Wednesday, April 30, 2008

But I was counting on global warming... Worldwide: "Parts of North America and Europe may cool naturally over the next decade, as shifting ocean currents temporarily blunt the global-warming effect caused by mankind, Germany's Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences said."
Well, that's just peachy. I have been counting on global warming to bail us out of these brutal Midwestern winters. Now it turns out that we have a decade of cooling to look forward to. I suppose the polar bears are doing backflips off their ice floes over this news. By 2018 they will be lounging around in my back yard and the deer will be cowering in fear in the garage. I read last week that the grey wolf is back in Wisconsin, which is about 5 miles from my house. If it gets any colder we will have woolly mammoths and saber-tooth tigers

Obama and Clinton: tied nationally?

CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time - Blogs from "The Democratic presidential race is tightening nationally, according to a new CNN average of several recent polls. Obama's lead is now down to 1 point over Clinton nationwide, 45 percent to 44 percent, in CNN's 'poll of polls.' That margin is down 3 points from another CNN poll of polls conducted two days ago. In that analysis, Obama led Clinton 47 percent to 43 percent. The margin is also considerably lower than an April 18 poll of polls that showed Obama with an 11 point lead."
The full impact of Jeremiah Wright's media extravaganza of a few days ago hasn't made its way into the polls yet. Some of the polling was done before, and some after. That means maybe Obama will fall even more. The percentage of people who view him negatively has increased significantly since February. But as of now we have a statistical dead heat. And I read elsewhere that the supporters of each candidate are increasingly negative about the other. That's to be expected given that they are going negative on each other. Obama's people are mad at Hillary for trashing their candidate, and vice versa.

That's why Hillary Clinton is still in the race. She still has an outside shot, and her odds improved with the Wright fiasco. The farther Obama falls, the more compelling becomes her argument that he is unelectable. She won't say that publicly, but that's the basic line that her campaign is taking with the superdelegates in their private efforts to sway them to her. So far, there is no evidence that this approach has borne fruit, but if Wright continues to occupy center stage for a couple of more weeks, maybe things will change. Remarkable.


Here is an interesting take on the Obama-Wright soap opera. This journalist has a source in Chicago who says Wright is mad that, despite their 20 year close relationship, Obama repeatedly dissed him when he ran for president. Obama wouldn't let him on stage when he declared for president, then pretended he didn't know what Wright had to say about politics, and after the tapes came out "distanced himself" from Wright. So, says the source, Wright is actually hurting Obama's campaign quite knowingly because feels "betrayed."

Who knows?

A very personal perspective on UIC Prof. Bill Ayers

Barack Obama pal is an enemy, too: "During the April 16 debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, moderator George Stephanopoulos brought up 'a gentleman named William Ayers,' who 'was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol and other buildings. He's never apologized for that.' Stephanopoulos then asked Obama to explain his relationship with Ayers. Obama's answer: 'The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn't make much sense, George.' Obama was indeed only 8 in early 1970. I was only 9 then, the year Ayers' Weathermen tried to murder me."
Read it and decide for yourself.

Hiring by government booms while private sector layoffs continue "Federal, state and local governments are hiring new workers at the fastest pace in six years, helping offset job losses in the private sector. Governments added 76,800 jobs in the first three months of 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. That's the biggest jump in first-quarter hiring since a boom in 2002 that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks. By contrast, private companies collectively shed 286,000 workers in the first three months of 2008. That job loss has led many economists to declare the country is in a recession."
Well, at least most of these new government employees probably have health insurance.

No recession: economy grows by (only) 0.6 percent in first quarter: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

Economy grows by only 0.6 percent in first quarter: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance: "WASHINGTON (AP) -- The bruised economy limped through the first quarter, growing at just a 0.6 percent pace as housing and credit problems forced people and businesses alike to hunker down. The country's economic growth during January through March was the same as in the final three months of last year, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. The statistic did not meet what economists consider the definition of a recession, which is a contraction of the economy. This means that although the economy is stuck in a rut, it is still managing to grow, even if slightly."
That seems right to me, just speaking as a consumer who has lived through a bunch of real recessions. Things are not good at the moment, but please don't tell me they are as bad as 1990-91, and for sure don't tell me they are as bad as the economic basket case years of 1976-1982. Just don't.

A Professor Sues His Students :: Inside Higher Ed :: Higher Education's Source for News, and Views and Jobs

A Professor Sues His Students
Richard J. Peltz is suing two students who are involved in the university’s chapter of the Black Law Student Association, the association itself, and another individual who is affiliated with a black lawyers’ group. Peltz charges them with defamation, saying that his comments about affirmative action were used unfairly to accuse him of racism in a way that tarnished his reputation.

Suing students for what they have said about you is rare if not unheard of, but the topic has suddenly come up not only at Little Rock’s law school, but at Dartmouth College. There, a former instructor recently sent several former students e-mail indicating that she was planning a suit.

