Tuesday, March 31, 2015

New York - We're #1....Oops

Well, this was a surprise. No, not that swastika. That's from last week. But, this...of all the things that New York excels at - Culture, art, finance, #1 in taxes (39% above national average), #1 in job stagnation, and #1 in least happy people, I did not expect that New York would be #3 with most number of hate groups. Only California and Florida out-hate New York (by a wide margin I might add.) Well, at least we outrank New Jersey.

Southern Poverty Law Center "Hate Map"

Though I should have guess it was true. When I move to NYC 25 years ago, I was confronted with the overwhelming amount of bigotry that pervaded (and still pervades) the city. Shocking really for someone coming from below the Mason-Dixon line. I just chalked it up to so many different people from all over the world to hate bringing their old world charm and homespun blood feuds with them. Oh, yeah and then there's that swastika at my subway station...

Discuss...anything.
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Monday, March 30, 2015

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Liberals Exposing Themselves...

Liberals are fascinating creatures. Their instincts are all wrong. It's like their minds are wired backwards. Anyways, there have been a couple articles lately in which liberals have exposed the twisted reasoning that clouds their thinking. I thought I'd point some of this out.

Knee Jerk My Butt

By now you've heard about the crash of the Germanwings airline. The critical facts, for our purpose, are that the copilot locked the pilot out of the cockpit when the pilot left to use the bathroom and the pilot could not get back in. The pilot had a code which was supposed to let him back into the cockpit, but the copilot disabled it. And since the door was reinforced, the pilot was unable to break into the cockpit after that, even though he used an axe to try to break through the door. Those are the facts.

Enter the liberal.

The liberal in question is an aviation expert from Britain, named Philip Baum, who writes for Aviation Security International. His telling comment was this: "The ill-thought reinforced cockpit door has had catastrophic consequences." Apparently, in Philip's mind, creating a situation where pilots can keep terrorists out of the cockpit is an "ill-thought" idea, which he describes as "a knee-jerk reaction to the events of 9/11." Think about what this means. It means that Philip thinks it is safer to leave an unsecured door which terrorists can access than it is to trust the pilots to lock the door. Translation: he trusts terrorists more than he does pilots.

Sick.

Not surprisingly, everything else Philip says is wrong too. For example, contrary to what Philip asserts, the problem here wasn't that the cockpit door was reinforced. The problem was that there wasn't a way to prevent the copilot from locking out the pilot. And that actually has a simple solution: require at least two pilots to stay in the cockpit at all times... as US law but not EU law requires. Philip is wrong to call this a knee-jerk reaction too. This decision was made after a serious and lengthy debate involving everyone in the industry with many proposals offered and most rejected.

It should be shocking that Philip would trust terrorist more than pilots, but it really doesn't. Liberals routinely believe the public should just submit to the whims of the bad guys rather than risk "making things worse" by trying to stop them. Interestingly though, in anything other than dealing with criminals or terrorists, liberals advocate blind faith in experts.

Liberals Have Souls?

Right after the election in Israel, Politico published an article about the defeat of the Israeli left titled "Is Israel Losing Its Soul?" This title alone tells you the problem with liberals: they don't see elections as being a competition of ideas, they see elections as a choice between good and evil, with a victory by the opposition "disfiguring the future" and costing the country "its soul."

Interestingly, the same writer later in the article hypocritically attacks the voters for seeing the election in religious terms, calling Likud a "religious movement." So voting based on a religious preference is wrong, but voting for the opposition will destroy the country's soul.

Anyway, the real money quote is this: "Although, in their everyday lives Israelis are dynamic, creative, vibrant and optimistic, people who crave social justice and affordable housing and cheaper consumer goods—the good life—once in the voting booth they act from a deep sense of fear, of existential angst." In other words, Israels are happy leftists until they get to the voting booth. And what makes them vote the polar opposite of their real views? The right tricks them into fearing for their lives.

The first stupid assumption in this is that the public really is on their side. I've heard this for decades from leftists (and now the right-wing fringe) with any number of excuses given for why this never proves to be true. As football coaches say, the reality is that you are only as good as the score says you are... but liberals don't believe this. Secondly, notice that this statement completely sidesteps the question of why these people don't trust the left to protect them. Seriously, what this liberal is saying is that "the public shares our view, they're just afraid that we'll get them killed." Finally, it ignores the fact that there is an existential threat to Israel.

There was a similar comment in an article about gays voting for the far-right in France. In the article, a leftist who was horrified at the trend tried to explain it away by saying that gays have been made to fear "alleged intolerance" from Muslims. Isn't it interesting that direct threats, religious doctrine that calls for the murder of gays, random attacks, and gays being thrown off roofs is "alleged intolerance," but those same liberals love to claim that Christians who do none of that pose a genuine threat to gays?

It's Never Been So Bad!

Finally, in one of the many articles discussing Obama's Mideast failures, the AP interviewed Suzanne Maloney, a foreign policy talking head at the liberal Brookings Institution. She noted that "the mood here is that we really are at a crisis point that is unprecedented in recent memory." She then added the money quote: "This feels more intense and more complicated [than past moments of turmoil.]" In other words, Obama is facing worse problems than anyone else has faced.

Liberals love to exaggerate their challenges. To them, every challenge they face is new, unheard of and could not have been predicted... even though everyone else warned them. Of course, this is never true. And let me tell you that it's ridiculous to say that Obama is facing more complex problems than those faced by other presidents since Eisenhower. Obama's problems are no different than any of his predecessors, nor are they more complex. The problem is that his preferred solutions don't work. In fact, that is what "complex" really means to a liberal: that their solutions don't seem to be working.

By the way, in another telling quote, a State Department official said: "The truth is, you can dwell on Yemen, or you can recognize that we’re one agreement away from a game-changing, legacy-setting nuclear accord on Iran that tackles what every one agrees is the biggest threat to the region." This is a telling quote too. It shows the liberal mindset that they deserve to be considered a success, so long as even part of what they are doing succeeds. This is a very common argument position among liberals even though it's ridiculous. It's like arguing that your A in math justifies ignoring the four F's you got in your other classes.

Anyways, I thought you might find these quotes interesting. They highlight the bizarre and stupid assumptions behind the moronic ideas liberals spout.
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Friday, March 27, 2015

Kit's Thoughts: Foreign Affairs and Some Books

by Kit

I didn't have anything planned today (schoolwork) so instead I am going to do another foreign affairs round-up. Call it "An Occasional Look at the Mess Obama Has Gotten America Into Around the World with Some Stuff on Books."

The title needs work. So, let's start with…


Yemen

As you might be aware Yemen has undergone quite a lot in recent months. The Iranian-backed Houthis shot their way into the capital city and seized the parliament building, declaring a new government. The US withdrew its personnel from the area. The situation has deteriorated to the point where a UN official declared Yemen to be "on the edge of civil war."

Such a statement is, of course, false. Saying a country is "on the edge of civil war" implies it is not already in a civil war. It is like saying after the Battle of Bull Run that the United States was "on the edge of civil war." The civil war has already begun.

And it is becoming a proxy war between the Saudi-backed Sunni fighters and the Iran-backed Shiite Houthis as Saudi Arabia is now not only launching air strikes at Houthi targets inside Yemen, but massing troops at its border. The US, under Obama's leadership (presumably), is right now backing the Saudis. Of course, this means we are probably backing by proxy a group quacks with a philosophy close to ISIS but the alternative is a group of quacks bound to Iran, so it's a bit of a lose-lose right now unless we could set up a functioning, secular(-ish) government. But a Saudi-backed government in Yemen is preferable to an Iranian-backed government in Yemen.

Now Yemen is no stranger to proxy wars. During the 1960s it was home to a proxy war between the Saudi-backed Royalists and the Republicans backed-up by Nasser's Egypt, who sent troops to the country in what historian Michael B. Oren called, "an entanglement so futile and fierce that the imminent Vietnam War could have easily been dubbed America's Yemen." Guerrilla warfare and all the hallmarks of nasty, third-world fighting; chemical warfare, villages wiped out, brutal torture of prisoners, etcetera.

Now, to my knowledge neither the Saudis nor the Houthis have used chemical weapons —yet. Neither party may want the bad press. Houthis gassing Sunnis may create some bad press for Iran as well as some uncomfortable questions as to how they attained those chemical weapons, which would make a US-Iran deal harder for Obama. Of course, seeing as how things worked out for Assad when he crossed Obama's red line by launching a chemical attack they might decide, "Hey, why not?" The Saudis gassing Shiites would definitely throw a wrench into the US-Saudi relationship but given how unpredictable Obama has been in the realm of foreign affairs they too might decide, "Hey, why not?"

