Instapun*** Archive Listing

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July 9, 2012 - July 2, 2012

Monday, July 09, 2012

Monday Mundaneness:

Why the Panic? Please.

Obama campaign messaging. So effective. So scary.

SAME OLD SUMMER DRUM. It's everywhere in conservative ranks at the moment. Gretchen Carlson was typical on Fox & Friends this morning. She was alarmed by the clip above of Obama spinning net job losses into million job gains and ongoing economic improvement. She's in awe of the president's ability to claim credit for progress in the face of clear evidence to the contrary, and she's terrified that the Romney campaign is doing so little to refute the lies. (Sidekicks Doocy and Kilmeade seemed just as spooked, but they aren't former Miss Americas and Stanford grads, so screw'em.) Though Gretchen is hardly the only one. Drudge had weekend headlines highlighting USA Today's report that Obama's negative ads against Romney as an "outsourcer" are winning over voters in swing states, which are now (horrors!) in a statistical dead heat. Hotair is in a tizzy about a dumb statement by Boehner that nobody but other Mormons will ever actually love Romney. Allahpundit continues to moan about every MSM poll showing Obama slightly ascendant. Laura Ingraham, who has taken off two or three of her last four broadcasts, seems gravely concerned that Romney just doesn't know how to take it to Obama or propose a positive alternative of his own. I mean, he certainly hasn't done it yet, and every minute that goes by in which Obama gets to characterize his opponent without rebuttal becomes an ineradicable stamp that gets harder and harder to undo.

If Laura were really that concerned, she wouldn't be off larking around. If Fox News were really that concerned, Steve Doocy wouldn't have been on vacation last week and they wouldn't have filled Chris Wallace's chair on Fox News Sunday with empty suit John Roberts. Here's the only punditry I've read since recovering from days without power that means a damn thing:

Obamaís Goose Is Cooked

By Larry Kudlow

Obama needed a filet mignon in the June employment report. Instead he got a rubber chicken.

Only 80,000 new jobs were created last month, way below Wall Street expectations. Itís the fourth consecutive monthly disappointment. For a few months last winter, jobs were rising at an average of 225,000 a month. But that has sloped way down to only 75,000. The unemployment rate continues at 8.2 percent, which is the forty-first straight month above 8 percent. The U6 unemployment rate, which includes discouraged workers, is just under 15 percent.

As voters finalize their election impressions this summer, all of this is bad news for the Chicago incumbent.

At a campaign stop in Ohio on Friday, Obama actually said weíre still ďheading in the right direction.Ē Is he kidding? As a stagnant GDP drops below 2 percent, employment falters, retail sales decline, and the ISM index for manufacturing drops below 50 (signaling contraction)? No objective observer can deny that the economy is headed in the wrong direction.

I donít like playing the pessimist, but the numbers are the numbers. This is exactly what former Clinton advisers James Carville, Doug Schoen, and Stanley Greenberg have been warning Obama about. People just donít believe the economy is getting better. So heís gotta change his message.

But what change? Taxing rich people wonít create jobs. Neither will bashing Bain Capital. Obama is surrounded by leftist campaign advisers. And itís hard to see them shifting gears to something constructive like making a summer deal to extend the Bush tax cuts for a year, or heaven forbid backing off the 20-some-odd tax hikes embodied in Obamacare.

In other words, Obamaís goose may already be cooked.

The Joint Economic Committee (JEC), spearheaded by Texas congressman Kevin Brady, put out a report saying that the Obama recovery now ranks dead last in modern times. Thatís a real milestone in the post-WWII era. Itís ten out of ten for both jobs and economic growth. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, real GDP has expanded only 6.7 percent over the eleven-quarter recovery since the recession ended. The Reagan recovery at the same stage had increased by 17.6 percent. The Clinton recovery by 8.7 percent.

As for jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of private-sector jobs has grown by only 4.1 percent since the cyclical low point. Reaganís record was 10.7 percent.

