Vibrancy in the park

Several shots rang out from a handgun during a large fight near an outdoor concert venue in Cleveland, leaving four people wounded after a “Unity in the Park” festival featuring funk music artist George Clinton, police said Sunday.

I always enjoy the way that the mainstream media is now very careful to scrub every last bit of racial information from a news story, unless the point is to make a point about how wonderful diversity is.


The debt ceiling dance

Unsurprisingly, it has all turned out to be fake. The choice being presented for public consumption is one between fake spending cuts (Republican) versus non-existent spending cuts (Democrat). Of course, the real issue is the need to keep spending in order to continue the appearance of economic stagnation. Ask yourself this question. What is the magic in the $2.4 trillion addition to the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling?

Answer: $365 billion. That is the average increase in federal debt per quarter since the middle of 2008. $2.4 trillion is six quarters worth of that… which is sufficient to see the current set of politicians safely past the 2012 elections. Assuming that the private sector continues its debt-deleveraging, this means that by the end of 2012, government will account for 27.8% of all debt, the federal government will account for 23.2% of it (up from 10.3% in Q2-2008), households will be at 22.4% (down from 28%) and the financial sector at 24.4% (down from 31.5%).

Speaking of the debt limit, if you happen to be Canadian, I’ve been asked to appear on their 24-hour news channel, CTV, to discuss it. If you are not Canadian, but happen to be so inclined, you can watch the clip here.


It’s the debt, not the ceiling

Moody’s tries to spell it out slowly for the Washington politicians:

The “limited magnitude” of both debt plans put forward by congressional leaders would not put the nation’s AAA credit rating back on solid footing, Moody’s Investors Service announced Friday. “Reductions of the magnitude now being proposed, if adopted, would likely lead Moody’s to adopt a negative outlook on the AAA rating,” the credit rating agency said in a new report. “The chances of a significant improvement in the long-term credit profile of the government coming from deficit reductions of the magnitude proposed in either plan are not high.”

It added that “prolonged debt ceiling deliberations” have increased the odds of a downgrade, but that the firm is still confident policymakers will avoid a default.

“It remains our expectation that the government will continue with timely debt service,” the firm said.
It also clarified that as far as it is concerned, the nation will only default if it misses an interest or principal payment on U.S. debt, not if it misses payments on other obligations like federal employee salaries or Social Security benefits.

Translation: The Republicans that sold out and put their careers at severe risk of Tea Party challenges in the primaries not only accomplished nothing, but never could have accomplished anything meaningful. If Boehner and Cantor were competent, they would have run their multiplicity of plans past the ratings agency, not just the optimistic and reliably inaccurate Congressional Budget Office.

And as I and many other financially literate economics observers have pointed out, a failure to raise the debt ceiling has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with default, despite the ignorant bleatings of “economists” like Megan McCardle. The mainstream commentators have it backwards again, as it is raising the debt ceiling that makes the prospect of sovereign default more likely, not leaving it in place.


Umberto Eco on literal readers

Credulity and identification

In the preceding “Bustina di Minerva” I wrote that many readers find it difficult to ascertain, in a novel, the reality of the fiction, and they tend to attribute to the author the passions and the thoughts of his characters. To confirm this, I found a site on the internet that records the thoughts of various authors, and under “the quotes of Umberto Eco” I discovered this: “The Italian is unfaithful, a liar, vile, treacherous, he is is more comfortable with the dagger than with the sword, better with poison than with medicine, slippery in negotiation, and coherent only in that he changes his flag with every wind.” It’s not that there isn’t something of the truth in all this, but it appears as if it is written by a foreign author. In my novel, The Cemetery of Prague, this sentence is written by a gentleman who in the preceding pages has manifested a racist compulsion making use of all the most hoary old cliches. From now on, I must be sure to never place banal characters in fictional scenes, otherwise one day they will attribute to me philosophies such as “one has but one mother”.

Now I read the last “Blown Glass” of Eugenio Scalfari, which reprises my previous “Bustina” and raises a new problem. Scalfari agrees with the fact that there are people who confuse the fictional narrative for reality, but retains, (and rightly retains that I retained), that the fictional narrative can be truer than the truth in order to inspire identifications and perceptions of historical phenomenons, to create new modes of thought, etc. And we must consider if one cannot be in accord with this opinion.

