January 31, 2012


Mitt Romney gets rough—John Podhoretz - NYPOST.com:

...Wanting your party's candidate to demonstrate an instinct for the jugular is a leadership quality that would never turn up in polling data or in focus-group discussions. People know better than to say they want to know their guy can be an SOB when necessary, just as most politicians know it's a problem if they come across as an unmitigated SOB.

But the plain truth is that the willingness to confront a rival directly while looking him straight in the eye and saying some pretty harsh things, and the ability to withstand the counterattack and keep on with the assault, are qualities of toughness and perseverance every successful major politician must demonstrate.

After all, if Romney isn't tough enough to take Gingrich down, how can he hope to do the same to Barack Obama, who will have somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion to use to blacken the name and reputation of the eventual Republican nominee?

Gingrich's problem is that to widen his appeal, he had to tone down his nastiness (except when it came to the news media). Thus, he had no useful countermeasures against Romney's attacks in the two Florida debates — and the Boy from Bain saw the weakness and would not let up.

In the 17 preceding debates, Romney had shown fluency, a command of the issues, an ability to spin words like cotton candy to obscure his problematic flip-flopping . . . and absolutely no spine whatsoever.

By making it clear he would do what he had to do to win — by demonstrating to Republicans he was not only made of money but that there was some steel there too — Romney almost certainly clinched his nomination....

Well I want my guy to be an SOB when necessary. Because it's necessary. Like, duh, obviously. So Romney has gone up a notch in my estimation. Pleas God, let him be tough and tenacious against the Chicago Machine that's hijacked American government....

Posted by John Weidner at 9:37 PM

January 28, 2012

Respect starts with truth...

We talk much about "respecting" this or that person's religion; but the way to respect a religion is to treat it as a religion: to ask what are its tenets and what are the consequences. But modern tolerance is deafer than intolerance. The old religious authorities, at least, defined a heresy before they condemned it, and read a book before they burned it. But we are always saying to a Mormon or a Moslem — "Never mind about your religion, come to my arms." To which he naturally replies — "But I do mind about my religion, and I advise you to mind your eye."
      — GK Chesterton, The Illustrated London News, 13 May 1911.

(Thanks to The Hebdomadal Chesterton)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:49 PM

I've criticized Gov. Romney for not having a good answer...

...to attacks on his wealth and his career at Bain. Well, this is a good one, from last night's debate...

A Good Night for Conservative Principles — Commentary Magazine:

...And I know that there may be some who try to make a deal of that [Romney's wealth and investments], as you have publicly. But look, I think it's important for people to make sure that we don't castigate individuals who have been successful and try and, by innuendo, suggest there's something wrong with being successful and having investments and having a return on those investments. Speaker, you've indicated that somehow I don't earn that money. I have earned the money that I have.

I didn't inherit it. I take risks. I make investments. Those investments lead to jobs being created in America. I'm proud of being successful. I'm proud of being in the free enterprise system that creates jobs for other people. I'm not going to run from that. I'm proud of the taxes I pay. My taxes, plus my charitable contributions, this year, 2011, will be about 40 percent. So, look, let's put behind this idea of attacking me because of my investments or my money, and let's get Republicans to say, you know what? What you've accomplished in your life shouldn't be seen as a detriment, it should be seen as an asset to help America....
Posted by John Weidner at 7:40 PM

January 24, 2012

"Thou hast shaken hands with reputation... and made him invisible."

Archbishop calls Obama habitual violator of Constitution | Times 247:

Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has recorded a video message bluntly stating that the Obama administration has a habit of advancing policies that violate the U.S. Constitution.

The new video message is the latest step in an escalating and historically unprecedented confrontation between the Roman Catholic Church and an American president.

It centers around what the American Catholic bishops see as the Obama administration's efforts to restrict the right of Catholic citizens and institutions to freely exercise their religion as guaranteed by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution....

