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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Friday, May 31, 2013
Surely it matters whether or not there is any truth to the allegations
Chris MacDonald, director of the Jim Pattison Ethical Leadership Program at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management, writes in the Globe and Mail: "Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford must resign, as a matter of principle, as a matter of leadership, and as a matter of good governance. Even if the allegations against him are untrue, that is now beside the point. It is now too late to salvage the effectiveness, not to mention the dignity, of his term as mayor." Do we really want to set a precedent where alleging wrong-doing is enough to overthrow elected officials? It isn't even that the allegations have yet to be proven to be true; we don't really know if there is actually a video of the mayor smoking crack. We only have three journalists -- one from Gawker and two from the Toronto Star -- saying they have seen a video on a cell phone in which someone who appears to look like Mayor Rob Ford is seen smoking crack.

Three and out
3. Ben Lindbergh has a good article at Grantland on "the art of pitch-framing" in which he talks to Cincinnati Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan. Scroll down to September 20, 2012 for a gif on how much of a difference pitch-framing can make. Hanigan says: "That one I really pulled back. I didn’t expect at all for him to call it. I yanked it back up, and I got a call. If I had caught it like this [orients hand to point down again], down here, instead of that way, I don’t get the call. That’s what that’s all about. I don’t really expect to get calls like that very often, but when it works out, it works out." Question I am struggling with: is that cheating. It is definitely manipulation. And it can't be cheating simply because catchers get away with it.
2. At Baseball Prospectus Ben Lindbergh (again) has an article on the "Significance of Checked Swings." Lots of data. Most interesting details among them is this: "the count has an impact on the probability that a checked swing will be called a strike" probably because of the "compassionate umpire" effect. I have no doubt that the count affects whether an umpire calls a check swing a strike, but the details are significant.
1. SB Nation's Greg Jordan interviews former MLB commissioner Fay Vincent and they cover everything from the best thing about being commish ("No one ever sat in front of me") to a youthful injury that led to a permanent handicap (a four-storey fall due to a university prank). I disagree with him about PEDs and the comparison/difference between sports and movies, but I still enjoyed the interview and especially liked the answer Warren Spahn gave when Vincent asked him who taught the future Hall of Famer how to pitch: "hitters taught me how to pitch."

The Obamaconomy
From the Pew Research Center last week: "U.S. stands out as a rich country where a growing minority say they can’t afford food." Nearly a quarter (24%) say they had trouble putting food on their table last year, compared to 9% who said the same thing in Canada and 8% in Germany. The U.S. more resembles Indonesia (25%) than most wealthy, western countries (Japan 2%, Australia 12%).

Nicholls on Ford Nation
Gerry Nicholls writes in the Toronto Star about how the alleged scandal and apparent bumbling of the Ford administration in Toronto hasn't hurt the mayor (so far) and might not ever:
Still, there may be a limit to Ford Nation’s support. If more scandals emerge or if the infamous crack video surfaces or if the mayor continues to bungle his communications, it could end up rattling his loyal core.
But even that’s far from certain.
All we know for sure is that if Ford’s base continues to stand with him, scandal or no scandal, he will be a force in the next municipal election.
For the most part this is entirely due to the ugly but inevitable (and rational) tribalism of politics:
Stripped to its basic element, politics is really nothing more than a never-ending battle between two warring tribes: “Us” and “Them.”
We vote for a party or for a politician to defend “Us,” the good guys, from “Them,” the bad guys, the outsiders, the people who oppose our interests.
From the Ford Nation’s perspective, “Us” are hard-working, middle class, suburbanites, while “Them” are downtown elites, special interest groups, the media and public sector union bosses.
The Toronto Star and the Left wing on city council are the Them.
It should also be noted that much of the opposition to Ford is also tribal; it is doubtful that the Toronto Star would be chasing this story with as much vigour if the allegations were made against mayor David Miller or a a mayor George Smitherman. Another interesting tribalism angle is that it is fair to assume that Ford's supporters are likely to be less tolerant of drug use while Ford's opponents are more likely to be lax about it, so both are guilty of violating their principles to defend or attack the mayor on these allegations.

Mom/daughter seeking father/son ... for porn. Also opportunities for fictional grandchildren.
Assuming this, from The Frisky, is real, it's frightening/sad/pathetic:
The porn universe really strives to make sure there’s something for everyone. Case in point — say you want to watch a mother and a daughter bang/or get banged by the same dude. Thanks to Jessica Sexxxton and her daughter, Monica, you can do that! But now the porn pioneers — who have shared the same partner while in the same room, but not had sex with each other — are looking for a father/son team to take them on ...
But now they’re on the hunt again — interested parties can contact them and they’ll pick a “winning” team on Father’s Day. If this all seems slightly awful, well, consider that the Sexxxtons say that they’d gladly invite a hypothetical grandchild to join their porn empire (Monica says she’s not interested in having kids). And though Monica hopes her 19-year-old virgin brother has sex with someone he loves, she’s not opposed to him coming on board.
(HT: Instapundit)

This is my favourite story of the week
The Daily Caller: "Pro-homeless pols give street people the bum’s rush." DC reports:
In the first half of the video by Project Veritas, journalists posing as homeless people rest out in front of home of Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, one of the California legislators who backed the so-called “Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act.”
The controversial bill would overturn dozens of local ordinances against vagrancy and give the homeless the right “to move freely, rest, eat, share, accept, or give food or water, and solicit donations in public spaces.” “The effect of this proposed legislation,” says video journalist James O’Keefe in his narration, “is that homeless people would be entitled to sleep or solicit donations on any public sidewalk” ...
“Essentially, the bill gives homeless people a ‘right’ to sleep out in front of your house,” O’Keefe explained to The Daily Caller by phone. “We wanted to see how the assemblyman would react if he had homeless people sleeping out in front of his house. And what do you know? Dickinson called the cops on us.”
Minutes after a car driven by Dickson left his driveway in the tony Woodlake neighborhood of Sacramento, the police showed up and told undercover journalist Christian Hartsock and his crew to move along.
The police officer warned them not to hang out in that neighborhood, saying, “Basically around here, you want to keep it moving because it’s going to draw unwanted attention…I’m saying you don’t want to hang out in this neighborhood really.”

Educators as bullies
The Daily Caller: "Kindergartener interrogated over cap gun until he pees his pants, then suspended 10 days." You could see this story as one about society's phobia about guns, but I see it as about the madness of schools and how many teachers and administrators are just bullies drawing a taxpayer-funded salary.

The pleasure gel that wasn't
Breitbart: "MMA fighter sues sex shop, claims pleasure gel permanently ruined penis." There was a time when one would have been too ashamed to launch such a lawsuit.

Stein's Law
Everyone gives credit to economist Herbert Stein, an economic adviser to President Richard Nixon (and father to economist/journalist/actor Ben Stein), for what is called Stein's Law: "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop." Washington Post Robert J. Samuelson used it recently but then decided to see when and how Stein actually used it. A Google search did not locate an original source. Not promising. Is this one of those quotes which are ascribed to someone but which doesn't actually exist? Samuelson called the American Enterprise Institute, where Stein later worked, and the AEI had an intern (Rebecca Wescott) look for it. The intern found it:
If Stein had authored Stein’s Law, I suspected it first appeared in a monthly publication — since discontinued — called “The AEI Economist,” which was typically a four- to eight-page essay on current issues. Unfortunately, these had not been digitized. Might someone check the originals?
The someone turned out to be Rebecca Wescott, an intern who waded through a decade’s worth of “AEI Economists.” Stein’s Law appeared on Page One of the June 1989 issue under the headline “Problems and Not-Problems of the American Economy.” The reference was inspired by America’s trade and budget deficits, which have probably lasted longer than Stein imagined likely.
In university I read through the complete works of Edmund Burke (for fun, instead of going to classes one February). I never came across his famous quote, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." If only I had an intern. Ends up that Burke scholars don't think he ever said it, with the likes of Russell Kirk and Peter J. Stanlis (among others), saying it does not appear in his speeches, writings, or the biographies of contemporary figures. Quote Investigator tries to figure out where the quote comes from.

