Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
February 23, 2010 - February 16, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

CPAC: Top to Bottom

Red Meat Comic Relief: I especially like this CNN video
because of the ad it begins with. Punchlines are up to you.

THE BENEFITS OF SELF-EDUCATED MEN. Like most of you, no doubt, I didn't follow CPAC as if it were some conservative Olympics, though in some sense it probably is. I caught up with it mostly after the fact, except for the accident of seeing the Glenn Beck keynote live on Fox News. They announced it was imminent, I stayed tuned out of curiosity, and watched it all. More about that later.

Mostly I saw the usual clips and snippets. Cheney's "one term president" remark. Gingrich's chief soundbite, whatever that was (Sorry, I can't recall it just now.) Pawlenty's weird "nine-iron" analogy, which reminded me of a carpetbagging slalom skier who couldn't make the U.S. team missing an early gate and plowing gracelessly to DNF just desserts. (To be fair, I've long been prejudiced against the Minnesota governor who stood by lamely for months while Al Franken hijacked a 60th Democrat senate seat under his nose.) The various pundit reactions, smug to disgruntled, regarding Sarah Palin's nonparticipation. The odd hyping at Fox News of Ron Paul's victory in the straw poll -- surprised, exhilarated, condescending? The earnest coverage by Hotair of the event, as if it were some kind of offyear pre-convention, which it wasn't. It was at worst political theater for those who are presently out of power and at best a basis for political soul-searching and debate for those who are presently out of power. In the middle is my offhand conservative Olympics notion, which like many of my free associations is probably right.

That said, there were some speeches of interest, which I have dug up for you belatedly because they might give a sharper focus to some of our own thinking as we approach the 2010 elections. I'm highlighting just three speeches, none of them delivered by politicians, which should tell you something important right away. If you'd like, think of this as an Instapunk medal ceremony. Well, forget what you'd like. I'm the one dispensing the medals. You can protest to the Organizing Committee if you disagree. That's what the Comments section is for, after all.

The Bronze goes to Ann Coulter. Hers was an uneven performance you can see here in full (in two clips), but like a figure skater lacking in certain kinds of finesse who can still pull off the incredibly difficult quadruple jump, she squeaked onto the podium for the most succinct diagnosis of MSNBC's Countdown host ever offered from a dais: "Keith Olbermann is a girl." Five words that provide an encyclopedia's worth of information.

The Silver? A tough call. I'm wavering back and forth even as I write this. I'm giving it to a man I've criticized often in the past, and the reason for my doubt is not that I've criticized him. The doubt is for all the things he did so well in his speech that only a man with the attributes I've criticized could do. George Will's speech was a marvelous demonstration of the superior mind -- and education -- that has a tendency to look down on the less gifted. He was deft in his examples and analogies, witty, funny, learned, educational, as beautifully focused on the essentials of his arguments as he was illuminating about its nuances, and overall as compelling as a bookish non-orator can be in an address of real gravity. He's the reason for the title of this post. He was the top of the line speaker at CPAC. I sincerely urge you to watch all three clips of his remarks contained in this entry at Hotair. I promise you'll want to join in the standing ovation he received at the end.

So what could "top" that? Nothing. But something unexpected and useful could "bottom" it. That's why the Gold goes to Glenn Beck. His keynote address was sentimental, as self-obsessed as an Obama speech on, well, anything, larded with props and mugging and audience asides, unfair in significant respects, and absolutely necessary and perfect as the mongrel bookend to George Will's pedigreed epistle to the faithful. This morning, hardly anyone is quibbling about George Will's brilliant but absolutely traditional reassertion of conservative philosophy. But arguments are already breaking out about Glenn Beck's emotional call to action. (Scroll on down at the Corner for debates about Teddy Roosevelt, etc)

Here is the video of the Beck keynote. Watch it all the way through. Pay close attention to the ways it is different from George Will's speech -- and the ways it is the same. Both are delivering a stern message about the lessons of history, the dangers of repeating proven, catastrophic mistakes made generations ago. We believe George Will because he has spent a lifetime studying our history and the consequences and lessons of that history. We feel the passion of Glenn Beck because he has arrived at a remarkably similar understanding by a late-in-life process of self-education inspired by the personal disasters of an early life lived in accordance with all the wrong assumptions the uneducated are heir to.

Beck is the proof that Will is not just an ivory tower intellectual. The proof that ideas and philosophies of government reach deep into the guts of ordinary lives, as makers and breakers of every value that matters. With his quintessentially American combination of humility and chutzpah, Beck demonstrates exactly how American political history over the past century pertains to individual human experience. Interestingly, for example, it wasn't Will who cited the twentieth century facts that are likely to be most surprising to a conservative audience. It was Beck. His chalkboard summary of the Depression of 1920 -- its depths and the speed with which Calvin Coolidge reforms no one would consider possible today pulled us out of it -- does more to prove the destructive failure of FDR's New Deal than anything George Will said. His quotations of John McCain hero Teddy Roosevelt are earthquake traumatic. One senses, of course, that George Will knows all the same facts. But Glenn Beck knows better than Will the incredible breakthrough importance of reminding Americans that the past is not what we have been taught or blithely assume it is. Which means that the potentials of the future are also not what the most learned -- and cynical -- among us think we're prepared to entertain and pursue.

Beck is darker and more apocalyptic than Will. He is also, ultimately, more hopeful. It wouldn't occur to Will to go deep-down sentimental and histrionic about the real text and tone of the inscriptions on the Statue of Liberty. At some level, Will either assumes we know that history, or we remember the diplomatic complexities of the European political context that inspired it, or understand that there's no going back to the simpler times when the words on a statue conveyed something of real import. He's too caught up in his awareness of the philosophical demons that transform allegory into procedural battles among dynastic political families, Borgia popes, and their vassals. His education and experience have diminished his sense of the possible. A mongrel like Beck has hybrid vigor. He wants to move the stakes of the game outward, beyond the traditional bounds. It's not quoits, in Beck's view. It's Quydditch, and you're allowed to fly.

Of course, I'm sure George Will didn't approve of Beck's speech either. I'm not aware of any response thus far, but I think we can use Bill Bennett's reaction as an indicator. Which is why I'll severely fisk what Bennett said at NRO this morning:

Saturday Night Beck [Bill Bennett]

There’s a lot to say about CPAC. This morning the major papers are highlighting Glenn Beck’s speech. I like Glenn a lot and I think he has something to teach us. But not what he offered last night.

Analogizing his own struggles with alcohol to the problems of our polity and in our politics, he said, “Hello, my name is the Republican party, and I have a problem!” “I’m addicted to spending and big government.” ”It is still morning in America.” ”It just happens to be kind of a head-pounding, hung-over, vomiting-for-four-hours kind of morning in America. And it’s shaping up to be kind of a nasty day. But it is still morning in America.” And, again, “I believe in redemption, but the first step to getting redemption is you’ve got to admit that you’ve got a problem. I have not heard people in the Republican party yet admit that they have a problem.”

Glenn is among the best talkers in the business of broadcast. I am not sure he’s a very good listener. Actually, I'm pretty sure he is a good listener. As the third most popular radio talk show host in the land, without the authority of Harvard degrees and cabinet credentials, he either taps into what people care about or he's a graveyard shift deejay in Iowa City.

First, there is a good and strong tradition in alcohol and drug treatment that personal failings should not be extrapolated into the public sphere; that too often when this is done, conclusions are reached based on the wrong motives and, often, the wrong analysis. This sounds suspiciously like rote 12-step orthodoxy to me. They probably say that to all the neophytes who have just quit drinking, drugs, gambling, and sexual promiscuity to prevent them from becoming too self-righteous and preachy about the faults of others, not to prevent them from understanding the world from the standpoint of personal experience. Glenn has made that mistake here and taken to our politics a cosmologizing of his own deficiencies. This is not a baseless criticism; they are his own deficiencies that he keeps publicly redounding to and analogizing to. It is wrong and he is wrong. Oh? Personal failings of human beings have nothing to do with public failings of institutions conceived and administered by human beings? What a relief to know that the founders's fears of government because governments are run by human beings were, well, unfounded. When did you become a statist, Bill? Or am I too harsh? When did you become a partyist? Governments are vulnerable to human sin and parties are not. Interesting theory. I'm waiting for the 600-page book. Or is the simple fiat "wrong" your last word on the subject.

Second, for him to continue to say that he does not hear the Republican party admit its failings or problems is to ignore some of the loudest and brightest lights in the party. From Jim DeMint to Tom Coburn to Mike Pence to Paul Ryan, any number of Republicans have admitted the excesses of the party and done constructive and serious work to correct them and find and promote solutions. A few bright lights does not a party make. And bright lights have been known to go out when some whip cracks loudly enough. (Mixed metaphor pun intended.) Does the term 'Gang of 14' ring a loud bright bell? Is voting against the president's elephantine budget the same as calling for actual, honest-to-God spending CUTS? Even John McCain has said again and again that “the Republican party lost its way.” Please stop it with the McCain crap. He's much angrier about earmarks than he is about trillion-dollar deficits. He's got the mind of a bookkeeper. He doesn't mind monstrous spending. He just doesn't like venial entries in his great big ledger. These leaders, and many others, have been offering real proposals, not ill-informed muttering diatribes that can’t distinguish between conservative and liberal, free enterprise and controlled markets, or night and day. Muttering diatribes? I gather that's a slap at Beck. The man doesn't mutter. He has a chalkboard. He writes on it more legibly than my sixth grade teacher ever did, and he uses facts and figures I never heard from you. Did you predict this recession halfway through Bush's second term? No? Who's muttering now? Does Glenn truly believe there is no difference between a Tom Coburn, for example, and a Harry Reid or a Charles Schumer or a Barbara Boxer? Between a Paul Ryan or Michele Bachmann and a Nancy Pelosi or Barney Frank? If you -- a trained scholar -- look at the actual transcript, I think you'll find he made a distinction, just not one you like. He said, "It's not enough to suck less." He's right. Once again, the party is not measured by its leading lights; it's measured by what the party does as a group. The Democrats have slavishly followed Pelosi, Reid, and Frank, which makes them suitable stand-ins for their party. Republicans by and large have not voted as Coburn, Ryan, and Bachmann recommend. Which makes them exceptions, not exculpatory exemplars.