Peltz is a law prof at the U of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A day in the life...Canoe Creek, PA "According to police 57-year-old David Walls had been drinking when he tried to shoot down some bees flying above him using a .22 caliber revolver loaded with buckshot. Walls ended up shooting himself in the left hand causing soft tissue damage."
Bees. Alcohol. Pistol. Buckshot. Rural Pennsylvania. A bad combination all the way around.
Besides, isn't it a little early for bees? I haven't seen a bee since last September.

Shave their eyebrows OFF? Excuse me?

Specially groomed eyebrows a headache at Oregon high school: "PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A Portland high school is raising eyebrows with its brow grooming policy: shave 'em or go home. Some students at Centennial High School have shaved vertical lines into their eyebrows in a trend recently made popular by hip-hop star Soulja Boy. School officials say the mark looks like a gang symbol. Centennial administrators are telling students with the lines that they can't return to school until they shave their eyebrows off."

The problem here is that these are local government officials who don't get the basic idea that they are just people with a certain limited amount of authority. School administrators are so grotesquely overpaid now that they think they are demi-gods of some sort. Do we need to amend the Constitution to protect Freedom of Eyebrows?

Absinthe's Mind-Altering Mystery Solved - Yahoo! News

Absinthe's Mind-Altering Mystery Solved - Yahoo! News: "An analysis of century-old bottles of absinthe - the kind once quaffed by the likes of van Gogh and Picasso to enhance their creativity - may end the controversy over what ingredient caused the green liqueur's supposed mind-altering effects.The culprit seems plain and simple: The century-old absinthe contained about 70 percent alcohol, giving it a 140-proof kick. In comparison, most gins, vodkas and whiskeys are just 80- to 100-proof."
So this elixir of the gods that has inspired ze grande artistes is basically the French version of Everclear? That's not very romantic. That means people are as creative at frat house toga parties as they were in the salons of 19th century Paris.

I'm telling you, these scientists are taking the fun out of everything.

Monday, April 28, 2008 - Supreme Court upholds voter ID law - Supreme Court upholds voter ID law: "The Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision Monday to uphold an Indiana law requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls, overruling the concerns of Democrats and civil rights advocates who argued the law burdens elderly, minority and student voters."
The Indiana primary is about to take place, so this opinion could affect the outcome, and the conventional wisdom is that it would tend to hurt Obama.

Nearly all major daily newspapers losing circulation

Top 25 Daily Newspapers in Today's FAS-FAX
The only papers that didn't lose circulation were the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. The dinosaur dailies have been losing circulation for some time now, and there is no indication that they are going to come out of this nosedive. Why is this happening? The internet. Not only can you get your news for free, but these newspapers are perceived as delivering biased coverage, and with the internet you can choose your bias.

Sunday, April 27, 2008 | World | A look beyond the handgun ban | World | A look beyond the handgun ban: "'The regular citizen in Chicago cannot go anywhere and buy firearms,' says Williams, eyebrows raised. 'And yet, in one year, in the 1990s, we had more than 19,000 weapons recovered. In one year. We've been averaging 10,000 weapons recovered every year for the last 10 or 12 or 14 years. And that's with a ban.'

Toronto Mayor David Miller – who is aggressively pushing the federal government to institute a broad-ranging national handgun ban as gun violence in the city spikes upwards – please take note: The city of Chicago has a broad-ranging firearms ban in place. It has for a long time. It started with handguns in 1981, and then assault weapons in 1992. (It's worth noting that, as Williams explained the litany of recent weapons offences in his jurisdiction, one of them involved three officers being fired on by an AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifle.)

Chicago's gun laws are among the toughest in the country, making it and its anti-gun crusading mayor, Richard Daley, the target of gun advocates nationwide. Lobbyists like the National Rifle Association routinely campaign against what they call 'Chicago-style' gun legislation; one of those campaigns, challenging the constitutionality of a gun ban in Washington, D.C., is now being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

And yet, in Chicago, gunfire is a routine feature"

Yes. But listen to Mayor Daley last week. His solution to the current outbreak of violence in Chicago is yet more anti-gun legislation, on top of all the existing, failed, anti-gun policies. He's blaming the gun manufacturers now, which I think is an effort to find a scapegoat so people don't start thinking about where the blame may really lie. Daley is a virtual dictator in this city--schools, police, parks, development, you name it. Why has he let things get out of control? And, as I noted below, his buddy Governor "Pay to Play" Blagojevich cut $6.2 million in state funding for the best anti-violence program in November 2007. Six months later, here we are with carnage going on.

Cannibal tale set to boost tourist trade | News | Film

Cannibal tale set to boost tourist trade | News | Film: "After 25 years cut off from London, Scotland will be reduced to a cannibal society ruled by Mohican-haired, tattooed thugs - and only a team of talented, determined southerners, led by a dogged expat, will be able to save it. This nightmare scenario might sound like the outcome of independence under the SNP predicted by a Labour Party think tank, but it is the plot of a film released this week."
I assume one side or the other will be led by Sean Connery.

My Way News - Clinton challenges Obama to Lincoln-Douglas style debate

My Way News - Clinton challenges Obama to Lincoln-Douglas style debate: "MARION, Ind. (AP) - Democratic rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton turned up the rhetoric Saturday in their increasingly heated primary battle as she issued a new debate challenge and he complained of a race that's largely been reduced to trivia while working families feel economic pain.

