Thursday, December 31, 2009

THE WORST PIECE OF LEGISLATION IN MY LIFETIME

I must confess that the more I read of the health care reform bill that just passed the senate this morning, the more it grows on me.

Unfortunately, that growth is a cancerous tumor, one that will be impossible to excise once this God-awful monstrosity becomes law.

More here.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fire Napolitano

Understandbly, the White House is trying very hard to get out in front of the would-be Christmas bomber story. The head of the Department of Homeland Security isn't helping. I watched her on three shows and each time she was more annoying, maddening and absurd than the pevious appearance.

It is her basic position that the "system worked" because the bureaucrats responded properly after the attack. That the attack was "foiled" by a bad detonator and some civilian passengers is proof, she claims, that her agency is doing everything right. That is just about the dumbest thing she could say, on the merits and politically. I would wager that not one percent of Americans think the system is "working" when terrorists successfully get bombs onto planes (and succeed in activating them).

More.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Is the Reid Bill is Unconstitutional?

I was talking to my friend and fellow blogger Matt James about this very subject last night. Sure enough, along comes Richard Epstein, one of the most impressive legal scholars in America to make the case that the Senate bill has serious Constitutional flaws.

His crituique is thoughtful, well reasoned and in my opinon clearly wrong. Professor Epstein makes a devestating argument that Reid's bill borders on the profoundly stupid. Fair enough as far as it goes. But I think his application of Duquesne Light Co. v. Barasch, 488 U.S. 299 (1988) to the instant matter is badly flawed.

We remain in my view, free to drive our economy off a cliff. The Supreme Court won't save us.


The article is here.

Trotsky: Behind the Myth.


Trotsky has always been something of an icon for the intelligentsia, and it is not hard to see why. He fitted the perception that dissenting intellectuals like to have of themselves. Highly cultured, locked in struggle with a repressive establishment, a gifted writer who was also a man of action, he seemed to embody the ideal of truth speaking to power. The manner of his death solidified this perception, which has shaped accounts of his life ever since.

Trotsky was a charismatic leader whose appeal extended across the political spectrum. When Trotsky was on the run from Stalin, H L Mencken offered to give him his own library (Trotsky refused because he did not want to be indebted to a reactionary). The Bishop of Birmingham signed a petition on Trotsky's behalf, and he was invited to become rector of Edinburgh University. Maynard Keynes tried to secure asylum for him in England, a campaign supported even by the power-worshipping Stalin-lover Beatrice Webb. Literary notables like Lionel Trilling, Edmund Wilson and Mary McCarthy joined the chorus of adulation. A hero-martyr in the cause of humanity, Trotsky deserved the support of every right-thinking person.

This has never been a terribly plausible view of the man who welcomed the ruthless crushing of the Kronstadt workers and sailors when they demanded a more pluralist system of government in 1921, and who defended the systematic use of terror against opponents of the Soviet state until his dying day. Introducing a system of hostage-taking in the Civil War and consistently supporting the trial and execution of dissidents (Mensheviks, Social Revolutionaries, liberal Kadets, nationalists and others), Trotsky never hesitated to endorse repression against those who stood in the way of communist power. This much has long been clear, but the full extent of Trotsky's role in building Soviet totalitarianism has not been detailed - until now.

More here.

Climategate: McIntyre and the ‘Divergence Problem’

If the full Briffa series had been included, the figure would look rather different. The hook upward, the blade of the hockey stick, would have been much less dramatic, the implied global warming much less significant. By truncating the data as they did, the global warming looks much worse.

And as the Climategate emails show, this was the result of a long discussion of how to best deal with “pressure to present a nice tidy story.” A story that fit the IPCC’s political goals, whether it suited the science or not.



Read the whole thing. It's helpful for understanding some of the issues relating to the "hockey stick" graph which suggested sudden, drastic global warming.

The Bilingual Ban That Worked.

In 1998, Californians voted to pass Proposition 227, the “English for the Children Act,” and dismantle the state’s bilingual-education industry. The results, according to California’s education establishment, were not supposed to look like this: button-cute Hispanic pupils at a Santa Ana elementary school boasting about their English skills to a visitor. Those same pupils cheerfully calling out to their principal on their way to lunch: “Hi, Miss Champion!” A statewide increase in English proficiency among all Hispanic students.

Instead, warned legions of educrats, eliminating bilingual education in California would demoralize Hispanic students and widen the achievement gap. Unless Hispanic children were taught in Spanish, the bilingual advocates moaned, they would be unable to learn English or to succeed in other academic subjects.

California’s electorate has been proved right: Hispanic test scores on a range of subjects have risen since Prop. 227 became law. But while the curtailment of California’s bilingual-education industry has removed a significant barrier to Hispanic assimilation, the persistence of a Hispanic academic underclass suggests the need for further reform.

More.

Energy-efficient traffic lights can't melt snow.

Photo taken after a fatal crash in Oswego, Ill. on April 6, 2009. Source AP/Oswego Police.

MILWAUKEE – Cities around the country that have installed energy-efficient traffic lights are discovering a hazardous downside: The bulbs don't burn hot enough to melt snow and can become crusted over in a storm — a problem blamed for dozens of accidents and at least one death.

"I've never had to put up with this in the past," said Duane Kassens, a driver from West Bend who got into a fender-bender recently because he couldn't see the lights. "The police officer told me.


Too bad really. I tend like this sort of clever sort of gadget that offers real cost savings (unlike a lot of hair shirt environmentalism which tends to be about feeling like you're doing something). In real life, there are lots of unforeseen variables that can erase any savings in the blink of an eye.

More.

h/t The Wife.

Making Criminals Out of all Americans.

The 1988 law at issue aims at public corruption and corporate misconduct, but sweeps far too broadly, criminalizing schemes to "deprive another of the intangible right of honest services."

If that language seems a little, well, intangible to you, you're not alone. Hurling hypotheticals, the justices strained to find a limiting principle that could prevent the law from covering an employee reading a racing form on the clock (Stephen Breyer) or calling in sick to go to a ballgame (Antonin Scalia). Of some 150 million workers in the United States, Breyer told Drebeen, "I think possibly 140 million of them would flunk your test."

