STUMP » Articles » Bloggy Things: RIP Steven den Beste, Errors, and SEEEEEEEXXXXXXX » 29 October 2016, 07:56

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Bloggy Things: RIP Steven den Beste, Errors, and SEEEEEEEXXXXXXX  


29 October 2016, 07:56

First, let me thank the other sites that link to me:

And no, you various porn/spam sites that ping me, I will not link back.


I saw earlier this week that Steven den Beste had died. As Jim Geraghty notes, it’s been over a decade since den Beste had written about politics, but I remember looking for new posts from him. They were always long, but had plenty to chew on.

I can’t say that he inspired me to blog, because I’ve been writing on my own site since 1996. But I always found what he had to say to be interesting.

I don’t remember how I found his blog originally. Perhaps one of my friends on livejournal linked to him, or perhaps I found him through instapundit. I remember being disappointed when ill health made him decide to stop political blogging, and I didn’t quite understand what that meant then. I do understand it now.

The main thing that makes me sad is that Steven was born the same year as my parents. My dad died decades ago, and I would rather have my mom around for many more decades. It’s hard not to think of the others you know who may also be in danger.

Ace of Spades on Steven den Beste.


Recently, when I was working up a head of steam over this post from the Illinois Policy Insitute, I got my materials together and found….

…. I had screwed up.


A silent error has been sitting on my blog forever and I didn’t realize it.

So, to make it clear, this graph is correct:

This graph is not:

Both graphs are drawing from the same data set, just sliced two different ways.

I could be a snot and say I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine the problem, but it’s very simple:

Stacked column (or stacked bar) graphs don’t work when some of the elements of the stack are negative.

I don’t have any problems when the graph is broken out by plan, because none of them are ever overfunded.

I do have problems when the graph is broken out by cause, because those elements can be negative (even if the total is positive.)

I’m looking at various fixes, such as this post which is also here, from the same author. I need to think about it a bit, because there are aspects that don’t work that well.

I had this version before, which is correct:

But it’s ugly as hell (not in the way I want it to be ugly, mind you) and somewhat confusing. So I’ll think about this some more. Obviously, it will be a new post when I figure out how to solve this problem.


A shocking statement, I know.

So this is spurred by a multiple things:

This rant from Ace:

Is It True, As Newt Gingrich Charged, That MeAgain Kelly Doesn’t Talk About Policy?

Why, as a matter of fact, it is true.

Note that Kelly does address scandals at the periphery of policy questions. When it was revealed (to those who hadn’t been paying prior attention) that Obamacare would not, in fact, permit you to keep your plan, she did cover that.

But note that is a scandal — a political lie — about a policy issue, and not the policy issue itself.

MeAgain Kelly does talk about lies, hypocrisies, contradictions, etc.

But not actually about policy.

That doesn’t make her much different from any other hack — including myself — minding the 24 hour news cycle and trying to keep up “churn” and post one post an hour (or thereabouts) while — how do I put this softly? — doing as little work as possible to accomplish this.

And I get what he’s saying there. I’m a little chapped about my failed prediction about the issues this election. I was kind of hoping for any discussion of entitlements, but now it’s all crotch issues and emails. (And I think it pretty funny that it sounds like the current issue is an intersection of crotch issues and emails.)

Now, Ace comes up with reasons why people prefer to gossip over discussing policy.

It boils down to: you actually have to know something to discuss policy, it takes a long time to formulate policy positions, and there’s little audience for policy.

These are all true, but here’s the deal: none of this is new.

Even pretending the gossip is actually about important policy issues isn’t new. We could go back to Jefferson v. Adams, but I’ve got a more recent situation where an extremely serious policy issue was deliberately pushed off by a really stupid crotch issue.

I am talking about Churchill and the dumbass King Edward 8.

Yes, 1936 is more recent than 1800. Shut up.

Winston Churchill had scored a hit against the then-PM Stanley Baldwin, and was developing a movement called Arms and the Covenant. To nutshell it: Churchill had cornered Baldwin into admitting not only was the UK falling behind Germany with regards to military preparations, but that Baldwin had lied a few years before when he said that he wouldn’t let the UK to fall behind, and worst of all: the reason he lied and the reason they were behind was because Baldwin didn’t want to lose political power.

Baldwin was getting ready to retire anyway, but Churchill was trying to change official policy and actually getting the UK prepared for a war that he could see was coming. And more and more people saw that war was coming…. except for the official guys in charge: Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain in particular.

In any case, Baldwin was on the ropes, and he knew it. He might actually have to listen to Churchill! He might actually have to seriously re-arm the country! Horrors!

And then a very silly man who deserved no loyalty from Churchill decided to let his crotch take center stage. It’s the main thing people remember about Edward 8 (what is it with England’s 8s and their women troubles?), but the main thing is that Churchill showed himself a sentimental fool over the situation and Baldwin was the guy who got this frippery right. He got the king booted, which ultimately turned out well. Can you imagine this idiot being King during the Blitz?

But basically it ruined Churchill for the short term. People who were for his policy had to organize separately from the man, because Churchill showed his ass over this ass.

I am re-listening to the excellent audiobook version of The Last Lion: The Lion Alone, which covers 1932 – 1940, when Churchill was out of official power, ending when he becomes Prime Minister. When it gets to this sorry episode, I just fast forward to when Chamberlain becomes PM.

The whole volume is a study in frustration, when one recalls all the extremely serious stuff Churchill was correct about, and the stupid frivolities that are used to keep him down. That Churchill was sentimental about the monarchy was neither here nor there. That the particular monarch was the epitome of the upper-class twit provides fun gossip opportunities, but is really unimportant compared to the threat of Hitler.

But here’s my point: sex sells. It’s always sold. Do you remember the bit about David and Bathsheba, or do you remember all the battles (other than Goliath) that King David was involved in? The main thing people remember about Henry 8 is all his wives. If there’s a juicy sex story about particular historical figures, those are the things that are most discussed by people.

I could say I find this stuff boring (and I do prefer thinking about policy), but I love opera, and yes, my favorite operas involve lots and lots of sex. SEEEEEEEXXXXX.

I have some sympathy for Megyn Kelly et al: they know sex sells, and policy bores the hell out of people. They are desperate for revenue.

I write this blog about stuff I find interesting and important, but I’m not trying to make any money. I would follow Stacy McCain’s advice if I wanted to – and notice how he advises stoking scandal and using seeeeeexxxxxx to get eyeballs.

Here, have some eye candy:

Hmmm, probably won’t get me too many extra hits.

Anyway, people generally find sex more interesting than numbers. I doubt we can change any of this. So lie back and enjoy it.

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