Oh, I should mention that this country, which is the Lebanon of the Arab peninsula, was previously called a "model" of Obama's counter-terrorism policy by the White House. A bit embarrassing.

Iraq

US launched airstrikes on Tikrit to support an Iraqi offensive. Things took an interesting turn of events when the Shiite militias backed off with the US claiming we asked them to hold off during the air strikes but some of the militia fighters claimed they held off to protest US involvement, with one militia spokesman* saying, "We are able to conclude the battle ourselves but the US came to usurp our victory." I got nothing.

*Spokesman? Do these Iraqi militias have PR departments, now?

Ukraine

Still a mess. But things took a turn for the bizarre (and comical) when the Speaker of the Chechen Parliament attempted a pathetic version of the Zimmerman Telegram vowed to send arms to Mexico if the US sent weapons to Ukraine in order to help Mexico regain the lands it lost in the Mexican-American War.

You read that right. And the story appears on Newsweek, Radio Free Europe, and Moscow Times so I think this story is legit. And pathetic.

By the way, we should be sending arms to Ukraine. Or something more than night vision goggles.

In Sum

Now, not all of this is necessarily Obama's fault. Yemen would be a basket case even without Obama, it has been that way for decades. But between his "reset" with Russia and his refusal to do anything when Assad drove a steam-roller over the red line and everything else it is safe to say that if Obama were following different policies towards Russia, the Middle East, and everywhere else half the stuff I described would be nowhere near as bad as it is.

And the thing about foreign policy is that mistakes cost lives, often in the thousands. The conflicts in Iraq and Ukraine have each cost several thousand human lives, many of them civilian. And they will continue to cost lives throughout the decade, maybe beyond. Such is the cost of incompetence.

Books

How about something cheerier?

Read Max Boot's most recent book, Invisible Armies, an excellent history of terrorism and guerrilla warfare going back to the days of Persia and Rome. He points out that (1) Guerrilla, or irregular, warfare is not "asian" and terrorism is not modern but is instead the "warfare of the weak" practiced by those unable to field conventional armies be they indigenous nomads, mid-20th century nationalists in Vietnam, or bomb-throwing anarchists during the fin de siècle and (2) they are not impossible to defeat. Some succeed like the Viet Cong in the 1960s-70s and the Ku Klux Klan in the 1870s but most fail. They are doing slightly better in the modern day but still have trouble. Some, like FARC, have spent decades fighting for their goal but are no closer to it than the day they launched their war.

I am now reading The Conservatarian Manifesto by Charles C.W. Cooke, a British-American writer at National Review. The book was written with a certain group of people in mind, people whom he said "feel like libertarians when they are with conservatives and conservatives when with libertarians," some of whom have begun calling themselves "conservatarians." An obvious portmanteau of "conservative" and "libertarian." So far it is a pretty good book but I am only on chapter 3, about federalism, so I have quite a ways to go. I will tell you about it when I finish.

Two other books I have read recently:

(1) Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas by Jonah Goldberg: This one is very much like his Liberal Fascism but, whereas Liberal Fascism was an (entirely successful) attempt to point out the ties between fascism and modern progressivism, Tyranny of Clichés is a history of liberal evasions and word games such as "only being interested in what works," "violence never solves anything," and others, including stuff about the Catholic Church and "Social Justice".

(2) Seven Deadly Virtues: 18 Conservative Writers on Why the Virtuous Life is Funny as Hell edited by Jonathan V. Last: This one is more in line with the traditionalist strain of conservative writing rather than the Classical Liberal strain so the result is sometimes pessimistic but most of the time the writers are so good at laying out the case for classical, old time virtues and values such as 7 Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Courage, Temperance, Hope, Charity, and Faith as well as some other small but still important virtues such as Chastity, Forbearance, and Perseverance. Writers include Jonah Goldberg, Rob Long, P.J. O'Rourke, and, writing the last essay, on Perseverance, Christopher Buckley, who shows he has at least a modicum of his old man's talent with the pen. I highly suggest it, if only for that essay.

So, there it is. Discuss this or whatever you wish. The events around the world I've described, the ever-hastening decline of Pax Americana, or some book you've recently read. This is a sort-of open thread.

Discuss Away!
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

At The Film Site: Ikiru (1952)

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Finally We Can Put This Controversy To Rest!

Of all the great controversies that have confounded humankind for generations, nothing could be more perplexing and wrought with strife than this one. How many wars have been started and how many families have been broken apart over this all-important issue? This is serious business. Come on, you know that you have had this argument at least once in your life. Admit it. What is this all important issue? Without further adieu...Drumroooooooollll, please....

Which way the toilet paper should roll out of the toilet roll - over or under?


Well, now this issue can finally be put to rest. After years of fighting and gnashing and rolls of two-ply Charmin flying across the bathroom, some wise person finally thought to just look up the patent.

Now THIS is truly a settled science. Let's us never speak of this again...

But if you want to speak of other issues, be my guest.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cruz'n For a Bruiz'n

Ted Cruz has announced that he intends to seek the GOP nomination for President. Forget it. He’s finished. Here are my thoughts...

What Does He Really Want?: It’s obvious to anyone who is the least bit impartial that Cruz cannot win the nomination or the general election. So why is he running? What does Cruz want?

In most instances, the answer to why a fringer runs for President is simple: they want attention. Some, like Tom Tancredo or “B-1” Bob Dornan, want their one issue discussed. Others, like Ralph Reed, are looking for name recognition, which they can then parlay into a fundraising empire which will make them rich. Others, like Fred Thompson run because their wives push them. So which is Cruz?

Well, as odd as this sounds, I think Cruz actually sees himself as President. I have no proof to back this up, but here is what I’ve seen. Cruz has run a classic presidential campaign since arriving in Washington:
● First, he has the classic insider background – Harvard grad, worked in Washington, worked on campaigns.

● Secondly, like Obama and others before him, he has scrupulously avoided creating a legislative agenda which can be used against him. If he were truly the partisan he claims, he would be lobbing legislative bombs like Ron Paul or Bernie Sanders.

● Third, he has followed the classic strategy of shoring up his flank first by pandering to the far-right fruitcakes who decide elections in the South. But even more importantly...

● Fourth, Cruz has played his followers for fools by very carefully caveating every... single... thing... he’s... said... over the past two years. Remember when he opposed immigration reform? Actually, he didn’t. He opposed the particular bill, but made it clear he supported reform. Ditto on every other issue. In doing this, he thinks he’s left himself room to now move to the center with the media being unable to prove that he has changed positions. This is a standard tactic.
What this tells me is that Cruz has been cynically building a record (and avoiding a record) so he can shape his own campaign as needed, while simultaneously shoring up the mouth breathers long before he has to pander to the center. This is not the strategy of a partisan, it is the strategy of a chameleon who genuinely thinks he can make it all the way to the White House. Essentially, he is the mirror image of Obama in a ten gallon hat. But he has problems...

Cruz Has Miscalculated The “Base”: Despite Cruz apparently following the classic modern campaign plan for winning the election, Cruz has several problems. His first, is that he has miscalculated when it comes to “the base.”

Cruz’s strategy involves winning the self-described base before the primaries begin so he is free to run as a moderate on the national stage. This is something the Democrats excel at. What Cruz doesn’t understand, however, is how mentally ill the far right has become. What he doesn’t get is that they have become so obsessed with purity that they need constant reinforcement that their leader is just as obsessed as they are. That means that the minute he stops spewing the same nonsense they spew, they will begin to suspect something is wrong with him. And the moment he tries to sell himself as a moderate, they will turn on him as a betrayer. Cruz thinks they will accept a wink and nod and stay quiet as he tricks the public at large, but that is not who these people are. They want their leader to unapologetically foam at the mouth.

Cruz Has Also Miscalculated The Public: Despite Cruz caveating everything, which he thinks will give him the ability to sell himself as a moderate, Cruz seems to have misunderstood his own reputation with the public. Cruz’s battles with the GOP, which the public already views as too extreme, have painted him as an extremist among extremists. And once the public has an image of you, it is virtually impossible to change that image.

This is true of GOP primary voters too. For a couple years now, polls have shown that only 40% of GOP voters have held a positive view of Cruz, even as other candidates have scored well into the 60% range. He can’t really undo that. That means he can't win the public to win the general election and he can't win enough primary voters to win the primaries... even assuming the base doesn't turn on him.

Worsening his problem, his supporters are clustered in the evangelical states. Apart from the South and Iowa, Cruz is likely to find that he has negligible support. That means that all Bush needs to do is hang on for the Northeast and the West Coast and he will crush Cruz with insurmountable numbers.

