Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Weepy Ain't That Great

It’s time to earn an Oscar. “Why!! Why!! Why did little Commentarama Jr. have to catch inoperable lumbago?! And now of all times as the main site just lost its job at the blog packing plant and the bank is threatening to foreclose on our e-home. There is no Gaaawd!” Solid.... gold. Remember that when it comes time to vote.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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It Could Be Worse...

As we’ve said numerous times, the Republicans are a mess. No agenda. A fractured base. Lunatics pulling the strings of the cowards who run the show. And dirty corporate money somehow manages to get its way no matter what the base wants. Blech. Believe it or not though, the Democrats are even worse off.

Republican problems can be fixed. There are many Republicans coming up with an agenda now. Bit by bit, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, John McCain and a couple more are starting to toss out ideas that do appeal to the public. With only a couple notable exceptions, Senate Republicans are getting behind these ideas and tossing off the cranks. In the House, the leadership wants to follow suit and may yet, they just need to see the Wizard and get some ccccourage. Keep in mind too that in 2016, the Republicans get another chance to select a leader who can basically reshape the party and impose an agenda. Not to mention, at the state level, there are several Republicans who are getting solid reputations for education and economic reform.

Things aren’t as bleak as they seem. Our biggest problem is tossing off the cranks, as we discussed yesterday.

Now consider the Democrats. Their problems can’t be fixed because they’re structural.

In the 2000s, the progressive left spent a ton of money and manpower to take over the Democratic Party. Their goal was to permanently shift the party, which had flirted with conservatism under Clinton, to the far left permanently. They did and they won election because of the intense unpopularity of Bush. Things looked bright.

That’s when things started to go wrong.

First, the Democrats had the power for two years under Obama-Pelosi-Reid to grant their own wildest wishes. Each of their various supporters expected big things. They got jack. For two years, the Democrats did nothing. They gave nothing to any member of their base. Instead, they focused on healthcare, the one thing that none of their base was agitating for. Even worse, when they focused on that, they came up with a plan that could have come straight from the Heritage Foundation circa 1992 or the insurance lobby today. Good grief. And this act alone was too much for the public and they suffered the worst defeat since the 1930s because the public simply won't accept liberal policy. Heck, the only way their Senators keep getting elected is to run against the things they believe.

So here are the lessons: (1) the party won’t give its members what they want, because it can’t. (2) Even trying to do something moderately liberal will result in a massive backlash. In essence, the Democratic base learned that the party can have power, it just can’t use it... talk about a tease! And talk about disheartening.

Then you had the big gun control push, which resulted in nothing. The stimulus push which resulted in the Great (And Continuing) Recession. The collapse of affirmative action. The collapse of the Voting Rights Act. The non-granting of gay marriage. The refusal of Obama to regulate carbon despite the courts saying he could. OWS wanted to see everyone on Wall Street go to jail, but Obama not only didn’t do that, he gave Wall Street more power. The unions wanted Obama to put his boot up China’s rear end, but Democratic spending made that impossible. Now he’s probably killed them with Obamacare. The peaceniks are beside themselves with non-violent rage that they need to keep their mouths shut on drones, landmines, Obama bombing the crap out of multiple Middle Eastern countries, and NSA surveillance. College students wanted their loans forgiven, as did homeowners, and none of that happened.

But it gets worse because the party is a collection of tribes with interests that actually conflict, meaning they cannot all get what they want. Blacks and women compete for the same jobs, as do blacks and Hispanics. Blacks and Hispanics are anti-gay, yet the party is pro-gay. Hispanics are anti-abortion, yet feminists want abortion on demand. The party is dominated by atheists, yet it’s now flirting with spiritualism. The party is the home of Jews, but strangely is becoming anti-Semitic. The party is dominated by unions, and they get the only spoils the party gives, but unions are dying.

There are no heirs in the Democratic Party either. Look at who will run in 2016. You’ve got Hillary, who looks like Exhausty the Muppet. You’ve got Cuomo, who comes from the land of the sex scandal. Then the well runs dry. The only star they have right now, apart from Obama and his 40% approval, is Elizabeth Warren and she’s barely known.

And keep in mind, the Democrats didn’t win the 2012 election, they simply didn’t lose as badly as the Republicans. Nine million fewer people voted for them in 2012 than voted for them in 2008. If the Republicans hadn’t lost more than that, the Democrats would have been blown away. They are bleeding voters just as fast as the Republicans. And nothing they are proposing will turn that around. They have no plan to help the middle class. They have no plan to make life better for anyone. They just have a couple grudge issues their base wants... grudge issues they can’t actually pass or else their base no longer has a reason to stick around at the party.

Be thankful you’re not a Democrat. Our problems stink, but our problems can be fixed. The Democrats... they’re fundamentally flawed. They are a party without a purpose. They are an ideology without ideas. They are a cult of personality without charisma. They are a collection of angry, conflicted trolls who are all competing to take the same piece of pie.

Be thankful you’re not one of them.

Hug a Democrat. They need it.
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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

2014 Not Looking So Good

In theory, the Republicans should blow the Democrats away in 2014. The House is heavily gerrymandered and the Democrats are defending massive numbers of seats in the Senate. Obama is perhaps the least popular president ever and his signature legislation is about to force people to spend money they don’t have for a product they don’t want or face significant fines. And yet, I expect the Republicans will do rather poorly. Here’s why.

For starters, consider why 2014 should be a cakewalk for the Republicans:
(1) The House is so heavily gerrymandered that Republican control is all but inevitable. Of the 435 seats, 218 have been gerrymandered to give the Republicans a competitive boost. Only 67 seats are safe for the Democrats. The Republicans only need 218 to control the House.

(2) Twenty of the 32 Senate seats up for re-election belong to Democrats, and twelve of those are in states that were once red or swing states. Since we only need to win six to take over the Senate, we should do well, right?

(3) Obama’s approval rating hovers in the 40% range, i.e. his base. The Democrats are no better and “generic Democrat” is neck and neck with “generic Republican.”
Should be an easy election, right? Well, no. For one thing, those “red and swing states” aren’t so red or swing anymore. Most of these swing states, like Virginia and Colorado, haven’t voted red in several election cycles. In the red states, the Republicans are generally facing well-like Democratic incumbents. And despite the heavy gerrymandering, the Republicans barely control the House by the skin of their teeth.

Then there's the turnout issue.

Consider this. Gallup did a poll and asked people what issues are most important to them. Here’s what they found:
● 42% Economy/jobs
● 19% Healthcare
● 8% Federal deficit
● 7% Ethics/moral-religious-family decline
● 6% Corruption/abuse of power
● 6% Immigration
● 5% Education
Now ask yourself what the Republicans are pushing. The Tea Party worries about the federal deficit. The Libertarians worry about corruption/abuse of power. The Religious Right worries about morality. They talk about nothing else, except their desire to NOT fix healthcare, to NOT fix immigration and to NOT fix education. Basically, the things the right has adopted as a platform were chosen as top concerns by only 21% of the public. At the same time, they are trying to stop solutions in issues which 30% of the public identify as their top concerns. And they have no platform at all to deal with the issue that 42% of the public wants fixed. In other words, they are flirting with 21% of the public, ignoring 42% and turning off 30%.

That means they aren't going to win any converts. It also means that Boehner was flat out wrong when he said this weekend, "We shouldn't be judged on how many laws we pass, we should be judged on how many laws we repeal." That doesn't wash with the public.

Hence, base turnout is key. But that brings us to this problem: they have misidentified the base.

For years now, the Republican leadership in the House has pandered to the cranks. On issue after issue, they have paid attention only to the people screaming at them. Hence, their agenda has become "DON'T DO ANYTHING TO GIVE OBAMA A LEGACY!", "DON'T FIX HEALTHCARE!", "DON'T FIX IMMIGRATION!", "DON'T PASS A BUDGET DEAL!!", "KILL UNEMPLOYMENT!!", "KILL FOOD STAMPS!" and "SHUT THE GOVERNMENT DOWN FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER!!" Apart from 150 votes on abortion and almost 40 symbolic votes to repeal Obamacare, that's been the Republican Party since 2010. But average Republican voters don't support this crap. In poll after poll, these positions get support only in the 10-15% range among the people telling the pollsters they are Republicans. And the thing is, these people aren't even Republicans and they will NEVER support the Republicans.

Consider a little rumor started by PJ media last week, because it's instructive. They published an article based on an anonymous source who supposedly works for the RNC. This source claimed that the RNC is using DONOR MONEY to engage in research in conjunction with ERIC HOLDER to help HOLDER ENSLAVE TEXAS AND OTHER SOUTHERN STATES!!!! Why would they do this? Because they're traitorous RINOS and these RINOpublicans think recreating the presumption of guilt in the Voting Rights Act will help get Republicans elected. Naturally, the whole thing is still SECRET because they know they are BETRAYING the party, so not even people at the RNC know about it... only a select group of SECRET RINOS knows.

