Flapdoodle, thy name is bi-partisanship

April 3rd, 2014

Feb 25, 1992, issued under Bush, and made impenetrable under Clinton:

It is DoD Policy: 1. To limit and control the carrying of firearms by DoD military and civilian personnel. The authorization to carry firearms shall be issued only to qualified personnel when there is a reasonable expectation that life or DoD assets will be jeopardized if firearms are not carried. Evaluation of the necessity to carry a firearm shall be made considering this expectation weighed apainst the possible consequences of accidental or indiscriminate use of firearms.

So now you know one reason that an army base is similar to an elementary school.

April 1?

April 2nd, 2014

The NYT actually ran this on 3/25:

I believed this legislation, signed four years ago this month, would free people to pursue their dreams, start new companies and not worry about the health insurance penalty. What I didn’t count on was that it would make things harder for me and my wife.

First, we were notified that we would be kicked out of our existing $263-a-month Anthem Blue Cross plan because it didn’t meet the minimum standards of the new law. No problem, I thought. The plans in the new Covered California exchange would most likely be better and cheaper.

But we were shocked at what we confronted. The least expensive premium for a couple like us in our 40s would be about $620 a month. And because our household adjusted gross income is likely to be over the $62,040 cutoff this year, it’s doubtful we’ll end up with a subsidy to help offset that price increase…

I have mild asthma. Normally it’s not a problem, but when I get a chest cold, it becomes severe. One recent day I found that I couldn’t breathe. My inhalers were all expired. I’d held off refilling them since my insurance would reduce the costs of the $58.99 inhalers only by a little more than $9. I knew from past experience that I probably needed a prescription for antibiotics, so I tried frantically to find a medical facility that would take our new Covered California Anthem Blue Cross bronze plan. When I did, they said it would be three weeks before I could see a doctor…

(Nelson developed a skin infection. I got an appointment at the vet’s the next day. They prescribed an antibiotic…The medication caused diarrhea so I called his internist at his vet hospital, PetCare, and she prescribed a probiotic. Nelson’s $40.42-a-month pet insurance…paid almost all of these costs…I was envious. My 11-year-old brown Labrador was getting the kind of treatment that I could only dream of. I wanted to go to PetCare. I wanted pet insurance.)…

It’s still hard to understand what coverage we have. It’s like trying to read tea leaves. Benefits descriptions can be contradictory and run nearly 200 pages long. One summary attached to my online account seems to say that if I go to the emergency room, I could potentially owe thousands of dollars. Another document suggests that I’m responsible for only $300. I’ve had two representatives give me two different explanations…the new plan has more coverage, including pediatric vision. But we don’t have children…

if you see a doctor outside your network, look out. We found this out the hard way. My wife and I both had to see a doctor in January. Our old policy and our new Covered California policy were both with Anthem Blue Cross, so a representative there told us to use our old ID cards for our visits since our new cards hadn’t arrived yet. We were covered, he assured us. At the medical center, we gave our ID cards to the receptionist, who accepted them as valid, and went in to see our regular doctors. But later we found out that they were not in our new network’s plan. The out-of-pocket cost for my simple 30-minute office visit: $303. My wife’s annual exam and a couple of minor procedures: $918.

We’re still waiting for quality health care that we can actually use, afford and understand

What a complainer this former WaPo reporter is! Doesn’t he know that if he liked his doctor, he could keep his doctor? Doesn’t he know that if he liked his plan he could keep his plan? Period! (It’s rather amazing to see a guy like this sound just like Ann Coulter.)

Brite collage years

April 1st, 2014

LLS:

In a move designed to foster diversity and to create a university that “thinks like America,” Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust, the President of Harvard University announced yesterday that the school will embrace egalitarian admissions. The school will no longer give priority to students with good grades, high SAT scores, and impressive extra-curricular activities. Such policies have, Dr. Faust acknowledged, created an “elitist” and “inegalitarian” atmosphere at the college. “It is unacceptable in 2014 to be favoring the intelligent over the unlearned, and the energetic over the slothful,” she proclaimed. Starting next year Harvard’s incoming class will have SAT scores ranging from six to sixteen hundred to produce, for the first time, a truly diverse freshman class…

A press release declares that “Harvard is now dedicated to serving the ‘differently intellectual’ and ‘differently learned’ or DIDL students.” The idea that some are “smarter” than others is a prejudice that we need to overcome. The twenty-first century, the era of Hope and Change, is an age of equality. Gone are the days when knowing the difference between “their” and “there,” or references to dead White European males like Goethe or Marlowe were used to perpetuate privilege. There is no reason to favor an applicant who has been reading Shakespeare since he was ten over one who has watched every episode of “Sponge Bob” fifty times.