The Obamaconomy
The Washington Post reports: "American households have rebuilt less than half of the wealth lost during the recession, according to a new analysis from the Federal Reserve, hampering the country’s economic recovery." If you want to blame George W. Bush for the bust, Barack Obama gets the blame for the lack of recovery.

Thursday, May 30, 2013
Business as usual at Toronto city hall
The Left likes to say that the allegations against Rob Ford need to be cleared up because the cloud of suspicion is preventing the city from doing its Very Important Business. Well, Eye on a Crazy Planet reports:
If you were to believe what you read in The Star, the city is in chaos and goings-on at City Hall are in total disarray, all because of their allegations about Rob Ford having allegedly smoked crack cocaine.
The Star is lying to you.
I was at City Hall myself on Tuesday. Other than the press acting like a gang of paparazzi, it's business as usual there. Permits are being issued as always, civic matters are being attended to as they have been before the recent media drummed-up outrage. At a meeting of the City's Executive Committee chaired by Ford which I attended, the mayor acted like a consummate professional. He was polite and effective, and not once was he jonesing for a hit of crack, despite any impression The Star might like you to have.
There was nothing resembling chaos.
Permits are being sold, municipal employees are doing their jobs, the sewers are running, street lights are working, the water is being purified, Council is dealing with public matters.

A dolphin-assisted birth is a dumb idea
The Daily Caller reports:
A North Carolina couple have announced their intention to have a dolphin-assisted birth in Hawaii. Adam Barrington, 29, and his wife Heather, 27, believe that birthing the baby in water surrounded by dolphins will bring ’peace, comfort and strength’ to mother and baby, reports the Daily Mail.
However, experts disagree. Marine biologist Miriam Goldstein told Slate, “Dolphins are not gentle or psychic. If they could talk they would not impart eco-wisdom or deep spiritual truth. Dolphins are violent predators with a predilection for baby killing and rape.”
Christie Wilcox of Discover magazine says: "Dolphin-Assisted Birth—Possibly The Worst Idea, Ever." I hope they video tape it and put it on YouTube; sometimes Mother Nature is a bitch.

Dalrymple on Adebolajo
Theodore Dalrymple writes at City Journal about the Woolwich murder by Michael Adebolajo, and in doing so debunks the fake root causes that some people want to address and gets to the real root causes:
It is not true that the society in which he lived offered him no opportunity for personal betterment. Adebolajo was for a time a student at Greenwich University, graduation from which, whatever the real value of the education it offered him, would have improved his chances in the job market, especially in the public sector. But it was at the university that he encountered radical Islam, that ideology that simultaneously succors people with an existential grudge against the world and flatters their inflated and inflamed self-importance. It also successfully squares the adolescent circle: the need both to conform to a peer group and to rebel against society.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
A great cartoon is worth a thousand columns
Dilbert on credentialism.

Washington Times columnist gets the Right wrong
Michael Taube is a Washington Times columnist and former Stephen Harper speechwriter who today tackles the issue of Islamic terrorism in Western Europe. Taube says:
Some people would like nothing more than to see cuts in annual immigration levels.
That’s not going to help matters, however. The vast majority of conservatives, libertarians and classical liberals wouldn’t support a moratorium on immigration due to the important role it plays in a country’s economy.
Taube has a habit of mentioning, and lumping together, "conservatives, libertarians and classical liberals" in his columns. They simply don't fit as easily together as people like Taube think -- there is, after all, a reason there are conservatives and libertarians and classical liberals -- and it is precisely on issues like immigration that they diverge. If Taube has evidence to show that conservatives wouldn't support a moratorium, or other restrictions, on immigration, I'd like to see it. In fact, the recent success of UKIP would be evidence to the contrary.

PWPL on Morgentaler's passing
Andrea Mrozek of ProWomanProLife on the death of Henry Morgentaler:
Morgentaler is not a hero. To the contrary: many Canadians mourn that he remained unrepentant, to the best of our knowledge, unlike the famous abortion doctor and founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League in the United States, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who became vociferously pro-life after seeing abortion for what it is: the killing of an innocent child.
Morgentaler’s death cannot pass by without remembrance for the women, who, in their hour of need faced a doctor who instead of reminding them of the humanity they carry and hope for the future, told them the unborn are merely a clump of cells.
“I never saw a woman enter or leave an abortion clinic joyfully. Morgentaler marked the creation of an era in which ‘I don’t want to do this, but I must’ became strangely, the hallmark of triumph for women’s rights,” says Andrea Mrozek, director of ProWomanProLife ...
Where the public actions of a man are wrong, it is impossible to speak soothing platitudes at the time of his death. Morgentaler, time will show, stood on the wrong side of history and it is for this reason that ProWomanProLife makes this statement today; that the historical record may show that many Canadian women did not admire Dr. Henry Morgentaler.

Morgentaler, RIP
Let the media BJs begin, pioneering Canadian abortionist Henry Morgentaler has died. Over the next few days the media will treat this highly divisive figure as a hero, couching their discussion of him in the language of women's rights while ignoring the reality of abortion. Sandra Martin's obit in the Globe and Mail is the first journalistic blowjob coverage out of the gate. The Canadian Press reports that Morgentaler died a "peaceful death" -- a privilege, I would note, he denied tens of thousands of unborn children. Christian pro-lifers have prayed for Morgentaler for years, hoping there would be a conversion from his pro-abortion views to pro-life; now we pray that God have mercy on his soul.

Most people don't believe this
Veronique de Rugy at the Mercatus Center: "US Corporate Income Tax Now the Highest Among Advanced Economies." And before Obama, US corporate tax rates were the second highest, so this isn't really a new problem for the American economy.

The Right and Left mourn
Michele Bachmann has announced she will not run for a fifth term. Conservatives and libertarians will miss Bachmann because she was a rare voice of uncompromising principle and the Left will miss her because she was a convenient bogeyman. Powerline's Scott Johnson has his reaction, noting that she is being dogged by investigations but also that she has said she's tired of the endless campaigning and fundraising.