Third, to admit it is still “morning in America” but [sic] a “vomiting for four hours” kind of morning is to diminish, discourage, and disparage all the work of the conservative, Republican, and independent resistance of the past year. The Tea Partiers know better than this. I don’t think they would describe their rallies and resistance as a bilious purging but, rather, as a very positive democratic reaction aimed at correcting the wrongs of the current political leadership. The mainstream media may describe their reactions as an unhealthy expurgation. I do not. There's nothing unhealthy about expurgation after excess. It is frequently ugly. But not as ugly as the sleight of hand you're performing here. When people who would otherwise go to work and bear the burdens of the republic as they have done for generation after generation without taking to the streets in protest find it necessary to adopt the tactics of sixties radicals for the purpose of making it known that their government is entirely out of control, it does represent a "bilious purging." And to claim that they are not also reacting against a Republican Party which claimed it would abide by a 'Contract with America' and immediately surrendered to every temptation of power, influence, and pleasure offered by their positions is ludicrous and insulting.

A year ago, we were told the Republican party and the conservative movement were moribund. Today they are ascendant, and it is the left and the Democratic party that are on defense — even while they are in control. That’s quite an amazing achievement. But anyone who knows the history of this country and its political movements should not be surprised. America has a long tradition of antibodies that kick in. From Carter we got Reagan. And from Ted Kennedy and Barack Obama we took back a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, with midterm elections on the horizon that Republicans and conservatives are actually excited about, not afraid of. uh, "we took back a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate"? No. We deprived them, by one (or three or four) wavering vote(s) of a guaranteed filibuster-proof majority. That's a very different thing. The Republican Party is still in intensive care. Conservatives, independents, and renegade Democrats are still trying to figure out who can they can trust, why they should, and what possibly empty promises are worth another life-or-death bet on the fate of our country. Beck is expressing their doubt and distrust in terms you should be listening to. Not lecturing about.

To say the GOP and the Democrats are no different, to say the GOP needs to hit a recovery-program-type bottom and hang its head in remorse, is to delay our own country’s recovery from the problems the Democratic left is inflicting. The stakes are too important to go through that kind of exercise, which will ultimately go nowhere anyway — because it’s already happened. Gorblimey if you aren't sounding like every Democrat at election time who tells black people, "Now isn't the time to question whether we've kept all our decades of promises to you. If you don't vote with us now, they'll be burning churches in Mississippi and dragging your people behind pickup trucks in Texas. There is no history. There is only NOW, and the bus will be waiting outside your project housing at 9 am. There will be malt liquor for every registered voter.

The first task of a serious political analyst is to see things as they are. There is a difference between morning and night. There is a difference between drunk and sober. And there is a difference between the Republican and Democratic parties. To ignore these differences, or propagate the myth that they don’t exist, is not only discouraging, it is dangerous. Hmmmph. Read your own last paragraph. Then get back to me, Mr. Bennett.

Why Beck gets the Gold. George Will wouldn't have upset Bill Bennett. But Bill Bennett needs to be upset. He needs to be chastened. Until he is, we need Beck every bit as much as we need George Will. But we do need them both. Every one of us lives in the space between George's top and Glenn's bottom. I don't even care how that sounds. Because Bill Bennett sounds so much worse.

The Dreaded Rolling
Stones Retrospective

You think this is fuzzy and muddy? You should have heard the record.

AS PROMISED. I grew up in the radical sixties. So obviously the Stones aren't the only band about which I have piercing memories. But they were the anchor band, meaning they were associated with my keenest memories and they were also the band that both sustained me in my darkest days and filled me with joy when times were good. Over the years, I've also come to appreciate that the Stones were for me more than even Frank Sinatra was for my parents and their peers. If you came of age in the Sixties, music wasn't an accessory or background or ancillary effect of memory. It was of a piece with all your memories, ineradicable and a catalyst for time travel inside your life. When you're time-travelling, though, it's dangerous. You need traffic signs. Pillars. Things to hang onto. These are mine.

I've done more than most to slam the Boomer generation. But in this one respect I feel sorry for everyone who's come after. Whenever I talk to younger generations about their musical postulates -- the songs they don't need to apologize for because they were sixteen and fired up and listening to the car radio -- they nominate nonsense. Baby boomers in comparison are like the residents of Vienna during the most productive period of Mozart. Everything they imprinted on was a classic. Motown, Beatles, Who, Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, etc, etc, etc. It doesn't make us better. It just means we have an automatically superior soundtrack to our lives. Like we're an MGM musical and the rest of you are a Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello movie. Worse for everyone else, the sixties were like some throbbing intersection of the whole history of music (apart from classical and opera), awakening a curiosity about every American genre from blues to jazz to country to rhythm & blues to rock and roll, because all of them were braided into the firestorm of counterculture music.

In my softer moments, I console myself with the thought that this is the one saving grace of us Boomers. We never learned how to think but we created our own version of the Aborigine Dreamtime. For a brief moment in time we wedded consciousness itself to a music that made sense in some weird way of our otherwise doomed lives. Our children don't have that. It's such an inarticulate and ephemeral attainment that it can't be passed on. We transmitted the habit of music but not the soul of it. The addiction but not the life of it. And as we grew old, we lost the life of it ourselves, fading into parodies of what we once derided and denounced.

Sorry. I'm sorry. I know this will seem to many of you like a metaphor for sex, which it isn't. True, you youngsters have entirely lost the magic of sex, but we were doing that, too, even in our day. Music was our last connection to sex, and as it died in us, sex died, too. It is now entirely dead. Like rock and roll.

Where was I? Oh. The Rolling Stones. My first acquaintance. In boarding school. I was fourteen. Two years in. My roommate -- he died years ago at the age of 40, so buzz off -- had this album called "Got Live if You Want It," and it didn't have a jacket. I think it was his because it wasn't mine, although he said he didn't know where it came from either. But the record was a lot like both of us, an unloved survivor. We were neither of us good housekeepers and that scratch-grayed LP kept turning up in the back of the closet, under laundry, underfoot, and the thing was, whenever we found it we played it and it played. For two reasons, I thought at the time. There was so much female screaming as the Stones performed it couldn't have mattered if there were scratches. AND our record player had such a primitively heavy tone arm that it didn't care about scratches. It's only now, years later, that I entertain a third possibility: that record was our personal portal to the generation we were destined to become a part of.

I'll stop here. Obviously, the Stones story is going to consist of more than one post. But this is where it began. YouTube may actually have more than one cut of "Got Live If You Want It." Look it up. When you do, imagine a remote time, forty years ago, when two adolescents were standing on the cusp of the radical era. We were in love with every girl we saw, and the only way we could see them was in the songs we played.

btw. Penny, shut up. I'll ban you without a thought. Not kidding. NOT.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Winter Olympics:

The Sports Part

Am I the only one who's noticed he goes higher than everybody else? No? Good.

KEEPING MY PROMISES. Well. So far at least, Americans are kicking ass. I'm even giving NBC a solid B+ for their website, which provides some lengthy highlights of both winning performances and medal ceremonies for those of us who can't keep Pacific-Time hours. There's a page called Golden Moments that currently offers clips of the Gold Medal runs of Shaun White, Lindsey Vonn, Evan Lysacek, and Shani Davis. The video quality is high-def and although the prefatory BMW ads are annoying, the content is worth the wait. It's also unexpectedly moving to see the medal ceremonies available for two of these U.S.A. golds. I don't pretend to understand the broccoli bouquets bestowed on the medalists, but it's touching to hear our national anthem and see hip-dude Shaun White and his bronze medal teammate with hand over heart, as well as the American bronze medalist doing the same while Shani Davis pays his respects Chicago-style.

I'm only withholding an "A" grade because it would also have been nice to see the rival performances that in the case of Vonn and Lysacek occurred after their own and sealed the fact of their victories by coming just a little short. That moment of realization for the new champion is an emotional wallop that's sorely missed.

RANDOM NOTES. In no particular order and to no particular purpose...

My favorite Winter Olympic sport is the biathlon. It represents a combination of athletic endurance and mental focus that fills me with awe. You ski with bursting lungs and burning legs, and THEN you must somehow achieve the jeweller's precision, the absolute stillness, required to hit a rifle bullseye in the snow. And I can't stop being curious about those guns, which are the most eccentric looking firearms I've ever seen. Why will no one ever talk about them? (Shout-out to our friends at Of Arms and the Law: Can you help us out here? Really really want to know...)

What can you say about third-string American figure skater Johnny Weir? Mrs. CP thinks this picture says it all:

Is she right?

Even for an old jingoist like me, it's not all about winning. I was moved by Lindsey Vonn's bipolar fate in the Alpine Combined -- first in the downhill and then a crash in the slalom. The ecstasy of victory and the agony of defeat in a single event. Topped off by her genuine joy that the eventual winner was her best friend from Germany. A classy moment.

Of which there have been a few already. To win the gold, Evan Lysacek had to earn his best ever score in figure skating competition. He did. That's my definition of an Olympian. Better when it gets harder. Hats off to him.

And Shaun White gets a special mention here. He won the gold without having to do his newest superhuman trick. But in what was billed as a "victory lap," he surpassed his first run with an even better second run that rewarded his fans with the best he could do. Which is way way better than anyone else can do. So, not only did he live up to all the hype, he transcended it by delivering far more than he had to. I'm impressed. I guess he can keep the Rita Hayworth do. If he wants.

What am I leaving out? Curling? Don't start.

Just kidding. What do any of you find striking, inspiring, or intensely memorable about the show in Vancouver?

ANOTHER GOLD MEDAL PERFORMANCE. uh, how did this sneak in here? Because we do what we want, whenever we want to do it. So there.

Think of Sadie the Scotty as Shaun White. The favorite who romps home the winner without ever losing that indefinable "cool." But there was also a terrific underdog story at the canine Olympics of Westminster. In a group where the winner is usually a cute little beagle scenthound, this year the sighthounds won big: gold, silver, and bronze. Mrs. CP and I have two greyhounds and a Scottish deerhound. We were pumped. (Except for the "expert's" slander of greyhounds. Whippets top out at 35 mph, greyhounds at 45. Calling the former more "athletic" than the latter is like proposing that Yugos are better than Corvettes because they have a tighter turning radius.) Why we didn't see some of the other Olympics.