Clinton took the debate dispute to a new level, challenging Obama to face off with her in a debate without a moderator, Lincoln-Douglas style.

'Just the two of us, going for 90 minutes, asking and answering questions, we'll set whatever rules seem fair,' Clinton said while campaigning in South Bend."


I think this is a great idea. Obama whines whenever the mean old moderators ask him hard questions, and a couple of months ago Clinton was objecting to being asked the first question too often, so why not throw down with no moderators at all?

It would be even better if they could borrow the Octagon from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Then they could lock it from the outside and maybe put in some bamboo swords and a step ladder, and dangle a bag of super-delegate proxies fifteen feet in the air.

Just an thought.

Did you know your governor killed funding for the best Chicago anti-violence program?

. . .from the Illinois House of Representatives: FROM NOVEMBER 2007: "CHICAGO --- In the wake of several Chicago deaths attributable to gang violence in the last two weeks, a coalition of state representatives and anti-violence advocates announced the introduction of legislation that would restore state support for the CeaseFire anti-violence program and double its funding. Gov. Blagojevich eliminated the $6.25 million program that operated in 25 communities across the state, describing it as part of cuts he was making to “pork” and “non-essential spending.”"
Well, he did. The project is a proven success and had to lay off 25 field workers after the state cut off all funding. This happened in November 2007. And now how are things going in the streets? But notice that Mayor Daley is responding to the killing by raving about gun manufacturers, as usual, instead of pointing the finger at his connected machine crony, Blagojevich, who crippled the best anti-violence program in the state and maybe the nation.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Illinois proclaims Danica Patrick Day -

Illinois proclaims Danica Patrick Day - "Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich says Saturday will be 'Danica Patrick Day' in the state. Blagojevich calls her 'a new hero in Illinois.'"
As you can see, the state government is hard at work doing important things. I guess the budget, the underfunding of state employee pension funds, desperate need for infrastructure repair, government corruption and all those other minor matters are taken care of.

A Convenient Untruth?

ABC News: Weather on the Big Screen: "Al Gore's 'traveling global warming show,' the award-winning documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth,' includes a long flyover shot of majestic Antarctic ice shelves. But this shot was first seen in the 2004 blockbuster 'The Day After Tomorrow.' Sculpted from Styrofoam and later scanned into a computer, the ice shelf 'flyover' looks real."
Well, the point is that the debate is over, so if you use styrofoam instead of Antarctica to make your point that Antarctic ice is disappearing, even though it is getting thicker, you are still right. True is false, fantasy is reality, thicker is thinner, more is less. Get it?

Obama calls for windfall tax on oil profits as gas prices soar - Yahoo! News

Obama calls for windfall tax on oil profits as gas prices soar - Yahoo! News: "Obama proposes oil companies be taxed on windfall profits from oil sold at or above 80 dollars a barrel, and the revenue be used to help relieve the burden of rising prices on working people, according to his campaign."
Obama's campaign strategy seems to rely on unprecedented turnout by young voters who, he apparently believes, are too ignorant to understand the folly of proposals like this. How can lower gas prices result from increasing taxation on oil? The oil companies will increase gas prices to cover their increased costs. I hope he is either underestimating the voters' wisdom, or overestimating their enthusiasm for his campaign.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Public humiliation for World War I food criminals!

First World - Propaganda Posters - United States of America
Fascinating posters that give you an insight into how the US government used overt propaganda techniques to mobilize support for what was quite an unpopular war. What would happen if the Bush administration had tried this sort of thing? And yet you constantly hear people complain as if they had.

Greenpeace founder now backs nuclear power | News Updates | Idaho Statesman

Greenpeace founder now backs nuclear power and isn't sure humans cause global warming: "Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore says there is no proof global warming is caused by humans, but it is likely enough that the world should turn to nuclear power - a concept tied closely to the underground nuclear testing his former environmental group formed to oppose.

The chemistry of the atmosphere is changing, and there is a high-enough risk that 'true believers' like Al Gore are right that world economies need to wean themselves off fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gases, he said.

'It's like buying fire insurance,' Moore said. 'We all own fire insurance even though there is a low risk we are going to get into an accident.'"

So how are the Gorebots and the rest of the global warming "the-debate-is-over" crowd going to respond to this?

Many states appear to be in recession as deficits grow

Many states appear to be in recession as deficits grow: "The finances of many states have deteriorated so badly that they appear to be in a recession, regardless of whether that's true for the nation as a whole, a survey of all 50 state fiscal directors concludes."
Check the map that accompanies the article. Illinois is one of the few that didn't even report its budget data. But even without data, there is no doubt that the state government is running a massive deficit and can't agree on how to deal with it. This is incredible. We have a 100% Democratic state executive branch, with both houses of the state legislature controlled by the Democrats. We also have a virtual one-party all-Dem system in Chicago and Cook County. Yet, these public officials can't translate that unified party control into productive action on the budget. All they do is fight with each other and argue about unfundable proposals to socialize health insurance in the state and other symbolic legislation.

