Sobering Thoughts

Comments on politics, the culture, economics, and sports by Paul Tuns. I am editor-in-chief of "The Interim," Canada's life and family newspaper, and author of "Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal" (2004) and "The Dauphin: The Truth about Justin Trudeau" (2015). I am some combination of conservative/libertarian, standing athwart history yelling "bullshit!" You can follow me on Twitter (@ptuns).

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Sunday, September 30, 2012
Based on the PoliSci models, the winner is ...
The Washington Post reports:
The 13 projections are contained in the new issue of PS: Political Science and Politics, which is published by the American Political Science Association. Eight of them project that Obama will win the popular vote; five say the popular vote will go to Romney. But the degree of certainty in those forecasts differs. One projection favoring the president says there is an 88 percent certainty that he’ll win, while two others forecasting Obama say there is only a 57 percent certainty.
It is important to note that most of these predictions were made at the beginning of the year before Mitt Romney won the Republican nomination. But it isn't all bad news for Romney:
Veteran modeler Michael Lewis-Beck of the University of Iowa and Charles Tien, the department chairman at Hunter College in New York, offer contrasting forecasts based on competing models.
A traditional “Jobs Model” shows Obama in deep trouble. But using a different model, they see Obama winning. Forced to choose between the two, they stick to the jobs model, which shows Obama capturing about 48 percent of the vote. Conceding that any inherent margin for error could result in an Obama victory, they nonetheless concluded, “It still suggests an Obama victory is unlikely.”
For all the pretence of being scientific, the models are about as useful as polls.

'Keynes, Savings, and the Jews'
Russ Roberts interviews J.M. Keynes biographer Robert Skidelsky, co-author of a new book, How Much is Enough: Money and the Good Life and at Cafe Hayek discusses a question Skidelsky didn't answer -- not that Roberts expected him to.
The audio interview will be available Monday.

The tomahawk chop becomes an issue in the Massachusetts senate election
The Associated Press reports that a gesture used by fans of the Atlanta Braves to spur on their team has become an issue in the Massachusetts senate election after Republican Scott Brown used it; his opponent, Elizabeth Warren, (probably fraudently) claims Indian ancestry. Brown's tomahawk chop will almost certainly be his macaca moment.

The feds vs. community policing
Sudhir Venkatesh, professor of sociology at Columbia University and author of Gang Leader for a Day (and the subject of a chapter on the drug trade in Chicago in Freakonomics), writes in The New Republic about on how the federal government is killing community policing:
Increasingly, across the country, the town cop who walks a beat and relies on trust with locals may be a thing of the past; your neighborhood police investigation is increasingly likely to be a federal initiative, built on cooperation between your local police department and Washington, DC. In fact, with feds and local cops increasing their collaborations and seeking funding to expand their joint investigations, we may be seeing the end of “community policing” as we’ve known it. In the short run, this has been a good thing, since crime has grown more complex and stiff federal penalties are often necessary deterrents. But in the long run, it’s shaping up to be the biggest challenge to liberal governance and local autonomy that we’ve seen in some time ...
After reviewing the data on taskforce impacts on crime, it’s hard not to admit that federal law enforcement deserves its preponderance of funding. In many ways, old fashioned community policing was no longer getting the job done, and it needed a face lift. The traditional big city approach looks clunky in comparison.
But federal money is no panacea. The goals of beat policing and federal investigations are not always closely aligned. A dirty little secret of good policing is that cop and thug communicate more often than we think. In nearly 20 years of watching cops and criminals duel one another on inner-city streets, I’ve rarely heard a beat officer say their first priority is to prevent crime. Most often, they are intervening in order to put out fires before innocents get hurt. This means knowing what thug to call (or threaten) after a flare-up. So what happens when federal agents and prosecutors want high-profile arrests for racketeering or other federal crimes? The answer is that when a police chief accepts federal largesse, she may also have to accept federal priorities—even if they hurt her ability to maintain good relations on the street.
It is an open question whether this is making streets safer. It is also likely, as Venkatesh suggests, that this new policing relationship leads to incidents like the shooting of Trayvon Martin as communities look to alternatives to city forces policing their neighbourhoods.

Sad but unsurprising news
The Detroit News reported: "A Lincoln Park woman who won $1 million in the Michigan Lottery and was later convicted for still collecting state welfare died Saturday from an apparent drug overdose." (HT: Alex Tabarrok)

Four and down
4. Now that the real refs are back, it is safe to assume that there will be no officiating errors this weekend, right?
3. Grantland's Bill Barnwell has an excellent article which is basically about expected quarterback wins given a particular level of defense (points allowed) and measured against actual records. The model shows that Baltimore Ravens QB is vastly over-rated. It all comes back QBs getting credit for team efforts, including winning contests that the defense does as much to win. The article focuses on Flacco and finds him worth about a half-win per season over what would be expected with a dominant D like Baltimore's. New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez is likewise winning about precisely as much as you'd expect while Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons is producing better results than you'd expect.
2. ESPN AFC North division blogger Jamison Hensley defends Flacco against Barnwell by employing narrative. Sometimes those narratives are backed up with numbers but comeback wins seem over-rated to me as they lack context and victories won by more than one touchdown (supposedly not close games) still doesn't properly discount the effect of defense which is Barnwell's point.
1. Nick Canepa in the San Diego Union-Tribune has a good piece on Ryan Mathews' fumbling trouble and how to improve it. There is plenty on how Mathews can improve his mechanics, but it was rich to read this from the image-concious Tiki Barber, a former running back for the New York Giants: "I never worried about how I look. I think a lot of times guys worry about how they look. Football is production. Nobody gives a crap what you look like. And it worked for me." Barber's right, but it sounds funny coming from him. A more important point is that if general manager A.J. Smith hadn't trade up for Mathews in the 2010 draft, the running back probably would have been cut or traded for a late draft pick by now (or soon). But most general managers will give their high draft picks every chance to succeed (indeed Mathews' fumbling trouble is fixable), even at the cost of winning games in order to avoid the embarrassment of giving up too early on players on which they made a big investment.

Three and out
3. Joe Lemire has a good piece at on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their 20th consecutive losing season. He says don't let the North American pro sports futility record cloud the progress the Bucs are making. Indeed, there is more plus side to the team than avoiding a 90-loss season for the first time since 2004, which is progress in itself but little consolation for a team contending for a playoff spot just two months ago. While sometimes Lemire is grasping at nearly meaningless numbers to prove his point, some stats indicate real progress: "Their run differential, though still negative, was reduced by some 80 percent." There is a fair bit of talent on this team. The pitching staff (both starters and bullpen) and defense are vastly improved. I'd add one thing: it will be hard for the team's pitching staff to replicate their superb first four months, so that should be an area the team looks at adding some depth. But Lemire is correct: the team made strides and the disappointing sub-500 season (assuming they don't go on a six-game winning streak) should not cloud our judgements about the improvements that have occurred.
2. According to Baseball Musings, Miguel Cabrera "has a .57 probability of winning the triple crown or 57%, up from 31%" on Friday. It's all explained at his brief post. More importantly, the Detroit Tigers won and the Chicago White Sox lost so Cabrera's Tigers are two games ahead of the ChiSox in the AL Central.
1. Atlanta Journal-Constitution Braves beat writer David O'Brien recounts the tribute the team gave to Chipper Jones to mark the closing of his remarkable 19-year career -- all with the Atlanta Braves. O'Brien's piece is worth reading to see the love the fans have for Jones and the role of chance in history (even baseball history) because the Braves almost picked someone else in the 1990 baseball draft (Todd van Poppel). Jones was a genuinely great ballplayer with a pretty good chance to be in the Hall of Fame some day (304/401/530 81.4 WAR), and it's too bad he went 0-4 yesterday; perhaps his tears affected his game. On the plus side, the Braves are cruising to the playoffs, so fittingly he'll get at least one more chance to shine in a playoff game. While I'd prefer the St. Louis Cardinals to go deeper into the playoffs than the Braves, there is a part of me that won't be disappointed if the Braves go far and we get to enjoy Chipper Jones a little longer.