No apologies even offered. When we get down, we play Scotland the Brave and everything gets instantly better.

UPDATE. As we expected, Dave Hardy, lead attorney for Of Arms and the Law, checked in almost immediately to provide information NBC couldn't be bothered to offer 60 million American viewers of the Olympics about biathlon firearms. What you may not know is that Dave Hardy has had some fairly serious health issues of late and has, like all extremely well educated elitists in a similar situation, become somewhat downhearted and defeatist. He sent me a picture about that:

Oh. Maybe not so much with the downhearted and defeatist thing. He also sent me this curious pic. What do you make of it? He doesn't look sick to me.

There's a third pic too, but I'm holding back for now because he's promising to turn it into a "motivational poster." The old bastard. Depriving me of a post punchline I sorely need.

I'll show him. You better believe it. (Stay tuned for the poster. It features a young deer. Mrs. CP won't like it, but this time I'm going to have to overrule her.)

What were we talking about? The Olympics. Something about rising to challenges and winning through to extraordinary heights. Got it.

UPDATE 2. Dave Hardy's motivational poster:

I'm motivated. How about you?

A Tiger Triptych

He really is seriously losing his hair, isn't he?

SOFTY? PERHAPS. I haven't been waiting around for Tiger to apologize to me. Does that put me in the minority? He screwed up. He's trying to find some way to fix it. Is he making progress? You tell me.

I'm going to blow up all the fair use conventions here to give you three bites of the apple. First up is the speech recommended to him before today's event by an expert in PR crisis management. Here's the whole thing:

A Speech That Could Save Tiger Woods (by Mark DeMoss, Feb. 18)

I'm here to say I'm sorry.  I have been blessed beyond measure but have made a mess of my life, squandering the trust and support so many have placed in me throughout my young career.  I blame myself for my troubles and now want to apologize to a number of people, starting with my wife.  Elin, I'm sorry for embarrassing and hurting and betraying you and our precious little girl and boy.  You deserve so much better.

I'm also sorry for bringing reproach to the game of golf.  For centuries golf has been universally considered a "gentlemen's game," and I have behaved in a most ungentlemanly way in recent years.  I'm sorry for setting a horrible example to the thousands of kids the Tiger Woods Foundation has worked with and I'm sorry for embarrassing the sponsors who lent their good names to me - and paid me handsomely for the association. 

Then, I want to apologize to the "good guys" on tour, for living so recklessly as to cause many people to assume all professional athletes conduct their personal lives like I was.  I've been fortunate to play alongside countless men who are faithful to their wives, their values and convictions, and I'm sorry I didn't follow their examples.

I don't blame anyone for my recent problems but myself.  I appreciate that some have tried to defend me by attributing my moral failures to the pressures of being the top-ranked golfer, or losing my father, living in the spotlight and so on.  They should stop deflecting and place the blame where it belongs - squarely on my shoulders. 

There has been much debate in recent weeks about privacy and how much of it celebrities are entitled to.  I can't speak for other celebrities but I will tell you this: as much as I cherish privacy, I don't deserve it and certainly don't consider myself entitled to it.  I forfeited any benefit of doubt and privacy by my terrible actions and must now suffer the consequences.  I can't expect the same media that reports my professional successes to people around the globe (which helped me earn a lot of money) to now ignore my personal failures.  I understand and accept that - and could have controlled it by my own actions.

Now, since there has been so much speculation about what I'm going to do next, I thought I would tell you myself.

   1. I will not play any of golf's four major tournaments in 2010.  These majors are sacred in our sport and they don't deserve to be tarnished by my behavior off the course.  If this self-imposed sabbatical keeps me from catching Jack Nicklaus's career record for major victories, so be it - he deserves the record.
   2. I will not play any tournament until I determine whether or not my marriage can be salvaged.  No trophy or prize money is more important than my relationship with Elin and our two children.  I am working hard to regain their respect before I try to win yours.
   3. I have asked a special group of men - Jack Nicklaus, Tony Dungy and a pastor of their choosing - to mentor me and hold me accountable for my behavior for at least two years.  I will tell them where I'm going, what I'm doing, who I'm with and will invite any question about anything in my life from any of them at any time.  I am humbly and wholeheartedly submitting to them for my personal rehabilitation and restoration.
   4. I have written my remaining sponsors asking to be released from all current agreements.  It has not been fair for the companies who have invested so much in me to have to make decisions about whether or not to continue these relationships, so I want to make the decision for them.  In time I will begin working to rebuild the trust these people have placed in me.  In the meantime, I will earn nothing from sponsors and will contribute a tithe of all they paid me last year to each company's foundation to further the charitable work of their choosing.

Finally, I am asking God and Elin for a second chance.  I know God offers this, but I could not expect Elin to.  If she does I will be getting a life-saving mulligan I don't deserve.  Either way, I ask forgiveness and commit to do better.  I was wrong.  I'm sorry.

Next is the speech Tiger actually gave. Here's the full text:

Good morning, and thank you for joining me. Many of you in this room are my friends. Many of you in this room know me. Many of you have cheered for me or you've worked with me or you've supported me.

Now every one of you has good reason to be critical of me. I want to say to each of you, simply and directly, I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in.

I know people want to find out how I could be so selfish and so foolish. People want to know how I could have done these things to my wife Elin and to my children. And while I have always tried to be a private person, there are some things I want to say.

Elin and I have started the process of discussing the damage caused by my behavior. As Elin pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time. We have a lot to discuss; however, what we say to each other will remain between the two of us.

I am also aware of the pain my behavior has caused to those of you in this room. I have let you down, and I have let down my fans. For many of you, especially my friends, my behavior has been a personal disappointment. To those of you who work for me, I have let you down personally and professionally. My behavior has caused considerable worry to my business partners.

To everyone involved in my foundation, including my staff, board of directors, sponsors, and most importantly, the young students we reach, our work is more important than ever. Thirteen years ago, my dad and I envisioned helping young people achieve their dreams through education. This work remains unchanged and will continue to grow. From the Learning Center students in Southern California to the Earl Woods scholars in Washington, D.C., millions of kids have changed their lives, and I am dedicated to making sure that continues.

But still, I know I have bitterly disappointed all of you. I have made you question who I am and how I could have done the things I did. I am embarrassed that I have put you in this position.

For all that I have done, I am so sorry.

I have a lot to atone for, but there is one issue I really want to discuss. Some people have speculated that Elin somehow hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night. It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that. Elin never hit me that night or any other night. There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage, ever. Elin has shown enormous grace and poise throughout this ordeal. Elin deserves praise, not blame.

The issue involved here was my repeated irresponsible behavior. I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame.

I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn't have to go far to find them.

I was wrong. I was foolish. I don't get to play by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me. I brought this shame on myself. I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife's family, my friends, my foundation, and kids all around the world who admired me.

I've had a lot of time to think about what I've done. My failures have made me look at myself in a way I never wanted to before. It's now up to me to make amends, and that starts by never repeating the mistakes I've made. It's up to me to start living a life of integrity.

I once heard, and I believe it's true, it's not what you achieve in life that matters; it's what you overcome. Achievements on the golf course are only part of setting an example. Character and decency are what really count.

Parents used to point to me as a role model for their kids. I owe all those families a special apology. I want to say to them that I am truly sorry.

It's hard to admit that I need help, but I do. For 45 days from the end of December to early February, I was in inpatient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I'm facing. I have a long way to go. But I've taken my first steps in the right direction.

As I proceed, I understand people have questions. I understand the press wants to ask me for the details and the times I was unfaithful. I understand people want to know whether Elin and I will remain together. Please know that as far as I'm concerned, every one of these questions and answers is a matter between Elin and me. These are issues between a husband and a wife.

Some people have made up things that never happened. They said I used performance-enhancing drugs. This is completely and utterly false. Some have written things about my family. Despite the damage I have done, I still believe it is right to shield my family from the public spotlight. They did not do these things; I did.

I have always tried to maintain a private space for my wife and children. They have been kept separate from my sponsors, my commercial endorsements. When my children were born, we only released photographs so that the paparazzi could not chase them. However, my behavior doesn't make it right for the media to follow my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to school and report the school's location. They staked out my wife and they pursued my mom. Whatever my wrongdoings, for the sake of my family, please leave my wife and kids alone.

I recognize I have brought this on myself, and I know above all I am the one who needs to change. I owe it to my family to become a better person. I owe it to those closest to me to become a better man. That's where my focus will be.

I have a lot of work to do, and I intend to dedicate myself to doing it. Part of following this path for me is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age. People probably don't realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years.

Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously I lost track of what I was taught.

As I move forward, I will continue to receive help because I've learned that's how people really do change. Starting tomorrow, I will leave for more treatment and more therapy. I would like to thank my friends at Accenture and the players in the field this week for understanding why I'm making these remarks today. \

In therapy I've learned the importance of looking at my spiritual life and keeping in balance with my professional life. I need to regain my balance and be centered so I can save the things that are most important to me, my marriage and my children.

That also means relying on others for help. I've learned to seek support from my peers in therapy, and I hope someday to return that support to others who are seeking help. I do plan to return to golf one day, I just don't know when that day will be.

I don't rule out that it will be this year. When I do return, I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game. In recent weeks I have received many thousands of emails, letters and phone calls from people expressing good wishes. To everyone who has reached out to me and my family, thank you. Your encouragement means the world to Elin and me.

I want to thank the PGA Tour, Commissioner Finchem, and the players for their patience and understanding while I work on my private life. I look forward to seeing my fellow players on the course.

Finally, there are many people in this room, and there are many people at home who believed in me. Today I want to ask for your help. I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again.

Thank you.

Finally, here's what the guy who wrote the speech up top thought of what Tiger actually said.

A Mature Apology [Mark DeMoss]

I would applaud Tiger for his remarks this morning. Having watched his televised apology carefully, I would not assume the cynical posture many observers have already assumed. It’s easy to critique a speech after it has been given. Earlier this week, I proposed what I would have advised him to say and do had he been my client, and he did convey some of those thoughts and much of the tone, all of which I think served him well.

Sure, the format and ground rules were different than many of us would have preferred or recommended, but we’re not Tiger.

I give him credit for saying “I’m sorry,” for acknowledging his responsibility for his behavior and for seeking and asking for help.

