Thursday, April 30, 2009

Al Gore must be protected from this: Monckton's response on global warming

Christopher Monckton, from whom Al Gore must be protected, at the Science and Public Policy Institute gives the response to Al Gore he was supposed to give in testimony before Congress before the Democrats pulled the plug. Sample:
It is not true that “almost half” of the Arctic sea ice has melted – its winter extent has barely declined at all, though there has been some decline in summer, particularly in 2007, for largely natural reasons (we know the reason cannot have been “global warming”, because the planet had been cooling for six years at the time – a cooling that has continued and is now seven and a half years long).

At present, both Arctic and Antarctic sea-ice extents are at or near record high levels for the time of year – the Arctic has set a nine-year record according to IARC/JAXA, and the Antarctic is approaching the record-high sea-ice extent set in late 2007, according to the University of Illinois. There is no likelihood of a total disappearance of Arctic sea ice any time soon.
More here.

Were Buckley and Buchanan "allies"?

Give Josh Rosenau a printed set of pejorative labels and get out of the way. There's no telling which one he might slap on you.

I've already said most of what I wanted to say about Josh Rosenau's double standard when it comes to labeling people anti-Semites--a standard by which Pat Buchanan is an anti-Semite for occasionally appearing on a far right radio show, but Obama is not, despite the fact that he not only worked with Louis Farakhan on public events, but attended a church almost every Sunday for 20 years the pastor of which (Obama's "spiritual advisor") called Farakhan a man who "truly epitomized greatness."

And I have already pointed out that it is not an exercise in responsible public discourse to call a man a "Holocaust denier" who a) isn't one; b) has publicly condemned the Holocaust; and c) has never made a single statement to the effect that he denies it. But such is the power of "gestalt" that it allows people like Rosenau to make such accusations without actually having to prove them.

Today's lesson in "Adventures in Mislabeling" has to do with Rosenau's characterization of William F. Buckley, Jr. as a paleoconservative: "
Buckley is the paleoconservative's paleoconservative," he declares.

Rosenau makes this claim in the context of arguing that Buchanan and Buckley were "allies," a point he makes to bolster his assertion that Buckley's claim that Buchanan was anti-Semitic was all the more proof that he actually was--an a fortiori argument with a little gestalt thrown in.

While Buckley's ideology early in his career encompassed much of paleoconservatism (Russell Kirk was a regular contributor early on in the life of National Review), he progressed over his career until he was largely in the neoconservative camp. There is room to argue how far in the camp he is, but to say he is a "paleoconservative's paleoconservative" is to employ these terms in a sense completely unrecognizable to anyone who has paid even passing attention to conservatism in recent years.

Rosenau uses the definition of neoconservatism which best suits his case in saying that it is:
a group of disaffected liberals who wanted to see the American military used more widely to impose American views of social good abroad, forming into a cohesive group in the '70s, no less than 15 years after Buckley founded National Review and no less than 20 years after his first book (describing the travails of a conservative in the Ivy League).
This definition of course, limits neoconservatism to its early origins--sort of like saying that the Republican Party can be defined as the American political party made up of opponents to the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

In general political usage, the term 'neoconservative' means not only the early members of the movement who were, as Irving Kristal once said, "liberals who have been mugged by reality," but contemporary conservatives who take the positions characterized by the early members of the movement, chief of which is an expansionist view of foreign policy. This is why Merriam-Webster has, as an alternative definition of neoconservative: "a conservative who advocates the assertive promotion of democracy and United States national interest in international affairs including through military means."

As Linda Bridges and John Coyne put it in Strictly Right:
As Bush pursued the War on Terrorism, the long-running rift between the so-called paleocons and neocons became a chasm. We say "so-called" because the terms have shifted oddly over the years. "Noe-cons" originally referred to a group of Jewish intellectuals--most prominently, Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter, and Irving Kristol and Gertrude Himmelfarb--who had been on the left and came over to the right, pushed by the excesses of the 1960s and the early 1970s: the student and black violence, McGovernism, the metastasizing of the Great Society under Nixon, the increasingly militant feminism ... By not to great a stretch, Christians who made that same leap were also labeled neocons: Michael Novak, Richard John Neuhaus, Peter and Brigitte Burger. But then the term started to be used for people who were friends or indeed offspring of the above, but who had themselves been conservative all along: John O'Sullivan, Bill Bennett, Bill Kristol, Elliot Abrams, John Podhoretz. And by 2003, in the left's Internet fever swamps, members of the Christian right were being called neocons--because they supported President Bush's war in Iraq.
It is the issue of the war on which you can see the rift between the two parts of the conservative coalition (if, in fact, it is still coalescing). And where was Buckley, who sometimes asserted that he was not for an expansionist foreign policy, on the eve of the Iraq War?

He supported it. Not only that, but he purged his staff at National Review of Joseph Sobran for the stated reason that Sobran (because of his views in opposition to the war) was pacifist.

He later repudiated it after it started looking like debacle. But on the defining issue between paleocons and neocons, and when it counted, Buckley was on the side of the neocons. Maybe this is one reason why Paul Gottfried said, "Buckley started out as a paleocon. But he became a trophy to the neocons."

You can quibble as to whether Buckley was a full on neo-con, but one thing you can't say is that Buckley was a paleocon. And to say that he was a "paleoconservative's paleoconservative" is simply loopy.

As Bridges and Coyne put it in their description of paleoconservatism:
What has united people of these disparate backgrounds is their view of America's role in the world. They advocate a return to the pre-World War II America First mindset, and the oppose what they see as the uninformed Wilsonian/Theo Rooseveltian adventurism of the Bush foreign policy. Many of them strenuously oppose NAFTA, free trade as it exists today, and the whole concept of globalization.
And, they add:
The paleocons, almost as a matter of definition, opposed the war, and opposed it harshly.
Guess they just didn't take the "paleoconservatives' paleoconservative" into account. What were they thinking?

To a man, paleoconservative leaders opposed war. All except, strangely, the "paleoconservative's paleoconservate."

When David Frum wrote his notorious piece "Unpatriotic Conservatives," an attack on the paleocons for opposing the war, who published it? National Review. Buckley's own magazine.

And this "paleoconservatives' paleoconservative", what do his "allies" in the paleoconservative movement think of him? According to Murray Rothbard, he was a "de facto totalitarian" and a "totalitarian socialist" ; according to Lew Rockwell, a "thoroughly bad ideological influence"; and "the prototypical Big-Government conservative"; to Thomas DiLorenzo he was "either a gullible old fool or a political sychophant"; to Joseph Sobran, he was a "servile appeaser" (although Sobran was quite gracious to him, despite Buckley's treatment of him, in his obituary); to Clyde Wilson he was a "a pompous pseudo-intellectual poseur."

