Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Predictions

With the New Year upon us, it’s time for New Years Resolutions and predictions. Let’s stick with predictions. What shall 2014 bring? Economic recovery? Enlarged Twinkies? The end of life as we know it? Read on!

Prediction No. 1: Obamacare causes three people to lose insurance for every one person who gets fake insurance under Obamacare. In a pre-election panic, the Democrats vote overwhelmingly to deny they passed the individual mandate and to blame Obamacare on the Republicans.

Prediction No. 2: Joe Biden gets arrested doing a knock-out robbery of Hillary Clinton. He claimed he only wanted her mojo but couldn't find it before the cops came.

Prediction No. 3: Mark Levin leaves his mic on and is overheard admitting that he’s a liberal concern troll whose goal is to disgrace conservatism... and he lives in a committed relationship with fellow troll Rick Santorum.

Prediction No. 4: Scientists find life on Pluto... a race of animated fleas.

Prediction No. 5: Obama offers praise for Rush Limbaugh, causing Rush to denounce himself.

Prediction No. 6: Denver wins the Super Bowl in a blizzard. Some baseball team wins that World Series thing whenever that happens.

Prediction No. 7: Sarah Palin learns to read and finally reads Uncle Phil's interview.

Prediction No. 8: Harry Reid caught following Uncle Phil's advice.

Prediction No. 9: Ridley Scott’s movie about Moses proves so successful that the studios immediately green light “Moses II: Into The Promised Land.”

Prediction No. 10: In attempt to boost historically bad approval ratings (lower than typhoid), Obama announces he's gay and admits that the Mrs. and kids are rentals.

Prediction No. 11: After overdosing on hate, bile and hypocrisy, MSNBC hosts finally begin their transformation into Morlocks.

What do you think is going to happen in 2014?
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Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas!! Happy Holidays!! Competent Kwanza!! Happy That Other Thing!!

We're going to take a little break officially until January 2. Unofficially, we'll probably post something before then. But in the meantime, take some time off, see the real world.

Christmas is an amazing time of year. This is the one time of year we get a glimpse of what the world would be like if we all lived the way we know we should. And that's a great glimpse. I love this time of year. I love the festive spirit, the sights, the sounds and the smells. This is a happy time when people feel charitable, forgiving and friendly. It is the one time of year we all try to live up to our better natures. So take this opportunity to think about the people you love, the things that make you happy, and focus on the good side of life. Think about how you can be a better person to those around you and enjoy the Christmas spirit. Merry Christmas everyone (and assorted holidays)!

As always, consider this an open thread.
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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Would You Buy Insurance From This Guy?

Really? What are they thinking? Here is the latest ad that hit Twitter this week courtesy of Organizing for Action (formerly known as Obama For America) to sell insurance to all those young folks who have to buy insurance before December 23, 2013 to make it work...

I mean, would you buy insurance because this guy wants you to?

Maybe it's the adult onesie pajamas or the hot cocoa or that "all knowing" smirk, but really? Who are these people who are making these ads? Do they think young adults are idiots? Don't answer that...

This was after these very popular ads:

This one is great.

Oh, and this...

Oh, and just in case you need some pointers on how to "start the conversation", here's a helpfu list to get you started. Just a hint. Make sure when going home for the holiday you send an e-mail around and politely ask your friends and relatives to make sure that they pack their social security cards, pay stubs, and other employment information in their carry-on. That will make for a really fun holiday around the Holiday Tree with all of those holiday gifts. Frankly, I'd rather my guests pack an extra bottle of wine or holiday cookies, but that's just me.

Please make this stop...it's embarrassing.

Oh, but not half as embarrassing as this...

But then, would you buy insurance from any of these jokers either?
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Words Have Meaning!!

Have you ever thought about how a single line of dialog can change a movie? It's true. A single line of dialog can convey enough information to completely change a character, a plot point or even a theme. Indeed, think about the infamous "Noooooooooo!" from George Lucas and how that completely changed the nature of Darth Vader.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mandela: A Retrospective

Since his death, Nelson Mandela has been the subject of a slough of memoriams, odes, and general remembrances--as it should be. But as he himself acknowledged, we ought to acknowledge his accomplishments without deifying him. Which apparently is kind of hard.

Being just about the youngest person on this blog, Mandela has perhaps evoked different feelings for my generation than for older ones, perhaps. We look at him basically the same way we look at Gandhi--both were kind, saintly guys who stood up to the oppressive, racist and all-around mean government, got put in prison for it, and then late in life were vindicated and became international symbols of peace and equality. Seriously, if you asked most teens and 20-somethings to name three people who are for sure in heaven (besides Grandma), most would name Mandela, Gandhi, and probably Mother Teresa.

Despite (or because of) this, most of those same people also have little grasp of who Mandela was, or what he did to become famous. Heck, until recently I didn't know why he was in prison in the first place. So, for the sake of understanding him fully, a balanced and completely accurate analysis is in order. But instead you get my hackery.

First things first: No one can take away from the fact that after he got out of prison, Mandela was an inspirational figure, and did far better as a political leader than he might have. Especially compared with some nearby thugs like Zimbabwe's Mugabe, Mandela had a fairly good record--he didn't starve the country in some bizarre redistribution scheme, and he didn't inaugurate official racial retaliation or anything like that. And just as importantly, he relinquished power legally and peacefully, which again is more than can be said for a lot of post-colonial rulers. So yeah, post-apartheid South Africa was definitely not the worst place to live, and Mandela deserves a good deal of the credit for that.

At the same time, it would be wrong to deny that during the past twenty years or so, the country has seen a real decline in some quarters. One of the most obvious has been the AIDS epidemic, which, clearly, neither he nor anyone else was responsible for; but he has since been criticized for denying it was a problem even when it clearly was. Given that, by some estimates, a third of South Africa had the disease by the turn of the century, this seems rather odd. More glaringly, he pushed for what he called a "deracialization" of the economy, which in practice meant aggressive affirmative action and a transfer of wealth that did improve the position of many blacks, but at the expense of impoverishing many whites.

Another thing--a lot of people seem to be under the impression (again, this included me) that Mandela was just like Gandhi or MLK in his consistent advocacy of nonviolence. Granted, it's hard to find specific evidence of that advocacy, but he's famous for being peaceful and was played by Morgan Freeman, so he must have at some point.

Well...not so much. Ever heard of "necklacing"? I hadn't. It refers to some ANC terrorists' practice of hanging a tire around white captives' necks and setting it on fire. That's the sort of thing for which ANC leaders such as Mandela (who did not carry out such acts himself but founded the party faction that did) got put in prison for in the first place. Granted, Mandela rejected anything resembling a "race war" when he became president--for which we should all be grateful--but many radicals continued to carry out barbaric murders against whites, many of whom, it should be said, retaliated in kind. This violence, combined with AIDS and the economic disruption, has caused a mass exodus of white South Africans--perhaps a million since the early '90s. Not that they've been the only victims, by a long shot. Black-on-black crime has been even more endemic, including some of the world's highest rates of rape and murder.