Fixing the Republicans: good luck with that
Red State's Erick Erickson has a good post regarding the kind of ideas, agenda, and leadership the Republicans need to succeed in 2014 (and presumably beyond). For a certain type of conservative, being more conservative is always the answer. And for another type of conservative, a more appealing style is always the answer. Politics is hardly that simple, but for the most part Erickson is correct when he concludes: "the Republicans must be able to relate. With distrust in government at an all time high, a relatable Republican is probably going to be a guy who hates the status quo, not one who talks Washington wonkspeak." Actually, Erickson concludes with words from Ben Domenech:
The Republican Party needs to understand that shrinking its policy aims to more modest solutions is not going to be rewarded by the electorate. Yes, they need to tailor their message better and find policy wedges which peel off chunks of the Democratic base (winning political strategy is built on an understanding that every drama needs a hero, a martyr, and a villain). But what’s truly essential is that the party leadership rid themselves of the notion that politeness, great hair, and reform for efficiency’s sake is a ballot box winner, and understand instead that politicians who can connect with the people and deliver on their limited government promises – not ones who back away from them under pressure – represent the path forward.
I would amend one thing: relating to Americans today means not threatening to tear down too much of the state because too many Americans (a majority) rely on government handouts (see Nicholas Eberstadt's A Nation of Takers). As a libertarian I want smaller and limited government. But as someone who favours, if not the Republican Party, at least getting rid of Obama's Democrats, I support an electoral strategy that leads to making government quite a bit leaner while not scaring away large swathes of voters. The thing conservatives and Republicans need to understand is that most Americans want a fair bit of government there for them as a very large safety net, so the challenge for the Right is to get the right balance of smaller government policy and voter support. I wouldn't want to be a political strategist coming up with that calculation, because once you hit the tipping point you scare off too many voters that you can't win back.

Obama and the rule of law
Ramesh Ponnuru in Bloomberg View: "Whatever the investigation into misconduct at the Internal Revenue Service reveals, we already have all the evidence we need to understand President Barack Obama’s fundamental attitude toward the rule of law. That evidence is right there in the public record, and what it shows is indifference and contempt."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Three and out
3. The Los Angeles Angels scored two runs against the LA Dodgers on a strikeout. And the batter took first base. The Dodgers committed three errors on one play. It has been that kind of year for the Dodgers.
2. Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge blames sabermetricians for the struggles of formerly highly rated propsect Dustin Ackley; about the importance of on-base percentage Wedge says: "People who haven’t played since they were 9 years old think they have it figured out. It gets in these kids’ heads." Because the stat-heads are getting into Ackley's head, he's being overly selective. Dave Cameron at U.S.S. Mariner responds, noting that contra Wedge, the facts show Ackley is not being more selective with pitches considering his low walk rate and swinging at too many pitches outside the strike zone. Opposing stats is akin to opposing facts. Wedge is an idiot.
1. At Fangraphs Steve Staube writes about, "The Odds of Hitting for the Cycle." The math is minimal, but the post is long; you can get to the important details (the actual odds) by scrolling down to "results": "I found the average odds of hitting for the cycle for a hitter with an 'average' lineup spot to be about 0.0044% per game, or about once every 23,000 games." The odds are much better for the average lead-off hitter: "0.0071% per game, or close to once every 14,000 games." The player most likely to hit for the cycle is Mike Trout: "0.0375% chance of the cycle per game, or better than once per 2,700 games." There is also a downloadable spreadsheet for all players in MLB.

Congress should butt out reports on political pressure being exerted on the Washington Redskins to change their name:
Ten members of Congress said they have sent letters to Redskins owner Dan Snyder, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Redskins sponsor FedEx and the other 31 NFL franchises. Synder has said he will never change the name, despite opposition.
The letter to Snyder says that “Native Americans throughout the country consider the ‘R-word’ a racial, derogatory slur akin to the ‘N-word’ among African Americans or the ‘W-word’ among Latinos.”
Dan Snyder is a horrendous owner, but I'm on his side for this one, especially because, as Loren Smith wrote in the Washington Examiner recently, the name honours Indian warriors and was a tribute to the team's first coach, a Native. He should politely tell the Congressmen to screw off. And so should the rest of the NFL.

'Two academics, an artsy “freedom fighter” and a priest walk into a synagogue'
From Blogwrath on a recent Free Thinking Film Society symposium::
The highly-anticipated panel discussion with Daniel Pipes on the issue of Islam and Islamism missed the point. He and the other two participants – Prof. Salim Mansur and Father Raymond de Souza – along with the moderator Fred Litwin (from the Free Thinking Film Festival) delivered a presentation more fitting for an “interfaith dialogue” event than a discussion where most of the people showed up looking for answers to pressing political problems.
That would be funny if it weren't so true. Interfaith dialogue, for the uninitiated, is the religious equivalent of a circle jerk: participants might get some momentary pleasure from it, but not much good can come of it. The rest of the blog post explains the problem with their presentations.
(HT: Five Feet of Fury)

Responsibility vs. blame
Glenn Reynolds in USA Today on the scandals in Washington and the consequences (or lack thereof) for those involved:
Government officials are happy making and executing plans that affect the lives of millions, but when things go wrong, well ... they're willing to accept the responsibility, but they're not willing to take the blame. What's the difference? People who are to blame lose their jobs. People who are "responsible," do not. The blame, such as it is, winds up deflected on to The System, or something else suitably abstract.
But when you cut the linkage between outcomes and experience, you make learning much more difficult ...
Given the low penalties for failure it faces, our political class is one for whom falling down is usually painless and even -- given the surprisingly common tendency of people who have presided over debacles to be given promotions rather than the boot -- actually pleasurable. The leaders move society's arms and legs, but we're the ones who collect the bruises.
Reynolds points out that the same is not true for the governed. I would like to imagine a world in which those who run afoul of the state's rules get to "accept responsibility" by saying "I accept responsibility" but then nothing else happens -- speed, run red lights, steal stuff from others, grope a woman on the street. Everything will be forgiven if you utter the meaningless words "I accept responsibility for my actions" and then go on like nothing happened. Would the government tolerate such a state of affairs? Probably not. Yet this is routine in government. Real responsibility requires consequences.

Even Tavis Smiley
William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection notes that Tavis Smiley faced pressure -- or more correctly, his advertisers faced pressure -- after the lefty black broadcaster questioned President Barack Obama in terms of what he has done for blacks in America. Jacobson notes:
It doesn’t take much to set the petulant bullies in motion. While Tea Party and conservatives have been the main targets, almost any dissent is treated dismissively and opens one up to retaliation.
Such is the change some people were waiting for.
Imagine how The Economist or New York Times would cover the Obama administration if it were governing a country south of the equator rather than America? The thuggishness, the scandals, and the incompetence would put Obama in the same category as Hugo Chavez or Robert Mugabe.

Shaidle on Woolwich
Kathy Shaidle at Taki Magazine:
Caught on tape literally red-handed, Adebolajo averred that he was simply avenging Western invasions of Muslim lands. That ever-popular alibi for Islamic violence is, paradoxically, both theologically sound and historically illiterate.
The article is about both Islamic violence and the typically British non-reaction to it.

I must resist doing a countdown
101 days until the beginning the NFL season. Of course, training camp and fake and meaningless pre-season games begin before that.

Memorial vandalism
The Daily Mail reports on the vicious circle: Muslim beheads Westerner, public reacts angrily, Muslims vandalize war memorials. Two of those three things really upset me.

Memorial neglect
Breitbart reports: "Around the country, war memorials are fallling apart while funds that could be used to repair them are spent on more contemporary and "meaningful" matters."

Me in the Ottawa Citizen on the Senate scandal
I have a column in the Ottawa Citizen examining the question of whether the Senate scandal is analagous to Adscam (or the numerous Jean Chretien scandals that never seemed to harm the Liberals' political fortunes). You will have to read the column to see why and how I think Adscam and the Senate scandal are comparable -- and how they are not. Whether or not it is the same thing, I conclude: "Or perhaps Harper will be given a mulligan on this scandal as Chrétien repeatedly was, and it won’t matter in two years. There is still a lot of politics between now and October 2015."