The court's struggle with the "honest services" statute points toward a larger issue: the burgeoning problem of overcriminalization.


Read the whole thing.

London Street Scenes (1903).

Pascal's wager for the new age.

Below is a very brief summary of the conclusions from the climate scientists themselves -- those who believe in man-caused, catastrophic global warming.

  • The globe warmed about 0.6o and the oceans rose about six inches in the last hundred years, according to the U.N. IPCC. (I use Celsius throughout unless otherwise noted.)
  • We are now in what is called an interglacial period, or the time between ice ages. Previous interglacial peaks were three degrees warmer than now. In Antarctica, these previous peaks were actually six degrees warmer.
  • Since the last ice age, the oceans rose about four hundred feet. Most of that occurred before the pyramids were built (and well before modern use of fossil fuels), but the trend for hundreds of years up to the present has been rising sea levels.
  • The sea ice of the south polar ice cap has grown in the last thirty years.
  • Climate scientists have fairly recently recognized a climate cycle they now call the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. "The cause of the oscillation is not well understood, but the cycle appears to come round about every 60 to 70 years." They think this is why temperatures over the last eight years or so do not show the continued warming their models predicted. This and other cycles (Pacific Decadal Oscillation, El Niño, La Niña) are not included in the IPCC climate models.
  • The sun does appear to account for "at least 10 to 30 percent of global warming measured during the past two decades," according to two Duke University physicists. While they were quick to remind us "that their findings do not argue against the basic theory that significant global warming is occurring because of carbon dioxide and other 'greenhouse' gases," they note that IPCC-type climate models do not include any solar influences.
  • The "ice caps" on Mars shrank over all three years of initial observation by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions, 2005-2007.
  • Glaciers in the northern hemisphere generally have been shrinking for about seven hundred years, while those in the southern hemisphere have been shrinking for the last sixty-five hundred years. (You might notice that those times precede the modern use of fossil fuels.)
  • Himalayan glaciers, 230 of the largest mid-latitude glaciers in the world, have been growing since at least 1980.

One could go on. Remember, these are the things that climate alarmists generally concede. So far, I see only slight warming and sea-level rise, nothing that looks unprecedented for an interglacial period, and nothing that looks unnatural. Everything is totally consistent with a planet that is near an interglacial peak and following cycles of various periods (from one year to 40,000 years) that are "not well understood."


More.

The 35-Year War on the CIA.

For the past 35 years, American liberals have attacked and vilified the CIA with a fervency that borders on holy war. Their antipathy toward the CIA and its works has been reflected in Hollywood films from Three Days of the Condor in 1975 to Rendition in 2007; in popular thrillers like Robert Ludlum’s Bourne trilogy published in the 1980s, as well as the Matt Damon movies based on the novels that came out in this decade; and in lengthy nonfiction exposes of CIA misdeeds by leftist critics like John Prados (Safe for Democracy: The CIA’s Secret Wars)and David Wise (The American Police State). In this view, the CIA has conducted itself around the world in monstrous fashion—sometimes in the service of a barbaric chief executive and sometimes to undermine a purer president—and in ways that merit and justify hatred of the United States outside our borders.

This war has also been enshrined in one disastrous liberal-led “reform” of the CIA after another. The wreckage reaches back to congressional hearings conducted in the 1970s, to the disastrous cutbacks in CIA activities under Jimmy Carter, and to the Clinton administration’s ban on sharing intelligence between the CIA and domestic law enforcement.

So what is it about the CIA that makes liberals and Democrats lose their common sense? The FBI’s record of abuse of American citizens’ civil liberties is far longer and more egregious, as its treatment of Martin Luther King suggests. During Vietnam and other contentious periods of the Cold War, the FBI opened far more secret files on Americans and conducted far more unauthorized break-ins and wiretaps than the CIA could ever have contemplated. Yet the FBI has never been subjected to quite the same relentless serial abuse on Capitol Hill or in the popular culture as the CIA. Indeed, the Obama administration is not the first to send in the FBI to rescue the CIA from itself.

One cannot deny that Republican administrations have made disastrous decisions regarding the CIA as well. And there is no covering over the fact that the CIA has sometimes been its own worst enemy—not least when it decides to act on the advice of its liberal critics. At any rate, a serious examination of this implacable hostility toward America’s leading spy agency on the part of the American Left over the course of the past 35 years reveals a great deal about the nature of modern liberalism itself and its often self-destructive course.



More.

Something New To Worry About: Anthropogenic Continental Drift.

There are of course, two sides to everything.

Now, everyone knows that continental drift is a natural, ongoing process of the Earth, just like climate change.

The continents, and the tectonic plates they are attached to, shift about and grind into each other, causing mountains to be rucked up into the sky and volcanoes to erupt, and earthquakes, and other geologic shit of this nature.

What you may not know is that this process, while unstoppable, can be slowed down tremendously. We can save lives this way, and more importantly, beachfront property. But we haven't been doing it.
Our inaction in saving lives- and some really sweet bungalows- is tragic. Tragic.

How can we slow down this destructive process?
One word, friends: friction.

How do we enhance the natural friction that keeps these gigantic continents from slippy-sliding all over the place, crushing everyone that you love and burying their wicked bitchin' summer rental cottages in hot lava?

We need to extract the dangerous lubricants that are hiding deep in the Earth.

Right now, under the ground, possibly thousands of feet under your very...uh, feet...are vast deposits of a black, menacingly slippery substance that scientists refer to as 'oil' [TX pron: awl].

We gotta get that shit out of there, stat! Our recalcitrance in this regard is frustrating and downright dangerous. The time to act is now.

No matter the cost, humans must find a way- with specialized pipes and pumps, perhaps- to reduce these vast deposits of 'oil' that imperil us all.

Who knows? We may even find a use for it.



More here.