How much of this post-apartheid atmosphere was by design? Well, I guess that depends on whether you think Mandela was, as many on the far Right (and some not on the far Right) have been arguing since his death, an out-and-out Communist out for racial vengeance. "Madiba"s record with the officially Marxist African National Congress has been...well, complicated. He was definitely not a Communist ideologue when he joined the ANC back in the late '40s, but became one for a while thereafter. He seems not to have been by the time he left prison, but for an extended period of time, he was happy to make common cause with all sorts of international left-wing goons. As much of a scandal as Obama shaking hands with Raul Castro at the memorial service was, the fact is the latter wouldn't have been there at all if Mandela hadn't been very friendly with the Castros, regarding them as comrades in the fight for racial liberation and such.


What's the ultimate takeaway here? I suppose most people would say Mandela was the "father of his country," in a way, just as Washington was over here, so let's compare. (That's probably not very fair, but shut up.) Lots of similarities could be drawn--wanting to appear above the partisan fray, for example--but the chief difference, I think, is that Washington, like all the Founding Fathers, was a great believer in the rule of law and keenly aware of the dangers of extra-legal, retaliatory violence, especially when committed in the name of an abstract cause. Mandela appears to have learned this lesson late, and only partially.

That's not to say he bears the blame for all South Africa's ills; far from it. You can't lay those problems on one person, and again, he did far better than those aware of his early career might have feared. But movements which use violent means, even in pursuit of good ends (and not all the ANC's goals were good), tend to be corrupted by them over time; and if those movements gain power, the country will tend to reflect that corruption. So, broadly speaking, I think it's clear that South Africa today reveals the good and the bad of Nelson Mandela's impact. And hopefully it reveals some lessons in what to do and not do if you're the leader of such a movement.
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Monday, December 16, 2013

The Lesson of Gene Autry

Gene Autry is a national icon. He rose from telegraph operator to Hollywood hero to owner of the Los Angeles Angels. He was known as a humble and decent man who made lifelong friends. He was a beloved hero to millions. He was also a solid conservative who supported Ike, Nixon, Goldwater and Reagan. Over the past few months, I’ve watched almost his entire film catalog and I’ve found many interesting lessons in these films. But there is one I want to talk about today.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Friday, December 13, 2013

Film Friday: Three O’Clock High

Three O’Clock High is an interesting film. You could call it a forgotten film, except that no one knew about it in the first place, plus it’s not really forgotten – it seems to have found a fan base. I like it a good deal. What makes Three O’Clock High so interesting to me today, however, is why I think it never caught on: it’s a dark comedy that was too “real” for people to enjoy.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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The New Ryan Budget: Pros and Cons

Less than two weeks before Christmas, folks. Snow's on the ground, the presents are getting wrapped, there's more polls showing Obama lower than a snake's belly: Yep, that must mean it's time for another budget fight! Wait, what?

Yeah, I'll be honest; the new Ryan-Murray budget deal, removing the budget cuts from the sequester in favor of cuts at a later date, announced earlier this week caught me off guard. So did all the attacks immediately made by other conservatives, and the congratulating going around between Democrats and mainstream GOPers. (The latter probably has something to do with the former, I'd imagine.) I'm still working through what this budget has to say, and if you've seen something I haven't, feel free to call me out on it. As for what I have found so far, it's a mix of good and bad--but more of the bad, I'm inclined to think.

Pro: It Keeps Us Focused On ObamaCare. This one is pretty straightforward. The RMS Obama has finally met its iceberg, in the form of an awful ACA rollout, and the Prez's approval ratings are hitting new lows. (Smiles all around.) The bad news is still coming in, too, and each new piece of information makes the Democrats look worse. So why should we derail that train with a new fight over government funding and another threat of shutdown? As Jonah Goldberg points out at NRO, we would essentially be risking all the goodwill we might have built up in the past month or so "over what amount to rounding errors in the budget and the debt."

Pro: Mandatory Spending Cuts! (ish) The budget deal requires that increases in discretionary spending have to be balanced out by cuts to entitlements. Some of those cuts are kind of weak--federal employees have to pay more into their pension plans, for example, but only those employees hired after the fact--but they do still set good precedents. Hey, every little bit helps.

Con: Taxation Surprise! Taxation surprises are never fun, and this is no exception. One of the provisions in the budget deal is a procedural alteration that would allow Senate Democrats to pass tax increases and send them to the House with a mere 51 votes, not the usual 60. Now, it sounds worse than it is. The Senate can already do this via reconciliation, and in any case, it doesn't mean the House has to play ball--on paper. However, anything which makes it easier for Harry Reid to put the burden on House Republicans, especially where taxes are concerned, is hardly something to cheer about.

Con: The Budget Is Just Plain Screwy. Simple math: It approves the spending of $600 billion, at minimum, over a ten-year period while reducing the deficit by only $20 billion, and that through higher fees. There are real savings, further down the road; but not until 2022-23 and later. If we could trust that those cuts would in fact happen then, it might be different, but is anyone willing to extend that trust? Because I'm not. And, some of those "fees" are really egregious examples of intrusive government--like an increase in how much the feds can charge us for a passenger flight. Which I didn't even know they did, and isn't that creepy.

Final judgment on this plan? Eh, I don't have one. It's not a good budget, but then I don't think anyone on the Right, establishment, Tea Party, or whoever, is claiming that. What it really comes down to, I think, is whether you believe that under the present political circumstances, this is the best possible budget we can hope to pass right now. And there's a good argument that it is.

Mainly, where I think Ryan did screw up on this plan is by rolling it out on such short notice, and then by demanding a full vote on it so quickly. We talk a lot here about paying attention to the political realities; one of those realities is that when you blindside a large chunk of your own party (deliberately or not), they're not going to like it very much. By not getting everyone on the same page earlier, Ryan, Boehner, and other leaders caused a very visible divide in the GOP ranks, made worse by the intramural shouting match of the past couple days. Obama and his cronies are playing for keeps in this political game. We need to make sure our side is too.
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Wishes Open Thread

Let's get this holiday season started off right. Chanukah is over and all the candles have been lit and the Christmas season has officially begun. I propose that for today, we take it down a notch. Instead of concentrating on what is wrong in the world, let's concentrate on what is right. This is what the season is all about. It's about sharing with family and friends, sharing with others, and trying to bring out the best in humanity, or at least it should be.