His Weightiness the Archbishop speaks out boldly in defense of... the Constitution. Color me unimpressed. Here's the scoop, your Excellency. What you are really talking about is the rule of law. It's an old tradition of this country, and in the Anglosphere, that the laws should be administered without fear or favor. All are equal under the law. That the rights of all are protected. In fact, America is a little like the Catholic Church. Morality, dogma, doctrine... they are binding on all, and they all demand our respect. I'm sure you will agree that it's not cricket to just obey the doctrines you like. Or when you like. That would destroy the Faith that saves us.

The rule of law is similar. It must be respected and maintained. Defended and fought for. Or else you can easily lose it. Sort of like the old lines of John Webster...

"FERDINAND: Dost thou know what reputation is?
I'll tell thee, to small purpose, since th' instruction
Comes now too late."...

I shall tell thee. The leaders of the Church, including you, have given scant respect to the laws of our country. Now you are bleating for help because you are being attacked by a lawless regime. Too late, fools. You cozied up to the Chicago banditti when it was convenient to your politics, and now you pay the price. We all pay the price. Obama got a big chunk of the Catholic vote. "Hey Frodo, let us use that Ring of Power, to help people. What could go wrong?" But it was obvious to any clear-eyed observer that Obama and the Dems were evil-doers and enemies of the Church. People like me told you. Over and over. Click on this LINK. That should have been ALL you needed to know about the Obama regime.

Th' instruction comes now too late, but I will tell thee. If you want the rule of law to protect you, then you must defend the rights of others. You must defend the rule of law. Fight to the death "in a narrow dusty room" if that's what needs to be done. Die in the last ditch. Fight with a knife, or with your teeth. I've yet to hear a Catholic leader even mention the concept. As a small but telling example, a grave injustice was done when the "Occupy Wall Streeters" were allowed to do what is against the law for the rest of us. If tea partiers or pro-lifers, like me, want to have a march or demonstration, we have to get permits, pay money to the city, get big insurance policies. And of course, we must pack up and go home at a set time. These laws were not enforced on OWC, because corrupt officials thought it would be politically advantageous. You acquiesced in this lawlessness. And, if I know my Catholics, many of you thought it was way cool that people like me should get the mucky end of the stick. NOW it is happening to YOU. Wake up! You are in trouble because you did not defend the rights of others. Because you didn't defend MY rights. YOUR rights. I'm now a second-class citizen in San Francisco, because my rights are less than those of others. And you sat by and watched and did nothing. You sat there and let the law be trampled on, and now you say, "Why aren't I protected by the law?"

[By the way, The protestors of the Civil Rights Movement were different.They broke the law as a protest, and then accepted the necessary punishment. They were not lawless.]

You probably sneered at the Tea Parties when they arose. That's what happened in my parish. And lies were told, even from the pulpit. Did you participate in the lies? But the Tea Parties have been trying to prevent the very mess Catholics are in now. The Founders clearly envisioned a limited central government, and they assumed that issues like, say, health care, would be local matters. (This is also a Catholic notion. It is called Subsidiarity. Have you been a fighter for Subsidiarity? Too late now.) Our form of government has been perverted, and the Federal government has grown monstrously, cancerously powerful, to the point where it can simply snuff out Catholic institutions. The Tea parties, to put it bluntly, have been fighting to keep you out of jail.

I tell you, the lawless Dems will gladly throw your Episcopal ass in prison. And laugh! And they may well have the chance to do it. Once you let the law be destroyed, then anything goes. You'll be wearing an orange jump-suit, and leg irons, and whackin' weeds on the county roads. And they will laugh. Wake up!

Now perhaps you see that there is a pertinent reason for limiting government power, and putting it in the hands of states and local governments. And best of all, leaving it to the people. Things will always go wrong when people have power. The Founders believed in Original Sin; the Constitution was designed to limit the damage. Catholic leaders have consistently worked for bigger and more powerful government. You should have thought about Original Sin. The idea behind limited central government (and Subsidiarity) is that, if things go wrong locally, if one part becomes a lawless kleptocracy—say, Chicago—that evil can't spread across the country. Now Chicago politics has been put in charge of the whole country. And you Catholic leaders helped.