Ah, Those Thoughtful, Nuanced Democrats.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) helpfully explains that those opposing Obamacare are birthers and fanatics in right-wing militia and Aryan support groups.

Simply astonishing.

The polling on this is now at 41% for, 51% against. Howard Dean, Keith Olbermann, Jane Hamsher and Markos Moulitsas have all come out against it. I had no idea the right-wing fringe was so inclusive.

Climategate: The Perils of Global Warming Models

Here’s a surprise: These public interpretations are influenced by such factors as political, religious, environmental, financial, and scientific opinions. In their public revelations, do the interpreters explain all of their underlying biases? By now you know the answer: absolutely not.

When these are introduced into the equation we obviously have strayed so far from scientific fact that it is not even in sight anymore.

So we need to think very carefully before we take major actions (e.g., spend a few trillion dollars based on climate predictions, wind energy projected performance, etc.) that are almost entirely based on computer models.

What to do? Should we just scrap all computer models?

No, that’s the other extreme. Computer models have merit — but shouldn’t be the tail wagging the dog.

More here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wow.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Charge of the Light Brigade.

Conservatives, Political Correctness and the Academy.

I’m not sure what the solution to this problem is, but I do think it’s clear that many product liberal-leaning institutions, starting with the universities, are sufficiently engaged in groupthink that they lack the most basic curiosity about or knowledge of what their ideological adversaries believe, and are instead inclined to dismiss them entirely as mere evil reactionaries. [And they are sufficiently isolated from contact with conservatives that they don’t have personal experiences to suggest otherwise; it’s easy enough, for example, to go to a top university, on to a major journalism school, and from there to the New York Times or MSNBC or The Huffington Post without every having had a serious intellectual discussion with a conservative colleague or mentor.] That’s not good for the universities, it’s not good for liberals themselves (isn’t easier to defeat one’s enemies if one first understands them?), and it’s not good for America.

More here.

Monday, December 07, 2009

This is Not Your FDR's Federal Government.

My father was the head of a trade association for the heavy construction industry, and most of my closest relatives either work for the government, or have done so in the past. As you can imagine, over my lifetime I've had a lot of conversations about government procedure and government projects. Every so often I'll read some description of a project out of the olden days--the battle against malaria in Panama, the handling of the Great Mississippi Flood, or the creation of the WPA--and just marvel at how fast everything used to be. The WPA was authorized in April of 1935. By December, it was employing 3.5 million people. The Hoover Dam took 16 years from the time it was first proposed, to completion; eight years, if you start counting from the time it passed Congress.

Contrast this with a current, comparatively trivial project: it has been seventeen years since the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor was established by USDOT, and we should have a Record of Decision on the Tier II environmental impact statement no later than 2010. This for something that runs along existing rail rights of way, and in fact, uses currently operating track in many places.

More.

John Brown Dead, Slavery Marches On.


We like to think that our world is making progress, that as humanity develops technologically and economically we are also developing morally and socially. The rise of the new slave trade challenges that easy, comfortable assumption. True, slavery is not as economically important today as it was in the nineteenth century when the slave-dependent cotton industry provided cheap raw materials for the cutting edge textile factories that led the Industrial Revolution. And it is also true that while there are more slaves today than ever before in world history, the percentage of the world’s population held in slavery seems to be in long term decline.


But slavery today is by some measures more brutal and more soul destroying than it was in the past. The brothel industry in particular, subjecting millions of young women and children to repeated multiple rapes night after night for years at a time, is organized on a far larger and more extensive scale than it was in the past — and slaves make this industry possible.


Climategate – it ain’t just about the weather.

That is why Climategate is so important. It is the Watergate of our times that has, if anything, more ramifications than the original, which largely affected just Richard Nixon and his immediate coterie. It is – to choose an in this case wildly ironic cliché – the tip of an iceberg. This iceberg does not definitively disprove the possibility of man’s influence on global warming (or cooling, for that matter). Anyone who says that is almost as irresponsible as those who say AGW is “settled science.” Well, not quite. But the scandal has changed the game in the crucial area of information flow and has forced the media and politicians to confront, at least for the moment, the issue of transparency.

Transparency, however, is not just about the issue of global warming. It is about myriad issues in our society, including healthcare, the economy with its attendant stimulus plans and education, to pick just a few that come immediately to mind. Indeed it affects practically everything. Transparency is, again ironically, like the weather – the thing that everybody talks about but nobody does a thing about. Our President promised it, others pay lip service to it, but no one does it.

More.

Here's some of the back and forth we had on this on Facebook today.

Salvatore Reda
Global warming Is a myth! What is really happening is that earths magnetic field is getting weaker.

Matthew V. Topic
I find these attempts to dispute the existence of global warming utterly terrifying.

Michael Stajduhar
Based upon your extensive background as a climate researcher? Or are you taking it on faith that the scientists who we now know smeared dissenters as well as hiding and destroying evidence, wouldn’t lie to you? Climategate is far from a slam dunk for the "there is no global warming" crowd. But at the very least, reasonable people should catch their breath and be a little skeptical. We should be that way with all things actually. We should look at the evidence and ask are there other possible interpretations of this data set. The case for Global Warming boils down to this:... See More... See More1) It's getting hotter2) The rise in temperatures is historically unusual.3) If it keeps getting hotter at this rate the impact on the world will be catastrophic.4) Most or all of the warming is caused by man5) With sacrifices we can stop or even reverse it.A very large number of people have grave reservations about any number of these propositions. Trying to demonize them isn’t defending settled science (there is no such thing). It’s attacking free thought. Until Climategate 2-5 seemed very much open to question. It was for example much hotter in the middle ages than even the worst predictions for today's global warming. The world didn't end and it probably wasn't caused by cars...since they didn't have any. Most likely the warm period was caused by increased solar activity...just like what we saw for most of the 20th century. Odd coincidence that. As to claim #1 we now have actual evidence of data manipulation, tossing out of raw data so no one else can check it and other shenanigans. Frankly before we decide to destroy the global economy in the name of Mother Earth, I'd like to see a little...um...what’s the word...oh yeah, proof.about a minute ago ·


