Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!!


It's resolution time again and as I look back over last year's list, I can't help but notice a tad bit of failure. I resolved not to try to wipe out humanity... that lasted a week. I resolved both to eat less McDonalds and I hedged my bet and resolved to eat more McDonalds... somehow I ate the exact same amount. I resolved not to have an idiot for President... that failed pretty miserably. I resolved to do more with less... I did more less. :( Yep, not a good year.

Still, it was a good year. I made lots of new friends, wrote a couple books, and lost a little weight. And that's not bad.

Let's hope 2013 will be a great year!

Your resolutions below...
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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Open Thread -- Vox Populi



"If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law."

-- Henry David Thoreau

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

Christmas is always a mixed bag for me.

On the one hand, the holidays are a great time. Everything is so festive. There are lights everywhere. There’s the anticipation of gifts. People tend to be in great moods. There is excitement in the air. And you can almost feel the good will.

On the other hand, this time of year makes me realize just how defective we are as a species. This is the one time of year when everyone knows right from wrong. We know how we should act. We know that being kind and charitable and forgiving makes the world better. We like the idea of bringing joy to others. It is a time of year when family feuds are forgotten, old friends are remembered and we all spend a few moments to think about things greater than what happened at work today or what that dipstick did in Washington. BUT. . .

. . . BUT what this really highlights is how poor we are as people the rest of the year. We KNOW how to do it right because we do it right for a couple weeks each December. We even promise ourselves that we will keep doing it right throughout the year. . . from now. Yet, within days of Christmas, we are back to the way we were. We are complaining about the boss or the coworkers, the spouse, the kids, the neighbors, the jerks in Washington. We have no desire to help our fellow man and we stop thinking about being selfless and we become self-centered.

So why are we like this? We KNOW that being this way year round will make us happier, even if we’re the only ones doing this. We KNOW that if everyone acted this way year round, the world would be an infinitely better place. Yet, we don’t act this way year round. Maybe, when people talk about the meaning of life, what we are missing is right there in front of us. Maybe the meaning of life is to find a way to become the people we know we want to be? That would be fitting wouldn’t it, for the answer to the question everyone wants to know to be hidden right there, in plain site, already known to each of us?

Think about it.

Maybe this year, you should give the real gift of happiness and become the person you always aspired to be?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone. Thanks for reading and participating and just being such a great e-family. I wish you all happiness and peace in the coming year.
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Bang!



"Told you..."

- The Mayans [+] Read More...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Enchantment of the World

There's not much I can say about Christmas that you haven't heard, in one form or another, a hundred times before. Hasn't it been said a hundred times before? Of course it has, to the point that it sounds cliche--and we stop thinking about what the season really does mean.

By the time you read this, you'll have heard the strains of "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year" blaring in your ears at least eight or nine times (and it's only Thursday), and on at least two or three of those times, part of you will have done a mental eye-roll and been like, "Yeah, right." Well, you're not alone.

I (and I suspect many others) have a love-hate relationship with Christmas. Or, to be more accurate, with what Christmas has become. Every year, I come to despise more and more the Black Friday crush that comes earlier every year, the mindless reduction of the holiday to a Santa Claus no one believes in any longer anyway and a generic talk of "togetherness" as bland as the Festivus a few atheists want to replace the day with. Is it so wrong to think that Christmas is meant to be more than an endless jumble of shopping deals and bad Hallmark movies?

I'm sure most people feel like this at some point. It just becomes a hassle, a family get-together to endure without too much damage to the house, without too badly strained feelings, etc. Certainly that's how my family can be, and many years, I'm left thinking that I won't be able to enjoy Christmas at all.

And yet.

For a few days at most, but always for December 24th and 25th, I find it within me to put aside my cynicism and detachment and appreciate the season for what it is. And if you know me at all, you know that I'm duty-bound to tell you it's about the birth of the Son of God, not about a man in a red suit or anything like that. But, I don't think all the talk about Santa and Rudolph and so on is out of place, either. Our society is based on fixed, tangible things: What we can see, what we can measure, what we can prove must be true because this theorem or scientific law says it is. And certainly those are good things. Having that kind of mathematical certainty can be very comforting.

But it's not all there is. A human being is an innately spiritual creature; even if he no longer believes in God, he still has the capacity to dream, to let his imagination run away with him, to think up grand stories in a make-believe world and wish, even for a moment, that it was true. And for a few days at this time of year, we get the chance to stop and reflect on the existence of a realm beyond our own, one no less real than ours, but where impossible things happen like reindeer defying gravity, a fat old man squeezing down millions of chimneys in one night, and a virgin conceiving a child. And if we're being honest with ourselves, we'll admit that our lives are enriched when that world interacts with ours.

That thought makes me smile. And at the end of what is often a hard year, smiles are desperately needed. So, when you're at your holiday get-togethers next week, don't forget to raise your glass or at least give a nod to magic and other impossible things.

Merry Christmas.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Toon-arama Christmas

by tryanmax
Christmas time is a season of traditions. Some are very old like decorating trees and exchanging presents. And there are some traditions that have come more recently. Clearly one of my favorite traditions of the modern age is the annual lineup of animated Christmas specials that fill up the primetime TV schedule like a stocking stuffed with trinkets. Most of the classics have been around since before I was born. I can’t imagine a world without A Charlie Brown Christmas, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, the Grinch, “The Chipmunk Song,” or any of the dozens of Rankin-Bass Productions.
Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Hypocrites and Fools

I really did not want to talk about this Connecticut school shooting. We’re about to go into Christmas mode, and it strikes me as disrespectful and depressing to discuss this. BUT the left is in full exploitation mode and it’s pissing me off. So I’m going to make a few points myself.

(1) The left is despicable. This guy hadn’t even stopped shooting and they were gleefully rushing to microphones to politicize this event. Show me a single leftist who didn’t start screaming about gun control. And that’s not all. These same people who claim to care about the victims made death threats to NRA members. Vile hypocrites. Obama’s press secretary tried to connect this to tax hikes. Teachers unions have tried to turn this into demands for more money. And liberals everywhere are masturbating thinking about Obama’s meaningless speech: “Oh, it was like the Gettysburg address... for dummies.” Some of them are even trying to hide their own shame by claiming that the people politicizing this issue are the people who refuse to politicize it. All of you on the left are despicable.

(2) Liberals are to blame for this killer. Yes, I said it.
Liberals dismantled the mental health system in the 1960s. Rather than fixing it, they just turned people loose, and they left a legal system that is incapable of dealing with the mentally ill.

Liberals run Hollywood. Hollywood exploits gun violence for profit and makes it cool to solve your disputes with violence.

Liberals run the media, the same media which glorifies these killers and gives them exactly what they crave – fame. Even now, these same journalists who wring their hands about guns continue to try to outdo themselves to glorify this guy. They want to report on everything that made him tick. They want pictures of his life, to explain his motives, to understand his needs and desires. They want to get rich and famous making him important.

Liberals trade in hate. THEY have built a culture based on pitting one group against another, THEY traffic in jealousy, spite as policy, race-baiting and fear as a substitute for loyalty. THEY whined about Sarah Palin using a cross-hairs image, yet THEY talk about “enslavement” and “a war on ___” and “hostage taking” and every other violence rhetorical image you can imagine. Liberals are to blame for the hateful culture we have right now. And let me add that anecdotally, Liberals make up the majority of internet trolls. THEY are the ones who post hateful rhetoric, who make death threats on twitter, who call for the imprisonment and execution of the people they don’t like... like the Rich or Republicans or Jews.
(3) Gun Control Is Stupid and It’s An Evasion. I understand that liberals are stupid. They don’t grasp logic. But even they should understand that gun control is not an answer. This killer was in violation of dozens of laws, and not one of those laws stopped him. Adding more laws won’t help. And even if they could somehow ban guns outright, that wouldn’t have stopped him either. Timothy McVeigh didn’t use a gun, nor did the 9/11 terrorists. Nor did Andrew Kehoe, who blew up killed 45 people, including 38 children, and wounded 58 more in 1927. All those mass murderers of grade school kids in China used knives. Offering gun control as a solution is as idiotic as Weight Watchers telling dieters to ban forks from their house. It’s stupid. It won’t work, and they know that.

In this case, all the whining about gun control is an evasion. This is liberals trying to evade responsibility for the fact they are the cause of this. It is their behavior, as outlined above, which has created the angry, hateful culture which spurs these guys on.