Cruz Faces Money Problems: Finally, Cruz has so turned off the GOP money men that he will never get the funding he needs to organize and run a genuine campaign. This will hurt him after the first couple primaries.

As I see it, I actually do think Cruz thinks he can win this. He thinks he owns “the base” at this point and that he can now tack left to win the public. He will run as an outsider with Washington experience, but common sense. And he thinks this will let him hold the base while winning over enough moderates to cruise (pun intended) to the White House. I think he’s wrong on all counts though.

Am I right? Thoughts?

BTW, the media has written their first article calling O’Malley “the new JFK.” Put a fork in Hillary, she’s done.
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Anti-Semitism Again...

I was on the #5 subway line as it pulled into the Fulton Street Station in lower Manhattan (one stop north of the Wall Street Station and one block east of Ground Zero...) when I saw this carved into the pillar on the opposite side of the tracks.


Needless to say, I was shocked to see it and saddened too. I remember when I was in my early 20's being so frustrated that Jews continued to hold on to their fears of anti-semitism. I proclaimed that their fears were surely imaginary. The world had learned the lessons from the Holocaust and obviously anti-semitism had finally been eradicated from the world. Why couldn't they see that?

I must admit that it embarrasses me to think I thought these thoughts and that I was so naive. And more horrifying to me, I said these things to people who bore witnessed to the Holocaust first-hand.

Now, one swastika on one pillar in a NYC subway should not be a sign, but hate-filled graffitti is cropping up all over NYC these days. Weekly, there is some report of swastikas being painted on synagogues and attacks on orthodox Jews are becoming a regular event. Add to that a dramatic rise in attacks on Jews in Europe like in Paris earlier this year. Just this weekend, a drunken mob launched an attack on a synogogue in the UK and in Hungary, a Jewish cemetary was desecrated. The skeletons pulled from graves and tossed over toppled headstones. It has gotten so unsettling that many Jews in France are having serious discussions on whether to just leave.

Then there's the UN Human Rights Council:


Yes, Israel has been condemned by the UN Human Rights Council more than any other group. Once Israel's most reliable ally, our present administration grows increasely belligerent towards Israel and is openly hostile towards Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama is angry (and probably embarrassed) that Bibi won so easily last week. He wasn't supposed to. Obama sent his campaign experts to Israel to help the opposition party. But it did not help.

Well, anyway, as I should have suspected, the State of Israel and Jews are once and will always be considered the cause of all the ills in the world simply because they refuse to not exist...
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Monday, March 23, 2015

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Step Back From That Ledge My Friend!

You may have noticed the other day that our good friend Kit was feeling a wee bit depressed. It's hard to blame him. We live in an appallingly cynical age. But you know what? There is hope.

Each of you knows the problem:
● Politics has become a game played by the fringes, but mastered by the Robber Barons. Conservatism seems long dead... as does liberalism, actually. The right killed Ronald Reagan’s conservatism and replaced it with Pat Buchanan’s paranoid xenophobia. The left has devolved into a collection of single-issue hate-groups. And the only business Washington achieves is what big business wants.

● Our businesses lie to our faces and then issue laughable non-apologies as they rob and abuse us. Our rich now feed off the life blood of the economy rather than build the economy, and they twist the laws to stifle competition.

● Our religions have become politicized and distorted. The Religious Right has turned Jesus into a hating machine. The left has made him immoral. At Mega Churches, he apparently wants you to drive an SUV. And Islam? WTF Islam! Good luck when any of you people die.

● Our intellectuals are hacks. They have abandoned thought and creativity and now mistake the semantic game of deconstruction for knowledge, insight and wisdom.

● Hollywood is turning out cynical, marketing-generated crap, which they dumb down to the lowest common denominator. The record industry keeps turning out the same song over and over and over, and they are selling white trash and ghetto culture. Hey baby, you’re not a ho just because you dance on a pole. Uh, yes you are.

● People seem angrier, stupider, and vastly more paranoid than ever before, and rage and personal destruction are the order of the day online.
This all sounds bad, but there is hope. In fact, I would even argue that the above is misleading. Consider this.

Our political system may be at a low right now, but it can change overnight. JFK renewed the spirit of the American people, who needed a spark after struggling with massive, unsettled race and ethnic issues. If not for LBJ, he might have transformed American much more successfully into a colorblind society with its eyes on the future. Ronald Reagan brought hope to a country that was stuck in malaise after two decades of the Great Society and the defeat in Vietnam. Overnight, the country renewed itself as the shining city on the hill and we re-took our natural place as the leader of the free world. This lasted until the GOP became obsessed with other people’s bedrooms and W. Bush redefined crony socialism and foreign policy incompetence as conservatism. Obama 2008 gave the country hope that we could end our racial problems and move beyond both the Second Gilded Age and the paranoid war footing 9/11 had put us on. That lasted until Obama 2009 proved to be Bush with a nasty, cynical attitude.

The point is this: the country renews itself all the time. And all it takes is the right person to inspire the country to leapfrog to a new approach. The right Republican can throw away the hate, the paranoia and the xenophobia and replace it with the conservatism of Ronald Reagan. The right Democrat could replace their tribalism with the kind of liberalism that attracted Reagan before the Democratic Party left him. Are such people waiting in the wings? It’s hard to tell, but look how quickly Obama rose from nobody to potential political messiah.

On the religious front, consider the new Pope. This is a man who seems determined to drive the politics and the money and the cynicism from the Catholic religion, but is doing so without taking an “anything goes” approach. Catholicism may not be the dominant religion in the US, but it is highly influential and I expect this to spread.

In terms of business, I’ve pointed out many things before to keep in mind. The technological progress being made in fields like electronics, safety and medicine are astounding... and they’re being done well outside the regulated industries, i.e. away from cronyism’s twisted reach. Most jobs are being created by small businesses, so big business is increasingly less important. Labor costs in places like China have risen so much that America is seeing a rebirth in its manufacturing sector. And forget this garbage about China having a bigger economy – that’s a claim made using a false formula that gives China credit for unrealistic things. In reality, China’s economy is 75% of ours and they will never catch us.

Movies are crap, yes. But television has entered a new golden age. In fact, television right now is better than anything movies or television ever created.

As for the paranoia, conspiracy theories and rage, think about this. Yes, talk radio is full of assholes who spew hate; not only political talk radio, but sports talk radio too. And the internet is full of the worst kinds of trolls who demonstrate just how sick and stupic human beings can be. But they cluster, which only makes them seem like they exist in larger numbers than they do. The reality is that their numbers are tiny compared to the rest of us. Rush, for example, has at times suggested he has 20 million listeners, but radio metrics show it is closer to 1.6 million... out of 310 million Americans.

Moreover, there has been a real change lately. Indeed, there have been several high profile instance lately where internet trolls have done their thing only to have an army of good people counter them. For example, there was a fat guy who got caught on film dancing and it went viral. All the trolls mocked him, only for a group of celebrities to invite him to a party to fight back against the trolls. Another guy took a half-court shot at a Duke basketball game and missed badly. Again, the trolls mocked him online. It turns out he has a rare disease that almost killed him and it wiped out his muscles. Thousands of people saw the mocking and sent him their support. There was a kid who had a birthday party, but no one came. This went viral and hundreds of people turned out. Every day, stories like this appear now which show that despite the sick f**ks who spend their time tearing everything down to make their pathetic lives feel better, there are huge numbers of people out there who don’t just let it pass anymore and they actively offer their support to the victims of these trolls. The point is, there are a vast number of great, caring people out there and they aren't silent anymore. And never forget the tens of thousands of people who participate in things like the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Think too of the stories of the people who volunteer time and money to people they see who need help. Americans give around $350 BILLION to charity each year, with 75% of that coming from individuals, numbers which have risen year after year in real terms.

America may seem in decline, but it’s not. What is happening is that a tiny, tiny minority of people are presenting a distorted view of America. It’s like crime. Crime statistics show that we are in one of the lowest crime periods ever, yet people freak out because their nightly news is screaming about every crime they can find and people like Drudge are inventing nationwide crime epidemics like the “knock-downs.” It’s the same thing in other areas. When you look behind the numbers, you will see that Americans are a much different people than they are presented. We are kinder, more productive, more happy, and more neighborly. America is strong, and its flaws can be fixed.

Hang in there, folks!

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At the Film Site: The Greatest Director You Never Heard Of: Akira Kurosawa

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Kit's Thoughts: Depressing Thoughts

by Kit

The following, as the title indicates, is going to be depressing. It is also a bit of a rambling collection of thoughts rather than a coherent thought. It is really a collection of desultory thoughts I've had looking at the current political and cultural landscape. 

The idea of America is dead, or is dying. It has been replaced with identity politics, which is antithetical to America.