Saturday, September 29, 2012
Three cheers for euroskepticism
Daniel Hannan, a Conservative MEP, write in the Daily Telegraph saying it is wrong for Eurocrats to strengthen the political union and calls for a referendum in the United Kingdom before the Brits get taken down that road:
Why, then, are we looking at another major treaty revision? Why is the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, demanding a new federal settlement? Why is Mr Cameron half-promising a referendum which, six months ago, he declared unnecessary? Why is Nick Clegg warning that Britain might be forced out of the EU by the “insular, chauvinistic and short-sighted Eurosceptics” (a charming label to apply to three quarters of British voters)?
The answer lies in the euro crisis – or, more precisely, in the determination of the Brussels elites to make that crisis serve their avarice for power.
Hannan also says any referendum on Europe should include a secession option.

Perhaps statistics are homophobic
Gays aren't 10% of the population, or even 4% of the population, at least in the United Kingdom. The Daily Mail reports: "The Office of National Statistics survey found that 1.5 per cent of men say they are gay, 0.7 per cent of women say they are lesbian, and 0.4 per cent of people identify themselves as bisexual." (HT: Blazing Cat Fur)

David Warren is blogging
Former Ottawa Citizen columnist David Warren has an unblog-like new blog, Essays in Idleness, explained here.

The U.S. electoral map
The RCP electoral map shows Barack Obama with 265 ECVs, just one toss-up state not named New Hampshire short of victory.

The secret to Obama's success
Mark Steyn on the hopey-changey thing -- it's all about the future:
One of the reasons why Barack Obama is regarded as the greatest orator of our age is that he’s always banging on about some other age yet to come — e.g., the Future! A future of whose contours he is remarkably certain and boundlessly confident: The future will belong to nations that invest in education because the children are our future, but the future will not belong to nations that do not invest in green-energy projects because solar-powered prompters are our future, and most of all the future will belong to people who look back at the Obama era and marvel that there was a courageous far-sighted man willing to take on the tough task of slowing the rise of the oceans because the future will belong to people on viable land masses. This futuristic shtick is a cheap’n’cheesy rhetorical device ... but it seems to play well with the impressionable Obammysoxers of the press corps.
Of course Barack Obama wants you to think about the future because the present isn't so great because the president has spent the past four year doing a terrible job. That only leaves the future to point to. Liberals are always thinking about the some far off future utopia that their policies will create because the current results won't inspire confidence.

The Trudeau brand
Adam Daifallah provides the no side to the Ottawa Citizen question s the Trudeau name still a strong brand?" and gives a useful description of Pierre Trudeau's time in office and suggests it was a different era not relevant to our own. But as Angus Reid found in a survey released this week, Pierre Trudeau is still considered the best prime minister (since 1968), and by a wide margin (36% for Trudeau, 16% for Stephen Harper). It appears the brand still plays in the Canadian conciousness.

Liberal leadership race (September 29 edition)
Can Justin Trudeau's opponents compete with the blow job coverage the media will give The Second Coming? The Globe and Mail gives excessively favourable front-page coverage to Trudeau the Younger for the second day in a row: "Justin Trudeau’s success grounded in hard work."
Warren Kinsella, the man who for years was invariably described as a "Liberal attack dog," is complaining that the Conservative "assassins" are ready to pounce on Justin Trudeau and Marc Garneau.

Friday, September 28, 2012
Tyler Cowen talks with Steve Paikin
They talk The Great Stagnation. Three early points he makes about politics is that 1) foreign policy is more important for electing president than economics, 2) we are "getting better off at slower and slower rates" (1-2% growth), and 3) what happens in Congress is more important than who is elected president. My favourite point is that "campaigns are to a large extent based on lies ... campaigns are about telling people they don't have to make tough choices."

But if it was Portman rather than Ryan on the ticket, there'd still be criticism of Romney & his running mate
Byron York suggests that Mitt Romney made a mistake not picking Ohio Governor Rob Portman instead of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate:
Amid all the talk among conservatives that Romney is not making good use of Ryan -- that Romney's campaign team is muzzling Ryan, keeping him from stressing the budget and entitlement reforms that are his life's work -- listening to Portman on the stump is a reminder that Romney could have chosen a different path. Especially since Portman, whose presence conveys experience and dependability, is a known commodity in a state that is at or near the top of Romney's must-win list. Ryan, whose youth often overshadows other impressions he makes on voters, understandably doesn't have the same status in Ohio as its home-state senator.
But York also points out Portman's approval/disapproval numbers in Ohio (38/31) which indicates he might not be worth the 5% bump in the state as one Buckeye Republican suggests. And if the Romney campaign muzzled Ryan, they might have impeded any benefit Portman would have brought to the campaign. If Portman was on the ticket, the Bush economic record would have been an issue. And, and, and, and. The problem isn't the bottom of the GOP ticket.

Mark Steyn on Obama's vision of the future
The Daily Caller notes a recent media interview Mark Steyn had promoting his book After America: Get Ready for Armageddon during which he commented on Barack Obama's recent remarks:
[Obama said} The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.
He also said, I believe, that the future belongs to those who empower women, and the power belongs to those who invest in education.
It doesn’t quite add up to me, all this. It sounds like as if he’s saying the future belongs to gay, feminist Muslims. I wouldn’t like to take a bet on it...

Why are so-called pro-choicers afraid to discuss abortion?
Faye Sonier at Soconvivium on "Abortion advocates afraid to have the discussion." An excerpt:
So why are pro-choicers worried about a little discussion and debate? I think they’re scared that if Canadians are informed about the truth, they will start to question the lies and platitudes. Some may even request limits be placed on abortion, like preventing people from killing females in favour of males.
The reality is that it is a scientific and medical fact that life starts at fertilization. Pick up a medical book and take a look. You’ll find language like “The zygote thus formed represents the beginning of a new life” (from Biological Principles and Modern Practice of Obstetrics). What is up for debate is at what point should we, as Canadians and human beings, protect or permit the killing of that life and for what reasons. Anytime and anywhere? That’s today’s law and it’s worth discussing.

No one cares about so-called homophobia of Blue Jays shortstop
Joe Warmington writes in the Toronto Sun about the reaction to Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar in his first game before the home audience after being suspended for three games for writing a supposedly offensive, anti-gay message on his black tape below his eyes. In several interviews on the road trip Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulous practically encouraged fans to boo his own player when they returned, but ...:
So where was all the booing and outrage that was suppose to happen?
Turns out the so called “Tu Ere Maricon” slur was a non event and we now know Toronto Blue Jays fans don’t care about what Escobar wrote on his eye black Sept. 15.

Thursday, September 27, 2012
Could 2012 end up being a bad year for Republicans?
According to Real Clear Politics, in the past week three "leaning Republican" Senate seats (Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin) have moved to the "toss-up" category. There are now no "leaning Republican" seats for the Senate and just one "likely" (Nebraska, although that would be a pick-up) and five "safe" seats (compared to five "likely" and seven "safe" for the Democrats). There are nine toss-up states and assuming a 50-50 split, the GOP won't win the Senate and could lose a seat (probably Massachusetts). Not saying any of this is going to happen, but it is becoming a distinct possibility.

Neat chart
Chris Blattman: "Distribution of films by genre, 1908-2012."

Bernie Farber sucks
Five Feet of Fury explains. I think FFF is one of the bully bloggers Bernies bitches about.