Only an idiot would believe this. There are no Republicans who think the VRA helped get Republicans elected. To the contrary, they are the ones who pushed to kill the law. The RNC can’t use donor money secretly. Holder would never work with the RNC because he wouldn't trust them and because he could have Justice stooges do the same research better. None of this makes any sense. Nevertheless, within an hour, the article had 1400 comments and to a one they assumed the RINOpublicans were guilty. Most of them declared they were done voting for the RINOpublicans. Some claimed they would renounce their membership in the party the following day and most called on Boehner and the other SECRET RINOS to be fired. By GOD WE NEED A SECOND AMERICAN REVOLUTION!!

These are the people Boehner and the House are pandering too under the theory that the most vocal are most likely to turn out to vote. But only a fool would think they will ever support the Republicans. These people traffic in hate and conspiracy theory against the Republicans. They presume guilt on the part of the Republicans even after innocence is proven. Indeed, the pattern repeats itself all the time: the Democrats raise an issue and these people go into attack mode... targeting the Republicans. 500 comments appear at Brietbart or Daily Caller accusing the Republicans of secretly wanting the Democrats to get their way. Then the Republicans announce they will oppose it, as they do with everything now. Are these retards happy? No, they put out another 500 comments about how it’s only a matter of time before Boehner caves in. Then come the rumors of secret deals Boehner has made TO SELL US OUT!!! This bring another 500 comments about how the RINOpublicans can’t be trusted and we need to take back the party!!!! Then the issue dies because the Republicans block it. Now come the apologies, right? Hardly. Now come 500 comments about how we need to be "vigilant" because WE KNOW the RINOpublicans are planning to sell us out yet! Rinse and repeat... every... single... week for three years now. They've been wrong 100% of the time and yet they don't stop. Not only that, they use their own prior allegations as proof to support their next claims.

These people are not sane. Nor are they your friends, Mr. Boehner. They are lunatics who hate you, and placating them only encourages them to hate you more.

In fact, we used to get people like that here when we first started. They would show up claiming to be "lifelong Republicans" who had become disillusioned with the Republicans, against whom they would spew a ton of hate. Only, it didn't take long before they slipped and admitted they were never Republicans and they never voted Republican in their lives except maybe one time. These are the people now screaming about Boehner "betraying" them. These are the people he is pandering too. These are people who will never vote Republican. And by pandering to these people and their agenda of "BURN IT ALL DOWN!", Boehner is losing his base to try to win people who can't be won. As a result, there won't be a turnout advantage for the Republicans in 2014. The base has no reason to turn out because the Republicans seem to have fallen in love with a new base. The cranks won't turn out because they never intended to. The end result will be a nail-biter with the lowest turnout in US history.

Right now, I would predict that the Republicans will pick up one seat in the Senate, not the six they need. And they will lose a handful in the House and possibly control over the chamber... unless they wake up to reality. Listen to the people trying to create an agenda... Rubio, Paul Rand, John McCain, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan, and stop listening to the people trying to stop everything.
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Monday, July 29, 2013

Poll: Religious Conservatives Shrinking

There was an interesting poll put out the other day. It dealt with religion and politics, and it's worth discussing. What the poll shows is that the Religious Right is shrinking fast. And while some will certainly want to dismiss this poll, they probably shouldn't because the implications are rather startling.

The poll in question was conducted by a group called the Public Religion Research Institute in conjunction with the left-leaning Brookings Institute, and it found two interesting things.

First, the poll found that Americans are split religiously: 28% of Americans identify themselves as religious conservatives; 19% identify themselves as religious progressives; 38% identify themselves as religious moderates; and 15% identify themselves as non-religious. The poll did not identify intensity, so these numbers overstate the actual support each group would get politically, but that doesn't change this analysis; indeed, it only strengthens the point because what these numbers tell us is that no religious agenda can prevail with the public unless you win the moderates, i.e. there just aren't enough conservatives, progressives or non-ists for any of those three groups to push through their agenda without pulling in moderates. That’s bad news for Team Santorum, who argue that getting more extreme and more exclusive is the answer.

Indeed, it suggests what should be obvious: if you want to change the public's mind on this (or any other issue), go slowly. As Walter Williams once wrote, you can't boil a frog by throwing it into a boiling pot. You need to turn up the heat little by little. It's the same with persuading the public. You need to win them over bit by bit, winning their confidence with each step and making the next step seem less intimidating and less significant. That's the only way to win people over.

The second thing the poll investigated was the future of religion in America. This is where the really bad news for the Religious Right arises. What the poll found was that the number of religious conservatives is shrinking in each generation:
● 47% of the WWII Generation are religious conservatives
● 34% of the Baby Boomers are religious conservatives
● 23% of Gen X are religious conservatives
● 17% of Millennials are religious conservatives
This means the number of religious conservatives is collapsing and the Religious Right will lose about half its size over the next 20-30 years. Among Millenials, by the way, religious progressives (23%) and the non-religious (22%) will both easily outnumber them.

So what does this mean? Well, on the one hand, it means the Republicans have hitched their wagon to a dying horse. They have essentially become a party that caters to what may have been nearly 50% of Americans at one point, but will soon be less than two in ten. That's suicidal for a political party.

On the other hand, it stands as a warning for the Religious Right. Various statistics I’ve found suggest that conservatives have around 30% more children than liberals, and presumably religious conservatives would have even more, yet "religious conservatives" aren’t managing to get their kids to adopt their beliefs. Nor are they apparently able to attract others to their beliefs. Each of the other categories is growing, but religious conservatives are not. This suggests that religious conservatives are doing something that is driving young people away. Now far be it for me to suggest, but if the Religious Right wants to reverse this trend, I would suggest figuring out what the problem is and addressing it.

What's the solution? Well, that's up to you. But I think it's instructive that the Pope is facing a similar problem and his response has been to make a push for the Church to return to the substance of religion rather than the pomp and procedure. Just this week, he told his bishops to get out of their ivory towers and go help people. It's also interesting that this has resulted in a severe backlash by conservative Catholics, who view the pomp and procedure as the purpose of the Church. Interestingly, the nature of that backlash is explained by this poll as well. The poll found that religious conservatives are much more likely to believe that "being religious" is about having the right theological views rather than being moral AND that "being moral" is about being religious rather than how you behave. In other words, they subscribe to dogma over substance... the very thing the Pope is trying to reverse within the Church. It will be interesting to see if the Pope's plan works. It will be just as interesting to see if the Religious Right can turn this trend around.

Thoughts?
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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sex Bunker Open Thread

Hey! Weiner stole my idea! ;P Seriously, word has hit that Anthony Weiner promised one of his harem of texties that he would get a condo in Chicago where they could engage in all their sexual fantasies. They are calling this Weiner's "sex bunker"... which is fitting as Bob's Country Bunker is in Cook County as well.

I wonder how Weiner thought he was going to be able to slip out of town to use this love bunker. Wouldn't it make more sense to put it on Long Island or in the Bronx? And why Chicago? Is Chicago more romantic than I've been led to believe? I always thought of Chicago as a land of husky sausage lovers with mullets and odd accents. Who knew it was littered with sex bunkers? I wonder who else has sex bunkers in different cities?

Also, have you noticed what's going on on the left? Clinton and Hillary have a sham marriage so he can fool around. Obama is rumored to have kept his own place in DC... away from Mrs. O. Weiner fools around on his sham marriage. Spitzer was into hookers. Who could forget John Edwards fooling around, pulling a Gary Hart on his sham marriage. At least these guys didn't make unwanted sexual advances toward a fundraiser's daughter and then take pictures of themselves in a tiger costume like David Wu... rawr. Nor did they grope and tickle male staffers like Eric Massa. But something seems wrong with Democratic marriages. Are Democratic males simply incapable of commitment or are Democratic wives just unbearable? Maybe it's just that Democrats are unbearable?
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Friday, July 26, 2013

Intellectuals Are Sad People

Which is weird coming from me, having chosen a profession that pretty much wrote the book on "intellectual." But I've always been leery of the term. I certainly hope to call myself an intelligent person, but an intellectual? Some of them aren't so sharp. Or pleasant.

Of course, this raises the question of what the difference is between the two. Hard to say, except that intellectuals generally wear sweater vests and corduroy pants and most other smart people don't. (Or at least, I don't.) But at bottom, I'd suggest that what makes this group stand out is its determination to make the world fit into whatever version of reality its members cherish. They seem to live by a wise man's motto, "I reject your reality and substitute my own."

Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of wacky and well-nigh malicious interpretations of innocuous things. Exhibit A: This recent gem from the Guardian, one of whose contributors, Mike Power, apparently felt the need to condemn, of all things, outdoor barbecues. Not because they deliver heart attacks--yummy, yummy heart attacks--but because it's a lingering symbol of patriarchy. "What really drains the joy from the summer breeze," Power harrumphs, "is the assumption, and the practice, that this is Man's Work. All over the UK, probably the world, the barbecue is now one of the last places where even normal blokes become sexist." Apparently it brings out some primal urge to hunt and kill in men, or it reinforces traditional gender roles (as if no woman ever barbecued in her life), or who knows. Anyway, this particular "bloke" thinks it's just terrible, continuing "How - and why - do men continue to claim this sacred fire-space as a male-owned sanctuary where women are not permitted?"