Words like “irresponsible,” “selfish,” “unfaithful,” “affair,” and “shame” replaced the words like “mistake” and “indiscretion” that we often hear from people who have failed morally. I think his ownership of his behavior and its consequences is commendable.

In many ways, I think today may prove to be the day that a Tiger became a man.

Do I care? A little. He hasn't hurt me in any way. He doesn't owe me anything. I don't own a Nike shirt, a Buick, or an Accenture account. Never looked to him as a role model for me or my family. I have never looked to celebrity Buddhists for spiritual guidance. (Sorry.) I just loved the way he played golf. Period, end of story. Does he owe you? If he does or doesn't, let me know what you think. That's the most interesting part of the whole mess. How people conceive of their own relationships to celebrity.

All I'll say is that he's no Michael Vick. Or am I wrong about that, too?

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I STILL LIKE MY IDEA FOR A CABLE NEWS NETWORK. Things are popping in the New Media world. Michelle Malkin has sold HotAir to Salem Communications:

When we [Ed Morrissey and AllahPundit] negotiated our new relationships with Salem, both of us stressed the need to have the same editorial control and direction for Hot Air.  Not surprisingly, Salem readily agreed.  Now, they still own the business and can intervene when they see fit — just as Michelle could, but rarely if ever did — but they know us and our editorial choices.  We clarified the process and the direction to our satisfaction.  If we weren’t satisfied that we remained in position to maintain the current direction of Hot Air, neither of us would have stuck around.  We did, and we’ll be around for a while, too.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be changes, of course, but most of those will be to broaden our impact and reach.  Salem has a tremendous presence with its radio hosts, for instance, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see some synergy applied in that direction.  Townhall, now our sister site, will remain separate from Hot Air, but we’ll probably have some opportunities to participate more often in the magazine in the future.  I’m very excited about the potential for growth at Hot Air by being a part of the Salem family.

On the same day, the National Review is promoting a hip new news-aggregating service called The Feed:

The Feed is the very latest in news-blogging, brought to you by Greg Pollowitz. All day long Greg will post stories — from the worlds of politics and entertainment and everything in between — and include his brief take on them. Consider it a guided tour of what’s important and unimportant at any given moment. As you’ll see, you can log-in to vote, comment, and suggest — a leap in interactivity here at NRO. All honor to our always over-worked, but gung-ho tech team for putting it together. The Feed is a work in progress, so we’re eager to hear what you think.

And suddenly, there are rumors that (gasp!) Keith Olbermann may be on his way out:

"Has the countdown begun for the end of 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann'?" asks The New York Post. "With his ratings in free-fall, and his hateful histrionics reaching new highs, even Olbermann's former supporters on the left are tuning out." Indeed, The Los Angeles Times reports, "In the most desirable TV demographic of 25-54, which Keith will soon outgrow himself, 'Countdown' lost 44% of its audience from the beginning of President Obama's term until this year"...

And as Olbermann fades from memory even though he's still on the air, like Diagnosis: Murder or DeGrassi Junior High, The Joe Franklin Show, and Oliver North's War Stories, all of which may well be producing new episodes, ask yourself: Didn't he take it to the chipmunk (which is not really a chipmunk, we know) like a pro? Go tell the Spartans, or at least Roger Ailes, that this was one Cool Hand Luke who could really take a punch! [ED: The chipmunk reference is to a video included in the post, which is funny, as is the whole post, so go peruse it.]

Big news? Maybe. So why does it all remind me of this?

Underneath...? Same old snake.

I guess I'm just a cynic or something. In my heart of hearts, I'm not expecting much from these developments.

Hotair's Ed and Allah are disciplined, reliable, and intelligent, however much I disagree with them on any particular point, but their attraction, such as it is, consists of their status as gadflies buzzing the big media pond. If they get much bigger or more prominent in the public eye, they'll lose their outsider chic. In particular, Allah can't afford to step out from behind his nom de guerre. Like the Unknown Comic, the paper bag that's been hiding his face has become his face. Without the bag, unfairly or not, he'll be diminished.

I applaud the fact that National Review is trying something new, but The Feed seems (to me) either an eccentric stunt or a disturbing portent of bad things to come in our media future. The Corner is a wonderful blog because it retains the erudition, style, and wit of the print publication in a briefer format. Reducing actual National Review content to an intermittent smart remark at the end of individual borrowed items makes me begin to imagine what I don't like to imagine: the 2030 National Review whose Table of Contents consists entirely of Twitter essays 140 characters long. I'm not fotfl about that possibility.

Should I be more jazzed about the possible demise of Olbermann's Countdown show? Probably. But I'm not. In my experience, things that sound too good to be true are too good to be true. Also in my experience, the really ugly nasty things in life never really go away. They're too ugly and nasty to go away for good. Like Rosie O'Donnell and Janeane Garofalo. Cancel them here and they'll eventually pop up there, just as ugly and usually much more nasty.

Oh well. My two cents. Worth (given the state of the dollar these days) a few mills.

16-year-old wows CPAC

Love is lovely. But it's not everything.

CONSISTENCY IS THE BANE OF SMALL MINDS. Sorry for that headline. But as I get older, it's amazing how young the youngsters begin to look. This is Marco Rubio, the rising star who is going to beat out Charlie Crist for the Republican senate nomination in Florida. Charming, attractive, intelligent, rooted in the right principles, and so very very young in the ways of politics.

Sorry for the headline but it's no joke that there's a problematic generation gap in the GOP. Much more than the Dems, whose ranks are filled with tottering greybeards like Biden, Byrd, Lautenberg, Teddy, Harkin, Specter, Mikulski, Murtha, Dingell, Rangel, and the plastic avatar Pelosi, the Republicans have a lot of promising young blood: Paul Ryan, Eric Kantor, Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin, Scott Brown, Michelle Bachman, Liz Cheney, Marco Rubio, and no doubt others we haven't heard of. Young not just in years, though many of them are well below the age of gray hairs and their imputed wisdom, but also young in experience on the national stage. Problem is, we need leaders NOW, and the Old Guard is too old and compromised by their experience to serve in the capacity we need. John McCain, Newt Gingrich, Lindsey Graham, Rudy Giuliani, Orrin Hatch, John Boehner, John Kyl, etc, etc.

So there's a temptation to, well, do an 'Obama' right back at them. Pluck some charismatic juvenile out of the crib and force them to let us follow them to the ends of the earth. In an era of instant celebrity and reality show media fads, it even makes a certain kind of sense. Pick the best looking horse and ride on the back of off-the-chart Q-ratings to glory, acclaim, and power.

Thing is, it doesn't work. The Democrats are finding that out right now, in excruciating pain. They passed up the old warhorse Hillary for a three-year-old flash in the pan who can't run in the mud or, apparently, on a cloudy day. And who, day by day, seems to be revealing himself as something much less than a thoroughbred.

No, I'm NOT working my way toward a Romney endorsement. Put that out of your mind. Don't like him, don't trust him, don't want a Commander-in-Chief with five sons whose collective experience of the military is zero. He may be a good man. Probably is. But I don't want him for president. Okay?

What I am building up to is a deadly serious warning. Don't commit the classic NFL mistake: draft a promising young quarterback in the first round and fling him into a starting role he's not ready for. Yes, occasionally (said very slowly btw), you get away with it. Matt Ryan did okay as a rookie. Flacco also okay. Rothlisberger, okay. But Republicans need a lot more than okay in their next turn in the Oval Office. Which doesn't mean that we need a media star. We've got one of those now. How's it going?

All that great young blood needs time to learn, to develop, to make mistakes and score wins in lesser arenas than the Super Bowl. Most importantly, we can't draft them because we're 1 and 15 and desperate. We need Peyton Manning but we don't have him. What do we do?

First and foremost, we let the babies incubate, including Sarah, Bobby, Scott, and Marco. They're not ready. One day, all or some of them will be. But not yet.

Second, we resist the temptation to seek out charisma as a credential of its own. It isn't. In 2012, people are going to be very damn sick of charisma.

Third, we try to remember what a president -- a good president -- is. He's an executive. He knows what to do in tight spots because he's been in charge in tight spots before. Which rules out senators. Who have never been in charge of anything but posturing, unless they were something other than senators before. We're looking for somebody who is, or has been, a governor, general, a major cabinet official, somebody who knows how to get things done in a public, political environment and has been accountable for the results. We're looking for somebody who sticks to his principles even when the going gets really really tough and still finds some way to solve problems. We're looking for somebody whose experience is measured in decades, not months.

Fourth, we have to prepare ourselves for the fact that he might not be good looking, rhetorically gifted, or sublimely inspiring in a debate. Hell. He might even be fat, gap-toothed, and hairy of back. But we need him in the interim. Let the beautiful babies come to full term before we ask them to sacrifice everything for their country.

Just a thought.

Talking to Thucydides

You've got to admit. It's an honor to swap words with Thucydides.

PRECEDENT. As I recently pointed out, sometimes a comment should be a post. There's an opposite situation too. Sometimes a comment requires a post. I started this one as a response to commenter Thucydides, but before I hit the ENTER button I realized some of the rest of you might enjoy the conversation. So now it's a post. Such is the lottery called life. It started with this response by Thucy to an earlier back and forth between us on my recent entry about the Global Warming scandals. (He provided a link that didn't work; I've since tracked it down, so the one below gives you more information than I had at first.)

I found the more despairing perspective of the "corollary" I suggested a useful one in combination with your other works on this subject.

Moldbug is a "royalist," of course, so his perspective on our dilemma tends towards the conclusion that our political system at its heart is heading towards two undesirable goals (democracy red in tooth and claw, or tyrannical statism). His point, as I took it, was that there is no reform or return possible which will correct the errors which have led us to this pass. We simply do not have the political leadership necessary to steer a third course, and will not have such leadership because the current system not only doesn't produce them, it actively hinders them from developing.

I suggested the linked essay as a corollary, but perhaps a better word would be 'test'. It raises questions which have to be answered before we set ourselves to any political work to be done. Many of us might agree that our system of government is "incurably insane" - but what system? The post-LBJ government? The post-FDR government? The post-Civil War government? The system described by the Constitution? The author of the essay I linked might offer a "yes" to all of these - and thus I find it a useful corollary to your work because, at least as I understand it, you wouldn't answer "yes" to all.