Four and down (Games to watch Week 4 edition)
4. New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles: NFC East games are always great, it's the Sunday night contest, and the Giants pass rush should have some fun with Eagles QB Michael Vick, who has already been sacked nine times and picked six times. But never count out the explosive Philly defense (excepting last week's game in Arizona when they scored a meagre six points. New York should win this one, but Philadelphia will be looking to make a statement after their 21-point defeat in the desert. However, the G-Men have had three extra days to prepare for this game. If Philly didn't look so weak in Arizona last Sunday this could be the best game of the upcoming weekend, but the Giants will make them pay if they continue turning the ball over four times a game.
3. Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions: Vikes QB Christian Ponder has a top five passer rating and the Lions have one of the five worst opponents passer ratings, so this could have "upset" written all over it. If Vikings win, they go to 3-1 and the talk will begin about how they might be this year's last to first team, although it's a little early having them beating the Packers and Bears. The Lions, however, are capable of winning this game if Matthew Stafford bounces back and the defense gets its act together. However, it is just as easy seeing the Lions regress from the progress they've made over the past two seasons and fighting to stay of the cellar.
2. New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills: A 1-2 Pats team angry after a controversial loss to the Baltimore Ravens in prime time last week, travel to Buffalo desperate not to fall to 1-3, two games behind the Bills if they win. I expect an aggressive Patriots offense. The Bills signed a pair of free agent defensive ends -- Mario Williams from the Texans and Nark Anderson from the Pats -- over the summer with the goal of putting pressure on Tom Brady. This weekend we see if they can execute the plan they spent more than $100 million on in the off-season.
1. Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys: The Monday night tilt features the aggressive defense of Da Bears coming into Jerry Jones Stadium and trying to throw Tony Romo, Austin Miles, and Dez Bryant off their game. The pair of 2-1 teams want to get something going by putting together their first back-to-back wins of the season. I expect Tony Romo to generate more big plays than Jay Cutler and for Dallas to win a close one. Winner goes up to 3-1, which is a nice place to be.

Leaving the abortion industry reports:
Abby Johnson has been very, very busy.
Not only has the former Planned Parenthood clinic manager been flying all across the country giving pro-life talks and encouraging grassroots pro-life activism, but her new charity, “And Then There Were None,” has already helped 30 abortion workers leave the industry since it was launched earlier this year.
And Abby now says an abortionist may be next.
Of course, this would be nothing new. As The Interim reported in August, Bernard Nathanson and Paul Jarrett both had a change of heart back in the 1970s, and Nathanson wasn't just any abortionist; he was the co-founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws.

From NFL to the Middle East
The New York Post editorializes that President Barack Obama has a weird faith in the ability of two sides sitting down to talk out their differences as a means of finding solutions.

Whose Culture Is It Anyway?
That's the new blog from Rick McGinnis where he'll write about conservatives, culture, and conservative culture. McGinnis is one of the best culture critics around, if not the best, so this will be something special. The fact that he writes about entertainment from a conservative point of view might explain why he isn't writing about it professionally at a major daily or magazine.

Why is North Carolina a toss-up?
Good question, and I can only guess it's a combination of a large black vote (21.5%) and the growing tech sector's Creative Class voters (university and research labs were a massive growth industry in the state in the 1990s). This could be a long-term problem for the Republicans. (Stop me before I start to sound like David Frum.) Six 1968, the state has voted for the Republican presidential candidate in nine of eleven elections, excepting Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Barack Obama in 2008. This year, Obama looks likely to consolidate his 2008 North Carolina minor surprise. The RCP average of polls has Obama leading by 1, but since the end of the Democratic convention, five polls in North Carolina have it Obama +4, Obama +2, Mitt Romney +6, Obama +4, Obama +1. (That doesn't include a High Point University Poll released last week that has Obama ahead by three.) Maybe that's bounce from the convention which was held in the state (Charlotte) and the Weekly Standard's Jay Cost is fond of pointing out that the convention is that latest any party convention has ever been, so the bounce effect will be evident further into September. That's a fine theory, over time the gap should narrow; it isn't. This race according to Real Clear Politics was leaning Romney before the DNC with Romney's +10 after the Republican convention immediately preceding the shift to Obama. Whatever the particulars of this election, it is possible that the demographic shift in the state is to the long-term disadvantage of Republicans.

Toronto teacher resource promotes veggie ass-play
Really, you can't make this stuff up. Blazing Cat Fur yesterday. The Toronto Sun reports on it today (as did City TV's morning show as its top story). BCF again today. The Toronto Star also reports on it, noting that there is a complaint being made to the provincial Attorney General about the possibility the information is corrupting youth in Toronto schools. Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird defended the resource that was provided to teachers saying it is not actual curriculum: "The intent behind this page of resources was to provide sexual health information that’s not covered as part of the curriculum for those that are interested." Well that makes the link, which promotes inserting objects (vegetables and butt plugs among other items) into various orifices, including the anus, as a form of "safe" "self-pleasure" or partner play. Well, as long as its a resource for teachers to pass on to students and not something mandatory, I guess it's okay.

