Free Markets, Free People


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Worst President ever?

Ask FireDogLake’s (FDL) Eli:

No, I’m not ready to crown Barack Obama the Worst President Ever just yet, but consider this:

Yes, George W. Bush wrecked our economy, destroyed New Orleans, turned a budget surplus into massive deficits, ignored warnings of a major terrorist attack and used that mistake to lead us into two disastrous military quagmires…

But he also pushed relentlessly for conservative policies and delivered for his base with war, deregulation, tax cuts, environmental rollbacks, and an army of right-wing ideologues embedded in the federal government and judiciary.  He failed to privatize Social Security, but not for lack of trying.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, inherited a mess rather than creating one.  But not only has he failed to create jobs or restart the economy, he has paid only lip service to progressive policies and betrayed his base at almost every turn.

Hmmm … so what should he have done, Eli?  I mean I’m with you on the “failed to create jobs or restart the economy”.  No rocket scientist needed to figure that out. But obviously, unlike W, who took every supposed opportunity to give his base those things they love – like wars (how’s it going in Libya these days, sport?) – your Prez isn’t giving you guys what you want?

Appreciate the fact you actually seem to believe the right loves wrecked economies (because you know, that’s super pro-business) and terrorist attacks (because he ignored intel? Guess Obama is the only one who inherits messes, huh?), but what should your man be doing?

Instead of using the financial crisis or the current debt hysteria to push through a progressive agenda like Bush used 9/11 to push through a conservative one, he’s using them as an excuse to capitulate to Republican budget chickenhawks, and even to cut Social Security and Medicare.

Ah, he’s violating the “never let a good crisis go to waste” maxim, eh?  Good lord, yes, we should have spent gobs more money on, well, only Sheriff Joe knows, and he should have insisted on the public option,  no wait, single payer, and on “teh  ghey” issue, well he’s just been horrible.  Right?

And he had that pure liberal Democratic Congress for how long?  Yeah, 2 years, and what came out of there?  *Sigh*.   What’s a liberal to do.

So which is worse?  The president who serves his base and sets the country on fire, or the president who stiffs his base and fights fire with gasoline?

Mmmm … I’ll have to think about that a second.  Nope, don’t need too – the last guy.  It explains why “Miss me yet?” t-shirt sales are booming.

John Cole, however, is having a cow stating sarcastically:

Any good liberal in the year 2011 would be confused when choosing between Obama and Bush for the title of “Worst President Ever.”

He seems to think FDL is effin’ “clinical”.

It’s tough when the blinders finally come off, isn’t it?  Unsurprisingly, they’re still firmly in place at Balloon Juice.

BTW, read the comments at FDL – they’re equally as entertaining as the article.


Twitter: @McQandO

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So much for the myth that only the uninformed and ignorant are skeptical of AGW

Powerline’s Steven Hayward brings us the results of a revealing  paper by Cultural Cognition Project at Yale University.  It attacks one of the popular myths that only dummies reject the “consensus” because they are ignorant of the science.  Not so says the CCP:

The conventional explanation for controversy over climate change emphasizes impediments to public understanding: limited popular knowledge of science, the inability of ordinary citizens to assess technical information, and the resulting widespread use of unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk. A large survey of U.S. adults (N = 1540) found little support for this account. On the whole, the most scientifically literate and numerate subjects were slightly less likely, not more, to see climate change as a serious threat than the least scientifically literate and numerate ones.

Hayward points out that these results validate an earlier finding from the journal Risk Analysis (2008):

By examining the results of a survey on an original and representative sample of Americans, we find that these three forces—informedness, confidence in scientists, and personal efficacy—are related in interesting and unexpected ways, and exert significant influence on risk assessments of global warming and climate change. In particular, more informed respondents both feel less personally responsible for global warming, and also show less concern for global warming. We also find that confidence in scientists has unexpected effects: respondents with high confidence in scientists feel less responsible for global warming, and also show less concern for global warming.

Now one could conclude that it is actually the least informed who buy into the AGW because they’re less likely to seek out explanations to the underlying “science” that supports the theory.  Instead they accept it whole cloth and defend it instead of taking a skeptical point of view – a view which science demands.  Questioning the theory would also indicate intellectual curiosity instead of the rote acceptance of what is presented.

There’s a bit of irony to had here.  Hayward:

Whoa there: The more science you know about climate change, the less likely you are to think it is a crisis?  This suggest that all the money environmentalists have spent (I think the Environmental Defense Fund has spent $300 million alone on climate change) has had a negative effect on public opinion, and it offers the ironic possibility that the best thing Al Gore could do to advance his cause is shut up and grow his beard back in a Tibetan monastery.

It makes the case that a) the public isn’t stupid, b) propaganda is still mostly recognized as propaganda and c) the intellectually curious are more likely to be “skeptical” than the less intellectually curious.

Not a particularly flattering portrait of the AGW crowd, is it?


Twitter: @McQandO

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Quote of the Day – Wile E. Coyote edition

The perfect Libya analogy via Mark Goldblatt:

Why do I have a sinking feeling that expecting the Libyan rebels to overthrow Qaddafi is like expecting the Coyote to catch the Road Runner . . . and that we’re about to become the Acme Corporation?

