Patterico's Pontifications


L.A. Times to Charge for Content

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 11:39 pm


OK. Gimme a second. All right. In a fascinating change of . . .


The Los Angeles Times will begin charging readers for access to its online news, joining a growing roster of major news organizations looking for a way to offset declines in revenue.

Starting March 5, online readers will be asked to buy a digital subscription at an initial rate of 99 cents for four weeks. Readers who do not subscribe will be able to read 15 stories in a 30-day period for free. There will be no digital access charge for subscribers of the printed newspaper.

Good luck with that, editors. I barely read your crap any more for free.

Thanks to Bradley J. Fikes.

L.A. Times Editors: Are You Upset Gas Costs So Much? Ride a Moped, Idiot!

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Obama — Patterico @ 10:42 pm

As we continue to clear the decks at the end of a busy week, we thank Colonel Haiku for the pointer to this absurd L.A. Times editorial about the joys of higher gas prices.

This one deserves the full fisk. As a result, the entire editorial will appear right here in this post — a rare instance where fair use applies to the full reprinting of an entire piece. Why? Because I have commentary on virtually every paragraph of this turd of a piece — and my commentary is more effective when you see precisely what I’m responding to.

Don’t like it, L.A. Times lawyers? File your lawsuit, baby! Let’s make copyright history!

My “bring it on!” challenge now disposed of, let’s begin the fisking:

Angelenos don’t get many opportunities to grouse about the weather, so in this town our preferred topic of complainversation is gasoline prices. Lately, we’ve had a wealth of material.

“Complainversation” is an interesting term — coming from the same publication that coined the term “funemployment.” The message, right from the get-go? If you’re complaining about high gas prices? You’re just bitching for no reason.

The rest of the editorial bears out this analysis.

Prices at the pump have been rising for the last five weeks, hitting an average in California of $4.035 for a gallon of regular on Monday, a 5.2% jump over the previous week. This is more than just an inconvenience: If the spike continues, it could derail the nation’s economic recovery. It is also giving rise, as such things always do, to conspiracy theories by people of all political persuasions — most of which aren’t worth the carbon dioxide emitted in their utterance.

On the right, it’s popular to blame President Obama. His “green” energy policies, according to this theory, are the reason it’s costing $80 a pop to fill the tanks of our Ford Explorers; if he would only drill, baby, drill in more places, we could restore America’s God-given right to cheap gas. The fact that this makes no sense hardly slows the chatter on talk radio or the rhetoric from GOP presidential candidates such as Rick Santorum, who repeated this canard Monday. The complaints are enough to make one wonder whom Republicans blamed when similar price spikes happened during the presidency of former oil executiveGeorge W. Bush. In any case, it takes decades from the time a new oil permit is approved before a field is producing reliable amounts of oil, meaning that even if the wildest dreams of oil executives to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other protected places were granted today, it wouldn’t have a noticeable impact on gas prices until around 2030.

This is always what you hear whenever domestic production is proposed. It would only provide oil for x number of days, and if we started drilling today, we wouldn’t see results until year y.

It’s a genius argument, isn’t it? It’s a good reason why you shouldn’t save for retirement! Why, if you’re 40 today, and you want to retire at 60, you’re not going to see any benefits until 2032! So why bother?

They’ll still be making that argument in 2030, you know.

But I think the best example of what utter crap that argument is, is the fact that the debate over whether to drill in ANWR has been going on since 1977. So let’s do the math, and figure out when we would have seen benefits if we had started drilling when the idea first came to Congress’s attention. If it’s 2012 now, and we wouldn’t see a reduction in gas prices until 2030, that means that it would take 18 years to see that benefit. So you add 18 to 1977, and, let’s see [commence arithmetical mumbling, 8 and 7, that’s 5, carry the 1, 2 and 7 is 9, mumble mumble . . .] — it looks like we would have been seeing the benefits since 1995. Seventeen years ago.

NOT TO MENTION (because the L.A. Times doesn’t mention it) the fact that Obama and his advisors have been, shall we say, blase? about the prospect of higher gas prices. No, we shall not say blase. We will say positively enthusiastic.

Let’s review. Before he joined the Obama administration, indeed two months before the 2008 election (September 2008), a man named Steven Chu said: “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” He wanted higher gas prices! WANTED THEM! How high? Over $8 per gallon.