Sometimes the true meaning of Christmas gets lost in the frenzied quest for the perfect gifts or giving the perfect party. But let me refresh your memory:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the City of Bethlehem, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men. - Luke 2:10

So, in the spirit of the Christmas season, let's make a list, check it twice, and share what Christmas means to us. Feel free to share your favorite family traditions, your secret Christmas present wish list, your favorite song, your favorite Christmas memory, or maybe your dreams and wishes for a brighter future.

And to get us started, let me be the first to say "MERRY CHRISTMAS"! There, I said it and I am not taking it back.
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Toon-arama: How The Grinch Stole Christmas

How The Grinch Stole Christmas is perhaps my favorite Christmas cartoon. What I love about it most is how it has several layers of meaning and those layers become more apparent to you as you grow older. It is, in essence, a cartoon you must see many times over your life to fully understand. Consider some of these ideas:

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Teacher's Unions Struggling

American education is much better than people realize. In fact, there’s a lot of deceit in the claims that it isn’t. These claims are typically made based on raw numbers without mentioning that the numbers are typically all well within the margin of error... meaning any difference is statistically meaningless. They also use measures which don’t relate to educational performance to “measure schools.” Anyway, that’s not the point today. Today, we’re talking about unions.

The biggest impediment to improving education, aside from irresponsible parents, has been teachers unions. They stand in the way of reforms, protect rotten eggs, and generally don’t give a darn about students. Even the left is catching on to this. So it was interesting to see an article at Politico which outlined the problems the teacher’s unions are facing and why they’re on the ropes. Here is what you need to know:

Falling Membership: Although teacher’s union membership is reported at 4.5 million, it’s actually only 3.8 million (the result of double counting people who are in both unions). The NEA has lost 7% of its membership since 2009. The reason for the fall is (1) teacher layoffs, (2) retirements, (3) the rise of non-union charter schools, and (4) states like Michigan and Wisconsin which are allowing teachers to opt-out. So things will get worse. In fact, the National Right to Work Committee is starting a campaign to end compulsory union membership in Missouri, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. In Wisconsin, after these laws were passed, the AFT lost 65% of its members in the state and the NEA lost 19%.

In response, the AFT is trying to increase their membership by expanding to public defenders, dental hygienists, police, maintenance workers, nurses, and lifeguards. Yeah, that’ll work.

Financial Problems: While the unions bring in $2 billion per year, the number is shrinking. They also overspend. The AFT runs at a deficit, having to take out a line of credit. And the NEA has cut spending 12% to stay level.

PR Attacks: Later this year, former Solicitor General Theodore Olson will bring suit to try to overturn teacher protections like tenure, which the unions put into California law. He intends to fight a PR campaign in the process in which he paints the unions as obstructionists who protect their members at all costs. This includes pointing out the number of teachers who have sexually harassed students, who don’t prepare lesson plans, and who come to work drunk, yet are not punished. In a famous example, the Los Angeles Times reported that the LA Unified School District spend 10 years and $3.5 million to fire seven teachers... and only managed to get four of them. He is being funded by Silicon Valley billionaire David Welch.

A similar campaign is being fought in New York by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, who will be financing a social media campaign accusing NYC unions of protecting teachers who harass students. This is on the heels of Waiting for Superman, in which a liberal filmmaker took on the unions and had a mega hit.

The NEA President squeals that this is unfair as it distorts the picture by focusing on the bad apples... waaaah!! And he argues that unions don’t protect bad teachers, they just make sure that everyone follows the process. That’s delusional and if the NEA thinks parents will buy that, then they’re crazy.

Interestingly, while the unions claim they are winning, support for labor unions has fallen below 50% for the first time in 2012. And only 32% of Americans have a positive view of teachers unions.

Revolutions! The unions are having a lot of internal problems. A number of teachers are furious that the unions have agreed to Common Core, which they see as imposing requirements on them. Yep. A number are furious that the unions have agreed to the use of tying student testing to pay, hiring/firing, and closing of schools at the local level, even as they continue to fight against those things nationally.

More interestingly, as the Baby Boomers retire, it turns out that the replacements aren’t so enamored of a system that rewards teachers based on longevity and they aren’t as protective of pensions. These same people also have very different views about education and politics, and they now constitute about half of all teachers. So it can’t remain business as usual for the unions much longer. The unions say they are trying to “evolve” to satisfy all their members, but this is a significant divide. Interestingly, 31% of new teachers hold a negative view of their own unions, up from 17% only a few years ago.

Turncoats! Wealthy donors have started funding candidates who are willing to break with the unions on issues like charter schools and merit pay. Even some prominent Democrats are now on the other side. Philadelphia, Chicago and Denver all have mayors who have opposed the unions on these key issues. Jerry Brown in California actually vetoed a union bill that would have made layoffs harder and more expensive. Pension cuts are coming to, even in Democratic states.

In response, the unions are seeking Republican allies, but you know what? F-you. You can’t be the heart and soul of the Democratic Party for decades and then get us to help you just because the Democrats started cheating on you.

Pathetic Response: To save their butts, the unions are doing a number of things that aren’t going to matter. For example, they have created a public-private partnership to revitalize schools in McDowell County, W.Va. I’m sure the meth industry will be thrilled. They are trying to come up with ways to improve innovation and they are trying to figure out how to recruit better teachers... oh, and they’re going to have protest marches. Yawn. By the time someone starts doing what they should have been doing all along to save their jobs, the writing is on the wall.

These are not good times for teachers unions. They face legal pressure, economic problems, unfriendly legislators, falling and hostile membership, changing demographics, hostile public relationships campaigns, and well-funded and determined opponents. That’s bad for unions, but great for students.

Things are much better in the education system than people realize, and look for them to keep getting better soon.
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Obama = Mandela? Ha!

The passing of Nelson Mandela brings with it quite a few interesting lessons and I think we should discuss those today, because Barack Obama in particular seems to have forgotten them... or never learned them.

If you’ve paid attention to Mandela, then you really have to be impressed. Here was a man who certainlydidn’t seem like a statesmen. He was an agitator. And having spent years in a pretty rotten prison, it seemed even less likely that he would make a good leader. In fact, I think most people at the time probably thought he was about to become the next African warlord who started a civil war to drive out whites and destroyed his country without helping anyone but his friends.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, he took off on a very reasoned course. Indeed, even though his party, the African National Congress, was essentially a thuggish communist party, he rejected communism and redistribution. He worked with the whites rather than against them, hoping to trade his goodwill and lack of retribution for their continued expertise. He took down all the laws that ensconced inequality, he neutered the secret police, dramatically shrunk their military and put the resources into helping the people, and he turned South Africa into an honest broker which helped fix a lot of Africa’s bigger problems.

That’s pretty impressive. And in the end, I think you have to rate him as one of the few people to change the world in a positive way. Is South Africa perfect? Hardly. They still have rampant poverty. They are awash in murderous crime. But he avoided the bloodbath and brain drain everyone predicted. Did he end inequality? No, but he stripped the inequality from the law and he did his best to set the country on the right course economically. At this point, most everyone outside the fringe left and fringe right genuinely respect him for what he did.