So much for Obamanomics. Didnít work. Still isnít working. As the JEC put it, spending stimulus, housing bailouts, auto bailouts, financial bailouts, cash for clunkers, cash for caulkers, and $5 trillion in deficit spending left the Obama recovery dead last in modern times...

I know, I know. Conservatives fear the MSM so much that they believe the Big Lie will be successful even in the face of contravening reality. We'll see about that. Maybe they're right, in which case the United States will deserve what it gets. But the more likely outcome is that the MSM, despite all its best intentions, is doing Obama no favors. People know from their own direct experience whether the president's spin strikes them as true or false. It doesn't matter whether the carefully screened audiences at the president's campaign appearances cheer or not. What matters is how many likely voters are out of work, know people who are of work, know (other) people who have lost their homes, know how truly bad the economy really is in their own communities and states. There aren't enough dropped g's in the universe to con people in pain into believing another smoothly incantational pitch for the same old snake oil. Sooner or later, they stop listening. I believe Obama's idol, Abraham Lincoln, had some choice words on the subject his putative heir should but won't learn from.

The biggest Big Lie is the one that saps your own conviction because you believe the Big Lie always works. It doesn't. The more the MSM promote and publicize Obama's fraudulent spin on reality, the more they are turning him into Baghdad Bob.

Or don't you remember him?

If you don't, time you did. And all the other lachrymose conservative defeatists as well.

Steady your nerves. Man up. Police your spot in the trenchline. Lock and load. Prepare to go over the top. But wait for the artillery to open fire before you do. And much as I hate to quote the bastard my father and grandfather damned as "That Man," sometimes a sound bite is apt: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Now I'm going to wash my mouth out with soap and hunker down in the trench. I'd advise you all to do the same. What happens in the next few months won't be pretty. It involves incinerating a silly, vicious goose long past his sell-by date. (I promise not to try to sell you on the name Baghdad Bobama.)


DECENT MAN. Ernest Borgnine is dead. Really didn't like the FNS zipper about his death this morning. Yes, they remembered he won an Oscar for Marty, but they said he was most famous for McHale's Navy. Not true even for my senescent generation. Yes, they replayed a clip of him being sweet and engaging in his 90s on their own morning show but he did so much more than they bothered to remember. From Wiki:

[He got] his big break in From Here to Eternity (1953), playing the sadistic Sergeant "Fatso" Judson, who beats a stockade prisoner in his charge, Angelo Maggio (played by Frank Sinatra). Borgnine built a reputation as a dependable character actor and appeared in early film roles as villains, including movies like Johnny Guitar, Vera Cruz and Bad Day at Black Rock. But in 1955, the actor starred as a warm-hearted butcher in Marty, the film version of the television play of the same name, which gained him an Academy Award for Best Actor over Frank Sinatra, James Dean (who had died by the time of the ceremony), and former best actor winners Spencer Tracy and James Cagney.

Borgnine's film career continued successfully through the 1960s, 1970s and the 1980s, including Emperor of the North, The Vikings, The Flight of the Phoenix, The Dirty Dozen, Ice Station Zebra, The Poseidon Adventure, The Black Hole and Escape from New York. One of his most famous roles became that of Dutch, a member of The Wild Bunch in the 1969 Western classic from director Sam Peckinpah.

McHale's Navy? Really? Those of us who are still alive remember his TV work best from Airwolf, the show about a shrieking killer whale of a helicopter. Loved that show. Sorry. The nostalgia about someone's passing is not generic. It's specific. I choose not to remember him as the buffoon of McHale's Navy. He had been, after all, a 20 year Navy vet. Airwolf was probably closer to who he really was.

Oh, that's right. He wasn't good looking. Forget it.

Only don't.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Catching Up

Trees shouldn't ever look like they have compound fractures...