I'm not going to bother refuting this turd of an article, as its foolishness should be self-evident to all. But even if it were true--if this were indeed a conscious male domain--would it matter? There's still no law saying women can't barbecue. And also, it's barbecue. As important as it might be to folks down South, it's just not that big a deal. It's not a central enough facet of society to ever constitute oppression, and so for a guy like Power, who seems to want to tackle big social issues, it's just not something to get worked up about, ever.

And of course this is far from an isolated incident. Indeed, it seems to be a thing among academics, journalists, etc. to criticize anything, no matter how small, that doesn't match their standards of how people should behave and express themselves. For another example of this, a few years ago a columnist at Salon.com wrote a piece denouncing Taylor Swift's song "Mean" because of the representation of femininity it provided. For example, she claimed that Swift's lyrics "You made a rebel of a careless man's careful daughter" presume that "the female character defines herself through the men in her life and has to be shown by them how to live in a proper manner." And on and on. It's kind of amusing, really, because anyone would lay cash money that such a consideration never entered the musician's head, and that she wouldn't even understand it. God knows I barely do.

It's kind of sad, really--this inability by very accomplished, very smart (in a technical sense) people to take some joy in things that don't have to do with politics, like a cookout or a song. Maybe it's because they adopt ideologies that seek to explain literally everything as the product of someone being mean. Or maybe it's because they feel all they have is their smarts and that they need to show those off in whatever circumstances. Either way, it makes it hard to enjoy the little things.

Oh well. Just be glad you're not them. (Not that I'm saying you're stupid.)
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Thursday, July 25, 2013

How Forgiving Are We Supposed to Be?

Okay, I can't get around it. Let's talk about Anthony Weiner. Now, I know none of you have to face the mayoral elections in New York City, but there is a bigger picture here. How forgiving should we and are we expected to be?

I keep hearing Mark Sanford's name when this issue comes up, but frankly, Sanford cheated on his wife with one live, human woman, for which he resigned as the long time governor of South Carolina and his wife divorced him. Then, like Weiner, he decided to re-enter the political arena again and won. Kudos to the electorate of South Carolina for being so forgiving. But what Weiner did was something that was not just cheating on his wife...he lied repeatedly and not just to his wife. Whether you are of the opinion that cheating electronically is really cheating may be up for debate. It is a post-modern issue as to what really constitutes an extra-marital affair when one does not have physical contact with the person on the other end of phone, tweet, or instant message. We can talk about that.

But let's talk about Anthony Weiner instead. What keeps getting lost in the great NY Post headlines is what Anthony Weiner did to cause his fall from grace in June of 2011. It was not just cheating on his wife. The cheating part of his troubles really is, as his wife Huma Abedin repeats over and over "their issue" and I respect that with the understanding that she works closely with Hillary Clinton who knows from cheating husbands.

What Weiner's real transgression did was repeatedly lying about his cheating on camera to the world and particularly to his constituents for weeks and, more importantly. he repeatedly accused a phantom person of hacking into his official Congressional Twitter feed to post salacious photos of a male "member" that may or may not have been his. Now that is an accusation of a federal crime and involved the police. It was only after weeks of the issue not going away that he finally 'fessed up that it was his "member of Congress". When he refused to resign, he was backed up by leading women Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Only when it was finally revealed that one of his "Twitter-mates" was possibly an underage girl, was he was finally forced to resign. Of course, he resigned with the usual tearful "I am seeking professional help and my [very pregnant] wife and I are dealing with this...blah, blah, blah". Well, the brouhaha died down, his baby was born, and he became the perfect Mr. Mom...for a while.

Now, fast forward to earlier this summer, Mr. Weiner announced that he was all healed and would throw his hat into the mayoral ring because New York needed him. Because he was leading in the polls, it appeared as if all was forgiven and forgotten. But this week it now has come to light that Mr. Weiner was not sufficiently contrite after his embarrassing resignation from Congress to actually stop his behavior. Now in all fairness, Weiner did warn everyone when he announced his mayoral candidacy that "more would come out" [Har, har] about his Twitter issue. But what he failed to mention, and what came out this week, was that he did not stop his behavior one bit. He continued to tweet his member under the assumed name "Carlos Danger" clearly as late as one year after his resignation and presumed rehabilitation. So, after the truly sad press conference today where Huma reiterated her wifely support, Anthony Weiner once again refuses to go away quietly. It is still open just how bad this hurts him, but he is banking on a infinitely forgiving and forgetting electorate. And as one guy commented on NY1, the local All New York news station, "Hey, he didn't kill anyone or steal anything. Give him a break! I hope he wins". Weiner may be right to hope.

Questions? Comments?

Oh, and just when you thought things couldn't get icky enough...here's this!

Warning: This is major icky, so don't click on the link if your are the least bit squeamish.

LINK

Don't say I didn't warn you!
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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why They Couldn't Make Blazing Saddles Today

They couldn’t do Blazing Saddles today. I’m sure of that. But the reasons might surprise you. It’s not because of political correctness as you might think. Let’s discuss.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

John McCain, Conservative

I'm not a fan of John McCain, never have been. The problem with McCain was always that he bailed out the Democrats whenever their worst ideas blew up on them and he provided them with rhetorical cover. But all of that changed in 2008. Since 2008, McCain has been a solidly-conservative, savvy politician. And lately, he’s one of the few conservatives acting like a conservative.
Consider these things McCain is pushing...

Main Street Advocate: As we’ve pointed out before, Wall Street has become a predator that engages in stupidly risky trades and abusive practices while dumping its bad bets on taxpayers. Few in Congress want to do anything about it. McCain and Elizabeth Warren, however, are proposing to forbid banks from engaging in risky trading activities with FDIC-insured money. In essence, their bill would break banks back into two types: those that handle checking/savings accounts and those that engage in investment banking, insurance, swap deals, equity trades and hedge fund activities. This is something everyone should embrace because it would protect taxpayers, end a major form of cronyism, and protect Main Street banks and Main Street firms. It would also show that conservatives aren’t Wall Street dupes. This should be on every conservative agenda.

It’s not. The “conservative” response has ranged from calling McCain names to attacking Warren’s fake Indian heritage again.

Advocate For Justice I: In light of the Trayvon Martin shooting, there have been many calls to re-evaluate the nation’s “stand your ground” laws to make sure they make sense. This is an issue that resonates with blacks at the moment. Personally, I think the laws are fine, but that’s not the point. This is exactly the kind of “after-action review” that rational people do whenever anything goes wrong. It’s also an obligation-free way to let blacks know that Republicans aren’t cavalier about the idea of people “hunting blacks,” and that they are interested in making sure the nation’s laws are just for everyone. McCain took up this banner this weekend, and he was smart to do so.

So what has been the conservative response? Ted Cruz shot down the idea because it could lead to gun control... somehow. Meanwhile, conservative pundits continued to demonize Martin and canonize Zimmerman. One group is trying to raise money to buy Zimmerman a new gun. Rush is bragging that he can use the “n-word” now.

So who’s the real conservative? The guy who wants to make sure the laws protect the rights of innocent citizens and who wants to assure the entire public that he hears their concerns... or the guys trying to smear a dead black teen.

Advocate For Justice II: The Department of Justice has issued a “blueprint” on sexual harassment at colleges which does some pretty heinous things. For one thing, it wipes out the “reasonable person” standard and instead drifts toward the self-described victim’s idiosyncratic belief that they were harassed. For another, it lowers the burden of proof for the university to take action to more-likely-than-not rather than beyond a reasonable doubt. And it has no protections for freedom of speech. Thus, even playing a song with sexual lyrics can be seen as harassment. This is a significant violation of the rights of accused students and it is precisely the kind of thing conservatives claim they will oppose. Yet, only one person in the Congress has stood up to stop this: John McCain.

Consumer Advocate: As I noted before, McCain has introduced a bill to let consumers pick only the channels they want from cable. Is this a big deal? Don’t know. But it does show a desire to help consumers. The rest of the conservative world has gone anti-consumer even though consumerism is the foundation of capitalism.

Here’s the point. It has been eight months since the election. The public wants an agenda that will help them. They have concerns. McCain is recognizing those concerns and addressing them in conservative ways. Yet, the rest of the conservative world simply doesn’t care. In fact, to the contrary, I keep seeing comments that basically assert that the conservative agenda is to make sure nothing passes until Obama leaves office. That is political suicide. Right now, John McCain is showing conservatives the way forward. It's time the derangement ended and the conservatism began again. Conservatives need an agenda that appeals to Americans rather than insults them, and as much as you may dislike him personally, McCain is building one.
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Monday, July 22, 2013

More Obamacare Chaos

As Obamacare continues to wreak havoc on the nation’s medical tract like an uncooked pork milkshake, it's time for another update. Here's what you need to know to be fully entertained updated:

Why Save Employers?: I’ve been debating why Obama would push off the employer mandate, but not also push off the individual mandate. There really is only one answer that keeps coming to mind: he wants to jack up the number of people in the Exchanges. Why? Well, all those “wonderful” rates you keep hearing about from the Exchanges are based on the assumption that vast numbers of healthy people will sign up for insurance. If they do, then the rates will work because those people will pay much more than they cost -- then the system might survive. But if they don’t, then the rates will skyrocket and the system is dead. How bad will it get? I would expect the rates in the Exchanges to double in 2015.