So don’t feed me this crap about “it’s time to act.” If it was time to act, then you liberals would stop being such hateful creatures. You would stop trying to steal that which does not belong to you and you would stop trying to demonize those who disagree with you. Seriously, I hope Santa brings you all a big old bag of go f*ck yourself.

- - - - - -

In other news, I am still beating my head against the wall on the fiscal cliff stuff. Boehner proposed a millionaire tax, the same tax hike that Pelosi proposed early. This was a great move, and yet, the right is going insane. Drudge is stupidly playing up the idea that Boehner has morphed into Pelosi and talk radio is whining about Boehner being a sell out.

Lost in all of this idiocy is something key. Why are the Democrats voting against the millionaire tax? Talk radio land isn’t asking that.

According to Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, the only reason Pelosi ever proposed a millionaire tax in the past was “as a political ploy” because she knew the Republicans would vote it down and then they would look like they support the rich. Naturally, that worked. And talk radio backed that to the hilt at the time.

Now talk radio is horrified that Boehner is proposing it and they are slamming him as a sell out. Yet, none of them have asked why Pelosi won’t agree to this now? Hoyer’s excuse is that it wouldn’t bring in enough revenue, but that argument makes no sense in two ways. First, if it doesn’t bring in enough revenue, then doesn’t that mean Obama lied about only taxing the rich? Funny how talk radio missed that point.

Secondly, even if it doesn’t bring in enough revenue, who don’t the Democrats who claim to hate the rich agree to it and then seek other tax hikes to get the rest? Could it be that they don’t really hate the rich after all and this is just an act. . . as I’ve been saving since forever? Could it be they know they can’t get other taxes later once people realize that someone other than millionaires will pay it?

I am no fan of Boehner, but he finally did the right thing and it exposed something massively important. Yet, conservatives have missed this point because they are too busy whining about the poor millionaires whose taxes might go up and attacking the guy who handed them a golden nugget. Wake up idiots. Maybe Santa will bring our talk radio hosts a clue?
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Exodus of the Ignorant

Arg... not again. They’re on the move again. Just as happened in the 1990s, Californians have begun another exodus away from the land they soiled. Why has no one built a wall yet to keep them in? Have we learned nothing?

By way of background for you Easterners, in the 1990s, California ran into a brick wall. Decades of idiocy caught up with the state and their attempt to double down on stupid, surprisingly, only made things worse. Soon they were fleeing the mess they made to Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and probably others. Each time they arrived in these pristine lands and immediately set about trying to recreate the mess they had left. Thus, places like Colorado went from “rugged-individualist” and “live and let live” (yet sane) libertarianism to “dude, you don’t have a law to protect ____” dipsh*tism. That’s how Colorado ended up with high taxes, state workers having the right to unionize (something they don’t even have in union states like West Virginia), and a transgender bathroom law which lets perverts hang out in women’s bathrooms so long as they claim they feel more natural there. . . or they’re selling pot.

Well, another two decades of idiocy have made California worse, and so here they come again. . . the next wave. This time Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Washington and Oregon are the targets. Why are they leaving California you ask? Because it’s a basketcase.

California spends most its budget on salaries, retirement and health care for state employees. In every category, it pays its employees way more than any other state. In some cases, it pays more than twice as much for the same positions. The reason for this is that California’s unions, particularly the police and prison guard unions, negotiated automatic pay increases in their contracts in the 1990s, which have kept their incomes growing no matter what. So now, the average worker in California makes $60,317, with the highest paid worker actually earning $822,000. The next highest state is New York, where the average worker earns $55,650. That’s a huge difference. But it’s actually worse than that: California’s average is more than $10,000 higher than the averages in 47 of the other 49 states, and nobody comes close to the top end salaries in California.

Then there’s overtime. Last year, California paid an average of $8,741 per employee in overtime, coming to just about a billion dollars. By comparison, liberal New York paid $5,199 for a total of $415 million. Conservative Georgia paid only $1,378 for a grand total of $12 million. Why does California need all the overtime? Union rules.

California also has a huge unpaid vacation problem. Most states cap the amount of unpaid vacation you can accrue at 30 days or some low dollar amount. New Jersey allows employees to accrue up to $15,000. California has no cap. One employee retired last year and got a check for $608,821 in unpaid leave. This has resulted in a $3.9 billion liability waiting to be paid. Again, union rules.

Then come pensions, a real killer. California’s Highway Patrol convinced the legislature to pass a law which grants the employee 90% of their top salary as a pension after thirty years of service. This has since become the standard pension plan throughout the state and in many cities. This has resulted in an increase in California’s pension obligations from $300 million in the 1990s to $3.7 billion today. It also led directly to the bankruptcy of several cities.

The result of this is a budget that is beyond broken. Services are being cut. School funding has fallen and California now ranks 35th nationally on that – they used to be number one at one point. Taxes are being raised all over the place. The highest income tax bracket in California is now 13.3%. The state sales tax is 7.25% before local taxes are added which can bring it up to 9.25%. The state gas tax is the second highest in the country at 48.6 cents per gallon. And none of this even touches upon crashing home values, soaring property taxes and fees, environmental regulations that have choked off farming and made electricity sporadic, etc.

This is the fault of voters. The voters voted for tax cuts and spending hikes throughout the 1990s and 2000s, which set the current problems into motion. They approved every goodie anyone asked for. Now they are voting for spending hikes and tax hikes on the rich to solve the problem, which is making the problem even worse. The voters also keep sending Democrats to the Sacramento to manage this problem and those Democrats bend over backwards to help the unions get more goodies. And their plan to get bailed out by Washington are a pipe dream.

Essentially, California voters opted for an economic suicide pact and now they are paying for that. . . only, they aren’t paying for it. . . the rest of us are because they are fleeing the mess they made. They are headed to other states where things haven’t been messed up yet, and the first thing these asshats will do is start to wonder why their new states don’t have all the great laws California had which set the crisis into motion.

It has been said that those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. They should have said, “Those who are intentionally ignorant of history are destined to repeat it repeatedly. . . dude.”
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Monday, December 17, 2012

In My Humble Opinion

There are people around the blogosphere who accuse conservatives, Republicans, Tea Partiers, or whatever names they choose to call us, of wanting to go back to the ‘50’s. For those who accuse us, the ‘50’s were a time of great upheaval in our society. They see it as a time where repression was making its last stand. Racial tension were brewing, women still had little choice in most aspects of their lives, and our country was just recovering from its last Great Depression, from endless wars, and untold want. Men, or what was left of our post War male population, were returning to their private lives and trying to put their body and souls back together after experiencing the horrors of Nazi and Japanese atrocities and a “conflict” in Korea. And Blacks and other minorities were still denied their rightful place to share in the opportunities of our great promise not yet 200 years old. That is what they remember and what they think we want to go back to.

But this is what I remember or was taught.

After years of deprivation from the Great Depression followed by more years of wartime rationing, sacrifice and fear, our nation and the world were ready once again to move forward. It was a time to come out of the fox holes, the bomb shelters and to take down the blackout curtains that had held in the fear and shut out the night sky for so many years. It was a time where we once again turned our factories, farms, mills, and all private industry away from “the War Effort” and into a collective operation for recovery, growth and collective prosperity. Our country has never seen such a massive push to live again after so many years of deprivation. Massive building projects brought our urban areas to life again. A nationwide network of roads were being built that made it easier and less expensive to bring goods from those factories, farms, and mills to all corners of the country and to once again provide for a nation ready to partake after years of selfless sacrifice. Jobs were plentiful and we had a workforce that was ready, willing and able.

Community by community, we became productive again and the birth of the “suburb” began to thrive and flourish. Safe, clean, well-built private family homes were springing up all over for an every growing prosperous middle class. Trains were humming along tracks filled with goods and workers that for so long had carried soldiers and sailors away to far off places and possibly to their heroic doom. Automobiles were affordable and ready to fill the ever- expanding network of roads being built. And we were just at the dawn of a new age of luxury air travel across the world and possibly beyond our own planet. But, most of all, our maternity wards were overflowing once again with our greatest post-War effort – lots and lots of babies. The baby boom had begun.