And don't try to find anything flattering about Buckley in the chief paleoconservatives' leading journals of opinion like Chronicles Magazine.

And, let's see, how did Buckley behave toward paleoconservative leaders? Sobran he fired, Buchanan he repudiated, Murray Rothbard he accused of mental illness (in the process of comparing him to David Koresh), Chilton Williamson was let go from his magazine ... you get the picture. One wonders how much of a paleoconservatives' paleoconservative you can be while having kicked most of them off your magazine, driven them volutarily away, or publicly repudiated them.

It's a tough job being a "paleoconservatives' paleoconservative," what with all the rancor you have to put up with those ideologically closest to you, and all the rancor you have to dish out toward them, and all the positions you have to take in opposition to their's.

But, remember, this is Josh's world, where evidence and beliefs don't have to match up.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How you can explain everything by evolution (and be a jerk about it at the same time)

Cartago Delenda Est points out this post from Uncommon Descent:

Evolutionary Psychology is my favorite intellectual pastime. I love to give intelligent positions where I can never be wrong, because I am always right.

For example:

Q. Dr. Harris, why would a mother run into a burning building to save her baby? What explains this altruistic behavior?

A. It’s quite simple you creationist moron. Genes control all our behavior and genes exist because of undirected, purposeless natural selection. She is simply acting out her genetic destiny. By saving her child she is preserving her genes – the very genes that control her actions. Genes create her actions and her actions create her genes. And don’t give me any of that “tautology” stuff.

Q. Dr. Harris, why would a mother not run into a burning building to save her baby? What explains this selfish behavior?

A. It’s quite simple you creationist moron. Genes control all our behavior and genes exist because of undirected, purposeless natural selection. She is simply acting out her genetic destiny. By avoiding the chance of death she remains alive to have other babies, or to take care of other children she may have, thus preserving her genes.

Q. So Dr. Harris, are you saying that Evolutionary Psychology can equally explain one thing and its opposite at the very same time? That doesn’t sound like science.

A. You don’t know anything about science. You’re a right wing fascist creationist moron.

If I'm not mistaken, I think that's called "unfalsifiability."

The Republicans should have shown Spector the door before he got through it

Okay, I'm still trying to figure out why anyone is surprised by Arlen Spector changing his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. The real question was why he was a Republican in the first place.

And why are Republicans mad at him about it? They shouldn't be mad that he left; they should be mad that the Republican Party didn't kick him out before he got to the door.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Headline of the Day: "O' My Arlen"

I wasn't going to say anything about Arlen Specter's transformation from a Republican to a Democrat, since the spots on the leopard had changed long ago, but I couldn't resist calling attention to the very clever headline by Will Wilkinson: "O' My Arlen."

Apologies to Clementine.

The EPA's new target: Cattle flatulence

Okay, we have officially entered the Environmental Twilight Zone. The federal government is trying regulation cattle flatulence:
The Environmental Protection Agency said April 17 that it is closer to declaring greenhouse-gas emissions a threat to public health. The announcement heated the debate over what types of emissions should be regulated, including large cattle-feeding operations. " EPA estimates that U.S. cattle emit about 5.5 million metric tons of methane per year into the atmosphere, accounting for 20 percent of U.S. methane emissions," reports Lisa Hare of the Yankton Press & Dakotan.
One of the many ramifications of the Obama administration's policy of Government Control of Everything.

Time is up on Kentuckys testing plan

Susan Weston at the Prichard Commitee blog points out the following language from Senate Bill I:
Within thirty days of the effective date of this Act, the Kentucky Department of Education in collaboration with the Council on Postsecondary Education shall plan and implement a comprehensive process for revising the academic content standards in reading, language arts including writing, mathematics, science, social studies, arts and humanities, and practical living skills and career studies. The revision process shall include a graduated time table to ensure that all revisions are completed to allow as much time as possible for teachers to adjust their instruction before new assessments are administered.
Susan interprets this as meaning we should have word soon on the plan. I interpret this (call me a literalist) that we should already have word. The bill became effective, as Susan points out, on March 25. Thirty days after March 25 is April 24. April 24 was last Friday.

So where is it?

Playing Chess as a Form of Torture: World War II interrogators on how they extracted information from prisoners

Interesting article about World War II interrogators demonstrating that, not only is torture inhumane, but it isn't even necessary:

Back then, they and their commanders wrestled with the morality of bugging prisoners' cells with listening devices. They felt bad about censoring letters. They took prisoners out for steak dinners to soften them up. They played games with them.

"We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture," said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess.

Read more here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Josh's World: Anti-Semites under the bed

In a recent comment on my previous post pointing out that Josh Rosenau had ignored my questions about Obama, he charged me with “deliberately ignoring” his response. So I went back and read his post another time. I even searched it for the word ‘Obama’.


Was his response secretly encrypted in the post somewhere? Was it articulated in a secret language that requires some sort of decoder ring I have to send in for?

Here is his comment:
Are you deliberately ignoring my response to your questions about Obama? Are you deliberately ignoring my explanation of the ways in which BUCHANAN DENIES THAT THE HOLOCAUST HAPPENED? Are you deliberately obfuscating about Demjanjuk and the many other Nazi war criminals Buchanan has defended (even when they admit their own guilt)? Are you unable to understand that the charges Demjanjuk faces now are different than those he faced in Israel? Are you not aware that Germany has tried quite a few of its own war criminals, and that trying one's own criminals is generally regarded as a good thing?
Gee. It almost seems like Rosenau is ... upset.

He makes no response to my argument about Obama's ties to anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli individuals and then accuses me of falsely saying he made no response.

But then about a day later, he apparently realized he hadn't responded and then came back with a post that actually addressed my question--sort of. But, as yet, no retraction of his charge that I "deliverately ignored" his response.

I'm not holding my breath.

I made the argument that there was little more evidence that Buchanan is anti-Semitic than that Obama is anti-Semitic. If you accept the former, you are to some extent obligated to accept the latter. Now I don’t happen to believe that either Obama or Buchanan is anti-Semitic, although I think both of them are prone to poor judgment on occasion, the difference being that Buchanan has appeared briefly on radio shows by groups with questionable views, while Obama has actual processional and social relations with them.

I wonder what Rosenau would have said if Buchanan had been endorsed and had actually worked on projects with a man who called Judaism a "gutter religion" and Jews themselves "bloodsuckers." And I wonder what he would say if Buchanan had attended a church for over 20 years where the priest was a supporter of this man and who had a penchant for anti-Israeli rhetoric from the pulpit.

Josh Rosenau, meet Barack Obama.

Now despite all this, I don't really think Obama is anti-Semitic. I think, as in Buchanan's case, it involved poor judgment. But poor judgment and anti-Semitism are two different things. Rosenau has yet to admit that Obama's associations were even the result of poor judgment.