Can’t improve on that (unless there’s a way to work Elmer Fudd into it).


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Quick Hits: Scientific Journalism

In the vein of Jon Henke’s “The Ultimate Metablog” with the satire of a good Monty Python skit (is there any other kind?), Martin Robbins lays out the definitive article for how scientific journalism is constructed. Here’s the heading:

This is a news website article about a scientific paper

In the standfirst I will make a fairly obvious pun about the subject matter before posing an inane question I have no intention of really answering: is this an important scientific finding?

My favorite bits:

In this paragraph I will state in which journal the research will be published. I won’t provide a link because either a) the concept of adding links to web pages is alien to the editors, b) I can’t be bothered, or c) the journal inexplicably set the embargo on the press release to expire before the paper was actually published.


This fragment will be put on its own line for no obvious reason.


This paragraph contained useful information or context, but was removed by the sub-editor to keep the article within an arbitrary word limit in case the internet runs out of space.

Be sure to read the comments as well, where most everyone plays along with the theme. But beware of the related links … you may be taken to a place you never, ever want to be.

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A phone call to Barbara Lisa Murkowski

“Hello, Barbara Lisa Murkowski here.”

“Yo, Babs. I hear you lookin for some DC smack.”

“What? How did you get this number?”

“Oh, a friend of yours gave it to me. He says you ain’t feelin too good. Had your usual fix taken away a couple of weeks ago. Got the monkey on your back, he says.”

“Hey, I’m fine. I’m just trying to find a way to serve the people of Alaska through one more term.”

“Heh, heh. Sure. Look, you want to hear what I got or not?”

“Well, it won’t hurt to listen, I suppose.”

“Well, the LPers are open to reason. I think I can get you a ballot spot.”

“Those guys? First, they don’t seem to want to talk to me. Second, it’s a long shot that I can win by running under their ticket.”

“Well, sure, it ain’t as high quality as what you’re used to. But it’ll keep the withdrawal pangs away for a few months. I bet right now you’re feelin like that’s enough. Eh?”

“Look, I can stand it if I have too. I have dignity, you know. I could always take a job as a lobbyist.”

“Sure you can, sure you can. I’m just sayin, I think I can arrange a deal to get you that fix, uh, I mean nomination. I mean, I’d hate to see you walkin K Street.”

“How much will it cost me?”

“No more than you got. Hey, I want to help. I hate to see a lady suffer. And from what I hear, you got the DC habit pretty bad.”

“Well, it would certainly be hard to turn my back on the people of Alaska. I’ve done so much to bring home the bacon for them. It just feels so good to get the goodies for them, you know?”

“Sure, sure, you and me in the same business, giving people stuff that makes em feel good.”

“Well, seeing as how we’re both so public-spirited, I think we can definitely work together.”

A phone call to Republican Air Conditioner Service Company

“Hello, Republican Air Conditioner Service. How can I help you?”

“Hey, my air conditioner is almost completely gone. It uses ridiculous amounts of electricity, hardly cools at all, has long pipes running through the yard to neighbor’s houses, and it sounds like it’s about to blow up. I need you to fix it.”

“Do you have a current repair company you’ve been working with?”

“Yeah. The incompetent boobs at Democratic Air Conditioner Repair. I called them two years ago and they promised to fix it. It was pretty bad off then because it’s been getting progressively worse for a long time. After paying them to fix it, and watching them scramble around doing stuff for two years, it’s worse.”

“Fine, just accept us as your repair company, and we’ll get right on it.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve heard that before. What exactly are you going to do to fix it?”

“Well, we’ll clean it up. It will be nice and shiny.”

“I don’t care about that. I want it to work.”

“Ah, but we are specialists in cleaning out a Culture of Corrosion. We think a nice, shiny air conditioner makes everyone feel better about how it’s working.”

“Listen, I don’t care. What are you going to do to make it work?”

“We’ll replace the other guys. You’ll see all new trucks in your driveway.”

“You’re not getting the point. What are you going to do to fix my air conditioner?”

“Well, that will take a lot of study. We might have to increase the power consumption so it works better.”

“What?!? The power consumption is already more than I can afford! And I don’t see how more power is going to keep it from blowing up. In fact, I think feeding in more power is more likely to make it blow up!”

“Yes, well, you are simply not acquainted with the rules of Keynesian electrical power consumption. Trust me, we’ve been doing this for decades.”

“Yeah, I know. My air conditioner has been getting worse the whole time. Why can’t you just work off the basic laws of electrical physics?”

“That’s way too complex to discuss. Besides, all the best people in the air conditioner industry have agreed that Keynesian electrical power consumption principles really work, so you don’t need to bother your head about it. The real issue is that you need to switch to us to take care of your air conditioner. After all, you certainly don’t want those other guys, after what you’ve been through, do you?”

“No. But I want somebody who’s going to fix my air conditioner. And there are no other repair companies in the whole state.”

“Of course not. Why would you need more than two? That gives you a choice. Isn’t that enough?”

“Not when neither choice can get the job done!”

