How will we know how many beans we have?

… if we get rid of the bean counters?

I can understand why you’d be annoyed by “bean counters” if, say, you are running a gourmet coffee shop, and your employees keep stopping the production of espresso in order to count the beans. But if, say, you’re running the Congressional Budget Office, I’d say that “bean counters” are exactly what you want. Not Jeb Bush, though. Speaking out in favour of “dynamical scoring”, a procedure (a generous designation) for making budget deficits disappear by counting the positive mojo of conservative principles in the budget on the credit side,

Bush first said he was “all in” for eliminating the “bean counters” who use the traditional “static scoring” method.

The problem with getting rid of the bean counters is, it doesn’t actually get you more beans. There’s no problem disappearing the deficit from your budget with creative accounting, but it doesn’t affect the debt. The creditors aren’t going to take “dynamic scoring” in lieu of payment.

Beans are stubborn things.

Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding

US Republican-libertarian senator and unofficial presidential candidate Rand Paul has been castigated by true-blue Zionists for insufficient vigour in applauding Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent address to Congress. “I gave the prime minister 50 standing ovations,” Paul said, and that should really settle the matter.

I was reminded of this passage from The Gulag Archipelago:

A district Party conference was under way in Moscow Province… It was presided over by a new secretary of the District Party Committee, replacing one recently arrested. At the conclusion of the conference, a tribute to Comrade Stalin was called for. Of course, everyone stood up (just as everyone had leaped to his feet during the conference at every mention of his name). The small hall echoed with “stormy applause, rising to an ovation.” For three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, the “stormy applause, rising to an ovation,” continued. But palms were getting sore and raised arms were already aching. And the older people were panting from exhaustion. It was becoming insufferably silly even to those who really adored Stalin. However, who would dare be the first to stop?… After all, NKVD men were standing in the hall applauding and watching to see who quit first! And in that ob- scure, small hall, unknown to the Leader, the applause went on six, seven, eight minutes! They were done for! Their goose was cooked! They couldn’t stop now till they collapsed with heart attacks! … Nine minutes! Ten! . . . Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved!…

That, however, was how they discovered who the independent people were. And that was how they went about eliminating them. That same night the factory director was arrested. They easily pasted ten years on him on the pretext of something quite different. But after he had signed Form 206, the final document of the interrogation, his interrogator reminded him: “Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding!” (And just what are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to stop?)

What’s German for “lame stream media”?

Don’t take words out of my mouth! … or out of my protest sign!

Der Spiegel has posted a short video of a recent anti-Islam demonstration by PEGIDA, a German organisation whose name is an acronym for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West. In one brief segment, starting at about 1:35, a journalist speaks with a demonstrator who is carrying a sign with the message “Islam = Karzinom” (Islam = Carcinoma, i.e., cancer).

Reporter: I wonder if you could explain your sign to me, why you draw this equivalence between Islam and a carcinoma?

Demonstrator: I don’t say they are equivalent, as you’re trying to suggest.

R: But it says there “Islam equals Carcinoma”.

D: Exactly.

R: Well, then, explain to me what you mean by that.

D: I’m not giving you any more information.

You really need to watch it — even if you don’t understand the language — to appreciate the mixture of befuddlement and hostility in this smug old protester, who seems to think that expecting demonstrators to account for their over-the-top slogans is just one of those devious tricks typical of highbrow lefty journalists. (I don’t think there’s a German word for lame stream media.)

Freedom fries with milquetoast

I was amused to read that Republicans in the US were attacking President Obama for not dropping everything to fly to France and succor our friend and ally in its time of need.

“This is simply no way to treat our oldest and first ally,” [Rick] Perry told The Washington Post. “President Obama should have stood with France in person, defending Western values in the struggle against terrorism and showing support for the victims of this despicable act of terror,” Perry said.[…]

“Our president should have been there, because we must never hesitate to stand with our allies,” [wrote Ted] Cruz.

Because, we know that if there’s anything Republicans care about more than defending scatological satire targeted particularly at conservative religious figures, it’s the centuries-old alliance, built mutual respect and admiration, with the cheese-eating surrender monkeys petulant prima-donna of realpolitik French.

It’s almost as intense as their abiding love of the Ukraine, for which John McCain attacked Obama’s and Angela Merkel’s response to Russia’s invasion of Crimea last year as “playing into Putin’s hands” and “milquetoast” respectively.

The worst of it is, he can’t even get a side of freedom fries with his milquetoast anymore.

Birmingham

A “terrorism expert” on Fox News in the US has raised eyebrows on both sides of the Atlantic by informing his viewers that

in Britain, it’s not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in. And parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire.

This is, of course, well known, and was first brought fleetingly to public attention by the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr in his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail. As some people have forgotten, in his role as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (based in Brighton, I believe) Dr King attempted to open the totally Muslim city of Birmingham to Christians, by staging a nonviolent march. After his arrest by the Muslim religious police (who actually beat and actually wounded him seriously) he penned these stirring words:

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders coming in.”[…] I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. […] I cannot sit idly by […] and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

I am offering my services to Fox News, to appear as a history expert and discuss this neglected background to the current crisis in Birmingham.

It is perhaps to the credit of “expert” Steve Emerson that his organisation has posted the transcript of this interview, together with a sort-of-apology:

I have clearly made a terrible error for which I am deeply sorry. My comments about Birmingham were totally in error[. …] I do not intend to justify or mitigate my mistake by stating that I had relied on other sources because I should have been much more careful.

There are several more sentences in the same vein, followed by a non sequitur offer of a donation to Birmingham Children’s Hospital. While I appreciate his refusal to “justify or mitigate”, I think in this case an exposition of his sources would be informative, or at least entertaining. But these think tanks are not so much scholarly organisations as conspiratorial cells, and unless we take him to Guantanamo we’ll never get the names of his contacts.

I guess he’s standing by the London comments. I think this is a real opening for Labour, if the government is cutting housing assistance but still funding the Muslim religious police. And he hasn’t yet apologised for neglecting Dr King’s contributions to intercommunal understanding in Birmingham.

“The same terrorists”

Andrew Sullivan quotes conservative journalist K. T. McFarland:

According to media reports, the report concludes that we tortured terrorists.

These are the same terrorists who blew up the World Trade Center, bombed the Pentagon, and tried to level the U.S. Capitol. These are the same terrorists that today have beheaded Christians, Westerners and, just this past weekend, another American citizen.

It’s a bizarre and revealing statement. Putting aside the fact that some of the people tortured by the CIA and its confederates were completely innocent and not any sort of terrorists, they obviously weren’t the same terrorists who did any of the things on that list. A few of them were involved in planning the World Trade Center attack, but none of them was anywhere near beheading Americans last weekend. This notion of collective guilt expresses very well the sense of indiscriminate impotent rage that led to the disasters of the first decade of the 21st century. It’s simply inconceivable that something terrible can happen to America, and that they are unable to strike back. If the perpetrators are dead — and that’s the frustration of suicide attacks — then someone else must be punished. And if it has been decided that the barbarians wouldn’t mind dying, then they’ll have to dig deeper to find a way to assert dominance.