That’s right. In May 2008, TIME reported: “Across the European Union, the average cost of a gallon of gas runs to about $8.70.”

And when he was elected, Barack Obama said: Steven Chu? That’s the guy I want for my energy secretary!

Somehow, none of this makes its way into the editorial.

The left has its own political talking points. Some on the fringes even believe rising prices are part of a right-wing conspiracy to slow the economic recovery and thus hurt Obama’s reelection chances. Congressional Democrats don’t go quite that far, but they regularly call for probes into price-fixing by the oil giants, although no evidence of this practice has emerged. There are myriad variables involved in the setting of market prices for gas: the price of crude oil, which shifts according to such factors as supply and demand, market disruption or feared disruptions, and speculation by commodity traders; shutdowns of U.S. refineries for routine maintenance; switches in gasoline formulas from winter to more expensive summer blends; and so on. It strains credulity to believe that all of the players involved in this process are conspiring without a hint of the secret leaking out.

OK, your obligatory nod to balance is satisfied, editors. Time to talk about the great news of higher gas prices!

Whatever the cause of high prices, the good news is that Americans have more opportunities to wean themselves from the gas pump with every passing year.

The GOOD news!

And although we sympathize with those who can’t reduce or end their addiction — truck drivers and construction workers whose jobs require gas-guzzling four-wheel-drive pickups come to mind — they make up a minority of those who complain about rising costs, most of whom could begin to solve their own problem with a little creativity.

Listen up, you non-creative nincompoops. You’re about to get The Lecture.

A world of alternatives to the internal combustion engine is flowering, and complaining about the cost is pointless because there’s something to fit every pocketbook: The very rich can buy high-performance electric sports cars made by new companies such as Tesla and Fisker, and those who can’t or don’t want to spend so much can ride public transportation, with Measure R-funded rail lines on the way in Los Angeles County.

Mmm, Los Angeles public transportation. Soooooo good. So good, in fact, that I firmly believe every member of the Los Angeles Times editorial board takes advantage of its wondrous possibilities. Or, you know, they will. Once those Measure R rail lines come online. Any day now.

Hey, those promised rail benefits will accrue instantly, right? Unlike those stupid benefits from ANWR which will take until 2030, we’ll see benefits from Measure R as soon as . . . 2032:

Yesterday came a report from Metro (PDF) that proposed a construction timeline for the Subway to the Sea, as well as a host of other projects in Los Angeles that will be funded by the $40 billion that Measure R will likely raise by 2040. The problem is, even with Measure R, Metro claims that there isn’t enough money to fund the subway all the way to Santa Monica, and even the 10-mile extension to Westwood wouldn’t be completed until 2032.

What’s that? Even a basic result from Measure R would not be available until 2032 — two years after we would see benefits from ANWR drilling if we started today?

But, but . . . that’s different!!!

In between are a host of options: bicycling to work (or, for those who don’t like to pedal, riding a new generation of electric bikes), riding high-mileage scooters and mopeds, or buying a hybrid or electric car.

Just moped to work! Like all the L.A. Times editors (OK, none of them) do!

Some next-generation hybrids will hit showrooms this summer, when a newly improved Ford Fusion hybrid arrives and Toyota launches its Prius C, a smaller and more economical version of its popular gas-sipper.

Moreover, not all the options even involve transportation. People can save dramatically on gasoline by moving closer to their workplaces.

Like all the L.A. Times editors do!

Moving, like all the choices above, has costs and drawbacks: Housing in job centers is often more expensive than in the suburbs, L.A. transit is still spotty and slow, and scootering is only for the courageous. But those who refuse to change their behavior in response to higher prices deserve to pay them.

Does this attitude sound familiar? It should:

“If you’re complaining about the price of gas and you’re only getting 8 miles a gallon, you know,” Obama said laughingly. “You might want to think about a trade-in.”

Again: if you’re upset about high gas prices? It’s your own fault, you gas-guzzling, non-creative idiot.

The weekly spikes and declines of gas prices cause a lot of economic turmoil and consumer angst, but they matter less than the overall trend, and that can head in only one direction: upward. Rising demand in China and India ensures that gasoline is going to become more expensive over time, regardless of who’s in the White House. Americans can adapt or go broke. So now is as good a time as any to consider trading in that SUV for something more suited to the 21st century.

Again: you might want to think about a trade-in.