It is not only that the fictional narrative also confirms aesthetic conditions: a reader can very well know that Madame Bovary never existed and yet enjoy the style with which Flaubert constructs his character. But here the aesthetic dimension can be seen to be in opposition to the “aletic” dimension, (that which has to do with the notion of the truth shared with logic, the sciences, or the judges that make courtroom decisions about the veracity of testimony declaring how a certain thing took place.) They are two diverse dimensions; there are problems if a judge makes his decision based on how aesthetically a defendant lies to him. I was occupied with the aletic dimension. It is for the most part true that my reflections were born of an internal discourse on falsehood and the lie. Is it false to say that a Vanna Marchi lotion will regrow hair? It is false. Is it false to say that Don Abbondio met two bravos?(1) From the aletic point of view, yes, but the narrator does not want to tell us how much of the story is true or false, he pretends it is true and asks us to play along. He asks us, as Coleridge recommended, “to suspend the disbelief”.

Scalfari cites Werther(2), and we know how many romantic young men and women identifying with the protagonist committed suicide. Did they perhaps believe that the story was true? Not necessarily, just as we know that Emma Bovary never existed and yet we are moved to tears on her behalf. One recognizes a fiction as fictional, even as we immerse ourselves in the depths of a character.

It is that we intuit that even if Madame Bovary never existed, there exist many women like her, and it is perhaps as if she is also us to some extent and from her a lesson can be derived of life in general and of our own selves. The ancient Greeks believed the things that befell Oedipus were true and reflected his fate. Freud knew very well that Oedipus never existed, but read those events as a profound lesson on how the aspects of the unconscious operated.

What happens instead to the readers of whom I speak, those who don’t absolutely distinguish between fiction and reality? Their situation does not have aesthetic validity. To the extent they are inclined to take the story so seriously that they never ask if it is told well or poorly, they are not looking for instruction and they do not identify with the characters. They simply manifest that which I will define as a fictional deficit; they are incapable of suspending their disbelief. Since there are more of these readers than we think, it is worth the trouble to consider them because we know that all the questions of morals and aesthetics will elude them.

(1) The Betrothed, Alessandro Manzoni
(2) This must mean The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe rather than the opera entitled Werther since the opera premiered 118 years after the book was published and well after the wave of the suicides it inspired.


Tea Party traitors

It looks like we’re going to have the chance to see how serious the Tea Party is about electorally cutting the throats of the politicians that betray it as well as their ability to actually do so:

Freshman Rep. Allen West (R., Fla.), a tea-party star, is under pressure:

“Several Tea Party organizations are working to punish conservative Republicans who plan to vote yes on Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) debt-ceiling proposal. Tea Party leaders announced Thursday that they are targeting Republican Reps. James Lankford (Okla.), Allen West (Fla.), Mike Kelly (Pa.) and Bill Flores (Texas), all four freshmen and declared yes votes for Boehner. . . . West has been particularly vocal in his support of Boehner’s plan, which many consider a surprise endorsement by the Tea Party firebrand not known for falling into line behind his party’s leadership.”

In an interview with National Review Online this morning, West was defiant. When asked about whether he is worried about the heat, he looked me straight in the eye, stayed silent, lifted his right hand and brushed off both of his shoulders, Jay-Z style.

“The Taliban targeted me, al-Qaeda targeted me and I’m still alive,” West smiled. He praised Boehner for adjusting the debt-limit bill, calling it a “good move.” The proposal, he said, “does not have tax hikes and is not a clean raise of the debt ceiling. For the first time in the history of the nation, we are having a debt-limit increase with real spending cuts. What more could you want?”

My first thought is that all I wanted was no debt-limit increase period. Increasing the debt ceiling with fake spending cuts – and as we learned from the last go-round, they are fake – serves no purpose whatsoever. My second thought is that it is eminently stupid to place any trust in anyone who runs for office. A politician will always come up with some excuse to rationalize doing what he promised he would not do.

And my third thought is: what an asshole! He’s going to strike the tough guy pose contra those who put him in office to stop more government spending? I know nothing else about the guy, don’t really care who is in Congress, don’t believe the Tea Party will be able to do anything about government spending, and I’d still like to see the Tea Party leave a smoking crater where this guy’s career used to be in 2012.

It gets even better. Apparently the real Tea Party hasn’t said boo about being betrayed.

““A press release has been issued claiming Tea Party Nation supports a primary challenge against Allen West. TPN’s name was used without permission. I will be giving a more detailed statement shortly but neither I nor Tea Party Nation supports a primary challenge against Allen West.”