Matthew V. Topic
Your analysis fails to account for the differences in risk between (1) incorrectly concluding that human-caused or human-worsened climate change exists, and (2) incorrectly concluding that it does not exist. Seems to me that there is plenty of evidence raising at least a real possibility that it exists. Maybe that evidence is wrong. But I'd much... See More, much, much rather us be a (1) than a (2), and as each year passes with no significant action, we both increase to cost of correcting (2) and decrease the possibility of even being able to fix it if we want. We lack the luxury of awaiting the level of "proof" the deniers insist upon. A better analysis is to say that until it is proven that carbon emissions DON'T cause global warming, we should contain the emissions. Why is the burden of proof placed on the assessment that actually tries to avert the worse outcome? And re smearing, the Bush administration removed the gloves long ago, so it's too late to complain about the rules of engagement, right or wrong. Finally, prove to me that the global economy would be "destroyed."


Michael Stajduhar
Well the levels of taxation being proposed, coupled with increased regulatory burdens on industry amount to a hit on peoples personal standard of living of roughly 50%. Obviously these burdens will be shared unequally. Cyber-savvy law school types like ourselves will probably do ok. Coal miners, not so much. In any case a whole bunch of people will be a lot poorer...forever. With regard to burdens of proof, in science extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I suppose reasonable people can disagree about whether "there is no global warming" is more outlandish than "global warming is gonna kill us all if we don't do X by Y date". Rather than remind you that in 1979 Global Cooling was being called "settled science" I'll simply say that those claiming that doom is imminent are the ones demanding sacrifices therefore the burden of proof rests with them. There can be no other reasonable rule. If I were to say "The Vogons are going to destroy Earth with their death ray...unless you give me $200.00" (please note I am not suggesting the Vogons are about to destroy earth...as evil space aliens go, they seem pretty nice). Here we have the possibility of extraordinary harm to the Earth and everyone on it, which can be mitigated by you pay a modest amount of extortion...I mean "Green Lifestyle Fee". Sure maybe the Vogons won't blow up the Earth, maybe they don't even exist...but maybe they do! How can you be so selfish and not want to protect the whole world for a measly $200.00? Surely since the risk of harm from a Vogon attack is so great the burden is on you to prove they don't exist, thus obviating the need for protection money.... See MoreIf you represent Amce Corp, major producer of widgets and you get a call from someone who says "Your widgets gave me cancer", I'd imagine that one of the questions you want to ask the plaintiff is "do you have any evidence that widgets cause cancer?". I also imagine that you be kinda frustrated if the response was "can you prove they don't?". As for the Bush administration politicizing science, while I'm not a huge fan the charge mostly arises from their failure to muzzle or fire people who...ummm...are not entirely convinced global warming is going to kill us all.


Matthew V. Topic
If there are some credible experts who believe that there is a non-trivial chance that Vogons actually exist and have the capability to destroy us, we should pay the $200. Therein lies the distinction between the climate debate and your analogy. Your widget/cancer analogy is completely off the mark as there are no plaintffs or defendants in the ... See Moreclimate policy debate. A better analogy would be whether the consumer product safety commission should require safety measure on widgets that a consensus of scientists believe are likely to cause cancer. There's no 100% certainty that lead paint will hurt my children, but I still don't want in my kids' toys.Do you really contend there is no evidence supporting the claim that humans are contributing to global warming? I thought the argument was that it hasn't been sufficiently proven, which is something else entirely. And I fail to see why the status quo of carbon free-for-all is entitled to a presumption of correctness simply because it's tradition.What's your source for a 50% reduction in standard of living? And does it include an offset for the increase in the standard of living amongst the poorest people of the world, the ones which are believed likely to suffer the greatest harm from global warming? I'll even let you discount that by a reasonable percentage of likelihood that global warming doesn't exist (let's say 50% to make it easy).

Maxx Goff
Coterie, isn't that the guy in charge of walking people to a table in a high end joint?

The Architect as Totalitarian.


Le Corbusier was to architecture what Pol Pot was to social reform. In one sense, he had less excuse for his activities than Pol Pot: for unlike the Cambodian, he possessed great talent, even genius. Unfortunately, he turned his gifts to destructive ends, and it is no coincidence that he willingly served both Stalin and Vichy.


Like Pol Pot, he wanted to start from Year Zero: before me, nothing; after me, everything. By their very presence, the raw-concrete-clad rectangular towers that obsessed him canceled out centuries of architecture. Hardly any town or city in Britain (to take just one nation) has not had its composition wrecked by architects and planners inspired by his ideas.


The great climate change science scandal.

THE hacking scandal is not an isolated event. Instead it is the latest round of a long-running battle over climate science that goes back to 1990.

That was when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — the group of scientists that advises governments worldwide — published its first set of reports warning that the Earth faced deadly danger from climate change. A centrepiece of that report was a set of data showing how the temperature of the northern hemisphere was rising rapidly.


The problem was that the same figures showed that it had all happened before. The so-called medieval warm period of about 1,000 years ago saw Britain covered in vineyards and Viking farmers tending cows in Greenland. For any good scientist this raised a big question: was the recent warming linked to humans burning fossil fuels or was it part of a natural cycle?


More here.

Prehistoric Barbie


Paleoanthropology Division
Smithsonian Institute
207 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20078


Dear Sir:
Thank you for your latest submission, labeled "93211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline post...Hominid skull." We have given this specimen a careful and detailed examination, and regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million years ago. Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety that one of our staff, who has small children, believes to be "Malibu Barbie." It is evident that you have given a great deal of thought to the analysis of this specimen, and you may be quite certain that those of us who are familiar with your prior work in the field were loathe to come to contradiction with your findings. However, we do feel that there are a number of physical attributes of the specimen which might have tipped you off to its modern origin:


1. The material is molded plastic. Ancient hominid remains are typically fossilized bone.


2. The cranial capacity of the specimen is approximately 9 cubic centimeters, well below the threshold of even the earliest identified proto-homonids.