Neither side really seems to believe in America anymore.

And the Right has happily gone along with it, replacing Reagan-esque American idealism with the culture war identity politics of Pat Buchanan.

The Right's adoration of the Greats and now subtle embrace of the Boomers while sneering at X-ers and Millennials is just another form of identity politics. Adding to this, they have embraced white identity politics, as well. Pandering to racist union workers in Pennsylvania.

This has also caused conservatives to abandon making a case for immigration, embracing instead the idea espoused in the title of Mark Krikorian's book (emphasis mine), The Case Against Immigration: Legal and Illegal. Quixotically, they still wonder why they can no longer win among Cubans and Koreans.

Also, in 2016 they will go down in flames because this spring the Supreme Court will issue a ruling legalizing Gay Marriage throughout the land causing the Republican Party to face pressure from the Religious Right demanding they treat this as an "illegal and unconstitutional ruling" (to quote one writer). In fact, they already are.

Knowing the GOP, especially Boehner, they will fold like a cheap suit. And in 2016 they will have in their platform a proposal for a federal marriage amendment and will run hard on it as their main platform. And lose.

They know better than to write up an actual platform of policies (a.k.a., goals), which would likely involve compromises to reality. Which would offend the talk-radio crowd.

Our culture? It is saturated with cynicism and self-loathing. We no longer look for the mysterious joys and simple pleasures. Instead, our culture teaches people to aspire to be the most degraded among us. Rap and country teaches Americans (in the South, at least) to emulate the ghetto and white trash cultures.

In short, America died the moment Larry the Cable Guy replaced Norman Rockwell as the artistic representation of Middle America, "America" became "'Merikuh!", and a patriotic American citizen ceased to be a good husband, father, and citizen and instead became a fat guy with a beer gut and shotgun. Patriotism is a joke even among those who call themselves patriotic.

Can it be saved? Some days I'm not so sure. Like a heroin addict in his final days day America seems to prefer, nay, relish injecting more poison into its last remaining veins.

** I've more or less snapped out of the funk due to some help from the excellent movie The Kingsman. It is surprising what a bizarre blend of British 1960s spy-fi and Tarantino-style action can do.
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At The Film Site: Real Genius (1985)

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"No Shirts, No Shoes, No Service" Issues

I have a simple question to discuss. Do you think that private business owners have the right to deny service to someone that they "conscientiously object" to giving service to?

Yes, I know the history of denying Black citizens the right to eat at a lunch counter was a flashpoint in the civil right movement. But should a private business owner like a bakery or a florist be compelled by law to provide their service to a same-sex marriage when it does not comport their personal religious belief?

I have had a day-long discussion on the Dailybeast.com with several people on this subject and, maybe I am just a bit too libertarian on this subject, but I truly believe that small private business owners should have some rights to refuse service to anyone for whatever reason that they deem objectionable. Do I think that it makes for "good business" practice...absolutely not. But do I think that they should have the right to do it? Absolutely, yes, I do. Private business owners should have the right to decide. I call it the "No shirts, No shoes, No service" rule. Maybe I am wrong, but what do you think.

Let's discuss.

Disclaimer: No people of Irish descent were harmed in the making of this post...
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Starbucks Wants To Talk About What?

Starbucks apparently has a new policy. They want their baristas to discuss race relations with their customers. Hmm. This will not end well.

Oh, where to begin.

(1) Their baristas aren’t smart enough to discuss politics. And how exactly are they supposed to start these discussions?
Bubbly Barista Attempt No. 1: Hey, you’re dark like this coffee!
Rare Black Customer: What the f*ck?

Bubbly Barista Attempt No. 2: Why can’t people of different races get along?
Redneck Customer: Yep. We should ship all them coloreds back where they came from.
Bubbly Barista: I know, right?

Customer: Wasn’t Selma great?
Barista Attempt No. 3: Selma Blair?

Barista Attempt No. 4: Wanna talk about race relations?
Customer: No! I want you to get my f***ing order right! I said SKINNY MACHIATTO!
(2) What does Starbucks know about race relations? They’ve never had a black customer and they don’t hire Mexicans. All their customers, well 95.7%, are white suburban mothers in mini-SUVs and yoga pants. (The other 4.3% are angry white males in bike shorts who glare at their electronic gadgets as they spend the day using the free wifi.)

(3) The average interaction time with a barista is about 20 seconds. So these “discussions” will more likely turn into trivia sessions. How useful will this be:
“Black people make up 14% of the population.”
Ok.

“Black unemployment is 24%.”
Hmm.

“Mexicans come from Mexico.”
Really? Do tell.

“Asian are the new illegal immigrants.”
What?
Or is it going to be touchy-feely?
Bubbly Barista Attempt No. 1: I like black people.
Rare Black Customer: Are you hitting on me?

Bubbly Barista Attempt No. 2: Black people make great athletes.
Customer: (jaw drops)
Seriously, this is not a good idea. In fact, I can’t wait for the lawsuits as hypersensitive race baiters start visiting Starbucks waiting for the inevitable slip up. Even better, I can’t wait for the comedians to take advantage of this and go lead various unsuspecting baristas into making suicidaly stupid pronouncements about race, which they will then post on Youtube. You know it’s going to happen and it’s going to be hilarious.

Look, it’s one thing for people with an interest and some knowledge of a topic to engage in a discussion. But it’s quite another to ask thousands of low-wage morons to start randomly opining to customers about controversial issues.

Starbucks seems to think this isn’t a problem because they encouraged their baristas to talk about gay marriage and no one freaked out about that. But here’s the thing: that was an easy debate because the groupthink position was not only widely known, but so were all the acceptable responses to stay safely on the PC reservation. Said differently, even the worst morons amongst us knew what to say to stay out of trouble because the media and celebrities drilled it into them.

This is really different. There is no set of approved talking points about blacks and race relations because race relations are a broad range of issues, not a single issue that can be distilled to one view point, and the race baiters are super touchy and will freak out pretty much randomly – that’s how words like “picnic” and “black hole” can suddenly be called racist. Moreover, the race baiters often find offense in statements that are true. Hence, it takes an experience expert to avoid the landmines this topic encompasses.

Good luck.

It might be time to sell their stock.
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St. Patrick's Day Celebration

I know we have lately had some issues with "the Irish", but it's St. Patrick's Day, y'all! Can't we make nice?

Just to get things started, did you know that St. Patrick wasn't even Irish? Yeah, he was actually British, then part of the Roman Empire. March 17 is actually the date St. Patrick died in 461 A.D. Oh, heck, here is everything you'd ever want to know from the History Channel...Bet You Didn't Know - St. Patrick's Day

So, to celebrate the death day of the Patron Saint of Ireland who wasn't even Irish, put on something green, go out to a local Irish pub, and raise a glass or three to the fact that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland...well, except that there have never been any snakes in Ireland. Something to do with global warming, I think. And that he would use the shamrock to teach about the Trinity except that the shamrock doesn't really exist...[Oh, just watch the videos]

If all of this is just a bit too confusing, please feel free to change the subject.
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Monday, March 16, 2015

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Up Yours Annie Lennox

Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics once sang a song called "The King and Queen of America". I like the music a lot, but I hate the lyrics. They are insulting. They are also either blatantly false or retardedly stupid... I'm not sure which. Anyways, I thought I would take some time today to extend the finger to the Irish tramp and to point out the lie behind her song.

As I noted, the song I want to talk about is called "The King and Queen of America." This was written as an attack on Ronald Reagan, but let me start with the stupidity in the title itself. We ain't got no king or queen you Irish hag. Americans, unlike Irish trash, don't naturally view people as superior because the accident of their birth. We believe in achievement. We also believe that the public should have input into who represents us. That's why we have Representatives and why the President is elected... not born. Not sure if you know that, but I thought I'd point it out. Perhaps you can look it up, if you're ever not drunk... or fingering a Leprechaun.

Anyway, the offending lyric reads thusly:

The king and queen of America,
Yea it's the king of nothing
And the queen of rage
With a pile of confusion
Upon a glittering stage.

You know we never did anything
To make ourselves feel proud

You know we never did anything
So let's play it loud.

Really? You actually think Americans "did nothing to make ourselves proud"? Well, let me run a few of our achievements by you and see if you think the world would have been better off without us doing said things:

● We won WWII and stopped Nazism, saving the Jews and millions of Europeans.
● We rebuilt Europe when it was rubble.
● We won the Cold War and stopped Russia.
● Invented the telephone, the airplane, the internet, GPS, the light bulb, the skyscraper, the personal computer, the cell phone, etc.
● Discovered the Polio vaccine.
● Only country to land on the moon.
● Invented the artificial hip, the heart/lung machine, the artificial heart, defibrillator, MRI machines.
● Invented football, baseball, basketball.
● Hollywood.
● Rock and Roll, blues, jazz, country.
● Dominates list of world's best colleges - 8 of top 10, 43 of top 100.
● Olympic Medals 2681 (Ireland 28).
● American farmers feed to the world (Irish, see Potato Famine).
● Invented the airbag, the child safety seat.
● Invented the pill, the communications satellite, the laser, virtual reality.