So let’s talk about the lessons Obama hasn’t learned from this.

Inclusion: Why did Mandela succeed? Mandela had the rare desire among politicians to want to make the world better for everyone. He didn’t see himself as the leader of the blacks or the ANC, he saw himself as the leader of the country. So when he took over, he resisted the ANC push to confiscate white property, to jam blacks into all the political jobs, and to push a communist ideology. Instead, he took his role as President seriously and he tried to balance the interests of whites, blacks, including the ANC’s political enemies who are primarily Zulus, rich, poor and everyone else. The result wasn’t as dramatic as many on the left hoped, but it was stable and it was productive.

Now compare Obama. When Obama ran in 2008, he sounded like a moderate. He talked about being pragmatic and working with everyone. Then he took office. He faced nothing like the divides Mandela faced, yet his first term was marred by hyper-partisanship as defined by his utterance of: “We won.” He didn’t bother with natural disasters that affected states that didn’t vote for him. He played favorites to help his friends and supporters to the point of harassing his opponents. And when it came time to work with the Republicans, he instead choose belligerence. And the result has been a wasted presidency that achieved nothing and whose few achievements are falling apart because he lacks the friends he needs to repair the mistakes he made.

Inequality: Obama gave a speech the other day in which he whined about inequality. As I noted the other day, inequality is a growing problem for many reasons and conservatives would be wise to grab this issue, but let’s not lose perspective. Comparing inequality in America to inequality in South Africa, as Obama did, is like comparing a paper cut to a bullet wound... from a 50 caliber. Inequality here is a question of fairness, of lower incomes and of slowed opportunity. In South Africa, it’s a question of abject poverty and life and death. Obama using Mandela to whine about inequality in America, is a sick joke. At best it’s evidence that Obama doesn’t know jack-sh*t about the world and has no sense of perspective.

Oppression: And that brings us to the third point. So many people want to feel oppressed today. Obama wants you to believe that blacks in America are oppressed because states want everyone to show ID when they vote or because cops stop and frisk people who look like gangbangers. Palin wants you to believe that Christians are oppressed because Walmart greeters are told to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Gays want you to believe they are oppressed because they can get all the substance of marriage, and the trappings, but not the official word. And so on. This is all phony oppression. This is oppression for jerkoffs.

What Mandela faced was actual oppression. He spent 27 years in prison in a country where the government made opponents disappear. Torture and murder by the state were a fact. This was a country where the law specifically placed limits on where you could live and what you could do if you were black or “colored.” It was separate and very unequal. Only the votes of whites (and before 1930 males) counted. There were few civil rights, and certainly nothing like Americans enjoy.

So it’s pretty shocking when Obama, who apparently got walked through college and through Harvard Law School and who was given a job he didn’t earn at the University of Chicago and then in the Illinois legislature, compares his life favorably to Mandela. I don’t know Mr. Mandela, Barack, but it’s pretty obvious you’re no Mandela... you’re not even close.

Finally, let me go back to the issue of inequality. Obama whined about inequality the other day and he talked about how unequal things became in the US between 1979 and 2007. That is true. As I point out in my book, the rich got a LOT richer (+275%)... corporations got a LOT richer (Dow up 2,200%)... government got a LOT richer (budget increase 714%)... but the middle class (-12%) and the poor (-26%) got a lot poorer.

But what Obama forgot to mention was that things got way worse under his term. Indeed, 2008-2013 has seen a shocking growth in inequality to its highest point since the 1930s. So during a period of the most massive increase in government spending since LBJ’s Great Society began, in a period where government spending essentially doubled to pay for various “stimulus” bills and to bail out bank and unions, when the Fed spent trillions to prop up the economy, when Obama imposed massive numbers of regulations... inequality skyrocketed.

Inequality is a problem, but any comparison to the inequality faced by Mandela is a joke. Inequality is a problem, but the things Obama wants are not the solutions – Mandela himself rejected them. Inequality is a problem, but Obama’s cronyist policies have only made it worse. Inequality is a problem, but liberalism is not the answer... it is the cause.

With the passing of Mandela, the world has lost a man who truly did change the world for the better. And seeing Obama trying to wrap himself in the mantel of this great man is like watching a dwarf try on the armor of a giant. It tells us nothing of Mandela, but it speaks volumes about the deficiencies of Obama... Obama who does not understand true oppression, true inequality, or how good he’s had it, and Obama who couldn’t spell the words “statesmen,” much less act like one.
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Friday, December 6, 2013

Film Friday: The Hobbit (2012)

The Hobbit is one of my favorite books. It is a great book. It’s also made to order to be turned into a movie because, unlike a lot of classics, this one reads like a film. It has very clearly described scenes and characters and lots of action, all of which will present a fun adventure. Even more importantly, it has great characters whose depth unfolds through their actions and the dialog. What could go wrong?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Moar Friday Hits

Back by popular demand (and because I need to shift a more substantive article to next week), here are a few quick hits to round up the week's stories in post-partum depression and liberal failures, but mainly liberal failures.

Just A Reminder: Universal Health Care Is Terrible And Will Probably Murder You In Your Sleep

Okay, maybe that's a bit strong. But in the ObamaCare debate, we were always reminded by liberals how awesome socialized medicine is overseas, so turnabout's fair play, I think. Anyway, the link is to an article from the Daily Telegraph, which found that under Britain's NHS, over 1,100 nursing home residents have died since 2003, not because of their illnesses or old age but because of severe dehydration--despite the homes having adequate numbers of staff and (of course) good ratings from the government review boards, the patients weren't getting enough water. As if that wasn't bad enough, nearly three times as many died over the same period from malnutrition or bed sores. Yikes.

It's been noted before that the Brits remain stubbornly positive about their health care system, partly because it does work under certain circumstances but partly because they just don't want to admit defeat. One wonders how many stories like this they have to hear for that to change. (Just to show Britain's not the one bad apple, here's a story from Canada about how the wait times to see a doctor have become so long, the Great White North's considering re-privatizing some of its health care. Good times, good times.)

Rule Of Thumb: Always Fact-Check A #HATECRIME!!!!!! Story

This seems to be a running theme lately--messages bashing an ethnicity or gender or sexual orientation get reported, community crackdown on anything slightly offensive ensues, everyone gets lectured by higher-ups on the need to be respectful and accepting of others....and then it turns out the victim and the perpetrator are one and the same. Of course. No sooner did New York's Vassar College start a witch hunt, I mean launch a task force to find out who was writing messages like "F--k N-----s" and "Hey Tranny, Know Your Place," then it turned out the transsexual student who filed the hate speech report was the one who wrote them in the first place...and was also a vice-president of student government, and a member of the investigating task force. Ohhhh.

