Republican VP pick

Right Wing News takes a poll:

Out of the following VP candidates rumored to be on McCain’s short list, which one DO YOU THINK HE WILL TAKE?

Mitt Romney (Former Governor, Massachusetts): 37 (58%)
Sarah Palin (Governor, Alaska): VD

Out of the following VP candidates rumored to be on McCain’s short list, which one WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HIM TAKE?

Sarah Palin (Governor, Alaska): 20 (31%)
Mitt Romney (Former Governor, Massachusetts): 20 (31%)
Rudy Giuliani (Former Mayor of New York): VD

Out of the following VP candidates rumored to be on McCain’s short list, which one WOULD YOU LEAST LIKE TO SEE HIM TAKE?

Joe Lieberman (Senator, Connecticut): 27 (46%)
Carly Fiorina (Former Hewlett-Packard CEO): VD

I’d like to see McCain pick Giuliani, but of course, I don’t want him to win. I’d just enjoy witnessing the suicidal despair that would run rampant throughout the Republican Party as it watched its the old tormentor pluck defeat from the jaws of victory. An Obama presidency would be more than conventionally disastrous, it would be an amusing spectacle for the ages and might be the only thing capable of shaking a complacent America out of its torpor.

On the practical side, it’s clear that McCain has to pick a woman if he’s going to drive home the spike that Hillary has so delicately teed up for him. Carly Fiorina is the poster child for the evils of corporate affirmative action; the mind boggles to think what she would come up with under the guise of reinventing the USA. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, is not only a popular governor, but would be of significant appeal to the moderate mommies who swing back and forth between the two parties depending upon which one has more successfully scared them about the fate of their children.


Mailvox: the postgraduate population

SW points out a rather salient fact regarding those who pursue post-graduate degrees:

Just started your book. Fun read. Thought I should pass this on. That statistic about persons with masters degrees more likely to vote Democrat has nothing to do with intelligence. Far and away the most commonly awarded graduate degree in the US is the masters in – think about it – teaching. This skews the number. Teachers vote Democrat because the party gives them money and power. If that weren’t enough, teaching majors, as a group, average much lower SAT scores and GPA than college students at large.

Strip away that factor, and there is a strong and consistent correlation with increasing education, and probably intelligence, and voting conservative.

An excellent observation and one I’m kicking myself for failing to highlight, especially since while I was writing the book I happened to post about a 2005 column entitled Idiots at the Chalkboard, in which I calculated the average teacher’s IQ to be around 91. A calculation, I note, which probably errs on the high side.

Therefore the usual correlation between post-graduate degrees and intelligence doesn’t apply as in this particular case due to the confirmable intellectual deficiencies of those who go into teaching; the fact that master’s degrees offered by the teachers’ colleges are considerably dumbed-down in comparison with other master’s degrees is further support for this observation. A good catch by SW.


The Consistent Sex

Not so much the Oprah Winfrey woman, as Miss Lucas points out:

I recently stood by as a clothing designer, a mother in her 40s, announced to a group of women that she was divorcing her husband. The women’s faces flickered with curiosity, support, recognition, and — could it be? — yearning. Not a one of us suggested that she try harder to make it work. No voice murmured, “What a shame.”

Because it isn’t a shame…

Needless to say, if that same mother in her 40s announced that her husband had left her due to a new hobby that involved having regular sex with a twenty-something aerobics instructor harboring a passionate interest in ancient Indian literature, they would have all been speechless with rage and immediately launched into a Two-Minute Hate that would last decades.

If this women thinks men are all moderately bad, that’s only because she’s never seen the sort who put any effort into it, although she does strike one as having it within her to inspire her husband to aspire to proverbial badness of the stacked-skull, Genghis Khan variety. Rachel’s commenter JT cogently sums it all up:

“I’d be willing to bet real money that if that moron trips over her husband’s shoes, breaks her neck and dies, he won’t be walking home from the morgue grief-stricken. He’ll be dancing and singing “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead.”


Foreign policy expertise

Politician-style:

At the Tuesday-morning meeting with committee staffers, Biden launches into a stream-of-consciousness monologue about what his committee should be doing, before he finally admits the obvious: “I’m groping here.” Then he hits on an idea: America needs to show the Arab world that we’re not bent on its destruction. “Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran,” Biden declares. He surveys the table with raised eyebrows, a How do ya like that? look on his face.

The staffers sit in silence. Finally somebody ventures a response: “I think they’d send it back.” Then another aide speaks up delicately: “The thing I would worry about is that it would almost look like a publicity stunt.” Still another reminds Biden that an Iranian delegation is in Moscow that very day to discuss a $300 million arms deal with Vladimir Putin that the United States has strongly condemned. But Joe Biden is barely listening anymore. He’s already moved on to something else.

