments after that. He left comments at #157 (responded to by you at #165), and fully six more, at #211, #213, #216, #217, #220, and #221. ‘Didn’t you bother to go back and check the fucking thread before you issued your false little assertion?’ I can hear the carpers complaining.

“But you and I both know that intentionalists get to define their own terms. When you said Leviticus didn’t ‘return,’ despite the fact that he did come back and leave seven more comments . . . well, these stupid textualists don’t get it. It all depends upon what the meaning of ‘return’ is.

Bill Clinton would be proud of both of us.”

Intentionalist: “Where are you going with this?”

Politically Correct Pageants

Filed under: Immigration — DRJ @ 8:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Last year at the 2009 Miss USA pageant, Californian Carrie Prejean said she knew she would lose after being asked a question about gay marriage:

“Miss California Carrie Prejean is disappointed she didn’t win the Miss USA pageant after her answer to question on gay marriage from blogger Perez Hilton sparked controversy, but says she’s proud she stayed true to her beliefs and wouldn’t change the response – even though she believes it cost her the crown.

Prejean, who was first runner up, appeared Tuesday morning on NBC’s “Today” show and when host Matt Lauer asked if she’d alter her answer if given a “do-over,” she said no.

“I did not want to offend anybody, but I think with that question specifically, it’s not about being politically correct, for me it was being biblically correct,” she told Lauer.

During Sunday night’s competition, Hilton asked Prejean if she felt all states should move toward allowing same-sex marriage – to mirror the efforts of states like Vermont and California.

She said, “I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other … same sex marriage or opposite marriage,” then added, “I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman … that’s how I was raised.”

Hilton later ranted about Prejean on his celebrity blog and called her some nasty names.

Hilton went on CNN’s Larry King Live Monday night while Prejean spoke about the incident the same night to Fox News – fielding questions on whether she thought her answer cost her the crown.

“Out of all the topics I studied up on, I dreaded that one. I prayed I would not be asked about gay marriage. If I had any other question, I know I would have won,” she said in the Fox News interview.”

Tonight was the 2010 Miss USA pageant and Miss Oklahoma USA Morgan Elizabeth Woolard was named first runner-up after answering a question about Arizona’s immigration law:

“Woolard handled the night’s toughest question, about Arizona’s new immigration law. Woolard said she supports the law, which requires police enforcing another law to verify a person’s immigration status if there’s “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the country illegally.

She said she’s against illegal immigration but is also against racial profiling.

“I’m a huge believer in states’ rights. I think that’s what’s so wonderful about America,” Woolard said. “So I think it’s perfectly fine for Arizona to create that law.”

“The Office” actor Oscar Nunez was booed as he asked the question and asked the audience to wait until he finished the question before they reacted. The panel of judges came up with the questions themselves.”

Sounds like another Prejean moment, if not for the fans then for the judges.


Obama’s Nanny State

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 6:40 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Beldar posts on plans by Barack Obama and Cass Sunstein to implement “libertarian paternalism,” i.e., subtle methods designed to get people to do what government wants or thinks is best for them — even if they don’t want it. The point is for Americans to do what the nanny state wants, and Beldar sarcastically points out that’s anything but libertarian:

“What Sunstein and Obama are doing is just arrogant paternalism, period. Instead of anything remotely resembling real libertarianism, Sunstein is promoting the notion of government regulation so subtle, so perceptive, so … well, just so damned clever that it won’t really seem like much of a bother to do what Sunstein and Obama and the government want you to do. You’ll think it’s your own idea!

‘Cause they’re smarter than you and me, see? Get it? If you don’t, then just keep clinging to your guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like you or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment. Something. You moron, why do you think you’re even remotely qualified to run your own life? Sheesh.”

I don’t trust politicians that don’t trust me and I think Beldar would agree, but read the whole thing and tell him what you think.


Arizona vs California

Filed under: Economics,Immigration — DRJ @ 4:12 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Arizona wants to get control of illegal immigration so it can remain fiscally solvent and help its neediest citizens. California has spent itself to the point of bankruptcy and may not be able to help anyone.

Which is more responsible? Which is more humane?


Conversation Between a Statute and an Intentionalist, 1

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:49 pm

Statute [looking down at the words written on itself]: “Lookee here. I say: ‘This tax applies to people making over $100,000.’ What do I mean when I say that?”

Intentionalist: “What you mean depends upon the intent of the legislators that passed you.”

Statute: “Oh. Well, Sen. Feinstein was one of the people who passed me. She intended that the tax apply to people making over $10,000.”

Intentionalist: “Well, if the legislators meant $10,000, then that is the meaning of $100,000. The speaker is the one who fixes the meaning. The meaning of a text hasn’t changed simply because it doesn’t adhere to convention.”*

Statute: “Oh. Well, Sen. Inhofe was one of the people who passed me. He intended that the tax apply to people making over $100,000.”


Statute: “So which do I mean?”


Statute: “To be honest with you, the other 98 Senators didn’t even read me at all. They asked their staffers and pollsters which way to vote.”


Statute: “So which do I mean?”

Intentionalist: “Listen. To ignore ‘legislative intent’ because, as a specialized endeavor, one recognizes the difficulty in reconstructing it, it having come from a variety of (potentially) compromising forces whose individual intentions may sometimes conflict when taken separately, is to ignore where the originating locus of meaning for the law lies.”*

Statute: “Gotcha.”

Intentionalist: “Good.”





Statute: “So which do I mean?”

Sen. Bennett teaches us about “polite-company conservatives”

Filed under: General — Karl @ 9:38 am

[Posted by Karl]

Frankly, I did not care much one way or the other about Sen. Robert Bennett’s loss at last weekend’s Utah GOP convention. However, the story provided valuable insight into the world of “polite-company conservatives” (PCCs). For example, take the reaction of NYT columnist David Brooks:

This is a damn outrage, to be honest. This is a guy who was a good Senator and he was a good Senator and a good conservative, but a good conservative who was trying to get things done. The Wyden-Bennett bill, which he co-sponsored — if you took the health care economists in the country, they would probably be for that bill, ideally. It was a substantive, serious bill, a bipartisan bill, with strong conservative and some liberal support. So he did something sort of brave by working with Democrats which more Senators should do and now they’ve been sent a message to him don’t do that.

Ross Douthat (a/k/a David Brooks: TNG) had already written:

Bob Bennett, the three-term Republican senator from Utah, may lose his primary because of his willingness to co-sponsor a centrist (in a good way!) health care reform bill with the Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden. If Bennett goes down to defeat, it will be fair to say that the Tea Partiers have hurt their party, and cost the country a good senator.

Rick Moran similalry championed the Wyden-Bennett bill as “a flawed, but earnest effort at comprehensive reform”:

Called “The Healthy Americans Act,” the bill incorporated some standard liberal thinking like an individual mandate, but was also innovative in the way costs would be shared and how the program would be administered at the state level. It would also have done away with Medicaid – a plus in any conservative’s book. In short, it was a good old fashioned senate compromise on a thorny issue that, in another less mindlessly partisan time, would have served as a starting point for the two parties to work out their differences.

Unsurprisingly, David Frum had preemptively blamed the loss on greedy competition for donations between the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks (For a PCC, Frum has a flair for imputing bad faith to those with whom he disagrees). But Frum also touted Wyden-Bennett as “the most realistic and workable proposal put forth by anyone to solve the health care problem on free-market principles.”

The notable thing about the complaints of the PCCs is how detached they are from political reality.


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