Another example, t' small purpose. You Church leaders scoff at the law when the topic is illegal aliens. And, you claim to care about them. But I say you don't care. Do you not realize that most of them would rather stay home with their family and friends, in their own country? Duh! Why don't they? Because there are no jobs. Why are there no jobs? Because they lack the rule of law. Wages are very low in Mexico, the climate is lovely, there are natural resources in abundance, but, mysteriously, industry and commerce do not flourish there as they do in other places. Why? Because corrupt officials will plunder you. Because judges will give verdicts to their relatives. Because thieves and looters run amok. Because bribery is necessary to do anything.

[Please note, I'm not just making stuff up. I grew up in the family nursery business. My father loved Mexico, and started a branch business in Chiapas. He hoped to grow plants in the tropical warmth and ship them to America. That business (and a bunch of jobs for Mexicans) was destroyed because perishable shipments of plants were held up at the border, and died, waiting for someone to find out which officials to pay bribes to.]

If American Catholics really cared about the people who illegally enter America, our very highest priority would be to work for the rule of law in Mexico, and Central America. It never happens. Illegal aliens come here, because we have the rule of law, and therefore prosperity and freedom. By disdaining the law, you are destroying the very reason that people are crawling across burning deserts to get here. And you can't even SEE them. That's my suspicion. They ask for the sweet tortillas, and you give them... Wonder Bread and scorpions. You don't love these people... you love your theories.

Sorry, Your Weightiness. Th' instruction comes now too late. I tried. It's too late, too late, too late to whimper about the Constitution, when you've tolerated and supported thugs who laugh at that document. As the old saying goes, "If you sup with the Devil, bye and bye the waiter will hand you your bill on a little tray."

Suppose you did not fight for the Faith during your life... and the Judgement Day comes... what are you gonna say? Hmm? Similarly, on a much lower plane... if you have never fought for the Constitution... and your Judgement Day comes... like, uh, now... and you haven't stood fast for the Constitution... if you haven't loved her... If you have never put her above your little self... It's like, where are you? Why are you talking about this, M. l'Archevêque? The Constitution will tell you plainly, "I never knew you. Away" ...

Statue of Our Lady destroyed by scum

Posted by John Weidner at 7:10 PM

Problem is, with Newt you just don't know...

From Jim Geraghty's Morning Jolt e-mail...

...While I'm sure the advisers think the gut-punch style will move votes, this argument glides over what's really disturbing about Gingrich's work for Freddie Mac. I'm willing to take Gingrich at his word. I think he honestly believes his work had nothing to do with lobbying. I think he could take a lie detector test and declare that he was hired for his wisdom, public policy, and historical knowledge, and the needle wouldn't budge. The biggest problem here isn't the lie he's telling to us; it's the lie he's telling to himself.

What did Freddie Mac really want from Gingrich? Cynics (waving my hand) will suspect that the organization, full of lifelong professional Democrats such as Franklin Raines and with close ties to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Christopher Dodd, wanted a prominent Republican name around to stick up for them. He was the fig-leaf/token Republican who enabled them to argue that they had bipartisan support.

But even aside from that angle, Gingrich isn't being honest with himself about what he was doing. The Washington Examiner's Tim Carney notes that legally, Gingrich was lobbying.
Specifically, the Freddie Mac executive who hired Gingrich was not the CEO, nor the VP for operations, nor the VP for communications, but Craig Thomas, the VP for Public Policy -- that is, the head of Freddie Mac's lobbying operations. Thomas was a registered lobbyist at the time.

So, Gingrich may or may not have made lobbying contacts on Freddie's behalf, but it appears he was being paid to aid Freddie Mac's lobbying agenda. Say Gingrich was providing memos to Thomas on how to lobby (and given Thomas's job as top lobbyist, what else would he be helping Thomas with?), that counts as "Lobbying Activity" according to the law.
The Romney campaign will argue that Gingrich's defenses on Freddie Mac are cynical lies, while ignoring the much, much more disturbing and damaging interpretation: Gingrich actually believes them.