I based that on New York’s rates. It was announced this week that New York’s rates would fall 50%! Surprised? You shouldn’t be. New York already imposes the requirements Obamacare imposes on insurers, such as taking everyone and having no limits on payments. Unlike Obamacare, New York doesn’t force anyone to buy insurance. The result is that all the healthy people stay away from insurance in New York and insurance becomes MEGA-EXPENSIVE for those who are in the pool. That’s why the rates are so high. That’s also what will happen if people don’t signup for Obamacare. So if people don’t sign up, New York’s rates are what you would expect nationwide from Obamacare... and that will kill the program by making it too expensive for anyone to buy.

So how does this relate to the employer mandate? The insurance providers are already admitting that their rates assume that a sufficient number of healthy people will be forced to buy their insurance to make the rates viable. But that’s not happening. People with existing care want no part of the Exchanges and people without insurance aren’t planning to buy any. This is why Obama delayed the employer mandate. By delaying the employer mandate, Obama is hoping to prevent employers from offering insurance, which will force their employees into the Exchanges, where they can prop up the rates at their present level until the fines get high enough that people are forced into the Exchanges.

But it won’t work. Why? Well, two reasons. First, the delay isn’t going to change anything. Big companies already provide health insurance and those that don’t aren’t going to start just because of an insignificant fine -- they’re actually looking at something called "skinny plans" as a way to minimize fines. Secondly, as has been shown by companies who do offer health insurance (like McDonalds), people don’t sign up for it because they can’t afford it, not because they don’t want it, and a fine isn’t going to change that. So basically, delaying the employer mandate won’t change anyone’s mind on this issue and it won’t fill the exchanges.

That Wasn’t The Deal Vader I: Hospitals whored themselves for Obamacare because they were promised that if they accepted slightly lower Medicare/Medicaid rates, then they would get significantly more money from newly-insured patients and all these new Medicaid patients, and they would never be faced with people who can’t pay again. Apparently, hospital companies are managed by retarded baboons because they fell for this.

Now it turns out the Medicare/Medicaid cuts were worse than expected. Plus, there were additional cuts to Medicare/Medicaid as a result of sequestration. Moreover, with Republican states not expanding Medicaid, which means more than 60% of the new people they expected to be covered by Medicaid won’t be, they’ve discovered that they aren’t going to be getting the new Medicaid patients they were promised. Because of this, hospitals have started laying off massive numbers of staff.

And it ain’t over yet. The suggestion that everyone would have insurance was always a sucker bet. First, the number of uninsureds has actually increased 14% under Obama. Secondly, the law was written in such a way that it expected most people who don’t currently have insurance will pay the fine rather than buy insurance... that’s what funds the law! How hospital managers missed that reeks of management-negligence or more retarded babooning. So no new Medicaid patients, no new insurance patients, bills still going unpaid, and compensation rates going down... 0% of promises filled. Nice trade, guys.

That Wasn’t The Deal Vader II: Obama made two firm promises when he pimped for Obamacare: “If you like your insurance... you can keep it,” and “If you like your doctor... you can keep your doctor.” And if you believed it, then you might be an idiot. Not only are we slowly learning that tens of millions of people will be dumped from their existing insurance, but HHS admitted this week that you might not be able to keep your doctor either. This is no surprise. It will depend on the plan you pick and if your doctor is part of that plan.

That Wasn’t The Deal Vader III: Hoo boy, the unions are furious. And they have good reason. Obamacare seems designed to kill the unions. With labor laws being what they are, there isn’t really a lot of point to labor unions anymore. In fact, the only real selling point they have left is that unions can provide cheap access to good healthcare. Without that, private sector unions will probably die off. This is why they’ve opposed universal coverage for a long time, actually. Well, Obamacare wasn’t supposed to be a threat because it doesn’t provide anything like universal coverage and it was supposed to basically allow the unions to keep working outside the system. But now they realize that’s not true. Now they realize that Obamacare makes it very easy for employers with union employees (especially small/mid-size companies) to dump their expensive health plans by pushing their employees toward the Exchanges. Unlike everyone else, however, union employees can’t get subsidies, so the Exchanges are too expensive to use no matter what happens to the rates.

Hence, Obamacare has taken what was the unions’ only real reason to exist and turned it into a point to avoid unions. Are we sure Obama isn’t a plant?
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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Open Thread -- Discovery Zone

This has been a week for hiding in place sight.

First, they found another moon circling Neptune. They've currently designated it S/2004 N 1, but they're planning to call it WheTLPA, which my sources tell me is an acronym for "Where The Lizard People Are." NASA denies the existence of lizard people, but we know better! Seriously, why call it S/2004 instead of S/2013? Clearly, this is a coverup. How stupid does the Fed think we is?!


An American archeologist has discovered two new pyramids (right) just by plugging in the words "lost pyramids" into Google Earth. So far, attempts to find Jimmy Hoffa and "the lost Arc of the Covenant" the same way have failed. Frankly, this really calls into question just how observant the average Egyptian really is. Think about it... millions of idiots live near these things and not one of them realizes that the giant pyramid shaped thing near their house is a pyramid. Yep. It took an American sitting on their butt in North Carolina to solve this mystery. Oy.

Anyway, the uselessness of Egyptians aside, it's kind of amazing there's still so much to discover in our world today. Who knows? Perhaps in a few years they will even discover the lost city of Atlanta?
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Friday, July 19, 2013

Film Friday: Ted (2012)

Ted sucks. I could stop the review right there and that would sum up Seth McFarlane’s film pretty well. But I watched this turd and I want my pound of flesh. So I’m doing a full review to tell you exactly where Mr. McFarlane went wrong.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Christianity and the Left

This probably won't appeal to all readers, at least not in the same way, but for those whose religious faith is a big part of their life, I thought this was worth bringing up, since it appears anyway from time to time.

Especially in the past few years, under Obama, there has been a particular philosophical/theological debate, on and off that has accompanied his expansion of the welfare state with health care and so on. (It predates Obama by a long shot, of course, but it was all the rage a couple years ago.) Maybe his programs are socialist and maybe they aren't, but even if they are, many leftists have argued, what's so bad about that? America is still a Christian nation (sort of), and taking care of the poor is "the Christian thing to do," so why not embrace socialism or knock-off versions of it? Why should men of faith be fiscal conservatives?

I could flesh it out further, but no doubt everyone understand what I'm getting at. As one anecdote, back when ObamaCare passed, I was discussing the bill with a very liberal friend of mine who of course supported it. In the course of the conversation, she said something like the following: "I don't see how you can oppose this bill. You claim to be a Christian, right? Didn't Jesus say it was the duty of his followers to help the poor and needy? And isn't that what this bill is trying to do? You talk all the time about how much you hate socialism, but it's something you should be supporting."

An irksome statement, but not a very surprising one. The fact is, a lot of mainstream Christians have said the same thing. As a lifelong member of the Methodist Church, for example, I have heard many in that body call on Christians to support "social justice," whatever that means. One can also find such elements--often prominent ones--among the Catholics, the Lutherans, the Presbyterians, and so on.

At the time, I dismissed my friend's comment with a few derisive snorts and a mention of the difference between the spiritual and earthly realms, and the difficulty of applying the principles of the former to the politics of the latter. Upon later reflection, though, I don't think I gave a satisfactory answer. After all, citing the words of Jesus, "My Kingdom is not of this world," or Luther's "Doctrine of Two Swords," doesn't exactly explain why one should support or oppose a living wage or a single-payer health care system. And the original question is a powerful one. If I consider myself a Christian, which I do--a fairly crappy one, to be sure, but I make an effort to live up to the name--how can I stand against a philosophy such as socialism, which offers a program to improve the material conditions of the poor by giving them more care and socioeconomic equity? Aren't I called on to perform good works for those less fortunate? And doesn't socialism--or socialistic policies--offer a chance to do just that?

Yes, kind of, but. The problem, I think, when one talks about following a "Christian socialism," a socialistic policy that adheres to the Gospels, is believing that the end goal of performing such good works is to help the poor. Make no mistake: acts of charity and material aid for the benefit of those in need is, from the Christian perspective, an absolute good, and pleases God. The trouble, however, is that helping the poor is not the end goal of good works. Controversial, I know. But consider this: when St. James penned the famous line, "Faith without works is dead," whose faith was he talking about? Those for whom the works were being performed? No. He was referring to the faith of those performing the works. For service and charity to others is how Christians express their faith here on earth. Neglect it, and faith becomes stagnant, a mere internal acknowledgement of the Good News and making no tangible difference in the believer's life and character. Moreover, these works are not intended merely to provide comfort and security for individuals the rest of their days. They are intended to provide a conduit for the transmission of the message of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, and the salvation of all those who believe in Him, without which no one can enter heaven.