Monday, May 27, 2013
Police might kill off cheese rolling event; don't they have real crime to fight?
The Daily Telegraph reports on the killjoy police in Gloucestershire, England, who may have effectively killed the annual Cooper Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake by threatening the grandma who makes the cheeses:
The event started in the early 1800s and sees competitors chasing the massive 1ft diameter cheese down the 200-yard Cooper's Hill near Brockworth, Gloucestershire, as they race to reach the bottom first.
Farmer Diana Smart, 86, has been making her handmade cheese for the downhill run for a quarter of a century and it is something, she said, that brought her 'such joy'.
This year, however, Mrs Smart, who has provided the large piece of cheese since 1988, has now been warned off doing so after a visit by police.
Three officers visited her farm and told her not to donate five 8lb wheels of her cheese in a bid to prevent the "dangerous" event ...
"They threatened me, saying I would be wholly responsible if anyone got injured," she said. "I'm 86, I don't have the will or the cash to fight any lawsuits. It's crazy."
You can watch videos of the crazy but charming competition on YouTube.

How can two shows be number one for the season?
Depends from when you count: beginning of the official Nielsen's-rated TV season or from the series premiere? The Wall Street Journal reports on how both Sunday Night Football (NBC) and NCIS (CBS) can both claim to be the most watched show of the season. Also, re-runs, special nights, and changing the night's lineup can be used to fiddle around with the numbers.
According to the WSJ, these two franchises both garner about 21-22 million weekly viewers. The WSJ does not report the numbers from past seasons, but back in the 1990s when I dissected the weekly ratings and viewership numbers published in USA Today, Seinfeld was getting 40 million viewers most weeks, followed by ER and Friends with about 30 million viewers. Texas, Walker Ranger had a viewership in the low 20 millions and was often shut out of the top 10.

Fr. Alphonse de Valk to be honoured by Catholic Civil Rights League
I have a write-up about why Fr. de Valk deserves the honour and details of the Catholic Civil Rights League event (to be held this Thursday evening) at Soconvivium.

It was a calm night in Stockholm ...
Bloomberg News: "Stockholm Weeklong Clashes With Police Subside." That's fantastic. Let's read the article: "Stockholm’s suburbs experienced the calmest night since rioting started a week ago as extra police and volunteers patrolled affected neighborhoods." Great. Let's go on to read about how the return to normal in the streets of Sweden's capital city:
About 20 cars were set on fire and a school and store in a southern suburb were vandalized, Stockholm police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said today by phone. Rocks were thrown at police in Vaarberg, south of Stockholm. Police arrested 32 people last night for “social unrest,” of which 11 were detained as a preventive measure.
20 cars set aflame. A school and store vandalized. 20 arrests. Good news all around.
But wait. A few nights ago, only 15 cars were torched. So are things calming down, or not? I get there are plenty of ways to measure if things are getting better or worse with the Swedish riots, but it seems to me the Bloomberg reporter might not be getting the story right. Especially with police being attacked again last night.

Only if they expand the monument to 40 presidents
The Daily Caller: "Obama should end up on Mount Rushmore say a third of George Washington profs surveyed." What is more ridiculous: that they conducted such a poll or that 30% support the idea?

Why I can't run for office
I don't ignore the obvious. From France 24: "French President François Hollande said there were no evident links 'at this stage' between the stabbing of a French soldier on patrol in a business district outside Paris on Saturday and the murder of a soldier in London last week." I don't know ... try a certain religion from the Middle East that has infiltrated the West.

Sunday, May 26, 2013
White flight and Brampton
Everything about this Toronto Star story on white flight from Brampton, Ont., a majority-minority city bordering northwest Toronto, is wrong. The whites who want better city "planning" and fewer big box stores so the community would be forced to come together in pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods are wrong. So are the whites opposed to immigrants with granny apartments because it shows a simple disrespect for private property rights. Both sides are wrong to think that sitting down and talking about their differences will settle anything. Those who look to Toronto's past as some sort of harmonious example of minority groups accepting one another are completely ignorant of the anti-Italian, anti-Irish, and anti-Portuguese sentiment immigrants from those lands faced when they first arrived in Toronto. (You don't have to have different colour skin to hate each other.) Those voices from the south Asian community who think that the differences come from fear ignore the fact that the social friction is a complex stew of facts and feelings, that yes, does include fear, but also much more (like competition for jobs, an increase in cars on the road, escalating housing costs, official and unofficial multiculturalism, etc...). The voices from south Asia who think that their community needs to be more open to not living in enclaves ignores how most people operate (in tribes). But what is most frightening, and seemingly the basis for the entire article, is the belief that some master plan by some master planner can fix all this. Satpaul Singh Johal, a journalist from India who is now raising a family in Brampton," agrees with the white woman the Star implies is racist, when he tells the paper, "Government should facilitate this, help bring them together." Government cannot eliminate social friction, and probably shouldn't even try if it could. What everyone seems to dislike is that people are making rational choices -- insular immigrants moving into ethnic neighbourhoods to be with people who are like themselves, and established families leaving because the communities they valued have fundamentally changed. To me this seems like the way of the world. To others, it is a crisis crying out for a government program; and a little Toronto Star racism hysteria.

The Justice Department is out of control
See George Will's Washington Post column today.

A penguin chick being tickled
This is cute.

Perspective vs. hysteria
I like Don Boudreaux's distinction between the two.

The media will eventually return home
Peter Wehner in The Weekly Standard: "They’ll Always Love Obama: It’s only a matter of time before the media are back in the tank." Wehner notes:
Journalists have been more critical of the administration in the IRS and Justice Department-press stories. But even there the criticisms of the president and his top advisers have been relatively restrained. And certainly the intensity of the coverage has been far less than if this were occurring under a Republican president.
Wehner says there are three reasons for "the media’s abstemiousness when facing such glaring examples of dissembling, intimidation, and abuse of power": many journalists are enchanted by Obama (and are sometimes intimately connected to him and his administration through marriage or personal friendship) many journalists love Big Government and don't want the inevitable fallout from the scandals to harm that project, and (in my opinion most importantly) many journalists hate Obama's opponents more than they are disappointed in the President.

The future looks like Saskatoon
To be fair, that's the post-Armageddon event scenario. Wendy Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reviews Annalee Newitz's new book, Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction. (Never mind the contradiction: if a species is extinct, it's gone.) Sawatzky says:
Annalee Newitz, founding editor of the science website, set out to write a book about the future of humanity, she expected to find the end was nigh. Instead, her research led her to believe the opposite: that "humanity has a lot more than a fighting chance at making it for another million years."
The optimistic result is Scatter, Adapt, and Remember, a refreshing pop-science book that examines ways humans could prevail at Armageddon.
What does humanity's future look like? You might be surprised: Newitz, who is based in California, thinks it looks like Saskatoon.
The Saskatchewan city "has survived despite its hard climate, and people there have found ways to incorporate the latest scientific advances into their agriculture and urban design without overspending," she writes in the introduction to the book's Canadian edition ...
Newitz takes a page from Alan Weisman's 2010 book, The World Without Us -- which conjured the changes coming to a depopulated world -- and imagines instead how Homo sapiens can survive whatever attempts to depopulate us, be it nuclear war, plague, asteroid, or some other curse we have not imagined or invented.
But Newitiz's optimism may not be warranted. Sawatzky enthusiastically writes:
Did you know the United Nations has an "action team" on the "Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space" that would co-ordinate Earth's defences if an asteroid appears to be headed our direction? Scatter, Adapt and Remember will help you rest easy, safe in the knowledge that someone out there is working hard to keep space rocks from killing us all.
But we all know how dysfunctional the UN is when it isn't busy being inefficient, so perhaps we're all screwed.