3. The dentition pattern evident on the skull is more consistent with the common domesticated dog than it is with the ravenous man-eating Pliocene Clams you speculate roamed the wetlands during that time.


Probably just an urban legend but more here.

The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody

Climategate Who's Who.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On this day in 1918...

...the most devastating conflict that the world had ever seen up to that point, came to a close. Total casualties were just shy of 50 million with deaths from military causes in the neighborhood of ten million or so. The war administered a shock to western civilization from which it has never recovered. But whatever the subsequent political and culturial implications of places like The Somme and Verdun on our collective memory, it worth remembering the very real suffering of the men fought and died there.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 - 1918)

The Red Plague.

How can we understand all this killing by communists? It is the marriage of an absolutist ideology with the absolute power. Communists believed that they knew the truth, absolutely. They believed that they knew through Marxism what would bring about the greatest human welfare and happiness. And they believed that power, the dictatorship of the proletariat, must be used to tear down the old feudal or capitalist order and rebuild society and culture to realize this utopia. Nothing must stand in the way of its achievement. Government--the Communist Party--was thus above any law. All institutions, cultural norms, traditions, and sentiments were expendable. And the people were as though lumber and bricks, to be used in building the new world.

Constructing this utopia was seen as though a war on poverty, exploitation, imperialism, and inequality. And for the greater good, as in a real war, people are killed. And thus, this war for the communist utopia had its necessary enemy casualties, the clergy, bourgeoisie, capitalists, wreckers, counterrevolutionaries, rightists, tyrants, rich, landlords, and noncombatants that unfortunately got caught in the battle. In a war millions may die, but the cause may be well justified, as in the defeat of Hitler and an utterly racist Nazism. And to many communists, the cause of a communist utopia was such as to justify all the deaths.

The irony of this is that communism in practice, even after decades of total control, did not improve the lot of the average person, but usually made their living conditions worse than before the revolution. It is not by chance that the greatest famines have occurred within the Soviet Union (about 5,000,000 dead during 1921-23 and 7,000,000 from 1932-3) and communist China (about 27,000,000 dead from 1959-61, as mentioned). In total almost 55,000,000 people died in various communist famines and associated diseases, a little over 10,000,000 of them from democidal famine. This is as though the total population of Turkey, Iran, or Thailand had been completely wiped out. And understandably, something like 35,000,000 people fled communist countries as refugees. It is as though the countries of Argentina or Columbia had been totally emptied of all their people. This was an unparalleled vote against the utopian pretensions of Marxism.

More here.


Mahler: Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection)

The Lessons of 1989.

Throughout the 1980s, democratic insurgencies in the Philippines and South Korea, as well as the long resistance of the anti-apartheid forces in South Africa, showed that when the ruled do not want to go on in the old way, all they really need do is to fold their arms. These examples were studied behind the Iron Curtain: Matynia's book on Poland makes a direct comparison case with South Africa, and leading Polish dissident Adam Michnik was a close observer of the gradual but impressive manner in which Spain evolved from a sort of fascistic theocracy into a civil and secular society.

Today, the memory of the "velvet revolution" or the "soft revolution" is very strong in Iran, where arrested intellectuals and activists are accused in so many words by the secret police of having a "velvet" agenda. In Tehran, alas, there are still many in the clerical leadership who believe, as the Communists no longer did, in their own primitive and oppressive ideology, and who are willing—if not, indeed, eager—to kill for it. (And the brutish Iranian mullahs secured the first great-power endorsement of their election theft from Vladimir Putin's Moscow, which, these days, is the seat of an aggressive, chauvinist, militarist, and clerically influenced regime.) So we still have our duties of solidarity with movements of transformation, and we can draw on the memory of a time when civilized peoples, so long forced to hold their tongues and hold their breath, all exhaled at the same moment and blew the old order away without a shot being fired.



More.

Monday, November 09, 2009

'Going Muslim'

"Going postal" is a piquant American phrase that describes the phenomenon of violent rage in which a worker--archetypically a postal worker--"snaps" and guns down his colleagues.

As the enormity of the actions of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan sinks in, we must ask whether we are confronting a new phenomenon of violent rage, one we might dub--disconcertingly--"Going Muslim." This phrase would describe the turn of events where a seemingly integrated Muslim-American--a friendly donut vendor in New York, say, or an officer in the U.S. Army at Fort Hood--discards his apparent integration into American society and elects to vindicate his religion in an act of messianic violence against his fellow Americans. This would appear to be what happened in the case of Maj. Hasan.

More here.

It was Twenty Years Ago Today.

It was perhaps the greatest day in the history of human freedom. Never before had so many people freed, so quickly, with so little loss of life.

For those too young to remember that day, its difficult to describe the joy that seeing those people standing on the wall brought. Not only was there a flood of happiness but also a huge sense of relief.

For those of us who came of age during the Cold War, the danger of imminent conflict between east and west was a basic fact of our existence. Most people took it for granted that sooner or later Soviet tank armies would come rumbling through West Germany and it seemed the the best case scenario was a conventional war with perhaps 20-30 million dead. The worst case scenario is too terrible to contemplate. Amazingly, none of it happened. Whether it was luck, providence, or inspired leadership, we came through.

It's worth remembering as we struggle with Islamism, third rate North Korean dictators, environmental issues and a global economy that borders on disastrous...we've faced far worse. For all the apparent stress on the cultural and political fabric of our nation, the challenges we face today are tiny compared with those we've faced in the past.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

My thoughts on yesterdays political events.

Much will be said today about the elections yesterday, what they mean and what they portend for the future.

Republicans are celebrating big wins in the gubernatorial races in Virginia and solidly Democratic New Jersey. These are major victories. They illustrate the change in the political winds quite well I think. Obama's victory in Virgina last year was seen a as a major breakthrough for Democrats. It was the first time they had won a presidential contest there since 1964. Now a year later they loose by 18 points. That's a big change. In New Jersey, one of the most solidly blue states you had an incumbent governor outspend his opponent at least 2-1 (Dick Morris says 5-1 but take things he says with a grain of salt). Obama made numerous trips to the state to campaign for his guy. He lost anyway. Frankly, he lost badly.

