J.E. Dyer provides a comprehensive California voting guide

If you’re in California, it’s easy to figure out which people should get your vote:  Fiorina over Boxer, Whitman over Brown (and yes, that’s something of a nose-holder), anyone over Pelosi, etc.

It gets much more confusing when you get to the numbered items on the ballot.  Prop. 23 is easy:  Vote for that unless you want the state bankrupt in a couple of years.  But all the other numbered ones, the ones about taxes and fees and assembly majorities, are ridiculously confusing, especially since some of the tax and fee propositions appear virtually identical in wording for the confused voter, but will have markedly different outcomes if passed.

Fortunately, someone sane has stepped into this confusion.  J. E. Dyer, a former military analyst, and current blogger at Commentary’s Contentions, Hot Air’s Green Room and Patheos, also has her own blog, and it’s there that she spells out the numbers. (And yes, I did mean to be silly with my words there.  This is such a serious time that a teeny bit of humor is a nice safety valve.)

If you are a California voter, and you haven’t yet cast your vote, I urge you to study Dyer’s post very, very carefully.

Math-challenged Liberal/Lefties – II

The economy is all about disposable income.

You can’t stimulate the economy by taking money away from people. Liberal /Lefties don’t get this point, I know, because math is hard. Let me try to explain.

People generally receive a fixed amount of income, let’s call it a “pie”. Some of that pie, up front, goes to paying for essentials, or “overhead”- i.e., shelter, transportation to and from work, utilities and food (although there is a lot of discretion on that last point). For most people, this number is a fixed quantity.

Another major portion of that pie goes to taxes. This fixed-and-ever-increasing quantity, I think we can generally agree, is pretty much non-stimulatory to the economy. There are reasons why government spending is very poor at stimulating the economy, the leading one being government’s inherent inefficiency (I remember learning in an economics class long ago that only $0.10 – $0.25 of every government dollar goes to its stated objective). As witness for the prosecution, I present you with the Great Obama Stimulus of 2009 – 2010.

This leaves the third portion of the pie: disposable or discretionary income. People can do two things with discretionary income: a) invest or save, both actions which make money available to the economy in the form of investments or bank loans; b) spend money on goods and services. Both of these activities are very good for the economy. The more that people invest and save, the more that is made available as capital to fund development of products, build companies and create jobs. The more that people spend, the greater the demand for goods and services, which creates jobs. I can’t think of any clearer explanation of how this works than Milton Friedman’s famous recounting of “the pencil”.

So, bottom line. It is only (and I mean only) by increasing discretionary income that one can grow an economy. So, here is the equation:

[Total Income] – [Overhead Expenses] – [Taxes] = Economic Growth.

When Liberal/Lefties declare that taxes must be raised to fuel government activity and that overhead expenses (e.g., cost of fuel, utilities) must be raised through economic costs imposed on business (e.g., environmental and cap & trade legislation), there is less and less left to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

No matter how well Tuesday’s elections turn out for those of us on the conservative-libertarian side, we still have a lot of work to do in overcoming our Liberal /Lefty friends math anxiety with some basic truths regarding jobs and the economy. I suggest that we will need to keep our arguments as simple as possible. Math is hard.

The drive-by media plots Joe Miller’s assassination *UPDATED*

Some CBS affiliated reporters got together to figure out how to sabotage Joe Miller in the last days before Alaska’s election.  Being horribly mean and vicious, though, doesn’t mean that one doesn’t make mistakes.  After all, feral intelligence isn’t a complete intelligence.  Here the mistake was that, somehow, the reports managed to leave their little conference as a voicemail message for Miller’s spokesman.  Read more about the whole thing here.  And then listen to the plot, which is exceptionally sordid, below.  Remember this one forever as an example of how the modern American media operates.

Hat tip:  Mike Devx

UPDATE:  There a certain Keystone Kops quality to the reporter’s conduct.  Yes, they plotted something truly foul, but they did so with such ineptitude they got caught and publicly humiliated.  Now, to add to the slapstick quality of the whole thing, they’re contending that they were just strategizing possible things that might actually happen, rather than trying to find a child molester to attach to the Miller campaign.  The only difference between these yahoos and the Kops, is that the Kops were innocent and funny.  These guys and gals, despite sharing the stupidity, are as malevolent as anyone you’ll find within this nation’s borders.

