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Archive for August 2011



Evolution and the G.O.P. candidates

Over at FrumForum, Ask About Evolution at the GOP Debate:

Prompting James Pethokoukis to ask: “Will we now get an evolution/global warming question at next GOP debate?”

I hope the answer to this question is “yes.” The great thing is that there is precedent for this. In one of the GOP primary debates in 2007, John McCain was asked whether or not he believed in evolution. He responded that he did, and the moderator then asked for a show of hands of candidates who did not believe in evolution.

Although the GOP is often viewed as the party opposed to science, remarkably, only three candidates raised their hands: Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, and Tom Tancredo.

I’ve argued before that this is an issue where class is telling in the G.O.P. The fiscal conservative/business elites aren’t Creationists, but the social conservative/grassroots often are. The former are disproportionately represented among the leading candidates for very high office, so despite the dominant Creationism of the grassroots the candidates themselves tend to espouse elite views on evolution. A realignment on this issue will be a sure sign that populism in the G.O.P. is the real deal.

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Sarah Palin, not so topical

I noticed today that Center-Left establishment tool Jacob Weisberg is still posting his “Palinisms” at Slate. I never read these because they never seemed as funny as the Bushisms. It seems likely that the George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush have some cognitive linguistic problem which results in the mangled syntax for which they became famous. Sarah Palin on the other hand just sounds dumb a lot of the time.

But my bigger thought is who cares? Here’s some Google Trends for the past 30 days:

Remember, Weisberg is the scold who was outraged by Peter Thiel’s plan to encourage some college students to take a few years off. Weisberg went to Yale, and has marched his way through establishment media outfits since graduating. Can’t he find something better to do with his time?



A trichotomy of terrorists



A Multitude, Maybe Missing

Via CNN:

It’s likely not the response Rick Perry was expecting.

Earlier this year, the Texas Governor called on Christians across the U.S. to come to Houston for a prayer event aimed at bringing God’s help to a “nation in crisis.” Organizers of the religious gathering, dubbed “The Response,” say only 8,000 people have registered on-line to attend this Saturday’s event at Houston’s Reliant Stadium, a venue with a seating capacity of 71,000.

Eric Bearse, a “Response” spokesman and former speech-writer for the potential GOP presidential candidate, says attendance numbers are a non-issue.

“Not concerned whatsoever. We think it will be a powerful event whether it is 8,000 or 50,000. The only people concerned about numbers are press,” Bearse said.

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A humble foreign policy in 2012

The New Republic has a long take on the G.O.P. turn away from foreign policy interventionism between 2008 and 2011. The article presages the fact that the recent debt deal seems to open the door to defense spending cuts if that’s the price for no increases in taxes. The flip side of this shift away from international engagement is a paranoia about sharia law in the USA.





Keynesian caterwauling over debt deal

The dominant meme in the MSM is that the spending cuts in the debt deal will hurt the economy by stripping it of government stimulus, rather than help the economy by providing businesses with some hope for a lowered or at least stable tax burden.  The New York Times cites as evidence for this depressive effect of government cuts lowered sales at Northrop Grunman: 

Northrop Grumman, a major military contractor, is a case in point. The company said Wednesday that second-quarter sales were depressed by the confusion in Washington.
“Uncertainties surrounding the debt ceiling and future defense budgets caused our customers to move more slowly and spend more conservatively,” the chief executive, Wesley G. Bush, told analysts. “We did not see the recovery in spending that one might have expected.”
The deal on the table on Sunday, however, is likely to include reductions in defense spending.

Well of course an industry that is directly dependent on government procurement is going to contract when government buys less from it!   Far more important to the economy are those many more businesses that do not feed at the government trough; it is their estimate of future taxes and spending that we should care about.  And the last stimulus package certainly didn’t produce very impressive results.  That it was poorly designed—aimed at preserving the jobs of public employees rather than allegedly jump-starting private growth—hardly excuses its lackluster performance; its designers have only themselves to blame if the stimulus was misdirected.  Of course, stimulus supporters can always argue that we don’t have a baseline control group to judge it against—that things would have been worse without it.  But that empirical uncertainty works in the other direction as well: one could as easily argue that without excessive government spending, the economy would’ve picked up before now.

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God and the debt ceiling

Glenn Beck characteristically invoked God’s will on his radio show this morning in urging his followers to oppose the debt ceiling deal: “Stand in the protection of divine providence!” he said repeatedly.  

How has he determined that God prefers debt default to compromise with Democrats?  What are his sources of evidence?  What would count as contrary evidence?  And will those who vote for the deal risk divine wrath?  Such theological certainty regarding one’s preferred political actions recalls the Islamic extremists whom Beck believes threaten America’s very existence.  Such certainty is also not very different from Texas Governor Rick Perry’s planned Christian prayer meeting with governors and others this weekend to “seek God’s guidance and wisdom in addressing the challenges that face our communities, states and nation.”   Let me predict: God’s wisdom will align almost seamlessly with what Perry and his fellow prayer-senders already intend to do.



Father Godwin & Other Distractions

Via the Daily Telegraph:

Vatican officials have accused Enda Kenny, Ireland’s prime minister, of diverting attention away from the Irish euro crisis by attacking the Roman Catholic Church over its covering up of sex abuse. Giuseppe Leanza, the Vatican’s envoy to Ireland, was posted to Prague on Friday, just days after he was recalled to Rome amid a row between the Vatican and Irish government over the sexual abuse of children by priests. A report into the Irish diocese of Cloyne earlier this month criticised how the church handled hundreds of cases of sexual abuse of children by priests going back over decades.

The findings shocked Ireland, a deeply Catholic country, and prompted Mr Kenny to launch an unprecedented attack on “dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism” at the Vatican. The Irish leader’s speech and the scale of the backlash against the Church has alarmed the Vatican as coming from a country where official and popular defiance of Rome was once unthinkable at a time when Catholic influence is slipping across Europe. Father Ciro Benedettini, a spokesman for the Holy See, expressed “surprise and disappointment over some excessive reactions” amid anger in Vatican at attacks that clerics believe might have a political motive. One high-ranking cleric told a newspaper that the Irish government, officially bankrupt and the recipient of a controversial EU-IMF bail-out, might be seeking to distract public opinion from economic woes.

On reading the story, it looks as if only “one high-ranking cleric” has actually gone public with this view, but still…

And then there’s this from the same report:

Some Irish priests have reacted furiously to Mr Kenny’s speech. In an article headlined “Heil Herr Kenny” Father Thomas Daly, a priest in County Louth, compared the Irish prime minister to the Nazis.

“The last European leader to make such a blistering attack on the Pope was the ruthless German dictator Adolf Hitler,” he wrote in a parish newsletter last weekend.

Father Daly has since apologized, but still…

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