The current legislative priority item seems to be impeaching Governor Blagojevich. That is a start, I suppose, in the sense that it might break the logjam. He seems to be trying to do an even worse job as governor than the now-incarcerated George Ryan.

YouTube - Hillary Clinton Rap: Taking Back The White House

YouTube - Hillary Clinton Rap: Taking Back The White House
Have you seen this yet? Don't miss it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Showing the Obama-Clinton Divide in Decision Tree Infographic | FlowingData

Showing the Obama-Clinton Divide in Decision Tree Infographic | FlowingData
This is a fascinating way to display the data showing how demographically divergent the Clinton and Obama voters really are.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

ABC News: Dems Fight On; Hillary Clinton Wins Pennsylvania Primary

ABC News: Dems Fight On; Hillary Clinton Wins Pennsylvania Primary
And so the death march goes on...and on...and on...and on...

Brazilian favela and gated community

How's this for the contrast of rich and poor? This is from Brazil.

How I would like to spend my summer non-vacation (that's me in the red suit)

But as it happens, I will be teaching POLS 101 instead. Please join me if you can and make the summer at least this interesting.

L.A. Land : Los Angeles Times : California foreclosure "surge": Up 327% from '07 levels

L.A. Land : Los Angeles Times : California foreclosure "surge": Up 327% from '07 levels: "The number of California homes lost to foreclosure in the first quarter surged 327% from year-ago levels -- reaching an average of more than 500 foreclosures per day -- DataQuick said in a report, warning that the widening foreclosure problem could 'spread beyond the current categories of dicey mortgages, and into mainstream home loans.'

From DataQuick's report on California foreclosures in the first three months of 2008: 'Trustees Deeds recorded, or the actual loss of a home to foreclosure, totaled 47,171 during the first quarter. ... Last quarter's total rose 48.9 percent from 31,676 in the previous quarter, and jumped 327.6 percent from 11,032 in first quarter 2007.' That translates into 517 foreclosures every day in the first quarter of 2008."

These numbers are huge and troubling.

Monday, April 21, 2008

ABC News: Clinton on Iran: If They Attack Israel, We Could 'Obliterate Them'

ABC News: Clinton on Iran: If They Attack Israel, We Could 'Obliterate Them': "In an ad that began airing in Pennsylvania Monday morning, Clinton implies she is tougher than Obama.

'Who do you think has what it takes?' the narrator asks in an ad depicting historical images of crises that presidents have had to deal with: Osama bin Laden, headlines about the stock market crash of 1929, long gas lines from the 1970s oil-shocks, images of the Cold War, Hurricane Katrina and soldiers. It features the first image of Osama bin Laden to be used in a TV ad this political season."

She is drawing the line between them very clearly where foreign policy is concerned. The left wing of the party won't like this, but apparently she is giving up on them for now and focusing on the centrist Democrats who always supported Bill...and who could conceivably vote for McCain if Obama gets the nomination and they decide he is too far to the left for them. And check out this "obliterate them" line:

"ABC News' Chris Cuomo asked Clinton what she would do if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons.

"I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran," Clinton said. "In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them." "

Sunday, April 20, 2008

31 shot, 2 stabbed during weekend violence :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State

31 shot, 2 stabbed during weekend violence :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State: "In an especially violent weekend, no less than 31 people have been shot in Chicago -- six fatally -- and two people have been stabbed since noon Friday. The shooting victims range in age from 12 to 65.

On Friday, 15 people were shot -- four fatally -- between noon Friday and midnight Saturday, police said."
What would it take to get these young people to stop wanting to kill each other?

Austro-Athenian Empire » Ooh, A Tough One

Protest sign: "Would we have allowed Nazi Germany to host the Olympics?"
Well, as a matter of fact...

Jailed over mortgage | Herald Sun

Australia: Jailed over mortgage | Herald Sun: "A MAN who tried to fight a bank's repossession of his home ended up in jail with 'murderers, rapists and drug dealers'.

Melbourne business man Derek Balogh was held in one of Victoria's maximum security prisons for refusing to give up his house despite a court order.

And his mother died of cancer the day before he was released."

So that's what happens if you take the mortgage chess game one move too many?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Snowfall breaks record - Juneau Empire

Snowfall breaks record - Juneau Empire: "Juneau's snowfall record for April 17 was buried under more than a half-foot of snow Thursday.

The National Weather Service recorded 7.5 inches of snow Thursday at its Juneau International Airport weather station. The record had been only 1.1 inches, received on April 17 in 1948."

Global warming: the gift that keeps on giving, right into the back half of April.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

World POPClock Projection

World Population


That is a lot of people.

Senate OKs sweeping property insurance changes -- South Florida

Senate OKs sweeping property insurance changes -- South Florida
I like this bill, but it looks like it won't pass in the state House.