Nanny state strikes again
George Will on the case of a man who is being harassed by the North Carolina’s Board of Dietetics/Nutrition because he gives free advice on his blog about dieting and diabetes based on his own experience. The problem is the state says that's counselling and therefore he needs a license to dispense it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Power Rankings (Week 3)
Rank, team, last week's ranking, record, this week's score
1. Atlanta Falcons: (3, 3-0) Falcons 27, Chargers 3
Just dominated the Bolts in San Diego, putting points on the scoreboard early and scoring three touchdowns before the Chargers had any points in the third quarter.
2. Houston Texans: (2, 3-0) Texans 31, Broncos 25
According to Cold Hard Football Facts, the Texans are #2 in their Offensive Hog Index and #3 in their Defensive Hog Index. A great team with quality players and smart coaching on both sides of the ball.
3. San Francisco 49ers: (1, 2-1) Vikings 24, 49ers 13
Even being granted two challenges after running out of time-outs couldn't help Niners. Predictably safe but dumb coaching decision by Jim Harbaugh who punted midfield with six-and-half-minutes remaining, down by 11 (24-13). Counting on scoring on two possessions in only half a quarter is considered safe according to conventional wisdom, but it is actually very risky. Game proved Niners are dangerous when they are ahead but in trouble when they need QB Alex Smith to pass when the team finds themselves behind.
4. Green Bay Packers: (4, 1-2) Seahawks 14, Packers 12
The D is much improved over last year, with four interceptions and 12 sacks. If only their O-line could prevent opponents from getting to Aaron Rodgers. And, oh yeah, the Pack should be 2-1. But aside from the ref's mistake, the controversy wouldn't have happened if the defenders just batted the ball down in the end zone like they're supposed to on a Hail Mary pass as the final play of the game.
5. New York Giants: (12, 2-1) Giants 36, Panthers 7
G-Men went on the road on a very short week, after playing Sunday. According to conventional wisdom, teams are not suppose to win when traveling for Thursday night games. New York traveled to Charlotte and beat the Panthers by 29 points. And they did it with names that few Giants fans would recognize: Backup RB Andre Brown had two TDs and 113 yards on 20 carries. WR Ramses Barden had 138 yards on nine catches. What you don't see in the boxscore is that the Giants defense pressured the Panthers all night, both on the line and in coverage. In short, Giants dominated on the road on short rest as they play at the level they did late last season when they began their Super Bowl-winning run.
6. Baltimore Ravens: (7, 2-1) Ravens 31, Patriots 30
They have played inconsistently so far this season. Ravens looked great beating the Bengals in Week 1, terrible losing to the Eagles (even they lost by only a point) in Week 2, and pretty well beating New England in Week 3. The D is a concern as Baltimore surrenders more than 22 ppg.
7. New England Patriots: (8, 1-2) Ravens 31, Patriots 30
Pats streak of not being under 500 on the season has ended at 145 games. The last time New England was under 500 for the season? 2004, when they lost in week one to the Buffalo Bills; the Pats went on to win the Super Bowl that year.
8. Arizona Cardinals: (15, 3-0) Cardinals 27, Eagles 6
Their defense has surrendered only 40 points in three games, second best in the NFL, but it isn't obvious (yet) that Kevin Kolb is the quarterback to steer them to a post-season appearance.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers: (6, 1-2) Raiders 34, Steelers 31
In the first half, the Steelers dominated the Raiders. In the second half, not so much. Pittsburgh's fatal fault, more than the turnovers, was defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau's blitzing defense on the final Oakland drive; if they covered receivers and prevented them from moving up the field swiftly, Oakland probably doesn't score the game-winning field goal. The Steelers, like the Ravens, are counting on offense this year (Ben Roethlisberger is fourth in passing yards and second in passer rating) as the defense struggles without linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu).
10. Chicago Bears: (11, 2-1) Bears 23, Rams 6
Great D: six sacks and two picks. Cold Hard Football Facts has De Bears with the best Defensive Hogs in the NFL.
11. Seattle Seahawks: (16, 1-2) Seahawks 14, Packers 12
Superb defense has allowed just 13 ppg, best in the NFL.
12. Denver Broncos: (10, 1-2) Texans 31, Broncos 25
Peyton Manning has wonderful moments (engineering two scoring drives in the fourth to give Denver fans hope of a comeback on Sunday), but its clear he isn't 100% yet and some of his throws are not as clean as they were before the injury.
13. San Diego Chargers: (5, 2-1) Falcons 27, Chargers 3
Losing by 24 points at home is inexcusable.
14. Washington Redskins: (13, 1-2) Bengals 38, Redskins 31
It is hard to win shootouts: Robert Griffin III is leading the Skins in a prolific offense as Washington is first in scoring (99 points) but they are also just one of four teams to surrender 100 points or more (102).
15. New York Jets: (14, 2-1) Jets 23, Dolphins 20 (OT)
Costly victory with the loss of probably the best cornerback in the NFL, Darrelle Revis, for the remainder of the season. But this sums up the dysfunctional Jets: Tim Tebow loses two yards on a run play on second and goal so Rex Ryan swaps back in Mark Sanchez who promptly throws an interception in the end zone. Sanchez is completing a Tebowesque 50.5% of passes.
16. Dallas Cowboys: (17, 2-1) Cowboys 16, Buccaneers 10
Cowboys are going to do this to their fans: beat the Giants on the road to open the season, get blown out by the Seahawks, and then (50% of the time) beat the teams they are supposed to.
17. Philadelphia Eagles: (9, 2-1) Cardinals 27, Eagles 6
Two troubling stats: the Cards sacked Michael Vick five times and the Eagles have turned the ball over 12 times in three games.
18. Cincinnati Bengals: (20, 2-1) Bengals 38, Redskins 31
Solid game by the offense , but the highlight has to be the touchdown pass by WR Mohamed Sanu. But Cincy needs to do better on defense; their 102 points allowed is tied for the second worst in the NFL.
19. Minnesota Vikings: (26, 2-1) Vikings 24, 49ers 13
Christian Ponder is fifth in QB passer rating: 104.9. Against the Niners he threw two TDs and ran in another one himself.
20. Buffalo Bills: (24, 2-1) Bills 24, Browns 14
They won, but this epitomizes the Buffalo Bills for the past decade: Running back C.J. Spiller caught a pass from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and turned and ran for a 25-yard gain and then Cleveland's Usama Young landed on Spiller, injuring his shoulder. That is only half the story. A holding penalty on WR Stevie Johnson negated the gain.
21. Miami Dolphins: (18, 1-2) Jets 23, Dolphins 20 (OT)
Kicker Dan Carpenter missed a pair of field goals, one that could have potentially won the game and another that would have clinched the victory in overtime. On the plus side, the Fins run defense might be second only to the 49ers.
22. Detroit Lions: (19, 1-2) Titans 44, Lions 41 (OT)
Is allowing a terrible opponents passer rating of 109.31, second worst in the league. In other words, the Lions turn every opposing QB into Matt Ryan.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: (29, 1-2) Chiefs 27, Saints 24 (OT)
Defeated the Saints in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and did so by overcoming a 24-3 deficit in the third quarter. Shockingly, the Chiefs are first in yards per game (441.7 ypg).
24. Tennessee Titans: (31, 1-2) Titans 44, Lions 41 (OT)
Cool stat of the week tweeted by ESPN Stats & Info: "Via Elias: The Titans are 2nd team in NFL history with a pass TD, kick return TD, punt return TD, fumble return TD in game (2002 Chiefs)." A 60-yard pass play for touchdown was only the fifth longest play for score for the Titans Sunday.
25. Oakland Raiders: (30, 1-2) Raiders 34, Steelers 31
The combination of giving up nearly 30 ppg while putting Carson Palmer under center each week isn't going to end well for the Raiders. They were fortunate on Sunday and should probably be 0-3.
26. New Orleans Saints: (27, 0-3) Chiefs 27, Saints 24 (OT)
Saints blew a 24-3 third-quarter lead at home to fall to 0-3. 'Nuff said. Not really. The offense is moving the ball and scoring, but the D can't stop anything. Apparently Bountygate actually has affected the team negatively.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: (23, 1-2) Cowboys 16, Buccaneers 10
A mere 166 yards of offense in the loss.
28. St. Louis Rams: (21, 1-2) Bears 23, Rams 6
They didn't get near the end zone and scored only two field goals. Can't win scoring them three at a time.
29. Carolina Panthers: (22, 1-2) Giants 36, Panthers 7
Five turnovers against the G-Men. Cam Newton threw three picks and returner Joe Adams had two fumbles, both of which resulted in turnovers.
30. Indianapolis Colts: (25, 1-2) Jaguars 22, Colts 17
Second 300-yard game in three contests for rookie QB Andrew Luck (313 yards) and two touchdowns (with one pick).
31. Jacksonville Jaguars: (32, 1-2) Jaguars 22, Colts 17
Possibly this year's worst team gets their first victory of the season over last year's worst team.
32. Cleveland Browns: (28, 0-3) Bills 24, Browns 14
Fourth 0-3 start in last five seasons.

Obama's Ohio turnaround
Alec MacGillis writes about "Obama's Stunning Ohio Turnaround" at The New Republic and makes six points about why Barack Obama is (apparently) beating Mitt Romney in the Buckeye State, and doing so (apparently) quite decisively. Among the reasons according to MacGillis is, "The Baining of Romney, a man who, as the 'guy who fires you,' truly is unsuited to Ohio." The United States electorate does not elect businessmen to the presidency and despite the fact Romney has had a mostly political life over the past decade or so, he's still a businessman. My guess is that the Bain stuff matters more in the swing states than Republicans would have predicted.

Eugene Genovse, RIP
Steven Hayward remembers the Eugene Genovese, an very good historian on slavery and The South. Here's video (first of three) of Genovese on academic freedom and academic standards at CPAC in 2010. Great line from that speech about the political agenda of too many academics: "Since the United States is projected as the most racist and imperialist and cruel of nations -- I wish they would study the history of China ..." Jesse Walker on Genovese:
Genovese was also a cultural conservative, a sympathetic interpreter of southern traditionalists, and a fierce critic of the academic left. By the P.C. wars of the early '90s, he was routinely categorized as a man of the right, even though he still considered himself a socialist; by the end of his life, he had contributed to National Review and spoken at the American Enterprise Institute.
Here's a good review of Genovese's The Southern Front: History and Politics in the Cultural War in The Mises Review. The key point about Genovese's life is that while he was Marxist (was been the operative word), he was first and foremost an honest scholar and even before his conversion to Christianity and conservatism, generally eschewed simple class explanations.

Newsmax reports that the Bush administration beats the Obama administration in 14 of the 16 categories cherry-picked by the Alabama Policy Institute.

The growth of entrepreneurialism in Canada
From a CIBC Economics report on start-ups (pdf):
Irreversible structural forces suggest that the next decade might see the strongest start-up activity in the Canadian economy on record. The gradual shift to a strong culture of individualism and self-betterment, the role of technology in driving the transition from boardrooms to basements, the more global and inter-connected markets that require greater specialization, flexibility and speed, as well as small business friendly demographic trends are among those forces that are likely to support a net creation of 150,000 new businesses in Canada in the coming ten years.

