Friday, February 27, 2015

Palin Gives Masterful Speech at CPAC

Sarah Palin gave a masterful speech at CPAC yesterday.

She was asked to speak on American veterans. It was a striking speech. It's hard to speak on the American military and veterans without slumping into platitude after platitude. Palin didn't do that.

Governor Palin wove together history (George Washington's farewell speech to his officers), current needs in domestic and foreign policy relating to veterans, and the tie between honoring veterans, defeating ISIS and ensuring peace at home.

Here's one of the barn burner parts of Palin's speech (at the 14:50 mark in the video below).
The world that they [radical Islamists] want is a world that would submit. We will never submit to evil. We will consign radical Islam to the ash heap of history, just like the Nazis before them. 
Oh, the naive Obama State Department. Oh, they say we can’t kill our way out of war? Really? Tell that to the Nazis. Oh wait, you can’t, because they’re dead. We killed them.
History proves the destruction of an enemy’s military apparatus–that is the victory. And from victory to peace. 
In the questioning afterward, Palin showed showed both self-deprecating humor and cheerful understated restraint.

Her answer to "Barack Obama" in a lightning round calling for one word answers: "Sorry." Then, as further explanation: "Hey, we came in second" then with a pause to underline the humor "--out of two."

When asked if the media has a double standard for Republican women who run for office compared to treatment of Democrat women who run for office, her one word, good-natured understatement: "Yes." No further explanation. None was needed.

Here's the full speech.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Recording 16-2/3 rpm Records with a 33-1/3 rpm Record Player

My mother recently found some old records of Bible teaching on 16-2/3rds rpm records. She asked if I could get them to play on something so she could hear them.

I have an old turntable that has all four speeds (16-2/3rds, 33-1/3rd, 45 and 78), but alas when I tried to switch it to 16-2/3rds the gear shift had broken.

I looked up the place we took it to last time to get it fixed, but it was out of business. Well, there's always seeing what youtube has on fixing them. There were some videos on the speed changer and lubricating it. But, before trying to take it apart, I half remembered something about recording at one speed and editing it to another speed.

audio adapters
I also have an Ion usb three speed turntable. But any turntable with either an audio out (earphone or auxiliary) or hooked up to an amplifier/receiver set up with an audio out will work. All you need is the right cords to get the sound to your computer microphone input so that Audacity can record the sound. Actually, I don't use the usb connection or software that came with the Ion. I prefer Audacity.

1. Hook up the audio from the turntable to your computer microphone input. My turntable output and computer input both took a standard 3.5 mm plug. If you have rca/phono jack outputs or a 1/4" stereo jack ouput get an adapter.

2. Download and install Audacity.

3. Open Audacity and hook up your turntable or record player to your computer.

4. Click on the red record button on Audacity, and start playing your record.

5. If you hear sound through your computer speakers and see sound waves on the Audacity screen instead of a flat line, you are good to go. If not, you need to fiddle with settings.
a. If you do not hear sound through your computer speakers, go to your control panel, select sound, and click on the recording tab. Make sure your microphone is enabled/ready. If not click on it, and select properties at the bottom right of the box. Click on the levels tab, and make sure your microphone slider is significantly above 0.
b. If you do not see sound waves recorded on the Audacity timeline, on the top right of the screen, second row, you will see a speaker icon next to a box and a microphone icon next to a box. Change between the options in the drop down menus until you get sound waves on your screen. (Note: you have to be recording to see the sound waves. So you will have to start [red circle] and stop [yellow square] recording as you change settings.) You can also set the input to stereo or mono in the last box. 
6. Record the cut your want or the entire side of your record in Audacity. (After you have stopped recording, you can edit out introductory or exit sound you don't want.) You might want to save it in case you make a mistake in the following steps--though you can usually undo changes under the Edit tab Undo command. You save by clicking on the File tab and choosing Export.

