Friday, September 30, 2011

Jonah Goldberg* on the false claim that Hoover cut spending in the early days of the Depression (i.e., before "FDR, the Tony the Tiger of liberalism," made the Depression "Grrrrrrrrrrreaaat!"):
Perhaps because I am so cynical, I'm no longer shocked that liberal historians and Democratic politicians still cling to the Hoover myth, but what is amazing to me is how liberal economists who swear they are empiricists and fact-finders propagate it as well. . . .

The Hoover myth endures for a simple reason -- it has to. Because otherwise the FDR myth will tip over.
*No link; subscribe to his free newsletter here.
Among the winners of this year's Ig Nobel prizes ("For achievements that first make people LAUGH[,] then make them THINK"), four scientists "for their study 'No Evidence of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise." (Via Inside Higher Ed.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

He'd have made a memorable product spokesman.
When government becomes a tawdry mess.

Two side notes:

The complaint of one of those suing includes the description, “Plaintiff Deborah Edgerly is an African-American woman. . . .” But she alleges gender discrimination, not racial discrimination. How is her ethnicity relevant? Would her position be weaker were she not black?

The story, especially the difficulty of firing a government bureaucrat and the claim of discrimination, reminded me of this 2007 item from John Derbyshire about a Long Island high-school principal:
Some parents and school board members recently tried to dislodge Ms. Leonardi, apparently believing that she showed interest in, and concern for, only the Hispanic students. The pot boiled over when Ms. Leonardi began providing translation services into Spanish at parents' meetings. Fighting against dismissal, Ms. Leonardi played the race card, threatening litigation via federal "discrimination" laws. The school board backed down. A big fat federal lawsuit would be a disaster for a small school district like this one, so it looks as though we're stuck with Ms. Leonardi. . . .

Thus federal laws originally passed in a spirit of atonement for slavery and Jim Crow are used as weapons in a conflict that has nothing to do with either issue. . . . Thus do our freedoms—freedoms to work out our own problems at the local level, citizen to citizen—disappear into the insatiable maw of federal government power, all under the banner of "fairness," "diversity," and "anti-racism," against which none dares stand.

(First link via Newmark's Door.)
I haven't followed the Amanda Knox trial, but if Carol Iannone's analysis is accurate, a terrible miscarriage of justice is occurring in Italy. (Background on the case here.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

From 2005, "Silence," a lovely short poem by Billy Collins.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Heather Mac Donald on single-parent households, "overwhelmingly the largest predictor of child and family poverty":
[T]he single mother has become the cornerstone of Democratic politics. She provides the justification for the continuous expansion of the welfare state. . . . [Single mothers] provide the largest constituency for every means-tested government poverty program in the country, and they are a growing constituency. . . .

Public policy’s ability to restore the expectation that children be raised by both their parents is undoubtedly limited. But it is better to try than to do nothing. And making child poverty a political issue without mentioning father absence is worse than doing nothing.
Worth reading in full.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jeff Jacoby:
Last week, to kick off its campaign seeking UN recognition as a state, the Palestinian Authority staged a highly publicized march to the UN offices in Ramallah. . . . Officials named Latifa Abu Hmeid to lead the procession and hand over the letter. "She was chosen," reported the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, "because she is a symbol of Palestinian suffering as a result of the occupation."

What the paper did not mention is that Abu Hmeid is the mother of four murderers, whose sons are serving a total of 18 life sentences for their involvement in multiple terrorist attacks.
According to Palestinian Media Watch, this is not the first time Abu Hmeid has been honored. Last year, the Palestinian Authority awarded her "the Plaque of Resoluteness and Giving," and a government minister publicly extolled her virtues: "It is she who gave birth to the fighters, and she deserves that we bow to her in salute and in honor."
A hideous, insane culture. I hope Spengler's right that demographics, especially the graying of the Palestinians ("one of the fastest-aging populations in the [world]"), will lead them to seek peace with Israel within twenty or thirty years.

(Edited since originally posted.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"And they all have the vote, God help us" looks likely to become a theme of this blog. It seems the right commentary on, for instance, this story from late August:
While Republicans have pushed to cast the sputtering economy as Obama’s fault, Americans place their blame elsewhere. Fifty-one percent say that George W. Bush is most to blame for the down economy, while 31 percent say it’s Obama.

At the same time, 44 percent of Americans say that “a lot” or “most” of the blame should be put on the shoulders of congressional Republicans, while 36 percent say the same of congressional Democrats.
Via Alana Goodman, who notes that a Quinnipiac poll in July found that "Americans blamed Bush [on the economy] over Obama by 54 to 27 percent."