It was also a time, probably our last time where we still believed that our children were our greatest treasure to be protected from harm and the horrors of the outside world that could be so ugly. We protected them from the images that children should never see or know about until they were old enough to understand them. We wanted our children to be children. We wanted them to play on their new shiny bikes and in the new ball fields, to be clothed in new clothes that no one had worn before, and to come home to a table full of plenty to eat and warm beds at the end of the day. We wanted them to learn in good schools and get good jobs, and to have the room to dream big dreams. In return, we demanded excellence and obedience to a society where the adults were in charge. We gave them a child size world where we allowed our children to succeed or fail in the little child-size things. And with guidance and security from the adult world, our children could grow into their own adult-size world better able to navigate adult-size successes and failures. We lived in a world where “Father knows best” and where mistakes were not lethal or permanent, but learning experiences to build character. Most of all, we wanted our children to grow up to be happy, productive citizens who would love their neighbors as themselves, when they would see need they would endeavor to assuage it, and who would love their country and their God with all their heart and all their soul. That is what we wanted as parents, as a society, and as dreamers of big dreams.

For some us, these ‘50’s adults are our parents and grandparent. They grew up as children in times of great want and chose great sacrifice, sometimes travelling great distances, in the hope that their children and grandchildren would never have to experience the same. Because what we did not know could not harm us. They worked hard and continued to sacrifice, so that our dreams could be realized. They did it collectively and as a community. And they succeeded.

We don’t do that anymore.

I could expound as to the “hows and whys” of it, but like everything else in our giant echo chamber of a society, we all have our own opinions, but no strength for solutions. So I will not offer any. But of this I hope we can all agree. As a society, we no longer see the value in protecting our children from the horrors of an ugly world. We no longer see the value in protecting that child-size world in which our children can learn their child-size character-building lessons. And because most of us live in a world without any real want or horror, entire industries have been spawned whose sole purpose is to manufacture these horrors and degradations so that our children can see the world as we think they should see it, and not as it should be imagined by a child. Then we feed this to our children as a steady diet for their ever- increasing appetites and then wring our hands and weep and wonder why the world is the way it is. Well, as my Depression-era, victory garden growing, self-sacrificing, God-fearing Grandmother would say - “Garbage in, garbage out”.
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Don't Be Depressed

Ok, stay with me here. This post starts kind of depressing, but think of it as therapeudic because we're going to finish with some good stuff. Why? Because it's time to get this stuff out of our systems. Trust me, people.

This has been an incredibly depressing year.

1. The human race seems lost. Look at the Connecticut shooting and the Colorado shooting and the way everyone instantly despicably tried to exploit these tragedies. Look at the other killings around the world. Look at Islamic terrorism and all the world's dictatorships. And look at all the truly vile and hateful rhetoric from the left about the rich, about conservative minorities or women, or about pretty much anything they don't like.

2. Obama won the election, confirming that the public isn't willing to act rationally even in the face of bankrupting the country.

3. The Republicans learned nothing from the election. The fiscal cliff talks are now firmly seen as the Republicans demanding that we slash Medicare and Social Security while opposing Obama's attempt to raise taxes 3% on the ultra-rich. Nice work.

4. Conservatives aren't any smarter. The voting gaps were shockingly large and yet conservatives don't want to change a thing -- not even rhetoric. Boehner finally proposed a tax hike on millionaires, something he should have done day one, and Matt Drudge used the headline "Caved." No doubt, talk radio is following suit this morning and pounding their flabby chests about their purity.

5. The Supreme Court finally declared the Constitution pointless in the Obamacare case.

6. The economy is crap and millions are without jobs or prospects of jobs.

7. Twinkies. R.I.P.

8. On a personal note, we lost Larry and I'm sure we've all lost other good friends as well.

Sucks.

But you know, there is reason to smile.

For thing, Americans are remarkably good at remaking the country whenever it falls off the rails. And reality is on our side, and it will force people to adopt conservatism when the liberals finally run out of other people's money.

For another, the things that truly matter in this life are our friends and our families, and those are still there. Not only that, things like the internet have opened up a world of friendships we never could have had before. Look at our little family here and realize that we never could have known each other a decade ago.

And don't lose sight of the fact that inventors and artists and dreamers are constantly making the world better. It's not our inept government and it's not our mindless public who are changing the world, they just go along for the ride. The people changing the world are the individuals no one has ever heard of who do it because they have a dream, and they're still out there doing their thing no matter how stupid the rest of us get.

Also, don't believe there aren't heroes. Every day, people everywhere go above and beyond to help others because it's the right thing to do. Even tragedies like Connecticut always reveal selfless individuals who sacrifice themselves to save others. There is great goodness in so many people. Care about them.

The world can be a beautiful place. Take some time to realize how great it is just to be alive. And remember the things that are truly important. :D
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Great (film) Debates vol. 65

Who doesn't love movie posters? Commies, that's who! But who cares about them.

What is your favorite movie poster?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Friday, December 14, 2012

Connecticut Shooting

I’m replacing the open thread because this is something I want to talk about. This shooting in Connecticut has me really frustrated.

First, let me say that I feel incredible sympathy for the families of the victims. This just makes me sick and it’s not something anyone should ever need to experience. I wish this had never happened.

What I want to discuss is my utter frustration with people. This is a tragedy and an outrage and what is the first thing that happens? People go right back to playing politics and trying to avoid responsibility. The left is whining about guns as if this guy wouldn't have found another way to do this -- just as Chinese nutjobs are killing as many kids with knives. Many on the right are talking about punishment, which admittedly was my first thought. But that’s wrong. We need to start looking at who is really to blame here and, frankly, the answers are uncomfortable.

The most obvious fault lies with the killer’s parents... his friends... his teachers... his neighbors... and his employers. They all saw the signs, I know they did. People like this give them off in droves because you don’t just snap one day. These people are hateful, they are creepy, they say and do evil things... and everyone wants to overlook it because they don’t want to get involved or because they don’t want to believe that someone they know could be evil.

This is also the fault of Hollywood for glorifying gun violence and beating people over the head with the idea that violence is the way to solve disputes. This is the fault of the media for making these people famous and turning this thing into an exciting sport. Even now they are playing this game. This is the fault of politicians for spewing hate and telling people that hate and spite are legitimate feelings. Do you really think you can’t run around hating people who are rich or illegal without the idea sinking in that hate is acceptable? And how often have people, especially on the left, accepted violence as an ok practice? This is the fault of people who misuse their religious beliefs to create an us versus them world where we wish ill on those who don’t believe like us. This is the fault of everybody who calls in to sport shows and talks about hurting people, everybody who posts death threats on the net, everybody who spews hate day after day after day.

This is the fault of a society that is genuinely hateful and spiteful and which mixes fantasy and reality, a society of people who are unwilling to take responsibility for their own actions and certainly won't take responsibility to do something when they see something wrong. This is the fault of lawyers who sue anyone who tries to help. This is the fault of juries for enabling them. This is the fault of psychiatrists who do nothing to spot these people. This is the fault of a society that decided in the 1960s to set the crazies free without supervision or control.

But before we cast stones at other people, we need to look at ourselves. How many of us have ignored someone who needed help or who should have been reported? How many of us have encouraged people to hate others?

We are all to blame. And trying to blame inanimate objects like guns or faceless bureaucrats is an excuse, that is all... scapegoats for the things we do wrong every single day. We are to blame... all of us.

This is really depressing.
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Film Friday: The X-Files (1998)

I’ve been a fan of The X-Files from the beginning. What a great show! And believe it or not, when I heard they were making a movie, I was kind of excited. Yeah, I know that movies made from television shows usually stink, but I had hope. And ultimately, this film did a great job of bringing the series to the big screen.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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No News Is....Good News?

For the MSM, when covering for Obama, there's more than one way to skin a cat. Spinning a story to make it favor the Left is a tried-and-true method, but the art of simply burying it so it never becomes a story at all is not to be overlooked. Witness the latest egregious act(s) of bias this week.

In case you missed it in all the fiscal cliff blah-blah-blah this week, Michigan on Tuesday became the 24th Right-to-Work state, meaning union control of employees has been drastically scaled back. Given that it's Michigan, you can imagine this was a pretty big deal, given the historical importance of Detroit and the UAW and so on. If I weren't completely burned out right now from finals week and the end of the semester, I would get into the details of this legislation and what it means for unions and Michiganders (Michigandees?). But since I am, you're going to get a story that requires less research on my part.