LAKE TOLD YOU I'D BE BACK. So it's been hot, and this household was without power for nearly five days and nights. It wasn't the heat that did us in; it was the derecho, a recurring phenomenon that usually strikes in the midwest more than the midatlantic. Thunderstorms that act like hurricanes of thunderstorms. We took pictures you probably don't want to see, so they're not here. I've asked Lake to explain what all this doesn't have to do with Global Warming, and he has promised to find some time in his fully committed schedule to do so. I thank him for that, as well as for filling in like lightning (pun intended) with a post I couldn't key myself but only describe on my iPhone on the porch. Kudos to Brizoni for posting it promptly and flawlessly.

Another big thank you to the tireless soldiers of the Atlantic City Electric Company. Somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 South Jersey residents were shut down by the derecho storms. From the first, the trucks kept going by on their way to trying to fix the catastrophe. Unlike their Con-Ed counterparts in New York, they didn't seize the occasion to threaten a strike. They did everything possible to rescue us from the isolation, darkness, dread, and dry plumbing that accompanied the 98 degree, un-air-conditioned heat. I was never mad at them once. I saw their trucks everywhere in our shut-down town, and I knew it would take longer to hunt down the demons and gremlins that complicated the rural blackouts.

My only victory was convincing my wife to decamp to safer ground. I grew up with heat as bad as this, on exactly this same terrain. She hasn't the constitution for it. Heat punishes her more than it does me, and I feared for her life. I stayed because we presently have no means of conveying all the dogs in one vehicle at one time. The State of New Jersey has just made it illegal at a thousand bucks a pop to transport dogs without "dog safety belts," which in the case of sighthounds can result in hanged dogs. For the same reason that you can't give them leads attached to stakes in the ground. Their explosive acceleration breaks their necks.

So it was me and the dogs and cats and the heat and the darkness. More than that, the stillness. Opening windows doesn't help. There is no breeze when the air is a heavy, oppressive blanket. I had my iPhone and a car to charge it with, a battery-powered radio, and the experience of being a marsh rat native. I laughed off the help offered by my/our friends and my wife's family up north, who were concerned about me. I chuckled when one of the wittier among them observed the irony of being powerless less than three miles from a nuclear power plant whose plume of steam we watch every day. I thought I was prepared for the vigil.

But I wasn't really. When you're truly married, parsimonious, battery-saving texting isn't enough. When the iPhone is no longer hooked to wifi, it gets slow and suddenly there's only one bar, which makes distance somehow a killer. Conversations with my wife broke up. Texting was the only recourse. I drained my entire battery trying to send one picture of my Bengal cat to a friend in Ohio who was trying to kid me into a better mood. Worse, the home that is your chief comfort becomes a gray memory of itself. All its life functions have stopped. It does not tick, hum, illuminate, or warm. Yes, I said warm. Stifling, airless heat is not warmth. It's a kind of arrest. The animals sense it. They hunker down in hushed alarm. They know something is wrong, most of all with you. Because they realize, maybe more than you do, that the physical ability to withstand such conditions is not entirely about experience. They know, they see, they smell that your stamina is not what it needs to be. They can feel your batteries fading too fast.

This isn't resentment or self-pity. It's context. Driving home the fact that I'm getting old. This was nothing like the ordeals of those who man the outposts in Afghanistan or Iraq. They're brave, resolved, and heroic. I was just experiencing a solemn, and too utterly still, confrontation with my own mortality. Despite all the lies you tell yourself about what kind of man you still are, you might not actually be up to this middling ordeal.

What did I do? I listened to SportsTalk radio in Philadelphia. Continuously. All day long, all night long, even when I was nominally sleeping. What can I tell you? Karl Marx was wrong. Religion is not the opiate of the masses. Sports is. While the Mainstream Media and the New Media were relentlessly chewing over the SCOTUS decision on ObamaCare, SportsTalk was even more relentless in chewing over the sorry plight of the Philadelphia Phillies. At times I thought it was such madness that I mulled turning off the radio, but the illusion of connectedness has become our new cultural mania, and I am as afflicted with that as I have always been with all the sins of my age. I did not want to endure the silence of no voice talking at me in the darkness.