7. When the recording is as you want it, Drag the cursor symbol from the beginning of the recording to the end until the whole thing is selected/darkened. (If it's a long recording, you may want to click on the far right upper magnifying glass icon to have the whole project fit on one screen instead of dragging your cursor over minutes and minutes of recording.) Make sure you have gotten all of it, or part of it will still be at 33-1/3 rpm speed.

8. Under the Effect tab, click on change speed. For changing a 33-1/3 rpm recording to 16-2/3 rpm, enter -50.000 (make sure you include the minus sign) in the Percent Change box. Click on OK. Audacity will render the file to the slower speed.

9. Play part of the recording to make sure it is as you want it then save the file by using the Export command under the File tab.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Oregon as a Place to Live? Meh.

Gallup and Healthways have issued their 2014 report on the best and worst states to live in.

In spite of its great natural beauty and diversity, Oregon is in the 3rd quintile (20-30) in well-being along with Washington and Idaho. So, it's in the "meh" category. Worse than California (huh?) and Arizona. Better than Nevada (of Harry Reid fame). And lots worse than Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Wyoming and Utah.

The index is based on interviews with more than 176,000 Americans in all 50 states from January to December, 2014. States were rated on:
Purpose: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
Social: having supportive relationships and love in your life
Financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
Community: liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community
Physical: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily
The survey has been done since 2008. States with the most top 10 finishes since 2008:

Hawaii and Colorado - 7
Montana, Utah, and Minnesota - 6
Nebraska - 5
Alaska and North Dakota - 4
Iowa, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming - 3

H/T Sarah Palin (because Alaska came in #1)

Stage Version of C. S. Lewis' The Great Divorce Coming to Portland in March

The Fellowship for Performing Arts is bringing a stage version of C. S. Lewis' novel The Great Divorce to Portland in March.

The Great Divorce is about a busload of people given a free trip from Hell (portrayed as a grey, shoddy, pleasureless city) to the outskirts of Heaven and the choices they make about whether they want to stay or go back to Hell.

Are the choices we make every day in our lives controlling not only our current but our eternal destiny? When we see where selfishness, egotism, lust and self-righteousness lead will we be ready to give them up?

Performances will be Friday, March 13, 8 pm, and Saturday, March 14, 4 pm and 8 pm at the Newmark Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway. Tickets are available via links here or by calling 1-800-273-1530.

Fellowship for Performing Arts previously produced a stage play of Lewis' Screwtape Letters. It played in Portland in 2013.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Obama Dropping in Scholars' Presidential Ratings

When a progressive president is dropping in liberal scholar ratings things are serious. Obama has been dropping in scholarly rating since 2010.

Obama was rated 15th greatest president in 2010. He has now dropped to 18th. Not much of a drop? Ah, but the content of the ratings is what is troublesome.
Respondents were mixed in their view of Barack Obama. Overall, he was the 18th highest rated president, but only 4 respondents put him among the best, while 11 respondents placed him among the worst. Similarly, 22 respondents viewed Obama as among the most over-rated, compared to 13 who viewed him as under-rated. Obama was also viewed as the second-most polarizing president (after George W. Bush). Of the 19 modern presidents (i.e., back to Teddy Roosevelt), Obama was rated 13th in terms of legislative skill, 11th for diplomatic skill and 10th in terms of both integrity and military skill. (emphasis added)
Among modern Democratic presidents, Barack Obama rates only above Jimmy Carter (26). He is behind Bill Clinton (8), Lyndon Johnson (12) and John F. Kennedy (14) as well as Republican Reagan (11). Now President Obama even rates behind one term Republican George H. W. Bush (17) who in 2010 was rated 22. George H. W. Bush has come up 5 positions while Barack Obama has dropped 3 positions. How the mighty have fallen.