Supreme Court upholds Kentucky's use of lethal injections - Yahoo! News

Supreme Court upholds Kentucky's use of lethal injections - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court upheld Kentucky's use of lethal injection executions Wednesday. The justices, by a 7-2 vote, turned back a constitutional challenge to the procedures in place in Kentucky, which uses three drugs to sedate, paralyze and kill inmates. 'We ... agree that petitioners have not carried their burden of showing that the risk of pain from maladministration of a concededly humane lethal injection protocol, and the failure to adopt untried and untested alternatives, constitute cruel and unusual punishment,' Chief Justice John Roberts said in an opinion that garnered only three votes. Four other justices, however, agreed with the outcome. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter dissented."
This three-drug protocol starts with a huge dose of an anesthetic (Pentothal) that is supposed to prevent the inmate from feeling any pain. The second drug, also given in a huge dose, is a powerful muscle relaxant that paralyzes all muscles, including the diaphragm so breathing stops, and so that the inmate can't move. The final drug is potassium chloride, which is a powerful poison that stops the heart. The basis of the challenge as I understand it is that if the first drug doesn't fully anesthetize the inmate, he will then be paralyzed by the second drug and unable to give any evidence that he is in agony from having his breathing stopped and then hit with terrible pain when the potassium chloride is injected and his heart stops. This would go on for quite a while, because there is a period of minutes between drugs. They even take time to flush out the lines with saline solution. The whole process takes 10 or 15 minutes. The claim is that this could produce a slow, agonizing, nightmarish death that would look from the outside like a painless execution.

Of course, the states that use this method claim that this is all a big fantasy cooked up by death penalty opponents.

TaxProf Blog: Where Do Your Tax Dollars Go?

TaxProf Blog: Where Do Your Tax Dollars Go?
Note that only 9% goes to the social "safety net," and 15% to "everything else," while social security and medicare alone add up to 42%, defense is 22%, and interest on the debt is 9%. So when you hear politicians talking about their proposed new spending programs, consider the facts.

Global View -

Global View - The Political Wisdom of former President Jimmy Carter: "'When I go to a dictatorship, I only have to talk to one person and that's the dictator, because he speaks for all the people.'"
What a nice arrangement. Of course, "the people" may not agree that the dictator speaks for them, but who cares? Jimmy doesn't need to talk to them anyway.

Brigitte Bardot on trial for Muslim slur | U.S. | Reuters

Brigitte Bardot on trial for Muslim slur | U.S. | Reuters: "PARIS (Reuters) - French former film star Brigitte Bardot went on trial on Tuesday for insulting Muslims, the fifth time she has faced the charge of 'inciting racial hatred' over her controversial remarks about Islam and its followers. Prosecutors asked that the Paris court hand the 73-year-old former sex symbol a two-month suspended prison sentence and fine her 15,000 euros ($23,760) for saying the Muslim community was 'destroying our country and imposing its acts'."
POLS 354:
Thought crimes are all the rage in Europe these days. Kind of scary, isn't it? President Bush takes a lot of heat for infringing civil liberties, but so far in this country you can still express a dumb opinion (as BB did) without getting hauled into court.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Punditry | Professor Bainbridge

Punditry | Professor Bainbridge
How far to the left is Obama? Law prof Stephen Bainbridge comments.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Peter Wehner on Barack Obama on National Review Online

Peter Wehner on Barack Obama on National Review Online: "On a deeper level, what we saw in Obama’s comments is a glimpse into a particular worldview, one that animates his political philosophy (contemporary liberalism). Senator Obama seems to view ordinary Americans as bitter, often broken, small-minded objects of pity rather than anger, ostensibly in need of instruction from — you guessed it — Barack Obama. The words of Michelle Obama are worth recalling in this context. She has spoken about her husband pushing us out of our “comfort zones,” saying “Barack knows at some level there is a hole in our souls” and “Barack is the only person in this race who understands that before we can work on the problems as a nation, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation.” This is the Politics of Meaning on steroids. If one views Americans as fundamentally needy children rather than competent citizens, one embraces the precepts of the nanny state — the state that (in Margaret Thatcher’s memorable phrase) takes too much from you in order to do too much for you."
This is a conservative take on Bittergate. Wehner may be right. How many people will vote for Obama because they agree with him that they are bitter, and with his wife that their souls are broken? My guess is, fewer than needed to get 270 electoral votes. Obama has a remarkably dismissive and negative view of middle America.

Cold Temperatures Freeze Gardening Season | KCRG-TV9 Cedar Rapids, Iowa | Local News

Cold Temperatures Freeze Gardening Season | KCRG-TV9 Cedar Rapids, Iowa | Local News: "MARION – All of this cold weather is freezing the start of the gardening season. Now, outdoor fans are eager for a warm-up.

'I'm 71-years-old and I've never seen spring come this late,' Robert Ciesleck said."

Man, this global warming is tough. Yesterday here in Lindenhurst, IL, the temperature was a balmy 35 degrees and we had frost all over the lawn and the cars this morning. For April 13, that is cold, my friends. Winter started in December and has lasted until mid-April. As the saying goes, I got your global warming right here.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Political Radar: Clinton Says Obama's 'Bitter' Remark Could Cost Party General Election

Political Radar: Clinton Says Obama's 'Bitter' Remark Could Cost Party General Election: "Speaking to reporters outside some homes in Scranton, Pennsylvannia where she has family roots and today was greeted by many supporters holding signs and offering encouragement. She made the argument that Sen. Barack Obama's comments could cost the party the election and that the party has been seen as out of touch by male candidates in the past. Clinton also criticized Obama for not 'owning up to his remarks.'"
Her strategy has been to argue that notwithstanding his lead in the delegate count, he is unelectable in the general and therefore the superdelegates should override the popular primary vote. Obama just handed her Exhibit A. But this train may be too far out of the station now.