A pariah no more
A month ago, it seemed that every Republican was lined up to throw Rep. Todd Akin, who is the Republican candidate for senator in Missouri, under the bus. Newt Gingrich has since backed him and now Rick Santorum and Senator Jim DeMint have endorsed Akin. (They are, admittedly, hardly the establishment, but who cares?) Seeing the big picture, Santorum and DeMint said in a joint statement: "If Republicans are to win back the Senate and stop President Obama’s liberal agenda, we must defeat Senator Claire McCaskill in Missouri." I bet Akin beats Senator Claire McCaskill in November; it'll be close, but the Republicans will pick up the Missouri senate seat.

Utahans show Mia the love
The Salt Lake City Tribune reports on an internal Republican poll -- you have to be careful about internal polls -- that shows Mia Love leading Rep. Jim Matheson 51%-36%, practically a complete reversal of July polls that showed the Democratic incumbent leading the Republican challenger 51%-38%.

It's a dirty job but someone has to do it
Mike Rowe will endorse Mitt Romney.

Liberal leadership race (September 26 edition)
What has been known for a long time is now unofficially official as "sources say" Justin Trudeau will run for leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. He will formally announce next week and would be the second candidate to actually join the race, following only Deborah Coyne, the mother of his half-sister.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Evaluating teachers
Want to evaluate teachers? Here's a shortcut that usually works: they suck. Marcus A. Winters, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, writes about teacher evaluation in National Affairs and notes that generally speaking, there are too many sub-standard teachers:
Meanwhile, most of the country is still languishing under the old rubber-stamp evaluation system that does nothing to meaningfully distinguish between excellent teachers and terrible ones. According to most evaluation systems in use today, there are in fact hardly any low-performing public-school teachers in the United States; in any given school system, nearly all of the teachers are rated as effective. Indeed, a 2009 report by the New Teacher Project looked at outcomes from teacher evaluations in 12 school districts across the United States and found that these systems rated fewer than 1% of their teachers as "unsatisfactory."
Even obviously struggling urban public-school systems rate the vast majority of their teachers as performing well in the classroom. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress — a highly respected standardized test administered by the U.S. Department of Education to representative groups of students — more than half of fourth graders in Chicago read below the "basic" level. Nevertheless, it is common for more than 60% of the city's teachers to be rated as "superior," and fewer than 1% are typically identified as "unsatisfactory." In the Houston Independent School District, 43% of fourth graders read below the "basic" level and more than a third of eighth graders do. Yet, from 2005-06 to 2008-09, only 3.4% of public-school teachers were labeled "below expectations" or "unsatisfactory" on their performance evaluations. Even more discouraging, only two of the 661 teachers working in schools that Houston had formally recognized as being "academically unacceptable" were rated as performing unsatisfactorily on any single component of their official evaluations.
Such results are inconsistent with both empirical research and simple common sense. No one believes that 98% or more of today's public-school teachers are effective. Indeed, both principals and teachers know that official evaluations are inflated. A 2009 survey of teachers in four large public-school districts found that 43% of teachers believed that there was at least one tenured teacher in their schools who should be removed from the classroom.

M-312: what's it all about
Andrea Mrozek on the nub of the issue of M-312: "Do we research and uncover truth, or do we conceal and tell people to shut up?" NDP MP Françoise Boivin essentially says that legislators shouldn't be able to vote on abortion: "There’s no such thing as voting your conscience."

The economy in the age of hope and change
Investor's Business Daily:
In another sign that the economic recovery under President Obama is not producing gains for average Americans, median household incomes fell 1.1% in August to $50,678, according to a report released Tuesday by Sentier Research.
Since the economic recovery started in June 2009, household incomes are down 5.7%, the Sentier data show, and they are down more than 8% since Obama took office.
And health care costs in the age of hope and change? IBD again:
Meanwhile, another report released Tuesday finds that per-capita health costs jumped 4.6% last year, marking a turnaround from previous years, which had seen annual cost increases moderating. The Health Care Cost Institute report found that rising prices are a "major driver" of the cost increases.
And a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this month found that the number of uninsured climbed 1 million in the first three months of 2012 compared with last year.

Forthcoming in The Interim
A review of books will appear at in October and in the November edition of the paper under the title, "Obama's dangerous radicalism." Books to be reviewed include Spoiled Rotten by Jay Cost, Spreading the Wealth by Stanley Kurtz, No Higher Power by Phyllis Schafly, The Great Destroyer by David Limbaugh, The Communist by Paul Kengor, The Price of Politics by Bob Woodward, The Corruption Chronicles by Tom Fitton, America-Lite by David Gelertner, I Am the Change by Charles R. Kesler, and Obama's America by Dinesh D'Souza. You can subscribe to The Interim here.

The Liberals wouldn't want to emulate the successful NDP example
The Hill Times reports:
Liberals have expressed concern privately that if the race remains so large, it could disintegrate into the type of lacklustre back and forth that characterized some debates in the recent NDP leadership contest, which originally had nine candidates but was reduced to seven after two of the candidates, MPs Robert Chisholm (Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, NS.) and Romeo Saganash (Abitibi-Baie James-Nunavik-Eeyou, Que.), dropped out.
Yes, that leadership contest was a huge problem for the NDP who have remained close to the Conservatives in national polls since the party chose its leader in March. The large field of candidates certainly didn't hurt the NDP, unless some Liberals think the NDippers would be well ahead of the Tories had their leadership contest featured half as many candidates.

Obama can count on media assistance
Byron York says that Barack Obama faces some challenges in the days ahead, but his description actually demonstrates the advantage of being a media darling:
"[Obama's] also enjoying Republican insiders slamming Mitt Romney for various faults, real and perceived, while potentially huge problems for the president -- the investigation into what happened at the Libyan consulate attack, a devastating blow suffered by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and Obama's lack of a plan to deal with the coming entitlement crisis, to name just three -- go largely undiscussed in much of the press."
It's easier to win re-election when the media ignores the incumbent's faults.

A picture is worth a thousand words
Controversy in the winning "touchdown" in the Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahawks game is proven with this photo. And video is worth ten thousand words.

Monday, September 24, 2012
Ahmadinejad quacks like an anti-Semite
Reuters reports: "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday disregarded a U.N. warning to avoid incendiary rhetoric and declared ahead of the annual General Assembly session that Israel has no roots in the Middle East and would be 'eliminated'." Anyone shocked? Shouldn't be. Turtle Bay knew what they were getting when they okayed Ahmadinejad's coming to address to the UN General Assembly.

Bad news for Romney
The conventional wisdom is that an incumbent is in trouble when he falls below 50% in a two-way race, but is generally safe when he is above 50%.
Barack Obama is over 50% in Colorado, leading 51%-45% according to Public Policy Polling.
Obama is over 50% in Nevada, leading 51%-44% according to American Research Group.
Obama is over 50% in Iowa, leading 51%-44% according to American Research Group.
Obama is over 50% in Michigan, leading 54%-42% according to Rasmussen.
Obama is over 50% in Wisconsin, leading 53%-41% according to WeAskAmerica.
Obama is over 50% in Ohio, leading 51%-46% according to the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati.
Then again ... perhaps not.

Will Obama push for gun control if re-elected?

Should Republicans start worrying about losing the House?
William Kristol:
IF the polls are right, and IF nothing much changes over the remaining six weeks, the House could well be in play. Maybe things will move in a Republican direction. Or maybe Republicans will hold on in an even popular vote election with the help of incumbency advantages and post-2010 redistricting. But it's also possible that an Obama +3 victory on Election Day would drag the Democrats to an edge in the congressional vote—and control of the House. In any case, based on current polling, I don't think one can say that it's now out of the question that we could wake up on the morning of November 7 to the prospect of ... Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
A friend of mine who does polling in the U.S. told me a few weeks ago that the chances of Democrats recapturing the House were around 5%. I asked him about this Kristol piece today and he thinks the chance of Democrats winning the House are no better than 20% and probably much less, because the possibility is contingent on Barack Obama opening a lead of 5% or more on Romney, which seems unlikely. But as he pointed out, two months ago the idea that the Republicans could lose control of the House Representatives was also considered unlikely.