Living up to their standards of calm and rational discourse, thousands of union activists descended on the state capital early this week to protest the bill, and of course by "protest" I mean "threw the mother of all temper tantrums and threatened violence if Republicans dared take away their entitlements." So did the Democratic lackeys who represent them, naturally. Inside the Capitol, one state rep said of the consequences of passing right-to-work, "There will be blood." (A follow-up statement from state Democratic leadership explained that the legislator was only talking about getting passionate and he didn't literally mean blood would be shed. I assume they settled on this excuse after deciding no one would believe he was just randomly noting the titles of Paul Thomas Anderson movies.) Of course, Jimmy Hoffa did follow up on CNN by saying of the fight over right-to-work, "We're going to have a civil war," so I guess the messaging hasn't quite been straightened out yet.

Happily, protestors outside were already fulfilling said prediction. Tuesday morning, the day the bill was passed, a tent set up by the conservative group Americans For Prosperity, was violently tore down by unionists, reportedly armed with knives. At about that time, commentator/comedian Steven Crowder, who you may know from occasional appearances on Red Eye or his contributions to Breitbart, was physically assaulted, by at least two different union guys, leaving cuts on the head and a broken tooth. To provide context for the link, Crowder produces videos like these on a regular basis, asking liberal protestors questions about why they're supporting or attacking X, which is what he was doing here before the AFP tent started to get torn up. The video jumps around a bit, but you can clearly see one guy at the end grab Crowder from behind and punch him before getting pulled away, shouting what are unmistakably death threats. From the pics Crowder posted after the fact, you can see how violent things got.

Oh, and this wasn't the only incident. In the course of destroying this tent and all, the protestors also smashed up the cart of a popular hot dog vendor whose sole crime was to cater for the AFP folks--and also to be black, which brought on shouts of "N***er" and "Uncle Tom."

No doubt some (or most) of you had already heard of this. But that's because you don't watch the network news or read the big-name papers, at least not exclusively. Needless to say, none of those guys mentioned this at all. Brian Williams started off NBC's Nightly News on Tuesday with (I'm paraphrasing): "For generations, unions have served as a gateway to the American dream. But now in their heartland, new legislation looks to change all that." With the poor little union guys cast in the light of victims (and really, who making $32/hour can't be considered victims?), there was no way stories like this would see the light of day. As usual, Fox News, talk radio, and the blogs were the only ones running with this.

Well, that's not entirely true. MSNBC's website did give the story of violence at the AFP tent some air--or at least, they reported a union member's claims that he saw an NRA guy tampering with the tent to make it look like union people destroyed it. So, same thing, basically.

As for Crowder personally, one Washington Post blogger did address his attack and asked, "Are the media ignoring thuggery?" Erik Wemple considered his own question and then ended with a thoughtful No. His explanation: Hey, the union guys probably shouldn't have attacked that right-winger, but he jumped up and down about it so much to get the media's attention, who can blame them for ignoring him? No, really. People "should take a second look at Crowder's actions....he's gone buffoonish since then." "Given how Crowder has carried on, I, too, may well pass on the story of his beating, were I a network executive producer." So, for those keeping score at home, a conservative who gets assaulted by leftists and then, seeing it going unreported by other leftists in the media, tries to raise enough of an alarm that it will be noticed, is "carrying on" and "buffoonish" and therefore below the media's notice.

You know, I changed my mind. Maybe I don't want the media covering stories like this.

P.S. In case you were worrying (and I know you were), the White House did weigh in on this. Jay "Twerp" Carney called the incidents a "civil" form of debate; as for the "There will be blood" line: "I haven't seen those comments, and I'm not sure they mean what someone interprets them to mean." Someone better tell Jimmy Hoffa.

P.P.S. I will be on the road most of the day tomorrow, so y'all will have to carry the conversation yourselves for a while. I'll do what I can.
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hate Is The New Black

Damn you Belgium!! France needs solidarity. Without solidarity, how can one take what is not theirs? And you, Belgium are not helping. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m talking about France, and Britain to a degree.

France is about to raise their top income tax bracket from about 50% to 75%. They have also imposed a host of fees, particularly on capital gains, and they’ve made it almost impossible for entrepreneurs to sell their businesses. No doubt France will be a paradise soon.

Except, France is being betrayed. Some rich people object to this idea of paying over everything they own and they’ve done the most despicable thing imaginable: they’ve fled to Belgium. Yep. Hundreds of the richest people in France including actor Gerard Dépardieu have all fled to Belgium to avoid the taxes. This brought a truly hateful response from the French left:
● A socialist MP called for Dépardieu “to be stripped of his nationality.” Ho ho ho.

● One minster said this was “anti-patriotic” and represented giving France “the finger”. . . something I would do if France mattered. . . to anyone.

● The left leaning paper Liberation called him “a drunken, obese petit-bourgeois reactionary.” But I question how he can be both obese and petit at the same time?

● France’s Prime Minster said Dépardieu and others like him are only doing this “because they want to get even richer!” The bastards! Then he whined that “We cannot fight poverty if those with the most, and sometimes with a lot, do not show solidarity and a bit of generosity.” No doubt said minister lives like a monk. Anyway, I’ll have to remember that 75% of your income is now considered “a bit of generosity.”
//sigh

You know what the problem is here? LACK. . . OF. . . VISION.

Why are we dancing around this? Rich people are evil. They stole everything they have. So why do we even let them have a single penny? It’s not like they earned it. Why not just take everything Mr. Dépardieu has? He doesn’t need it. All he needs is a nice bunk in a concentration camp where he can make designer shoes while he learns to be happy with less. And why stop with the rich? The middle class has more than they need. Frankly, I’d like to see coal miners be forced to poop scoop my yard. . . they earn too much to be allowed to keep it too. What good is solidarity if we can’t use it to make slaves of people we don’t like?!!

In all seriousness, I am pretty stunned at the hate the left is spewing these days: rich people should be stripped of their assets and their income because they have more than you do. . . better hope no one has less than you do. Doctors should be forced to work for free because they are rich. . . we just know it, they’re probably Jews too. Companies are following the tax rules WE set up so they can avoid taxes. . . those rotten bastards! Kill... kill... kill... what’s yours is mine comrade.

Some government douche in Britain said this weekend that companies like Starbucks are “keeping money from people who need it,” as if people have a right to someone else’s money? He then foamed that they could have used the money Starbuck legally didn’t pay to build a hospital (to fix their horrific medical system) or to train young Britons to work as tech monkeys in this hospital. Apparently, it takes $30 million to beat the binge-drunk out of them and teach them to type in what people tell them when prompted.

This whole attitude just amazes me. Does this mean I can rob Warren Buffett so long as I only take 75% of what the bastard has in his wallet? Can I rough him up in the process too?

We really have entered a dark period of human history again where greed and jealousy and hate have become public policy. Slavery is back in vogue, only now we use nicer words for it -– regulation, taxes, fairness, solidarity -- but the thought is still the same... I have the right to make you work for me.

When I read Atlas Shrugged the first time, I enjoyed it. It made a lot of sense but it seemed unrealistic. Nobody could be as stupid as the spiteful, greedy leftists in her book. . . or so I thought. Yet, within a few years, I could see Rand’s points being made in very subtle ways throughout society. Still, I had no idea these idiots would really run wild and make her book look tame.

What a world.

Oh well, where did I put Warren’s address...
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Guest Review: Die Hard 2 (1990)

By ScottDS
Most sequels aren’t as good as the originals and that holds true here. While Die Hard 2 isn’t nearly as good as its predecessor, I’ve always been a fan. It’s wonderfully entertaining in its own right, even if it personifies the “Make it bigger!” ethos that has permeated genre filmmaking ever since.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Petitions Away

Apparently, petitioning the White House has become an American pastime. Tens of thousands of people in various states petitioned to let their state secede from the Union. Others petitioned for the nationalization of Twinkies. Some petitioned to remove Jerry Jones as owner of the Dallas Cowboys and, my personal favorite, some petitioned the White House to begin construction on a Death Star. Tell us what you would petition and why we should support it.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Census Reads Commentarama (Finally)

Remember how Hispanics were going to overwhelm the US and turn us into the Unidos Estados? Remember how I told you that wasn’t going to happen? Perhaps, you recall this brilliant article ==> LINK or this one ==> LINK. Well, other people like the Census and Pew are finally starting to figure this out.

Here’s the deal. Liberals have long believed that Hispanics would become the majority racial/ethnic group in the country. This idea is based on the following faulty reasoning:
1) If you take the number of Hispanics today and compare that to 1980, you get a growth rate.