The scholarly predisposition for Obama can be seen in the scholarly ratings that Barack Obama had even before doing anything--sort of like his winning of the Nobel Peace Prize (nine months after taking office and before any major foreign policy success).
First, it is easy to infer that scholars and the public alike expected greatness from Obama early on and awarded it to him prematurely. Compare, after all, the fact that Obama’s first ranking in a major greatness poll was at #15; one must go back a half-century to Lyndon Johnson to find a president who entered the rankings at a higher number (#10), and LBJ was a well-known figure on the national stage who entered office after the national tragedy of his predecessor’s assassination. (emphasis added)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Politicizing Science Causes Both Liberals and Conservatives to Distrust Science

The media often presents conservatives as anti-science and liberals as pro-science. But, that isn't true. Both groups tend to oppose scientific theories that are different than their worldviews.

A recent article published in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science describes an experiment in which liberals and conservatives were given scientific information on climate change and evolution (pro-liberal worldview) and fracking and nuclear energy (pro-conservative worldview) as well as two neutral topics on astronomy and geology.

They found that both liberals and conservatives begin to distrust science when the information involves issues where the science is opposed to their opinions.

Brian Resnick of National Journal explains:
In the nuclear-energy-fracking condition, liberals "had a more negative emotional experience than conservatives, resisted the information more than the conservatives," [Erik Nisbet, a communications researcher at Ohio State University] says. They also indicated a lower trust in science than the liberals in the ideological neutral condition (the geology-astronomy condition). That's right: When liberals are confronted with topics they tend to disagree with, they begin to distrust the science.
"The difference between liberals and conservatives is not that one has biases and one does not," Nisbet says. "It's that we may have biases against specific topics." Conservatives may be seen as antiscience, but that perception arises because scientific topics that are most often discussed are those that most readily offend the conservative worldview.
When conservatives read about evolution or climate change, they too reacted negatively, but their reactions were stronger (i.e., more negative). Nisbet says that could be because climate change and evolution are more salient in everyday discussions than fracking and nuclear power.
The really bad news for anyone who loves science is not hard to guess. Politicizing science makes people, liberals and conservatives, generally more distrustful of all science on politicized subjects.
More troubling, Nisbet finds evidence that political discussion on scientific issues may make everyone more skeptical of science. Even liberals, who reported they believe in climate change and evolution, were more skeptical of science in the climate-change-evolution condition than in the neutral geology-astronomy condition. "Both liberals and conservatives had lower trust in science after the exposure to that information," Nisbet says. "Politicizing science may reduce trust for everybody, because it starts raising questions over whether science is being used for political reasons on one side or another."
[There's also an interesting video presentation at the end of Resnick's article in which he talks about the differences in the brains of conservatives and liberals when they think.]

H/T Byron York

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ted Cruz Is Now Smart (and Principled)

Senator Ted Cruz
When "conservatives" in the House were calling on Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to further change the filibuster rules that former Senator Harry Reid gutted when he was Senate majority leader, the man opposing the change was Senator Ted Cruz. NBC's Luke Russert:
Yet at the very same press conference on the very same stage, cold water was thrown on that idea by the very Republican who has used the filibuster perhaps most effectively over his time in Congress — Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. When asked by NBC News about House conservatives demands for a rule change, Cruz replied, "I think the Senate rules wisely protect the minority and they have served as the framers put it 'to allow the Senate to be the -- cooler -- the saucer that cools the hot temperatures of the moment."
"The answer, I believe, is not to change the Senate rules, the answer is for Senate Democrats not to be obstructionists," Cruz added.
The irony that Cruz, who Democrats mockingly say is the de facto leader of House Conservatives, called for restraint on changing filibuster rules was not lost on some seasoned Hill observers. One GOP aide told NBC News, "hopefully after hearing him [Cruz] they realize changing decades of Senate history six weeks into our majority is not a good idea."
Funny how having principles and being smart and knowledgeable makes one firm and wise. Senator Cruz understands the Constitution and the importance for the Founders of the Senate as a brake on a rush to legislate intemperately (Federalist No. 63, paragraph 7).

(Interestingly, back in November of 2013 Luke Russert didn't seem to think Harry Reid's change of the filibuster rules was any big thing and that Republicans probably would expand it to supreme court nominees.)

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Palin Was Right. Drill, Baby, Drill Has Worked!