So much of what goes on anymore is talking for the sake of talking, listening for the sake of not feeling utterly alone. The truth behind Facebook and Twitter and texting and the vulgar chatter of sitcoms and romcons and reality TV and 24/7 cable news.

Lowpoints. I listened to the ultimate radio whore Michael Smerconish waxing irate about Penn State, even though I know his whole mind would fit in my vest pocket. He's a man of isolated obsessions -- the Mumia case, killing bin Laden (which caused him to endorse Obama over McCain after a career as a Republican functionary and become, since, a leftist apologist in an endlessly disgraceful process of self-justification), and now Penn State. I read on my Kindle, while it lasted, almost half a novel by one Michael Walsh, co-founder apparently of of Breitbart's Big Journalism site, with the result that I have experienced in the past week every conceivable (and I must say repellent) sin against good writing by someone who is supposedly on my side politically. I discovered that the iPod, which I belatedly discovered was fully charged, brought no comfort of any kind; when there was decent FM radio, the real thrill was sharing the experience of listening to music you liked with all those others in the radio audience. It's hollow when it's only you and you know it.

Then the power came back on and I emerged from the prison of semi-solitary confinement. My thoughts.

I love my wife.

I love George, Dave, Marge, Sue, Jay, Mike, Lake, and all the others who cared about what might be going on down in this sorry neck of the woods for the past six or seven days.

Ignore all the political crap being published in any venue this week. It's a vacation/ordeal week (depending on whether you have electric or not), the conservatives will eventually stop bickering about Chief Justice Roberts, who is an asshole, and it's perfectly okay for Romney to keep his powder dry for the time being.

All's well that ends well. The dogs and cats are over their fears, and life resumes.

If we don't defeat Obama in the fall, life as we all used to think we knew it is definitely, absolutely, completely over.

ALL the media suck. Even the part that's supposed to be on our side.

One more thing. Night always HAS pushed up day. It's possible I'll have more thoughts later. Why I'm not as popular as I think I ought to be.

AGW Technical Bulletin

Time to let the professionals have their say, don't you think?

. I asked Lake for an explanation, which he sent me approximately 15 seconds after I asked for it. The rest of this is him.

Chill Out

It's summer here in the US, and the only thing hotter than the day outside is the air emanating from rabid environmentalists. That's right, who do we have to blame for these soaring temperatures? Ourselves, of course.

The whole Anthropogenic Global Warming cause has been on the ropes over the past two years, so much so that they needed to rename it Climate Change. Why? Because while the rate of production of that evil trace gas, CO2 -- at about 0.04% of the atmosphere's composition -- has continued to rise unabated (thank the Chinese), the so-called global temperature has leveled off. On top of that, the second round of Climategate emails showing the truly appalling scientific practices of certain dendrochronologists and IPCC authors have made the public rightly distrustful of these activist scientists.

But when a hot summer rolls around, the global warming meme surges forth once again. Recently, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln issued a press release about this being the worst drought on its 12 year data set. With a bit of historical perspective from the NOAA itself, one can see just how much worse it was in 1934, long before we supposedly wrought such global destruction.

[Images: Come back to these. Editor's office still too hot for the html needed to show them AS images. Can't guarantee your safe return to the post from the links. But they ARE the goods.]

The most careful of the green bloggers and journalists are treating this one a bit more†subtly. Of the large volume of articles I've skimmed, I've noticed many of them doing something sneaky. They're saying things like, "This is what global warming looks like." They're not coming right out and saying that this heat IS global warming, just that this is what the catastrophic effects of AGW would look like. Why be subtle? Because they can be turned aside by a single phrase, one that we should all incorporate into any debate about global warming:

Weather is not climate.

It's as easy as that. They've been screwed before by equating bad weather to climate change when blizzard conditions follow (strikethrough: Al Gore's) ManBearPig's climate summits and various IPCC conferences. They know how bad the press can be when the wholly unpredictable weather doesn't match their chosen narrative. So now they're trying to use bad conditions (hot or cold, stormy or fiery) to simulate their dire predictions about the end of life as we know it.