It is all-too-believable that a guy like Gingrich would actually believe that Dems were showering moolah on him because they were hungry for his deep wisdom. He's a perfect example of intellectual brilliance untempered by wisdom or humility.

The Weidners are not happy with our choices...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:28 AM

January 21, 2012

Good sense...

This suggestion would surely improve things...

Hugh Hewitt : Calling Chairman Preibus:

...There are six "scheduled" debates left.  If the campaign goes beyond February, there will be more proposed.  CNN's John King showed again last night, as ABC and NBC did in New Hampshire, that MSM cannot be trusted to run a serious debate.  Entertaining, yes, but not serious.  Not even remotely 9/11 serious.

Not a single question about Iran which, the day before the debate, John King had told me was the one issue he guaranteed would come up because of its importance.  None of the issues that lead to necessary and blistering criticisms of President Obama --the presidents hostility to Israel, the failed stimulus, Solynrda and other green failures, massive defense cuts, Boeing and the NLRB, the out-of-control EPA, the recess appointments, fast-and-furious etc etc etc-- are brought up by the legacy media because they hate to be the ones to tee up the GOP's rightful criticism of the president.

So strip the legacy media of the power to distort the discussion.  The RNC should announce it will hold debates on the dates already selected and in the cities scheduled, but that it will invite CSPAN, not a network, to air them, that Preibus will do the intros and then turn the proceedings over to a panel of four questioners, one each selected by the four candidates from a long list of journalists/commentators/public intellectuals approved by the RNC as professional and mainstream.  There may be some familiar faces from the nets like Bret Baire and Candy Crowley, Megyn Kelly and Jake Tapper, and obvious potential questioners include Rush, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Bennett, John Podhoretz, Bill Kristol, Fred Barnes, Rich Lowry, etc but no Trumps and no more MSMers in effect defending the president by steering the conversation away from the big issues and especially those on which the president has manifestly failed. 

Then perhaps the GOP electorate can, after 17 tries, get a sustained, serious conversation about what is wrong with the country, how to fix it, and who is the best nominee to beat the president and carry the Senate while maintaining the House majority.

That's what GOP voters want to know and that's not what the MSM wants them to learn....
Posted by John Weidner at 2:11 PM

January 19, 2012

Something wrong with this point..

It seems Captain Schettino panicked. Who's to say you wouldn't? | Bruce Hood | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk:

...Schettino will undoubtedly be vilified for his actions - but how many of us can say that we would not have done the same thing? Self-preservation is an instinct, much in the same way that your instincts tell you to put your hands out for protection when you let yourself fall backwards. In the face of impending danger, our brains can swing into reflexive defence mode, operating much faster and more automatically than when they recourse to calm, rational reasoning. Respond first and ask questions later, is the message, rather than place yourself in harm's way....

What this person misses is that there are unexpected disasters, and expected ones. "Expected" meaning that one can easily foresee the possibility. And therefore, think about it. Plan for it. Think through what you should do in the situation. Steel yourself.

An unexpected situation can panic anybody. But a ship's captain must surely have thought about the possibility of his ship sinking, and what his duty would then be. So he doesn't have the excuse of "instincts taking control."

Posted by John Weidner at 7:09 PM

Before we all rush off to revive the manufacturing sector....

China Makes Almost Nothing Out of Apple's iPads and iPhones - Forbes:

...As you can see the two largest inputs are materials and Apple's own profit margin. Despite the machine being assembled in China it's still true that the value of that labour is trivial: 2% or so of the cost of the machine...

....But here's the real takeaway point from these numbers. Basic manufacturing, electronics assembly type manufacturing, simply isn't a high value occupation any more. And the level of wages that can be paid in any particular occupation depend, inexorably, on the amount of value that occupation adds. So if electronics assembly adds little value then there simply cannot be high wages for those doing that work for it just isn't a high value added occupation.