The Earth is doomed.
Great post title from Craig Newmark.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The software available to home musicians these days is amazing. If you're curious, go here, click "Demos," and listen to some of the tracks. (I'd recommend "Morning Adventure," "String Quartet," "Touch" and "The Planets - Venus" to start.) For less than $500 (while the sale lasts) you can buy an almost-totally-convincing simulation of a concert orchestra. The recordings are so realistic and complex I have to remind myself that all the "instruments" and effects, especially reverb, exist only within a computer.
Glenn Reynolds points to an article on Jon Stewart. This paragraph is simultaneously instructive and baffling:
"When I tell people that I used to work for Jon, the thing they ask, all the time, is 'Oh, is he nice?'" says Stacey Grenrock Woods, a former Daily Show correspondent who is now Esquire's venerable sex columnist. "Now, I would never think of Jon Stewart as 'nice.' He's a comedian, and comedians aren't always particularly nice people. But these people look so hopeful, and it's obviously really important to them. So I always say, 'Yes, he's very nice.' And they always say, 'Oh, thank God. I don't know what I'd do if he wasn't.' "
First, I can believe there are many such people, God help us. Second, what’s wrong with them? Why do they care whether he’s “nice,” and how do they not see he isn't? It’s one of the most obvious facts in television—Laura Mennell is beautiful, Michael Westen is resourceful, Jon Stewart is a jerk. How have they missed it all this time?

And they have the vote.

(Amended since originally posted and since originally amended.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I am over sixty years old now. And when just the other day I heard Richard Frederick and Anna Moffo do a medley from Show Boat, Jerry Kern's wonderful melodies, I pulled over to the side of the road, parked, and cried like a young boy.

I sit here in California, writing these reminiscences in a heavy rain, thinking of the fires and the mud slides, and it does seem as if the magic sunny land I knew has been "struck," like the movie sets it built, and has disappeared overnight, all its genies gone back into bottles, leaving skyscrapers where the orange blossoms used to scent the wind.
Johnny Mercer, c. 1971 (quoted in Portrait of Johnny)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

James Lileks (sub. req.) on why we need to reduce federal spending:
Because that old world is over. . . .

A half-century experiment in draping steam­ship anchors around the necks of the productive class and expecting them to run a four-minute mile has ended in failure. The confiscation of rights and property, the moral impoverishment of generations caused by the state’s usurpation of parental obligations, the elevation of a credentialed elite that believes academia’s fashions are a worthy substitute for knowledge of history and human nature, and above all the faith in a weightless cipher whose oratorical panache now consists of looking from one teleprompter screen to the other with the enthusiasm of a man watching someone else’s kids play tennis–it’s over, whether you believe in it or not. It cannot be sustained without reducing everyone to penurious equality, crippling the power of the United States, and subsuming the economy to a no-growth future that rations energy.

To which some progressives respond: You say that like it’s a bad thing.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Joseph Epstein, in an essay on Saul Bellow: "[O]ne of the unacknowledged blessings in life is not to have a famous father."
Recommended, though not to all: Spencer Reece's "Margaret." Beautifully written, terribly sad.
David Pryce-Jones on Turkey's expulsion of the Israeli ambassador:
What’s been happening is worth studying as a prime example of values within the Muslim world that compel foolish and dangerous behavior . . . the calculus of shame and honor that runs throughout the Muslim world.
A five-star review at Amazon of Harry Stein's book I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican: A Survival Guide for Conservatives Marooned Among the Angry, Smug, and Terminally Self-Righteous:
Don't judge by the cover. This book is not funny. I spent 40 years of my life living in Communist Poland. Now Communism is long gone, and I am U.S. citizen. And I am figuring it out that in today USA presenting myself as Republican is actually more dangerous and is creating more problems that presenting myself as anti-communist when living under Communist regime. It is OK to be on a party and make jokes about Bush, Palin, McCain and such. Actually, this is mandatory. It is NOT OK to make jokes about Biden and Obama. Once, for such jokes, I was requested to leave. Requested by my good friends.

I believe that this book is not funny. It is tragic. As tragic as what is going on in this country
Google has an extensive excerpt of the book.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Excellent post from Rob Long on the success of Indiana's school-voucher program and the resistance it's provoked from the education establishment:
The message should be: do better, reform the system, fire bad teachers, win back parent confidence. The message the education monopolists seem to have received is: hire lawyers; sue the governor.

And that says everything you need to know about the state of public education.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Spengler:
Large corporations who already have health care plans, and have serried ranks of lawyers to deal with the regulators, are doing very well, in fact. S&P 500 corporations increased employment by 10% over the past year while overall employment was flat. Start-ups who have to deal with Obamacare and the rest of the Washington regulatory burden can’t get over the threshold. Remove the obstacles and let Americans do what they do best and the economy will recover.
Makes sense to me.
John Derbyshire:
My princess daughter Nellie started college in New York City at the end of August.

Back home (she’s commuting) from the first day, she reported that the very first words spoken to her by a classmate (male, South Asian) were: “Hi! Say, you’re mixed, aren’t you?”

Back when I was starting college 48 years ago, we all assumed that matters of race and ethnicity would melt away as the world opened up and we all got to know each other. How naïve we were!