Rosenau is almost entirely unhampered by caution in these matters. The rhetoric on his blog is characteristic of much of the rhetoric of the political left: any disagreement is automatically attributed to the evil that lurks in the hearts of conservatives and the disingenuous motives that are the only possible reason anyone would disagree with them.

When people lose their real religion, they invest their other enthusiasms with religious meaning and purpose. Therefore, everyone who dissents from their views on anything is some sort of heretic, to be burned at the rhetorical stake. No one can be admitted to disagree with them out of legitimate motive. Their opponents are evil, pure and simple.

In this particular case, the Devil words used against the dissenters are “anti-Semite” and “Holocaust denier.”

And we apply them upon the least provocation, as when Rosenau went after Buchanan on the basis of his comment in his recent column on John Demjanjuk in which he compares the so far false charges against John Demjanjuk with the quintessential case of an innocent man being punished for crimes he didn't commit (Christ's crucifixion). I found the remark rather off-putting, but he was obviously writing the article on Good Friday and wanted to make some connection with the commemoration.

Rosanau, however, who is in a perpetual state of firing at will, accused him of of invoking the "Blood libel" (the belief that the Jews are uniquely responsible for Christ's death).

Yeah. Right. There is no room in Rosenau's world for anything but malign intent.

In fact, it is a startling irony that the fundamentalists they rail against would envy their black and white vision of the world: a place where there are no moral shades of gray--a dwelling place for the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness--and no one else.

If Buchanan had associated himself in any way with Louis Farakhan, does anyone really believe Rosenau would have left it out of his laundry list of anti-Semitic charges against him? Of course not. Buchanan is a conservative, and therefore inherently evil. But the association simply doesn't count against Obama, since Obama is one of the Chosen, which is why Rosenau dismisses it without remark.

In the case of Demjanjuk, I don’t know whether the man is a war criminal or not. But what is clear is that the charges that he has been tried on so far have been shown to have been entirely false. He was not Ivan the Terrible, as the OSI--and everyone else who jumped on the anti-Demjanjuk bandwagon--swore up and down he was. The trials in Israel proved that. If he’s guilty for some other war crime and it is proven (a step in the process that Rosenau seems to have little patience for), I hope they fry him.

In fact, I’m for the death penalty for war criminals who are responsible for the deaths of others. Is Rosenau?

The problem is that the credibility of his accusers is, if not completely destroyed, at least damaged to such an extent that the case now has the tone of a witch hunt. And now, since they can’t get him convicted in Israel, a place where, if anywhere, you would think people charged with anti-Jewish war crimes would get their just due, they are extraditing him to Germany, a country that has a vested interest in making others look responsible for what Germany itself played the chief role in doing.

Gen. George Patton, upon liberating the prisoners of Auschwitz, marched every citizen of the nearby town through the camp to see what they had let happen in their very own back yard. It’s a pity that wasn’t done with more Germans.

Now watch Rosenau accuse me of being anti-Teutonic.

An anti-Semite is not a person you disagree with about whether someone is a war criminal—or even whether someone else hates Jews. An anti-Semite is a person who himself hates Jews—as Jews. And since that requires divining someone's inner feelings about the matter, the charge is best left to those cases in which it is crystal clear.

But in Rosenau's black and white world, where those who disagree with you constitute an evil force simply because they disagree with you, this distinction is lost, and you can use the term as a club to beat others over the head with, apparently insensible to the fact that you are divesting the word of its true and legitimate use and, in the process, diluting its moral force, and thereby place those who are really guilty of it on the same plane as those who are not.

He invokes William F. Buckley, Jr., who accused Buchanan of anti-Semitism. I remember when Buchanan was excommunicated by Buckley. I also remember when the same procedure was conducted earlier with Joseph Sobran—in both National Review Magazine and First Things. It was unfair and politically reckless (and I was far from the only one of their readers who thought so)—as politically reckless, quite frankly, as some of Buchanan’s and Sobran’s own rhetoric (Political recklessness not being equivalent to anti-Semitism, a distinction we shouldn't have to point out, but do here because Rosenau doesn't seem to recognize it).

But here is Rosenau, closing in on the smoking gun in the Buchanan case:
He [Buckley] found that, while individual comments by Buchanan might be individually defensible from the charge of anti-Semitism, but that the entire gestalt is inescapable. [sic] [Emphasis mine]
The “gestalt”? Is this the evidential bar Rosenau observes in his moral crusade against the Forces of Political Evil? Gestalt? Why don't we just throw Buchanan in the water and see if he floats?

'Gestalt' is a weasel word designed to cover up the insufficiency of the actual evidence, and his application of it results in absurdities that are simply laughable. It's too bad the word 'gestalt' wasn't in Joseph McCarthy's vocabulary. He could have used it to prove there really were all those communists in the State Department.

Rosenau seems singularly impressed with Buckley's condemnation, finding it significant because nobody could say that the two weren't allied politically:
I find Buckley's condemnation significant because his political interests would have been best served by defending an ally against such charges.
Huh? No one who is even vaguely familiar with the infighting that goes in the conservative movement could say that about Buckley (a neoconservative) and Buchanan (a paleoconservative). It's also interesting that Rosenau would quote a man as a source who once called for branding AIDS sufferers on the rear end as a means of quelling the epidemic.

If I used Rosenau's standards of evidence myself, I could accuse him of wanting to brand AIDS victims, now couldn't I?

Given the low standard of evidence Rosenau seems enthusiastic in applying, it is no wonder he sees anti-Semitism around every political corner (except the one occupied by Obama). It also accounts for his belief that someone can be a Holocaust denier even if the person does not actually deny the Holocaust.

If they don’t actually deny the Holocaust, we can analyze their "gestalt" and divine it there.

Here's Rosenau, in high dudgeon, asserting once again something refuted in his own earlier posts:
Are you deliberately ignoring my explanation of the ways in which BUCHANAN DENIES THAT THE HOLOCAUST HAPPENED?
No. I'm just making the observation that the ways in which he has pointed out that Buchanan is a Holocaust denier do not happen to include ACTUALLY DENYING THE HOLOCAUST.

Rosenau's entire case against Buchanan being a Holocaust denier is based on the fact that there are a few people who charge him with being one. It doesn't matter that Buchanan has never denied the Holocaust. Others have said he did, so it doesn't matter.

But we have learned, haven't we, that, with Rosenau, the fact that someone is charged with something is tantamount to proof of guilt? We've seen that in his treatment of the Denjanjuk case. The fact that Buchanan himself has never denied the Holocaust, and in fact has referred to it has having happened numerous times (at least one example of which appears on Rosenau's own blog), is apparently considered non-material to his case.