And so on. In fact, if I was going to list all the world changing inventions, discoveries, or historical actions we took, this post would be several hundred pages long. We are the reason famine and most diseases are a thing of the past. We are the reason people live longer and healthier than ever. We are the reason poverty is vanishing around the globe. We are the people who entertain the world. We educate the world. Our scientific research drives the world's science. Our foreign policy and military have protected the freedoms of billions of people. Without us, the world would be a dark, nasty, dangerous place.

Now, just for fun, let's list Ireland's greatest hits, seeing as how Annie is Irish:

● Waged terror war against British civilians.
● Flirted with Nazis.
● Invented the tattoo machine.
● Invented the Kelvin scale.

So who exactly has never done anything to make themselves feel proud?
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Friday, March 13, 2015

Kit's Thoughts: Why Jeb Bush is Not Wooing the "Base"

by Kit

Conservative writers John Nolte and Jonah Goldberg recently bemoaned, rather understandably, on twitter that while Mitt Romney at least tried to appeal to the conservative “base” Jeb Bush seems to show little to no desire to do so.

The better question would be, “Why would Jeb Bush want to appeal to the base?”

Like with Romney in the 2012 primaries, the base has already decided they hated him. Throughout the spring they attacked Governor Romney with an almost unparalleled sanguinolent fury. Anyone who lacked their required level of hatred for Romney was attacked for being an establishment, Rockefeller-Republican RINO already in the tank (and maybe on the dole!) for Romney. One example was Jonah Goldberg, who, though critic of Romney, failed to blast the candidate in every column as the death of conservatism and the Republican Party and was therefore branded as a RINO squish. An idiotic accusation considering this was the man who wrote Liberal Fascism and had attacked Bush’s spending binges… in 2003.

They only calmed down (somewhat) in the summer when Santorum and Gingrich dropped out, making Romney the definite nominee. They weren’t going to support Ron Paul even if hell froze over. So they (begrudgingly) gave their (reluctant) backing to Romney as he turned his sights towards Obama, though he still had to deal with attacks from the Ron Paul-wing of the GOP and the base still snipping at his heels, making sure he stayed within the dogma of the Talk-Radio Orthodoxy. The Party put out a platform bending over backwards to appeal to the Religious Right. For example, it called for a legal crackdowns on pornography (not child, adult). All while some, especially in the Religious Right, defended brain-dead quacks like Todd Akin.

And when he lost? Despite Romney’s gyrations and prostrations they attacked him for abandoning conservatism and failing to stick to conservative principles and running as a moderate. Romney was never pure enough for them and nothing he did would appease them, short of handing the nomination over to someone like Rick Santorum. They only warmed to him when he was seen as the anti-Jeb bush.

So, with this in mind, why would Jeb Bush want to appeal to a group of people who, as he well knows, already hate his guts, will never be satisfied by any level of contrition on his part, and might even undermine his general election campaign?

Heck, as Rick Perry learned, being a “conservative” candidate is no protection as they might still tear into your background looking for some spit of evidence that you are secretly a RINO squish. They were starting to do this to Scott Walker until the left started ragging him about his lack of a Bachelor’s Degree.

So, in their zeal to ensure that only the most pure of purest candidates is elected we have an election season where the most likely candidate knows that in order to win he must aim for the center and hope the crushing weight of inevitability and his army of donors carries him across the finish line. After all of the talk radio set’s inquisitorial vetting of any candidate they may now have created first candidate to run in the Rockefeller Republican mold in 40 years.

Congratulations.
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Thursday, March 12, 2015

At The Film Site: The Signal (2014)

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Open Thread Day!

I am travelling today, so I didn't have time to prepare anything. But all is not lost! We can have an Open Thread Day! Feel free to tell us your best joke, post your favorite poem, or maybe expound on why 47 Republicans sent an open letter to Iran. Whatever floats your boat.

If nothing else, we could talk weather or speculate on what that mysterious greenish fireball could have been that was swooshing through Colorado yesterday !
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Millennials Are Racists (Conservatives)

I’ve spoken a couple times about Millennials and how they really aren’t what people think. People, particularly ideologues, view Millennials as in-the-tank leftists ready to do the bidding of Obama. Indeed, the left pushes this meme in the hopes of creating an inevitability and the right falls for it because... well, they’re stupid. The evidence, however, points to something completely different. Now we have more proof on the issue of race. Observe.

First, some background...

I’ve pointed out repeatedly that the public at large is no longer interested in race.

With 80+% of the public ignoring issues like the Washington Redskin’s name, all but a few thousand people ignoring race-baiting rallies like those in Ferguson, and with only around 20% of Americans thinking that whites and Hispanics are racist, it is safe to say that the public no longer cares about race issues. Indeed, this has become an issue relegated to the fringes.

That is a major win for actual conservatism, as compared to paranoid, race-obsessed “genuine” conservatism or the identity-politics-obsessed left. Indeed, while the left needs everyone to see themselves through their race and hate and fear people of other races and genuine conservatism needs to believe that the darkies are conspiring to destroy white, Christian America, actual conservatism wants a color-blind society. In other words, actual conservatism wants a society in which race isn’t an issue. The public ignoring race is exactly what actual conservatism is about.

So how do Millennials fit into this? Well...

Politico just put out an interesting article in which they try to warn the left that Millennials are not as tolerant as the left wants to believe. This is interesting on several levels. First, it confirms something else I’ve pointed out, which is that while the left has claimed kinship with Millennials, Millennials are showing much more conservatism than the left imagined... so much, in fact, that they are likely to become a conservative-dominant generation.

The reason no one has noticed this until recently is that the left plays the game of “if you keep saying it, it will one day be true,” and the right falls for this. Strengthening this idea, Millennials are very tolerant of gay marriage, which has caused the genuine conservatives to treat them as the enemy. The end result is that everyone has wrongly assumed that Millennials are all leftists, even as the evidence is mounting that they are conservative fiscally and on most social issues, with the exception of gay marriage and drug legalization. (As an aside, they are actually more conservative on many issues like divorce.)

Now we add the issue of race to the puzzle.

This Politico article noted, to the author’s horror, that while it is widely believed that Millennials are “tolerant” of racial issues, the rotten truth is that “the data suggests that millennials aren’t racially tolerant, they’re racially apathetic: They simply ignore structural racism rather than try to fix it.” Oh no!!

What does this mean? It means that Millennials don’t buy into the idea of identity politics. Instead, they simply choose to ignore the issue of race and claims of racism. That means they have adopted the actual conservative position on race!

Victory for us!!

How strong is our victory, you ask? It’s overwhelming actually:
● Only 39% of Millennials believe that “white people have more opportunities today than racial minority groups.” In other words, only 39% believe racial discrimination exists in our economy.

● 70% of Millennials oppose affirmative action or other legislative help for minorities: “it is never fair to give preferential treatment to one race over another, regardless of historical inequalities.”

● 62% of Millennials agreed that Obama’s election “demonstrates that racial minority groups have the same opportunities as white people.”

● 58% of Millennials believe that discrimination affects whites as much as minorities. This is an heretical position on the left.
That means that approximately 60% of Millennials are taking the conservative position on race relations by denying and/or ignoring the issue. And with around 80% of the public denying that the public is racist at all, this is one heck of a conservative victory. It is also an opportunity to point out again to conservatives and Millennials that they believe the same things.

Thoughts?
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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

These Crazy Kids Today...

Something you may have missed with all the Netanyahu speechifiying and CheBillary private email "controversies" rolling around. George Bush and the Koch Brothers must have had a really busy blame week!

At the same time all this was going on, a committee of the Student Council of the University of California-Irvine, a public university paid for by the taxpayers of California passed a resolution to ban national flags including the US American flag "from the lobby and offices of student government."

Written by social ecology student Matthew Guevara, the resolution stated:
Whereas flags are typically viewed as patriotic symbols of a single nation, are often associated with government and military due to their history and have a wide variety of interpretations. ...

Whereas flags construct paradigms of conformity and sets homogenized standards for others to obtain which in this country typically are idolized as freedom, equality, and democracy. ...

Whereas a common ideological understanding of the United states includes American exceptionalism and superiority. ...

Whereas the American flag is commonly flown in government public service locations, military related entities, at homes, in foreign lands where the US government has a presence. ..