Saturday, May 25, 2013
Is this the worst Wiki page?
Groupaction's Wikipedia entry doesn't do justice to the Quebec firm's role in Adscam* (the Sponsorship Scandal).
* In contradistinction, the Wikipedia page for Adscam is quite thorough.

Nothing says innocence like avoiding the cameras
You'd think Pamela Wallin would know that?
Pic and story from the state broadcaster. I should have titled his post, "Is this the face of an innocent senator?"

What's wrong with Ontarians?
CTV reports that a new Ispos Reid poll they co-sponsored finds that if an election were held "tomorrow" the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives would both get 34% of the vote while the NDP would register 26% support. One in 20 respondents like another party (mostly the Greens) and 13% are undecided (I understand considering the choices). What is stunning is that over the past month there have been additional revelations about the gas plant cancellation and yet the Tories are down three points while the Liberals are up six points. All the usual warnings about single polls (or polling in general), but it must be frustrating for those who are eager to see the McWynnety Liberals turfed from office. Considering the NDP are also down three points, perhaps there is a fair bit of support for Premier Kathleen Wynne's first budget and a slight backlash against Andrea Horwath's inept handling of whether to support it or not.

Excellent post on the 'Catholic' who committed suicide in reaction to legalization of same-sex marriage in France
Five Feet of Fury has an excellent post on French historian Dominique Venner, who opposed same-sex marriage and committed suicide at Notre Dame cathedral this week. FFF's key point about Venner's Catholicism:
Venner was likely worked up because “sodomy” is one of the “sins crying out to heaven for vengeance.”
However, suicide is equated with despair, which is considered a “sin against the Holy Spirit,” and therefore a Really Big Deal too.
Despair means that you can’t believe God will ultimately triumph — that in fact, he already has.
The Catholic notion is that God has won, the game is almost over, and our job is to run out the clock without earning any stupid penalties.
Mostly unreported: Venner more concerned about Islamism and immigration than SSM and his writing contained plenty of condemnation of the Catholic Church in France. See LifeSiteNews for more.

Campaign Life Coalition turns 35
My article from the May edition of The Interim is reprinted today at

On Sweden`s rioting
Maybe the Scandinavian model does not work so well. The Daily Telegraph: "Stockholm riots leave Sweden's dreams of perfect society up in smoke." Of course the Jew as canary in the mine should have alerted us to this. The Local reports that rioting has spread beyond Stockholm. This Reuters report is atrocious, effectively making excuses for the rioting (although the reporter is only doing what a member of the government is doing):
In a country with a reputation for openness, tolerance and a model welfare state, the rioting has exposed a fault-line between a well-off majority and a minority - often young people with immigrant backgrounds - who are poorly educated, cannot find work and feel pushed to the edge of society. "In the short run, the acute thing is to ensure that these neighborhoods get back to normal everyday life. In the long run we need to create positive spirals in these neighborhoods," Erik Ullenhag, Sweden's integration minister, told Reuters.
You would think this article from Fria Trider is from The Onion, were it not for the reaction of the likes of Ullenhag above: "Parking Tickets Issued on Wrecks while Stockholm Burns." I am sorry, but this really sounds like The Onion:
But while the Stockholm riots keep spreading and intensifying, Swedish police have adopted a tactic of non-interference. ”Our ambition is really to do as little as possible,” Stockholm Chief of Police Mats Löfving explained to the Swedish newspaper Expressen on Tuesday.
”We go to the crime scenes, but when we get there we stand and wait,” elaborated Lars Byström, the media relations officer of the Stockholm Police Department. ”If we see a burning car, we let it burn if there is no risk of the fire spreading to other cars or buildings nearby. By doing so we minimize the risk of having rocks thrown at us.”
Swedish parking laws, however, continue to be rigidly enforced despite the increasingly chaotic situation. Early Wednesday, while documenting the destruction after a night of rioting in the Stockholm suburb of Alby, a reporter from Fria Tider observed a parking enforcement officer writing a ticket for a burnt-out Ford.
Pro-immigration economist Tyler Cowen says not many pundits are mentioning Sweden as part of America`s immigration debate:
It is odd for me how, in the midst of a major policy discussion of the issue, most of the people I read cover the topic but do not mention or much discuss five nights of riots in Sweden. The economics of additional immigration work out fine in my view, and I am happy to count the well-being of foreigners without hesitation. The real question is how much immigration a nation’s politics can handle.

The upside of destruction
Seen on Twitter:
@DeathStarPR: Paris Hilton is releasing a new album. There has literally never been a better reason for the Death Star to explode your planet.

Friday, May 24, 2013
The Industrial Revolution, liberty and dignity
The Cato Institute's Andrew J. Coulson says: "This is the most important question in economics: Why did the Industrial Revolution happen when and where it did–and not before or elsewhere?" He briefly notes why it is important to get the answer correct (to not accidentally undo the incredible good the progress coming from the IR does for human flourishing) before answering:
Liberty and Dignity for entrepreneurs/tinkerers/merchants raised the number of clever, dedicated innovators beyond a threshold that had never before been reached. Below that threshold, would-be innovators would often have hit stumbling blocks that they could not overcome, e.g., needing some as-yet-uninvented process/material/tool/concept to complete/commercialize their own innovation. Without that missing piece, their innovative efforts would have failed. Above that threshold, cross-pollination among innovators would have drastically reduced the number of insurmountable problems–innovators would increasingly have been able to borrow from their predecessors and contemporaries who were working on related problems. This cross-pollination would have required inexpensive information storage and retrieval (i.e., books), but it also would have required a critical mass of innovators simultaneously working on a vast array of problems, a critical mass that the widespread Liberty and Dignity for entrepreneurs created for the first time.

The Obamaconomy
The Hill reports: "The survey, by CNN and ORC, found that 67 percent of Americans rate the nation's economic conditions as poor." Just under half of those rate the state of the economy as "very poor." The Hill stresses that the numbers are improving, suggesting that the economy is just hunky-dory, even though two out of three respondents think things are pretty lousy and 29% perceive the economy as quite bad.

Don't blame the death of marriage on the gays
Gavin McInnes at Taki Magazine:
Unfortunately, marriage died long before homosexuals got involved. Divorce is what killed it ...
My peers are the children of divorce and I’ve seen it permanently scar almost all of them. Both Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly have been divorced. Rush Limbaugh has done it three times. You can’t be sanctimonious about marriage when you’re on your fourth ...
People don’t want to criticize divorce in America because they’ve either done it, are about to do it, or love a parent who did it. Today a man can marry a woman, knock her up, and leave a couple years later citing excuses like, “I wasn’t happy” or “We fell out of love.” Ann Coulter describes this as a form of child abuse.
I am theoretically willing to concede divorce makes some sense in some very limited circumstances, but the casual ease with which individuals can enter and leave marriage has obviously cheapened and undermined this foundational institution of our civilization. What McGinnes is not saying -- nor am I -- is that just because marriage has been vandalized by heterosexuals there is no reason to further undermine marriage by extending it to couples that have no chance of reproducing naturally. Which brings me to the final point: marriage is not about the couple, husband and wife, but about family; McGinnes makes an excellent point about how love (as moderns understand it) cannot be the sole basis for marriage.
(HT: Five Feet of Fury)

’Now The Gibson Guitar Raids Make Sense’
Investor’s Business Daily editorializes about how the Obama administration doggedly harassed a guitar-maker (Gibson) over a relatively minor and obscure possible violation of importation of flora and fauna regulations while it’s competitor (C.F. Martin & Co), which used the same material, was left alone. Hint: it makes sense in light of the IRS scandal. There is no prize for guessing which company’s CEO gives money to Republicans and which one’s gives to Democrats.