My last gas purchase cost $1.99 per gallon. It seems the Democrats and media were wrong in pooh-poohing anything being able to bring the cost of gas down significantly (43%?) from $3.50 per gallon. Wasn't candidate Obama's plan in 2008 proper inflation of tires?

Sarah Palin today:
Apparently, the president is pretty proud, too. In his State of the Union address last month, he boasted about the surge in oil and gas drilling, saying, “We are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years.” From the way he’s talking, you’d think he coined the phrase “drill, baby, drill.” But it was just three years ago while campaigning in Miami that he lectured, “We can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.” Respectfully, Mr. President, “yes we can.” And yes we did. Average gas prices were well over $3 in 2012, but in the first months of 2015, they’re nearly $2, with some states enjoying even lower prices.
Oh, for Byron York and John Fund's benefit, the written version of the speech sounded pretty good. Not at all petty or bizarre.

Brit Hume Leaves a Question Mark on Honesty in Journalism and Friendship

In one sense Brit Hume did an honorable thing in standing up for his friend, Brian Williams.

You should care about your friends and stand up for them when they are unjustly accused (or at least you think they are unjustly accused). But, in standing up for his friend the way he did, Hume denigrated the seriousness of honesty in journalism and perhaps did harm to his friend.

Certainly a liar can be a likable person. But admirable and a good guy?

If you have a friend (or spouse or child) who lies, is it best to downgrade the seriousness of that? Tell them and others that they are admirable and good? Or might it be better to say to them and others involved: This is serious. It is bad. It needs to be repented of and stopped. Especially gratuitous lying.

One can imagine someone lying under the pressure of loss of a job, possibility of going to jail or being divorced. That's bad on the liar and those lied to. But, lying just to gain attention? Or help derail a candidate you don't especially like? Or make a tragedy seem even more serious than it was? That should be decried by all who are serious about journalism and truth.

Brit Hume and Brian Williams
More important to a friend than Brian Williams' career should be Williams' character. The strange thing is that when people are caught doing bad things and they really do apologize, instead of hiding or downplaying what they did, most people readily forgive them and even give them back some trust. Often they can salvage both character and career.

"I hope he overcomes this." is a good thing to say as far as it goes. But, if Brit Hume wants to be a really good friend to Brian Williams, he should encourage Williams to make a deep change in his character. Aristotle truly said that friendship based on both people being committed to virtue is the best kind, and only lasting kind, of friendship.
Perfect friendship is the friendship of men who are good, and alike in virtue; for these wish well alike to each other qua good, and they are good themselves. Now those who wish well to their friends for their sake are most truly friends; for they do this by reason of own nature and not incidentally; therefore their friendship lasts as long as they are good-and goodness is an enduring thing. And each is good without qualification and to his friend, for the good are both good without qualification and useful to each other. (Nichomachean Ethics, Book VIII, ch. 3, paragraph 3)

Will President Obama Urge Democrats to Apologize for Their Role in Slavery and Jim Crow?

If Christians should be circumspect about criticizing current Muslim behavior of beheading and burning opponents because of the Crusades (almost 1000 years ago) and slavery and Jim Crow (50 to 150 years ago), Jeffrey Lord points out that current Democrats, including Obama, should be "taking responsibility" for Democrats and their historic role in protecting and promoting slavery, Jim Crow and the KKK.
Over in the media, Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates - a black man no less - comes to Obama’s defense on the slavery and Jim Crow issue. Typically, Coates cites Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens to make the case of the Christianity-slavery link. What does he leave out? Alexander Stephens was, but of course, a Democrat. Stephens, a longtime member of the House from Georgia, left the splintering Whig Party to join the Democrats precisely because of his views on race. After getting out of federal prison in the post-Civil War era (imprisoned for his role in the rebellion) Stephens went back to Congress as a Democrat and later was elected governor of Georgia. Thus yet again does Coates illustrate the absolute refusal of progressives to acknowledge the central role of Democrats in playing - past and present - the race card in American politics.
What President Obama’s Prayer Breakfast speech shows - yet again - is that Democrats have zero intention of taking responsibility for slavery, Jim Crow, the Klan, lynching and today’s version of all this as seen in the race and class warfare politics of Al Sharpton, Eric Holder - and, yes indeed, Barack Obama himself.
Will the leadership of the Republican Party have the guts to take on the President and his party over this appalling history and that history’s role to this very moment in American politics? Will they use the control of the House and Senate to pass a resolution calling for President Obama and the Democratic Party to apologize for its support of slavery and Jim Crow?