I could go into detail on other stories, like the Boston-area high school which ended its football season early (but not the requisite candlelight vigils) when racist graffiti was scrawled on one of the players' houses, then found out his mom did it to get attention; but I'll let you read through that one on your own.

GOP Hypocrisy? Eh, Not So Much

Among the things liberals (especially those in the media) just LOVE doing, calling out the Republicans for hypocrisy, or at least betraying their constituents' own interests, stands near the top of the list. Take this Time article noting that congressional Republicans have voted to scale back the food stamp program (not that much, mind you), despite the fact that, on average, a GOP lawmaker is likely to have a higher proportion of his constituents on food stamps than is a Democrat. The implication is clear enough: Republicans care more about their ideology than they do about helping real people, and also Democratic voters are usually more successful and probably smarter, too. Except, not only is a sizable chunk of the data on which the article based this claim missing, that which is present shows the results are really all over the map, with red states such as Idaho, Nebraska and even West by God Virginia (!!!) relying on food stamps than, say, "progressive" Oregon. Oops.

Though, even if the evidence had borne out Time's claims, I'm not sure what that would prove. Given that the Left relies on some watered-down quasi-Marxist rhetoric about class conflict to make many of its claims, wouldn't such proof show that rich people are not mean jerks who want to screw over the poor?

Paging Descartes....

And finally, just to reassure you that you really may be smarter than a big chunk of the population, check out this article from the so-called Scientific American which basically says that, because scientists are a bit vague on the boundaries between life and non-life and because you can sorta think of organisms as just really complex machines, "life" doesn't actually exist at all. I briefly toyed with the idea of laying out an objection to this, but you know, on that rare occasion when you find an article so patently dumb you don't have to waste breath refuting it, it's best to take advantage of it. Just go into the weekend with the knowledge that you know more about the world than some "scientists" do.

If you've got other good stories, mention them in the comments, by all means. Otherwise, enjoy.
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Caption This - Biden In China

I don't know about you, but I haven't been so nervous about US-China relations since Nixon went to China in 1972. No, really, I mean it. Biden could say anything or do something Biden-ish and, well, things could happen.

Like this:

Dear Lord, what was he doing? No, really, what was he doing? I am as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. So, what is better to calm the nerves than poking a little fun at our leaders, right? So....{{{{drum roll, please}}}}}...Caption this!

At least he holstered the Biden finger guns...

Do your stuff or change the subject.

Oh, and if you just don't want to think about Biden in China, here's something else to ponder:
Pizza is round, comes in a square box, and is cut into triangles.
Is that a random confluence of geometry or by design?
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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hollywood And Holidays

We’ve touched upon this a couple times in the past: Hollywood doesn’t do the holidays well. That’s kind of fascinating if you think about it, since the holidays seem like they are ready-made for storytelling. Not only are they well defined, they are a common experience, and they have their own emotional base. That should make for a heck of a fertile ground for stories. So what’s wrong?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Why Leftist Talk Radio Is Doomed

There was an interesting article last weekend at Politico about Leftist Talk Radio. They were lamenting the fact that the right has monopolized talk radio and they put together a plan for the left to get back into the game. It’s a silly plan but it’s worth discussing because it shows how delusional they are. The plan came in five parts, most of which were fantasy or denial. Let’s examine each.

(1) We Need A Sugar Daddy: "You got money, Mr. Billionaire? Me make radio long time." Apparently, they want a billionaire like the Evil Koch Brothers™ to fund Leftist Talk Radio no matter how much money they lose. Normally, I would say that’s a silly plan but that seems to be how the left works: it’s essentially owned and operated by billionaires... like Haim Saban (Hillary Clinton’s sugar daddy), Warren Buffett (Barack Obama’s sugar daddy), George Soros (Sugar Daddy of the Progressive Movement), Carlos Slim (the New York Times’s sugar daddy), etc.

The problem with praying for a sugar daddy, however, is that money isn’t the problem: lack of popularity is the problem. In fact, this billionaire idea is pure denial. This is leftists thinking that somehow they’ve been kept from reaching the public by “right wing radio station owners.” Hardly. Leftists have had dozens of chances to get radio programs, television programs, and even whole networks (MSNBC) and channels (NPR)... and the public ain’t buying it.

(2) Somebody Famous Save Me: Leftist Talk Radio needs a star! LOL! Uh, yeah. But they need to make a great video first before they can get Eddie Van Halen. This is what is called a paradox and it’s amazing they would toss this out there as a solution. If Leftist Talk Radio needs a star, they’re going to need to earn it, and that means coming up with a formula that pulls in listeners first.

(3) Who Needs Radio: Sour grapes time. Did you know that radio is dying? Maybe getting on the radio isn’t worth it after all? You know what Leftist Talk Radio should do? They should do something different that reaches more people in a better way... use technology to do what no one else has done and win the day. Woo hoo!

Yeah. Good luck. First of all, that's just platitudes - there's no substance here. Secondly, this is what podcasting was supposed to be and internet radio and youtube and all those things that turned out to be so obscure that only a handful of people pay any attention to them. Like it or not, the public gets their news through (1) television, (2) radio, and (3) a handful of internet portals. That’s it, folks. The further you get from those, the more you disappear into the mist.

(4) Market Timing: Elections are always good for talk radio, so maybe with an election coming up, now would be a good time to do something! Yep, only, the “something” is the problem.

(5) Don’t Shill For The Democrats: Finally, let’s talk substance, because this is where the answer lies. Of course, they struggle getting there. Their main point is that they need to stop being shills for the Democrats.

Oh boy. First, let me point out that the fringe left, which is where their talkers come from, are not shills for Democrats. Sure, they pimp for people like Obama and Pelosi, but that’s because they view those Democrats as fellow travelers. As anyone who ventures to leftist sites can tell you, when they don’t think a Democrat is far left enough, they have no problem tearing them apart. And if they don’t like the Democrat, they will stay home or vote freak, just like the fringe right. So let’s not pretend that Leftist Talk Radio was destroyed because it was too loyal.

The problem has been winning over an audience. For some reason, which I’m about to explain, Leftist Talk Radio has not been able to win an audience. The Politico article attributes this to leftists being too “professional” and not entertaining enough, but that’s a crock. There is nothing professional about the left. They have copied the exact formula all the right-wing guys use... seething anger, style over substance, pick your facts carefully, make grandiose pronouncements about the end of the America, etc. They are clones. It just hasn’t worked on the left. Why not?

Well, having given this some thought, the problem is that the fringe left isn’t built the same way as the fringe right. The fringe right follows one ideological goal, whether they want to believe this or not: NO! They are opposed to everything. That makes them a very easy audience to grab, because they all have the same interest, and it makes them easy to sell... you just have to hate everything unless the public hates it, then you embrace it. Simple.