And this is what I think those who talk about social justice or some similar term forget. Christianity is not Christianity without the transcendental message of salvation and eternal life. Nor is it Christianity without that personal expression of faith. The emphasis is on the inward, individual soul, and its transformation through faith and the works that faith results in. What happens to that emphasis, that relationship between the divine and the individual, with the implementation of a so-called "Christian socialism"? Simply put, it is destroyed. Because while a state might, theoretically, achieve the goal--of providing for the less fortunate--that Christians often strive for, it cannot--especially when the state is as populous and far-flung as ours--provide that same faith, that same connection with the heavenly realm that the traditional faith-based religion can. By having an impersonal, bureaucratic structure performing the function of material support, it not only prevents individual Christians from taking part in the relief of the poor, more importantly, it destroys their initiative to do so. In a world in which everyone's needs are supposedly taken care of, what reason is there for a believer to interact with the downtrodden when the state will do it for them? And what does that do to the development of one's own faith? If it cannot go forward, it stagnates. Thus, by seeking to fill the spiritual void in men with material satisfaction, "Christian socialism" guts the transcendency of the religion, inevitably coming to mean nothing different from regular socialism.

This process is clearly on display when one considers the developments in once-Christian nations. It is surely no coincidence, I think, that Europe, where the idea of a far-reaching welfare state has long been accepted, has rates of church attendance that are in many cases abysmal. America is guilty of similar trends, true enough, but this interventionist ideology is less well established, and its citizens also happen to attend church more frequently. Is it too much of a stretch to say that the two are connected? Can one, for God's sake (so to speak), pick out a country or region where a strong tradition of left-wing government goes hand-in-hand with widespread, evangelical Christianity? (And no, Latin America doesn't count.)

There is no coincidence. And this is the virus within liberal Christianity. If it sets as its goal a world of "social justice," well, that can in theory be realized, but once it is, then what? When the socialism in Christian socialism has been put into practice, what's the use of hanging on to the Christianity, when the religion has been subordinated to worldly aims? For that matter, is there any religion left at all? The fact is, Christianity and socialism/socialistic ideas are incompatible. They not only pursue different aims; those aims bring them into conflict with one another.

So, there. Obviously this won't be of much interest to those who aren't Christians. And it's not intended as an analysis of the economic ideas behind liberalism or socialism, or to suggest that one cannot be both a sincere Christian and committed to a communitarian ideology. I would hate to live under a government run by the likes of Jim Wallis, for example, yet I have no doubt of the man's personal faith in God. What I wish to do here is to refute the argument often presented to Christians, and to propose that not only is it possible to be a Christian and a small-government conservative, but also that if Christianity can be said to favor any political system (a very big if), it not only is but must be closer to capitalism than to socialism. As philosophical systems, Christianity and socialism don't have room for each other.

(Note: I'm gone all this week on a family trip, and will not be back until Sunday evening. I won't be looking at my computer, so make whatever critical comments you want, just know that I won't be around to read them, so nyah nyah nyah.)
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Couple Points

Thanks for all the well-wishes, everyone! And thanks to Bev and Koshcat for filling in earlier in the week! I am getting back to normal and we should have a regular schedule again next week. We'll also have T-Rav's article tomorrow and a film review at the film site... the very unfunny Ted. In the meantime, here are a couple thoughts I've had watching the news this week.

The Martin Case I: There is a belief, which is particularly prevalent in conservative circles, that we can always trust cops and prosecutors. In fact, I've seen this go so far that a great many conservatives actually believe that if someone is arrested, then they must be guilty. This is wrong, as the Martin case shows again. With lots of nasty things now being revealed about the prosecutor, it should be clear that not all prosecutors are good people. This woman is an unethical liar who slanders people, abuses her office to get anyone who crosses her, politicized her agency by firing anyone who wasn't a brown-noser, overcharges suspects, and withholds evidence. Sadly, she is not unique. There are many prosecutors who are just as rotten and just as political. That is why rule of law matters and why we cannot simply trust the people in the system to not trample on people's rights. You would think conservatives, who innately mistrust government, would realize this and demand greater protections for defendants, stronger rights for all persons, and narrower criminal laws. But not all of them do. Remember this the next time some politician tells you they are "tough on crime." Are they really or are they just tough on the accused?

The Martin Case II: The response to the Martin case has been both encouraging and depressing. For encouraging, look at the public... in response to the verdict, there have been a handful of protest marches nationwide, typically involving a few hundred people in the biggest cities. Except for a couple of thugs (mainly in Oakland), they've been peaceful. Denied their story of outrage, the news networks have moved on, as have most of the pundits. Even liberal talking-head attorneys now are saying the jury got the law right. Jimmy "the ass" Carter and Obama both said the same thing as well. That's all very rational and very muted. That should make America pretty proud of itself. That is encouraging.

On the other hand, a lot of celebrities are exploiting this to gain publicity. That's disgraceful. It's twisted and cynical. Go back to rehab folks. A couple of dinosaur-age race baiters are out there too trying to regain their relevance. That's a fancy young girlfriend you got there Mr. Sharpton. Anyway, that's disgraceful too.

Unfortunately, there's another group too that needs to be mentioned. If you visited Drudge over the past couple days, you would think the country was in the grips of a civil war. He reported the most fringy comments as if they were widely-believed official administration positions. He had headlines about people in hiding, about roving gangs attacking whites. He's been reporting rumors and conspiracy theories as facts, linking to places like InfoWars, trying to connect unrelated murders and muggings to "the response to the verdict" to make you think there are riots everywhere, and doing so under headlines that basically scream: "BLACK PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO KILL YOU!!" It's Al-Sharpton-esque. Several radio talkers are doing the same thing, even as they ironically claim they are only warning you that liberals are obsessed with race. One host this afternoon actually cautioned people to watch for gangs "looking for whitey."

Right now, there are two groups of people pushing identity politics: the extreme left and the extreme right, and I think the right is pushing harder than the left. But as we showed in that poll last week, few people see blacks, whites or anyone else as inherently racist, i.e. few are obsessed with race -- only about two in ten. So don't let these people push you into thinking the world is like the nightmare vision they are selling. It's not... not even close.

The Summer of Flops: Finally, the summer of flops continues with three new ones likely joining the list: Pacific Rim is officially a flop, Turbo is being seen as a likely flop, and R.I.P.D. looks like a megaflop. I was kind of looking forward to R.I.P.D.. In any event, it sounds like it's time to service the Plot-o-matic 3000.
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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Guest Review: Identity Thief

By Koshcat

I watched Identity Thief with my wife a few weeks ago. It stars Jason Bateman as Sandy Patterson, an accountant for a large investment company located in Denver. This is a light comedy that is worth checking out despite a few flaws.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Caption This: Where's Biden?

Our Dear Andrew is feeling under the weather. But as they say, laughter is the best medicine, so let's make Andrew laugh, so he can get better faster! Does anyone know any good jokes, funny stories, or maybe a limerick or two? (PG-rated, please)

Well, if not, then maybe Joe Biden can help out. He's always good for a a few laughs, right?


So in the latest installment of "Caption This"...well, hmmm, caption this! Remember the idea is to make Andrew laugh! Not only will you win big prizes, but mostly you will be doing a public service to help Andrew get better faster, so he won't be at the mercy of Obamacare!
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Monday, July 15, 2013

Malpractice In The Martin Case

I’m going to take apart an article and some comments about the Trayvon Martin issue. Before we start, let me point out that this isn’t about really about the verdict itself as I don’t care about that. What I find interesting is the “journalism” and some interesting comments from the prosecutor.

The article in question was written by Liz Goodwin of Yahoo, whose qualifications for the job are no doubt unquestioned. Actually, I meant that differently... being Yahoo, I’m sure no one questioned her qualifications before they hired her. Anyway, Lizzy wrote the article that Yahoo linked to initially. It is a classic display of advocacy hiding as impartiality.

Hey, That’s Racist! I had to laugh that Lizzy right away described Martin as “a 17 year old black boy.” For those who’ve dealt with race issues, you will quickly discover that there are two things that will always be called “racist” – conservatives calling blacks “black” rather than “African American” and calling any black male larger than about 10 “boy.” If Rush starts his monologue by calling Martin “a black boy,” you can be sure the squealing will begin.

In fact, think about it and ask yourself the last time the media called any older teen “boy,” just as they don’t call near-adult women “girls.” Those are considered offensive terms. Hence, the preferred term is “teen” (something Lizzy returns to after her opening). So why start with “black boy”? Well, Lizzy wants to give the image of this large, black male near-adult as a small child.

She also continues to call Zimmer “half-white and half-Hispanic,” in an attempt to paint this as white on black crime, even though Zimmerman would be considered Hispanic if he were the victim. Selective use of race is racism. Moreover, should race actually be relevant here? Race came up because NBC edited a video to create a racial controversy and because the usual black suspect wanted to paint this as a race crime: white man with Jim Crow evil in his heart hunting small black candy-carrying boy. But there’s no evidence of that. Basically, this case came down to a dipsh*t wannabe cop, who happened to be Hispanic and who got himself in over his head and ended up in the fight of his life. Where does “white” enter that picture unless you want to put it there?