Liberals will find some comfort in blaming the weakness of the candidates in those states. The rejection of those specific candidates doesn't necessarily mean a rejection of Obama or his agenda they will argue. In fact I actually heard a caller on a talk show as I was driving in this morning argue that the lesson Obama should take from yesterday's results is that he should stop being so centrist. America, the caller argued was far too ideological for Obama's utilitarian approach. I've got to say I'm mystified by this argument. I disagree both with the caller's description of fact (compared to say Europe I think the U.S. is noticeably non-ideological and as to Obama being non-ideological...well let's just say I disagree) and his advice going forward. If the Democrats believe that they can make gains by purging the blue-dogs and lurching leftward, they are delusional.

At the same time Democrats have been pushing the meme that there is a war for the soul of the GOP between folks who are indistinguishable from Democrats (the forces of good) and conservatives (the minions of Satan...not that they believe in Satan or anything). These folks will no doubt take comfort in the results of the congressional election in NY-23. It's a strange race though. The Republican candidate was picked by 11 people and was arguably to the left of the Democrat(she was briefly endorsed by Kos before he realized that his endorsement was actually hurting her). It's hard to argue that she really had a mandate from Republicans in her district.

The Democrat seemed to be a personable, conventional liberal. This stood in sharp contrast to the weirdly awkward Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman. Never the less, in 30 days Hoffman went from being a total unknown with no money to being a cause celeb for the American right. Add the fact that the Republican dropped out and then endorsed the Democrat and his coming within a few thousand votes of winning is simply astonishing. The truth is that the result in NY-23 is a (moral) victory for conservatism, a bitter defeat for insiders who try to foist candidates on unwilling voters and at best an endorsement of the Democrat as being the least weird of an odd bunch.

It seems to me though that the biggest story yesterday was not an election result but rather the acknowledgment by senior Democrats that there will not be a health care bill this year. This is devastating for the chances of health care legislation.

It's not as though this congress is exactly circumspect about passing things and figuring out how they will work later. This can only mean that the Democrats have done the math and they simply don't have the votes. They are putting a brave face on it saying they'll pursue it next year but frankly that's laughable. If they can't get nervous democrats to vote for it now, what makes them think that it'll be easier in an election year? Also keep in mind that that Democrats were saying these things before losing the governorships in New Jersey and Virgina. And if as expected, the Republicans make big gains in the 2010 congressional elections? Well let's just say their chances are somewhere in the neighborhood of zero.

All of this also bodes ill for Cap and Trade. This was always going to be a hard sell in the Senate. It seems clear that Democrats were holding it back, hoping that momentum from the passage of Obamacare would allow it to squeak through. Now that seems a forlorn hope.

The consequences of mismanaged TARP and stimulus funds have come home to roost. The American people simply don't trust the democrats on basic competence issues. They are no longer willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I think they're in for a bumpy ride.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Worst Parking Job Ever.

Details here.


How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.


Cause you never know when you might need this sort of information.

Step 1

Remove the casing of the bomb. This may sound difficult, but you can be very rough with the bomb in order to remove the outer casing. Atomic bombs are designed to withstand heavy damage without detonating. Once you can observe the inner workings of the bomb, you are on your way to being able to dismantle an atomic bomb.

More here.

Babel.

Even with good instruction, it is fiendishly difficult to learn any new language well, at least after about the age of 15. While vilified in certain quarters as threatening the future of the English language in America, most immigrants who actually try to improve their English skills here in the United States find that they have trouble communicating effectively even with doctors or their children’s schoolteachers.

Yet the going idea among linguists and anthropologists is that we must keep as many languages alive as possible, and that the death of each one is another step on a treadmill toward humankind’s cultural oblivion. This accounted for the melancholy tone, for example, of the obituaries for the Eyak language of southern Alaska last year when its last speaker died.

That death did mean, to be sure, that no one will again use the word demexch, which refers to a soft spot in the ice where it is good to fish. Never again will we hear the word 'ał for an evergreen branch, a word whose final sound is a whistling past the sides of the tongue that sounds like wind passing through just such a branch. And behind this small death is a larger context. Linguistic death is proceeding more rapidly even than species attrition. According to one estimate, a hundred years from now the 6,000 languages in use today will likely dwindle to 600. The question, though, is whether this is a problem.

More.

For those of you who think Obama's deficits don't matter:

The Tax Foundation has run the numbers to see what the tax rates would have to be to eliminate the deficit (not pay off any of the national debt mind you, this would just be not going any further into the hole). It's grim:


Using the Tax Foundation’s Microsimulation Model, we can project how much revenue a
broad-based increase in federal income tax rates would generate. However, when the rates
necessary are spelled out, it becomes apparent that deficits this large simply cannot be closed
with higher federal income tax rates. This year and for several years to come, even if
congressmen were willing to present the full bill to the taxpayers in the form of higher taxes
to match their spending level, they could not do so.

It's your money. Read the whole thing.

The Golden State isn't worth it.

Today's public benefits fail that test, as urban scholar Joel Kotkin of NewGeography.com and Chapman University told the Los Angeles Times in March: "Twenty years ago, you could go to Texas, where they had very low taxes, and you would see the difference between there and California. Today, you go to Texas, the roads are no worse, the public schools are not great but are better than or equal to ours, and their universities are good. The bargain between California's government and the middle class is constantly being renegotiated to the disadvantage of the middle class."

These judgments are not based on drive-by sociology. According to a report issued earlier this year by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., Texas students "are, on average, one to two years of learning ahead of California students of the same age," even though per-pupil expenditures on public school students are 12% higher in California. The details of the Census Bureau data show that Texas not only spends its citizens' dollars more effectively than California but emphasizes priorities that are more broadly beneficial. Per capita spending on transportation was 5.9% lower in California, and highway expenditures in particular were 9.5% lower, a discovery both plausible and infuriating to any Los Angeles commuter losing the will to live while sitting in yet another freeway traffic jam.