Denying the Cambodian holocaust
Alex Tabarrok points to an article in Counterpunch that is "truly offensive" in its praise for "one of the greatest mass murderers in human history, Pol Pot" while denying his crimes in Cambodia. Tabarrok is correct to say, "I consider this article to be on par with Holocaust denialism and praise for Hitler. Counterpunch is a leftist periodical but it is not without mainstream support and respect so I think this is worth calling out."

Food allergy fascism
The Waterloo Region Record reported last week that a Kitchener elementary school has not a list of prohibited foods but the list of allowable foods and brands to accommodate a child with a severe milk and egg allergy. The Record reports:
The school list of allowable foods includes spreads such as Becel vegan margarine, Earth Island margarine, WOW butter and soy yogurt. The two kinds of bread that are recommended are Dempster’s Smart 16 white bread and PC Thins whole grain or PC multi-grain bread.
Sandwich meats allowed are Maple Leaf bacon, Schneiders Natural Selection and some Lunchmate variations. The only pasta recommended is Tinkyada Pasta Joy Organic Brown Rice pasta.
Other allowable foods include Clover Leaf tuna, some Campbell’s Soup including tomato, chicken pasta with rice and some crackers. Cookies that are allowed include Oreo and some Mr. Christie’s brands.
Parents received the news at a school meeting on Wednesday night. They were notified of the meeting in a letter that came home with students that afternoon.
Parents were given alternate foods and stores where they can purchase the items. Parents were also told if prohibited foods come to the classroom, they will be confiscated.
This not only inconveniences families, but adds additional costs to their grocery bills. I think school boards, principals, and politicians who make and enforce these policies should personally cover the costs for families. A simpler policy would be to segregate these children; honestly, if their allergies are this severe, maybe they're not meant long for this world. Violating the liberty of dozens of students to accommodate the one is tyranny.

Obama's biggest advantage -- the media
The media can help Barack Obama get re-elected because journalists are more than willing to lie for him. Breitbart reported: "the media are always eager to help--for example, putting 18,000 people inside a 5,000-seat arena at an Obama event in Milwaukee on Saturday."

Sunday, September 23, 2012
Tester looking doomed
Powerline's Paul Mirengoff is giddy over the fact that a Mason-Dixon poll shows Republican challenger Denny Rehberg ahead of Democratic Senator Jon Tester, 48%-45%. Mirengoff is excited despite the margin-of-error difference between the two candidates because "an incumbent Senator who polls at below 50 percent a month and a half before the election should be discouraged." Tester won a narrow race in 2006 and this time around he'll be hindered by the top of the ticket. The RCP average of polls indicates this is an extremely close race, but in no poll does Tester reach 50% and hasn't even been as high as 47% since June. There is still a lot that can happen, but Montana looks like its going to go Republican (for the Senate) in November.

Neat coincidence
My favourite teams are both playing Oakland today. In the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to the west coast to play the Oakland Raiders. In MLB, the New York Yankees host the Oakland A's.

This is rich
ABC News reports:
“This is a fundamental difference in how they would govern,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters today aboard Air Force One. “Mitt Romney seems to believe he can wave a magic wand and tell people what to do within the walls of Washington, and that that’s going to make change happen in this country.”
Barack Obama's 2008 "Hope and Change" campaign was essentially a magic wand approach to fixing politics in Washington.

Will on Utah's 2nd Congressional District
George Will looks at the race between Republican Mia Love and six-term Democratic incumbent Jim Matheson in Utah's 2nd CD:
Love is black but not African American. She was born in Brooklyn in 1975 to Haitian immigrants who arrived with $10. On her father’s wages as a janitor and a factory worker and her mother’s as a housekeeper, she got through the University of Hartford. In Connecticut, she met her husband — he is a Mormon, as she now is and 62 percent of Utahans are ...
In this, one of the most racially and culturally homogenous states, the only uninteresting thing about Love is that she is black. This is not just progress; it is the destination toward which progress was directed during the brisk march to today’s healthy indifference to the fact that Love would be the first black Republican woman ever in the House.

Here's why Mark Steyn is the best political writer today
Mark Steyn begins his column on Washington's reaction to the YouTube trailer Innocence of Muslims thusly:
I see the Obama campaign has redesigned the American flag, and very attractive it is too. Replacing the 50 stars of a federal republic is the single “O” logo symbolizing the great gaping maw of spendaholic centralization. And where the stripes used to be are a handful of red daubs, eerily mimicking the bloody finger streaks left on the pillars of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi as its staff were dragged out by a mob of savages to be tortured and killed. What better symbol could one have of American foreign policy? Who says the slick hollow vapid marketing of the Obama campaign doesn’t occasionally intersect with reality?
That's some sweet writing.
Steyn's marriage of style and insight is unparalleled:
Why does Secretary Clinton regard “F*** you, God” as a fun toe-tapper for all the family but “F*** you, Allah” as “disgusting and reprehensible”? The obvious answer is that, if you sing the latter, you’ll find a far more motivated crowd waiting for you at the stage door. So the “leader of the free world” and “the most powerful man in the world” (to revive two cobwebbed phrases nobody seems to apply to the president of the United States anymore) is telling the planet that the way to ensure your beliefs command his “respect” is to be willing to burn and bomb and kill.

This is not a problem
David Simon is not happy with Reason's editing of an interview with him. Here is the video and transcript. Reason responds. In the internet age, readers/viewers get to decide for themselves. Everyone might not be happy, but we can be better informed about what really happened.

Preparing for the break-up
Paul De Grauwe and Yuemei Ji at Vox EU on how Germany can protect itself when countries start leaving the Euro:
Germany’s large accumulation of TARGET2 claims has created fear that Germany stands to lose vast amounts of wealth if the Eurozone were to break down. After clarifying the issues using basic economic principles, this column shows that Germany could avoid large wealth losses by restricting euro-to-mark conversions to German residents.

Mark Cuban on Wall Street and the stock market
Mark Cuban has a great post on the stock market and asks a great question: "What Business is Wall Street?" He answers (sort of) by saying what Wall Street doesn't do, which is why it existed in the first place:
Its primary business is no longer creating capital for business. Creating capital for business has to be less than 1pct of the volume on Wall Street in any given period. (I would be curious if anyone out there knows what percentage of transactions actually return money to a company for any reason). It wouldn’t shock me that even in this environment that more money flows from companies to the market in the form of buybacks (which i think are always a mistake), than flows into companies in the form of equity.
My 2 cents is that it is important for this country to push Wall Street back to the business of creating capital for business.
Cuban explains what Wall Street does and why it's a problem:
Over just the past 5 years, the market has changed. It is getting increasingly difficult to just invest in companies you believe in. Discussion in the market place is not about the performance of specific companies and their returns. Discussion is about macro issues that impact all stocks. And those macro issues impact automated trading decisions, which impact any and every stock that is part of any and every index or ETF. Combine that with the leverage of derivatives tracking companies, indexes and other packages or the leveraged ETFs, and individual stocks become pawns in a much bigger game than I feel increasingly less comfortable playing. It is a game fraught with ever increasing risk.
It has to be noted that this isn't coming from someone who hates capitalism or free markets, nor does it come from an academic.