2) If you project that growth rate into the future, then Hispanics eventually become the majority.
BUT, that “reasoning” is nonsense. For one thing, the growth rate is not constant and won’t rise forever. Like every other rate in the known universe, it rises until it spikes and then it falls. Liberals are wrongly assuming this number will keep growing forever. But guess what? It’s already spiked in the 1990s and it’s been falling ever since.

Moreover, the growth rate consists of two groups – locals and recent immigrants. The locals actually have a birth rate at or below the white birth rate. Yet, the Census people have been applying the whole growth rate to every Hispanic as if the ones here for a while keep having massive numbers of kids. They aren’t. What is happening is that the growth rate is entirely because of illegal immigration. Factor that out and you’re looking at no change. And here’s the thing about immigration: it’s coming to an end. Hispanic immigration is drying up because Mexico is running out of people.

Basically, this theory depends on Mexico sending another 15 million people in the next two decades and then another 18 million after that and then another 20 million after that. But those people don’t exist. Mexico’s birthrate is far below ours and they are running out of young people. Without those young people coming our way, the Hispanic population in the US population will stagnate at around 14%.

So what makes me discuss this again?

Well, the Census is starting to agree with me. First, their new numbers show that the number of illegals dropped to 11.1 million from 12 million. That’s a significant drop. Moreover, the number of new immigrants has dropped significantly. In fact, last year was the first year since 1910 when new Asian immigrants outnumbered new Hispanic immigrants. That’s right, more Asians came to the US last year than Hispanics. And the Census now expects the number of Hispanic immigrants to remain low because, get this, Mexico has run out of young people to send our way. Gee, where have you heard that before?

Anyway, because of this, the Census has gone from predicting that Hispanics will become the largest racial group in 2023 to moving that back to 2042 officially to now saying privately it will be much later than that. . . if ever. Yeah, no duh.

This matters for several reasons. First, it is clear that Asians will likely grow from their 3% of the population to something a good deal larger. This is something we must consider now. According to Pew, Asians are not particularly loyal to either party at this point and their primary concerns are: jobs, education and healthcare. They do prefer government solutions, but that can be faked with the right rhetoric. We need to get in on the ground floor of the Asian boom that will soon be hitting.

Secondly, maybe we can stop talking about building a wall. With more illegal immigrants coming from China than Mexico, it should be obvious that a wall will not solve this problem.

Finally, before talk radio gets a hold of this and tells you to ignore Hispanics and just focus on being hateful, let me point out that this does not mean Republicans can pretend their Hispanic problem doesn’t exist. Like it or not, Hispanics will probably top out somewhere above where they are today, maybe in the 12-16% range. And if we keep losing them by 70%, then we will never win another election. The good news, however, is that this reinforces the fact that Republicans only need to win more Hispanics, not a majority, as would have been the case if they became 50%+ of the population. Fortunately, what appeals to them tends to appeal to other ethnic groups as well.

Thoughts?
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Monday, December 10, 2012

Picture This...

Hah! Psyche!! This is really just a caption contest* by another name! Kind of like when Congress uses the same legislation, but changes the title and a few words to make us think that it's new.

Or when they write bills that are so long and convoluted that not even THEY will read them (or understand them). Oh, wait, that is not the same at all. But it bears repeating often that our esteemed Congresscritters admit that they do not actually read the legislation on which they vote. This is just my opinion, but I am guessing that they do not feel the need to read it because they do not care what is in it. Because they are not obligated to abide by any of the rules and laws they pass anyway. [See Insider trading laws, Obamacare etc.]

Anyway, isn't this a cute photo of Our Dear Leader? Isn't he just dreamy?? What could possibly have been running through that brilliant mind of his when this was taken? I can't wait to see what you come up with.

*Sadly, I must report that, until we go over the fiscal cliff (or not), The Management has advised us that prizes are hereby temporarily suspended until the beginning of the next fiscal year (or cliff) as they have actually been misplaced being invisible and all...the prizes, not the management.
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The Wisdom of the Gypsies

Last Thursday, the Senate passed a bill, introduced by a Republican, which exempts animals used as “extras” on television and film productions from the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act. Why am I writing about this? Because this is wrong on several levels and it highlights a problem I’ve had with the Republican way of thinking for a long time.

Under the Animal Welfare Act, anyone who uses animals in any commercial endeavor must follow certain health and safety requirements to protect the welfare of the animals they use. For films, this includes paperwork requirements which document the way the animal is handled throughout the production to ensure that the animal is not mistreated.

The bill passed last Thursday was introduced by Louisiana Senator David Vitter, a Republican. What Vitter wants to do is to amend the Animal Welfare Act to eliminate the paperwork requirement for anyone who uses their own personal pets in a film rather than animals obtained from a commercial facility. The thinking behind this is that presumably, someone who owns a pet has an interest in maintaining the animal’s welfare for emotional reasons and therefore shouldn’t need to prove they are “providing a caring environment for the animal.”

Ok, first, this reasoning is nonsense. Every pet owner knows people who should never be allowed to own pets. We’ve all seen animals abused, beaten, starved and abandoned by their supposed caring owners, so this idea is crap. Moreover, how do you keep this exception from eating the law itself? What keeps a director from simply claiming the animals he’s using are his pets, and then abandoning them the moment the film is over?

... but that’s not the point.

The point is that this again highlights the problem with Republicans: they do the Democrats’ dirty work.

First, why are WE helping film companies? Yes, Vitter represents Louisiana and films are big business for them, but film companies are the enemy!! The Republicans need to stop doing things to help people who hate us. If film companies want something, let them get it from the Democrats... not us. Teach them that if they choose a side, then they cannot look to us for help or favors.

More importantly, however, consider “the optics” on this. When the Animal Welfare Act passed, I can guarantee you that the Democrats all patted themselves on the back and all their liberal followers felt quite morally superior knowing that they had legislated cruelty out of existence. Smug... smug... smug... smug... smug... smug...

Now ask yourself what happens when we introduce a bill like Vitter’s bill? Well, first, we help make laws like this more palatable because we fix the problems with them. Thus, we prevent a public backlash against Democratic overreach because we are alleviating the consequences of that overreach. Secondly, and this is the real kicker, we allow the Democrats to disingenuously smear us for attacking the thing they were trying to protect. In other words, since we are backtracking on their perfect bill, they can accuse us of “hating” animals or old people or whatever the bill was aimed at, even though they know they would have needed to backtrack if we hadn’t. This is so frustrating. It lets them remain smug because we are doing their dirty work!!!

Please Republicans, stop being patsies.

And this isn’t the first time, this is just one in a long line of examples where we let the Democrats pass some feel-smug bill and then we make ourselves the bad guys while simultaneously making their feel-smug bill more palatable.

Ask yourself this. How long do you think affirmative action would last if it applied to the NFL and other sports teams, to films, to television shows, to interest groups like the NAACP, to every business everywhere no matter how small? There would be a massive backlash and the whole thing would be crushed in a wave of public outrage. So why didn’t that happen? Because while the Democrats passed a broad bill which let them smugly claim they had ended discrimination.... the Republicans did the dirty work of carving out all the exceptions which kept the public from freaking out. We made their stupidity work. And in the process, they disingenuously smeared us for hating minorities as evidenced by the exceptions we created, without which the program would have imploded.

It’s the same with bill after bill. All their environmental laws, their anti-discrimination laws, their military/government contracting social engineering stuff, their workers’ rights laws, etc. .... all of it was unworkable and unpalatable to the public, until we came along and did their dirty work and made these things function. And in return, they always disingenuously smeared us for hating whatever it was they claimed they were trying to protect.

It’s time to stop enabling them.

It’s time to make sure that Democratic laws hit as many people as harshly as possible when they pass. No exceptions. No carve outs for sanity or to save the economy.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying do nothing. What I’m saying is that if something is the right thing to do, then we do it our way and we claim credit for it. But if it’s one of their lunatic bills, then you stop making those bills work, stop saving the public from the consequences, stop saving the Democrats from the backlash. Let those bills apply far and wide and attack the Democrats all along the way. Attack them for the harm they’ve done to real people. Attack them for NOT exempting people. Attack them FOR exempting people. Attack them every single time they amend the bill to fix a problem they create. Wipe the smug off their faces.

There is an old gypsy curse: “May you get everything you wish for.” It’s time the Republicans learned the meaning of this and taught it to the Democrats and their followers.

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Great (film) Debates vol. 64

I can't believe we haven't asked this before? Well, here goes... an impossible question:

What is your favorite science fiction film?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Place Your Bets, Folks!