This summer, the entire Harvard faculty will be trained in sensitivity to needs of DIDL students. There is talk of an, as yet undetermined, plan for affirmative action for “Low IQ Americans.” The Puritans who founded Harvard held that “there is no sin but ignorance.” But they also burned witches, Harvard noted.

Get with the program, Harvard; you’re behind the times. Recall that professor who assaulted the protester at UCSB? The university effectively sided with the DIDL prof. She’s the 21st century, after all. Harvard: sometimes you’re just so 1636.

Let there be blight!

March 31st, 2014

AP:

if greenhouse gases continue to rise, the world is looking at another about 6 or 7 degrees Fahrenheit (3.5 or 4 degrees Celsius) of warming by 2100 instead of the international goal of not allowing temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.2 degrees Celsius). The difference between those two outcomes, Princeton’s Oppenheimer said, “is the difference between driving on an icy road at 30 mph versus 90 mph. It’s risky at 30, but deadly at 90″…

more than 100 governments unanimously approved the scientist-written 49-page summary — which is aimed at world political leaders. The summary mentions the word “risk” an average of about 5 1/2 times per page.

Here’s a mental exercise. Picture the Princeton fellow wearing sandals and a sandwich board, standing at the corner of 53rd and Park in NYC. He’s saying: “the world is ending! the world will be 7 degrees hotter in 86 years! it is written! the computer has said so!” You might ask, what about Hide the Decline? What about a little skepticism? We all know that there has been some warming, and recently some cooling, and we all know that, on balance, CO2 should favor the former over the latter. But really, 7 degrees in 86 years because some guys’ computers said so? (Maybe you missed the subprime meltdown: GIGO from the smart guys.)

Let’s see. 100 governments unanimously approved this thing about what’s definitely going to happen 86 years from now if we don’t give those guys trillions of dollars today. Hmmmm. That’s reason to pause, right there. What would governments have predicted in 1913 about wars over the next 86 years? How about in 1 year from 1913? 86 years ago was 1928. If you were a stockbroker in NYC then, what might you have predicted about 2014, or 1929? Thanks, experts!

Final point. Gallup shows AGW is 14th out of 15 concerns of ordinary Americans. We’ll just have to see who is right.

Of cowboys and cow dung

March 30th, 2014

Peter Bogdanovich has a delightful piece on Scott Eyman’s new book about Duke Morrison, the American screen cowboy. One of the roles that transformed his career was about a tough cattle drive. Gotta get those cows to move their hind quarters quickly to their last roundup. That was then.

Sadly, this is now: Mark Steyn has a mooving commentary on America’s (and the West’s) current take on the bovine posterior. (BTW, if you’re interested in cutting government waste, every one of these horses’s patoots could be downsized.)

Unusual development in the SP

March 29th, 2014

If you don’t have a narrative of your own, you’re using the other guy’s narrative. Roger Simon says why that’s a bad idea, both stylistically and substantively. One fellow who is breaking the mold is Rand Paul. Whatever you think of his other merits, he’s doing something very unusual for the Stupid Party: going on Smiley and West (where he got a lot of respect from the call-in audience BTW), going to Detroit and then following up substantively on that trip, and to Berkeley, where he apparently got a standing ovation for torching the NSA. In each case he sought pretty successfully to use areas of common ground with his audience. As we said, unusual for the Stupid Party, but then again not as stupid as focusing over and over on 2 or 3 counties in places like Florida and Ohio to try to eke out 334,000 votes to just squeak by in an election.