Left again allies itself with radical Islam

My husband has, for years, castigated me for refusing to listening to Cat Stevens’ music.  He makes two points, the first of which is valid, the second of which is not.  First, he says, the music predates Stevens’ conversion.  If I hear it on the radio, Stevens isn’t getting any royalties anyway, so there’s no harm, no foul.

This is true.  But I still hate to hear Stevens because he irritates me so much.  And why does he irritate me?  Well, that gets to the second reason my husband scolds me, and as to that reason, my husband is wrong:  “You don’t like him just because he’s a Muslim.”  No, buddy.  I don’t like him because he’s a jihadist who advocates the murder of those who disagree with Islam.

My twenty-year old mini-dispute with my husband (and it really is mini, because how often does Cat Stevens come up in daily life?) has suddenly taken on a bit more resonance for me, as my husband’s favorite comic du0 — Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert — happily and proudly hosted this jihadist at their rally to “restore sanity.”  I know I’m picky, but I don’t consider it sane for Americans, especially Jewish Americans, to cavort with jihadists.  I’m clearly out of step, though, with this “super hip” American zeitgeist.

If you want to know more, lots more, check out Ed Driscoll, who always has good stuff.

Winners at the Watchers – 10/29/10

Without further ado, this past week’s winners as the Watcher’s Council.  Not surprisingly, I’m pleased with the outcome.

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

NPR’s carefully crafted tales — and why I don’t listen any more

When I left law school, a switch tripped in my brain.  Whereas before I’d listened only to top twenty music, I suddenly got bored with music and switched to news.  But not just any news.  NPR news.  Whenever I was in the car, I had my radio tuned to my local public radio station.  In those days, I spent a lot of time in the care, so I listened to a lot of the stories flowing from that station.  I considered myself extremely well-informed.  Oh, and smug.  Very smug.  As far as I was concerned, NPR made me an informed person.

One of the things that made NPR so appealing to me was the story arc.  Their news stories always came in beautifully presented, neat, tidy little packages. I’ve always loved tight narratives (i.e., stories with a beginning, a middle and an end, and, if I was lucky, a moral too), so NPR was perfectly suited to my temperament.

The guy or gal who functioned as a given show’s Master of Ceremonies would give a neat little promo in his or her warm, erudite voice:  “In the wake of last Tuesday’s midterm election, House Republicans, relying on the Contract with America, have vowed to shut down welfare, denying funds to hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children.  For more on this story, we have Harvard-grad reporter Louis Liberal.”

Louis would then come on, and in that same warm, erudite tone, give a neat, three-sentence intro detailing how the House Republicans had a plan to deny necessary funding to hundreds of thousands of hungry children.  Louis would then say, “Harvard economist Pol Klugmen explains that, if Republicans are successful in ending welfare as we know it, studies show that there will be dead bodies lying in the street.”  We’d then hear Prof. Klugmen, in warm, erudite and scholarly tones, explain about all the dead bodies.  Louis would then introduce another expert, perhaps from a liberal think tank, explaining that the only way to reform welfare is to pump more money into it.  That expert, too, would give a short, sweet, scholarly statement on the subject.  Louis would then add, “Leading house Republicans deny this charge.”  Next would com a swift Newt soundbyte:  “That’s not true.”  Louis, in his erudite, patrician voice, would end this tight story-line by saying, “Only time will tell if the Republican plan can be implemented without causing catastrophic failures amongst the nation’s poor.”

Each story was such a neat little package.  There was no thinking required.  We were told the thesis; the good view was identified, with nice neat soundbytes; the bad view was identified, with meaningless soundbytes; and the wrap-up warned us of the horrors awaiting if the bad view prevailed.

I bought into these morality tales with wholehearted fervor.  The good guys, the Democrats, wanted to protect the poor; the bad guys, the Republicans, intended to leave them starving in the street.  And even worse, because the stupid American people had given those evil Republicans power, poor, long-suffering President Clinton, who’d been dogged by those nasty lies about his over-the-top sexual escapades, would be forced to put his imprimatur on a bill leaving the homeless more homeless than ever.

There was only one problem with this neatly enclosed little universe:  Israel.  You see, unlike stories about domestic politics, where my only understanding of the facts came from NPR itself, when it came to Israel, I actually knew one important thing:  Israel wanted to live peacefully on the small plot of land given her by both the League of Nations and the UN, and won by her in subsequent wars; and the Palestinians wanted every Jew in the world dead.  This meant that all the spin NPR put out about Israeli brutalities against innocent Palestinians, and the poor, suffering, peace-loving Palestinians, didn’t touch me.  I knew NPR was spinning or, worse, lying.