Whereas the American flag has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism. ...

Whereas designers should be careful about using cultural symbols as the symbols will inherently remain open for interpretation. ..

Whereas a high-quality culturally inclusive spaces is essential in any society that embodies a dynamic and multifaceted culture

Whereas freedom of speech is a valued right that ASUCI supports.

Whereas freedom of speech, in a space that aims to be as inclusive as possible can be interpreted as hate speech.
Yeah, I love the last one whereas the flag could be interpreted as "hate speech" because it's a superior and stuff. Now, don't get mad. Though the resolution was passed 6-4 with 2 abstentions, it did not make it once all the executive members of the ASUCI voted on it.

But pity poor Matthew Guervara and the 5 others who voted "yes" for their naivete. Apparently they just haven't been out in the real world enough to understand that all those student government "free speech" spaces and classes they take at a cut rate are provided by the University of California state-funded system funded by the taxpayers of State of California, Pell Grants, US Government-funded loan programs and other stuff that are "associated with government". You know, the same one that idolizes "freedom, equality, and democracy". Funny how that works, right?

But just to make the point about how really stupid these kids are, the state legislature of California now may introduce a state constitutional amendment prohibiting “state-funded universities and college campuses from banning the United States flag".

Maybe Matthew Guevara [I cannot write his name enough for those future Google-search engines] and the others will learn when they get out in the real world, or though it hurts to think about, they will be our next future Congresscritters...

Questions?
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Monday, March 9, 2015

Sunday, March 8, 2015

SNL Torpedoes Hillary

I’ve said several times before that Hillary Clinton is in trouble. I honestly do believe she will implode before her coronation and someone on the left will sneak in to grab the nomination. In fact, this email scandal is starting to look like it might have sunk her boat, especially after the torpedoing Saturday Night Live gave her. What’s more, the left may have found their replacement.

By now you know the email scandal we’re talking about. We’ve discussed it before here==> LINK. At the time, I pointed out that there is a very damning aspect to this scandal, but that no one is talking about it yet. And I suggested that the rest of the scandal wasn’t strong enough to bring down Hillary unless the left wanted to use this to bring her down. That seems to be happening slowly. Indeed, here are some points to consider:
● The scandal has been reported upon by everyone in the MSM and it remains front page news today... and they're using ugly photos of her (the cartoon above is from Politico, not Breitbart). Ergo, it has legs. Even Democrats are calling on her to release all of these emails. Note what Diane Feinstein said, for example: "I think she needs to step up and come out and state exactly what the situation is. From this point on, the silence is going to hurt her."

● Clinton’s attempts to blame Bush were actually deflected by the media, as were her claims that this didn’t violate any law or policy.

● More damaging than either above, the MSM has been reporting continuously on the lack of Democrats coming forward to defend Clinton. Not only does this keep the story alive, but it implies wrongdoing of a degree that Clinton’s friends have abandoned her.

● There seems to be a renewed focus on Bill’s scandals suddenly, which gives Hillary the air of corruption.

● The number of articles from the left suggesting that Hillary should not be their choice has spiked.
All of these things are bad for Hillary, but they are survivable... at least, they should be in normal circumstances, but Hillary faces two specific problems: (1) this scandal seems to be morphing into some sort of personal dislike for Hillary and (2) they seem to have found a replacement.

The personal dislike aspect really hit hard this weekend with Saturday Night Live. They opened by attacking Hillary for the email scandal. Only the attack wasn’t so much about the emails as it was about her personality. Indeed, the skit opened with Hillary failing immediately in her attempt to appear to be relatable: “I’m speaking to you... as a relatable woman on a couch.” It then presents her as power mad, having wanted to be the President since she was born: “I was born 67 years ago and I have been planning on being president ever since.”

“Hillary” then delves into the topics of the emails to show us that she isn’t “hiding scandalous or incriminating emails.” For example, a friend in one email asks if she wants to see the new Bradley Cooper movie. “Hillary” then reads her response, which was: “I want to see myself as President of the United States of America.” She then devastatingly says to the audience, “See? Just fun woman talk.”

Why is this devastating? Because it tells the audience that Hillary is WAY out of touch with real people. This is the same kind of personality attack that finally made people see Al Gore as a robot, Sarah Palin as an idiot, and Gerald Ford as a klutz. This is the kind of thing that becomes fact and cements people’s view of you as stiff, obsessed, and something they do not like. And it only gets worse.

“Hillary” decides to share a “sexy email” she sent to Bill Clinton on their anniversary. Check this out:
Dear Sir or Madam,

Congratulations on your continued marital success. I would like to schedule a sit-down at your earliest convenience.

Regards,
The Office of Hillary Clinton
D-E-V-A-S-T-A-T-I-N-G!!! Anyone who saw this, and that will be millions of middle of the road voters, will now see Hillary as a sexless, power-mad robot who only wants to be president and has no social life whatsoever. That’s a horrible personality profile to be saddled with. In films, that makes you the pathetic middle manager, the out-of-touch principal, or the rotten bureaucrat. None of those are personalities people will ever vote to put into power. But this is how the left is now portraying Hillary. That is horrible for her, and it’s likely only going to gain steam.

None of this would matter though, if it weren’t for the fact the left may have found a replacement. After spending years being frustrated trying to woo Elisabeth “Fake Indian” Warren to no avail, they have found their hero: Martin O’Malley, Governor of Maryland.

O’Malley has recently let it be known that he’s running, and the response has been tremendous. Unlike Hillary, who never really earned anything she’s gotten politically, O’Malley got elected Governor of Maryland in 2006 and has held the job since. Before that, he was the Mayor of Baltimore, a black city, from 1999 to 2007 and a member of its city council since 1991. As governor, in 2011, he signed a bill making illegal aliens eligible for in-state college tuition. In 2012, he legalized gay marriage in Maryland, a law which was later upheld by voter referendum. In 2013, he repealed capital punishment in Maryland. These are hard-left stances Hillary has only paid lip service to. But they aren’t crazy enough that he comes across as a whacko. He also has the “professional looking white male” thing which the Democrats rely on to attract white trash voters.

Hillary, by comparison, is an elitist, sexless, sour old woman who reeks of corruption and has a long history as a tool of Big Business. She has never taken a controversial stance until it was no longer controversial, and even then she hedges half a dozen ways. She has no charisma, is gaffe prone, isn't telegenic or energetic... or particularly competent.

This is bad for Hillary.
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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Kit's Thoughts: ISIS, Like the Nazis over 70 Years Ago, Deserves to be Mocked

by Kit

This past week Saturday Night Live did a sketch referencing a heartwarming Toyota commercial featuring Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey) joining ISIS. Here it is, just under 2 minutes: Link.

Twitter went mad.

The primary complaints were featured on Fox and Friends* with Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who seemed to be shaking and on the verge of tears, attacking Saturday Night Live for daring to mock a heartwarming Toyota commercial about a girl and her father remembering the past 18 years she spent growing up as he drives her to the airport where she is joining the military at a time when many soldiers have given their lives in the defense of their country and come home in caskets and for being “insensitive” when ISIS is responsible for so much evil.

Me? I liked it.

First, the use of the Toyota ad. As Andy Levy explained on Red Eye. “Everything except the punchline was set up for the punchline”. The reason for the use of the Toyota ad was to take a recent, popular commercial that a lot of people recognize, build things up, over-playing it slightly so the audience does not get too invested in it, before hitting them —WHAM!— with the reveal that she is going not to college, not to the army, but joining a violent, murdering, raping terrorist group. It is surprising and also ridiculous because the idea of very white Dakota Johnson joining ISIS is ridiculous. So, using that ad was fair because copying the ad allows them to set things up for a shocking (and funny) punchline.

Now, what about the criticism that doing the sketch when ISIS has beheaded Americans, burned POWs alive, and sold young girls into sexual slavery. Surely ISIS is “no laughing matter” and doing a comedy sketch about them at this time is clearly in “poor taste!”

Let me respond to that question by giving you a brief history lesson.

Though the years 1942 and 1943 would later be seen as the year in which the fortunes for the allies changed from a string of defeats to a string of victories in 1942 with the Battles of Stalingrad, El-Alamein, and Guadalcanal and in 1943 the invasions of Sicily and the victory at Midway, for those living through those years things looked very much in doubt. The Nazis controlled nearly all of Europe with troops in Norway, Coastal France, the Low Countries, Poland, North Africa, and Eastern Russia, nearly knocking Russia out in the process. The rest of Europe either run by puppet states such as Vichy France or Allies such as Fascist Italy or, like Sweden and Switzerland, staying neutral. In the East, things were little better with Japan, having nearly crippled our Pacific Fleat at Pearl Harbor controlling Indochina, Manchuria, Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and was creeping west towards British India and south towards Australia.