Picture worth a thousand words…….and from “must” to “should” in 5 years

March 28th, 2014

Here’s the picture. (It’s not even the faculty lounge that’s doing America’s business; it’s the freshman dorm.) Here are Krauthammer’s thousand words (747 actually). Krauthammer’s piece raises a very interesting point about how things have changed over the last five years. Five years ago, the world was told what it “must” do — over two dozen times in the Cairo speech alone. Now, as Krauthammer points out, the operative word is not “must”, but “should”. As a mental exercise, try to imagine yourself lecturing a billion or more people on what they “must” do. Hmmmmm…

BTW, it’s not as though there are easy answers to these logical responses by Russia, etc, to America’s empty bloviating at this point, but speeding to energy independence, reversing course on Iran, not cutting the military, empowering a red-tape-cutting task force on the economy, and using Google and Yelp and GrubHub as metaphors for health care rather than the USSR — these could be a start.

Science, religion, etc.

March 27th, 2014

Fred Singer:

tipping points occur quite frequently in science. I have personally witnessed two paradigm shifts where world scientific opinion changed rapidly — almost overnight. One was in Cosmology, where the “Steady State” theory of the Universe was replaced by the “Big Bang.” This shift was confirmed by the discovery of the “microwave background radiation,” which has already garnered Nobel prizes, and will likely get more. The other major shift occurred in Continental Drift. After being denounced by the Science Establishment, the hypothesis of Alfred Wegener, initially based on approximate relations between South America and Africa, was dramatically confirmed by the discovery of “sea-floor spreading.”

Thomas Kuhn: “the proponents of competing paradigms practice their trades in different worlds. The transfer of allegiance from paradigm to paradigm is a conversion experience that cannot be forced.” Precisely.

Then and now

March 26th, 2014

Spengler quotes Bottum on the Catholic world pre-1965, in a fascinating discussion of the secular religion of today:

The embroidered arcanery of copes and stoles and albs and chasubles, the rituals of Holy Water blessings, the grottos with their precarious rows of fire-hazard candles flickering away in little red cups, the colored seams and peculiar buttons that identified monsignors, the wimpled school sisters, the tiny Spanish grandmothers muttering prayers in their black mantillas, the First Communion girls wrapped up in white like prepubescent brides, the mumbled Irish prejudices, the loud Italian festivals, the Holy Door indulgences, the pocket guides to scholastic philosophy, the Knights of Columbus with their cocked hats and comic-opera swords, the tinny mission bells, the melismatic chapel choirs— none of this was the Church, some of it actually obscured the Church, and the decision to clear out the mess was not unintelligent or uninformed or unintended.

It was merely insane. An entire culture nested in the crossbeams and crannies, the nooks and corners, of the Catholic Church. And it wasn’t until the swallows had been chased away that anyone seemed to realize how much the Church itself needed them, darting around the chapels and flitting through the cathedrals.

That’s the Catholic Church that’s been lost, but most of Bottum’s book is about the today’s post Christian Puritans in America: “We live in a spiritual age when the political has been transformed into the soteriological. When how we vote is how our souls are saved.”

Indeed. A major dividing line is how we think about the past. We have high government officials who believe the past is outdated and, it follows, irrelevant. We think they’ve been beguiled by the metaphor of technological progress, as well as their own good fortune in life. Is there a way back from this fantasy world? Of course, but it is highly unlikely to be pleasant.

(On the lighter side, we offer examples of outlandish but fashionable idiocy, here, here, and here, which suggest that maybe, just maybe, things might right themselves without cataclysm.)

News flash from 13,978,000,000 years ago

March 25th, 2014

Telegraph:

the Bicep2 (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarisation) telescope at the Amundsen-Scott polar base in Antarctica has found conclusive evidence for the existence of gravity waves, colossal ripples in space-time that pervade today’s universe and which were formed when the cosmos was just 10 to the minus 35 seconds old – a length of time shorter than it would take the Starship Enterprise to cross from one side of a grain of sand to another.

If this is confirmed, it will be the final experimental vindication of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. It will show once and for all that the notion that our universe began with a colossal explosion of matter and energy 13,978,000,000 years ago – the Big Bang – is correct. But the implications are more profound even than that. The existence of gravity waves is the “smoking gun” for the controversial theory of cosmic inflation, the idea that right at the start of the universe, nearly 14 billion years ago, everything underwent a colossally fast period of expansion – the “B of the Bang”, if you like.