Rosenau's slipshod and disingenuous way of dealing with this issue is illustrated in his accusation that Buchanan blames the Holocaust on Churchill. At best this is a flagrant overstatement of what Buchanan actually said. At worst, it is just false. What Buchanan argued is that Chamberlain (not Churchill), started a historic chain of events which gave Germany the motive and opportunity to expand his campaign of killing Jews by making an alliance with Poland that it could not follow through on, and consequently caused Hitler to move west rather than east against Russia. Now you may disagree with this judgment (as I do), but to say it is the same thing as Holocaust denial is simply ludicrous.

When Wolf Blitzer asked Buchanan whether Churchill was responsible for this, Buchanan said, "Churchill was not." Not only that, but in the same interview, Buchanan said the following:
Look, there's no doubt Hitler was anti-Semitic from the time even before he wrote [Mein Kampf]. What we're talking about, when you mention the Holocaust, for heaven sakes, is genocide. You're not talking about anti-Semitism. It was anti-Semitism in Poland in those years. There's no doubt that Nuremburg laws were in 1935. They were dreadful. As a consequence, half the Jews had left Germany before November 1938. Another half fled after that. They were outside Germany with the curtain fell.

What Hitler did was a monstrous crime, Wolf. It was a war crime. Had there been no war, there would have been no holocaust in my judgment.

Talk about taking a remark out of context. The leap in logic Rosenau takes is that if someone has a different theory of the chain of causes that led up to something, the person therefore doesn't believe in the thing at all.

If I think that global warming is caused by sun activity, then I must therefore deny global warming altogether. If I think that headaches are caused by muscle tension the spine receiving too much input from muscles of the head, I must therefore deny headaches.

There are people who think that the reason people in trailer parks experience more tornado damage is because tornadoes are attracted to trailer parks. The theory may be wrong. It may even be stupid. But it doesn't mean they deny that trailers are ever hit by tornadoes.

Not only that, but, using Rosenauian logic, we can also conclude that Pat Buchanan is a liberal, since he appeared on Wolf Blitzer's program. And since Buchanan made these remarks in an argument against American involvement in the Iraq war, and since Rosenau also opposes the Iraq War, that Rosenau is also himself a Holocaust denier.

Such is the Rosenauian logic.

The best argument Rosenau has is that Buchanan questioned whether it was diesel fumes that had killed prisoners at Treblinka. Of course, Rosenau then employs his patented skill in logic leaping to say that this means that Buchanan denies most of the deaths that make up the Holocaust--despite THE FACT THAT HE DOESN'T.

All the bad logic notwithstanding, Rosenau has yet to produce a single statement in which Buchanan denies the Holocaust.

The examples of faulty logic, flawed interpretation, and questionable facts are almost too many to list. He argues that if you appear on a radio program, you must therefore agree with the host. I don't know how you justify this inference, but it would be fun to apply it to Obama's appearance on Fox's O'Reilly Factor.

He argues that Buchanan could only have gotten his information on the reliability of Holocaust testimony at the Yad Vashem Archives from a white supremacist source despite the fact that it was from a Jerusalem Post story that was widely available on the Internet without the accompanying denial from the director of Yad Vashem.

He questions whether there is an Israeli lobby in Washington.

At some point, this kind of things just gets tiresome.

And then there is Rosenau's final leap in logic (Well, maybe not final: he seems to have a great facility for it). He has repeatedly accused me of "defending Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism." Now I could simply point out that I don't defend these things, but when has the truth ever gotten in the way of a Rosenauism?

Rosenau's logic (and I use that term loosely) is that if you believe someone is an anti-Semite, and you find someone who disagrees with you about whether that person is an anti-Semite, then the person who disagrees with you must ipso facto be an anti-Semite too.

If you believe that Roosevelt goaded the Japenese into attacking Pearl Harbor, then someone who disagrees with you about it is not only wrong, but thinks that Japan should have been goaded into attacking Pearl Harbor. If you believe that O. J. Simpson really killed his wife, then someone who doesn't believe it is not only wrong about Simpson, but believes that O. J. should have killed his wife.

Is the distinction between legitimately believing someone else is not an anti-Semite and being one yourself so fine that it is beyond the capability of a science graduate student? Apparently so.

This is the kind paranoia--the kind that sees anti-Semites under every bed--that results from a dogmatic political ideology that can't allow for legitimate disagreement.

How do I know Rosenau is paranoid? The entire gestalt is inescapable.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kentucky ranked among bottom 15 states in economic competitiveness

Kentucky ranked among the bottom fifteen states in terms of economic competitiveness according to a new study sponsored by the American Legislative Exchange Commission (ALEC). The study, authored by Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore, and Jonathan Williams, used 15 policy variables that have a "proven impact on the migration of capital."

The 15 policy variables are as follows:
  • Highest Marginal Personal Income Tax Rate
  • Highest Marginal Corporate Income Tax Rate
  • Personal Income Tax Progressivity
  • Property Tax Burden
  • Sales Tax Burden
  • Tax Burden From All Remaining Taxes
  • Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax (Yes or No)
  • Recent Tax Policy Changes 2007-08
  • Debt Service as a Share of Tax Revenue
  • Public Employees Per 1,000 Residents
  • Quality of State Legal System
  • State Minimum Wage
  • Workers’ Compensation Costs
  • Right-to-Work State (Yes or No)
  • Tax or Expenditure Limit
These factors, say the study, are all factors that are under the control of state lawmakers.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Still no sighting of a response from NCSE activist on whether Barack Obama is an anti-Semite

In my last response to Josh Rosenau, I argued that if Pat Buchanan is an anti-Semite, then so, a fortiori, is Barack Obama. Obama's close proximity and longstanding relationships with anti-Semitic spokespersons is well-documented. And what was the response from the National Center for Science Education activist to the argument?


That's right. There was no response. I wonder why.

Instead, Rosenau launches on a long-winded extension of his last post arguing that someone can be a Holocaust denier even if he doesn't deny the Holocaust.

My favorite part of the post (aside from his response to my Barrack Obama argument that it didn't contain) is the part about the extradition of a man who couldn't even be convicted of anti-Jewish war crimes in Israel to Germany.

Let's see. Germans. Trying other people for war crimes. Is there a Queen of Hearts and a Mad Hatter in this story somewhere?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

If Pat Buchanan is an anti-Semite, then what are we to make of Barack Obama?

National Center for Science Education blogger Josh Rosenau seems to find some kind of solace in thinking I am "upset" whenever he engages in overstatement, fallacious reasoning, and blatant falsehoods. "Cothran was very upset ..." (4/21/09); "Martin Cothran, presumably upset..." (4/22/09) .

Not to deprive him of the comfort he seems to derive from the thought, but I don't generally get upset by silliness, and actually find it quite fulfilling to point it out when members of the self-appointed Science Truth Patrol get it wrong.