Thursday, May 23, 2013
Despite what Canadian media and political elite say, abortion is still an issue reports:
While Prime Minister Stephen Harper and mainstream media have said that Canadians do not want to reopen the abortion debate, MPs have presented the government with more than 70 petitions from constituents since January that say otherwise.
The petitioners are asking the government to condemn the practice of sex-selective abortions.

What the hell does this even mean?
The CBC reports:
Nik Nanos digs beneath the numbers with CBC New Network's Power & Politics to get to the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives.
This week: Few Canadians are confident their government will be able to accomplish anything positive in the current political climate, according to a recent poll by Nanos Research ...
Only 13.1 per cent said the current political climate will lead to positive policy outcomes, while 29.1 per cent said somewhat positive, 24.7 per cent said somewhat negative policy outcomes, 27.4 per cent said it would result in negative policy outcomes and 5.7 per cent were unsure.
Do you think the average respondent -- which is someone too stupid to avoid a pollster -- gave any thought to what today's political scandals mean in connection to the development and implementation of public policy? I think and write a lot about politics and I'm not sure how this would be all connected. Really, this is exquisite bullshit being shovelled by the state broadcaster and their celebrity pollster, and because there are numbers attached, it all looks so real and meaningful.

The Liberals always knew possible gas plant cancellation costs
The Toronto Star: "Ontario power plant cancellations: Liberals knew of $900 million ‘worst-case scenario’." Progressive Conservative MPP Vic Fedeli said the $900 figure was in the Treasury Board projections for the 2012/2013 fiscal year while cancellation negotiations were taking place.

Cameron's wimp reaction to Woolwich murder is the opposite of the outrage we should feel
United Kingdom David Cameron is being depicted as tough on terrorism because he says that Britain "will never buckle in face of terror." But as Gates of Vienna notes, Cameron also says that perhaps it would be better if soldiers didn't wear their uniforms in public. As Baron Bodissey says, "now there’s an idea: maybe British soldiers could wear burkas in public. That way no one would ever know."
The beheading of anyone -- not just a soldier, but any innocent human being -- on the street by jihadists who claim to take action while talking about "our land" should outrage people. Did you see the hands of Michael Adebolajo? It looked like he was wearing red gloves. This barbarism must be condemned and called what it is: Islamic violence. There is no explaining this away. There is no ignoring the despicable murder. And there is no pretending that it is not tied to the murderer's religion.
Just because Cameron's a wimp and won't call an Islamic terrorist an Islamic terrorist, and plays the policy equivalent of blaming the victim by suggesting that soldiers not wear their uniforms in public, does not mean that free men and women must follow suit. Be pissed off and let people know that the execution of innocents pisses you off. There is a lot of faux and misplaced outrage out there, but some things really should outrage us.

The Onion on Obama's media whores
Loved this:
Standing before members of the White House Press Corps Wednesday afternoon as aides lowered a bunch of grapes into his mouth, President Obama encouraged everyone gathered in the West Wing briefing room to abandon their inhibitions and revel in a wild, drunken orgy ...
According to reports, the six-hour-long alcohol-fueled orgy included nearly 50 reporters from a number of Pulitzer Prize–winning media outlets engaged in various sex acts. Multiple eyewitnesses confirmed seeing two AP reporters engaging in anal penetration against a lectern, an ABC News correspondent screaming in ecstasy as she was repeatedly penetrated with a live NPR microphone, and a naked secret service agent urinating on New York Times journalist Peter Baker.
Eyewitness accounts confirmed that as the reporters continued ravenously copulating on top of one another, Obama ripped off his shirt, leaned back in a large golden chair, and was attended to by a bevy of 23-year-old political bloggers who eagerly satisfied his every sensual whim.

You want an explanation for the Ford drug allegations?
Here's a possible explanation, via Blazing Cat Fur: a "film" maker was looking for Rob Ford lookalike back in January. The ad said, "It's a short shot of the mayor smoking a cigar and chuckling into the camera - as part of a montage. It's a dark comedy set in Toronto. Please send a photo for consideration and more information." I thought the story could be true, but it isn't all the far-fetched that he would be the victim of such a hoax. If it is a hoax, I hope he sues the creators of the film and the so-called journalists who fell for it. And I hope the police get involved.
* I also don't care if the Mayor does smoke crack as long as he continues to not raise my taxes and finds more city services to privatize.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Three and out
3. SB Nation's Grant Brisbee's ask who's worse, the Miami Marlins or Houston Astros? There is an advantage to the Marlins (as the better team, not the worse one) because they have better pitching and the possibility of the return of hitting fiend Giancarlo Stanton.
2. Greg Simmons of Hardball Times has a brilliantly entitled column, "Is 5/125 the new 5/55?" Eight-figure salaries were once a big deal, but they aren't now. As Dave Cameron of Fangraphs said today (in a good column about Andre Ethier's future): "Given all the money in baseball right now, solid average veterans go for about $10 million per year in free agency." At one time, Darren Dreifort and Gil Meche got five-year, $55 million deals that did not quite work out. Now Ryan Howard is a five-year, $125 million first baseman who should be platooning. The Los Angeles Angels are massively over-paying Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols for what they are getting, and will probably be overpaying for years. But as Simmons concludes, "Teams have to pay a premium for premium talent, in terms of both dollars and years. It's just the way negotiations go these days. The dollars are huge, but players in their early 30s should be somewhere near their peak. It's those pesky late-30s/early-40s seasons that really foul things up."
1. Grantland's Jonah Keri has a good piece on the career of David Ortiz, who has become MLB's best all-time designated hitter, and is having a surprisingly good season this year.

The media
One of the most persistent but under-reported forms of media bias is what journalists don't write about. Ron Unz has a long article in The American Conservative [sic] on the U.S. media and what it doesn't cover. It is worth reading if you can stand the standard TAC prejudices and dispositions that come with such a piece, but this is a useful insight into politics today:
We always ridicule the 98 percent voter support that dictatorships frequently achieve in their elections and plebiscites, yet perhaps those secret-ballot results may sometimes be approximately correct, produced by the sort of overwhelming media control that leads voters to assume there is no possible alternative to the existing regime. Is such an undemocratic situation really so different from that found in our own country, in which our two major parties agree on such a broad range of controversial issues and, being backed by total media dominance, routinely split 98 percent of the vote? A democracy may provide voters with a choice, but that choice is largely determined by the information citizens receive from their media.

Building bridges with cliches
At NRO Betsy Woodruff reviews former Republican Senator Olympia Snowe's memoir Fighting for Common Ground: How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress, which is apparently full of trite sayings about bipartisanship: "It’s amazing the positive things that can happen when you get people talking in a room together!" One needn't even read Snowe's screed to know that the erstwhile senator, like most self-proclaimed centrists, thinks in cliches and that such substitutes for thinking (and principles) can unite America. Woodruff explains whether you are the right reader for Fighting for Common Ground:
If you find comfort in the assurance and reassurance and re-reassurance that Senator Olympia Snowe thinks and has always thought that the good of America should supersede the good of the Republican Party, then this book will provide you with hours of unmitigated delight. If, however, you suspect that the “the place of burned bridges and scorched earth” to which Congress has been reduced may be the result of fundamental differences of opinion between Americans, which they reflect when they vote, then you may perhaps find Fighting for Common Ground a teensy bit quixotic.