Facts Are What I Want Them To Be: Beyond that, Lizzy does a good job of advocating for the prosecution. She outlines the prosecution case in vivid detail, but gives the defense only a clinical nod. . . apparently the defense position was that Zimmerman “was within his rights” when he did whatever the prosecution alleged... forget that the defense denied everything. No mention is made of how the prosecution’s case imploded on witness after witness. There’s no mention of anything to support the claim of self-defense. Did you know Zimmerman was injured? You didn’t hear it from Lizzy. She makes it sound like Zimmerman shot Martin from a distance. Did you know that there were numerous witnesses (non-family members) who said that it was Zimmerman calling for help? You didn’t hear it from Lizzy, though you did hear about Martin’s noble parents saying the voice belonged to Martin. Did you know there were “witnesses” to the incident? What did they witness? Well, Lizzy never says, except she ties this in to Martin’s parents saying it was Martin calling for help. If you knew nothing, you would wonder why the jury ignored those witnesses.

She also tries to blow this into something more than it was. Did you know the case sparked a “national debate over self-defense laws and race, prompting marches and demonstrations around the country.” Yeah, only outside of the retards on Twitter the few attempts I recall to organize anything were all in Florida and they involved a couple hundred people. By that standard, there’s a national demonstration at my local Costco every time there’s a sale.

Oh, and there’s no mention to the prosecutor humiliatingly backing down to manslaughter. Instead, Lizzy just mentions that the jury also could have considered that, as if it was just always kind an option.

The Persecutor: Anyway, then we come to the prosecutor. This turd takes the cake. He overcharged in the hopes of getting famous. He’s been stoking the racial angle from day one. And when he got to court, reality caught up with him and his witnesses refused to say what he promised and he ended up imploding on witness after witness. So either they all lied unexpectedly, or he lied to the jury about what they would tell him, which is both unethical and insanely stupid.

Ironically, at his post-loss press conference, he said, “We have from the beginning just prayed for the truth to come out.” Uh, f*ck you. First of all, truth requires you to find it, not obscure it, jerk. And what this guy tried to do repeatedly was to obscure the truth and to present a false truth. Secondly, the job of the prosecutor is to prosecute crimes, not make Hail Mary attempts to throw someone in jail to make a political statement... that’s called persecution. As an aside, he also appealed for calm even though there is no violence, which sounds a lot like incitement to me.

Anyway, what really caught my attention with this turd was this little statement from his closing argument: “Ask yourself, ‘Who lost the fight?’” That statement in a nutshell is the problem with liberals. The issue is NOT who lost. The issue was whether or not Zimmerman acted in accordance with the law or not. This idea of “let’s charge whoever lost the fight” is twisted. It is highly unjust as it makes the law arbitrary. In fact, even worse, it completely ignores morality and right and wrong for a fake-substitute version of “whoever I connect with emotionally was the victim.” This is the same BS thinking that underlies all liberal theories on criminal justice and history. . . if you lost, then you were the victim and the other guy was the bad guy.

This is why you can’t trust liberals. It makes them fools. This is why attorneys paint their little murdering sh*ts as angels and put them in suits, this is why liberals feel that mass murderers should be let out of jail once they look old and sad, and this is why liberals so often fall in love with murders and butchers, because everybody else treats them so poorly! Boo hoo.

Put simply, this is why you cannot rely on liberals to assess right and wrong, because their standard is not based on conduct, it’s based on who they see as the victim at that point in time they are asked to judge.
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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Open Thread - Bastille Day edition...



July 14 is Bastille Day, so it's time to celebrate the French Revolution and to eat cake! If you need another reason to eat cake, it's Commentarama Open Thread Day too, so the floor is open...
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Friday, July 12, 2013

Democracy: U.S. Style?

Last week's latest military coup popular revolution in Egypt only missed landing on the Fourth of July by a few hours, duly noted by many on the Internet. And it's easy to argue, as many have, that as a struggling would-be democracy, the folks in Cairo would do well to follow our example. They may be right. But how closely?

Earlier this week, one Ed Krayewski, a writer at Reason.com, made the case for why Egyptians should adopt a near carbon-copy of the U.S. Constitution as their governing document. Egypt's existing constitution, a 236-page monstrosity, reads more like an owner's manual than a promise of order and liberty--and of course, it has not done very well at providing either. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg commented that it was more reminiscent of troubled, unstable South Africa than of America. (Naturally, though, she thought this was a good thing.) Anyhoo, Krayewski suggests that Egypt preserve its attempt at democracy by forming a constitution very similar to ours, in its formal organization of government, its system of checks and balances, its Bill of Rights or equivalent thereof, etc.

I can think of ideas a lot worse than this. There's no denying that America's democratic system has been the most stable and long-lasting of its kind, ever, and definitely outshines its rivals--say, continental European technocracy--by a mile. But is trying to completely recreate our political order over there the best option?

Here, of course, we have one of the big fault lines for American policymakers, and one of the key contested assumptions behind the project of "nation-building," since at least the Iraq War. Whether or not a Western-style liberal democracy can be created within a few years in a country with little or no such native political tradition, such as most of the Arab world, is a question still up for grabs. And not being a foreign policy expert myself, I don't pretend to have a clear answer. But I am a bit leery (though not entirely so) of the idea that carbon copies of our government and our ethos of ordered liberty will solve things. It's not that they wouldn't work--they might--but that our system in all its particulars is not a universal, self-evident rule; it has a political history, like all documents, and that history is particular and different from other locales.

Consider our principle of federalism, for example. Personally, I think the more decentralized a government is, the better; it's one of the key reasons why I am a conservative. Keep in mind, though, how such a dispersal of power originated in our country. America began as a string of separate and often isolated colonies--colonies with a common language and legal system, to be sure, but still as self-contained and internally sovereign as Ghana, Nigeria, Rhodesia, etc. would be a century or two later. Any overarching government those colonies formed would have to respect their existence and leave them as sub-units with a lot of autonomy; hence our federalist system. That doesn't make as much sense in Egypt, where most of the population is concentrated in a small land area and easily connected by the Nile river. No doubt some delegation and decentralization of authority would be useful, but there's just not the same call for it--for the sovereign state of Cairo, or Alexandria, or Giza, or what have you--in that situation.

Not a fatal issue, most likely, but it is one example of these different political traditions. In any case, beyond such matters of form, there is that thorny question of whether it's in everyone's best interests for the country to experience such full universal democracy all at once, the one you can't ask without sounding like a pretentious jerk. (No, trust me--you really can't do it.)

Lots of people, especially libertarians, would naturally answer that you have to empower the people, let them make their own decisions, even if the consequences are sometimes negative. Fair enough, and perhaps that is the best option in the long run; given how mass political movements often go, however, especially in the Middle East, the possible short-term consequences are worth giving some thought to. If mass democracy should somehow lead to a war with Israel or Iraq or whoever, that would assuredly not be a good thing.

All of which is to say, for Egyptians to try and introduce an all-new political system overnight, even a fully democratic one, would be extremely risky and unstable without taking account of the realities in the country and what people are familiar with. If nothing else, consider the inertia and quasi-independence of the civil service and other institutions, which don't like discontinuity. More than a few observers have noticed the inactivity of the police and other services under Morsi, for example, and wondered whether they actively undermined the regime. Either way, deliberately alienating those who hold so many of the levers of power is rarely smart, and another reason to make the changes as slow and smooth as possible, not impose new schemes.

That being said, I do think the Reason article makes some very good points, especially its characterization of our Constitution as a document of "negative rights" (i.e. the government declines to interfere in daily life), versus the "positive rights" (spelling out what the government will be doing), as one sees in the current Egyptian and other owner's manual constitutions today. A revision to the negative form would be helpful indeed, if for no other reason than it would transfer a lot of the responsibility for Egyptians' security and prosperity to Egyptians themselves, and encourage the growth of a strong civil society. In that respect, maybe the lesson is for Egypt (and others) to take the spirit of our American documents as their guide, and not necessarily the letter. But this is just one interpretation. Feel free to share yours.
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

New York State of Mind...Upping the Crazy

This New York City election season just gets better and better. Just in case you haven't heard the news, Client #9...er Ex-Luv Guv...er...former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer announced his re-entry (yes, I went there) into New York politics.

As hard as it is to believe, Spitzer has thrown his black socks into the ring to run for New York City Comptroller***. Just for the heck of it, let's review exactly what caused disgraced former Gov. Spitzer to resign after only a little more than three months into his dream job and what many thought would be the last stop before the White House. He was caught repeatedly using the "madam" (remember this because it will come up later) of the Emperors Club VIP escort service to procure prostitutes for multiple sexual congresses (?) in multiple out-of-state trysts mostly in D.C. (somehow fitting). He was forced to resign or, as I surmise, would have been arrested for felonious crimes that ironically he had signed into law as NY Attorney General. [To be exact, the law upped the crime of prostitution from misdemeanor to felony.]

Okay, it's not as if we were running on a deficit of disgraced elected officials reinventing their political careers [See: Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner], or all the other potential candidates in the state are unavailable. But really, this is the best we can do? Oh, but wait, it gets better. As it turns out, Mr. Spitzer will be running against...drumroll, please...the infamous Manhattan Madam (remember from above?) who actually was arrested and went to jail as a result of his own felonious indiscretions.