It’s as if Barack himself were on the editorial board! (Frankly, it wouldn’t make much different to the editorials if he were.)

And with that bit of arrogance, I hereby demand that every member of the L.A. Times editorial board publish the details concerning every vehicle they own.

It’s called transparency, mother[expletive deleted]ers. Show it. Now.

Asian American Journalists Release Guide on How Not to Offend Asians re Jeremy Lin

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:59 pm

When people talk about so-called “code words,” it is sometimes tempting to ask if we can get a list of the things we are not supposed to say. In the wake of the Anthony Federico/Jeremy Lin “chink in the armor” debacle, a group of Asian American journalists has been kind enough to do just that (h/t Dana). Dylan Stableford at Yahoo News’s “The Cutline” writes:

Following (justified) outrage over several examples of racially-insensitive coverage of Lin–including a headline published by which resulted in the firing of one staffer and suspension of another–the Asian American Journalists Association has issued a set of guidelines for media outlets salivating over the NBA’s Asian-American sensation.

“As NBA player Jeremy Lin’s prowess on the court continues to attract international attention and grab headlines, AAJA would like to remind media outlets about relevance and context regarding coverage of race,” the group wrote in an advisory. “In the past weeks, as more news outlets report on Lin, his game and his story, AAJA has noticed factual inaccuracies about Lin’s background as well as an alarming number of references that rely on stereotypes about Asians or Asian Americans.”

You have to love how he rushes to include the word “justified” to describe the pretend outrage of Asian groups. Don’t fire me too! I would never buck the P.C. line!

The article sets forth the guidelines in full, and as you peruse them you start to wonder whether you’re really reading the “Onion.” I’ll just pick one:

DRIVING: This is part of the sport of basketball, but resist the temptation to refer to an “Asian who knows how to drive.”

Thank God for this manual. You can picture a sportcaster who is ready to scream, after Lin drives to the hoop: “NOW THAT’S ONE ASIAN WHO KNOWS HOW TO DRIVE!!!!!” but then consults the manual and realizes that it might be offensive. Truly, journalists everywhere owe this group a debt of thanks.

P.S. No direct reference is made to the “two inches of pain” thing, so I guess that one’s still OK.

Sharia Comes to Pennsylvania

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:06 pm

A Muslim judge [apparently not; see the UPDATE] recently dismissed a case against a Muslim who attacked an athiest wearing a costume of Mohammed (specifically a “Zombie Mohammed” costume) in a Halloween parade. The Muslim judge berated the athiest, called him a “doofus” for not learning about Mohammed, and told him that the First Amendment does not allow him to “piss off” people from other cultures. Here is a local news report:

Andrew McCarthy sums up the case as follows:

The victim, Ernest Perce, wore a “Zombie Mohammed” costume and pretended to walk among the dead (in the company of an associate who was the “Zombie Pope” — and who, you’ll be shocked to learn, was not assaulted). The assailant, Talag Elbayomy, a Muslim immigrant, physically attacked Perce, attempted to pull his sign off, and, according to police, admitted what he had done right after the incident. The defense argued that Elbayomy believed it was a crime to insult the prophet Mohammed (it is, under sharia law), and that because he was in the company of his children, he had to act to end this provocation and set an example about defending Islam.

The actual audio from court is online here:

McCarthy has made a transcript of the judge’s comments. Here are some of the highlights. Play the audio and start listening at 28:32:

Well, having had the benefit of having spent over two-and-a-half years in a predominantly Muslim country, I think I know a little bit about the faith of Islam. In fact, I have a copy of the Koran here, and I would challenge you, sir, to show me where it says in the Koran that Mohammed arose and walked among the dead.

[Unintelligible.] You misinterpreted things. Before you start mocking someone else’s religion you may want to find out a little bit more about it. Kinda makes you look like a doofus.

And Mr. Thomas [Elbayomi’s defense lawyer] is correct. In many other Muslim speaking countries – excuse me, in many Arabic speaking countries – call it “Muslim” – something like this is definitely against the law there. In their society, in fact, it could be punished by death, and it frequently is, in their society.

Here in our society, we have a constitution that gives us many rights, specifically, First Amendment rights. It’s unfortunate that some people use the First Amendment to deliberately provoke others. I don’t think that’s what our forefathers really intended. I think our forefathers intended that we use the First Amendment so that we can speak with our mind, not to piss off other people and other cultures, which is what you did.