New issue of Cato Journal
The Spring/Summer Cato Journal is out and it's theme is, "Europe's Crisis and the Welfare State: Lessons for America." I'm most looking forward to Pierre Lemieux's article, "American and European Welfare States: Similar Causes, Similar Effects." (pdf)

There is no Great Stagnation (printable food edition)
NASA is looking at additive manufacturing to create printable food sometime in the future. The idea is not for consumption in space, however, but to feed a world with 10-12 billion people.

How do you prove you're qualified?
Andrew Lawton at Landmark Report: "Why is University of Toronto screening sexual orientation of job applicants?"
(HT: Lilley's Pad)

Remove this bum from the Senate
The Toronto Star: "Mike Duffy billed two Tory campaigns $510 during 2011 election while claiming Senate allowance."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Three and out
3. Michael Baumann has a good article at Grantland on "The Great Weirdness of That Reds-Phillies Game." Also at Grantland, Jonah Keri also examines the freakish sequence of events that got Philly its win Sunday night (scroll down to his section on Philadelphia).
2. Fingers crossed: MLB may expand its use of instant replay next year.
1. Steven Goldman has a provocative and persuasive article at SB Nation arguing that Joey Votto should bat second in the Cincinnati Reds lineup. There is no way Dusty Baker would ever do anything so innovative.

Today's Milton Friedman
I haven't read it yet, but the May 2013 Econ Journal Watch symposium, "Why Is There No Milton Friedman Today?" featuring contributions from Tyler Cowen, David Henderson, Richard Epstein, Richard Posner, Robert Solow, and others looks very good.

'The bystander president'
Investor's Business Daily editorializes:
Is Barack Obama the president or not? If you were visiting from another planet, you'd have to wonder. He says he learns what his government is doing from the news, and seems detached from his role as leader.
Let's take Obama at his word (for now) that he didn't know his Justice Department was spying on reporters. Or that his IRS agents were targeting his political enemies. Or that al-Qaida was attacking his diplomats — after they'd asked for more protection, which he also didn't know about.
The ignorance and incompetence defense looks just as bad as guilt. The president does not look like someone involved and in charge of his administration.
I don't believe Obama, but as IBD says, incompetence is just as bad a guilt.

More Gosnells
We are assured by the abortion industry and pro-abortion politicians that Kermit Gosnell is unique. "Webcast to expose other Gosnells in America tonight." Family Research Council and Live Action team up to expose the really ugly side of the abortion industry.

Election averted
NDP leader Andrea Horwath props up McWynnety government; Ontarians will not be forced to decide among three mental and moral midgets any time soon.

University: you mileage may vary, depending on the choices you make
Of course, not all choices are self-evidently self-destructive because 19-year-olds can't be expected to notice the link between taking a bird course and going to a kegger on the weekend, and accumulating debt that will cripple you in the future. The description of Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton's new book, Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality, sounds interesting (and tragic):
Two young women, dormitory mates, embark on their education at a big state university. Five years later, one is earning a good salary at a prestigious accounting firm. With no loans to repay, she lives in a fashionable apartment with her fiancé. The other woman, saddled with burdensome debt and a low GPA, is still struggling to finish her degree in tourism. In an era of skyrocketing tuition and mounting concern over whether college is "worth it," Paying for the Party is an indispensable contribution to the dialogue assessing the state of American higher education. A powerful exposé of unmet obligations and misplaced priorities, it explains in vivid detail why so many leave college with so little to show for it.
Drawing on findings from a five-year interview study, Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton bring us to the campus of "MU," a flagship Midwestern public university, where we follow a group of women drawn into a culture of status seeking and sororities. Mapping different pathways available to MU students, the authors demonstrate that the most well-resourced and seductive route is a "party pathway" anchored in the Greek system and facilitated by the administration. This pathway exerts influence over the academic and social experiences of all students, and while it benefits the affluent and well-connected, Armstrong and Hamilton make clear how it seriously disadvantages the majority.
(HT: Instapundit)

Never let the chance to exploit a tragedy go to waste
The Daily Caller: "Democratic Senator uses Okla. tornado for anti-GOP rant over global warming." Thank you Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D, RI).

London spends more on benefits than United Kingdom does on defense
The London Evening Standard reports: "The study by the Centre for Social Justice highlighted that £36 billion went on working-age welfare payments in 2011/12 in the capital, compared with defence spending of £33.8 billion." And here's the kicker: it's not working. Again, the Standard: "In the study — entitled Signed Off, Written Off — the group said that as many as 6.8 million people, including 1.8 million children, in the UK have been trapped into long-term poverty."
(HT: Blazing Cat Fur)

Believe it when I see it
The Washington Examiner reports that Congress is considering cutting funding for food stamps:
The Senate on Monday opened debate on a $955 billion farm bill that would reduce federal spending by as much as $23 billion over the next 10 years by cutting funding for food stamps and eliminating some farm-support programs.
"This legislation will create jobs, cut taxpayer subsidies and reduce the deficit," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday.
Ah, but there's a hitch:
The White House offered only conditional support for the bill, an indication that lawmakers will need to make changes to win the president's signature.

IRS scandal is a freedom of speech issue
David Rivkin and Lee Casey with an excellent column in the Wall Street Journal:
The unfolding IRS scandal is a symptom, not the disease.For decades, campaign-finance reform zealots have sought to limit core political speech through spending limits and disclosure requirements. More recently, they have claimed that it is wrong and dangerous for tax-exempt entities to engage in political speech.
The Obama administration shares these views, especially when conservative, small-government organizations are involved, and the IRS clearly got the message. While the agency must be investigated and reformed, the ultimate cure for these abuses is to unshackle political speech by all groups, including tax-exempt ones, from arbitrary and unconstitutional government regulation.

Felix Salmon likes the Yahoo-Tumblr 'merger'
Merger isn't the correct word* but Felix Salmon says "the more I look at this tie-up, the more it makes sense to me." As for Yahoo, Salmon says:
For Yahoo, having $4.4 billion in cash plus Tumblr is clearly going to be better in terms of the future than having $5.5 billion in cash, waiting interminably for some kind of Godot to come along and be bought. $1.1 billion is a lot of money, but it’s not so much money that it’s going to change the way that investors look at Yahoo’s balance sheet.
And for Tumblr:
But Yahoo certainly has the tools to help boost Tumblr’s flattening traffic numbers, while Karp should be able to retain enough control of Tumblr that his users don’t revolt entirely. After all, it’s far from clear where else they could go.
Former Google and NBC exec John Saroff doesn't like the deal, because "Many tumblrs are unhospitable to advertising," so there's no way for Yahoo to make their billion-plus investment.
* There is a saying in business that there is no such thing as a merger, only various degrees of takeover.

GOP will f--k it up
Charles Murray tweets: "The great question: Will conservative pols bungle it so that they make Obama a sympathetic figure on Benghazi, IRS, & AP? Probably yes."

2016 watch
Texas Governor Rick Perry? For what it's worth, NRO reports, "Texans close to Perry have told National Review that he’s strongly considering a presidential run."