In what respects, then, does California "excel"? California's state and local government employees were the best compensated in America, according to the Census Bureau data for 2006. And the latest posting on the website of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility shows 9,223 former civil servants and educators receiving pensions worth more than $100,000 a year from California's public retirement funds. The "dues" paid by taxpayers in order to belong to Club California purchase benefits that, increasingly, are enjoyed by the staff instead of the members.


More.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Brian Patrick Michael Monahan: Rest in Peace


Rich Miller says goodbye to an old friend of mine.

He never once sought the limelight. He had no desire for fame or fortune. He didn't yell and scream and try to draw attention to himself. Brian just wanted to do good the only way he knew how.

Brian was the type of person I admire the most. I think a lot of others feel the same way about people just like him.

The rest is here.

Oops.

Gardasil has to be the perfect drug for the brave new world of ObamaCare, in a 1984 kind of way. Made by Merck & Co., it was approved in 2006 for use against venereal disease in young girls. Here's why it's so culturally suited for hope and change -- and such a perfect example of why you don't want the government in your medicine chest:

1) Gardasil has owed most of its success to the fact that government agencies have been subsidizing its sales, recommending its use, and even talking about requiring it.

2) Administered to girls as young as nine, it seems likely to help them grow up feeling ever so much safer about "safe sex." They'll be freer to rebel against bad old, religion-based morality, and more inclined to bond (as it were) with peers, school, the state and charismatic politicians who are always repeating themselves.

3) Best of all, it now appears that Gardasil doesn't work.

More.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Eric Bibb


Italian Life Under Fascism


Fascism was unique among the radical forces produced by the early twentieth century, developing out of World War I without any clear predecessor in the nineteenth century. It first emerged in Italy in 1919, catapulting its leader, Benito Mussolini, into the premiership three years later and then to the creation of a new political dictatorship beginning in 1925.


The term fascism, however, would later be applied to an entire cluster or genus of new revolutionary nationalist movements in Europe between the world wars, of which the most important was German National Socialism, or Nazism, for short, so that the Italian origins of the first fascism would often be overlooked, attention focusing primarily on Germany. The initial, or "paradigmatic" fascism nonetheless had specifically Italian roots and characteristics.


More here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Probing the black-white achievement gap.

After all, the notion that any shards of socially unpleasant experience unquestionably hold down black students' GPAs is an infantilization - given that we assume that Asian students experience unpleasant experierences (and amply attest to such) and yet it does not impact their campus performance. Why are black students supposedly less resilient than Korean ones? And where is the benefit to society in pretending that they aren't?

More here.

Should prosecutors who manufacture evidence be susceptible to lawsuits?

A prosecutor manufactures evidence in order to win a conviction. After the convicted serves 25 years in prison, exculpatory evidence pointing to another perpetrator surfaces. The convicted is released. Should he be able to sue the prosecutor who concocted the false evidence used to convict him?

Believe it or not, it's still an open question.

More.

Fallen Princesses.

More here.

h/t Dan Hartung.

On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study.


Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.


Greatest Magician On Earth


Greatest Magician On Earth - Click here for the funniest movie of the week

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009

London Times: Obama award makes a mockery of the peace prize.


[T]he prize risks looking preposterous in its claims, patronising in its intentions and demeaning in its attempt to build up a man who has barely begun his period in office, let alone achieved any tangible outcome for peace.

Ya think?

More here.

Well he did arrange the Beer Summit. No word yet on his Heisman Trophy chances.

UPDATE:

Democratic National Committee claims those criticizing the award are siding with terrorist organization Hamas. Kinda hilarious considering Hamas endorsed Barack Obama for President.



Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

To my Jewish friends...


Happy New Year, blow a shofar for me.

As I write this CSI: Miami is filming at my mother-in-law's house...


How freakin cool is that?
Click to enlarge pic.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Never Let A Crack Head Sing at Your Funeral.

Trust me...watch the whole thing.

h/t The wife.

People of Walmart.Com









Trust me, take a look.
h/t The Wife

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sorry about the lack of posting...

I've been super busy with the twins, work, etc. Ok, I know it's a lame excuse but it's the truth. It's amazing the amount of energy two little girls can suck out of you. To add insult to injury, now they can walk. God help me.

Ok, hopefully I'll be able to post something tonight. I've got a HUGE backlog of interesting stuff so check in frequently for the next couple of days.

Thanks for being patient,

Mike Stajduhar

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

12 "Dead Technology" Advertisements.


An interesting to look back at the ways that technology has advertised over the years.


More here.

Nine Overhyped and Misleading Health Headlines Debunked.

Junk Food in Pregnancy Leaves Children Fat for Life

U.K. Daily Mirror July 1, 2008


The Studies“Offspring from Mothers Fed a ‘Junk Food’ Diet in Pregnancy and Lactation Exhibit Exacerbated Adiposity That Is More Pronounced in Females,” The Journal of Physiology, 2008
The HypeDoughnuts during pregnancy doom kids to lifelong obesity and diabetes.


The Subtler Truth
The media made a correlation that this study, conducted on rats at the Royal Veterinary College in London, did not prove. “We cannot be certain that what happens in the rat will apply 100 percent to humans,” says lead author Stephanie Bayol. The basic takeways: Good neonatal nutrition is important, but it alone won’t determine a child’s waistline. Bayol objects to “the message that someone is doomed to a lifetime of obesity because of their mothers’ bad diet and that nothing can be done. This was not supported by our findings.”

More.

They did this on Reno 911...Life imitates art...well ok, not "art" but you know what I mean.


SAO PAULO, Brazil – In one murder after another, the "Canal Livre" crime TV show had an uncanny knack for being first on the scene, gathering graphic footage of the victim.