In other words, the Tea Party would appear to be as worthless as the Republican Party.

UPDATE – Boehner’s White Flag passed 218-210. It would appear there are only 22 Republicans who aren’t economically illiterate. I’m sure “it was the best deal we could get” is going to sell every bit as well as George Bush’s “Read My Lips” cave in. It’s not like the U.S. is going to be less in debt this time next year.

UPDATE II – Harry Reid and the Senate refused to accept the House Republican surrender:

At the other end of the Capitol, Senate Democrats rejected the measure without so much as a debate. The vote was 59-41, with all Democrats, two independents and six Republicans joining in opposition. Moments later, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., unveiled an alternative that would cut spending by $2.4 trillion and raise the debt limit by the same amount, enough to meet Obama’s terms that it tide the Treasury over until 2013.

It should be interesting to see what the Boehner-led Republicans will try next or if they’re seriously going to go with the “unconditional surrender is the best deal we could get” theme.



The money in global warming

To claim that the “science” of global warming is false on the sole basis of the financial corruption of the scientists involved would be to make the same genetic fallacy that the global warming cultists habitually make in their futile attempts to delegitimize the critics of AGW/CC. However, this does not preclude pointing out that in addition to their predictive models having been proved blatantly wrong, their historical records having been shown to be false, and the very logic of their argument to be based on false foundations, the scientists who market themselves as experts on AGW/CC have been raking in a tremendous amount of money for their inept efforts:

Although it wasn’t clear what the exact allegations were, a government watchdog group representing Anchorage-based scientist Charles Monnett said investigators have focused on his 2006 journal article about the bears that garnered worldwide attention. The group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, filed a complaint on Mr Monnett’s behalf with the agency, the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

BOEMRE told Mr Monnett on July 18 that he was being put on leave, pending an investigation into “integrity issues.”…

Mr Monnett, who has coordinated much of BOEMRE’s research on Arctic wildlife and ecology, has duties that include managing about $50 million worth of studies, according to the complaint. According to documents provided by Ruch’s group, which sat in on investigators interviews with Mr Monnett, the questioning focused on observations that he and fellow researcher Jeffrey Gleason made in 2004.

Of course, if you think there is a lot of money flowing into global warming research, just wait until you see the astronomical amount that will be made available to those of us fighting the much more serious problem of galactic warming.


The next eco-panic: Galactic Warming!

I see no other way to view this terrifying news from NASA:

NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.

Study co-author Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA’s Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into alarmist computer models.

“The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show,” Spencer said in a July 26 University of Alabama press release. “There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”

The governments and people of the world must act at once to end the threat to the environment of space. It is not just our future, or our children’s future, but the future of the furry six-eyed children living on Xaraxifap VI that depends on our species ending the threat posed by our industrial lifestyle. Clearly, the only solution is to provide completely unaccountable power to a centralized institution of global government and pay for it with new hot space taxes.

We cannot permit the Milky Way to become the Steamy, Frothy Way! End Galactic Warming now!


Campaigning against reality

The New York Times “symposium” called “Will the Norway Massacre Deflate Europe’s Right Wing? features nine contributors, none of whom see fit to depart from the very pro-immigration multiculturalism that was the obvious causal factor behind the recent Norwegian killings. This is a typical example of the “insight” on offer.

Far right parties throughout Europe draw upon two distinct constituencies. The first is a core of hardline racist bigots — many of these parties, like the British National Party and the Sweden Democrats emerged out of the neo-fascist swamp and some still live there. The bigots, however, have been joined by a swathe of new supporters whose hostility toward immigrants, minorities and Muslims is shaped less by old-fashioned racism than by a newfangled sense of fear and insecurity. Many have traditionally supported social democratic parties but feel abandoned by organizations that have largely cut links with their working class constituencies. Polls have shown that, even more than the rest of the population, such supporters appear dissatisfied with their lives, anxious about the future and distrustful of any authority figure.

There is little that can be done to sway the opinions of the hardline racists. We need, however, politically to engage with the wider support that now surrounds far right organizations. This does not mean pandering to their prejudices. It means, to the contrary, challenging those prejudices openly and robustly. It means, for instance, challenging the idea that immigration is responsible for the lack of jobs and housing, or that lower immigration would mean a lower crime rate, or that Western societies are becoming “Islamized.”