Monday, May 20, 2013
Obama-named tax-exempt foundation doesn't appear to exist
The Daily Caller reports:
The “charity” run by President Barack Obama’s half-brother that was fast-tracked for IRS tax-exempt status is based at a Virginia UPS store, according to its website.
The organization’s IRS filings list another Virginia address that is actually a drug rehab center where the foundation does not appear ever to have been based.
The Barack H. Obama Foundation is run by Abon’go “Roy” Malik Obama, the half-brother of Barack Obama.

Thank God for studies
The Brookings Institute finds that Americans who can't find jobs or affordable housing in cities are moving to the suburbs. Technically the report is about suburban poverty, but the takeaway is that people who can't afford very expensive cities are moving to slightly less expensive suburbs. Shocker.

Best. Che. Shirt. Ever.
At Blazing Cat Fur.

Journalist does job asking questions, could face criminal conspiracy charges in Obama's America
Reason's J.D. Tuccille at Hit & Run on the U.S. Department of Justice investigation of Fox News chief correspondent James Rosen:
At its heart, the allegation that Rosen broke the law "at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” is based on nothing more than meeting with and asking questions of government adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who told him the non-shocking information that North Korea could very well respond to United Nations sanctions with more nuclear tests. That's right. Meeting an official and asking questions, which is what journalists do, is interpreted as criminal conspiracy. Taken with the already brewing scandal over the snooping of Associated Press phone records, we're looking at a full-fledged assault on the free press.

2014 watch
Politico headline: "Scandal-shocked House Democrats fear for 2014." The key sentence in the story: "The sting may be felt most among middle-of-the-road voters — the same bloc that bolted from Democrats during the previous midterm election and helped sweep House Republicans into power."

Obama's culture of intimidation
Breitbart's Ben Shapiro:
With new reports today that the Obama Department of Justice leaked documents intended to smear a whistleblower in the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal, it is now more obvious than ever that this administration has, in the words of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) created a “culture of intimidation” that stretches from the White House down to myriad agencies of the executive branch.
Shapiro lists ten departments (including Obama himself) that have employed intimidation since the President took office, and some (including Obama) have used such bully tactics more than once.

Maureen Dowd
Joe Scarborough co-host Mika Brzezinski calls New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd a must-read, but as Mediate notes former Obama adviser Robert Gibbs doesn't read MoDo, "largely because it’s sort of largely the same column for the last, like, eight years." I get Gibbs is trying to diminish Dowd's anti-Obama op-ed, and there is no way he doesn't read her twice weekly screeds, but it's nice to see someone call out Dowd's pathetic little pieces as the near-worthless space of they are.

Living in a 78-square foot apartment in New York
This is a few years old, but worth viewing. The rent is still $800 a month. Here's the kicker: he works from home.
(HT: Marginal Revolution)

What's wrong Millennials
Five Feet of Fury links to a fine American Spectator article about Millennials (I prefer Penelope Trunk's piece "Five Things You Dn't Know About Gen Y"), but Kathy's own one sentence diagnosis of the generation in their 20s is pretty spot-on:
a) the rampant beta-male faggotry and b) their related obsession with “racism” and “sexism” while living in the least “racist” and “sexist” time and place in history, and the way this manifests itself: in puny expressions of petty outrage towards safe targets, all of which serve as a convenient but fairly convincing substitute for demanding, risk-taking action and thought.

The Everett many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics dictates that you should buy a lottery ticket
From Falkenblog:
I bought a Powerball ticket for the $500MM lottery last Saturday, and was actually interviewed by a local TV crew when I bought my one ticket, and said something to the effect that $2 buys me several minutes of daydreams about buying ridiculous things (that $100k lake submarine in SkyMall magazine). Later I discovered a better reason for my purchase. In the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, every quantum event happens. It's basically the only way many can reconcile the EPR paradox or Schrodinger's cat being alive and dead. All possible alternative histories and futures are real, each representing an actual "world" or "universe". Therefore, after buying that ticket, I actually won the $500MM jackpot in many of those universes. Unfortunately, in this particular universe I did not win the lottery, but, I can take comfort that many of 'me' did win, and my utility function somewhere among those universes is insanely high. For some reason, I'm not enjoying that as much as I should based on the math.
(HT: Tim Wostall)

'Post-ideological Sweden'
The Economist: "Sweden is leading the world in allowing private companies to run public institutions." The article is worth reading, but I have additional thoughts.
A few months ago Tim Worstall attempted to raise enough money on Kickstarter to write a book investigating why Scandinavian economies do so well despite libertarian theory saying they shouldn't. Unfortunately he didn't raise the money. I have four guesses why Scandinavian countries outperform what the economic theorists predict:
1) Sweden, Denmark, et al are not as socialist as we think, or is becoming less socialist (see Economist story above).
2) Swedes, Danes, etc... work harder and are more productive, therefore their economy does not suffer when a fair degree of socialism is introduced.
3) There is actually a fair degree of economic freedom in many of these countries (see Scott Sumner's post at EconLib) and Scandinavian countries have figure out the right mix of free market production and statist redistributionist policies.
4) The welfare state works better in ethnically homogeneous societies.
There is more evidence for some of those claims than others, but the best explanation is probably a mix of two or more of them. If I had a few million dollars drop into my lap, I'll gladly fund Worstall's investigation.

Celebrate Victoria Day while you can
If idiots like Margaret Atwood and Elizabeth May get their way, the May long weekend will be called "Victoria and First Peoples Day." I don't want to say it's the dumbest idea ever, but it's close. Another dumb idea, but this one is already implemented: in Quebec they celebrate "National Patriots' Day" on Victoria Day.

High school drop-out success: Tumblr sells for $1.1 billion
The Daily Mail reports that Yahoo bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion despite the latter's revenue of just $13 million last year -- that's revenue, not profit. David Karp, 26, is thought to own three-quarters of the micro blog site he started in 2007, which means he isn't quite a billionaire, but not bad for a guy who dropped out of high school and finished his education by homeschooling.

Not a news flash: government doesn't deserve your trust
The Toronto Star: "Rob Ford, gas pains, the Senate: Scandals and bad spin-jobs plague all levels of government." Subhead: "Trust takes a hit amid political scandals at all three levels of government." When will the Left (and Right) learn: the power government entrusts to politicians attracts people who should be nowhere near power.

Steyn's song of the week
Mark Steyn has everything you need to know about Abba's song "Waterloo." My favourite part: "Benny and Björn are much mocked for their somewhat shaky grasp of English pop conventions, but the boys are, after all, writing in their second language: they were bilingual songwriters at a time when most pop writers were barely lingual." You will also learn about Abba's connection to the song "One Night in Bangkok" -- or at least Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson's connection.

Sunday, May 19, 2013
Even questioning Obama is 'offensive'
Breitbart reports:
Going on the offensive about President Obama’s mysterious whereabouts during the Benghazi terrorist attacks of September 11, 2012 that resulted in the deaths of four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said it was “offensive” for anyone to question whether the White House could have done more. The assertion “from Republicans” that Obama was not responsive enough during the attack, said Pfeiffer, is “offensive.”
It is offensive, and irrelevant, which is what the Daily Caller reports Pfeiffer considers Obama's whereabouts during the Benghazi tragedy.

Sowell interview
I totally endorse Donald Boudreaux's blog comments introducing the Uncommon Knowledge interview with Thomas Sowell, which is worth watching regardless of how often you've seen/heard Sowell interviewed (about his new book Intellectuals and Race).