The fringe left isn’t built that way. The fringe left consists of a half-dozen small groups, each of whom cares ONLY about their issue. How do you attract an audience when your potential audience wants to hear only environmentalism or feminism or race baiting or socialism or gay issues or anti-corporate rants or anti-military rants or anti-religious rants... and not a word about the rest. That’s the real problem on the left. The Democrats have overcome that because they can pet each group and tell them "You're my favorite." But talk radio can't do that. And that is why I think Leftist Talk Radio is doomed, because there is no common interest that unites the left. That means there's no solution that will let any one talker get a large audience.

Interesting problem.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Obamacare Daily Disaster Update

I’ll bet you hoped that while you were away clogging your arteries with turkey, gravy and pie, that Obamacare would just go away. It hasn’t. Like a husky zombie who’s zeroed in on dorm full of cowering brain surgeons, it just keeps coming... and it will never stop until somebody puts it out of its misery. Here’s the latest:

It Works... When Nobody’s Looking: Obama claims they got the website working, but then promptly told people not to use it so they didn’t break it. If you can’t use it, then it doesn’t work. As aside, did you know they haven't built the mechanism for processing payments yet? Or that they haven't yet fixed the ability of the website to accurately transmit data, like user identities and enrollment data. But hey, the website "works" now... whatever that means.

Not My Problem: The National Association of Health Underwriters undertook a little survey last week. They found that only 30% of doctors were willing to treat Obamacare patients because of the low reimbursement rates, few specialists will take Obamacare insurance, none of the major hospitals will take Obamacare insurance, and the four biggest insurers (United Healthcare, Aetna, Cigna, Coventry) have refused to participate in the exchanges.

So if you ever manage to get Obamacare, you might as well use the policy to wipe your rear end because that’s about all it’s worth... nobody’s going to take it.

In Triplicate: Because they haven’t been able to work out how the small business part of Obamacare is supposed to work, Obama has delayed that part for a year. He recommends that you contact an insurance broker... uh, a what? An insurance broker? You mean, there are people out there whose job it is to help others shop for insurance? In light of this shocking discovery, I’m left wondering why we need the Obamacare website at all? Oh, that’s right, because only a Democrat would get the government to do something the private market already does, not be able to make it work, and then call it a legacy.

Except For All The Rest: Obama claimed this weekend that “he’s got nowhere to go but up.” That’s optimistic. What he meant was that things are as bad as they can get on Obamacare, so as they fix the problems, his popularity will rise again.

//snicker snicker If you say so, moron.

Actually, what Obama doesn’t get is that the moment the ship hits the iceberg may seem like the bottom of the barrel, but that’s only the beginning. Obama still needs to get the website fixed so it’s no longer a “third world experience.” The experts say that could take years and require a total start-over. Then he has the problem that nobody actually wants his insurance because it’s overpriced and worthless. And as we get closer to forced-signup day, you’ll hear more and more horror stories about smokers and sick people all getting hit with several thousand in monthly fees. You’ll hear about more and more people losing their insurance until the number reaches around 80 million... each of whom will remember his bazillion promises about letting them keep their insurance. The people who do get coverage will discover what a deductible means and that they can’t find doctors. Rates will keep rising at every turn. The few reputable insurers who are involved with back out, the less reputable will go bankrupt. And soon enough, the Democrats will realize that their best strategy is to blast the zombie, so they will smear it themselves.

Yeah, that crunching, screeching sound you hear as the ice rips the hole in Obama’s legacy, that’s just the beginning.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

The Pope’s Apostolic Confusica

I like a lot of what the new Pope has done. In particular, he’s done a lot to push the Church back to its actual mission of spreading religion and away from being about money and politics. Interestingly, he’s done all of that with only a change in tone too, and without a change in doctrine. His latest issue is a little more troubling however... perhaps.

Last week, Pope Fancis issued an 84-page document called an apostolic exhortation. Think of it as his platform. This seems to be a document aimed at pissing off both sides. For example, he did say that the Church needs to bring more women into decision-making positions with the Church, but he affirmed the Church’s opposition to female priests. In fact, he said it “is not a question open to discussion.” He also affirmed the Church’s opposition to abortion. Both of those will upset progressives.

Pissing off the other side, he wrote what I want to talk about today. Specifically, he wrote about capitalism and poverty and what he said is problematic. Before I tell you my problems with it, however, let me explain what I think he really meant substantively, because when you strip out the ideology, what he says actually makes a lot of sense. Observe:

The Pope’s main concern was about extreme inequality. And you know, I can’t disagree with him. My problem with extreme inequality is that it takes away the stake people feel in society and they start to support radical ideas because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by upending the system. That is why, historically, extreme inequality has led to bloodshed, revolution and typically some form of communism. And in fact, the Pope does note that “unequal distribution of wealth inevitably leads to violence.” So he is being practical in his discussion, i.e. he’s not just saying “it’s not fair.”

And don’t think this isn’t a problem in the US. For decades in the US, any poor person could work their way up to the middle class simply by learning their job, working hard, and staying out of trouble. Those who aspired to more could go further through education or imitative. You could literally go from the assembly line to the boardroom over the course of your life if you proved your merit. Further, the majority of the people who were wealthy earned it by providing some product or service that people needed. They were compensated by the free market and we saw them as heroes for their achievements: they made the world better. The keys were this: (1) wealth was generally earned, (2) political power had little to do with the earning of wealth, and (3) you could work your way up the ladder to each level.

Over the past few decades this has changed. For one thing, the wealthy today rarely earn their wealth through the private market. Instead, they enter the worlds of law or finance, and their wealth comes from the misuse of the legal system to force their way into transactions. In other words, they actually “earn” their wealth by setting up toll booths to clog the free market system, and what they earn is stripped away from companies and people who could otherwise use it invent new products and employ more people. Moreover, their pay does not come from free market mechanisms, it comes from monopoly pricing. Thus, today’s rich make a hell of a lot more money than the rich in the past and they are “earning” it without providing anything useful to society... to the contrary, they are hindering society. Thus, they have gone from heroes to villains.

But this still wouldn’t be a problem if things were going well at the bottom... but they’re not. As I outline in my book, middle class and poor incomes have been sinking badly since the 1970s, even as rich incomes soared (incomes are more unequal today, in the age of Obama, than they’ve been at any time since the age of the Robber Barons). Moreover, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to move up the ladders and to stay on the level you are at. Unlike the past, if you learn your job, work hard and stay out of trouble these days, nothing is guaranteed anymore. Now you need an education, or you will find the ceiling is very low. But even getting an education guarantees you nothing but debt.