In other words, I found that essay's take on what the "heart of the matter" was different from your own in an interesting way - and I was a bit curious what you and the commenters might make of those differences.

Thucydides is impeccably polite, so when he responded I wanted to be the same without entirely discarding my customary Tesla-esque death-ray approach. I thought I was dealing with a narrow academic question that wouldn't be of interest to most. I was wrong. Thucy's careful language misled me. He was talking about important things. Very important things. Which I, in all my casual superciliousness, finally realized just before completing my response in the comments. That's why you all have to endure my thoughts on his questions now:

Sorry if I misunderstood. I do that. You write more like Samuel Johnson than Walter Winchell. I don't always pick up on the difference.

Now that I understand the point, I will (I'm sure) not disappoint if I disagree with the royalist.

The problem with intellectual analyses is that they use too much logic. They fall in love (ironically) with their own use of reason. A contradiction exists. The contradiction is followed to its fatal extreme. Result? Disaster.

Brilliant rationalists have foreseen the end of the world a million times, though fortunately their exquisite taste in port wine has saved them from utter despair. Europeans are especially skilled in this kind of rational Armageddon, perhaps because of their access to exquisite port.

However. The American experience is not rational, not in its adaptations anyway, despite the glorious reasoning embodied in the Constitution. (We could call that the American Paradox, but that would be a whole other essay.)

You see -- and I don't want to sound reductive or simplistic here, but I accept that I probably will -- America is the longest running and most successful rebuttal of Zeno's Arrow. Thanks to the peculiar dynamics -- dare I say physics? -- of the Constitution, the enormous body of average voters do, despite all the corruptions of politics generally, get to say, at least every two years, "That's horseshit. Stop it."

You can fire an arrow but no matter how you parse it and protect it with words, it does reach its target. The result is a yelp. And interestingly, the physics of human nature seems to be on the side of those who recognize horseshit when they see it. Dumbshit takers tend not to vote; impassioned citizens with something to lose tend to swarm the polls when there's something vital at stake.

Which is to say that defining the problem in terms of "leadership" is the rational but erroneous inference of a, well, 'royalist' mentality. When the people are pissed off, they will bubble up their own 'leaders.' Whether they're anointed by the leadership class or not.

A seeming sidebar that isn't: Intellectuals are fond of citing the fact that all civilizations fail in the end. That is, they all fall into ruin. What they never cite is the fact that even ancient civilizations were incredibly hardy. People respond, adapt, solve extraordinary problems with almost numbing regularity. In every recorded history, the evidence of human ingenuity in the face of incredibly daunting obstacles is awe-inspiring. Why are there six billions of us? Because we know how to survive like nobody's business.

On the other hand, the history of declines and falls is depressingly uniform. The elites gather unto themselves too much of the power and resource and make it impossible for the people to exercise their talent for survival. Which is never about reason but plumbing, farming, making, and simple fixing.

Civilizations fell in the past because the people gave too much power to elites. The American experiment, very deeply rooted in all of us (even in trailer parks), is that we all have a voice when and if we want to use it.

You can draw all the vectors of hopeless philosophical conflict you want. Delineate whatever allegory of competing ideas you want. But that won't make you right. The genius of the American idea was the discovery that humanity is not about ideas at all, but making space for the irrational aspirations of human beings to exercise their own ingenuity in responding to the unfair demands of life.

AS LONG AS WE HAVE OUR CONSTITUTION TO KEEP US FREE, Americans will bust through all the walls of ideas and fix the day to day problems life is heir to -- which tend to be about plumbing, farming, making things, selling things, improving their property, raising their children, and getting along with their neighbors.

The brainy doomsayer essayists have never ever understood this. That's why they hide in universities, protected by tenure. Yes, they can do damage to the populace by causing them to doubt their own experience. But when push comes to shove, the people will invariably choose their own mud and blood experience over the mere ideas they've been force-fed by their 'betters.'

In sum, I don't see an apocalypse of any kind in this particular situation. Government is always "incurably insane." Here in the U.S., and perhaps here only, what matters is how voters react to the most recent and most egregious insanities. In the case of AGW, I see (maybe too hopefully) a mere blip on the screen. Some smart people tried to fool us, but that's going to get taken care of. And I don't think intellectuals or professors or other of our 'betters' are going to have that much say about how it gets taken care of.

Will there be other possibly fatal assaults on our ignorant credulity? Yes. Undoubtedly. But the wheels grind on, and they grind fakers mostly equally, even the ones with PhDs. I retain my faith in our miraculously rational constitution and the remarkably irrational ordinary people it was so brilliantly conceived to protect. Does that answer your question?

Thank you, Thucydides.

The rest of you? Discuss.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lake is a teacher. A real one.

Don't you wish you knew where this school is?

FOLLOWUP AND UPDATE. Some of our comments are so good they have to be reassigned as posts. That's true of this one by Lake, who has dug into the nuts and bolts of the AGW scandals with the ferocity of a committed science teacher, which he is. He's offering good information here, and I thank him for sharing after I suggested I'd done enough work on the subject to put some of the onus for further debunking on everybody who doesn't want their lives run by the Green Police.

You don't owe me anything, but you and the original Climategate have dominated my thoughts and research work since November. I have a lot of mindspace invested in this, in part because I am a science teacher looking for a golden opportunity. If I can disabuse some of the die-hards in the next generation who have bought into the farce, I'd be happy. Our school is in the midst of a 'green cup challenge' that has some kids studying in the dark with a flashlight and such...

My moment might come in the upcoming spring term, as our department chair may be starting a new class to study the issue. I've already pushed to get at least a class period worth of time to present some of the shockingly obvious problems with the whole field.

Two things for those of you who are inclined to read further:

First, a fully documented look at the ridiculous decline in instruments that are used to generate these climate models. Not only are they down from 6000 stations to fewer than 1500, the trimming has been intentional and selective for lower latitudes, fewer mountains, etc. It's right there, on the GISS website, in the middle (click graphic for page link):

Here's a long but very readable paper that dissects the whole temperature measurement issue in great detail: SURFACE TEMPERATURE RECORDS:

POLICY DRIVEN DECEPTION?. It's co-authored by Anthony Watts, the guy who took it on himself to lead the volunteer-driven survey of all the surface stations in the US -- you know, since the government agencies responsible for them didn't think it was necessary, I guess.

Second, here's an email-by-email fisking of the entire Climategate correspondence dump. Screw the 'hide the decline' sound bytes -- this document tells an incredibly damning tale, and while it's 148 pages long, it read like a thriller to me. PDF: Climategate Analysis. At the very least, read the introductory essay and then pick a page at random and read the email, the context, and Costella's fair but dead-on analysis.

If the subject of these emails comes up in a debate with any believers you know, challenge them to lower their gaze from the quotes perched at the tip and read the whole black iceberg. I can't imagine someone trying to explain it all away.

There. What HE said.

UPDATE. Tried to interest Hotair in Lake's beautifully concise science post for nonscientists. No takers. (Allah responded but said he'd been busy, no time to look at it. You know. Otherwise engaged on important stuff. Ah well. Acquisition fever, no doubt. No hard feelings.) However: here's a fitting postscript for a contribution I have a hunch will become better known and frequently referenced by truthseekers in future:

Neat, huh?

Professional Jealousy

THINKING OF AN INTRO LINK FOR THESE POSTS GETS TIRESOME, TOO. I must be the only guy under 90 to read the physical newspaper. I can't afford a better phone and need something to read at lunch. So I can be... not forgiven, exactly, but maybe waved away silently, and with pity, for caring about them. For thinking it's important that they not be trash.

Laugh at my naiveté, as newspaper staff across the world would if they knew how I feel. Proof: A local columnist-- I won't name him, he's abominable-- recently left my hometown paper after 25 years of gossippy fluff. The clip above is barely satire. "Rumor has it the city's planning on installing more parking meters downtown! An exclamation point makes it exciting!" "I ran into the director of the Oregon Zoo while I was wating in line for coffee... END OF ANECDOTE."

How did he sleep at night, pulling down what must have been six figures for that? Hell, how did his editors live with themselves? "Sure, it's stream of consciousness, but it's LOCAL stream of consciousness"? I can't imagine filling a newspaper page with text truly so laborious that they'll let any old monkey come in and bang away at a typewriter. And I refuse to imagine that readers clamored for this key-jingling for a quarter of a century.

I can hear you laughing, too. You're damn right it's professional jealousy! I can tap keys for a full twenty minutes too! Give me money I don't deserve! My half-baked blatherings are superior! And I can prove that, too:

[IP: He does this on purpose, I'm convinced. Mess up the format so I'll have to come in and fix it for him. Not going to do it this time. A purposeless indent is not youthful creativity. It's just, uh, Brizoni. I'm sure he thinks of it as leaning stylishly towards the right. Phooey.]

There's been a flap over the President's eeeevil Vegas comments. So much flap. Flap flap flappin' around, flappity flap flap:

President Obama is catching heat from Nevada lawmakers and business leaders regarding his comments Tuesday criticizing trips to Las Vegas.

During the president's town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire, he discussed the need to curb spending during tough economic times. "When times are tough, you tighten your belts," the president said. "You don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college."...

His statement Tuesday drew sharp criticism from Nevada lawmakers. "The President needs to lay off Las Vegas and stop making it the poster child for where people shouldn't be spending their money," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat. "Las Vegas is suffering through one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and we cannot afford for the President to bring us down any further," added Republican Senator John Ensign. "Nevada has one of the most distressed economies in the country, and the President has done little to focus on job creation over the past year. Discouraging people from coming to our state to make a political point adds insult to injury," said Republican Congressman Dean Heller.

Spare me, gents. "Making a political point" by attacking Obama for a rare lapse into common sense sullies the entire conservative movement. Everyone who isn't a Nevada politician knows that Vegas is "the poster child for where people shouldn't be spending their money" during a recession. Duh. I don't think this President is worth a second flush, but it's not his fault your economy is 100% dependent on desperate losers and moneyed bacchanalia.

Kudos to Congressman Heller for illustrating the other problem with picking only the lowest-hanging fruit: unintended ideological collateral damage. With his "done little to focus on job creation" gaffe. Way to go, conservative. You've perpetuated the myth that the President creates jobs. Was your cheap, content-free shot worth it? Maybe next time think before you speak. Retard.

