Bad Day for Favorite Liberal Causes (Corrected)

An earlier version of this posting contained a big mistake. Shame on those who read it for not yelling!

Amnesty International, that well-known right wing conspiracy organization just came up with disturbing news. According to AI, Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, took advantage of the chaos last summer during the war between it and Israel to assassinate:

a Americans;

b Palestinians belonging to the main rival of Hamas, Fatah;

c Zionist agents;

d Israelis.

Bastard Israelis! Another reason to boycott Israel: It causes nice Palestinians to become assassins!

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just announced a light hurricane season. Not much is going to go on, it says.

Also: “Dr. Philip Lloyd, a South Africa-based physicist and climate researcher, examined ice core-based temperature data going back 8,000 years to gain perspective on the magnitude of global temperature changes over the 20th Century.” His conclusion is that the last hundred years of temperature rise are probably not caused by human activity. This guy is not just a denier like me. He used to belong to the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change.

By the way, I have been making the same kind of argument for years: If the Vikings on Greenland could eat beef in the year 1,000. the last century was not especially warm. If nothing happened, you don’t search for a cause for what did not happen. Duh!

This is all more or less anecdotal, of course. I don’t rightly know how much anecdotal evidence it takes to falsify a narrative. The Warmists – who use anecdotal evidence all the time – should tell us. I count on them.

Incidentally, here is an older essay on the absurdities of Warmists that deserves a warmover: “Climate Change and French Scientific Logic

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Fateful Words

There is a younger man who aspires to become a scholar. I could help  him quite a bit to get on his way.  I am not going to help if he asks; I am not going to volunteer. It’s all because of a phrase he wrote: “Similar to John, I did ….”

Does think make sense?

If you don’t see it, ask yourself the following: Is it the same kind of mistake as in : “I should have went..,” or is it a completely different kind  of mistake?

No, Ryan MH, this is not about you but just watch your words.

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The End of my World War Two

In August 1944, I was a little over two years old. My mother was still breast feeding me because there was no kind of baby food to be had except the occasional wheat flour to be cooked with water and saccharin. She was subsisting herself mostly on rutabaga with a couple of ounces of animal fat each week. My father was sharing with her and with my older brother his own ration of animal fat. Photographs of the time show both my parents looking ten years older than they actually were. They were gradually starving.

I note in passing that the occupying Nazis were considered soft on France of all the countries they occupied. France was their soft spot, you might say. All the same, they had to feed their giant armies fighting on several fronts. They could not be sentimental about French civilians, they figured.

I mention August 1944 because that’s when US armies (with a small Free French contingent they had to the courtesy to allow to lead the way) finally broke into Paris where my family lived. They brought with them c-rations, Carnation powdered milk in large quantities, even chocolate, and huge joy.

Another case of US militarism, obviously.

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A Tale of Two Cities (in Santa Cruz, California, USA)

There is a Veterans Hall right downtown Santa Cruz. It’s called “Veterans Memorial,”  says so on its facade. It’s next door to the US Post Office and  across the street from a marble monument to those children of the county who participated in World War One or in World War Two.

Every Wednesday morning, a group of older men and a couple of women, wearing Veteran badges and holding up a Veteran flag as well as a US flag meet near the monument to sing songs. They don’t sing especially patriotic songs but rather goodies and oldies. This morning, they gave a beautiful rendition of “Lily Marlene.” One old guy volunteered that he was sorry no one there knew the words in German. (For those of you who get your culture from Twitters: “Lily Marlene” was a rare thing, a tube sung by both sides in the European theater during the second world war.) Mostly, usually, they sing “Home on the Range'” and the like.

Another old guy told me that the group is not allowed to meet inside the Veterans building when  the weather is inclement without paying the county a fee. Veterans’ Memorial is not freely available to veterans. It’s a small group; they don’t seem prosperous. Perhaps the fee is the method used by the county to keep the homeless out. It’s true that the group of singers looks a little scruffy. Some are old men who don’t live with a woman. Some are down and out homeless. Some are veterans who are homeless.

The decidedly left-wing municipal council of the City of Santa Cruz uses all kinds of artifices to contain and corral the homeless population. It wouldn’t be surprising if the county did something similar. I don’t know  that it does. It sounds credible though. I will look into it.