Too uncanny, say police, who are investigating the show's host, state legislator Wallace Souza, on suspicion of commissioning at least five of the murders to boost his ratings and prove his claim that Brazil's Amazon region is awash in violent crime. Police also have accused Souza of drug trafficking.

More here.

H/T The Wife.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I guess it didn't fit the narrative...

Earlier in the week, MSNBC ran a story about gun-toting protesters outside an Obama rally in Phoenix. They zeroed in on a man's rifle (scary! threatening!) while omitting his face--watch the video here. Why? Because if they had zoomed out just a bit, the audience would have realized that--oops!--the rifle-toting white extremist is a black man.

More.

Ted Kennedy has died.

I met him in my youth when I was testifying on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. He was kind and gracious, even to his opponents and I think, a good Senator.

Unlike his brothers who always had eyes on higher office, Ted worked at being a Senator. He was a vigorous champion of the left in American public life...and that's a good thing. Too many people in Washington have no goal other than power itself. Not so for Senator Kennedy. He always knew where he stood, who he was for, and what he was against.

He was of course a flawed man. It's impossible to tell his story without mentioning his disgraceful conduct in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Other aspects of his personal life were less than flattering as well. In the end though, I think one has to acknowledge that he was truly a great (if imperfect) man. We will not soon see his like again.

Rest in peace.


His obituary is here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Liberal Friend of Mine of Facebook sent me this...

All the snarky comments in Bold are mine.

I don't know who made this but its right:

A Day in the Life of Joe Middle-Class Republican (Annotated Edition)

Joe gets up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee(he’s able to afford something as exotic as coffee because of the Republican party’s commitment to free trade and it’s power to lift developing nations out of poverty more effectively than foreign aid). He fills his pot (made in Malaysia-free trade) full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards(He tries not to reflect on the fact that reason the water is so clean is that all the factories nearby had to shut down and move to China because of labor costs and environmental rules). He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and work as advertised (His medication exists because liberals have failed so far in their efforts to take profits out of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry which creates 95% of all new drugs) .

All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employers medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance, now Joe gets it too(Joe is clearly a unionized government employee...btw when government employees “fight their employer”...that would be us). He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs this day. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry (and it’s still affordable because conservatives have resisted liberal efforts to ban factory farming, pesticides, herbicides, and because he buys groceries at non-union Wal-Mart...not to mention the fact he’s running up future health care costs that all of us will have to pay once we get socialized medicine...how dare he eat eggs and bacon, does he know what heart valve replacements cost? He better get used to soy sausages pretty quick).

Joe takes his morning shower reaching for his shampoo; His bottle is properly labeled with every ingredient and the amount of its contents because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained (which affects his purchasing decision not an iota, Joe cares about if his shampoo works, how it smells and what it costs, none of which are on a ingredients label that only a research chemist can understand. It does however insulate the manufacturer against failure to warn claims). Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some tree hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air (and from having factories in the United States..I wonder if Joe’s brother in law who used to work at the plant will ever find work, maybe Joe can get him a unionized government job too). He walks to the subway station for his government subsidized ride to work; it saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees (as long as he ignores the extra taxes he pays to support the public transportation system which losses money every year even in high density areas like where Joe lives, God only knows how they afford it somewhere like Los Angeles where everybody is spread out and nobody works downtown). You see, some liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor(if by affordable you mean more expensive than owning a car but we’ll collect it in dribs and drabs so you don’t notice).
Joe begins his work day; he has a good job with excellent pay, medicals benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some liberal union members fought and died for these working standards (Did I mention Joe is clearly a government employee?...which of course means all of his goodies come out of your pocket). Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union (I bet). If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed he’ll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some liberal didn’t think he should loose his home because of his temporary misfortune (if by liberal you mean a classical liberals who favored private insurance pools for injured workers as early as the 1700's. Today we call these people republicans and that their vision was co-opted by the government and turned into a bloated inefficient mess isn’t really much of an achievement when you think about it...though it is possible that’s where Joe works) .

Its noon time, Joe needs to make a Bank Deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FDIC because some liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the depression (Gotta give liberals FDIC -though Republicans supported it too. Not so sure about the unscrupulous bankers though. Most economists think Roosevelt made things worse than they had to be with his seemingly random pricing of gold and his attempts at price controls).

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten Mortgage (How’s that subprime lending crisis working out for ya?) and his below market federal student loan (the one form of debt immune to bankruptcy protection for the debtor) because some stupid liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his life-time (yep that’s why people with a Master’s in social work make more than plumbers and electricians...oh wait...).

Joe is home from work, he plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive to dads (because public transportation doesn’t go there); his car is among the safest in the world because some liberal fought for car safety standards (of course his car would be even safer if some other liberal hadn’t demanded higher milage standards forcing the car to be made with lighter, less crash resistant materials). He arrives at his boyhood home. He was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans (actually they started out as a New Deal attempt to collectivize agriculture along the lines of the Soviet Union. This failed largely because farmers wanted ownership of the land. It was a coalition of conservative Republicans and Democrats who transformed the program into a home ownership program). The house didn’t have electric (I’m assuming you mean electricity, god bless public schools and all who attend them) until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification. (Those rural Republican’s would still be sitting in the dark) (Rural electrification was well underway by the 1920's, largely without the massive corruption and graft that you’s see in later New Deal era projects).

He is happy to see his dad who is now retired. His dad lives on Social Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to (If by “take care of himself” you mean instead of having to save for retirement, Joe’s Dad’s lifestyle is subsidized by current workers.) . After his visit with dad he gets back in his car for the ride home (Still no public transportation? What a shame. By the way how is this retired union member also a retired farmer? Maybe he could sell the farm, get a nice place in Florida and not have to suck cash out of my paycheck...just sayin).
He turns on a radio talk show, the host’s keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. (He doesn’t tell Joe that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day) (Yep, Republicans are responsible for all the evil in the world, no doubt about it) Joe agrees, "We don’t need those big government liberals ruining our lives; after all, I’m a self made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have". (I couldn’t have said it better myself).