Oh, sorry. I forgot that the retard is the new n-word:

Rahm Emanuel apologizes for 'retards' comment

...but his characteristically colourful language has only just been reported, drawing immediate fire from Left and Right, including Sarah Palin, the conservative heroine and former Alaska governor who is the mother of a Downs' Syndrome baby.

She called on Mr Obama to "show decency" by sacking Mr Emanuel, a former Chicago congressman who is one of the most combative figures in Washington.

"Just as we'd be appalled if any public figure of Rahm's stature ever used the 'N-word' or other such inappropriate language, Rahm's slur on all God's children with cognitive and developmental disabilities - and the people who love them - is unacceptable," she said.

Sarah, no! Bad! You want to throw your lot in with the Huffington Post crowd?

Recently my mother-in-law forwarded a joke that had obviously been making the rounds among her friends. It was a silly story about children who mistake words they hear, not worth repeating here. But the subject line of the email was "retarded grandparents." I took a deep breath. Then I clicked on "reply all" and wrote this message:

"For years I've received jokes like this and kept quiet, but one of my New Year's resolutions this year is to speak up, so here goes. As the parent of a developmentally disabled child, I find the use of the word "retarded" personally offensive. So-called jokes like these reinforce the discrimination and intolerance children like mine face daily. 'Retarded' is not a synonym for 'stupid.' It's time to retire the 'R' word from everyone's vocabulary."

I'd like very much to not hate Sarahcuda. 99 and 44/100 percent of the antipathy towards her comes from either ill-informed snobbery or the deep personal insecurity that drives someone to the Left in the first place. But when she echoes a HuffPost contributor calling for more political correctness and thought-policing, how else can a reasonable man feel­?

Aaaaand end. That's as far as I got. No punchline, no tying together of various mental threads, none of that. Just ran out of steam and didn't care. Could have thought of a better metaphor than "picking the lowest-hanging fruit," but those Netflix envelopes aren't going to watch themselves. But my semi-interested effort was The Lion and the Unicorn, both in scope and ambition, compared to the twice-weekly two column inches of gibber that let Jonathan Nicolas unnamed retard hack retire from letters a millionaire corporate executive (true, but this time I won't bother to prove it).

Speaking of running out of steam...

Obama's Numb3rs

There's got to be a way to figure out what they'll do next.

A QUESTION I WON'T LET GO. Machiavellian Manchurian Candidate? Or Shallow Opportunistic Incompetent?

We've got new information to digest. The earthshaking election of Scott Brown. The stubborn "stay the course" (non)response by the Obama administration. The sudden Biden Blitzkrieg (funny but not really) which seems designed to offend absolutely everyone. A new poll being touted by Drudge which suggests that 52 percent of Americans don't think the president merits a second term. A new interview which suggests that Obama is exactly who his most extreme detractors always thought he was.

My impression is that a lot of you still want to have it both ways. He's a ruthlessly clever Marxist ideologue. And he's also a self-absorbed cipher who can't get over the mirror image of himself climbing into Marine One in his perfect suits while his handlers schedule the next magazine cover and fawning MSM interview. But it can't be both. And I'm the only one asking the question this starkly. Is he a 21st Century Marxist Napoleon or a puppet of his cynical campaign advisers? The correct answer matters more than all the flailing, indeterminate fulminations you can pack into the Comments section and all your emails, twitters, and private conversations with one another. It can't be both.

So now I'm going to use the intellectual pop culture against itself. There's a TV show called Numb3rs. Its whole premise is that advanced mathematics can explain everything from where the next criminal act will occur to what the decision making process of networks of terrorists will choose to do next. As a liberal view of the universe, it's kind of perfect. We're all just pattern-makers, which makes us explicable to the pattern identifiers in the science community. A taste:

Best thing about the show? Seeing the wizard in a wetsuit.

Mrs. CP (the math major) likes the show more than I do, I confess. I find the math genius at its center dull, charmless, and dim-witted. It's simply a pose, in my opinion, that human behavior -- anymore than, say, climate behavior -- has ever been accurately described by mathematics.

BUT. Isn't this the ideal opportunity to put it to the test? What's going on in the White House? If human behavior is about math rather than, uh, human behavior, shouldn't we be able to discern how and why the Obama White House is committing political suicide? You know. Network theory. Matrix calculations. Statistical domino theory in a gaming algorithm? Something to explain why an intelligent man cannot perceive reality and so dooms his entire agenda to destruction when dumb ordinary folks would choose to take a step back and compromise with reality?

Are you getting my point? If human behavior is really reducible to patterns, algorithms, and mathematical models, then it should be possible to analyze what is going on in the White House amongst Obama, Axelrod, Emanuel and Jarrett. It really should. Some dynamic that explains why they can't see the catastrophe that's building before them.

You see, it's my own suspicion that math has nothing to do with human behavior at all. Math relies on logic. And logic has nothing to do with what's presently happening in the White House. I think it has more to do with the recently rediscovered mystery of weather. We're looking at a perfect storm of personalities. A perfect storm of passive aggressive empty suits.

My theory. (Numb3rs aside.) We have a president who is constitutionally incapable of making a decision. His experience has always been to wait for others to make decisions and then, like a community organizer, use their decisions against them. He has three constant companions, two of them go-for-the-throat political campaigners and one a pure racially obsessed ideologue.

Doesn't this seem like the kind of scenario that the Numb3rs guy could dial into his math mind? Has anyone in the intellectually superior party done it? No.  So I'll do it in his place.

This is a formula for executive paralysis. A perfect storm of passive-aggressive self-destruction. The decision maker cannot make a decision. The factotums cannot compromise or yield even an inch when attacked. Their whole being urges them to destroy the opposition. So what do they do when faced with the absolute necessity of negotiating with the enemy? They choose to attack in defiance of reality while the prize they're protecting, the decision maker, continues to waffle and delay and defer even the most necessary clarities. Obama is the Dauphin, defended by Joan of Arc. Who will be burned at the stake.

But it would be so much cooler if a CalTech professor explained all this in terms of network matrix math. Bummer. None of them are Republicans.

A Moment of Pause

Maybe my all time favorite Stones song.

OUR WINTER. Compared to this, it's been a cold cold you know.

What we're doing here is gasping. I had to hire heavy equipment to lift my car out of the snow. Today. More than a week after the double blizzard.

Just to warn you. I'm going to punish you all with a Rolling Stones post. And a blow-by-blow of how they, and some other bands, have been intimately bound up in my life.

If I didn't do that, I'd have to show you cute videos of my new granddaughter, which Mrs. CP won't let me do because and which I won't do on the general principle that the Stones, V-8s, motorcycles, boot chains, and all-around hellishness are more reflective of my life than the newest girl who likes me better than  her parents.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Biden Escapes!

The critical event occurs 1:44 into the clip.

UNHEEDED ADVICE. At this point nobody in the administration seems to know why security was so lax at the Veep's undisclosed location, but we should be used to that by now. Still, it was astonishing to be reminded just how much damage the man can do when he goes on one of his crazed media sprees. In just a few days time he managed to infuriate both Democrats and Republicans by claiming a stable, democratic Iraq as one of Obama's great achievements, piss off a majority of New York Democrat politicians by accusing them of exaggerating the costs of a KSM trial, increase his boss's exposure on terrorism by declaring another 9/11 attack unlikely, irritate a huge Dem donor by forgetting the name of his blockbuster movie, and insult Blue State Massachussetts (and the military) by treating their new senator like an ignorant schoolboy. That's a lot of constituencies to rub the wrong way when your president and your party are way upside-down in the polls.

Appalled as they must be behind closed doors, the Obama White House will probably try to spin this as part of their new (!?) communication strategy of not taking any crap from anybody and smacking them upside the head if they get out of line. But please. The Veep is a lot less like a SWAT sniper than he is like a suicide bomber, taking out friend and foe in about equal measure while making a bloody mess of himself in the process.

To focus on just one example, what on earth did he have in mind starting this particular fight -- and in such a recklessly snotty tone, to boot?

They say Anthony Hopkins conceived Lecter's voice as a male
  version of Katherine Hepburn's. I admit Biden's doing something
different. Maybe an inarticulate male version of Gore Vidal's.
  He's got the blind, arrogant egotism down cold, that's for sure.
But the low-class adolescent sneer sort of ruins the effect.

I mean, when you leave the door open to get taken down as tersely, factually, and completely as this...

“He’s trying to give me a lesson on military law, and I didn’t think it was appropriate,” Brown told POLITICO. “And I thought he was off base when it comes to explaining to the American people that somehow I need a lesson on whether people get attorneys — of course they get attorneys. There’s a difference as to what type of attorney they’re going to get and when they’re going to get that attorney, and how are they treated, and what rights do they, in fact, get.”

Brown said he is particularly incensed by Biden’s remarks because he’s served in the Massachusetts Army National Guard for more than 30 years and is currently the Guard's top defense attorney in New England.

...people are just going to laugh at you, regardless of their political affiliations.

Try as I might, I can't think of any rational reason why it helps the Obama administration to have turned Biden loose in this way. All I can do is give them a hint, again, on how best to contain this fool and the unending source of embarrassment he represents:

Mum's the word. A pretty good word, too. When you think about it.

Eduardo Sounds Off.

How they really see you.

NOBODY'S SAFE. Some of you savvy web wanderers may have noticed this little gem floating around about Captain America* from Marvel Comics bashing the Tea Party movement:
In issue number 602 of Captain America, a new story line has begun called “Two Americas.” In it the current Captain…is on the trail of a faux Captain America that is mentally deranged and getting chummy with some white supremacist, anti-government, survivalists types going by the name of “the Watchdogs.” While investigating this subversive group, Captain America and his partner The Falcon — a black super hero — have decided to try and infiltrate the secretive organization.

In preparation for the infiltration, Marvel Comics depicts the two super heroes out of costume and observing from a rooftop a street filled with what can only be described as a Tea Party protest. The scene shows crowds of people in city streets carrying signs that say, “stop the socialists,” “tea bag libs before they tea bag you,” and “no to new taxes.” Naturally, the people in these crowds are depicted as being filled with nothing but white folks.