And what the British and Americans had heard about the Japanese and the Germans (and the Italians to a lesser extent) made it clear they posed to freedom, democracy, and even the basic tenets of civilization. When he Japanese entered Nanking they engaged in atrocities that might even shock ISIS, raping girls as young as 6 and holding “beheading contests” between officers. As for the Nazis, although the full extent of the Holocaust was not publicly known, the West was quite aware that of their brutality. The Nazis had kick-started their regime by killing a bunch of fellow Nazis in the Night of the Long Knives in 1934 then spending the rest of the decade passing anti-semitic laws, cracking down on free speech, bombing civilian areas in Spain, euthanizing the physically and mentally “unfit”, organizing pogroms against the Jews, and organizing concentration camps for “undesirables”.

Upon entry into World War 2 they, and this is quite a list, had violated the neutrality of the Low Countries (despite their own assurances otherwise), then using bombing campaigns against civilian areas of those countries to direct civilians into the way of the British and French armies and thus slowing them down, when France fell they carried out a massive bombing campaign British civilian areas, ramped up deportations to concentration camps, and massacred all the men in the town of Lidice and shipped all the women and children to concentration camps in July of 1942, an act which, unlike other massacres, was announced quite openly and proudly in German media.

One might say the dire situation facing the allies and the free world in general was, in modern lingo, “no laughing matter.” One might further say that attempting to make light of the allies would be “insensitive,” given the acts of German and Japanese barbarism going on.

Yet, in late-1942 (but released on Jan 1, ’43) Walt Disney produced a Donald Duck cartoon called “Der Fuehrer’s Face” featuring Donald living under Nazi oppression set to a song by Spike Jones of the same name as the cartoon with much of the song sung by a tall, thin Goebbels and support from Il Duche Mussolini, General Tojo, and a rather effeminate, flute-playing Goering. Here are some sample lyrics:

When Der Fuehrer Says “We is de Master Race”
We Heil, Heil, right in Der Fuehrer’s face

And that is one of the softer lines. Here are some more:

(Goebbels) Is this Nazi land so good
Would you leave it if you could?

(Chorus) Ja this Nazi land is good
(Mussolini) We would leave it if we could

(Goebbels) We bring the world new order
(Tojo) Heil Hitler's world to order
(Goebbels) Everyone of foreign race
Will love der fuehrer's face
When we bring to the world ‘dis order

It won an Oscar for Best Animated Short.

And Britain, who had lost 40,000 civilians in the London Blitz to Nazi air raids, the equivalent of 13 World Trade Centers, released a short little film featuring clips of Hitler, the German Army, and the SS taken from newsreels and Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will edited in a rather zany fashion to the British dance, the “Lambeth Walk”: Link.

Amusing? Allegedly Goebbels didn’t think so, as a story goes that he put its creator, Charles Ridley, on a secret list of people to be taken out by the Gestapo when Britain was defeated.

But what about the soldiers? They must not jokes about the people who are trying to murder them so funny? To that I recommend that you read this crude little ditty allegedly created by British soldiers in World War 2 set to the Colonel Bogey March of later Bridge Over the River Kwai fame:

Hitler has only got one ball,
Goering has two but very small,
Himmler, has something sim’lar
And poor old Goebbels has no balls at all!

But, you say, what about people living under ISIS? Surely, they must have a different view!

During the Cold War, the Russians and East Germans, who lived under the full weight of Communist oppression had no problem mocking the government whether it was pointing out that the reason the horribly-made East German Trabant car puts its heater in the back is to keep your hands warm while pushing it or that the KGB worked in teams of three because the KGB needed “one to read, one to write, and one to keep an eye on the two intellectuals”.

And if you think that is all just light humor give The Lives of Others a viewing and take notice of the fear of the Stasi’s reach the East Germans had to live with or crack open Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago and remember that he was originally sentenced to the Gulags for cracking a joke about Stalin’s mustache.

ISIS, one of the most depraved organizations in the modern world, deserves all the mockery we can throw at it. Humor is one of the best weapons in the arsenal of democracy. If our grandparents could mock the Nazis in the darkest hours of World War 2, if citizens living behind the Iron Curtain could risk their lives mocking their respective communist regimes, we can surely lob a few jokes at the Islamic State’s expense.

If not, then what was the point of #JeSuisCharlie? Or is it okay to mock Mohammed but not ISIS?

Thoughts?


*This nonsense was peddled by people on the Left as well but I picked on Fox News because, well, they should know better.
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At The Film Site: War Games (1983)

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Netanyahu Speaks...

I am not sure if anyone has been paying attention (yeah, right...), but Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech to a Joint meeting of Congress on Tuesday. Depending on what political sites one goes to, it was a either triumph that helped or a failure that did not. But there is no mistaking that it was a dynamic speech by a world-class speaker. If you didn't get a chance to here it, let's go to the tape...[or read it if you prefer - transcript - LINK]



Frankly, I wasn't going to listen to the whole speech, but I was compelled to listen to the entire 40+ minutes. Just on it's face, rich-baritoned voiced Bibi Netanyahu is a compelling speaker and someone who commands to be listened to, but it is much deeper than that. The tag line to an editorial in the NY Post from John Podhoretz sums up exactly what I thought - LINK:
"It was a triumph — because, unlike Obama, Netanyahu had something of surpassing importance to say, and he said it with force, with strength, with conviction and with grace."
The only word I would add to that would be "clarity". He spoke with such a clarity that I have not heard from any world leader or politician in many years. He did not mince words or couch them in politically correct feel-good jargon. He spoke with clarity about the risk that the world is taking by making a "bad deal" with Iran and why Israel is most at risk.

I implore you to read it, listen to it, whichever you prefer. Whatever you might think about whether a foreign leader should have been allowed to speak before a joint meeting of our Congress with or without Obama's permission, it was important for him to be able to speak to the most "august" body about the existential threat to Israel and to the world at large. If we appease and acquiece for the sake of making any deal, we are all at risk. He explains it much better than I could recount, so judge for yourself and we can discuss.


Several Democrats chose not to attend and here is the list of those members who chose not to attend. To me they are all an embarrassment to Democracy, but that's just me. With one change - at the urging of his constiuents, Charlie Rangel (D/NY) actually did attend, but he is still an embarrassment (but that's just for so many other reasons...)
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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Could This New Scandal Kill Hillary 2016?

Another day, another Clinton scandal. No, not the shadow of the blue dress in Billy Boy's official portrait. This time it's Hillary, and the scandal is that she admitted using a commercial e-mail service for all of her e-mails when she served as Obama's Secretary of State. This is actually an important issue, but we'll see if it sticks. Let's discuss.

The scandal at issue is simple. Federal law requires that federal employees use federal e-mail services when they are on the job. Hillary did not. She used a commercial service.

Why does this matter? Well, Federal law requires this to allow the government to control the content of all e-mails these employees send. In other words, the government wants to be able to monitor their communications and take the appropriate action in the event of some violation of personnel policy. Moreover, the government wants to be able to archive these communications so they can be produced in response to things like FIOA requests or Congressional subpoenas. Hillary's use of a private e-mail even for official communications and communications with other employees violated this law and frustrated these purposes. In fact, it now turns out that she destroyed a great many e-mails that should have been available for Congressional investigation and would have been if she had followed the law.

At this point, that is the only issue people are discussing regarding this scandal. Unfortunately, this makes the issue seem technical and nitpicky, meaning the scandal should have no legs.

But there is a more important reason the federal government requires employees to use government systems, and that reason actually does make this a genuine scandal... if anyone figures it out: security. Every single e-mail Hillary sent over the commercial site she used was likely monitored in some form by the provider, e.g. Google, and could very, very easily have been hacked by anyone from terrorists to enemy governments to journalists. Think about that!

Hillary has admitted that she used this commercial account exclusively and that she used it for any and all internal discussions with State Department and Obama Administration people. That means that e-mails about the movement of ambassadors, changes in security policies, the sending in of military units to defend embassies, the identities of intelligence personnel, and even things like Hillary's opinions on military actions all likely went through this easily hacked, commercially-monitored site.

Still don't see the scandal? Imagine if a group of special ops guys got killed because ISIS read about the upcoming attack in Hillary's hacked e-mail, or if Google shared some data on trade negotiations with Japan to buy a few favors from China for their operations in China. See the problem now?