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Pizzazz and the Next President

Sarah Palin
Back in 2012, the "smart" conservatives told us that we needed a candidate without charisma (Charles Krauthammer). A good, solid governor (George Will).

Well, it turns out the current diagnosis of why Romney lost was that he wasn't likable enough. That's what the FoxNews panel of George Will, Steve Hayes, Mara Liasson and Charles Krauthammer said Friday.

Apparently, Barack Obama won over Mitt Romney because he was more likable. Charles Krauthammer said the exit polling was 82% for Obama being more likable and only 18% for Romney. Then why did Obama win by only 2.8%? [My own view is that Obama won because he got a lot more liberals to turn out than their actual national percentage (21%) and conservatives turned out 5% lower than their national percentage (40%). In other words, lack of revving up the base was Romney's problem--not likability.]

Ted Cruz
The panel all agreed that the candidate who wins in 2016 will have to win the likability race or at least be the person voters would feel most comfortable sitting down and talking to. Voters feeling that the candidate is "someone who understands my problems" is regarded as a critical issue.

I'm going to go against them all. I think likability will win nothing--just as lack of charisma won nothing in 2012.

Assuming the Democratic candidate is Hillary Clinton, Republicans will need a candidate with pizzazz. Someone who strikes a chord of excitement. In my view that puts four candidates out in front:

* Sarah Palin (great speaker, able to summarize issues in pithy statements, first woman president, only one to have run in a national campaign)
* Ted Cruz (good speaker, very smart, first Hispanic president)
* Marco Rubio (reasonable speaker, first Hispanic president)
* Ben Carson (reasonable speaker, very smart, likable, and second black president)

Marco Rubio
Strikes against both Carson and Carly Fiorina (who some have talked up) is that neither has won a political race of any kind let alone a major race. But, there is the Eisenhower precedent of a political novice winning in modern times.

Scott Walker and Rand Paul are both fine men. Paul is a more fiery speaker than Walker, but I can't see either of them trumping the romantic idea of electing Hillary Clinton as the first woman president. I know, I know, that the first black president has been a bust. But, the romantic image of electing a first remains.

Ben Carson
Hillary will also have on her side the Clinton reputation of moving toward the middle and being able to work with Congress. So, I don't think she will be seen as such a serious danger as Obama was in 2012. Still Obama was able to win because Romney-Ryan didn't inspire conservatives. And she won't have to carry the full load of Obama's failures. She can paint herself as having an alternative agenda.

The Republican candidate will not only carry the weight of running against the mainstream media, he or she will have the anchor of stupid conservative commentators who constantly bash conservative candidates who the Republican establishment doesn't like. Sometimes they do it because it wins plaudits from those with media or money power. Sometimes they do it because they have another favorite. None of them seems very bright about supporting all the conservatives, and letting the voters pick the winner.

Though Palin is at the top of my list as the person best able to defeat Hillary Clinton by sidelining the romance of the first woman president, conservative commentators have stupidly attacked her enough that they along with the mainstream media will probably make it impossible for people to see the true Sarah Palin.

If 2016 is lost, it will be because Republican and conservative leaders have shown themselves not only incompetent at uniting the conservative base, but actually some of the best instruments at dividing and destroying it.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Brian Williams and NBC Lacking Integrity?

Poor Brian Williams. Remember in 2012 when he asked Mitt Romney if Romney was looking for "an incredibly boring white guy" for his vice-presidential running mate?

Romney quick wittedly replied: "You told me you were not available."