I am not saying there is no problem with the homeless concerning more than those who are homeless. I have spoken about it before. The methods used to deal with them just make me deeply uneasy from a constitutional standpoint. The latent hypocrisy also gets to me. More later.

Two days ago, there was a little ceremony in front of O’Neil’s  flagship store, also downtown Santa Cruz, a block away. Yes, I mean that O’Neil, that genius of entrepreneurship, that hero of capitalism. (For those who read me from overseas: O’Neil is the brand of surfboards then, of beach apparel, you see on every beach in the world. There is actually a Mr O’Neil.) The ceremony was a  celebration of PACT. (“People for something or other.”)

PACT was celebrating  its first-year anniversary and changing its name to honor a former DA. There were representative from the DA’s office, from the city police, a couple of social workers, others from various city departments, or country departments almost all public employees taking paid time off work. I would venture that 90% of those who stopped there for more than one minute were on the public payroll or spouses of such. They were celebrating themselves.

PACT targets “nuisance crimes.” That’s mostly behavior of the homeless population. In its  first year, a press release announced , PACT reduced “nuisance crimes” as follows:

“The program focused on 70 repeat offenders during its first year and results show a 70% decrease in arrests and citation recidivism rates. During that period, ambulance runs for those 70 DAP-focused offenders decreased 80%.”

I live downtown, in one of the areas targeted, I think. I did not notice any reduction in nuisances. How come I am not surprised that a new government program announces  striking successes? The press release concludes that:

“The Santa Cruz City Council and County Board of Supervisors will be considering the expansion of PACT in their upcoming budget hearings in May and June.” (Bolding mine.)

So, I don’t want to sound persnickety and I am all for initiatives, trying new things where old methods don’t work. What I saw and read on that occasion though is not good enough. I need two more things.

First, I want to be told squarely that the methods used do not violate anyone’s constitutional rights. Even laws that have been on the book forever make me nervous. Anti-loitering laws for one. (Is any man in a conservative coat and tie ever accused of loitering when he is just waiting in the street for his friend?)

Second, to judge a publicly funded program, I always want more info than is provided here. I have no reason to doubt the PACT figures  (“70% reduction in…”) – however cherry-picked they may be. They are only performance measurements however. I want cost-benefit, input-output measurements. If a city program resulted in 100% reduction in litter on my street, I would be only guardedly happy. If I found out that my share of the real cost of this achievement was $10,000 annually, I am certain I would want to  find out about the cost of a 90% reduction in litter, and so on.

And, by the way, I want the real cost, all included, including pension funding going forward. Sometimes just asking that a bureaucracy calculate the costs of its actions and make them public is enough to alter its course. Sometimes, just demanding that it calculate those costs is enough.

Good government is largely about choosing. I want the elements of choice to be divulged to me as a citizen and as a taxpayer. It’s not too much to ask, I think.

PS  Yes, I know, the city council was elected according to fair and clean elections. That’s not enough for me. I want it to do as little as possible on its own.

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The Wicked Witch

Ordinary, rational Americans are watching with nervous disbelief the unfolding of the Clinton tragedy and low comedy combined. We all think the same thing: “Can’t last. Something is going to stop them. The Democratic Party will come to its senses eventually.” The columnist Peggy Noonan who often comes up with original and credible analyses said in last weekend’s issue of the Wall Street Journal that the Clinton are protected by their well-established corruption: Everyone already knows they are corrupt; there is nothing they do that will add measurably to this knowledge. This is an explanation that makes a sort of perverse sense. I dare not subscribe to it completely because it feels self-indulgent; this is a viewpoint few hard-line Republican partisans would dare publicize. It’s too good to be true! It’s too bad to be true!

Hillary Clinton, so far the only Democratic candidate to replace President Obama is moving on slowly and apparently unperturbed. It matters not that she is a phony, so phony that she can’t even make her hand gestures match her words. She has told numerous lies, some of them transparent. She has lied on matters that could easily be verified, such as landing on a foreign airport under sniper fire. This kind of lie usually indicates mental imbalance; it’s fundamentally different from the ordinary CYA lie. Hillary Clinton failed to come through to protect her own subordinates and their CIA protectors in Libya. Then, she lied, covered up and minimized the importance of their deaths. She gave constitutional Congressional authority the finger by destroying her email records. Reminder: This is something that never happens to anyone else that you or I know, right? Even the mid-level Obama IRS executive in charge of persecuting Obamanemies, she who took the Fifth Amendment, had the common decency to state that her emails were lost by mistake.