“Oh, trust us. We should definitely be your air conditioner company. Are you ready to switch to us?”

“Will be you be sending the same people that came the last time I used your company?”

“Sure. They’re trained air conditioner repair people. You want experienced people, don’t you?”

“No! I want competent people! I want people who will fix the problem!”

“Well, that’s us!”

“You didn’t fix it the last time I called you. I gave you years to do it, and you just made it worse. You didn’t fix anything, but you did add on more pipes to neighbors’ houses and an air-filter thingy I didn’t want and don’t need. That’s why I switched to the other guys, hoping they could do something about the stuff you messed up.”

“And see what that got you! Those guys are just awful. They’re out of touch, and they’ll never be able to fix anything. Why, I hear they added a stereo and a set of speakers to your air conditioner. Don’t they deserve to be thrown out in favor of us?”

“Wait, I thought you guys were good pals. Don’t you play golf with them all the time?”

“Sure. They’re our colleagues. Plus, we often take over repair jobs from them, and we even use them for subcontracting sometimes. So we have to stay on good terms with them. Besides, we’ve known them a long time. We went to air conditioner school with them. Of course, they chose to go with the company that distributes Left of Left of Center Air Conditioners, while we distribute Right of Left of Center Air Conditioners.”

“Yeah, well what exactly did you learn in air conditioner school?”

“Oh, the usual. Telephone sales techniques, like I’m using with you right now. How to select the best polish to make the air conditioner shiny. Fundamentals of Keynesian electrical power. How to drive the truck that we use to get to your house.”

“But did you take any courses on HOW TO FIX AIR CONDITIONERS?!?”

“We took courses on how to WORK ON air conditioners. And how to keep working on them forever. Because they need constant tinkering you know.”

“No, they don’t! They just need to work!”

“You clearly don’t understand the purpose of air conditioners.”

“I though they were to keep my house cool.”

“Well, nominally, yes, but that’s a small part of their purpose. They’re supposed to do lots of other things too, such as pump cool air through long, uninsulated pipes to neighbors who can’t afford the electricity to cool their houses.”

“That’s going to be me soon! Assuming this thing doesn’t blow up before then and kill me in the process!”

Stupidest Thing I Heard Today

Henceforth to be titled “STIHT”.

Almost every day I’m confronted with beyond-ridiculous statements that turn me sideways. I literally cringe when I hear/read them. A little monologue automatically goes off in my head (OK, and out loud once in awhile as well) that serves — for my purposes — to make the bad thing stop. Because the stupidity has become relentless, I feel the need to rant publicly. Hence STIHT.

So, as I’m finishing my day, leisurely pondering the conclusion of the TV show I was watching, that nasally, self-indulgent voice of Sex In The City’s primary protagonist wistfully bleats “Someone once said that two halves make a whole.” Let me tell you: the sinews, tendons and synapses controlling my fingers’ hasty dispatch of power to the source of such inanity were so swift as to make Mercury look like Kurt Rambis. My sanity was saved with a flick of the wrist.

Why? Well, allow me to rant.

No one, in the history of all intellectual life, has ever said “two halves make a whole”. Sure, someone has actually said those words. But I can assure you that, apart from the confines of the writer’s room for Sex In The City, no one who said them was met with anything less than a Potsie-perfect “Duh.”

Because the profound thing about the statement, to the extent there is anything, is not that two halves make a whole, but instead that a “whole” can be split into two halves. That wisdom has been known since at least the time of Ur, and probably for quite a bit before that.

Put simply, there is nothing remotely profound in the statement that “two halves make a whole” since the only revelatory thing of the entire statement is the complete converse — i.e. that a whole can be split into two equal parts called “halves.” That “someone once said” such an unenlightening statement may in fact be true, but it doesn’t prove anything apart from the utter vacuity of the person proposing such statement to have meaning at all.

Now for the anticipated FAQ’s:

“So what’s the point of your rant?”

Stupid things piss me off. Writing about their stupidity seems better than punching holes in walls (yeah, you’ve been there).

“But why do I care?”

Why would I know? Or care?

“I mean, why should I bother reading your rants?”

Don’t bother. I write them to keep down on my drywall and putty expenses (OK, and for entertainment purposes). Consider it like a reality show — public therapy.

“But would Snooki approve?”

No. Punching walls is mandatory in her world.

“Are there midgets involved?”

Oh, just wait until my next rant. I mean, they’re not even real people.

“Is Daniel Tosh funnier than you?” (See last link)

Who are you! Tell me your name! Who sent you! I have RIGHT to know who you are!

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And now for something completely different

Looking for the perfect gift for the beer drinking PETA member you know. Not to worry, Scotland’s BrewDog brewery has just the gift.

Well, not this year as they’ve already sold out of the 12 bottles they made. And it’s a healthy brew – an ale they call "The End of History" – a little Francis Fukuyama joke.

At 55% alcohol and $765 it isn’t cheap nor is it for the faint of heart. As the company says, it should be treated “more like a whiskey” than a beer.

As for what would appeal to the PETA member?

Well, the recycling of roadkill as a cover for the bottle, of course.



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