• Occasional Quote: What Gets You Out of Bed in the Morning?

    These quotes come from “Brockmire,” a new IFC television show about a one-time major-league baseball announcer, now attempting to revive his career after an epic, on-air meltdown.

    He’s working as the public address announcer in Morristown, PA, and living with the woman who owns the struggling team, Jules (Amanda Peet).

    Both Jules and Jim (the names might be an homage to the eponymous movie) drink all day but still seem to function.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Jules to Jim: What do really want?

    What gets you out of bed in the morning?

    Jim: The urge to pee, usually.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    The IT guy at the stadium–the wonderful nerd, Charles (Tyrel Jackson Williams)–comes up with an idea to create a podcast around Brockmire telling stories.

    The podcast becomes a huge hit when Ira Glass says he loves it, which brings all fans of This American Life to the stadium in rural Pennsylvania to see Jim Brockmire.

    Jim Brockmire to Jules: Who are all these bespectacled, ironicially-dressed people?

    Jules: You got [Ira Glass’] fans: Rich, white people who feel bad about being rich and white.

    And want an authentic experience that doesn’t scare them.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    The cast:

     

  • Michigan’s infamous Mddle East specialist, Juan Cole, comes up with another doozy

    Carbon dioxide, Cole says, is “a far more deadly gas” than what was used in “the gas attack in Syria on April 4.”

    His basic argument is encapsulated in the headline of his recent article in The Nation:

    The Other Poison Gas Killing Syrians: Carbon Dioxide Emissions

    If Trump and his cronies really cared about children killed by noxious gases, they wouldn’t be trying to spew ever more CO2 into the atmosphere –Juan Cole

    You see, it’s about drought. Yeah, that’s the ticket. It’s the drought that caused everything to go wrong in Syria.

    Oh, yes, and Trump is to blame. Plus, he’s a hypocrite for bombing a Syrian base to stop more chemical weapon attacks because Trump doesn’t also agree with Al Gore on climate change. If you can follow that logic, check with your doctor. If you agree with it, apply to graduate studies with Prof. Cole at Michigan.

    Again, to quote the professor:

    The Syrian civil war has left more than 400,000 people dead, among them graveyards full of children and innocent noncombatants. About half the country’s 23 million people have been left homeless, and of those, 4 million have been driven abroad (some of them contributing to Europe’s refugee crisis and its consequent rightward political shift). The war occurred for many complex reasons, including social and political ones. The severest drought in recorded modern Syrian history in 2007–10, however, made its contribution. –Juan Cole

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Comment:  Notice that, in the fine print, Cole relegates the drought to a much more ambiguous status. It “made a contribution” to the humanitarian disaster, he now says. How much contribution? He refuses to say.

    Yet the whole point of the article is that carbon dioxide in Syria is more deadly than poison gas attacks, which are war crimes (for good reasons). In short, the article is bait-and-switch, seasoned with hyperbole, political correctness, and a steadfast refusal to look true evil in the eye.

    The most appropriate comment comes from the movie, Billy Madison. It is pitch perfect for Prof. Cole’s analysis:

    In other words, a drought may have contributed, indirectly, to the carnage in Syria. But to emphasize it as a major cause is misleading, tendentious, and wrong.

    To put it differently, California had multiple years of drought and, according to recent statistics, the civil war there has claimed far fewer than 400,000 lives. Perhaps under 300,000.

    Hey, let’s at least give Jerry Brown some credit for avoiding barrel bombs in the Central Valley. So far.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Hat Tip: Daniel Pipes and Campus Watch. They found the Cole article and publicized it. Kudos.

    Tom Blumer at NewsBusters, who initially publicized the article.

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, March 31

    Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

     Michael Flynn’s lawyers float an idea: he’ll testify if House and Senate investigators give him immunity. At issue, Russia’s influence in the 2016 election and their contacts with the Trump campaign.

    The Wall Street Journal broke the story.

    Flynn’s lawyer confirmed it; and now everyone is reporting it.

    According to the New York Times, Congressional investigators want to be further along in their inquiry before deciding how to handle Flynn.

    Comment: The Senate will take the lead here, in cooperation with the FBI. The committee on the House side is tied up in controversy over ties between its chairman, Devin Nunes (R-CA), and the Trump White House.

     Trump begins trade-policy review “as he levels new threats at China”  (Washington Post)

    • The review will cover major products and major trade partners.
    • China’s leader, Xi Jinping, visits Trump next week.