The following is a factoid I read from a "Facts of The Day" generator on Refdesk.com -
If a person spent $1 every second, that would equal to $1 million dollars in 12 days. At this rate, it would take 32 years to spend $1 billion dollars. It would take 31,000 years to spend $1 trillion dollars.

So, if you replace "person" with "Government", then….um, let’s carry the one trillion and carry the two…WOW, think of how much they would spend every second. Oh, wait, we don't have to imagine it, we are living it.
And, let's imagine if every person gives $1 every second to the Government. Of course, it feels like we do that already, but for the sake of argument, let's just imagine.

Hmmm, let's see...


AAAAAARRRGGGHHHHHH. CANCEL! CANCEL! WHY DOESN’T THAT ESCAPE KEY EVER WORK!!!


THAT amount was so large and coming at such a fast rate that I am not even sure one of those big Supercomputers could calculated it with any REAL accuracy how fast and how much the Government could spend our $1 bills. Maybe we need one of those Hadron Supercollider thingies to it figure out!

However, the bright side is that it is all for "We the People", right? And rest assured that for every second we give them our $1's, the Government will spend 100 times more in that second to make us happy little "We the People"'s. And, according to that great Nobel Laureate in Economics and NYT Pontificator Paul Krugman, that's okay. Because spending 100 times more than we have at 100 times the speed of light has nothing to do with going bankrupt or massive, crippling debt or anything and stuff. And you have to believe him because he won a Nobel Prize...like Al Gore and Yassar Arafat and, oh yeah, Barack Obama. [Yeah, yeah, I know, these guys won Peace prizes and Krugman won a REAL Nobel prize!]

Anyway, we are about to go over yet another fiscal cliff (or not) which may (or may not) mean much. But, the REAL question is what will you wear? Will you pack a picnic lunch? Maybe you should throw in a flashlight and some rope just in case. So, for the sake of argument and something to do this afternoon, place your bets on what will happen and what wacky things can we do post-cliff jump*.

*There will be no prizes since any additional prizes may be construed as "capital gains" and change your tax status. Rest assured that we at Commentarama are always looking out for your tax status.
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Friday, December 7, 2012

Film Friday: John Carter (2012)

Based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel “A Princess of Mars,” John Carter is a fascinating film in a way. There’s really nothing wrong with it in a technical sense -- the effects, the acting, the plot (what there is of it) are all very standard for modern Hollywood films -- but the film stinks. How badly? How about $161-million-loss-and-the-Disney-studio-head-resigned bad. Let’s talk about why this film failed.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Breitbart's Rules For Righties

Following Andrew Breitbart's death early this year, I bought his memoir/call to action Righteous Indignation, in which he explains his career and how it serves as a model for conservative behavior. In the interests of effectively pursuing our bitter war on liberals, I thought I would discuss his tactics a bit and how we can follow his example.

Keep in mind, these are activist, in-the-trenches methods, not a coherent ideology. I doubt many people on either side have much idea what Breitbart actually stood for, except that he didn't like liberalism (with good reason, I might add). Nonetheless, he was the best warrior for conservatism we've had in some time, mainly because he was so good at confronting the Left and showing its lies and hypocrisy for all to see. Sadly, Breitbart isn't here to fight our battles anymore, so we have to do it ourselves. With that in mind, here are a few of the ground rules he laid out in his book for battling liberals.

Rule #1: Don't be afraid to go into enemy territory. Heck, it's kind of a requirement. Think the Agents in The Matrix: Liberals hold all the levers of power; they are guarding all the doors; they are holding all the keys. They control academia, the media, the unions, one of the major parties, etc. We have a few institutions on our side--Fox News, talk radio, and...that's about it. You want to reach more people with conservative ideas, you have to engage the Left on its own ground. Our message won't get out otherwise. You don't think I'm in grad school for my health, do you? There's got to be more conservative professors and other opinion-shapers.

Rule #2: Expose liberals for who they are--in their own words. Fortunately, the advance of technology (much as I sometimes hate it) makes this easier all the time. Today, we have Twitter, the ability to record things with our phones, enormous "paper trails" to dig through on the Internet--all sorts of ways for the Left to inadvertently reveal its true nature and for us to get it on the record. Use them.

Rule #3: Be open about your secrets. As part of a religion whose pastors are periodically caught with young girls (or sometimes boys), I place special stress on this rule. If you're going to say X is wrong and take a big stand on it, either make sure you're not guilty of X, or admit that you are up front. And then never do it again. Your opponents will find out, and people don't like hypocrisy, so if you're honest about the skeletons in your closet, that deprives them of one of their biggest rhetorical weapons.

Rule #4: Don't let the Left shape the narrative. Breitbart himself was a master at this. As everyone knows, liberals' favorite line of attack is to call conservatives racists/sexists/homophobic. Don't--do not--get defensive and start trying to prove that you're not in those categories. That's just playing their game (see also: Todd Akin). Dismiss the charges out of hand, simultaneously accuse the Left of using red herrings and lowering the tone of debate, and move on with the argument before they can recover.

Rule #5: Control your own story, don't let the Left do it. Again, something Breitbart did to perfection, as the famous O'Keefe videos proved. If you have something good on the Left, don't release it all at once. Instead, release a little bit to begin with, then let the liberals make up whatever kind of narrative they want, saying it's a lie or an isolated event--give them enough rope to hang themselves. Then, let more of it go and catch them in their own words.

Rule #6: Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. Mock their sacred cows. As Breitbart puts it, "Tina Fey, not the MSM, sullied Sarah Palin's image." If level-headed arguments aren't winning the fight against liberals, use public ridicule. Bust up Pelosi and Reid's press conferences, infiltrate Letterman's or Maher's audiences of trained seals--whatever works to make them look foolish. It's cathartic--well, it is to me, at least--and it might force the other side to take things a little more seriously.


There are more of Breitbart's rules I could add with more space, but I'll end with one of my own: Do. Not. Play. Fair. The Left doesn't believe in showing any mercy, so we should show them none as well. Personally, I would rather win my arguments with reason and calmness. But if those aren't working--and they apparently aren't--I have no problem going with mockery and bomb-throwing. Like I said, it feels good.

Anyhoo, those are some rules for combating liberals. Any suggestions?
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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dangers of an Observer Society

What you about to see is shocking, so click on "Read More" at your own risk.


This is a photo from front page of the New York Post on Tuesday of that man on the tracks man right before he was run over and killed by that oncoming subway train. It has been reported that the victim had at least one minute after being pushed onto the tracks by a crazy, homeless person for someone to help him to escape his inevitable death. But, instead of the photographer* (or anyone of those people in the background) dropping his camera and trying to help pull him to safety, the man was killed by the oncoming train.

Yes, it's shocking, and horrible and the crazy homeless guy has been arrested. But there is something much more shocking to me at play here.

Have we become a world of passive observers? Have we always been this way or are we now a product of an "observer" culture? The more we passively watch television, movies, videos, and YouTube videos of people doing funny, stupid, or really dangerous stuff, are we becoming passive observers to what is around us and unable to react in the moment? This is actually something that has been bothering me for many years.

Let me give you an example.

Many, many years ago, a friend and I were crossing 66th Street and Broadway in Manhattan on our way home from work. At the same time we were crossing the street, a man walking toward us pulled what looked lika a knife out of his jacket, and then put the knife immediately back in his pocket. Neither of us reacted at all. We just watched this man's actions unfold without giving it much thought in the moment at all. A few seconds later, my brain click in and I said "Did you just see what I just saw?". And she said "Yeah, wow." No screaming, no trying to stop him, no calling the police. We just kept on walking. Frankly, it has haunted me ever since. Why didn't I react? Why did I just passively watch and keep walking on? [Just for the record, this wasn't a potential mugging and we were never in any danger.]

My conclusion was that I had become so accustomed to watching fake dangerous situations on television and in the movies and the like, that I had become desensitized to react to clear and present danger live and in front of me.

Maybe it is something unique to urban living or a sign of something more insidious. I don't know. Any comments?

Addendum:
*As luck would have it, the person who took the shot is a staff photographer at the New York Post. He said in a statement that he was not taking photos, but trying to use the flash to get the conductor's attention while running to try and help the guy. Unfortunately, the conductor did not see the victim quite possibly because he was blinded by the flash, but that's my opinion.
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Conservatives: Repetition As Insanity

These days, conservatives and the Republican Party make me think of a quote from Mugatu from Zoolander: “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.” Seriously, Einstein said that insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, yet that is what is going on everywhere on the right, so why can’t people see this?