Saturday, September 22, 2012
Four and down
4. Since realignment in 2002, there has never been a season with as few as six 2-0 teams or six 0-2 teams. On Sunday, four of those six play each other which means there will a maximum of four 3-0 teams going into Week 4. The Philadelphia Eagles visit the Arizona Cardinals and the Atlanta Falcons travel to San Diego to play the Chargers. For the record, I think the Eagles and Chargers will remain perfect.
3. The other two perfect teams will have to win on the road: the San Francisco 49ers in Minnesota against the Vikings (Niners will win) and the Houston Texans face a big challenge on the road to 3-0 in Denver against the Broncos (too close to call).
2. This is a dumb comment about the Pittsburgh Steelers in the ESPN Power Rankings: "Ben Roethlisberger is going to carry this offense until the Steelers can establish a running game." Of course he is. Team offenses will either be carried by their QB or RB. Usually winning teams are lifted on the shoulders of quarterbacks, not running backs. The writer of that comment like many other nostalgia-freaks want old-style football back in Pittsburgh, with gritty running. Gritty running doesn't win games and certainly not championships in the 2000s. So I hope Roethlisberger carries this offense for a very long time. And, by the way, you don't need a great running game when you have the best QB on third downs, as Craig at Nice Pick Cowher demonstrates Ben Roethlisberger is.
1. Just to stress how the Steelers need to lean on Roethlisberger and not their running backs, look at how lousy the Steelers' running game is: "The Steelers have 141 yards rushing in two games and a paltry 2.6 yards per carry, both ranked 30th in the NFL." (That's from's FanNation.) Pittsburgh needs a better running game, if only to keep opposing defenses honest and 2.6 yards per carry ain't going to do it. But the idea that Pittsburgh's "identity" or offense needs to be tied to a ground attack is just plain dumb in 2012.

Three and out (Yankees-A's edition
3. The New York Yankees used five consecutive pinch hitters in the bottom of the 12th inning in a 5-5 tie with the Oakland A's. They did not score.
2. Oakland intentionally walked pinch hitter Eric Chavez to face Derek Jeter 321 BA (and 365 OBP) in the bottom of the 12th. If only the Yanks had a pinch hitter for their All Star shortstop, who is leading MLB in hits. The outcome (a line drive out to right field) does not make up for the fact Oakland made a dubious decision.
1. Oakland scores four in the top of the 13th inning, which should be good for the victory. New York ties it again in the bottom. Oakland puts up a zero in their half of the 14th inning, but Yankees scored at the bottom of the frame, game over: 10-9 Yankees. It was just the second time in Yankee history that they overcame a four-run deficit in extra innings to win; the last time was against the Toronto Blue Jays in 1980. New York needed the victory as the Baltimore Orioles, who trail the Yanks by only a game, defeated the Boston Red Sox in 12 innings today. The A's are three games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels, with the Angels playing the Chicago White Sox tonight.

Political pundits ignore this kind of stuff
Jason Brennan at the Princeton University Press blog, in a post entitled "Why we're dumb at politics":
Our political beliefs are at least moderately hereditable. Our genes dispose us to vote one way rather than another. Early childhood experiences also push you one way rather than another. By sheer accident, you might come to associate the Democrats with compassion or the Republicans with responsibility. For you, for the rest of your life, the word “Democrat” will automatically conjure up positive emotions. For the rest of your life, you’ll have a bent—based on no evidence at all—to vote one way rather than another.
And then there's this:
Psychologist Jonathan Haidt says, ”Reasoning was not designed to pursue truth. Reasoning was designed by evolution to help us win arguments.” Robert Wright concurs that the human brain evolved to be “a machine for winning arguments,” that is, for seeking victory, not truth ...
Psychologist Drew Westen performed a famous experiment in which he scanned committed Democrats’ and Republicans’ brains as they engaged in motivated reasoning. One scary finding: As the partisans denied and evaded evidence right in front of their faces, pleasure centers in their brains lit up. Our brains reward us for intellectual vice.
Explains a lot of political tribalism.

If the Republican Party did not exist, there would be no need to create one
The Washington Post earlier this week: "GOP retreat on taxes likely if Obama wins." The article states:
“This is a referendum on taxes,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a senior member of the House Budget Committee. “If the president wins reelection, taxes are going up” for the nation’s wealthiest households, and “there’s not a lot we can do about that.”
Yeak, okay, except that only Congress -- not the administration -- can raise taxes.
Or perhaps this is the latest Republican pitch for votes. Regardless, it really says a lot about congressional Republicans when they talk like this.

Smiley face emoticon turned big 3-0 on Wednesday
Economic Times: "Smiley face emoticon turns 30!" (HT: Instapundit) More on the original digital smiley emoticon from Wired. More about emoticons from Wikipedia which notes the first (real) ones were created by Puck in 1881 and that Harvey Ball created the famous Smiley Face in 1963 for an insurance company.

Looking forward to this book
Jason Brennan's Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know comes out next month. He is the author of The Ethics of Voting, which was very good (in it he raises the possibility of (but ultimately dismisses) class-action suits against ill-informed voters who harm stakeholders with their unwise choices -- more practically, he says that many people owe it to others not to vote).
Brennan is a quality and original thinker. An example:
For it to be legitimate to enforce compliance with the rules of a modern democracy, everyone subject to coercion should have a stake in those rules.
You can find out more about Brennan at his website. You can read some of his non-book published work here; I recommend "The Right to a Competent Electorate," that appeared in Philosophical Quarterly last year.

Thank God Al Gore didn't listen to ever get to hear Ned Ray McWherter
Glenn Reynolds reminds us that Al Gore's campaign didn't have time to hear from former Tennessee Ned Ray McWherter, who was going to advise it to put some effort in winning the state -- Gore's home state away from home in D.C. -- after campaigning in the eastern portion of the Volunteer State and finding the Democratic campaign in trouble. If Gore's campaign would have taken the time to spend a few minutes with McWherter, follow his advice, and won his home state, Gore, not George W. Bush, would have been president in 2000.

Public education is intent on turning children into perverts
Two posters demonstrate the propaganda Ontario schools are unleashing on children.

My two cents on M-312
I blogged about the one hour of debate for M-312 at Soconvivium.

Cartoonist Michael Ramirez on 'The Religion of Perpetual Outrage'
Short comment by John Hinderaker at Powerline on Michael Ramirez's latest great political cartoon.

Blacks should vote for Romney
Allen B. West, the a black Republican Congresman, argues in the Washington Times that Mitt Romney is the best choice for blacks because he will unleash the productive capacities of free enterprise which will create opportunities for black workers and entrepreneurs. Conversely, Obama's policies don't, creating dependency instead: "Mr. Obama’s appetite for ever-increasing redistributionary handouts is the most insidious form of slavery remaining in the world today and does not promote economic freedom."

The 'real' Romney
Dana Milbank writes in the Washington Post:
It’s true that Romney hasn’t exactly been burning up the campaign trail of late. At Romney’s event in Sarasota on Thursday, his lone public event of the day, one reporter in the traveling entourage joked that Romney isn’t running for president — he’s walking.
That's funny. But there's also a serious point to Milbank's column: "Voters don’t need More Mitt. They just need to know what he’s for." The problem might be that Romney doesn't know anymore what he believes in, if he believed in anything in the first place. He was a businessman and most businessmen don't really have core beliefs. They don't have grand visions of what the country needs and where it should be headed. Romney has morphed from businessman to politician, with can be used as evidence against evolution. Romney's been a politician for so long, running for office or nomination and seeking the approval of voters on an off for the better part of a decade, so he might not really stand for anything but getting elected. There is no real Romney. Or as David Brooks says, Romney is "faking it" -- sounding ideological when he isn't ideological, but "it's an ideological age." Romney is a mirror to the audience he is addressing. When it looked like he stopped playing that role by naming Paul Ryan as his running mate, the campaign seemed to shift in his favour. Alas, it was probably a mirage.
I have another theory about Romney's lacklustre campaign: he's a slow learner. It's one thing to win in Massachusetts (he won the second time for governor after losing trying to unseat senator Ted Kennedy) and another to win the Republican nomination (which also took him two tries) and quite another to win the presidency. Whatever he's learned from previous races haven't helped him in other contests and he's a slow learner. But if given another chance in the future, he stands a chance to win the general election and head to the White House. Romney is not quite ready for prime time.