The parable about the possession of a hammer and its possessor’s perspective on problem-solving would seem to be applicable here. It appears that in Sen. Biden’s eyes, there is no problem that a little jaw-jaw and check-writing cannot solve. Yikes indeed.

And yet, precisely how this damning character portrait distinguishes him from the Republican politicians who have managed to spend their way into record-setting budget deficits is not explained by National Review.


On blog comments

Rod Dreher considers the problem of blog comments:

Ross Douthat has given up the comboxes on his great Atlantic blog, I hear because policing them to keep the foulmouths and the trolls out became too burdensome, and good people who wanted to have an honest debate/discussion quit coming around because of the atmosphere there.

Today I’ve heard personally from several of you regulars that the tone in the Crunchy Con comboxes has gotten uglier of late, and you hate it. A couple of you have even said to me that you’re disinclined to come around because of it. This really bothers me, not least because you are among the more balanced and intelligent commentators, the kind of readers who make this blog an interesting and pleasant place to talk about ideas.

Not long after this blog started, I decided, after beseeching my Bnet bosses, to start being a hard-ass about comments here, precisely because I was hearing from so many of you who said you hated the spiteful, screechy atmosphere in the comboxes. After I started pruning trolls and being more intolerant of uncivil discourse, the blog numbers started taking off.

Now, I’m not terribly concerned about the blog numbers here, but I’ll admit that when I first considered a request to add comments to this blog, I was somewhat skeptical about the concept. Being fully aware that most people are idiots, I correctly anticipated that most comments posted would be idiotic. This has certainly proved to be the case. If anyone happen to find that statement insulting, so be it, feelings can’t change the observable fact that most of the comments here are juvenile, off-topic, illogical demonstrations of self-obsession when they are not feeble, illogical, and error-prone attempts at criticism of one sort or another. And then there’s those that somehow manage to combine both….

The fact that the discussion in the comments here is nevertheless of a higher intellectual quality than can one usually find elsewhere is a potent practical argument against democracy.

What people often forget is that the commenters on a blog make up a small fraction of the readers of that same blog. A few people may read blogs for their comments, but the vast majority do not, the self-inflated fantasies of some blog commenters notwithstanding. Moreoever, a blog’s commenters tend to be the most outspoken, fractious, and emotionally troubled portion of its readership. They inevitably cause problems; the notorious trolls are actually much less irritating than the revenant-stalkers who are so socially inept that they cannot refrain from showing up where they know they are not wanted. Add to this the emotionally incontinent fanboys who respond inappropriately to everything from criticism of the blogger to criticism from the blogger and you’ve basically got a worthless morass of wasted time in the making. It doesn’t help when people feed the trolls and revenants by responding to them either.

This is a real problem for many bloggers and I don’t blame those, like Ross Douthat, who have decided that it’s simply not worth the trouble trying to manage the unmanageable. Fortunately, it’s not a problem for me, for three reasons. First, as I have repeatedly stated, most people are idiots – functionally if not literally – and that applies to most commenters here. Until you demonstrate otherwise, rest assured that I hold you in all the intellectual regard you have merited to date, which is to say none. I therefore need not concern myself with your ramblings. Second, while I definitely do care what some people think, you almost certainly aren’t on that particular list. I might like you, I might find you amusing, I might even regard you as a positive mutation and a distinct step forward in the evolution of Man… but that doesn’t mean that I care what you think. Third, as a libertarian down to the bone, I don’t believe that it is possible to manage people for an extended period of time, so I’m not inclined to waste my time trying.

So, no one need be concerned that I’m going to ditch the comments. They are often useful, occasionally amusing, and always completely avoidable. I’ve even heard more than once from bloggers who envy the way in which substantive and intelligent discussions erupt here from time to time. One of those justifies fifty comment threads containing nothing of any more intellectual import than one of Jamie’s wigger atrocities.

That being said, there are certain things I’m not inclined to tolerate. Serious criticism isn’t just okay, it’s appreciated. Silly and superficial criticism from people who are constantly looking for any angle to attack me isn’t; it may help some critics to keep in mind that I have a perfectly functional memory and if you’ve made several spurious attacks about some tangential triviality that evades the main topic in the past, I’ll treat your future “criticism” with the respect you’ve shown it deserves. Which is, again, to say none. Foul language is frowned upon, even if I happen to use it myself from time to time. In general, the fact that I do something does not confer permission for anyone else to do so. And you may not like that Spacebunny can pretty much get away with behaving however she likes, but this is hardly the only place that smoking hot blondes have carte blanche. Above all, if I ask you a direct question, then I expect a straightforward and unevasive answer. I’ve done you the courtesy of taking you seriously and paying attention to you, so the least you can do is to accept the consequences of obtaining the attention you were seeking. If you simply want to preen, posture, and play transparently dishonest games, there are hundreds of thousands of other blogs out there and I’m sure a few of them will tolerate you. I won’t.