Well, Brian Williams tried to buff his boring white guy image by introducing a narrative of coming under enemy fire in 2003. The only problem is it wasn't true.

The new Brian Williams started to emerge in a blog post he wrote in 2008:
Let's take a moment to de-construct this: a young soldier, who is, like me, from the Jersey Shore, reads my blog entry last week during a break while on active duty in Iraq. The last time I saw him, I was with my friend and NBC News Military Analyst Wayne Downing, a retired 4-Star Army General. Wayne and I were riding along as part of an Army mission to deliver bridge components to the Euphrates River, so that the invading forces of the 3rd Infantry could cross the river on their way to Bagdhad. We came under fire by what appeared to be Iraqi farmers with RPG's and AK-47's. The Chinook helicopter flying in front of ours (from the 101st Airborne) took an RPG to the rear rotor, as all four of our low-flying Chinooks took fire. We were forced down and stayed down -- for the better (or worse) part of 3 days and 2 nights.
The account expanded in 2013 on the David Letterman Show. (about the 3 minute mark)
"We were in some helicopters. What we didn’t know was, we were north of the invasion. We were the northernmost Americans in Iraq,” he told the late night host. “We were going to drop some bridge portions across the Euphrates so the Third Infantry could cross on them. Two of the four helicopters were hit, by ground fire, including the one I was in, RPG and AK-47."
Then last week, January 30th, he repeated the false account and was called on it. He apologized this week.
"I want to apologize," Williams said on Wednesday night's broadcast of NBC Nightly News. "I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire. I was instead in a following aircraft."
One is tempted to feel sorry for Brian Williams. Telling a lie that embellishes his part in the Iraq war seems somewhat harmless.  Except, Williams and NBC have piled on in trying to destroy others who have made mistakes or even poor turns of phrase in their answers over the years--especially conservatives. NBC and MSNBC are in the gotcha business. If one don't give mercy to others, do they really deserve mercy when they stumble?

For Kris Paronto, a former Army Ranger and surviver of the 2012 Benghazi consulate attack, Williams' lying narrative demonstrates both Williams' and NBC's lack of integrity.
"What concerns me as well is how much has he and/or NBC lied about over the years? In my opinion, and that's all it is, both are fully compromised news organizations and should no longer be a credible source for news for many years to come," he stated. "Keep in mind, if military personnel would've done this, he/she would at very least be given an Article 15, busted down in rank, and possibly pay withheld until a full investigation was completed."

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Kaiser Foundation: More Americans Want to Scale Back or Repeal Obamacare

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that Obamacare is getting more unpopular. A year ago, most people wanted to keep the law and improve it (56%) vs. repeal it (31%). But now 46% want to repeal it or scale it back vs. 42% who want to keep the law as is or expand it.

A quarter of the country (25%) has been hurt by Obamacare. While only 16% have been helped by it. Most people (57%) have felt no direct impact.

A year ago 54% had felt no direct iimpact, 29% had been hurt and 17% has been helped.

Byron York points out that the only income group that views Obamacare favorably is those earning under $40,000. And they aren't crazy about it. Only 42% are favorable vs. 38% unfavorable. In the middle class ($40,000 to $89,999) 57% are unfavorable vs. 33% favorable. York underlines that this does not bode well for the 2016 election.
Democrats have already paid a pretty high political price, losing control of the House in 2010 and the Senate last year. But the price-paying is probably not over.
Of course President Obama will continue to defend Obamacare until he leaves office and beyond. Hillary Clinton, should she be the Democratic nominee in 2016, will perhaps be more flexible in implementing the law, or more open to tweaking it, but on the most fundamental level will be stuck defending it.
Meanwhile, middle class voters will probably have the same opinion of Obamacare when they go to the polls on Nov. 8, 2016, as they do today. Of course other factors will play a role in those voters' decisions, but Obamacare will be part of it.
However, most people (50%) and most independents (51%) want to see debate on the law continue. Only a minority (45%) want to see the country focus on other issues. So, Obamacare's unpopularity will undoubtedly play a role in 2016.