The problem is that, once you realize that a narrator is comfortable abandoning the truth, you start to wonder, “Where does that end?  I know NPR is lying when it tries to make a moral relativism argument re Israel or, worse, when it presents the Israeli military as an out-of-control killing machine, so I have to wonder if it’s lying about other things too.”

After 9/11, I got some further reality checks regarding the NPR world view.  I didn’t like the way NPR kept trying to exculpate Islam from the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.  That made no sense to me.  I also didn’t like NPR’s relentless negative war coverage.  I actually agreed with Bush:  when a nation supports mass murderers, you bring war to that nation.  I also had a hard time understanding how, despite the fact that Bush spent a year begging the UN for help, eventually ending up with a coalition, NPR could keep selling little story packages that presented Bush as an out-of-control, go-it-alone cowboy.  The spin was inconsistent with the facts on the ground.

Eventually, I started cross-checking NPR stories.  They’d say one thing, and I’d go on an internet search for more information.  That’s when I stumbled across conservative blogs.  What fascinated me was that, using the same facts NPR reported, or sometimes just alluded to, the conservative sites would reach conclusions  that were — surprise! — consistent with those facts.  There was no bending and stretching, there were no contortions.  Facts and conclusions flowed logically, from one to another.

The biggest surprise, though, was the way the conservative blogs opened themselves to the opposing point of view.  Where I expected an echo chamber, I got huge quotes from and links to NPR, CBS, NBC, and all other mainstream outlets, along with detailed analyses explaining the flaws in the reasoning or the factual errors and omissions.  Unlike the tight, one-world view of the NPR story packages, this was all out intellectual warfare.  Suddenly, that seemingly trite phrase “the marketplace of ideas” made big time sense.

From blogs, it was a short stop to radio, and that’s when I definitively abandoned NPR.  I realized that those neatly tied-up story lines weren’t a sign of sophistication and erudition, they were a sign of cowardice.  NPR was the intellectual (and news) equivalent of the three monkey, insofar as it religiously assured its audience that, when it came to the liberal viewpoint, there was no evil to be seen, heard or spoken.

The courage was with Rush Limbaugh, or Dennis Prager, or Hugh Hewitt, or Michael Medved, or a host of other hosts, all of whom welcomed opposing views on their program, whether in the form of actual guests, ordinary citizens calling in, or lengthy playbacks of liberal arguments and speeches.  The conservative blogs and radio shows were sufficiently secure in their viewpoints, and in their ability to support those viewpoints, that they’d take on all comers.

Suddenly, I was out of the bubble — and I’ve never looked back.  My liberal friend accuses me of still living in the bubble because I read so many conservative sites.  What he doesn’t understand, because he lives in the liberal media world, is that these conservative sites take the same news the liberal media sells, and then give added value, in the form of criticism, analysis or additional facts.  They pierce the bubble at every turn.

More than that, because conservative media openly admits its bias, I can separate facts from viewpoint with relative ease.  Such is not the case with NPR, which stridently asserts its perfect objectivity, allowing it to present its conclusions as objective facts.  As Benjamin Kerstein says:

Put simply, NPR is for coastal liberals what Rush Limbaugh is for heartland conservatives: a means of relating to the world from within the confines of a specific subculture. The difference, of course, is that Limbaugh’s admirers do not force others to pay for it.

Nor, I imagine, are Limbaugh’s listeners laboring under the same illusion as NPR’s. Most of them probably understand that Limbaugh is giving opinions based on his political point of view, which is, to say the least, well known to his listeners. NPR’s listeners, on the other hand, are quite convinced that they are receiving nothing less than the pure, unvarnished, objective truth from the network. They believe themselves to be smart and informed, and thus the network they love must also be, perhaps by definition, smart and informative.

As far as I have been able to discern from my own, admittedly subjective, encounters with the network, this is largely a convenient illusion. Put simply, NPR’s reputation seems based largely on aesthetic considerations. Its personalities are articulate and employ a more extensive vocabulary than commercial radio; its programs are professionally produced, with a slickness that conservative media cannot match; and its reporters are generally skilled at sounding calm and objective, even when they manifestly are not. The more one begins to delve into the substance of NPR’s programming, however, the more one senses that the network is neither particularly smart nor particularly informative.

As someone who listened to NPR for almost two decades, I can assure Kerstein that he is absolutely right.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News