Wednesday, June 21, 2017

After the rain

I like that this little bird looks both bedraggled and determined. That's how I feel, these days.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Not unity, but civility

In the wake of yesterday's attempted assassination of a Republican Representative and other people at least nominally sympathetic to Republican principles, conservative commentator Mark Steyn makes a point that I had not thought about, but find myself agreeing with:

"If your organization calls people haters, you are the hater. I would like to disagree with the tone of what we have heard here today [on several Fox News broadcast segments], including in the last hour [from on-air talents]  Martha MacCallum and Brit Hume, when they were talking about unity and [asking] 'will this unity last?' "

"Obviously, the unity won't last, because ultimately [Republican Senator] Rand Paul has very little that unites him with [Independent Socialist Senator] Bernie Sanders [who caucuses with the Democrats]. We don't actually need unity. We need robust, civilized disunity -- people honestly recognizing that they disagree with each other on health care, on immigration, on Islam, on transgender bathrooms, and a bazillion other things, but that doesn't make the other person a hater. Simply put, the left has to be willing to actually engage in debate with people that disagree with them."

Steyn's point complements what I've written several times about argument being a lost art. What passes for debate these days is too often less than that, especially on the political left, where a proliferation of idols keeps jealous guard over little fiefdoms with names like Tolerance, Diversity, Fairness, and Sustainability. This is because leftism is hell-bent on finding substitutes for what the (almost touchingly old school) Pledge of Allegiance calls "one nation under God."

It's no good to point at bogey men of the "alt-Right" and claim that the right and the left are mirror images of each other, because the vast majority of conservatives won't give the alt-right the time of day, whereas progressives, propped up by fellow travelers in the media, tend to dismiss conservative concerns as "-isms" or phobias unworthy of engagement (until the shoe is on the other foot and those same little dogs who barked at the parade going by have somehow created a "climate of hate").

Hyperbole and double standards not only exist; reflexive adherence to them is the price of admission to inner circles. When an appeal to reason makes an impression, leftists move the goalposts with variations of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. One example of that is the idea that Communism would work "if it had ever actually been tried properly."

The air these days is thick with Twitter quips, sound bites, insults, and angry assertions (For example: it's not just Donald Trump who is either cartoonishly or frighteningly evil in the eyes of some progressives -- even his budget is evil). People raised on sitcom laugh tracks think a bon mot from someone in their ideological camp is today's version of a speech from the Lincoln-Douglas debates. But the aforementioned items are declarations rather than arguments, because arguments are built from the brick and mortar of premise and evidence. Arguments attempt to persuade by shedding logical light on cause and effect; they're not simply flags to mark holes on the "Golf Course of Disagreement."

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Style points

You don't often hear anyone say "Great googly-moogly" anymore, but it certainly fits this context (which is astonishment at the ideological blindness and willful error of a professor of history at Harvard University).

In an ill-advised tweet, one Joyce E. Chaplin (professor) declared that "The USA, created by int'l community in Treaty of Paris in 1783, betrays int'l community by withdrawing from #parisclimateagreement today."

Non-historians with more common sense were quick to point out the several things wrong with that assertion. In no particular order, here are my favorite rebuttals, as culled from the original post and comments on it:
  • Her dates are wrong."The United States wasn't founded in 1783, but rather 1776. July 4th, 1776, to be precise. I believe we have a document floating around from that time period with that specific date on it."
  • The Treaty of Paris "wasn't some sort of international, multi-lateral agreement that created a new country, it was just a peace treaty between two sovereign nations."
  • There was no "int'l community" in 1783. "There was no UN or EU or League of Nations. None of that globaloney crap had been invented yet."
  • The French "gave us a nice statue, not a nation, thank you very much."
  • "That's not stupidity...that's just another blatant attempt to re-write history to push the current agenda."
  • "The U.S. was one of the parties that signed the Treaty of Paris, so we've got some seriously messed-up causality if a country can sign a treaty creating itself."
  • "The first country to recognize the United States of America was Holland, on November 16, 1776."
  • "Our founders were still referring to THESE United States. THE United States wasn't completely settled upon until another war some four score and seven years later."
  • "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the International Community, and to the kleptocracy for which it stands, one Community, under despots, with misery and bloodshed for all."
  • "The comparison breaks down because the climate accord was never a treaty. This is how her intended irony falls flat."
  • "So the International Community okayed slavery in the country they formed?"
  • "If there was anything approaching the 'international community' in 1783, it was Britain and all its colonies and possessions, so yeah we got the okay from the international community because we kicked its ass for our freedom."

Saturday, June 3, 2017

My cup runneth over


There are things to worry about in my life (such as employment, finances, college tuition for my children, and whether the car and the household HVAC system will need simultaneous replacement), but there is also much -- so very much -- to be grateful for.

The mighty goblet-looking fountain pictured here is the most prominent feature in a new park down the road apiece from my own domicile. Kudos to city leaders in Cary for approving the design.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Really?

I hope that's just stupid hyperbole that Mr. Fisher let slip in a moment of weakness that came to the attention of a copy writer who has never read Frank Sheed's Theology for Beginners.

If not, then the only suitable reply is --

You keep using that word.

I do not think it means what you think it means.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Thomas Sowell fillets tax rhetoric

Economist Thomas Sowell officially retired from column writing earlier this year, but he's still the no-nonsense sage that he's been for decades:

"How is the claim of "tax cuts for the rich" false? Let me count the ways. More important, you can easily check out the facts for yourself with a simple visit to your local public library or, for those more computer-minded, on the internet.

One of the key arguments of those who oppose what they call "tax cuts for the rich" is that the Reagan administration tax cuts led to huge federal government deficits, contrary to "supply side economics" which said that lower tax rates would lead to higher tax revenues.

This reduces the whole issue to a question about facts — and the hard facts are available in many places, including a local public library or on the internet.

The hardest of these hard facts is that the revenues collected from federal income taxes during every year of the Reagan administration were higher than the revenues collected from federal income taxes during any year of any previous administration.

How can that be? Because tax rates and tax revenues are two different things. Tax rates and tax revenues can move in either the same direction or in opposite directions, depending on how the economy responds.

...Before we turn to the question of "the rich," let's first understand the implications of higher income tax revenues after income tax rates were cut during the Reagan administration.

That should have put an end to the talk about how lower tax rates reduce government revenues and therefore tax cuts need to be "paid for" or else there will be rising deficits. There were in fact rising deficits in the 1980s, but that was due to spending that outran even the rising tax revenues.

Congress does the spending, and there is no amount of money that Congress cannot outspend.

As for "the rich," higher-income taxpayers paid more — repeat, more tax revenues into the federal treasury under the lower tax rates than they had under the previous higher tax rates.

That happened not only during the Reagan administration, but also during the Coolidge administration and the Kennedy administration before Reagan, and under the G.W. Bush administration after Reagan. All these administrations cut tax rates and received higher tax revenues than before."

Saturday, April 8, 2017

It was (is) a great film

Earlier this week I saw this film again, and (like one of the original reviewers on IMDB) was blown away, again. 

The King's Speech (2010) has a wonderful script by David Seidler that takes only minor liberties with what actually happened, plus top-shelf acting from Firth, Rush, and Carter, and an inspiring message about courage. Even the film's stirring soundtrack suits the story perfectly.

On my second viewing, I also had truly marvelous company.