The black character asks the out of costume Captain, “What the hell is this?” And follows that with, “looks like some kind of anti-tax protest.” The Falcon character then snidely tells his partner the Captain, “So I guess this whole ‘hate the government’ vibe around here isn’t limited to the Watchdogs.”

The two then discuss their plan to infiltrate the subversive group that Marvel comics seems to be linking to the Tea Party movement. This discussion culminates in The Falcon wondering how a black man would do such a thing. “I don’t exactly see a black man from Harlem fitting in with a bunch of angry white folks,” he tells the incognito Captain America.

The Captain tells him, “no it’s perfect… this all fits right into my plan.” After this we find that the Captain’s plan is to send the black man into a redneck bar to pretend to be a black man working for the IRS and to get everyone all mad… because… well, you know that every white person is a racist that hates black civil servants, right?
Not long after this story made its way around the intertubes, Marvel owned up to their, uh, “mistake”. Quoth Marvel’s editor in chief:
There was zero discussion to include a group that looked like a Tea Party demonstration. Ed [Brubaker] simply wrote in an anti-tax protest into his story to show one of the moods that currently exists in America. There was no thought that it represented a particular group…

Where Mr. Houston [sic] is correct is in our accidently [sic] identifying in one of the held up signs, the group as being a part of the Tea Party instead of a generic protest group. That’s something that we need to apologize for and own up to, because it’s just one of those stupid mistakes that happened through a series of stupid incidents.
There, you see? It’s just one of those innocent, stupid mistakes. Could have happened to anyone. They just randomly, on a whim, decided that the plot called for a group of people staging a “generic” protest against taxes because that’s a current mood in the country. There was never a single thought in their head that they might actually be representing a real, high-profile group whose name is derived from a famous tax protest, and slandering them as racist, white supremacists. Case closed. No harm, no foul, right? Wrong. As is usual with these people, it’s all bullshit.

Those precious few that happened to visit the Shuteye Nation Underverse before its untimely death already know where I’m going with this. For everyone else, let me show you why this is just another in the long line of examples of dishonest liberal media bias.

The year is 1991 and the U.S. media is still having wet dreams nightmares about the Rodney King beating. Li’l Eduardo, an avid (but waning) Marvel Comics fan, opens up the latest issue of The Avengers (a team of super heroes led by Captain America) to see:

About as subtle as a sledgehammer to the left temple.

A sober, handcuffed, Hispanic, teenage boy is caught on tape being mercilessly beaten by white cops. Just like what happened with Rodney King. This causes a whole lot of people to stage angry protests outside of police stations (which Captain America and the Falcon are apparently OK with, come to think of it), but then the unthinkable happens. Evil white people show up:

Conservatives are incapable of speaking without
using racial slurs, kiddies. Just so you know.

Don’t worry, though. The Avenger named Rage sends them packing:

I love how"Constitutional rights" is in air quotes. What does that mean, exactly?

And a parting Nazi jab for good measure.

To make things even more ridiculous, it's discovered later on in the story that this small group of town hall protesters white supremacists is not genuine, but is being astroturfed by health insurance companies/Big Oil/Halliburton one malevolent bad guy named Rush Limbaugh The Hate Monger or something like that who simply enjoys making people hate each other to the point of violence by using his radio show mutant power. Hmmmm... sound familiar?

Look, the Avengers are supposed to be fighting interdimensional aliens and teams of super powered villains, not American citizens exercising their first amendment rights when they disagree with what they’re saying. This recent issue of Captain America is not the first time this happened. The comic I’m referencing was published almost twenty years ago. Aside from making me feel old, this perfectly illustrates who these people are.

They are dishonest cowards. Their real message is so repulsive and illogical they have to dress it up and disguise it in comic books and cartoons so they can attempt to indoctrinate kids. When they’re caught, they apologize without admitting they did anything wrong. They never admit they did anything wrong, period, whether it’s slander, global warming, DDT, economics, mass murder, etc. No matter how blatant the lie or how catastrophic the failure, I still have to put up with people like Noam Chomsky putting out excrement like this. I’m sick of it. SICK. OF. IT.

The silver lining here is that twenty years ago Marvel was churning out propaganda like this in every one of their series, from the Punisher to X-Men to Spider-Man. Trust me, I know. It's why I stopped reading comics (even though there's not really any liberal media bias, Noam). Back then, nobody noticed. A week from Sunday, though, a blogger made a post about this new issue of Captain America and a few days later Marvel scrambled to cover its ass and will hopefully be more reluctant to propagandize in the future. Significant? I think so. You tell me.


Marvel Comic’s Captain America is the mightiest soldier with the super powerful secret soldier formula that makes him a super man. Sadly, this muscle bound hero that took on the whole Nazi army during WWII seems to be afraid of those American people who’ve joined the Tea Party movement. Not only is Cappy quaking in his little red booties, but he’s sure that the Tea Party folks are dangerous racists, too.

Isn’t it wonderful that a decades old American comic book hero is now being used to turn readers against our very political system, being used to slander folks that are standing up for real American principles in real life — and one called “Captain America” at that?

Ironically(?), this website has done battle in the past with another faux "Captain America." Somehow it seems to fit right in to this context. And if you read the Comments, you'll discover that this particular Captain isn't American so much as, uh, Canadian. Serendicity again. --IP.

The Global Warming Breakdown

Do they seem tired out? They're not the only ones.

TOLD YOU SO. Do any of you have any idea how many Global Warming articles I've read in the last three days? No. Of course not. Ingrates. I did it all to find you the best one. Which I've done. It's the one that actually enumerates the size and scope of the shatter-ing of the so-called "consensus" of "settled science":

It has been tough to keep up with all the bad news for global warming alarmists. We're on the edge of our chair, waiting for the next shoe to drop. This has been an Imelda Marcos kind of season for shoe-dropping about global warming.

At your next dinner party, here are some of the latest talking points to bring up when someone reminds you that Al Gore and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won Nobel prizes for their work on global warming.

The operative number is nineteen separate but interrelated scandals:

1. ClimateGate
2. FOIGate
3. ChinaGate
4. HimalayaGate
5. PachauriGate
6. PachairiGate II
7. SternGate
8. SternGate II
9. AmazonGate
10. PeerReviewGate
11. RussiaGate
12. RussiaGate II
13. U.S.Gate
14. IceGate
15. ResearchGate
16. ReefGate
17. AfricaGate
18. DutchGate
19. AlaskaGate

Just from the names we can see that the record of fraud, dissimulation, and scientific corruption is worldwide. It comprises academic, political, corporate, and individual malfeasance. It's huge.

Start from the article linked above to initiate your searches. This is a hoax that has to be hammered into a million pieces. It's not over yet. Get to work.

You're welcome.

P.S. I know I've posted this before. But a commenter suggested I needed to write more explanation about the problems with Global Warming and the politics that produced a hoax and why and what to do about it. Truth is, I nailed it the first time I wrote about it 13 years ago. I wrote about it then in the context of a nation that was flirting with cultural disaster. In the Clinton years. Before the hated W. Before most of you were on the Internet.

Friday, July 25, 1997

Awakening once again to NPR, I heard crime news -- the serial killer believed dead in Florida and some new development in the Ira Einhorn case, possibly an extradition fight. Science was making news this morning, too. Evolutionary biologists have come up with a neat new explanation of the Cambrian explosion, which has been a thorn in their side forever. Apparently, the whole earth flopped over on its side 500 million years ago and somehow made random genetic mutations at the cellular level happen faster(?) Funny we hadn't heard about this before. You'd think an earth flop-over would have been discovered by the guys who know so much about tectonic plates. I also heard an extended NPR segment on the Greenhouse Effect -- a.k.a. Global Warming -- which has made the usual invisible transition from hypothesis to scientific fact. As a result, the president has decided we all need to worry about this. It sounded like a remedial seminar on the subject had been conducted at the White House, with the Pres taking on the role of simple-minded questioner while various scientists played the role of patronizing know-it-all. I got the impression we're all supposed to be feeling guilty because we still get in our cars and drive to work.

There must be some evidence in support of Global Warming, but the only one the mass media like to cite is far from convincing to me. This has to do with a reported rise in average temperatures of one degree (Fahrenheit, I think) during the last hundred years. No expert in climate, I'm willing to concede their argument that one degree has pretty serious implications. It's how they get to the one degree that leaves me a little skeptical.

Let's think about this for a minute. What is the 'average' temperature on earth right now? Yes, I mean at this very moment. One hundred two degrees, as the thermometers in Arizona might report? Fifty below, as the ones in Antarctica would claim? Neither, obviously.

It's not as if there's one definitely correct number that represents the answer to this question. The word 'average' always means that we're going to perform some calculation. To begin with, the discipline of mathematics gives us at least three different definitions of what an 'average' is. The 'mean' is the arithmetic average, which we calculate by adding up all individual instances of something and then dividing that total by the number of instances. The 'median' is a function of counting -- we take all individual instances of something, then count up from the bottom until we reach the halfway point. The 'mode' is the most common number found in all individual instances -- we gather together all the instances of something and see which value occurs most often.

I apologize. I know this is boring, but it's got to be important. The scientists are talking about the melting of glaciers, the flooding of thousands of miles of coastline, the forced migration of major populations, the devastation of our agricultural equilibrium, and dozens of other effects of their one degree 'average increase.' So there's a quite valid reason for asking whether they're as certain as they sound.

Back to the math. All the definitions of 'average' assume that that there is some finite number of instances to be used as the basis for calculation. In the case of temperature on earth, this is not strictly true. The atmosphere is made of gases, not subject to counting like dollars or stones. It must be that we can artificially create enough instances by the act of measuring to eliminate the difference between gases and stones. How do we do that? Is it sufficient to record the airport temperature of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, add those temperatures together and divide by three? Probably not. Maybe we need to add Paris, London, Tokyo, Moscow, Sydney, and Little America in the Antarctic. Would that do? Again, probably not. That leaves out a lot of places, and measurements in the city are tricky anyway, because artificial structures like asphalt paving have a tendency to soak up additional heat. So we'd better add in a bunch of pure countryside and farmland -- put some of our thermometers in fields, forests, mountains, ocean-top oil rigs, deserts, prairies, and plateaus. Still, this doesn't tell us much about how to weight the number of instances we measure, so that we balance arctic and Antarctic cold properly against tropical and temperate zones. And even then, we're taking a lot for granted -- having read Admiral Byrd's Alone, I've learned that temperatures vary pretty considerably only a hundred or so miles apart in the Antarctic.