After referring to me as a "supposed logic teacher" (is this different from, like, an "actual" logic teacher?), supposed graduate student at the University of Kansas Rosenau, under the apparent belief that repeating an unfounded charge makes it true, says I have "now sunken [sic] to defending Holocaust denial." Now I'm trying to figure out which is worse: actually defending Holocaust denial, which I never did, or falsely charging someone else with defending Holocaust denial, which he did do.

Falsehood clearly is not uncharacteristic of Rosenau. He says I "objected" to "my calling him a 'stooge for Focus on the Family,' even though he works for that group's Kentucky affiliate."


Well, first of all, I never "objected" to anything. Again, I am quite happy to have Rosenau make wild, baseless charges, as long as I get the pleasure of pointing them out. It doesn't reflect badly on me. And, secondly, the group I have worked for is not an affiliate of Focus on the Family, and never has been.

Not that it would matter if it were, but it is a false statement. Let's see if Rosenau has the integrity to admit it is not true.

And, of course, the wrecklessness he employs on this matter is practiced throughout his entire post. He spends the majority of his time contorting himself into various interesting ideological knots trying to justify calling someone an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier who clearly is not.

Rosenau's arguments are a collection of guilt by association arguments and half truths, mixed in with a few demonstrable falsehoods. The only solid point he makes is about a factoid Buchanan used in one of his columns from an e-mail someone had sent him that he apparently had not checked out. But if careless use of sources is a crime, then why is Rosenau walking the streets?

One of Buchanan's claims, concerning the reliability of survivor testimonies in Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem came from the Jerusalam Post. I can't wait to hear Rosenau accuse the Jerusalem Post of Holocaust denial. The story's quote was questioned by Shumel Krakowski the director of the Yad Vashem Archives in Jerusalem who the reporter quoted, but, as far as I can discern, the reporter has stood by her story.

But even if it is not true, and there is certainly grave doubt about it, the interesting thing about this particular story is that these statements by Buchanan were made in the context of the trial of John Demjanjuk, a retired American autoworker of Ukraine descent who was charged by overzealous Nazi hunters with being "Ivan the Terrible," the notorious prison guard at the Treblinka Concentration Camp, partly on the basis of survivor testimony--all of which turned out to be false when the real identity of Ivan the Terrible was discovered.

But obviously Rosenau doesn't care about evidence, since he still refers to Demjanjuk as a "war criminal," despite the fact that he was acquitted by ... The Israeli Supreme Court. Which means that, according to Rosenau's reasoning, the Israeli Supreme Court must be made up of Holocaust deniers too.

Virtually all of Rosenau's charges against Buchanan have to do in one way or another with the Demjanjuk case--a case in which Buchanan so far has been proven right. I don't share Buchanan's extremely low view of the OSI, but I can certainly understand why he has it given their sorry record on the Demjanjuk case.

Rosenau apparently thinks that in order to be a believer in the Holocaust you have to support false charges against alleged war criminals. He also doesn't seem to understand that defending someone against charges of being a war criminal that prove to be false is not the same thing as denying the Holocaust.

What is it about the fact that you have to actually deny the Holocaust to be a Holocaust denier that Josh Rosenau doesn't understand?

Then there are the charges of anti-Semitism which Rosenau levels against Buchanan on the basis of ill-chosen associations like appearing on a questionable radio show to promote one of his books, and defending a war criminal. Oh, and let's see, who was that war criminal again? Oh yeah, John Demjanjuk, who they can't even convict for war crimes in Israel.

Now, let's see, if Buchanan is some kind of anti-Semite because of a bad choice of radio shows and because he questions Israeli foreign policy, then what would we day about a person who hangs with people who say things like "Israel is a 'racist' state with an 'apartheid system' and that America has been 'brainwashed' by Israel"?

A person who served on the board of an organization that considered the existence of Israel "a catastrophe"?

A person whose appointees have been members of the radical Muslim Brotherhood?

Who went to a church in which the pastor used rascist and anti-Israel rhetoric?

Who was endorsed for political office by and attended events sponsored by Louis Farakhan?

And who was endorsed by the leader of Hamas?

Apparently, Rosenau didn't notice that the arguments he used to try to establish that Pat Buchanan is an anti-Semite apply to the very person he set out to defend in his post of April 21st: Barack Obama.

Here's another fine mess Rosenau has gotten himself into.

If you thought beauty contest contestants were dumb as a rock, you ought to get a load of the judges.

Not being a fan of beauty contests, except when they involve babies at county fairs, I can't say I have a great stake in the controversy over the fact that Carrie Prejean's answer to the question of whether she supported same-sex marriage apparently cost her the Miss USA crown. But I can't help making a couple of observations.

The first is that the judge who got on TV and said Prejean, Miss California, didn't lose because of her expression of disapproval of same-sex marriage in answer to his question, but rather because she was a "dumb *****," hasn't exactly demonstrated he's a rocket scientist.

Since when is the Miss USA pageant an intelligence contest anyway? In fact, anyone unfortunate enough to actually watch one would conclude pretty quickly that, if anything, intelligence seems to be a disqualifying condition.

A measure of the judge's level of mental activity is that, after he asked her the question, and she gave an answer, he then criticized her because she "should have left her politics and religion out of the question."


If she wasn't supposed to say anything political or religious, then why did he ask her a political and religious question?

And then, joining in the general insipidity, gay rights groups came to the defense of the judge, saying that her opposition to same sex marriage should have disqualified her. Why? Because her answer was "controversial."

With who? The judge? Gay rights groups? If she had answered the other way, in contradistinction to the beliefs of most Americans (and apparently many of the people in the live audience, who applauded her), would that also have disqualified her? It would have been controversial with them.

Most answers given by beauty contestants to questions are insipid and shallow--and geared exclusively to pleasing judges. All of a sudden a contestant gives an honest answer.

Ironically, Prejean's answer is now being broadcast all over the news programs, and you have an attractive, intelligent-sounding woman making the case for traditional marriage.

I say, let it happen again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

National Center for Science Education activist gets it wrong again

Well, our old friend Josh Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education, still sore from the beating he took here about the fact that he couldn't competently put together a rudimentary argument, is proving, once again, that he still needs remedial logic instruction.

I had quoted Pat Buchanan on the fact that Obama and Hillary had sat there very serenely as the U. S. was berated by Nicaraguan bully boy Daniel Ortega. The representative of the country, I said, had an obligation to defend it against nonsense like this.

Rosenau's reaction? I'm a "stooge" for a group I have never worked for and a "generally unpleasant person" despite the fact that I've never met the man in my life. But such is the level of rhetoric from Rosenau, who undoubtedly has a lecture somewhere is his repertoire about the evils of hate.

Well, peace, love, and Barack Obama to you too, Josh.