The result of this is a poor class who see welfare as their better option and feels entitled because they feel they have gotten screwed by society. You have a middle class that is struggling, which is increasingly turning to “eat the rich” policies, who are also starting to rely on benefits, who see the stock market as fixed, and who see the government becoming a tool for wealth generation on the backs of the middle class who are expected to pick up the tab. That hasn’t led to violence yet in America, but it is the sort of thing that has led to violence elsewhere, and it is the sort of thing which leads people to start supporting destructive policies like increases in welfare for their own class... or worse.

This is why I agree with the Pope’s concerns and why I think conservatives need to start trying to address this issue.

So what is problematic? Well, the Pope’s rhetoric is the problem. He wraps this message in some very anti-capitalist statements. For example, he called capitalism “brutal” and “a new tyranny,” and he complained about “rampant consumerism.” Grr.

First, he’s wrong about consumerism. Consumerism is the ultimate in democracy in action. Consumerism is how billions of humans express their opinions to the businesses and governments around them. It is how we the people reward the good guys who make our lives better and cause the bad guys to fail by ignoring them and their goods. And anything we can do to give consumers more power and more choice, the better. What I think the Pope is really upset about is “materialism,” which is a very different thing. That’s about people choosing stuff over people. He should not be confusing that with consumerism.

Secondly, he’s wrong about “capitalism.” Capitalism is the only way to lift people out of poverty. So attacking “capitalism” is foolish and counter-productive. And again, I think he’s misspoken. I think what he’s really talking about is cronyism, which is obvious from his calls for the reformation of the financial systems.

So the problem is this. Either the Pope simply misused his words or spoken poorly, or he means his rhetoric and is saying something much bigger than what appears to be the substance he intended. If that’s the case, then he’s a fool. If he only misspoke, then that’s fine, except that as someone with this powerful of a bully pulpit, he needs to take more care to speak clearly. His choice of words will wrongly feed statists everywhere. Moreover, for someone whose goal has been to get the Church back to its mission of spreading religion, it’s rather foolish to delve into economic ideology. Further, he offers no solutions by way of guidance. All he says is that unfettered capitalism is bad, but a welfare state is not the answer. So what does he want? It’s not clear.

I get the sense that what he’s talking about is equality of opportunity. He talks about striving to provide work, healthcare and education to all citizens. Those really are the inputs to people living productive lives. In fact, I would suggest that conservatives need a platform that is strong on each of those points: creating jobs and opportunity, improving education, and finding ways to make healthcare cheap and universally available. I also get the sense he’s actually talking about things conservatives should like, and if we could discuss this with him, we would probably find we agree. Indeed, notice that at no point does he call for minimum wages or guaranteed incomes, he never says the government has a duty to hand out these things, and he specifically disdains the welfare mentality.

So ultimately, we probably should be embracing this... BUT his attacks on consumerism and capitalism make it very, very hard to embrace his statement. By saying these things, he has given aid and comfort to people who favor redistribution. He has muddied what he said with sufficient contradictions that it is not possible to know precisely what he wants, which makes it hard to say, “Sure, I agree.” And he has wrongly attacked the very tools it will take to make his goals possible. Frustrating.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, Pilgrims

I love the holiday season because it's a good time to focus on the things we tend to forget about during the rest of the year. This is a great time to think about our friends, our families, and everyone we hold dear. It's time to think about this great country in which we live and all who help keep it that way. It's time to think of those who invent, who create, and those who provide. It's time to think of those who protect us, those who enrich our lives and those who enlighten us. It's time to be thankful just to be alive and to experience the beauty that is the universe in all its splendor, from the fantastic colors in the trees this time of year to the stars above. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Thanks for being part of our community! :D
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Toon-arama Thanksgiving Special: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

by tryanmax

“We've got another holiday to worry about. It seems Thanksgiving Day is upon us.”

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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The Economist to Obama: Stop Failing!

The Economist is an echo of its former glory. Sadly, these days, The Economist couldn’t pass Econ 101. It’s become a mistake-prone, nonsense-spewing, leftist propaganda sheet that acts like it’s unbiased and erudite. But their despair that Obama is failing is just too much high quality schadenfreude to pass up. And their prescriptions for saving Obama are laughable.

The article in question outlines how things have gone so horrible wrong for Obama and how he can fix it. Most of it is stupid, but there are some gems. The article starts by pointing out that the real power of the presidency is the bully pulpit: “When a president speaks, the world listens.” That is why credibility matters. Without that power, the president’s “power to shape events withers.” But poor Mr. Obama’s credibility has been shaken: “at home, the chaos of his health reform has made it harder for him to get anything else done. Abroad, he is seen as weak and disengaged, to the frustration of America’s allies.”

Interesting start. Let me point out a few things though. The president has tons of power in the issuance of regulations and executive orders. He has absolute power to shape foreign policy. And he can lob missiles into your living room. So while the bully pulpit is an important power, make no mistake that Obama’s loss of power is much greater than the bully pulpit. His regulatory regime has been crushed by the courts and by his conscious decision to do his donors’ bidding. His foreign policy failed because foreign leaders didn't worship him, so he quit. He lacks military credibility because he overused it and the military is exhausted.

Having cleared that up, let us continue...

THE REPUBLICANS ARE REALLY TO BLAME! Sorry, but we had to get that out of the way. Like all good liberals, The Economist starts by telling us that the economy and foreign policy problems are Bush’s fault, and Obama’s failure to get his agenda passed is the result of the Republicans... who apparently magically brainwashed the Democrats between 2008 and 2010, magically made his regulators lazy, and magically got world leaders to resist Obama’s charm. WAHHHH!

Anyway, after dutifully smearing the Republicans, The Economist lets their disappointment flow: “Under Mr. Obama, America seems rudderless and its power is being squandered.” That will happen when your leader spends his time on the golf course. “The debacle of Obamacare has gravely weakened the president.” Oh, Obamacare! Cruel world!

When Obamacare began, “Obama seemed blithely unaware that anything was amiss”... like a virgin going skinny-dipping in a horror film. Obama said it would be “real simple” and said it would “work the same way you shop for a TV on Amazon.” But...
“Alas, it did not. Millions tried to log on, few succeeded. The website was never properly tested, it transpires. Although this was Mr Obama’s most important domestic reform, no one was really in charge. Crucial specifications were changed at the last moment. Contractors warned that the website was not ready, but the message never reached the Oval Office. Big government IT projects often go awry, but rarely as spectacularly as this.”
Oh, that just makes me warm all over. Of course, that’s total crap, but I still like the anguish. In reality, Obama was told about these problems, but he decided to go ahead anyway. And when it exploded, as he had been told would happen, he blamed the contractors. So while I love the fact The Economist wants to act like this was just a mistake, it was really arrogance. And you know what? The Economist knows this. Check out the conclusion to this section of lament: “A man with little interest in details and a disdain for business, Mr Obama tried to impose a gigantic change on the whole country all at once and far too casually.” Yeah, that’s a nice way of saying Obama is too lazy to do his job.