If cosmic inflation, which we need in order to explain several weird facts about our universe, is correct, then this provides strong support for the notion of the “multiverse”; the idea that what we see when we look up at the night sky is but a gnat on the back of the elephant that is the true totality of creation. The existence of gravity waves is strong evidence that “our” universe may not only exist alongside an infinite number of parallel worlds, but may itself be infinite in extent, containing endless copies of our galaxy – and indeed our world and you and me – located countless trillions of light years apart…

why do we need inflation? It was first proposed in the early 1980s by cosmologists led by Andrei Linde and Alan Guth (who were at the press conference yesterday, looking very happy) to explain some problems with the original Big Bang idea. The main one is that deep space looks much the same in every direction. There are no gigantic “gaps” – no galaxies in some places and agglomerations in others – which is what you would expect if you had a simple explosion of matter and energy. Instead, the idea behind inflation is that right at the start of the “Bang”, a period of unimaginable, hyper-fast expansion, billions of times faster than light-speed would smooth out the unevenness, much in the way that pulling on a crumpled sheet will make it flat and even.

The implications of inflation are mind-boggling. Few cosmologists believe that if inflation happened it would have produced a universe only as big as the one we can see. The observable “edge” of our universe, the so-called “Hubble Volume”, is a sphere of space about 93 billion light years across, containing maybe half a trillion galaxies, each containing roughly the same number of stars (altogether about as many stars as there are grains of sand on all the beaches of Earth). A magnificent entity.

But that vast ensemble only encompasses the parts of our universe close enough for light to have reached us since the Bang. Inflation suggests that the original expansion created a volume of space-time much, much bigger – according to some equations, infinite. And the most extraordinary thing about inflation is that as you rip apart space you create matter and energy. Not only is our universe probably infinite in size, but it is studded with an infinite amount of stars and galaxies.

Wretchard has lots more. This is quite a decade. It was only two years ago that the existence of the Higgs boson was confirmed.

Low, going lower

March 24th, 2014

In a world where this is considered normal, this is what you get. They sow not; neither do they reap. But they sure can complain and lecture.

Lighter side: Moonglow and a scene from Picnic.

Wheels within wheels

March 23rd, 2014

Henry Kissinger:

For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one…

Ukraine has been independent for only 23 years; it had previously been under some kind of foreign rule since the 14th century…Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709 , were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral part of Russian history and, indeed, of Russia…

Ukrainians…live in a country with a complex history and a polyglot composition. The Western part was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1939, when Stalin and Hitler divided up the spoils. Crimea, 60 percent of whose population is Russian, became part of Ukraine only in 1954, when Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian by birth, awarded it as part of the 300th-year celebration of a Russian agreement with the Cossacks. The west is largely Catholic; the east largely Russian Orthodox. The west speaks Ukrainian; the east speaks mostly Russian. Any attempt by one wing of Ukraine to dominate the other — as has been the pattern — would lead eventually to civil war or break up.

Roger Kimball has lots more. This is certainly more complex than the US simpletons on either side of the issue make out.

(For today’s light reading, Clarice’s pieces are simultaneously funny and depressing.)

Liars and Idiots and Fine Gentlemen?

March 22nd, 2014

Some D: “a woman still earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man does.” Some R: “It’s not government, though, that creates jobs. Small business owners, entrepreneurs and innovators are the engine of job creation.” Blah, blah blah. Question: why not just go after the lie, with the obvious point that any businessman with a million dollar payroll would fire all the guys and hire all the girls if he could pocket another $230,000 by doing so? Answer: it’s called the stupid party for a reason. Final point, a little harmony: nice to hear on KPFK today that Ralph Nader is also fed up with all the lying.

From silly to pernicious

March 21st, 2014

This is mostly silly; hard to think anyone (outside of PhD’s in education) can believe such nonsense. This was pernicious, back in the bad old days of the USSR. Hey wait a minute. Haven’t those days just come back? Next stop: Azerbaijan?

Through a glass darkly no more

March 20th, 2014

Scott Johnson has a Tough Guy vs. Wimp visual that is pretty funny but misses an important point. The so-called wimp can be a tough guy — here and here are evidence as to whom he despises and is more than willing to act against. This is consistent with the standard religion of leftism by the way, that the US is an imperialist bad actor that has created enemies abroad and repression at home. Exactly what the faculty lounge is all about, but quite a bit more intense and ruthless. (BTW, these fellows and gals are often seriously lacking in historical knowledge, but they fill in the blanks with ideology; after all, truth isn’t about truth, it’s about a technique to get power to enforce equality of outcomes.)