Coren's take on Escobar -- and the gay and pro-gay bullies
Michael Coren in the Toronto Sun:
Yes, Yunel Escobar was dumb enough to write on his face in Spanish something akin to “You are a faggot,” thus enabling every hypocrite and self-indulgent victim fetishist to moan about the horrors of homophobia.
Big money and big entertainment will do pretty much anything to not offend the gay community these days, and in this case their acts of ostensible contrition were positively nauseating.
Frankly, I don’t think Escobar intended a slur on homosexuals, and was probably not even thinking of homosexuality when for some perverse reason he wrote these nasty words beneath his eyes. It was probably some silly, jock, inside joke.
The Blue Jays suspended Escobar for three games, fined him about 90,000, is forcing him to do some gay outreach, have insinuated he won't play again, practically encouraged fans to boo Escobar, and thought of outright releasing or trading the middle infielder.
That's what companies scared of boycotts from gay groups do: over-react. And it's not the first time Rogers, which owns the Jays, have done this. A few years back they fired broadcaster Damian Goddard from Sportsnet after the anchor tweeted on his own time and own computer that he supported "the traditional and true meaning of marriage." He did so in support of a sports agent who was receiving death threats for refusing to support a New York state pro-gay-marriage campaign. As Coren notes: "Goddard never used an offensive word, and merely expressed his opinion of marriage." Coren concludes:
So who are the bullies, who are the victims, in sport and sexuality? Nobody should face or feel discrimination in professional sport, but can we please stop magnifying a dumb gesture into an act of sociological and moral barbarism?

Free speech victory on New York subway
Via Blazing Cat Fur: "Defeat Jihad ads to appear in New York subway." In the video, the journalist says that calling jihadists "savages" is "in your face stuff" which apparently is something offensive or controversial.

Friday, September 21, 2012
Promo for Simpsons 24th season
Trailer has Homer, "a 40-year-old white guy who didn’t go to college and gets all his news from monitors at gas stations," voting.

The growing tensions in Asia (and what role, if any, Asian porn plays in the Sino-Japanese conflict)
The Economist notes the growing tensions in Asia among China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines, and explains it's mostly Red China's fault:
China is re-emerging after what it sees as 150 years of humiliation, surrounded by anxious neighbours, many of them allied to America. In that context, disputes about clumps of rock could become as significant as the assassination of an archduke.
Another Economist article reports on porn actress Sora Aoi's call for peace. This paragraph stands out:
[T]he mixed and often contradictory feelings Chinese people can have about Japan. Brought up to hate it for its historic crimes, they also admire it for being better at some things than China: electronic goods; social order; comic books -— and pornographic videos.

Pennsylvania getting out of reach for Romney?
Rasmussen reports: "The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Pennsylvania shows Obama with 51% of the vote to Romney’s 39%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate in the race, and seven percent (7%) remain undecided."

Michigan getting out of reach for Romney?
The Detroit News reports: "Obama leads Romney by 14.2 points, 52 percent to 37.8 percent, in the Detroit News/WDIV Local 4 poll, a solid improvement from August pre-convention polls in which the president held a six-point advantage, 48 percent to 42 percent."

M-312 debate
Nothing decreases one's faith in democracy as watching Parliament.

And Obama smiles
The Daily Caller: "More Americans signing up for food stamps, disability than are finding work."

Bring back beat reporters
Mickey Kaus makes the case for beat reporters -- you know, journalists who know something about what they're writing about, "at least they tend to know the history and context" of who and what they are writing about.

Why bother with Congressional hearings
The Cato Institute's Randal O'Toole reports:
In the hearing, I testified that Amtrak can’t be reformed because, as a government entity, it will still be controlled by politics, and the only solution was privatization. This led Peter DeFazio, my own former congressman (I moved to an adjacent district four years ago) to reem me out for not having faith in government.
“You don’t believe government should run our air traffic control? You don’t believe government should run our highways? You don’t believe government should subsidize the Port of Los Angeles?” Before I could fully answer each question, he would roll his eyes and interrupt me with incredulous moans. Fortunately, one of the other committee members rescued me and gave me a chance to answer.
I've heard similar complaints from others. Politicians don't ask questions to get answers; they ask questions to get sound bits and to signal to supporters and donors. Hearings are almost always a farce.

Americans don't trust the media
Gallup finds: "Americans' distrust in the media hit a new high this year, with 60% saying they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. Distrust is up from the past few years, when Americans were already more negative about the media than they had been in years prior to 2004." Not surprisingly, Democrats are more likely to trust the media (58%) than Republicans (26%), but more surprising (perhaps) is that just 31% of independents trust the media. Even taking into account the problematic definition of independents that is significant.

Indoctrinating the kids
Via Kathy Shaidle, I see that "In fact, there are 130 children’s books about her available through that teach children to idolize Carson and how to become liberal activists, but without telling them the lives that could have been saved by DDT." I bet most of these are bought by teachers. The full story is at Newsbusters.

A different kind of man porn
Very cool pic from Sacramental Perception.

Perhaps the best foreign policy political cartoon I've ever seen
Here. An excellent cartoon is worth 20 great political columns.

Peggy Noonan on Romney
Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan is down on Mitt Romney but says not all is lost:
It is true that a good debate, especially a good first one, can invigorate a candidate and lead to increased confidence, which can prompt good decisions and sensible statements. There is more than a month between the first debate and the voting: That's enough time for a healthy spiral to begin.
But: The Romney campaign has to get turned around. This week I called it incompetent, but only because I was being polite. I really meant "rolling calamity."

Club for Growth on Mitt Romney
Club for Growth president Chris Chocola on GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney: "Business guys just don't understand how politics works, they get frustrated by it, and they don't play the game that well. And I think they have a little disdain for the game because it's all about talking, not doing."

Not a parody
Video of a flash dance of women dancing to "It’s My Vagina, So Hands Off Baby" (to the music of "Call Me Maybe"). Planned Parenthood is a billion dollar business and lobbying outfit and this is what they do to affect public opinion.

Thursday, September 20, 2012
New Hobbit trailer

Menzies on Escobar affair
David Menzies must-watch video on the ridiculously over-the-top reaction to Yunel Escobar Tu Ere Maricon controversy. Menzies is especially right about Toronto general manager Brian Burke being a jerk who trots out a rainbow flag whenever he's under fire.

'Sexy' bikinis for 8-year-olds
Elizabeth Hurley has a new line of 'sexy' bikinis for 8-year-olds. Her line of swimwear for pre-pubescent girls is described as sexy. Dave Swindle at PJ Media: "Are they in denial about the damage done to an 8-year-old girl training to be 'sexy' or do they not care?"

'The way many Westerners live keeps them poor'
Kathy Shaidle at PJ Media: "The Poor Get Poorer: 3 Character Traits That Undermine Prosperity."

And those are the ones that made it to air
Uproxx: "Of the 43 scripted programs that debuted last year on NBC, ABC, Fox and CBS (I’m not counting the CW, because who cares?), only 14 were renewed for a second season. That’s a really bad business model."

Three-parent babies
Me at Soconviviumm on the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority seeking input on whether they should permit fertility treatment to create children with three parents.

New Obama merch links US flag to Obama campaign and Libyan embassy murder
Jim Geraghty in NRO's The Campaign Spot: "Isn’t there some graphic design class where they tell people to be careful about red, smeared images?"

I'm already up to my neck in unread books ...
But I'll have to get Rand Paul's new book, Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans Are Being Harassed, Abused, and Imprisoned by the Feds.

Obama and 'institutional racism' in America
When Barack Obama was a lecturer at the University of Chicago -- he was never a professor -- his focus in teaching was on race in America. The Daily Caller's Charles C. Johnson writes:
A course description for “Current Issues in Racism and the Law,” a class Barack Obama taught at the University of Chicago Law School 12 times between 1992 and 2004, categorized race relations in the United States as “institutional racism in American society.”
Obama taught the two-hour seminar course more often than his other two classes, “Constitutional Law III: Equal Protection and Substantive Due Process” and “Voting Rights and the Democratic Process.” He taught those eight times beginning in 1996 and six times beginning in 1997, respectively ...
The phrase “institutional racism” recalls the work of Derrick Bell, a controversial Harvard Law school professor whom Obama once introduced as a speaker during 1991 “diversity” protests at Harvard Law School, and whose Saturday seminars Obama attended as a law student.