Barack Obama Mends Fences with Bitter Middle Americans

Obama does outreach with bitter Middle American voters--from "The Exurban League"

What Clinton wishes she could say - John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei -

What Clinton wishes she could say - John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei - "In fact, the Democratic race has not been especially rough by historical standards. What’s more, our conversations with Democrats who speak to the Clintons make plain that their public comments are only the palest version of what they really believe: that if Obama is the nominee, a likely Democratic victory would turn to a near-certain defeat. Far from a no-holds-barred affair, the Democratic contest has been an exercise in self-censorship. Rip off the duct tape and here is what they would say: Obama has serious problems with Jewish voters (goodbye Florida), working-class whites (goodbye Ohio) and Hispanics (goodbye, New Mexico). Republicans will also ruthlessly exploit openings that Clinton — in the genteel confines of an intraparty contest — never could. Top targets: Obama’s radioactive personal associations, his liberal ideology, his exotic life story, his coolly academic and elitist style. This view has been an article of faith among Clinton advisers for months, but it got powerful new affirmation last week with Obama’s clumsy ruminations about why “bitter” small-town voters turn to guns and God."
This is a good point. It seemed that she was going to unload on him in public but that really didn't materialize. If she has anything to say about Barack Obama's electability, and if she really wants to take the kitchen sink approach, I guess she had better hurry up and spit it out. Obama is on the verge of locking things up, and he just gave her a great opportunity with his ignorant, insensitive, and elitist smearing of Middle America for the amusement of his San Francisco wine-and-cheese liberal supporters. When you add that to Jeremiah Wright's ravings, plus Michelle Obama's blather about her lack of pride in her country (not to mention her whining about how tough life is for them on only a half million bucks a year), and toss in his association with UIC prof and former Weatherman Bill Ayers, the case can easily be made that he appears to be too far to the left to be elected. If Clinton is going to drop that bomb, I suppose the last ten days before the Pennsylvania primary would be a good time for it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Opponents Paint Obama as an Elitist -

Obama explains to San Franciscans that he thinks small-town Pennsylvanians are gun-toting, racist loons :
"In remarks first reported on the Huffington Post Web site, Obama said, 'You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. 'And they fell through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are going to regenerate and they have not,' he went on. 'And it's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.'"


This one will leave a mark. The only possible reason Obama could have said something so clueless is that it is what he really believes. How about the clinging to religion business? That should go over well, especially from somebody who was telling us that we ought to understand why many African-Americans "cling" to people like Jeremiah Wright. Obama's way of dealing with the public is too make them feel all kinds of pain and then offer himself as the solution. He just went way, way too far.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ben Smith's Blog -

Ben Smith's Blog - Bill Clinton lies about Hillary Clinton lying:: "Hillary, one time late at night when she was exhausted, misstated and immediately apologized for it, what happened to her in Bosnia in 1995. Did y'all see all that? Oh, they blew it up."
Follow the link and scroll to the bottom for the fact-checking. If this is his idea of helping, maybe he should wash the dishes instead.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pardon Me, but Your Door Is Terribly Offensive :: Inside Higher Ed :: Higher Education's Source for News, and Views and Jobs

Pardon Me, but Your Door Is Terribly Offensive :: Inside Higher Ed :: Higher Education's Source for News, and Views and Jobs
What do students think about cartoons on professors' doors? I would be interested to hear your views on this.

Climate experts predict temperature drop - Telegraph

Climate experts predict temperature drop - Telegraph: "Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organisation, said temperatures in 2008 are likely to be cooler because of the effects of the La Nina in the central and eastern Pacific. He said it was likely that the La Nina phenomenon would continue into the summer. If his forecast is right it would mean temperatures have not risen globally since 1998 when El Nino warmed the world. La Nina (the little girl) and El Nino (the little boy) are two great natural Pacific currents whose effects can be felt worldwide."
Al Gore says the debate is over and his side has won. Unfortunately nobody told Mother Nature. - Clinton Campaign Owes UC Davis Money - Clinton Campaign Owes UC Davis Money: "DAVIS (CBS13) ― Bill Clinton may have charmed the crowd at UC Davis in January, when 7500 people showed up to see him, but charm has not covered the Clinton campaign bill. The University of California in Davis is ready to take the Clinton presidential campaign to a collection agency if they do not pay back the thousands of dollars they are still owed."
Apparently this deadbeat stuff by the Clinton campaign has been going on all over the country. The campaign seems to be having money problems that will turn into a bad case of campaign-death- by-cash-asphyxiation if she doesn't win the Pennsylvania primary pretty convincingly on April 22.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Brazil considers possible Amazon invasion scenario | Reuters