The large scale variations in climate over decades and millennia simply have nothing to do with the day to day highs and lows. Weather is chaotic, truly unpredictable, and sensitive to the smallest of initial conditions. Climate is stable, oscillating, and affected by things like volcanic eruptions, the precession of the poles, the activity cycle of the sun, and (believe it or not) distant supernovae. In the long term, yes, the climate is warming -- that's what planets do after an ice age.

Frankly, I've been happy to hear 'global warming' come up recently when referencing the weather. Why? More and more frequently, the person mentioning it is joking: "How about this global warming, eh?" in the summer and "So much for global warming" in the winter. Writing this on my back porch under absolutely perfect summer conditions makes me take a deep breath and smile. The crazy green movement is spinning its wheels, the hard science is falsifying their predictions every season,and the seasons keep marching on.

[ED NOTE: I thought Lake was too young to remember when summer was hot and it made everything sexier. Video was his choice, not mine.]

ED. ADDENDUM: The missus came home, full of reminders that heat and volatile summer weather and sex are nothing new but in fact eternal. Some examples:

Lena Horne.

Marilyn Monroe.

Patti Page.

Peggy Lee.

Well, it goes on and on. And on. But the new Occupy the Millennium dream is different, isn't it? Lots of copulating and no babies and no passion -- er, no heat. Let's all be as cool as the surgical instruments used to extract the unfortunate by-products of what prior generations might have called romance and you call "hooking up." Good luck to you with that.

Global Warming? I hardly think so. Global Freezer Burn is more like it.

The earth you kids will inherit isn't worth inheriting. Whatever Fahrenheit you choose to measure.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

After the Archduke

This is Lake, posting by proxy for RL. He called me this afternoon and described Friday's storm as the worst he'd even seen, and now his power, water, everything are out until at least this Friday. Mrs. RL consented to staying with a relative, so RL is now sitting in the hot darkness, getting scowled at by sighthounds and thinking about the Supreme Court decision.

Thank God for the iPhone, which he can charge in his car. He's not completely cut off, so he was able to relay the outline of this post to me. It's an extended metaphor, an apt analogy for the current stakes in the coming battle for nothing less than the future of civilization.

The year was 1914, 98 years ago last week. Archduke Ferdinand's assassination causes European diplomacy to fall to hell, and the stage is set for The Great War (before we knew enough to number them, as the saying goes). Two countries, France and Germany, with two plans. France's Plan XVII set out to strike a dagger into Alsace and Lorraine, leaving Paris undefended. Germany, meanwhile, enacted the Schlieffen Plan (which Hitler later plagiarized with devastating results). They sliced through Belgium to approach Paris from the North and West. Within weeks, the French were repelled and back where they started. As the Germans hit the Belgian border to sweep into France, they were met by seven French armies and some British divisions. With Britain's later full support, Paris came to be defended and the battle lines were drawn from the North Sea to the Swiss border.

Thus, the Western Front, one of the most horrific battlegrounds in history. Generals with 19th century battle plans and a knowledge of the US Civil War were armed with 20th century weapons -- machine guns, tanks, mustard gas. 15 million lives were chewed up in the war that neither side wanted to continue. Of course, we now know it as the preliminary movements leading to World War II, Hitler, the Bomb, all of it.

As RL painted the picture for me, reminding me of this history as my high school teachers never could, he referenced Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August, a detailed description of the events and a deep analysis of the "misconceptions, miscalculations, and mistakes" that wrought the atrocious war. The Wiki page is detailed and serves as an excellent primer.

So this is the analogy. The Supreme Court decision to uphold Obamacare touched off powder kegs on both sides, with each claiming some kind of victory. Obama popped his head up to acknowledge the "win," but he must see that he's in deep trouble over this when it comes to the election. Battle lines are being drawn, and this is one we *can't* afford to lose, much like the Allies in the trenches of the Western Front.

What InstaPunk has been saying right here for the last four years.

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