So quite why there are those insisting that bringing all this manufacturing "home", to the UK or US, will lead to lots of well paid jobs in manufacturing I'm just not sure. There are indeed high paid jobs in manufacturing, as the onshoring of Samsung's chip plant for Apple shows. But that's producing 1,100 jobs to produce all of the processing chips for all of Apple's products.

If you like, the end lesson here is that you can have lots of manufacturing jobs, sure, as Foxconn does, but they pay $400 a month maybe. And you can have high paying manufacturing jobs like at that Samsung plant in Texas, but you're not going to get very many of them.

Manufacturing is going to become like farming. American agriculture is stunningly efficient, but it doesn't need many people. Only about 2% of Americans are now on the farm. It's interesting (to me at least) that the Industrial Revolution "solved" agriculture. There were, for instance, no more famines in industrial regions after about 1800. And the key to winning wars became industrial output and advanced weapons, not masses of peasant recruits.

Now as we enter the Information Age, manufacturing is likewise being "solved." It will not be a big problem in the future, and it won't employ many people. Any manufactured goods that are needed will pretty much just appear.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:36 PM

Forever 1960....

NOTE: This post was accidentally deleted, then re-posted. So the comments are lost! Sorry. Feel free to comment again.

Huntsman, Trapped In 2009, Never Had A Chance:

...There was, though, another argument: Republicans should hold firm, and wait for the Obama delusion to subside. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Congressional "Party of No" made this bet, big, in February of 2009, when they voted en masse against the stimulus. Huntsman found himself immediately isolated inside his party, as opposition trumped modernization. And the Tea Party rose up to cheer the most strident reaction against Obama.

Huntsman wasn't alone in his fantasy though. The White House, too, feared a Republican Party that reacted against Obama by moving to the middle, and saw Huntsman as the logical future of the GOP. That May, Obama named him Ambassador to Beijing, taking a threat out of the picture.

That didn't actually take Huntsman out of the picture. And, in retrospect, it was absurd to think that Obama needed to worry about a man so wildly out of step with his party. Huntsman's campaign has been, from the beginning, a fantasy driven by a fundamental misunderstanding of his own party. ("I still don't understand why [White House Chief of Staff] Rahm [Emanuel] was so obsessed with him," a top Democratic official marveled Sunday night.)

The party Huntsman imagined -- modernizing, reforming, and youthful -- could still be born. That might be the reaction to a second smashing defeat at Obama's hands, or that might be where President Romney takes his re-election campaign. But it's now hard to see Huntsman leading that change. He bet, too early, on a fantasy, and ran for the nomination of a party that doesn't exist, at least not yet. His decision tonight to drop out just marks his recognition of that fact....

"a fantasy driven by a fundamental misunderstanding of his own party." I'd say, no, it was a fantasy driven by the fantasy worldview promoted by leftists and the "press." A crazy dreamworld where the Democrats are forever nominating young modern JFK to dazzle us with exciting new government programs, while Republicans remain mired in the Depression era. Of course the truth is it is Dems who are stuck in the 1930's. They had a burst of ideas back then, and have coasted on them ever since. And now they've run through their inheritance, and can only pretend we are still in the Industrial Age, or the Civil Rights Era.

"The party Huntsman imagined -- modernizing, reforming, and youthful -- could still be born." Well, it is already born, or starting to be born, and it clearly terrifies the stuffed-shirt "insiders" of both parties.... or we would be looking at Palin/West 2012!

Posted by John Weidner at 2:53 PM | Comments (3)

January 15, 2012

The Only pagan thing...

...If any one wants to hold the end of a chain which really goes back to the heathen mysteries, he had better take hold of a festoon of flowers at Easter or a string of sausages at Christmas. Everything else in the modern world is of Christian origin, even everything that seems most anti-Christian. The French Revolution is of Christian origin. The newspaper is of Christian origin. The anarchists are of Christian origin. Physical science is of Christian origin. The attack on Christianity is of Christian origin. There is one thing, and one thing only, in existence at the present day which can in any sense accurately be said to be of pagan origin, and that is Christianity.
      -- GK Chesterton, Heretics (1905).