     Historic first: SpaceX launches a satellite into orbit on a reused rocket booster.  A tremendous technical achievement for Elon Musk’s company, one that dramatically lowers costs. SpaceX is aiming to launch new payloads every 2-3 weeks. Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ firm, has also reused rockets but has done so on suborbital missions. (Space.com)

     Opiates: Ohio officials, led by Gov. John Kasich, working to restrict painkiller prescriptions (Toledo Blade)

    Calling the proposed rules a “done deal,” Gov. John Kasich said these actions, coupled with a crackdown on the law enforcement side, will eventually reverse Ohio’s distinction of ranking first in the nation in overdose deaths.

    “We’re paying the price right now for a lot of the neglect that happened in the past,” he said.

    In battling their patients’ acute pain, doctors and other health-care providers could prescribe no more than seven days’ worth of opioid dosages for adults and five days for minors. The potency could not exceed an average of 30 morphine equivalent doses per day.

    Physicians could prescribe more than that only after they’ve justified it based on the patient’s medical records. Exceptions would be made for cancer, palliative care, end-of-life, and addiction treatment. –Toledo Blade

     Dumbest comment of the Day: EU top bureaucrat, Jean-Claude Juncker, says he will urge “Ohio and Austin, Texas” to secede from the US if Trump doesn’t stop praising Brexit Story here.

    Comment: Looks like ole Jean-Claude’s been in the liquor cabinet again.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • Nancy Pelosi calls chairman of House Intel Committee a “stooge of the President”

    The chair in question is Devin Nunes. 

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the minority leader on the committee is Adam Schiff. All are from California.

    The two Democrats, Pelosi and Schiff, are now going after Nunes with both guns blazing.

    Here’s Pelosi’s latest, quoted in The Hill:

    By being a stooge of the president of the United States, he has demonstrated very clearly that there is no way there can be an impartial investigation under his leadership on that committee. –Nancy Pelosi

    Pelosi’s vitriol has a purpose. She and other Democrats want to convene a special committee or, if possible, an independent counsel, to investigate Trump. Anything they can do to undermine Nunes advances that goal. She added,

    Chairman Nunes acted outside the circle of respect [for his committee by talking with President Trump about these issues.]

    Chairman Nunes is deeply compromised, and he cannot possibly lead an honest investigation. –Pelosi

    See?

    Comment: The “circle of respect” is a concept previously unknown in Washington.

    Sources close to Nancy Pelosi were shocked to hear her associated with “respect” in any way. She had previously avoided any contact with it.

    Fortunately, ZipDialog’s artists were able to capture a picture.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Hat tip to Tom Elia for the Nancy Pelosi quotation

     

     

     

  • If you want to succeed, first you have to SHOW UP

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    80 percent of life is showing up.

    –Woody Allen

    That brief quote was from an interview, and Woody’s longer comment is worth considering, too.

    People used to always say to me that they wanted to write a play, they wanted to write a movie, they wanted to write a novel, and the couple of people that did it were 80 percent of the way to having something happen.

    All the other people struck out without ever getting that pack. They couldn’t do it, that’s why they don’t accomplish a thing, they don’t do the thing, so once you do it, if you actually write your film script, or write your novel, you are more than half way towards something good happening. So that I [would] say [that was] my biggest life lesson that has worked. All others have failed me.

    –Woody Allen interview in The Collider (2008)

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦ 

    To me, Woody’s advice is not only sensible, it is really a variant of an old joke about a pious man, Mr. Goldberg, who had money troubles and always dreamed of winning the lottery.

    He prayed for good luck daily, always mentioning his devotion to God, his regular prayers, and his charity toward others.

    “So,” he ended his daily prayer, “would winning the lottery be so bad?”

    He never won, but he kept praying, hoping for a sign from God.

    And, finally, one Sabbath he received it. He listened to the still, small voice in his heart, and knew it was truly God’s voice:

    “Goldberg, give me a chance! Buy a ticket!”

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦ 

    That joke makes the same point as Woody Allen.

    You can’t expect everything to drop into your lap, miraculously.

    You have to show up, first . . . and often show up first . . . and then do your best and hope for the best.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦ 

    SPECIAL BONUS TIP: When you do show up, when you do work hard, you can feel good, not guilty or undeserving, about your accomplishments.