Yes, as if all of this isn't absurd enough, Spitzer will be running against his former madam, Kristin M. Davis.

[If she looks familiar, she ran for Governor against Andrew Cuomo in 2010.]

It really doesn't get better than this on the Crazy Scale (at least for the NY Post headline writers!). And frankly, I can't WAIT for their debate.

When asked if he had changed, the best Spitzer could muster is "I think it's been a productive and important five years...I hope so." Comforting, isn't it? Well, I'm sold!

But there is one hitch in his giddy-up though - he has to petition enough signatures to get on the ballot. To achieve that quickly, he has announced that he will pay the outrageous sum of $800 per day to anyone who will help gather the signatures of at least 10,000 unique registered Democrats. By "unique", I don't mean "peculiar" or "eccentric". I mean, registered voters who have not already signed other petitions for Comptroller.

To put this all into frightening perspective, it is possible that come January 1, 2014, we, the citizens of New York City, could have two of the most disgraceful and disgraced politicians elected to serve the people of New York. Personally, I'm rooting for the Manhattan Madam. At least she did her crimes and served her time.

Oh, by the way, Silda Spitzer, the wife of Eliot, has been conspicuously unavailable...

Questions? Comments? Xanax, anyone?

***UPDATE*** What I did not know until seeing the news this morning is that Spitzer has until midnight tonight to gather the signatures....oh, and he is leading his closest Dem competitor (sadly, it is not Ms. Davis) in the polls by 9%.

***As described by one website, ...[t]he Comptroller's office has two main functions. One is to preside over the investments of municipal pension funds, which gives the Comptroller a lot of power. The other is to audit city agencies. The comptroller basically serves as a check and balance on the mayor and the city council and the other branches of government.
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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mockery = Failure

With an opening weekend that was only a few dollars better than Battleship, White House Down is a certifiable flop. So is The Lone Ranger. After Earth was a financial turd too. So what happened? Well, I saw an interesting dissection of why White House Down failed and I think it makes some valid points that apply to all three.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Some Interesting Polls

So there were a couple of interesting polls while you were gone. I don’t put a lot of faith in polls because they are non-committal -- polls force answers to issues people may not care about without being prompted and they don’t require any sort of action. So polls should always be taken with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, these two polls are enlightening.


Poll One: Racism. The first poll comes from Rasmussen, and it’s about racism. Check out these numbers:
● 37% of Americans think “most blacks are racist.”
● 18% of Americans think most Hispanics are racist.
● 15% of Americans think most whites are racist.
Further, conservatives are more likely to see blacks as racist (49%) and more likely to see whites as racist (18%). Liberals are more likely to see whites as racist (27%) and less likely to see blacks as racist (21%). Surprisingly 31% of blacks also think that most blacks are racist, while only 24% consider most whites racist. These are fascinating numbers.

First, it’s interesting that so few people see “most” people as racist. If you listen to the liberals in the MSM or in Hollywood or in the Democratic Party, you hear a constant drumbeat that all whites are racist and that everything is about race. Based on the numbers above, only two in ten Americans buy that garbage. Even among liberals only three in ten buy this stuff. That’s a strong indication that we’re headed toward a colorblind society. Why? Because it shows that very few people see the various racial groups as monoliths who are or should be motivated by race, and it shows that few people see the issue of race being wrapped into everything. Without that, the institutions of racism and race baiting die.

Secondly, it’s fascinating that blacks not only see blacks as racist, but actually see them as more likely to be racist than whites. This again flies in the face of race-baiter rhetoric which holds that blacks cannot be racist because they are an oppressed minority. It is even more fascinating that they see more racism in the black community than the white community. This is another good sign because it suggests that the public is holding the black community accountable for the open racism many within the community have displayed and it suggests an understanding that whites are not the problem black leaders have tried to sell them as. That is a necessary step to fixing race relations in this country, when everyone is held equally responsible for their attitudes toward everyone else and no one is excluded from acting properly.

Poll Two: Rubio-ism. The second poll involves Latino support and the immigration bill. According to a poll from Latino Decisions, 54% of Latinos would back Rubio in 2016 because of his efforts to pass immigration reform. That would include half of the Latinos who voted for Obama. That goes away, however, if the immigration reform bill doesn’t pass. In that event, Rubio gets only 30% support -- 3% more than Romney and 1% less than McCain. It is also worth nothing that Romney and McCain both lost each of the following increasingly-blue, increasingly-Hispanic “swing-states”: New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Florida and Virginia. Bush, on the hand, won 40% of Latino voters in 2004 and he carried each of those states. Unlike McCain and Romney, Bush tried to fix the immigration system... like Rubio.

And lest you think we can make up the difference with white turnout, as talk radio continues to claim, several groups have studied the last election and they have found that it would have been impossible for Romney to win merely through white turnout because he would have needed 90% of the “missing” whites. Want proof? Ok, think of it this way. There were an estimated 4-6 million “missing” white voters. Romney lost by 5 million votes. IF there are the full six million and IF they all showed up AND IF they were ALL conservatives, he might have won. But they aren’t all conservatives. In fact, there’s no reason to think they don’t mirror the population at large. In that case, consider that Romney won whites by 59% to 40%. To make up the 5 million vote difference at the rate that Romney won whites would require that 26 million more whites vote -- four times the maximum pool of “missing” whites. The idea of winning with a white party is a delusion.

Poll Three: More Debunking. While we’re at it, let’s debunk a myth Sarah Palin and talk radio are pushing hard all of a sudden. They are telling their followers that “the overwhelming majority” of Americans oppose the path to citizenship. Palin even claimed that Hispanics oppose the path to citizenship and that it was somehow insulting to suggest they didn’t. Oh, you betcha! Only, as is so often the case these days with conservative talkers, this is total bullship.

Exit polling data from November 2012 (reported by Fox News) found that 65% of Americans (and 77% of Hispanics) believe illegal immigrants should be given a path to citizenship. Only 29% opposed that. Similarly, a Wall Street Journal poll from April 2013 found that 64% of Americans (and 82% of Hispanics) favor a path to citizenship. Three in ten is not an overwhelming majority... unless you’re dealing with the new math. So don’t believe this when you hear it.
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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

While we were away enjoying our holiday... and our cake, the government issued the June jobs report. According to the report, the economy created 195,000 jobs in June. This is being touted on the left as evidence that the economy is on the right track. Well, not so much. Here are some interesting things you should know about the jobs report:

Few Jobs: A lot of people (particularly on the left) are pointing to the 195,000 number as proof of a big number, which must mean something good, right? But it’s not really. For one thing, the rolling average for the last six months has been 200,000 jobs created each month. That means the June number is slightly below the average we’ve had since January. Same as it ever was is not an improvement.

Further, it takes around 160,000 jobs a month just to keep up with the population growth. That means that only about 35,000 of those jobs are there to reduce the backlog of the unemployed.

If job creation remains unchanged from hereon forward (an impossibility), it will take until 2017 for the unemployment rate to reach 5%. That means it will take 10 years from the start of the recession to get employment back to the “normal” level. That’s actually longer than it took the US jobs market to recover from the Great Depression. That’s also a year after Obama’s term is up. It’s also no sure thing. Historically speaking, recoveries last 63 months on average, compared to 13 months for recessions. The most recent recession lasted 18 months and the “recovery” has been underway for 49 months. That means sometime next summer, the recovery likely will tip back over into recession. That means job growth will slow and then collapse again. That means, we’re not likely to get anywhere near 5% unemployment by 2017. Instead, we’re looking at 5% sometime in the 2020s. Nice.

Low Quality Jobs: Even worse, the quality of the jobs produced during this “recovery” has been really poor. For example, 42% of the jobs created in June were in the leisure and hospitality sector, 52,000 of which came from food services. Retail jobs accounted for another 37,000. Those manufacturing jobs everyone covets fell by 6,000. Job quality was a long-time attack by the left against Republican Presidents, wanna bet they don’t mention this against Obama?

Moreover, the top-line number is always a little misleading. To really understand it, you need to look at what makes that number. In this case, when you look a little deeper, what you see is that the 195,000 jobs is the result of an increase of roughly 360,000 part-time jobs and a loss of 240,000 full-time jobs. In other words, not only was every job created a part-time job, but another 45,000 full-time jobs vanished. This is proof of what we already knew about Obamacare – people are firing their full-time employees and hiring part-timers and temps. It also calls into question whether or not the 195,000 is even real or if this is full-time jobs being split into multiple parts.

So basically, this number is not the end of the world, but it certain isn’t anything we should be trumpeting. The “recovery” is producing low paying, unstable, part-time jobs, and even then it’s not producing enough to end unemployment any time soon. Interesting isn’t it, that we are in the middle of an historically bad jobs market and yet the media doesn’t seem to notice. I don’t recall them being this disinterested in unemployment under Reagan. . . or Bush. . . or Bush.
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Monday, July 8, 2013

They Say It's My Birthday!

Cake ladies and gentlemen, cake. It is a good day. :D
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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

July 4th Open Thread

We're taking a week off and we'll be back next Tuesday. In meantime, share your thoughts here! Happy Independence Day everyone!