(Thanks to The Hebdomadal Chesterton)

This is a problem for the old-fashioned atheist, but not a huge problem. Think of the late Christopher Hitchens. He scorned Christianity, but had no problem (or said he didn't) with appreciating things like the King James Bible. But Hitchins was in fact a very religious man, in the sense that he cared passionately about truth, about right and wrong. Hitchins inherited habits of thought from Cristian culture...

But, as I have argued before, [Link, link, link...] we now have a significant portion of the developed world's population who believe in nothing greater than themselves. And they are the ones who are in a hard spot, though they will never admit it. They are, beneath the conscious level, feeling "phantom pain" all the time. I use the term "nihilists" for these people; it's the best one I can find. But that word doesn't quite capture the essence of what I suspect is happening.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:46 PM | Comments (2)

January 14, 2012

"the American economy runs from the bottom up"

Spengler — Private Equity and Creative Destruction:

...There are plenty of things about which I disagree with Mitt Romney; I entirely agree with Governor Huntsman's warning that Romney's rhetorical blasts against China would lead to a trade war, and I also agree with Newt Gingrich's sensible views on immigration against Romney's hard line. In both cases, it seems to me that Romney is pandering to prejudice. But there is no question that his record at Bain Capital qualifies him to make better economic policy. Obama's economic advisers, by contrast, think in terms of such abstractions as "aggregate demand," and blundered into a stimulus program that failed to stimulate. Romney understands that the American economy runs from the bottom up — that risk-taking and innovation and the stubborn desire to win are what make companies succeed.

One wonders at the pettiness of Romney's opponents. One of the problems that Republicans have in the primary is that the Reagan consensus — cut taxes and roll back regulation — holds sway over all the contenders, except, of course, for Ron Paul, who is a throwback to an ugly era of American isolationism — Charles Lindbergh without the airplane. In 1980, the differences between Reagan and the establishment candidates were enormous — "voodoo economics" against conservative Keynesianism. Now that supply-side has become the mainstream Republican doctrine, the practical differences between Romney and a Gingrich or Perry are small in economic policy. Perhaps the reliance on personal attacks stems from lack of substantive differences. If that is true, there is hope that once Gingrich and Perry come to understand that they are not going to be the Republican candidate, then the party will unite behind its candidate and this whole miserable discussion will be forgotten....

Good stuff. But why do we have to get this from Spengler, and not from Romney himself? This just mystifies me. He's been running for President for six or eight years, maybe more. And the OBVIOUS criticism to make of him is that he's a heartless capitalist who fires the little people (preferably on Christmas Eve) and then returns to the 42nd Floor to mingle with light his cigars with hundred-dollar bills. So why is he not ready with a good answer? I could write better answers than he's giving. With one hand tied behind my back.

And why can't our people understand and express it, that jobs too come from the bottom up? From a million decisions, like... "Should we hire another person? Or invest in a better machine? Or just muddle along the way we are?"

Posted by John Weidner at 9:50 AM | Comments (2)

January 13, 2012

Good point. But...

From Andrea, A message from me to the members of my country’s armed forces:

Could you please stop photographing and filming yourselves doing stuff? Please. Turn off the iPhone, put the Nikon Coolpix back in your pack. No, the folks back home don’t need to see all the fun you get up to. They really don’t. And you know who else doesn’t need to see it? The whole goddamn internet. Because they will. So quit it.

This has nothing to do with how "offensive" whatever you’re up to is. I’m not offended by you — I’m offended by the ever-rising crescendo of whining that we’re now going to have to endure from the pearl-clutchers over here who will now be sputtering and moaning about how "we’re worse than the enemy!" Whine whine whine. It’s like living inside a dentist’s office and the drill is never turned off....

"Pearl-clutchers." Perfect. Write more, Miss Harris!