I don’t think you’re aware, sir, there’s a big difference between how Americans practice Christianity – uh, I understand you’re an atheist. But, see, Islam is not just a religion, it’s their culture, their culture. It’s their very essence, their very being. They pray five times a day towards Mecca. To be a good Muslim, before you die, you have to make a pilgrimage to Mecca unless you are otherwise told you cannot because you are too ill, too elderly, whatever. But you must make the attempt.

Their greetings, “Salaam alaikum,” “Alaikum wa-salaam,” “May God be with you.” Whenever – it is very common – their language, when they’re speaking to each other, it’s very common for them to say, uh, “Allah willing, this will happen.” It is – they are so immersed in it.

Then what you have done is you’ve completely trashed their essence, their being. They find it very, very, very offensive. I’m a Muslim, I find it offensive. I find what’s on the other side of this very offensive.

But you have that right, but you’re way outside your bounds on First Amendment rights.

Having established his bias in favor of sharia law, the judge then goes on to ignore the evidence available to him and conclude that the evidence is insufficient — which is what factfinders tend to do when they don’t want to find a guilty person guilty.

This is highly disturbing on several levels: the ignorant comments about the First Amendment; the elevation of sharia principles above American law; the judge’s pride in his own bias . . . the list goes on and on. I think this has the potential to be a big story — but then again, I am sometimes very wrong in my judgment of what people find significant.

Thanks to Simon Jester and Milhouse.

UPDATE 2-25-12: Andrew McCarthy has a post that casts doubt on the conclusion that the judge is a Muslim. Despite the seemingly clear audio, his court staff is apparently denying it. I couldn’t care less whether he is a Muslim or not — what Martin said is the issue, not his religion — but I am linking McCarthy’s post to set the record straight. Thanks to Dana.

Sockpuppet Friday (Licking Their Chops edition)

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 6:21 am

[Posted by Karl]

As usual, you are positively encouraged to engage in sockpuppetry in this thread. The usual rules apply.

Please, be sure to switch back to your regular handle when commenting on other threads. I have made that mistake myself.

Sockpuppet comments about the Republican primary race are strictly prohibited. If you wish to use sockpuppets for that purpose, confine your comments to this thread. Same goes for any discussion that is not funny where people want to get angry at each other. Offending comments will be summarily deleted and the violators flogged.

And remember: the worst sin you can commit on this thread is not being funny.

Pres. Obama, in full damage control mode over skyrocketing gasoline prices, relied on the establishment media for part of his defense:

“Some politicians, they see this as a political opportunity. I know you’re shocked by that. Last week the lead story in one newspaper said, ‘Gasoline prices are on the rise and Republicans are licking their chops.’ That’s a quote. That’s the lead. Licking their chops. Only in politics do people root for bad news. They greet bad news so enthusiastically,” Obama said.

Although Allahpundit noted the general hypocrisy of Democrats when it comes to partisanship, It’s not like the Dems ever made rising gas prices a political issue is it?

Well, okay… maybe Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer and Chuck Schumer blamed the Bush administration for gas prices. But it’s not like Pres. Obama, great uniter that he hoped to be, ever made gasoline a political issue, did he?

Obama’s speech yesterday was filled with whoppers, perhaps the biggest being: “There are no short-term silver bullets when it comes to gas prices.” Obama could drive down oil prices right now by announcing an aggressive effort to boost domestic supplies, as Bush did by lifting a moratorium in 2008. Instead, as Swift Energy President Bruce Vincent says, Obama has “done nothing but restrict access and delay permitting.” Of course, the concept of an Obama speech concerned with gas prices is itself a bit of a whopper — Obama himself said during his 2008 presidential campaign that he wanted higher prices to force consumers to use less gasoline. Now gas prices are up and consumption is down, but Obama is not taking a victory lap.

It is worth noting that Obama lifted his “licking their chops” line from the media, as the press is going to help him with this issue as much as any other. Consider this gem buried in the NYT coverage of Obama’s problem:

Gas prices did not figure prominently in the Republican debate on Wednesday in Arizona, where the candidates trained most of their fire on one another.

Translation: the fair and balanced crew at CNN did not ask the GOP field about gas prices on the day Obama felt compelled to publicly defend himself on them. The establishment media is interested in painting Republicans as fixated on birth control and cheering higher gas prices? Shocka!


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