I suppose we're going to have to concede that whatever number of instances we record, the 'average' number we arrive at is not necessarily going to be objectively 'right.' Because no matter how many thermometers you have out there, say one hundred thousand, you'd get more accurate data if you put another million in the spaces in between the hundred thousand, and more accurate data still if you put another hundred million in between those. It doesn't take a weather wizard to know that the temperature can be at least a little bit different one hundred yards from where you're standing now. Which would be the right number for the location listed under the name of your home town? Is that in the shade? In the sun? Or somewhere in between. You decide.

Considering all this, it looks as if we're computing some theoretical average which we must assume bears some definite relationship to the objectively 'right' number we can't measure. Which is another way of saying we're sure the amount of our unmeasurable and uncorrectable error will never change. Everyone happy so far?

But the Global Warming hypothesis depends on far more than our theoretically correct though 'not right' average temperature on earth at this moment. The one degree change we're looking for has occurred over one hundred years. This must mean that our theoretically correct number is actually determined by the number of instances -- and the standard of measurement precision -- that was already established in the year 1897.

Eighteen hundred and ninety seven. William McKinley was President of the United States. The automobile was a curiosity that frightened the horses. The continents of the world were connected by steamship travel and the telegraph. Charles Lindbergh hadn't been born. There weren't any airports anywhere. The North and South Poles hadn't been discovered yet. But the worldwide temperature recording system was already in place.

This means, for example, that the New York City measurement has to be coming, year after year, not from the state-of-the-art instruments at LaGuardia, but from a thermometer that's been religiously maintained on the lefthand tower of the Brooklyn Bridge. I hope nobody accidentally broke and replaced that thermometer at any point during the last hundred years, or moved it to the righthand tower, or forgot to record the readings while they were away on vacation for a month, or ever made up any readings because they got behind or just didn't care enough during that ugly divorce in nineteen-ought-seven. Because the one degree change we're after is less than two percent of the theoretical average, which is already just a bit flimsy as a computation strategy. Bad data would ruin everything. Equipment changes, human carelessness, or changes in measurement location might invalidate the numbers completely, and that would never do because we're talking semi-apocalypse here.

You have to admire the discipline of science. To think that they were able to assemble all the thermometer readers all over the world in 1897 and train them to be unfailingly accurate and reliable is pretty impressive. To think that over the whole hundred years, no Tibetan shepherd ever said, 'oh, about thirty-two degrees,' when -- thanks to his untreated nearsightedness -- he was inclined to guesstimate a likely reading for those pesky western meteorologists. Amazing.

But the most astounding thing of all is that this degree of accuracy has been achieved in a field whose practitioners claim is not an exact science. Meteorologists who can't tell us for sure if the tornado they've sighted is going to mow down my hometown or the City of South Bend, Indiana, are certain they know what the average temperature on earth will be forty years from now. This is made all the more miraculous by the statistical concept of standard deviation -- meaning the amount of normal built-in variability -- which is pretty high when it comes to temperature. That's why we continue to set record highs and lows in temperature on individual days in every single year. Christmas in New York can be as warm as sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit or as cold as ten below zero. It's this kind of variability that makes it difficult even to compare seasonal averages. Was last summer five percent cooler than this summer? In my neck of the woods we had more cool days last year but hotter hot spells. How should I compare this year to last year in terms of average. Who the hell knows for sure?

All we do know for sure is that it's one degree hotter in summer, on average, last summer aside, than summer was, in general, a hundred years ago. Or is it winter that's getting warmer instead? Like the one a few years back when the northeastern U.S. got raked by five ice storms of a severity not seen since they began taking weather measurements. Which reminds me -- how long has that been? Of course. About a hundred years. The temperatures on earth have been pertinent to the Global Warming question since the end of the last ice age about ten thousand years ago. This means we're depending on data from one percent of the relevant time period to calculate the standard deviation. And the standard deviation we come up with has to be so dead-reliable that it can be used to verify a less-than-two percent change in 'average' temperature.

Scientists like thought experiments. I have one I'd like to try on them. Ask a friend to record the mileage of all (or most) trips he takes in his automobile during the last week in December. Then calculate the percentage change in length of trip, up or down, from the beginning of the week to the end of the week, and use this number to project the average length of an automobile trip on January second. Now: would you bet your life that this prediction will be accurate within one mile? Really?

There's always the possibility, I guess, that scientists are citing the temperature change 'evidence' to us because we're too stupid to understand the real evidence. I know they've been busy calculating the number of tons of carbon dioxide in the air, and they've got their chemistry down cold -- except, of course, when the number of variables gets too large. Which is the only reason their projections about how much impact atmospheric events like volcanic eruptions have on the earth get a little overstated at times. Or am I wrong about that? Was I mistaken when I heard the dire prediction that the area surrounding Mount St. Helen would be a wasteland for decades? But maybe what I'm wrong about is the extent to which the area has already recovered from the devastation of the eruption.

You see, not being a scientist, I can't prove anything. My duty is therefore to shut up and nod vigorously when the scientists talk. And then to feel ashamed and fearful because I'm not doing anything to prevent the environmental catastrophe I'm causing by driving to work, buying a Christmas tree once a year, and exhaling carbon dioxide every day. I know I should prefer the worldwide depression that would follow the prudent shutting down of the entire fossil fuel industry and all the markets and products and jobs that flow from it. I know I should.

One of the scientists at the President's Global Warming Nursery School said that those of us who don't care about the Greenhouse Effect are like passengers on a bus bound for disaster: we think there's nothing to be afraid of as long as the bus is surrounded by fog. Whose fog, buster? Ours or yours? And does the bus driver have the foggiest idea where he's taking us? Sorry for asking.

As I said, I'll keep following this story. But it's also time for the rest of you to do some work I did a long time ago. It's called thinking. And your thinking is the solution to the problem, all the problems.

O NBCanada!

AN OLD OLD NARRATIVE. I don't know why I should be surprised. I guess I'm not. They were rooting all out for Communist China during the Summer Olympics. Now they're rooting for Canada. Who? NBC. Bob Costas. Al Michaels, Tom Brokaw. Brian Williams. Chris Collingsworth. And all the dumb munchkins they've dredged up from every remote and ancient corner of NBC sports history to bring us their usual mangled coverage of events they seem to know nothing of and care less about -- except the vital question of "When, O when, will Canada breaks its storied(?) curse of never winning a gold medal on Canadian soil?!"

I know it's impolite to break into this hysterical narrative with a few wet blanket observations. The "storied" curse is about a generation old (encompassing only two recent Olympics) and I never heard about it. And I still don't care about it. So what. Canada came in third behind the U.S. at the last winter Olympics, so it's hardly the case that they weren't going to win a gold medal at some point in a venue where their athletes got to practice 20 or more times as much on courses like, say, the luge, as the (sometimes unfortunate) foreign competition did. I repeat: So what.

But Bob and Al and Tom and Brian and Chris and the munchkins seemed so invested in Canadian success that it seemed -- at least to my lying ears -- they were actually crestfallen when an American chick(shudder) stole the gold away from that disappointed, over-pressured Canadian lass on the women's mogul event. Aw. Awwwwww.

Then, when a Canadian finally won the first gold in the men's moguls, you'd have thought that it was 1980 all over again and the purely amateur American kids had just defeated the grimly professional Soviets to earn the most improbable gold medal in Olympic history. 24 hours later, they were still talking about it, exclaiming over it, and hugging themselves with glee. WTF?

I concede NBC cut us all a break by not enlisting Keith Olbermann with all the other has-been and never-were correspondents they're using to report on the Olympics. But it still feels like he's the producer behind the scenes. I can't think of any particular reason why we should respond with tremendous joy when another Canadian(!) makes it into the finals against Americans in events like the Snowboard Cross. It's our sport. If any Canadians are good at it, it's because they're down here learning from our jocks, practicing on our courses, and thriving on our prize money. I'd much rather see a final between our guys and the upstart Austrians and French. At least I can respect their underdog grit. While still hoping for their abject and humiliating defeat. I'm an American.

You see. (And this is something I've had to explain to Mrs. CP, who was initially under the impression that NBC is the reporter of record for the entire world, which it it isn't.) NBC is the American network covering the Olympics for Americans. What kind of business model tells them rooting for opponent countries is good economics? There is no such business model. There is only the delusion of their damaged educations and social affiliations. They favor Canada -- uncles and cousins who fled there from Brown and Dartmouth during the Vietnam War after burning their draft cards? Anglophile-Europhile yearnings toward the nihilists who thought George Bush a Hitlerian criminal for defending the west against fanatic jihadists? (Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?) And it doesn't even occur to them that the potential 300 million-strong television audience that provides all their (steadily declining) advertising revenue might be rooting overwhelmingly for American athletes. NOT Canadians. NOT the sullen northern neighbor who contributed 500 troops to the entire war on terror and have libelled us and our last president obscenely while still clinging pitifully to us whenever something important to them is on the line. Like the life of a premier who got the operation here he couldn't get at home while all the superior Canadians were trashing us for noticing that their socialized healthcare system was killing Canadians faster than Americans think acceptable for our own wives, children, fathers, and mothers.

If NBC were truly an American network, there are some calculations they could perform for us ordinary Americans. They could start keeping track of how much of, say, the Winter Olympics actually occurs here in the United States before competition begins in some politically chosen location. The athletes who train here, the coaches who immigrate here, the facilities located here, the technology originated and disseminated from here (seen some Nike swooshes anywhere in Vancouver, folks?), the dual-citizenship Americans who can't make our teams and so compete for other nations from their digs in L.A., the foreigners who want to live here and become overnight Americans in order to jump to the head of the immigration line...

Hell. Based on pure geography, America wins somewhere between 40 and 60 percent of all the medals in the Olympics. Is there any way you would know this from the internationalist elitists of NBC? No.

They're killing their own business, and soon enough, they'll be expecting us to bail them out too. For our own good.

It's not all about sport. It's also about soul sickness. Please don't let the contagion infect you too.

Enjoy the events. The best thing I can say is that the nations of the world continue to produce remarkably attractive and determined youngsters who are a credit to our much maligned species. They make me proud to be human.

But I'm still rooting for the Americans.

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