However, having been recently amongst our warriors, I should point out that... they are a bunch of kids. Lots of them are right out of high school. They are puppies. They don't "act like grownups" because they really aren't. My son is in AIT (Advanced Individual Training) right now, and is repeatedly exasperated because his platoon or company will be collectively punished because one idiot pulls some juvenile prank.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:33 AM | Comments (1)

January 8, 2012

Mars colony thoughts...

Putting Scientists on Mars in Permanent Colonies (Thanks to Rand):

...Eminent physicist Paul Davies has a proposal for you: a one-way ticket to the Red Planet. As it's typically conceived, a round-trip Mars mission would take about two years and cost at least $80 billion. But you could cut 80 percent of the expense, Davies says, by nixing the return and initiating a permanent Mars colony. The hard part, he says, isn't subsisting in a hostile environment millions of miles from home but changing the Space Shuttle-era culture of timidity. That's starting to happen, though: The NASA Ames Research Center teamed up with Darpa to put $1.1 million into a study of manned interstellar travel. Even so, no one's going anywhere, Davies argues, unless we can bring the price down. To do that, the ticket has to be one-way.

Wired: Who would sign up for a mission with no return?

Paul Davies: That's the least of our worries. About 1,000 people volunteered after I wrote about this in the Journal of Cosmology. Of course, most are starry-eyed adventurers, not serious scientists who want to be on Mars to do great science....

This makes perfect sense to me. I'd be up for it if I did not have a happy family. Our "official" culture would hate it, because it is a culture devoted to destroying souls by means of fostering selfishness and dependence on the welfare state. It would be reflexively opposed for the same reason defending oneself with a gun is hated by liberal nihilists.

Another cultural idea that needs to be overcome is the author's own idea that space has to equal scientific research. I'd say that the real reason for space colonies should be to enlarge the human spirit. And that "starry-eyed adventurers" should be preferred! And since the starry-eyed types would surely be picked for intelligence and general competence, they could easily collect scientific data, or perform experiments. Or be scientists, without being filtered by our usual credentialism. Which I suspect is a dying artifact of the Industrial Age.

Actually, the idea that scientists are some sort of specialized and exalted caste that can do things no one else can is just silly. 95% of what's done by the average scientist could be picked up by a smart amateur in a year or two. We have seen it happen in the climate debates. (Link, link.) Actually, I'd argue that 95% percent of the people labeled "scientist" aren't really scientists at all. They are just technicians. A scientist is a truth-seeker. That's what the word really means. How many of our current white-coat-wearers would follow a truth faithfully if they knew it was going to, say, get Republicans elected? Or cause the scientist to fail to become tenured? Ha.

Davies says, "But I think it's unethical to send young people, since there are serious health risks. You need highly trained scientists with a life expectancy of less than 20 years." Is this true? He doesn't mention any specifics. I'd guess he means radiation risks, which I would think could be overcome. Space travel itself would pose problems, but I imagine that any Mars base would be mostly underground. One could dig trenches with explosives, assemble pre-fab tube-sections, and then fill over using more explosives. I wonder if the various minerals that can make cement are available on the Martian surface?

I would venture to say that the assumption that only older people should go to Mars is not so much a practical necessity, but rather a result of the vertigo that many people seem to feel when thinking about outer space. It is frightening because its possibilities are limitless. We shrink space to our psychological size by limiting it to fabulously expensive and inefficient government-only exploration and science.

Alas, if one thinks about space colonies, then the number one question that should be asked can't be asked. At least not in the context of the liberal/secular worldview most associated with space and the natural sciences. And that question would flow from Mark Steyn's apophthegm, here, that "There aren't many examples of successful post-religious societies." Well, actually, folks, there are none. It doesn't seem to work.