But this isn't all. Rosenau's major argument is that I quoted Pat Buchanan. So, taking up where we left off last November, when we had to try to parse out his tortured logic on the issue of same sex marriage, let's try to disentagle another Rosenauism:
  • Pat Buchanan has views on politics that I, Josh Rosenau, don't agree with
  • Therefore, Obama and Hillary didn't need to speak up in defense of their countrySee the connection?
Buchanan, says Rosenau, is an "anti-Semite." And what is an anti-Semite? In Rosenau's lexicon (if we can judge from the link he provides), it is apparently a person who disagrees with Israeli foreign policy or positions of the Israeli lobby in Washington. Remember that the next time the Obama administration--like virtually every other presidential administration--takes exception to an Israeli military action.

How much you wanna bet Rosenau doesn't call Obama an anti-Semite?

Buchanan is also, says Rosenau, a "Holocaust denier." His proof for this charge? That Buchanan expressed doubt whether diesel exhaust from a Soviet tank killed prisoners at Treblinka. Buchanan made the argument in a defense of John Demjanjuk, who had been accused, with the help of the Soviet KGB, of being "Ivan the Terrible," the infamous camp guard who killed hundreds of prisoners at the Polish concentration camp. Only trouble, as was discovered during the last days of the Soviet Union, was that he actually wasn't.

Now most people think of a Holocaust denier as, well, someone who denies the Holocaust. Does Buchanan deny the Holocaust? And by that we mean THE Holocaust? The one that involved

Let's examine the second Rosenauism:
  • Buchanan doubts whether diesel fumes from a Soviet tank killed prisoners at Treblinka
  • Therefore Buchanan does not believe that millions of Jews were killed by Germany in Word War II
You see how this works? Rosenau's logic, that is? You state a fact, follow it with a completely unrelated statement, insert a "therefore," and ... Presto! Instant argument!

But the really ironic thing is that Rosenau's own post, the one in which he accuses Buchanan of being a Holocaust denier, proves that he isn't. How can that be, you ask? Rosenau quotes Buchanan saying, "'Had there been no war there would have been no Holocaust in my judgment."

Um, Josh? Are you reading your own posts? How could Buchanan deny the Holocaust when he obviously believes that the occurrence of WW II allowed it to happen?


I don't agree with Buchanan on World War II, but no reasonable person thinks, looking at comments like these, that Buchanan doesn't denies the Holocaust. But then we're not dealing with a reasonable person.

We're dealing with Josh Rosenau.

Cothran's First Corollary to the Rule of Government Efficiency: Keep counties small

Every two years or so, someone trots out a bill in the Kentucky General Assembly calling for the consolidation of counties in Kentucky under the banner of "Efficiency". How do we know that reducing the number of counties will be more efficient? Because the government says so.

According to Al Cross, Tom Brokaw in the New York Times is touting the finding of a government panel that says that reducing the number of counties will result in greater government efficiency:
His examples range from New York, where a state commission determined that consolidation could save the state more than $1 billion, to North Dakota and his native South Dakota, where Brokaw says that 17 universities for 1.5 million people in two states could better use their money by consolidating administrations into one university system with satellite campuses.

Brokaw's example of Iowa's 99 counties for 3 million residents could be repeated for a number of states. Nebraska has more counties per capita than any state, and Kentucky is second. "Each one houses a full complement of clerks, auditors, sheriff’s deputies, jailers and commissioners," he writes. "Is there any reason beyond local pride to maintain such duplication given the economic and population pressures of our time?" [emphasis added]
The idea that consolidating or simplifying any state function saves money is the organizational equivalent of the "cone of silence" in the old "Get Smart" TV series: it never works. Someone should go back and look at all the promises that were issued by those behind what is undoubtedly one of the worst organizational actions in the history of education: the school consolidation movement. What I'd like to see is the cost per student for education before all the small schools were closed down and the cost now.

The only thing that the consolidation of counties will do is to take the government of localities out of the localities themselves and place it in the hands of bureaucrats outside of the community being governed.

Cothran's Rule of Government Efficiency plainly states, "There is No Such Thing." And one of corollaries of this Rule is: "The Bigger the Government Body, the More Inefficient It Is."

Is the Obama administration making things worse for banks?

The government's tentacles continue to grow ever longer:

Just when you think the political class may have learned something in months of trying to fix the banking system, the ghost of Hank Paulson returns to haunt the Treasury. The latest Beltway blunder -- and it would be a big one -- is the Obama Administration's weekend news leak that it may insist on converting its preferred shares in some of the nation's largest banks into common equity.

The stock market promptly tumbled by more than 3.5% yesterday, with J.P. Morgan falling 10% and financial stocks as a group off 9%, as measured by the NYSE Financials index. Note to White House: Sneaky nationalizations aren't any more popular with investors than the straightforward kind.

From today's Wall Street Journal

Obama & Hillary mute in the face of criticism of the U. S.

Let's hope Obama doesn't run the military this way:

For 50 minutes, Obama sat mute, as a Marxist thug from Nicaragua delivered his diatribe, charging America with a century of terrorist aggression in Central America.

After Daniel Ortega finished spitting in our face, accusing us of inhumanity toward Fidel Castro's Cuba, Obama was asked his thoughts.

"I thought it was 50 minutes long. That's what I thought."

Hillary Clinton was asked to comment: "I thought the cultural performance was fascinating," she cooed.

Pressed again on Ortega's vitriol, Hillary replied: "To have those first-class Caribbean entertainers all on one stage and to see how much was done in such a small amount of space. I was overwhelmed."

Thus the nation that won the Cold War, contained the cancer of Castroism in Cuba, liberated Grenada, blocked communist takeovers of Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, and poured scores of billions in aid into this region was left undefended by its own leaders at the Summit of the Americas.

Read the rest of Patrick Buchanan's column here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Georgetown surrenders unto Caesar

Georgetown University covered over the name of Jesus at the request of the administration for Obama's speech there last Tuesday.

They apparently didn't want to give the impression the university was, like, Catholic or anything. Or maybe it was to underscore the president's theory that this isn't a Christian nation.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Department of You Can't Fool Jake

Jake at Page One Kentucky is accusing the Republicans of secretly being publicly involved in the Tea Party tax protests. Those sly Republicans. Thinking Jake wouldn't notice the fact that they were against higher taxes after letting virtually everyone know about it.

No way. Not Jake.

Did the Republicans think they could fool the man who predicted there was no way Greg Stumbo could win the Speaker's post?

Why, when the public finds out the Republicans are against higher taxes, they'll, ... they'll, ...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The new domestic threat: conservatives

The Department for Homeland Security has identified a new internal threat: conservatives:
Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.
So does that mean we won't get ideologically profiled now at airport security checks?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The New York Times on Moral Philosophy

David Brook's column in Monday's New York Times, ambitiously titled "The End of Philosophy", exhibits the kind of assumptions about ethical philosophy that one might expect from someone who possesses a passing acquaintance with the subject, and while philosophers should appreciate any press they receive these days (philosophy does not enjoy the same level of public awareness that it has for most of its existence), Brook's assumptions about philosophy misrepresent it in ways that ought to be corrected.