    Just remember to be charitable, in every sense of the word–generous in spirit, generous with your time, and generous with your resources.

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, March 14

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

     CBO projects Trump/Ryan Obamacare replacement would save money but that 24 million fewer people would be covered  (Washington Post)

    The analysis, released late Monday afternoon by the Congressional Budget Office, predicts that 24 million fewer people would have coverage a decade from now than if the Affordable Care Act remains intact, nearly doubling the share of Americans who are uninsured from 10 percent to 19 percent. The office projects the number of uninsured people would jump 14 million after the first year –Washington Post

     CBO ignites firestorm with ObamaCare repeal score, reports The Hill

    Democrats highlighted President Trump’s campaign promises to provide “insurance for everybody,” saying the bill falls woefully short.

    “The CBO’s estimate makes clear that TrumpCare will cause serious harm to millions of American families,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said in a statement. –The Hill

    How does the CBO get these numbers?

    The CBO estimated that 24 million people would become uninsured by 2026 under the bill, largely due to the proposed changes to Medicaid. Seven million fewer people would be insured through their employers over that same time frame because some people would choose not to get coverage and some employers would decline to offer it. –The Hill

    Comment: The numbers create obvious political problems for Republicans, and the Democrats will exploit them.

    Here is how I figure Republicans will respond, at least publicly:

    1. The basic problem with the CBO score is that it compares the new program to Obamacare, as if the ACA will continue to exist and cover people. But it won’t. Obamacare is collapsing financially, so those people will actually lose coverage if we don’t repeal it and replace it with something sustainable. Even if Obamacare totters on for another year or two, insurers are dropping out and, as they do, monopoly providers will raise rates, forcing more people off Obamacare insurance.
    2. CBO projections are often wrong, and they certainly have been about healthcare costs and coverage.
    3. Even if 24 million fewer are covered, some of them may choose not to buy coverage since, unlike Obamacare, it is not mandated.
    4. By law, the CBO can only score the bill in front of them. For technical reasons (related to Senate reconciliation rules), we cannot include key measures that will reduce insurance costs and thus attract some of those 24 million to purchase insurance. The main measure will be sale of insurance across state lines and, secondarily, reform of costly tort laws.

     A quote to celebrate spring training: Bob Uecker’s thoughts on catching Phil Niekro’s knuckleball:

    The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling and then pick it up. –Bob Uecker

     The “progressive left” makes a regressive argument for stamping out speech…and they get to decide which speech.

    Here’s Slate’s cover story:  “The Kids Are Right: There’s nothing outrageous about stamping out bigoted speech

    Comment: The article is an artful scam, making its argument by allusion and demonization, without confronting serious counter-arguments.

    It says some speech is bad and “informal rules” ought to limit it, without explaining who gets to set those rules and what criteria should be used. Then, it notes that our Constitution does permit some restrictions on speech. That’s right, but it is a good reason to say, “Let the First Amendment set the restrictions, not Slate magazine writers.”

    The article goes on to attack Trump, Bannon (whom it explicitly calls racist), William Buckley (too religious), and others loathed by Slate readers.

    It concludes, “The purveyors of logic, of facts dutifully checked and delivered to the public, lost big league in November.”

    Why is that an argument for shouting down Charles Murray? It’s not. 

     Two airlines cancel routes to Cuba. Too little demand. Other airlines are cutting back flights and using smaller planes  (Miami Herald)

    Comment: Fortunately, one airline is still flying to Cuba, and doing it on their terms.

     EU’s top court rules employers may prohibit staff from wearing visible religious symbols, such as Islamic headscarves, at work (Reuters)

     Democrats cannot figure out how–or whether–to oppose Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch (Politico)

    Comment: He’ll win easily in the Senate and go onto the Court. The only question is how quickly Sen. leader McConnell will move.

     

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Ed Vidal
     for the airlines cancelling flights to Cuba and the story at Slate favoring speech suppression.

     

  • Occasional Quotes: Rousseau captures the incendiary appeal of victimhood

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    Many “isms” of the right and the left–Romanticism, socialism, authoritarianism, nationalism, anarchism–can be traced to Rousseau’s writings. …

    Against today’s backdrop of near-universal political rage, history’s greatest militant lowbrow [Rousseau] seems to have grasped, and embodied, better than anyone the incendiary appeal of victimhood in societies built around the pursuit of wealth and power. 

    Pankaj Mishra, Age of Anger