Hillary Clinton has teamed up with her husband in their family foundation to extract money from the most unlikely sources. The foundation pays out about 10% of what takes in. Its main outlays go to reward Clinton friends and facilitators and enablers, and also to help support the couple’s lavish life style. (This, although they don’t get paid a salary by the foundation; they use it it as an expense account.). The latest reports make it sound that the Clinton used Hillary’s term as Secretary of State to bring the US down to the level of your regular banana republic where lavish gifts buy you influence for anything. “Lavish gifts ” go to the Clinton Foundation but they also include $500,000 speaking fees for Mr Clinton, for example, all in one single motion. I ask, how he can say anything worth half a million dollars when he is not even able to include the adultery and sexual abuses segments of his past?

When I mention”unlikely sources,” I mean, for example, the likes of he Algerian government, an oil and natural gas-ed state plutocracy. You would think that government would have plenty of worthy causes right at home in Algeria where the unemployment rate is “down to” about 10%. There are even better opportunities to spend Algerian oil money right south of the country, in the miserable Sahel countries. Why would it donate munificently to an ex-president’s foundation unless it were also because it was a current Sec. of State’s foundation? When his attention was drawn recently to such unseemly gifts, Mr Clinton’s only response was that there were no proofs, “no evidence.” How low can you get?

I worked out two scenarios about the future of the Clinton candidacy Both are nightmare scenarios.

First, the upper reaches of the Democratic may be allowing things to take their course with Hillary in a sort of passive bait-and-switch. They let her gather attention on their party in the context of the 2016 presidential election and will persuade her to step down in time for a surprise candidate. That candidate is likely to be Elisabeth Warren. After all, she is a woman too; she is a Senator; she does not carry much baggage. The only significant piece of luggage is her identifying herself as American Indian, 1/16th or was it 1/32th? Democrat voters will easily forgive this whether it’s true or not because that was said to help her obtain an academic job she deserved anyway and that she might have been denied otherwise because she is a woman. Still with me? Besides, self-serving lies that are hard to contradict do not indicate mental imbalance, like an untruth about landing under sniper fire does, for example. Moreover, Ms Warren, unlike Ms Clinton, is a genuine leftist, not a pure opportunist. Besides, some centrist voters might be so relieved to be spared the walking Clinton debacle that they might become blind to Ms Warren’s small pimples. Nothing to lose there.

The second scenario implies that Democrat strategists know something ordinary, politically conscious people like me don’t know. It may just be that they are making the bet that nothing disgusting anyone will bring up or discuss will do any harm to Ms Clinton’s candidacy for president. Just take for granted a union vote of 80% for any Democratic presidential candidate, of 90 % for African-Americans ( 98% for black union members), 65 % for Latinos promised a quick path to citizenship for illegals (whom they think wrongly – are mostly theirs) (All figures made up but entirely realistic.) Then, think of the millions of female voters, and potential female voters who rarely or never vote, who take no interest in politics, who don’t know anything except that the candidate is a woman. How unlikely is it that such people can be made to vote this one time? With the frame of mind I am imagining, it’s even probable that any attack on Ms Clinton, no matter how justified, even direct, open sale of favors will be viewed as bullying, as ganging up on the girl.

Many women, even literate women actually think that it’s the turn of a woman to be president. The affirmative action fallacy that gave us the Obama presidency may be just be about to be repeated.

It my be late for rational people to do much of anything against the broader fallacy of phony identity politics. It seems to me that they can gnaw at its edge – this time – by tirelessly contradicting the now common false premise that Ms Obama is well qualified for the job of president. Even ignoring her many failures, she did not achieve anything either as Senator or as Secretary of State, no legislation, no international agreement, no treaty, nothing. Unlike the current president, she was not even good at being elected. She got her Senate seat from the Democratic machine from a safe district where she ran essentially unopposed. He appointment as Secretary of Sate was such an obvious debt repayment between Democrat factions that anyone but a Clinton would have been embarrassed.
The pessimist in me nourishes a further nightmare: There will be a time soon when I miss the Obama presidency.