In the first paragraph, Brooks attributes to Socrates the belief that the way to treat moral issues philosophically can be formulated as follows: "Think through moral problems. Find a principle. Apply it." Even the slightest survey of Plato's corpus would reveal just how alien such a formula would be to Socrates; Plato does not represent Socrates as a systematic thinker at all, and his dialectical method does not involve reasoning towards universal, objective laws. We understand Socrates properly only if we think of him as a model of how to think philosophically, not by taking his statements as propositions one places within the Platonic or Socratic system; and when one does this, one fails to live up to Socrates' standards of philosophical thinking.

If we consider for a moment Aristotle (a more systematic thinker, and probably more representative of the Greek mind), we find that he actually declares that the postulation of universal moral laws violates the basic nature of ethical inquiry. Instead, he says, one ought to talk about what occurs most of the time in ordinary situations. Decency, for Aristotle, consists in the ability to tell when a rule or standard that usually applies ought not be enforced due to unusual circumstances. Neither does one find the purpose of his ethics inflexibly rational, for the ethical life simply is the happy life--happy in the full meaning of the term.

Brooks attributes to Socrates a more modern approach to ethics, which--probably unconsciously, for the most part--sees ethical inquiry as similar to the scientific enterprise. He finds, on the basis of the data, universal laws not bound to the particularity of concrete circumstances. If Brook's directs his characterization of moral philosophy to any actually existing philosophical tradition, it would probably be deontological ethics. But even assuming he is aware of duty based ethics as formulated by Immanuel Kant and others--which is probably a stretch--nothing Brooks puts forth constitutes an argument against it.

While I am no Kantian, the idea that the discovery of natural, psychological causes and historical/genetic origins of a "moral sense" in human beings somehow threatens Kant's ethics betrays an ignorance of even its rough outlines. Kant acknowledges that most of the time people "do the right thing" as a way of pursuing personal happiness grounded in animal impulses, and the news that the genetic causes of these "animal impulses" turned out to be in-group cooperation understood within a Darwinian framework would simply support his conviction about the general human condition. However, Kant maintains that the moral law governing the will demands not only that one's acts conform to the moral law, but that one's will itself be put in submission to the moral law; and this law consists in nothing else but that the will recognize its own rational demands on itself. The moral agent ought not simply "think through moral problems", but instead acts in a way consistent with the nature of moral action itself. How this gets worked out can be complicated; in order to fully understand it, one has to read The Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, The Critique of Practical Reason, and Religion Within the Bounds of Reason Alone.

Even if David Brooks were not familiar with Kant's ethics, familiarity with Kant's metaphysics would have revealed that no inner-worldly cause could possibly determine the nature of morality in principle: good and evil do not show up in sensuous perception, and so they must be placed in the noumenal, rather than the phenomenal, sphere. Scientific observation, Kant claimed, can deal only with what falls within the phenomenal sphere; i.e., science deals with causes which can be observed and verified, rather than the structures of the experiencing subject. While one might be able to locate the origin of moral intuition within the natural world of causes and effects, it does not follow that moral intuition is actually correct; Kant makes the case that morality can be seen as what the will necessarily postulates in order to make any sort of decision at all, and he places the will itself in the noumenal, supersensual realm.

None of this establishes whether or not Kant should be considered correct in either his metaphysical or his ethical claims; but it should be clear that nothing Brooks says amounts to an argument against deontological ethics--not even a bad argument. That our feelings about right and wrong are tied to our nature as a living organism with a history would not be denied by any serious ethical philosopher, but it does not follow in any obvious way that our feelings about right and wrong are accurate, nor does it say anything about whether our moral sense reaches out towards a transcendent moral order. These questions are simply not scientific questions; they are philosophical questions. And rather than signifying the end of philosophy, Brooks unwittingly shows why philosophy is necessary.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Stanley Jaki, RIP

The historian of science Stanley Jaki is dead. Here is Michael Aeschliman on Jaki's significance to the debate over religion and science:
Briefly put, Jaki’s argument is that three biases have afflicted the development of science and especially the explanation of its successes: empiricism, idealism, and anticlericalism. Unearthing and promoting the groundbreaking studies of the French Catholic physicist and science historian Pierre Duhem (1861–1916), on whom he wrote an important biography, Jaki argued for the importance of medieval religion and science as preparing the way for the breakthroughs in physics and astronomy of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton. Neither ancient nor Baconian empiricism nor ancient or modern idealism could find the “middle road” of metaphysical realism that fostered the breakthrough of science in the seventeenth century, supremely exemplified in Newton.
Read the rest here.

Does legalization of gay marriage lead to Big Love?

Some slippery slopes are really slippery.

The logical implication of a believe does not always work itself out in the real world, but it often does. The logic behind the argument for same-marriage leads to the acceptance also of polygamy. But does this logic work out in reality?

Rod Dreher points out how the prophecies that it does are already coming true.

My Other Car is a Bentley (this one's just a Rolls Royce): Is the horse industry really on the skids?

Okay, so did Bob Baffert and Keeneland not get the memo or what? While the advocates of expanded gambling are queuing up the violin music for the impoverished horse industry, which they propose to subsidize with money from video slots at suffering tracks, Keeneland is sending out press releases about record-breaking horse sales.

That's what you call being "off message":

Don’t tell trainer Bob Baffert the economy is in a recession.

Baffert Monday night placed the winning bid of $1.9 million for a colt during the opening night of Keeneland’s April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale in Lexington.

...Keeneland on Monday sold 31 horses for $6.9 million, down 3.4 percent from 2008, when 34 horses sold for a total of $7.1 million.

That's right: while everyone else in this down economy is suffering a double-digit downturn, one of Kentucky's premier horse tracks is down only 3.4 percent and is celebrating a record price for a colt.

So if you were thinking about donating some caviar to some Bluegrass soup kitchen, you might just want to hold off.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Tea Time

The "tea party" idea--that people should get together and protest the massive transfer of debt from private companies who made bad business decisions to taxpayers who didn't--is apparently catching fire nationally.

Didn't we win this war once already?

Where did that Lottery money go again?

State Lottery officials yesterday celebrated 20 years of bilking mostly lower-income Kentuckians out of billions of dollars, the vast bulk of which, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal, "has gone for education programs."

Say whut?

Wasn't this precisely what Kentuckians complained about for ten years after the Lottery was passed--that, despite the promises of the Lottery's supporters, the money was simply going into the General Fund?