Ah, but how did we get so far away from the America many of us know in our bones? The answers are the university and the media. 3% of Yale donations went to Romney, which is pretty good, by the way. The media are 12-1 against conservatives, which we think slightly understates the case. Still, it’s kind of shocking that things have gotten this bad this fast; yet we only have to look back to the cases of Iran and Honduras to see that the pattern was fully formed and evident years ago. But still, this far this fast? Well, citizens, pause to consider a breathtaking exercise in projection from five years ago, and consider what, unfettered, this level of narcissism has wrought. And there you have it, this far this fast…

“Foreign policy clip-joint”

March 19th, 2014

It is almost impossible to overstate the foolishness of US foreign policy these days. Wretchard gives it the old college try, but he can’t overstate it either. How can an entire establishment be so clueless as to squander most of what was so hard won from the 1940′s onward? No wonder Moshe Ya’alon is so vocal and direct in his criticisms. This didn’t begin well, and the only question is how badly it’s going to end.

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

March 18th, 2014

George Will:

Here is Snyder’s distillation of a Welsh journalist’s description of a Ukrainian city: “People appeared at 2 o’clock in the morning to queue in front of shops that did not open until 7. On an average day 40,000 people would wait for bread. Those in line were so desperate to keep their places that they would cling to the belts of those immediately in front of them. . . . The waiting lasted all day, and sometimes for two. . . . Somewhere in line a woman would wail, and the moaning would echo up and down the line, so that the whole group of thousands sounded like a single animal with an elemental fear.” This, which occurred about as close to Paris as Washington is to Denver, was an engineered famine, the intended result of Stalin’s decision that agriculture should be collectivized and the “kulaks” — prosperous farmers — should be “liquidated as a class.” In January 1933, Stalin, writes Snyder, sealed Ukraine’s borders so peasants could not escape and sealed the cities so peasants could not go there to beg. By spring, more than 10,000 Ukrainians were dying each day, more than the 6,000 Jews who perished daily in Auschwitz at the peak of extermination in the spring of 1944. Soon many Ukrainian children resembled “embryos out of alcohol bottles” (Arthur Koestler’s description) and there were, in Snyder’s words, “roving bands of cannibals”: “In the villages smoke coming from a cottage chimney was a suspicious sign, since it tended to mean that cannibals were eating a kill or that families were roasting one of their members.” Snyder, a Yale historian, is judicious about estimates of Ukrainian deaths from hunger and related diseases, settling on an educated guess of approximately 3.3 million, in 1932-33.

Meanwhile, back in the late, great USA, via Bret Stephens: “What’s up, my dude!” the Canadian teen star says to the president of the United States. “What’s up, Biebs!” the president of the United States answers back.

And this: “The truth is, generally I look very sharp in jeans.” The sole exception, he added, “was one episode like four years ago in which I was wearing some loose jeans, mainly because I was out on the pitcher’s mound and I didn’t want to feel confined while I was pitching.” Thanks for clearing that up

Once in a Blue Moon — not

March 17th, 2014

Roger Kimball explains why today’s problems are only the beginning for the prankster and the rest of us. Steyn rates Blue Moon. And it’s been almost fifty years, and we never knew that that’s what Eric Clapton was playing in 1967.

ACA = VA

March 16th, 2014

ACA = VA, more or less. This really wasn’t all that hard to figure out. So much for the BS. They think you’re stupid, particularly the Julias, and so far they’ve been right. But things may change

News from the insurance world

March 15th, 2014

Warren Buffett:

“I love apocalyptic predictions on it, because you’re right, it probably does affect rates. The truth is that writing U.S. hurricane insurance has been very profitable in the last five or six years. Now, the rates have come down very significantly, so we aren’t writing much, if anything, in the U.S.,” he said, adding that when it comes to weather impacts on Berkshire, “it hasn’t been true so far.”

He also likes Keystone. And in a weird moment, he revealed he bought his first stock just after Pearl Harbor.