Consider the Republicans. They are in deep trouble. The party is toxic to half the electorate and that part is growing. Yet, you suggest that we need to at least stop scaring and hating these people and you get told “that’s pundit speak” and we can’t sacrifice our values to win these people. Our “values”? Is the purpose of the Republican Party really to stop rape victims from getting abortions, stop a few thousand gays from calling their marriage-like relationships “marriage” and whine about deporting Mexicans who will never be deported? Or you get this, “we’ll never win them all”. . . as if we needed 100%. This is like saying there’s no point in trying to stay healthy if you can’t be at your ideal weight immediately.

But the most frustrating one is this. Putting the social issues aside, the Republican Party just doesn’t stand for anything. Seriously. What vision does the Party offer America? Well, take a look. Pretty much since Bush, the Republican vision of America has centered entirely around the Bush tax cuts. . . nothing more. What do those tax cuts mean to average people? Do they promise jobs? Do they give you a chance to buy a home, start a business, raise a family, send the kids to college, ensure your health, protect your retirement? No. They’re just a hodgepodge of minor breaks here and there that amount to something like $400 a year to average people. They do nothing to create incentives to get people to start businesses. They do nothing about excessive regulation. They do nothing to make markets more fair or more open or competition more intense. They do nothing to make America better.

Then Obama took office and he created Obamacare. He also passed a whole bunch of new regulations. Suddenly, the Republican agenda doubled in size! Woo hoo! Now they also wanted to repeal Obamacare and rescind those regulations. Inspiring. Seriously, think about this. This promise basically amounts to “we want to return the healthcare system to the mess it was in 2008.” In fact, that’s exactly what the entire Republican platform is: we want to return everything to the glory days of 2008... deep into the recession.

That’s not a winner.

And the fiscal cliff shows this again. Now is the time to either step aside and let Obama have his agenda and suffer the consequences or to fight for something that will rally the American people. So what are the Republicans fighting for? Making sure the Bush tax cuts won’t expire for rich people. In other words, they are fighting to make sure the rich can party like it’s 2008 as well.

How less inspiring can a party be than to stand for this? And why in the world does no one seem to realize how stupid this is? This has been the Republican position since the mid-2000s and in that time they lost every single election except 2010, which had special circumstances because people were freaked out about Obamacare.... yet they think this is an effective strategy. At some point, don’t you realize that 10 years of losing in a row means you’re doing something wrong? Yet, Boehner and the rest are proudly standing before cameras saying they would rather plunge the country over this (fake) “fiscal cliff” than not see their vision of a return to the glory days of 2008 be enacted. Good grief. The price for this idiocy, by the way, is that the GOP is getting battered in polls with 53% blaming the GOP for the fiscal cliff and 27% blaming Obama.

Yet, they aren’t alone. I’ve heard several talk radio hosts lately who are whining that if they were in charge, things would be different... harrumph. See, they aren’t as weak as the Republicans, no siree. They wouldn’t be planning to surrender to Obama on this important issue of protecting the rich from tax hikes. They would tell Obama, “if you don’t agree to keep the Bush tax cuts in place for the rich... to get us back to the glory of 2008... then I’ll send the country right over the (fake) fiscal cliff!”

Think about this. The Republicans are following a game plan that has cost them every election since 2000 except for 2010. And talk radio is attacking the Republicans for being weak and then bragging how if they were in charge, they would do exactly what the Republicans are doing right now. . . to the letter. Moreover, they are shouting down anyone who suggests that a platform of “2008 forever... with venom” is a bad idea. This is insanity.

Is it really so hard to see this?

Is it really so hard to recognize that when something doesn’t work. . . you. . . don’t. . . keep. . . doing. . . it?

Maybe I am taking crazy pills.

On the plus side, it sounds like both Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio get this. Add them to the list with Bobby Jindal.
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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Guest Review: Die Hard (1988)

By ScottDS
I spend Chanukah with my family but I spend Christmas with John McClane. What more could possibly be said about Die Hard? It’s a modern action classic – my generation’s equivalent of a John Wayne movie. To the best of my knowledge, it does everything perfectly, so much so that it spawned an entire subgenre: “Die Hard on a [blank].”

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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No, This Is Not Comforting

People always take solace in the wrong things: “sure, we got blown out, but we played well in the final minutes against their backups.” Yeah, right. Elections are no different. And right now conservatives are consoling themselves with the idea that the election wasn’t so bad for them because they won the House, which they seem to think means the public really did support them, but just didn’t like Romney. Uh, no.

What you need to remember about the House is that it’s not representative of “the public,” it is representative of 435 different publics. If you want to understand the difference, consider this.

Assume you have 100 voters, 55 of whom vote Blue and 45 of whom vote Red. In a straight up election, the Blues will win every time. But if you separate them right, you can actually cause the Reds to win overwhelmingly. Indeed, the Reds could win as many as 8 of 10 districts if you can divide them right. Thus, even as the Blues win the national election by 10%, they could lose as many as 80% of the districts.

This is what is happening in the House.

The House is divided into 435 districts. Because of Republican wins in 2010 at the state level, the Republicans controlled the redistricting process for 213 of the 435 seats. The Democrats controlled only 44 seats. The rest were split.

As a result of this, 109 Republican seats were made more safe for the Republicans and another 109 Democratic seats were made more vulnerable to the Republicans by adding Republican voters or removing Democratic voters from those districts. That gave the Republicans a competitive boost in 218 districts -– they only need 218 to control the House -- by skewing the chances in those districts toward the Republicans. The Democrats, meanwhile, managed to make only 67 Democrats seats safer. This means the Republicans will win more seats even if they lose the popular vote. And indeed, in 2012, the Republicans won 33 more seats even though they lost the popular vote to the Democrats by about 0.5%.

Moreover, this is making these seats safer, which means few seats remain competitive. Since the 1990s, the number of competitive seats has fallen to around 40 -- less than 10% of all seats. This is why 99% of incumbents got re-elected in 2002 and 2004 and why 90% got re-elected in 2010.

So don’t believe that the Republicans winning the House means anything about the party’s health on a national level. In fact, the Democrats weren't concentrated in a small number of state... remember every vote at 50%+1 is a waste... the national elections and the Senate would look even uglier. Do not listen to anyone who tells you that the party is fine or who points to the House as evidence of that. The party is not doing fine and it needs to realize that real change is needed.

Finally, I want to highlight a point that was made in the comments the other day which I think should give everyone pause: the Democrats can run competitively for Senate seats in every state. . . the Republicans can't. That should tell us something. We need to broaden our appeal and again become a national party, not a party of 218 House Districts.
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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Liberals: Abandon Shame, All Ye Who Enter Here.

We had to hear from a couple of a******s over the weekend. Only one of them did something criminal. The other just did something really hackish and amoral. Both made me mad, and if you were following them, they probably made you mad too.


For those of you who missed it, the pro football world was rocked on Saturday by news that Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend (and mother of their three-month-old daughter) that morning after an argument; he then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and blew his head off, in front of his coaches no less. There's nothing I can say about this act in itself that hasn't been said already, except for a couple of random thoughts.

1) A murder-suicide is not a "tragedy," it's a crime. A tragedy is when you lose the brakes on your car and go off the road and die. If it happens because someone has tampered with those brakes, it ceases to be a tragedy and becomes second-degree murder. So let's stop calling it that on TV, please.

2) Some of Belcher's teammates were posting on Twitter Saturday night comments to the effect of "So sorry for you, bro [meaning Belcher]. We'll miss you, good buddy," etc. I don't want to be too harsh on them for saying they'll miss their teammate, but what the heck? Because of his actions, their child will grow up never knowing her mother. It's sad that he took his own life as well (now she'll never know her father, either), but this is all on him. If you can't realize that, you've got a screwy value system indeed.