If one is actually contemplating space colonies, and not old age homes for scientists, then the book to read is How Civilizations Die, by David P. Goldman (AKA Spengler). Because we are in fact surrounded by dying societies, and it would be grossly impractical for anyone to ignore this factor. It would be bad engineering. Demographers are in complete agreement that reproducing at sustainable rates is most closely related to faith. (More specifically, faith that has discovered how to live with modernity. Faith that is just an attribute of a sheltered pre-modern culture won't do it. Those crash when exposed to modernity. Think Islam, or Ireland.) Read the book, and think.


Posted by John Weidner at 3:10 PM

January 6, 2012

Can we dress these boobies in clown suits, and chase them with sticks?

This is the laugh of the day. Being "balanced" gets you an "F". If that doesn't encapsulate the Lefty mind, I don't know what does...

Study: Is Fox Too Balanced? - Washington Whispers (usnews.com):

....That's a conclusion one might reach from a first-of-its-kind study in the authoritative International Journal of Press/Politics of how Fox, CNN, and MSNBC cover the issue of global warming. The bottom line: Being balanced and providing supportive and critical views of global warming is actually biased because it gives critics a louder voice. Worse: Fox covers global warming about twice as much as CNN and MSNBC combined, meaning those critics get much more airtime, another sign of bias....

..The authors also looked at the opinions of guests. Here Fox again out-balanced the competition. Of Fox's 149 guests, 59 believed in global warming, 69 didn't, with the rest someplace in the middle. Of CNN's 53 story guests, 41 were "climate change believers" and nine were "doubters." On MSNBC, 11 of 20 guests were believers.

The study acknowledges that Fox was the most balanced from the numbers perspective, but the network still gets an F. The reason, it says, is because viewers are influenced by what they see, and seeing more critics of global warming makes more viewers critics. "The more often people watched Fox News, the less accepting they were of global warming. Conversely, frequent CNN and MSNBC viewing was associated with greater acceptance of global warming," the study concludes....

Question. Who—exactly—gets to dub the "International Journal of Press/Politics" as "authoritative?" I've never even heard of them.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:29 PM

January 3, 2012

Why do the hard stuff?

This seems to make sense to me...

The Dumbest Idea In The World: Maximizing Shareholder Value - Forbes:

There is only one valid definition of a business purpose: to create a customer.
    -- Peter Drucker, The Practice of Management
..."In today’s paradoxical world of maximizing shareholder value, which Jack Welch himself has called "the dumbest idea in the world", the situation is the reverse. CEOs and their top managers have massive incentives to focus most of their attentions on the expectations market, rather than the real job of running the company producing real products and services.

The "real market," Martin explains, is the world in which factories are built, products are designed and produced, real products and services are bought and sold, revenues are earned, expenses are paid, and real dollars of profit show up on the bottom line. That is the world that executives control—at least to some extent.

The expectations market is the world in which shares in companies are traded between investors—in other words, the stock market. In this market, investors assess the real market activities of a company today and, on the basis of that assessment, form expectations as to how the company is likely to perform in the future. The consensus view of all investors and potential investors as to expectations of future performance shapes the stock price of the company.

"What would lead [a CEO]," asks Martin, "to do the hard, long-term work of substantially improving real-market performance when she can choose to work on simply raising expectations instead? Even if she has a performance bonus tied to real-market metrics, the size of that bonus now typically pales in comparison with the size of her stock-based incentives. Expectations are where the money is. And of course, improving real-market performance is the hardest and slowest way to increase expectations from the existing level."...

If I own some shares in a company, technically I'm an owner. But in most cases that's just unrealistic. Shareholders mostly don't act like owners. Buying shares is kind of like loaning money with an element of making a bet. Imagine you loaning money to my company. But instead of a fixed 4% interest, we will make a bet. If my company is successful, you get 12% interest. If I flop, you get nothing. That's sort of what being a shareholder is like.

Treating the shareholder as an owner when he's really a lender doesn't make a lot of sense. Better to just build the business, and there will be more for everybody.

So who owns the publicly-held corporation? Who cares? It doesn't really matter. Businesses happen. They benefit us all. If they end up being like some sort of Quantum particles that are there but don't really exist, I'm not going to sweat it.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:01 PM | Comments (5)