What I find interesting about this scandal is that the MSM seems interested in pounding Hillary on the first issue, but won't mention the second issue at all. It's like they want to wound her, but not destroy her. Generally, scandals have no legs unless they are very visceral for the public or the powers that be have decided to eliminate the person and then use the scandal as their weapon. The first part of this alone should have no legs. Yet, the MSM seems to be jumping all over that. The second part would be visceral if it got out, but the MSM has completely refused to discuss it. I'm wondering if the plan isn't to encourage her to drop out now with the threat of finally starting to take her down for her propensity to engage in scandalous behavior, but not actually wounder her... just in case. Not sure.

Thoughts?
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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

New York Shenanigans

While the big news for today will be Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before Congress today on the existential threat to his country if Iran is allowed to continue to build nuclear weapons, let me bring you up to speed on what is happening in the ethics front in New York while we wait.

State Level Shenanigans:
It has been reported that Gov. Cuomo quietly ordered sometime in 2013 that all state workers’ e-mails be automatically deleted after 90 days. Now this is interesting on many levels, but the most important was that this was ordered right before he created his commission to investigate corruption in the state goverment. When he disbanded his commission without warning, the US Attorney Preet Bharara took up the investigation which resulted in the arrest of Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the Assembly. [Here's a link to my previous post explaining all about that.]

Yeah, that's some good planning by Gov. Cuomo to make it easier to destroy evidence before he convened and then disbanded the investigation that got uncomfortably close to his own office. Fortunately, the state workers have not been very diligent in deleting their emails, so last month thousands of email were automatically deleted by the state's "chief information officer". One can imagine that this has made a very many people quite upset and hopefully one of them will be US Attorney Preet Bharara.

Gov. Cuomo has made it very clear that he is really, really pushing to overhaul the ethics laws in New York government and said he won't approve a budget without major changes. It all seems to hinge on the long-criticized state laws that require how much lawmakers have to disclose about their private income and clients that they service. It seems way too many of our state legislators may have clients who may or may not have official business with the state creating what may or may not appear to be a conflict of interest. Since the majority of elected officials are Democrats, the Republicans who are not exactly saints in regards to the conflict issue, have taken the side of more disclosure and transparency. So to tweak the Governor just a bit because they know he really just wants to get this settled as quickly and quietly as possible, several GOP legislators have floated the idea to require that live-in girlfriends' income must be disclosed just like a spouse.

You may not know this, but Gov. Cuomo has been living with his FoodTV Network cooking show star/hostess Sandra Lee (I hesitate to ever give her the moniker "chef") since his divorce from Kathleen Kennedy (yes, one of THE Kennedys) years ago. Instead of living in the Governor's mansion in Albany, they have chosen to live in her multi-million dollar mansion in tony Westchester County. But, since the embarrassing episode in Oregon where Governor John Kitzhaber recently was forced to resign over claims that his fiance Cylvia Hayes was selling her access to the Governor, one would think that Gov. Cuomo would be more than willing to embrace this idea or at the very least, not dismiss it outright. But his office responded with the assurance that Ms. Lee has no business before the state and then with an "anonymous" quote "suggesting that the financial disclosure measure be expanded 'to include all girlfriends, even those of married members' of the Legislature." Cheeky little devil is this "anonymous" quote-source.

New York City Level Shenanigans:
At the first of the year, our Mayor Diblasio, mandated that illegals and any other citizen of the city (but mostly illegals) who didn't have proper photo identification would be able to get one free of charge courtesy of the City of New York. The new NYC Municipal ID will allow those who do not have ID to open checking accounts and do other business that requires a photo ID to be able to do so within New York City. All one has to have is some kind of documentation that proves that you have an address in NYC. To sweeten to pot, along with new NYCID, a whole host of free stuff comes with it - free memberships to various museums and cultural isntitutions, prescription drug discounts, grocery discounts and may other goodies. The ID can also serve as a library card.

As a taxpaying citizen of the City of New York, I was very interested in getting all that free stuff too, so I applied for my NYCID on Friday. All I had to do was fill out a form and present my NY State drivers license to prove I had an address in NYC, and bing bang boom, I will get my new NYCID in 4 weeks. Which brings me to the other part of the story. Remember I told you that this was primarily so that Mayor Diblasio could give proper identification to illegal aliens in our city? Well, this week, the Mayor passed an executive order that all information and applications regarding NYCID will be destroyed on December 31, 2016 to protect any ID holders just in case the new WH Administration should be a little more inclined to uphold our federal immigration laws.

What is it with New York State Democrats and their need to destroy evidence?

Any questions, comments, updates?
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Monday, March 2, 2015

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Pope Hates Money? No

Sometimes people say the stupidest things, especially when they talk in thoughtless bumper-sticker speak. The headlines say the Pope did that this week, but he didn't. Actually, what he said was interesting. Let’s discuss.

For generations now, people on the left and religious figures have referred to money as “the root of all evil.” St. Francis of Assisi called money “the devil’s dung.” And in so doing, these people showed that they fundamentally misunderstand the nature of money and they utterly devalue the ability of individuals to save for their futures.

Why do I say that?

Think about what money represents. To these leftists, money represents some evil tool invented by capitalists to represent wealth, which they then use to deny poor people a share of wealth, but that’s bunk. What money really represents is stored value of a person's own labor. To understand this, think about how one gets money. One gets money by trading their labor, or the product of their labor, for an agreed upon amount of money. In other words, you provide services (or trade goods you acquired or made) to a buyer, who gives you money, i.e. you sell your labor. The more labor you sell, the more money you get. Simple.

Now consider what would happen if there was no money. Rather than getting paid in money, you would need to find someone whose labor you wanted and who just happened to want yours in return. Then you would need to agree upon a rate of exchange. And once one party provided as much labor as the other person needed, the exchange would stop, whether the other party had more labor to give or not. Not so simple.

This is also fraught with problems. For one thing, without money as a convenient means of exchange, the value of your labor would be a lot lower because you could only trade it to certain people... fewer buyers, lower prices. And the costs of finding those people would be prohibitive for most people. Indeed, what exactly can most people provide that others would want and how would you find someone who needs your services as much as you need theirs? This would make people vulnerable to exploitation by the predatory rich, who can afford to hire desperate laborers they don’t need. Moreover, the rate you get for your labor would not be based on some fair market value for labor, it would be skewed heavily toward the party that holds the upper hand. For example, suppose you are selling fruit you have grown. You need someone to fix your tractor or you will lose your ability to keep making fruit. If the man you found who can fix your tractor can wait, he's going to get a heck of a deal on your labor as you become increasingly desperate to unload your fruit before it spoils and becomes worthless.

The result of all this is that a world without "evil" money would be a world of utter poverty and hopelessness, a world where few could sell their skills and those that could would find that their labor is worth far less than in our market-based society. This would be a world where the rich could easily exploit the have-nots and could buy armies of labor at slave rates, and where anyone with a sharp trading sense could exploit anyone against whom they had the upper hand. So how evil is money really? And how stupid are those who rail against money?

Anyway, this stuff should be obvious to anyone who stops to think even for a few minutes. So I was not pleased to read a headline that said that the new Pope had “railed against money” and “advocated a cooperative society.” Ug. Anyway, I decided to look up what the Pope really said and, surprise, it has again been distorted. What the Pope really said was this:
“When money becomes an idol, it controls man’s choices. It makes him a slave.”
In other words, the Pope isn’t anti-money, he’s anti-money-worship or anti-obsession with money. Those are actually conservative values. In fact, unless you’re part of the “God wants you to have an SUV” crowd, most religious conservatives claim to value charity and want everyone in society to value things like faith and family higher than money. They just don’t whine stupidly like leftists that one needs to live in poverty to achieve that.

In terms of what the Pope said about cooperatives, it was essentially similar. He said, that:
“Money at the service of life can be managed in the right way by cooperatives, on condition that it is a real cooperative where capital does not have command over men but men over capital.”
In other words, money is fine when it is put to good uses and when it isn’t a tool to give people power over others. Again, outside of knee-jerk talk radio, I doubt very many conservatives would disagree with that... if we are to be believed about loving individual rights and freedoms rather than concentrations of power. (Knee-jerk talk radio seems to worship macho corporate power acting in the most abusive way.)

This is a message conservatives should embrace and enhance. In fact, rather than buying into the headlines and continuously trying to define Catholicism as an enemy of conservatism, and thereby teaching headline-only-readers to see Catholicism as a leftist force, why not embrace the Pope's comments thusly:
"The Pope himself has embraced the power of capitalism to raise humanity, provided that money is used to serve the rights, freedom and dignity of individuals rather than as a force for control by a concentrated power. We should be working toward a society that is more free, more respecting of the rights and dignity of individuals, and in which our economy is given the freedom to let all who work keep the benefits of their labor so they can employ their neighbors and make a richer, stronger society."
Thoughts?
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