Ask most of the people who served in the legislature during that time and they'll tell you the most common question they received was "What ever happened to the Lottery money?"

But yesterday's 20th anniversary celebration wasn't really about the Lottery. It was about gearing up to support an effort in a summer special legislative session to expand gambling beyond what voters thought they approved in 1988.

GM car of the future

This is the "Lada," which, according to economist Mark Perry, has been produced in Russia in the same inefficient manner for the last 40 years. The company, like GM, gets huge government subsidies despite its inefficiencies.

I'm trying to think of a good slogan for GM. How about: "Socialism: Get used to it."

Hillary: Women's rights key to Obama foreign policy

It was just a matter of time before Hillary said something utterly ridiculous.

Here she is speaking to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s national conference in Houston last Friday:
I want to assure you that reproductive rights and the umbrella issue of women's rights and empowerment will be a key to the foreign policy of this Administration.
If that doesn't scare our international enemies, then they're just not paying attention.

Clinton's remarks came in her acceptance speech after being awarded the Margaret Sanger Award from the group. Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was an infamous eugenicist and advocate for limiting the population of minorities and the poor. Apparently, Hillary hasn't yet realized the irony of praising a woman who wanted to prevent "Negroes" from reproducing at the same tine she is serving the nation's first Black president.

If this doesn't qualify her for an honorary degree at Notre Dame, then we don't know what does.

Monday, April 06, 2009

All Jackie All the Time: How baseball's self-serving sentimentality over Jackie Robinson will help obscure the legacy of other early black players

Jeremy Beer on the "most annoying day on the Major League Baseball schedule":

There’s some truth to all of this. And Jackie Robinson really was personally heroic, besides being a fantastic second baseman. But not only will Jackie’s influence be comically overstated, it is hard to take historical analysis seriously from players who likely couldn’t date the assassination of Malcolm X within a decade, and who surely don’t know a single thing about Jackie’s pre-National League days or the Negro Leagues from which he came. Nor is it possible to take seriously the pious moral intonations of a league whose motives are so transparently self-serving. Yes sir, ring up the points for racial enlightenment and diversity celebration on April 15! (And push those pesky steroid stories off the front pages for a few days.)

Aside from all the cant, though, one of the really unfortunate consequences of MLB’s single-minded focus on Robinson is that it pushes the other great black players of the pre-integration era — and at least a handful of them were not only better players than Robinson, but quite as good men — far into the recesses of the public consciousness. The effect is to prevent us from enjoying the personalities and talents of some of the best athletes America has ever produced. Satchel Paige is the only one of these players to be nearly a household name. Josh Gibson, Judy Johnson, Turkey Stearns, and Cool Papa Bell? Much less so. And perhaps the most obscure of the Negro League greats was arguably the best player of them all: Oscar Charleston-the Hoosier Comet.

Read the rest here.

Subsidize This

While we're using taxpayer money to reward who screwed up, here's what responsible bankers, who we are not being rewarded, are doing.

Top Obama economic advisor paid more than the average CEO

Since we are still in full Outrage Mode over those evil executives at American companies who make too much money, it is instructive to note that top Obama economics aide Lawrence Summers made more last year than the average American CEO: $8.4 million (Summers' compensation) vs. $8.3 million (average CEO compensation).

Not only that, but several million of the $8.4 million he made last year came from giving lectures at the companies that are now being accused of being too lavish in spending their companies' money. If executive bonuses were a problem, then why is it a problem that Summers was paid as much as $225,000 per speaking engagement from these companies?

And why shouldn't he have to pay a 90 percent tax rate on those fees?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

National Center for Science Education comes out against analysis and evaluation

It's amazing the things you have to be against in order to be in favor of Darwinism.

In Louisiana last year, we reported on how the defenders of Darwinist dogmatism were forced to repudiate objectivity, claiming it was a Creationist Plot. Then, in this year's debate over Texas state science standards, the Science Police deployed their forces against language that would have required schools to discuss the "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific theories.

Texas education officials apparently had not been schooled on the appropriate practice of dogmatism, and didn't realize that critical thinking of any kind about the Approved Opinions is inappropriate.

Now, Eugenie Scott, head of the National Center of Science Education has detected two more heads of the many-headed hydra of the Creationist Conspiracy, again in Texas: analysis and evaluation. So let's go over the things that the Darwinist Dogmatists have opposed in the debate over the teaching of science:
  • Critical thinking skills (LA)
  • Logical analysis (LA)
  • Open discussion of scientific theories (LA)
  • Objective discussion of scientific theories (LA)
  • Discussion of strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories (TX)
  • Analysis (TX)
  • Evaluation (TX)
The list of analytic procedures these folks are repudiating seems to get longer by the day. We're expecting to see Scott and the NCSE coming out in opposition to Truth itself any day now.

Statement from scientists who disagree with President Obama on global warming

More scientists who dispute the claim that the End is Near.
We, the undersigned scientists, maintain that the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated. Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now.1,2 After controlling for population growth and property values, there has been no increase in damages from severe weather-related events.3 The computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior.4 Mr. President, your characterization of the scientific facts regarding climate change and the degree of certainty informing the scientific debate is simply incorrect...
Read the list here. Prepare also to hear about personal attacks against and questions about the motivations of those on the list.

Kentucky's top-heavy schools

Ever seen the hull of a beached fishing boat encrusted with barnacles? If you have, you'll get an idea of what the average Kentucky school system looks like. A few years ago, a study came out showing Kentucky to have added more school administrators as a percentage of total staff than any other state over a period of about ten years. Now Susan Weston at the Prichard Committee puts figures to paper and discovers a similar problem.

See here also for the comment from the Bluegrass Institute's Dick Innes.

Drug company continues to push Gardasil despite mounting evidence of bad side-effects

Mary Beth Bonacci, on the increasing evidence that a drug for the prevention of the HPV virus is harming young girls:
I was flipping around the TV channels the other night, and for some reason I stopped on the CBS Evening News. (Must've been the Holy Spirit, because I'm generally not a big network news fan.) And soon I was watching a feature story entitled "New Worries About Gardasil Safety." The piece started with a very sweet-looking young girl. Gabby Swank, who got the vaccine because "we felt almost pressured by the commercials." Afterward, she got sicker and sicker, eventually suffering seizures, strokes and severe heart problems. She is now too sick to even attend school. Next we went to a heartsick mother, Emily Tarsell, whose daughter Chris wasn't as "lucky" as Gabby. Chris died after receiving the vaccine.

Chris is not alone. 29 deaths have been reported from the Gardasil vaccine. Twenty nine deaths. It almost makes me cry just to write it. Twenty nine young women's lives have been cut short, all because a drug manufacturer convinced them that a vaccine would "protect" them.
Meanwhile, in Kentucky, the attempts continue to mandate this vaccine.  So far, without success.