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Les correspondants aux Etats-Unis.

J’accuse souvent les correspondants français aux Etats-Unis d’incompétence. J’affirme même souvent qu’ils ne connaissent pas l’Anglais. On m’accuse d’exagérer ou de généraliser à outrance. Voici un exemple concret de ce que j’avance, peu important mais significatif.

Le Figaro en-ligne annonce ce 05/15/15:

“Attentats du marathon de Boston : le procès de Djokhar Tsarnaïev démarre ce lundi”

En fait, le procès ne “démarre” pas, sa première phase est terminée depuis plusieurs jours. Tsarnaiev n’est pas “l’auteur présumé de plusieurs attentats, ” comme on le dit dans le corps du texte. La presomption d’innocence est levee puisque’il a ete reconnu coupable par un jury de ses pairs au cours d’un proces public et parfaitement bien mené. Ce qui a deja commencé (pas qui “commence Lundi,” comme le déclare Le Figaro) c’est la décision – du même jury – sur sa peine, la mort, ou la réclusion a perpétuité.

Un tissue de conneries, comme je vous le dit souvent. C’est presqu’impensable.

Sequelle: Le jury l’a condamne a mort ce jour-meme, c’est a dire plus de 48 heures avant que ne commence le proces, selon Le Figaro. Justice expeditive!

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Dear Greeks:

I hear you can’t pay your debts again. I am a little sorry but you brought it on yourselves. A few reminders.

Your country is a democracy. The way you got into this pickle is through the stupid, self-indulgent policies of those you elected. You did it again in your last election by bringing to power a bragging leftist party in the old Stalinist mold. What did you think they would do: Frighten the European Union, The International Monetary Fund (Number one stockholder the US), Germany, the world, into submission, into erasing your debt? Think!

The reason Germany is your principal creditor is that one of your previous governments begged Germany for help and it agreed to help. The Germans did not cram loan after loan down your throat; you asked. The big sillies thought you would be honorable and pay up as agreed. Do you care about your future reputation, your honor, your children’s future ability to walk in the world with their heads up? Here is a basic rule of politeness which is also a moral rule: When somebody gives you a hand, you don’t bite it viciously.

There are several reasons your government can’t pay its debts. One reason is that your political class is corrupt trough and through. Another is that you are reluctant to pay taxes the way normal people do in the European Union. Too many Greeks want to work and pretend-work for the government instead of doing real work. And your government still owns stuff no government anywhere should ever own because governments always make a mess of running them, resorts, among others.

Another reason why your government can’t pay its bills is that your country is genuinely poor for a European country. There too, you have a lot of explaining to do. For one thing, you have been living above your means for a long time, pretending you were more or less like Danes, or Germans. Well, the truth is that you are not, not even close; Danes and Germans are very productive; you are not. So, you should not have ever expected to work short weeks and to take long summer vacations, like Danes and Germans. Such privileges do not come automatically with membership in the Union, you know. You should look over the border on the despised neighbors, the Turks, instead. They don’t pretend to themselves that they are already rich; they go to work early and they close their shops late. Many of them work six days a weeks. Over the past ten years, the growth rates of their economy has left yours in the dust. Coincidence?

And you only make yourself even more scorned with your treatment of others. The real horrors that Nazi Germany inflicted on Greece more than 70 years ago are not much of an excuse anymore. A previous government of yours, an elected government, accepted reparations a long time ago. And, by the way, in 1945, Germany was much more devastated than Greece, and still in 1948. See where the Germans are now, and where you are? Any comment?

And do you ever wonder why the Estonians, in the stultifying Soviet prison for fitly years, never ask for new loans to pay back older loans? And how long anyway did you expect German workers to work until age 69 so your public servants could continue to retire at 63? Are you out of your minds?

One last thing: You are not exactly Classical Greece. Stop wrapping yourselves in Aristotle’s toga. Really study Socrates. He chose to die than cheat even a little. Neither he nor Aristotle was a whiner. That’s why they are still remembered and honored.

In the end, I wish you well. Everyone can unlearn bad habits and learn basic rationality, even late in life. I hope you soon leave that club where you don’t belong. I hope further that you can make your way back. Begin by getting up at 6 every morning. Also, learn the obvious: socialism does not work well for rich countries; it’s miserable for poor countries.

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