Brazil considers possible Amazon invasion scenario: The Wackiness of Nations?: "'There is no country threatening Brazil but we need a dissuasive power for the remote possibility (an invasion) could happen,' Jobim told the news conference."
I would defer to my colleague Brandon Valeriano on this, but my initial impression is that it proves that people are nuts. Can you imagine trying to invade Brazil by hacking your way through the Amazon? In order to get to where the people of Brazil live, an invader would have to cross the 7 million square kilometers (1.2 billion acres) of the Amazon rain forest. The population density approaches zero there, unless you count snakes longer than your car, spiders bigger than your head, fish with teeth like a coffee grinder, insects that carry horrific diseases you can't pronounce, and jaguars that you can't hear until they have their jaws around your skull. The only rational explanation I can come up with is the fear that Columbia (helped by the US) will try to steal some of the rain forest and Brazil will have to defend its far-flung borders. Imagine for a moment the cost of policing that border. It would make the US-Mexico border issues look like two kids drawing a line with their fingers in a sandbox. In other words, nobody wants to invade Brazil, and Brazil can't defend the Amazon borders anyway, so what is the point of worrying about it?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

10 Pieces of U.S. Infrastructure We Must Fix Now - Brooklyn Bridge, Chicago, New Orleans - Rebuilding America - Popular Mechanics

10 Pieces of U.S. Infrastructure We Must Fix Now - Brooklyn Bridge, Chicago, New Orleans - Rebuilding America - Popular Mechanics
Check out number one. Hint: it's close. Very close.

Trustee accused of racist comment :: The Courier News :: News

Trustee accused of racist comment :: The Courier News :: News: "CARPENTERSVILLE -- Village Trustee Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski, who tried to get fellow Trustee Paul Humpfer kicked off the village board last week in the wake of his domestic battery conviction, has been charged with disorderly conduct and accused of making a racist remark.

Village police said they issued Ramirez-Sliwinski a $75 ticket on Monday charging her with disorderly conduct after she admonished her neighbors' children for climbing a tree near her home on Sparrow Road, referring to them as 'monkeys.'"

She was an Obama delegate, but the campaign persuaded her to "step down."

I call my 10 year old twins "monkeys" all the time, because sometimes their behavior reminds me of the primate house at the zoo. If I saw my kids climbing too high in a tree, and I was trying to get them to climb down, I might make a monkey reference myself. I guess I can't be an Obama delegate.

The idea that a person could be charged with a crime for saying this is beyond ridiculous. It is obviously a First Amendment violation. I hope she takes these clowns to court. Oops. I said "clowns." Don't call the Language Police on me!

the Mail online

the Mail online: Global Cooling?: "The world will experience global cooling this year, according a leading climate scientist. The head of the World Meteorological Organisation said La Nina - the weather phenomenon which is cooling the Pacific - is likely to trigger a small drop in average global temperatures compared with last year. The prediction - which follows a bitterly cold winter in China and the Arctic - is prompting some sceptics to question the theory of climate change."
Of course, the global warming people say this global cooling has nothing to do with global warming. I have no problem agreeing that there has been a worldwide warming trend. It started in about 1850. I am not so sure about the causes, though. Greenhouse gases, solar activity, and maybe other causes are involved, but the proportions are unclear--not only to me, but to the global warming zealots. The difference is they won't admit that. They are determined to scare people into taking drastic steps, so they won't acknowledge any of the uncertainty on their side of the argument. I have not trusted the environmental movement since I took college biology. We read Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb, and I got so depressed that I was ready to jump off a building. Then it turned out that the book was a load of garbage. As the Wikipedia entry says, "A best-selling work, it predicted disaster for humanity due to overpopulation and the "population explosion". The book predicted that "in the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death", that nothing can be done to avoid mass famine greater than any in the history, and radical action is needed to limit the overpopulation."
College students like me were sold this bill of goods as absolute, unquestioned truth by our science teachers. They, like Ehrlich, were full of it up to their eyeballs. And today you'd never know this happened. They have a new hobby horse to ride, and it is called "global warming." I'm hanging onto my winter clothes, thanks just the same. I think I'll be needing them.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

'Ruthlessness gene' discovered : Nature News

'Ruthlessness gene' discovered : Nature News: "Selfish dictators may owe their behaviour partly to their genes, according to a study that claims to have found a genetic link to ruthlessness. The study might help to explain the money-grabbing tendencies of those with a Machiavellian streak — from national dictators down to 'little Hitlers' found in workplaces the world over."
I wonder what sorts of social roles these "little Hitlers" are attracted to? Probably positions where they can have power over people and can make their lives miserable, and where they have few if any checks on that power. Let's see...where might we find positions like that?

La Plaza : Los Angeles Times : Mexico reconquers California? Absolut drinks to that!

La Plaza : Los Angeles Times : Mexico reconquers California? Absolut drinks to that!
Check out Absolut's new map of the continent.