That sounds like a promising approach. Combat prejudices which are founded on observation and experience by challenging reality. It is both self- and empirically evident that immigration reduces the amount of jobs available as well as the wages paid for them, that immigration drives up housing costs and reduces the housing stock available to the native population, and that immigrants from nations with higher crime rates tend to increase the crime rate. And it is both obvious and verifiable that entire sections of Western societies are becoming “Islamized” and “Hispanicized”.

The media is uniformly convinced that the Norwegian killings are going to harm the political prospects of the anti-immigration, anti-Islamic European Right. But they are completely wrong. More of the indoctrination and exposure to diversity to which Anders Breivik was subjected for his entire life obviously will not prevent any future actions, indeed, they will ensure them. Therefore, it is the political parties that are capable of taking steps to reduce the likelihood of similar attacks in the future are the ones that will benefit from the natural desire of the various electorates to avoid them.

As a general rule, people don’t hate those they don’t know, have never met, and with whom they are not forced to associate. Exposure to other groups does not foster tolerance, but hatred. Few Minnesotans had any opinion about Somalis twenty years ago. Now, many Minnesotans despise them. Multiculturalism and mass immigration is nothing more than a recipe for separatist intra-societal war.

It is totally illogical for the global media and the European Left to claim that an “atmosphere of opinion” was capable of influencing Breivik while they ignore the much larger influence of actual environmental experience. After all, what is more likely to radicalize an individual, reading demographic statistics and editorials or visiting your sister in the hospital after she was raped by a member of the vibrant community?

Kenan Malik wrote: “The question many Europeans are asking is “How can we stop the far right?” The question they should be asking is “How can we challenge anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic sentiment?””

The answer should be completely obvious. Send the immigrants back to their native countries. Anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic sentiment will be reduced to the extent that the immigrant population is. Die Gedanken sind frei, but eventually they do have to deal with the brick wall of Wirklichkeit.


It appears I may be wrong

Rick Perry may not be The Third Bush. He may be The Second Thompson. As in Fred Thompson. Joseph Farah is only the first Perry enthusiast to rethink his support for the potential candidate:

I was just dead wrong in all of my conclusions about the governor of Texas. I no longer want him to run and no longer believe he is a viable candidate. In fact, I will do all I can to warn the American people away from him. My view of Perry changed from favorable but skeptical to highly unfavorable overnight this week after I read his comments to GOP donors in Aspen, Colo.

Essentially, Perry said he is just fine with New York state’s decision to approve same-sex marriage.

“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex,” explained Perry. “And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me. That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.”

Of course, GOProud, the homosexual Republican group, was quick to praise Perry for his stand. I’m sure Perry is very proud of that endorsement. What’s wrong with his answer? So much it would take me more than one 750-word column to explain. But I will attempt to address his cowardly surrender of the national culture succinctly.

If America is to rediscover its greatness, citizens of all 50 states will need to rediscover the common values that brought us together as a nation in the first place – not just all go out and do our own thing, with every man doing what is right in his own eyes. The only viable alternative is, quite literally, a break-up of the nation. What Rick Perry is advocating here is cultural surrender.

Translation: Rick Perry can forget about riding a wave of popular support from the social conservatives who brought Bush 43 to power. It’s not as if he’s got much appeal to the economic conservatives who are increasingly looking favorably upon Paul, Bachman, and potentially, Chris Christie. As for the Fred Thompson comparison, consider the results of the recent polls here and at Instapundit. Due to Instapundit’s larger readership, there were naturally more votes in his poll, with 13,599 votes compared to the 1,873 here at VP.

36% 07% Perry
20% 04% Palin
14% 72% Paul
07% 08% Bachman
06% 01% Romney

Obviously, this is a libertarian stronghold. But what is remarkable is the complete lack of enthusiasm among either readership for the candidate the media imagines to be the “frontrunner”, Captain Underoos. The strong amount of support for Perry and Palin at Instapundit reminds me very much of the enthusiasm for Fred Thompson in 2008, right up until the moment that Thompson actually threw his hat in the ring. I suspect Farah will be far from the only supporter of a hypothetical Perry campaign who will abandon ship as it becomes a reality.

However, I think that Paul’s numbers in the Instapundit poll are misleading, despite the recent poll that showed him tied with Obama among the general electorate. Until I posted a link to the Instapundit poll, Ron Paul was around 4% there; there is probably strong link between the 1,923 votes he received at Instapundit and the 1,353 he received here. Paul will win the general election if he is nominated, it’s winning the Republican nomination that presents the much greater challenge.