If you’ve got something to say, then say it. Just don’t think that you can avoid being called out if you happen to say something stupid. A considerable amount of embarrassment can usually be avoided by the simple expedient of a) being civil, and b) thinking for five seconds before posting your comment. And if you’ve posted more than three comments in a single thread in which you are not engaged in a substantive discussion, you should strongly consider taking advantage of the opportunity to stop listening to yourself talk.


All praise for Global Warming

The National Weather Service says areas of northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin could see patchy frost this weekend…. The weather agency says clear skies could allow temperatures to dip into the low to mid-30s late tonight into early Monday.

It seems Americans should be thanking their lucky stars for global warming. Without it, the Midwest would be frozen. In September.


Censorial confusion

Stanley Fish patiently attempts to explain to Mr. Rushdie and other similarly confused individuals what is, and what is not, censorship:

It is censorship when Germany and other countries criminalize the professing or publication of Holocaust denial. (I am not saying whether this is a good or a bad idea.) It is censorship when in some countries those who criticize the government are prosecuted and jailed. It was censorship when the United States Congress passed the Sedition Act of 1798, stipulating that anyone who writes with the intent to bring the president or Congress or the government “into contempt or disrepute” shall be “punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars and by imprisonment not exceeding two years.” Key to these instances is the fact that (1) it is the government that is criminalizing expression and (2) that the restrictions are blanket ones.

I’ve never been a big fan of Salman Rushdie. His “courage” has always struck me as the completely unintentional sort that is exhibited by those who never intend to suffer the consequences of their actions. The fact that Rushdie can’t distinguish between genuine censorship and the perfectly legitimate right of business executives to exercise their own judgment is testimony to his unsuitability as an icon of intellectual freedom.

The truth is that despite secularist pretensions, there really isn’t much difference between the way secularism and Islam are forced upon people by their adherents. Both ultimately depend upon taking control of the judicial and political systems – particularly the judicial ones – in order to make use of government force to shut down competing beliefs.


Those Russian butchers

No wonder the neocons are having a tough time whipping up outrage over the Russian response to the Georgian attack on South Ossetia:

The commander of the artillery brigade, Maj. Gen. Devi Chankotadze, said in an interview in front of his headquarters that 170 Georgian soldiers had been killed in the conflict, and 1,200 wounded. Two-thirds of the wounded soldiers had returned to duty, he said.

1,370 casualties isn’t nothing, but it’s not exactly the Soviet-style massacre that some neocon interventionists were trying to sell over the last two weeks.

UPDATE – Debka reports the further unravelling of the neocon attempt to fire up yet another US war:

The US ambassador to Moscow, endorsing Russia’s initial moves in Georgia, described the Kremlin’s first military response as legitimate after Russian troops came under attack…. This was the first US admission that Georgia was the aggressor in South Ossetia and showed cracks in their hitherto solid support for president Mikhail Saakashvili.


Lich King trailer

This looks interesting from a storyline perspective and I’ve heard from one of my acquaintances at Blizzard that Lich King is much, much better than Burning Crusade, which frankly bored me so much that I quit playing. I hope they’ve done something to improve the PvP, in the meantime, I’m looking forward to the upcoming Age of Conan patch that reportedly improves the PvP system there. Still, Blizzard has really been overdoing the blue smoke eye thing; it doesn’t make the Lich King’s minions look scary as much as if they’re just a bunch of L70 PvPers waiting to go into the battleground.


Preschool = more school

And school = bad. Ergo, universal preschool will never work as advertised.

Barack Obama says he believes in universal preschool and if he’s elected president he’ll pump “billions of dollars into early childhood education.” Universal preschool is now second only to universal health care on the liberal policy wish list. Democratic governors across the country — including in Illinois, Arizona, Massachusetts and Virginia — have made a major push to fund universal preschool in their states.

But is strapping a backpack on all 4-year-olds and sending them to preschool good for them? Not according to available evidence….

If anything, preschool may do lasting damage to many children. A 2005 analysis by researchers at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, found that kindergartners with 15 or more hours of preschool every week were less motivated and more aggressive in class. Likewise, Canada’s C.D. Howe Institute found a higher incidence of anxiety, hyperactivity and poor social skills among kids in Quebec after universal preschool.

What, taking young children away from the mothers for most of the day and turning them over to strangers to learn herd dynamics from their age peers isn’t beneficial to learning or civilized behavior? How could this be?

Of course American liberals love the concept of pre-school. Their whole objective is to render the population stupid and subservient and “education” is the most effective means of doing that short of putting lead into the water supply. Leftists would like nothing better than to make school attendance mandatory for everyone from 6 months to 65 years of age.