All of which gets to the main thrust of my commentary. During halftime on NBC's Sunday Night Football, sportscaster Bob Costas gave a short "opinion" piece, which he regularly does about current athletics issues, and of course this time it was about the murder-suicide. Costas gave a very moving speech about the need to pray for the family and friends of those involved and expressed the hope that they can all find peace and some kind of happiness soon. Oh, wait--no he didn't. He used the opportunity to make a 90-second pitch for gun control. Costas approvingly quoted at length a Kansas City sportswriter, Jason Whitlock, who blamed the shooting on "gun culture." I suppose this is slightly correct, as you do in fact need a gun to shoot someone, but the gist of his argument was that people get killed because having these weapons causes minor spats over loud music or whatever to get heated, someone pulls a gun, and bang--lots of dead people. "Handguns do not enhance our safety," Whitlock (and Costas) claimed, and ended with these appalling words: "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins [his girlfriend] would both be alive today."

What. The. @#$%?!?!

In this one statement, you have multiple displays of liberalism in its worst forms. First, there's the belief that what people do is not their fault, it's society's fault. Apparently Belcher was just a nice guy until he got access to a gun (a legally purchased gun, for the record), and then turned into a killer. Except he wasn't. I hate to speak ill of the dead, but from what we know of this guy now, he seems to have been a malignant bully since adolescence and exhibiting violent behavior at least as far back as his college days. So yeah, I'm pretty sure if his girlfriend hadn't met her end from a bullet, it would have been from a knife or fist (and God only knows what kind of abuse was going on behind the scenes). Second, there's the liberal notion that they can make people better by controlling their lives, which is where gun control policy comes in: Take away people's means of being violent to each other, and they will no longer be violent at all. And finally, you have the willful ignorance that stems from overlooking all the evidence that contradicts these beliefs.

As most of you are no doubt aware (and as it only took me a few minutes to look up), gun control and firearms murder rates are in fact inverse to each other. During the same period in the late 20th century in which gun sales in America peaked, pushing the total number to about 200 million owned, murder rates fell by nearly 40 percent. Meanwhile, Britain practically banned the ownership of handguns at this time, and then saw a rise in gun-related crimes of 40 percent in two years. Cases of armed robbery in London rose from four in 1954 to over 1,700 by 1998. But none of this matters to liberals.

On top of all this, there's the liberal assumption that guns are racist because more black people die from firearms incidents more often than whites; therefore, they must be part of a conspiracy by "The Man" to oppress African-Americans. Costas himself was a bit more oblique on this point, but Whitlock made it explicit, saying in an interview, "I believe the NRA is the new KKK. And that the arming of so many black youths...and loading up our community with drugs, and then just having an open shooting gallery, is the work of people who obviously don't have our best interests [at heart}." This is the sort of crap Jeremiah Wright and other racist crackpots have been spewing for years, and it's just as racially divisive as the actual KKK.

Even so, I blame Costas more in this case than Whitlock. You have to blame the latter for the original words, but he's just a local hack. Costas has a reputation (he's also a left-winger and was a definite Bush-basher, but that gets less attention). A lot of people, myself included, deliberately tuned in to SNF's halftime coverage to see what he, as someone with authority on sports culture, would say about this, and instead got liberal proselytizing. And Costas had to know this would be a controversial thing to say, especially so soon after the act itself. Nonetheless, he chose to use his time on-air to exploit a horrific incident for political purposes. This is shameful.

But the Democrats, of course, have no sense of shame.
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Agenda 2016+: The Role of Government

Today we continue the Agenda 2016+ series. As I said, this isn’t about winning the 2016 election, it’s about creating an agenda that will permanently win over the public and set America back on course. So let’s start with something basic and vital. Believe it or not, government is needed. Without government, society will devolve into predatory chaos from which will spring a truly oppressive government. But how do we decide what government should and should not do?**

This question is key because it will influence everything we discuss hereafter. What we need right now is a framework for what circumstances would cause us to agree to government regulation and what wouldn’t. As I see it, there are four times when government is needed:
1) To protect the public from those seeking to do intentional harm.
2) To protect those who cannot help themselves.
3) To prevent externalities.
4) To make markets possible.
Intentional Harm
This one is easy. This is about police powers and protecting against foreign enemies. The principle is simple: it is destructive to society and wasteful to make individuals protect themselves from criminals or foreign armies. The role of the government is to keep people safe in their lives and their property AND the exercising of their rights so that society may function.
Those Who Cannot Help Themselves
This one comes in two flavors, helping people who genuinely need it and protecting people who cannot protect themselves.

The idea behind welfare and unemployment is that good people will find themselves hitting upon hard times at points in their lives. Those people need help until they can get back on their feet. Helping them is a valid role for government because it ensures the smooth functioning of society. I know conservatives hate this, but frankly, that’s the way the public wants it. Conservatives need to learn to accept that because whining about these programs and trying to kill them will only scare people. Instead, conservatives need to focus on the word “cannot.” This should not be read as “will not.” In other words, conservatives need to tell the public they have no intention of ending these programs, but they want to make them stronger and more fair by designing them to make sure that only those who actually cannot help themselves qualify. Moreover, they need to include incentives to get people off the program again as quickly and as easily as possible. So change the rhetoric from these people being lazy or leaches to talking only about helping those “who genuinely need help” and talking about “helping them get back on their feet again.”

The other half of this is demonstrated by the concept of caveat emptor. Big Business conservatives and some libertarians hide behind this idea like it’s something noble: let the buyer beware. But the public doesn’t accept it, nor should they. The government has a role in stopping deceptive practices. It has a role in stopping abusive and predatory practices as well. This goes back to the idea of the government helping those who cannot protect themselves. It is one thing to say “you bought something cheap, so you have no right to complain when it breaks” but it’s another when the person buys something that is falsely advertised or contains a genuinely hidden danger or creates a hazard of which reasonable people could not be aware.

The problem here is that conservatives conflate frivolous claims with genuine claims and they turn that into a policy of trying to dismantle things like FDA inspectors who should be monitoring the safety of the food supply or the EPA which should be protecting us from polluters, or consumer protection agencies who should be trying to stop scams and predatory business practices. It is an intellectual nonstarter to tell the public they need to do intensive research to know that their beef is safe, that their bank didn’t defraud them or that their car won’t explode. Nor does the public want to hear that a business has the right to poison the air. Conservatives need to accept that the public wants protection, and they need to focus on making the things the government does more reasonable.
Externalities
This is the hardest for conservatives to accept because they’ve been programmed by Big Business and by misguided libertarians to ignore this. An externality is when a person engages in an activity but doesn’t bear the full price of their actions because they can shift the harm they do onto third parties. Pollution is the perfect example of this. If my factory belches out smoke that makes your land unusable, that is an externality.

If you believe in property rights (or in fairness if you’re a liberal), then you should believe that people should be made to pay the full price for the harm they do through their externalities. Otherwise you basically accept the idea that I can make you pay for my choices. Making sure people pay for their own externalities is a proper role for government. Indeed, where possible, the law should simply allow the aggrieved party to be made whole by the courts. BUT that’s not always practical, and sometimes, its a lot better for society to stop the harm before it happens. In those instances, government regulation is justified to prevent people from forcing others to bear the cost of their own externalities.

As an aside, thinking libertarians should actually be fine with this. For while the lunatics say, “I should be able to do anything with my land,” the reasonable ones will realize that your rights stop when you start taking away your neighbor’s rights.
The Creation of Markets
Finally, there are times when government regulation is necessary to create a market or to make it run smoothly. This is particularly true where you have a chicken and egg problem.


These four instances are the times when government is good and government regulation is necessary. Conservatives need to grasp this and readjust their thinking. They need to realize that the public wants these things and opposing them will only scare the public. So they need to accept them... get over it... and refocus their policies on making sure these regulations are as narrow and limited and harmless as possible while still achieving what the public wants.

They also need to learn to flip this around. Think about this. Regulations that don’t fit these principles are things we should oppose and we will be on safe ground doing so because we have a clear reason for justifying it: “this does not protect the public.” Similarly, this gives us a framework to attack regulations created by interest groups as “cronyism” because we can point out how the proposed regulations don't help the public, but instead help individual companies or donors.

By adopting a solid philosophical framework for when regulations work, we can control the debate while simultaneously putting and end to the public’s being terrified that conservatives want a polluted planet, unsafe toys, and a public at the mercy of predatory business. Moreover, we can flip this around any time to expose the Democrats as stooges for cronies and fools who can’t protect the public. This gives us a framework for defining when the government should act rather than us always trying to defend Democrats advances.


** If you want to tell me to look at the constitution, then forget it. That ship sailed. The constitution is dead. Moreover, it doesn’t say what you think it says. The constitution has all these little spots in it like “promote the general welfare” and “regulate interstate commerce” which have opened the door to pretty much unlimited power.
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