BTW, Good time to leave a review of my book (LINK). :)

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Unruly Britannia?

Ever since 1945, we have been told and told about how superior a system our cousins across the pond have where state welfare and such are concerned. A caring government, dependable services, blah blah blah. So of course, Britons themselves are fond of and loyal to their welfare system, right? Well....

2013, like the past few years before it, has been unsettling in many ways for the British establishment. The spring's regional and local elections saw a massive jump in popularity for the anti-EU, anti-technocrat, pro-national sovereignty U.K. Independence Party, which voters, after being warned by politicians and the media about how fringe and racist it was, turned out for in droves. Then the brutal murder of a British soldier by a Muslim radical caused major upheaval and a lot of pushback against multiculturalist policy. Now it appears that the country's up-and-coming generation may be abandoning both the official Left and its radicalism.

Not that you would know it from how the British state is often portrayed in the news. Supposedly, its people love their universal health care and all the endless regulations, and the only complaint to be made is that it's not free-spirited and benevolent enough. And at one time, that might have been the attitude. But it appears that the abuses of the welfare state have finally worn on Brits' patience. A poll this spring found that 74% of U.K. citizens believe the government ought to cut benefits; even more surprisingly, there seems to be a majority in favor regardless of generation or political affiliation. Among youths, though, this sentiment appears to be strongest. When surveyed, only 20% of 18- to 34-year-olds would agree that the creation of the welfare state was among Britain's "greatest achievements."

Probably there are multiple factors at work here. True enough, immigrants, especially those from the Third World countries of the former Empire, make up a sizable proportion of the welfare recipients, so there's that. Plus, there are some regional divisions, with prosperous Londoners and others in southern England upset at subsidizing the less productive "Celtic fringe," especially the basketcase that is Northern Ireland. But it would also seem that people are getting tired of the stories of abuse. Most recently, there was the story of the Heaton family in Lancashire, which despite not having a single employed member gets 30,000 pounds in benefits per year, enough for them to afford a house with a flat-screen TV, computer, Wii, and some nice "vacations." With an average income among working Britons of only 26,000 pounds, even the most socialism-loving lad or lass has to see that there's a real problem here. And it does appear to be causing a large-scale disenchantment with the whole system.

This is no case of Conservatives whistling in the dark, either: Some of the strongest evidence comes from observations by leftist papers such as The Guardian, one of whose reporters recently lamented that his country's "twentysomethings sound like devout Thatcherites." He blames hostility to immigrants, because why not, but also admitted that these Britons are blaming themselves for their difficulties, saying "Lads especially need to be pushed into jobs more," and "I should have picked myself up in the morning, got out...tried more."

This is good because it means that not only are youths tired of the failures of Britain's nanny state--in itself not all that remarkable--but they are reacting in the opposite direction, wanting more freedom and responsibility instead of demanding more and better free stuff, as often happens in these cases.

Bottom line: Things are getting shaken up in Britain. This may be one of the few cases today where young people are making a genuine turn to the Right--not because of contingent events, but because they seem to have figured out that socialism, even the watered-down version, is ultimately unworkable, and that personal responsibility and unshackling the private sphere are better options over the long run. And that is certainly good news. So when you celebrate our independence and the things that make America great this week, remember for a moment the mother country, and those who seem to be finally getting the message.
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I desire you would Remember the Ladies...

While once again we celebrate the founding of our great nation, I just want to remind you that our Founding Fathers did not "found" this great nation alone.

We all have learned that our Founding Fathers were toiling away in Philadelphia in 1776, arguing, fighting, writing, drinking. playing violins, and all that. But did you ever stop to think what our "Founding Mothers" were doing? Let us take a moment to remember these brave and capable women who kept the farms and businesses running, the children clothed and fed, and, as you will read, were preparing for war while their men were in the throws of labor pains giving birth to a nation. As Abigail Adams wrote in 1776, I desire you would remember the Ladies.

Let me take you back to the Spring of 1776, and the now famous letter from Abigail Adams arrives by messenger from Braintree, Massachusetts to Philadelphia for her husband John Adams who is serving as a delegate to the Continental Congress. If you will, just imagine Mr. Adams sitting in a quiet firelit corner on that chilly March afternoon after a long session of fighting with the other delegates:


Braintree March 31, 1776

I wish you would ever write me a Letter half as long as I write you; and tell me if you may where your Fleet are gone? What sort of Defence Virginia can make against our common Enemy? Whether it is so situated as to make an able Defence? Are not the Gentery Lords and the common people vassals, are they not like the uncivilized Natives Brittain represents us to be? I hope their Riffel Men who have shewen themselves very savage and even Blood thirsty; are not a specimen of the Generality of the people.

I am willing to allow the Colony great merrit for having produced a Washington but they have been shamefully duped by a Dunmore.

I have sometimes been ready to think that the passion for Liberty cannot be Eaquelly Strong in the Breasts of those who have been accustomed to deprive their fellow Creatures of theirs. Of this I am certain that it is not founded upon that generous and christian principal of doing to others as we would that others should do unto us.

Do not you want to see Boston; I am fearfull of the small pox, or I should have been in before this time. I got Mr. Crane to go to our House and see what state it was in. I find it has been occupied by one of the Doctors of a Regiment, very dirty, but no other damage has been done to it. The few things which were left in it are all gone. Cranch [Crane?] has the key which he never deliverd up. I have wrote to him for it and am determined to get it cleand as soon as possible and shut it up. I look upon it a new acquisition of property, a property which one month ago I did not value at a single Shilling, and could with pleasure have seen it in flames.

The Town in General is left in a better state than we expected, more oweing to a percipitate flight than any Regard to the inhabitants, tho some individuals discoverd a sense of honour and justice and have left the rent of the Houses in which they were, for the owners and the furniture unhurt, or if damaged sufficent to make it good.

Others have committed abominable Ravages. The Mansion House of your President [John Hancock] is safe and the furniture unhurt whilst both the House and Furniture of the Solisiter General [Samuel Quincy] have fallen a prey to their own merciless party. Surely the very Fiends feel a Reverential awe for Virtue and patriotism, whilst they Detest the paricide and traitor.

I feel very differently at the approach of spring to what I did a month ago. We knew not then whether we could plant or sow with safety, whether when we had toild we could reap the fruits of our own industery, whether we could rest in our own Cottages, or whether we should not be driven from the sea coasts to seek shelter in the wilderness, but now we feel as if we might sit under our own vine and eat the good of the land.

I feel a gaieti de Coar to which before I was a stranger. I think the Sun looks brighter, the Birds sing more melodiously, and Nature puts on a more chearfull countanance. We feel a temporary peace, and the poor fugitives are returning to their deserted habitations.

Tho we felicitate ourselves, we sympathize with those who are trembling least the Lot of Boston should be theirs. But they cannot be in similar circumstances unless pusilanimity and cowardise should take possession of them. They have time and warning given them to see the Evil and shun it.-I long to hear that you have declared an independancy-and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend. Why then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the Lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity. Men of Sense in all Ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your Sex. Regard us then as Beings placed by providence under your protection and in immitation of the Supreem Being make use of that power only for our happiness.
April 5

Not having an opportunity of sending this I shall add a few lines more; tho not with a heart so gay. I have been attending the sick chamber of our Neighbour Trot whose affliction I most sensibly feel but cannot discribe, striped of two lovely children in one week. Gorge the Eldest died on wednesday and Billy the youngest on fryday, with the Canker fever, a terible disorder so much like the thr[o]at distemper, that it differs but little from it. Betsy Cranch has been very bad, but upon the recovery. Becky Peck they do not expect will live out the day. Many grown person[s] are now sick with it, in this [street?] 5. It rages much in other Towns. The Mumps too are very frequent. Isaac is now confined with it. Our own little flock are yet well. My Heart trembles with anxiety for them. God preserve them.

I want to hear much oftener from you than I do. March 8 was the last date of any that I have yet had. - You inquire of whether I am making Salt peter. I have not yet attempted it, but after Soap making believe I shall make the experiment. I find as much as I can do to manufacture cloathing for my family which would else be Naked. I know of but one person in this part of the Town who has made any, that is Mr. Tertias Bass as he is calld who has got very near an hundred weight which has been found to be very good. I have heard of some others in the other parishes. Mr. Reed of Weymouth has been applied to, to go to Andover to the mills which are now at work, and has gone. I have lately seen a small Manuscrip de[s]cribing the proportions for the various sorts of powder, fit for cannon, small arms and pistols. If it would be of any Service your way I will get it transcribed and send it to you. - Every one of your Friend[s] send their Regards, and all the little ones. Your Brothers youngest child lies bad with convulsion fitts. Adieu. I need not say how much I am Your ever faithfull Friend.
To all the men and women who helped found this great nation, I give my humblest thank you. And to the men and women of this country today, I admonish you to remember where we come from and to be ever vigilant because, in the words of Abigail Adams, "...[we being] Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute."


Though she lacked the formal education of her formidable husband John, Abigail Adams was no less a force to be reckoned with in the founding of the United States of America. And neither were the other of our "Founding Mothers". Enjoy your celebrations over this weekend!
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