Lawmaker questions U. of I. demographics :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Education

Lawmaker questions U. of I. demographics :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Education: "A state lawmaker is questioning whether the University of Illinois should continue to accept international students at the current high clip, even as competition remains intense for admission to study at the state's flagship public university. The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that the school has more international students on campus than any other public university in U.S. history."
This could become a big issue because, just due to demographics, over the next few years there will be an increasing number of Illinois students applying to universities...including the U of I.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Good deed lands Boca couple in trouble with condo board -- Rentals, Broward County, Paul Ryan -- South Florida

Good deed lands Boca couple in trouble with condo board -- Rentals, Broward County, Paul Ryan -- South Florida "He was a 'gentle' Army veteran living quietly in his Boca Raton condo when his world came apart. Two years ago, former Postal Service worker Paul Ryan, 60, had a nervous breakdown and couldn't work, care for himself or pay his bills. He has no family to help him. With Foreclosure on his Boca Verde apartment imminent, Rhode Island real estate investors Carol and Sabatino Ranucci stepped in. The snowbirds have owned a unit in the same building as Ryan for more than 20 years. They saw he had no place to go and rushed to his aid. The Ranuccis paid his bills, took him to doctors, picked up his medicine and helped him get disability benefits. In March 2007, they bought the 1,043-square-foot apartment that he had purchased in 2003 and let him stay at no charge. Now, however, the Boca Verde condo board wants Ryan out. It has filed a lawsuit that could become a test of how much discretion directors have when it comes to enforcing rules."
I'm always getting knocked for pointing to nasty, stupid things condo and HOA boards do. I would be happy to post links to stories about boards showing common sense and human decency and helping their members find solutions to their problems. Unfortunately, such things things either don't seem to happen very often, or if and when they do they don't make it into the local press. Maybe the people who are so convinced that these associations are terrific could start sending me all these good news stories they claim are so common.

Friday, April 4, 2008


You read this story, with all the equivocations and denials and non-denials and intentional obfuscation, and one question comes to mind: Is Hillary Clinton a sociopath?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Judge admits mistake in kicking whites out of court -

Judge admits mistake in kicking whites out of court - "CNN) -- An Atlanta, Georgia, judge who ordered white lawyers out of his courtroom so he could lecture African-American defendants called that decision a 'mistake' Tuesday night."
Gee, do you think so?
Many judges seem to think they have some sort of roving commission to make the world a better place by haranguing people about how to live their lives. They don't get this concept that they have a limited governmental function to perform and they should stick to calling the balls and strikes and leave the preaching to the clergy.

Top of the Ticket : Los Angeles Times : Jane Fonda endorses Barack Obama; there goes his crossover vote

Top of the Ticket : Los Angeles Times : "Hanoi" Jane Fonda endorses Barack Obama; there goes his crossover vote: "Jane Fonda, the actress and ardent anti-Vietnam War advocate who visited North Vietnam during those hostilities, has endorsed Democrat"
This goes in the "Gee, thanks, but couldn't you have checked with me before you announced that?" category. The article has a nice photo of her sitting with some members of the North Vietnamese military. Ouch.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Political Radar: Candidate Clinton to Richardson: 'Barack Obama Can't Win'

Political Radar: Candidate Clinton to Richardson: 'Barack Obama Can't Win': "ABC News' George Stephanopoulos Reports: Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and former President Bill Clinton are making very direct arguments to Democratic superdelegates, starkly insisting Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., cannot win a general election against presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Sources with direct knowledge of the conversation between Sen. Clinton and Governer Bill Richardson, D-N.M., prior to the Governor's endorsement of Obama say she told him flatly, 'He cannot win, Bill. He cannot win.'"

Wow. This is what you call hardball politics.

If You Text in Class, This Prof Will Leave :: Inside Higher Ed :: Higher Education's Source for News, and Views and Jobs

If You Text in Class, This Prof Will Leave :: Inside Higher Ed :: Higher Education's Source for News, and Views and Jobs: "Some professors threaten to confiscate students’ cell phones if they go off during class. Laurence Thomas has his own approach to classroom distractions. If the philosopher at Syracuse University catches a student sending text messages or reading a newspaper in class, he’ll end the class on the spot and walk out. It doesn’t matter if there is but one texter in a large lecture of hundreds of students. If you text, he will leave."
This prof may need to chill out a little. But I see his point. There is a big problem with civility these days, with students acting like they are in their living room. Talking with each other in class, coming in late, letting their cell phones ring, packing up their stuff noisily five minutes before class ends, and so forth, all are pretty irritating if you are trying to teach or learn. I actually had a student answer her cell phone and start a having a conversation during the class once. Maybe I should have thrown an eraser at her. The other students acted like they wanted to throw her out the window, but because it was BSB we didn't have a window.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Dani Rodrik's weblog: American political economics in one picture

Dani Rodrik's weblog: American political economics in one picture: "When a Republican president is in power, people at the top of the income distribution experience much larger real income gains than those at the bottom--a difference of 1.5 percent per year going from the bottom to the top quintile in the income distribution. The situation is reversed when a Democrat is in power: those who benefit the most are the lower income groups."
POLS 101:
Fascinating graph--take a look.


Donie Vanitzian: California A.B. 1921 SHATTERS AMERICAN DREAM!
Co-author of Villa Appalling and an L.A. Times column on CID issues, has a lengthy dissection of what is wrong with A.B. 1921, the massive rewrite of the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act drafted mainly by the California Law Revision Commission.