Then they ominously warn: “The longer it takes to fix the website, the greater the chance that Obamacare will fail.” Heavens no! “To make matters worse, this sorry saga has caused American voters to doubt Mr Obama’s honesty.” Say it ain’t so! You mean his getting caught in obvious lies is causing people to think he lied? How can that be?
“Time after time, when selling his reform, he told voters that if they liked their health insurance, they could ‘keep that insurance. Period. End of story.’ Policy wonks knew this was untrue... But ordinary Americans took their president at his word.”
Ok, hold the phone. I don’t recall The Economist calling Obama out on that lie at the time. In fact, I seem to recall them attacking the Republicans for pointing out that this was a lie. Interesting. So The Economist knew this was a lie, but chose to attack the people who pointed out this was a lie. Gee, that’s called propaganda. What are you lying about now Economist?

Anyway, the proles are apparently “furious” that their old policies are being cancelled. As an aside, they call Obama’s fix “a sham” and they warn him “to stop making empty promises.” Good luck with that.

Beyond Obamacare, his foreign relations are “cool,” and not in a good way:
“The leaders of allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia scorn him. Europeans grumble that they are ignored when they want to be heard and spied on when they want to be left alone. Latin Americans feel neglected. Mr Obama’s ‘pivot’ to Asia has made China feel threatened, without reassuring other Asians that America will be there in a crisis. Many doubt Mr Obama’s word—remember his ‘red line’ over the use of chemical weapons in Syria?—and lament his inability to get things done.”
And here I thought he was a genius who could woo the world with the color of his skin, er, the content of his rhetoric. You can practically hear the tears of frustration running down red angry faces at The Economist... “ve ver deceived.”

So how can Obama turn this around? Get this:
● Stop making empty promises. Can’t, that’s the foundation of his policy.

● Start paying attention to details. Can’t, him no smart enough.

● Get rid of the aides who filter out bad news. Snort. Sure. Obama vas deceived!

● Start schmoozing the Republicans. Sure, and no doubt they’ll ignore five years of hostility.

● Get the Obamacare website fixed! Ha ha. That’s rich. That’s going to take years. And even then, you have all the other problems awaiting. Obamacare is like herpes, it can’t be cured. Your best bet is to stay away from it.

● Get a budget deal with the Republicans agreeing to tax hikes! Ah, delusion.

● Do somethingsomething with the military, like when you killed Osama bin Laden with your bare hands. Apparently, the military is a popularity enhancer machine for liberal presidents.

● A free trade agreement in the Pacific. Sure, except he’s a Democrat and they are protectionist.

● Pay some attention to Latin America. Right, because they can’t tell the difference between a photoshoot and substantive interest.
So basically, Obama needs to become something he’s not, he needs to slap down the Democrats on many of their issues, and he needs to hope that everyone else is stupid. Interesting plan. Why can’t I shake the feeling the The Economist is just saying: “stop failing!”
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Monday, November 25, 2013

Indifference, Belligerence and Brilliance

As we prepare for a Turkey-Day shortened week, a bit of foreign policy news has struck. //chirping Hello? Is this thing on? Hello? Come on people, go with me. There’s a moment of brilliance at the end of this article.

Ayatollah Rockenrolledya: Obama came up with an agreement that on the surface sounds like it will work in Iran. The goal is to negotiate a long term treaty stopping Iran from building nuclear weapons. This current deal would last six months, which would give everyone time to negotiate the longer deal. Under this deal, Iran will give up the following:
● Iran will halt (for six months) the installation of new centrifuges which are used to enrich uranium.

● Supposedly, this agreement caps and limits the amount and type of uranium Iran is allowed to enrich.

● Iran will stop working on some key components of their heavy-water reactor, which they need to produce plutonium.

● Iran will allow nuclear inspectors into Iran.
In return, we have agreed as follows:
● We will let them access about $7 billion in frozen assets.

● We will exempt them from Obamacare.
As I said, on the surface, this sounds like a good deal. They stop doing bad things, we get to inspect them and watch them on a daily basis, and the price was letting them have some of their toys back. Sounds good... if it works out that way.

Here’s the thing though. First, I can’t see Iran agreeing to this because we’re not giving anything up and we’re certainly not giving them what they want. So I suspect there's more to this and we should wait to hear the full price. Also, the Iranians are talented liars and they’ve played this game before of seeming to agree and then not agreeing. Nothing they’ve agreed to at this point really slows them except for a couple months tops. So I see this as nothing more than an agreement to keep talking. Still, if it works, I will happily give Obama credit for solving one of the world’s lasting problems... if it works.

As an aside, neither Israel nor Saudi Arabia are doing the happy dance about this.

That’s it for the good news.

Afghanistan Sticking with 4th Century countries, Obama is trying to push a deal on Afghanistan in which 9,000 US troops would stay in the country to help fight off the Taliban for at least another decade. The Afghans have pushed off the vote on this horrible idea until next year because they are having problems getting their enrollment website working, but they’ll take it. Ug.
● So we’re going to continue to risk US lives to protect a cesspool of sub-humanity with no real end game.

● Leaving a rump force only makes things a lot more dangerous for the troops who stay.

● So much for the trillion dollars in budget savings Obama was counting heavily on.
We’ve already been in Afghanistan (2001-present) more than twice as long as World War II took from start to finish (1939-1945), and adding ten more years means we will be there almost 4 times longer than World War II took. Does this strike anyone as wrong?

Su casa es mi casa: Ug. China is setting up an “air defense identification zone” over some islands that Japan controls. That’s a bit like putting your mailbox in front of the neighbor’s driveway. Japan apparently has put together a plan to shoot down any drones China sends into the area, whereas China has warned that shooting down its drones would constitute “an act of war.” This could get ugly.

Hot In The City: Public masturbation is on the rise (pardon the pun) in Vancouver. You would think this wouldn’t be a problem in Canada in the Winter, but apparently it is. Sounds like another horrible side-effect of global warming.

The Noble Mailbox: Finally, I leave you with this thought. Have you ever thought about how incredible the mailbox is? It’s just a box, on a poll, with a door in the front and sometimes one in the back, and a little flag to alert the mailman that something is waiting inside. It’s so simple we don’t even notice it. Yet, it connects you to the world.

In this day and age of bells and whistles and operating systems and things that are obsolete by the time you buy them, think about the mailbox. It’s design cannot be improved. It is perfection, and it is elegant in its simplicity, and that is something truly special.

There is little in life that we can look at and say that we’ve found perfection, but the mailbox is one of those things. The next time you go get your mail, think about how amazing this little box is and what it says about us humans.
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Friday, November 22, 2013

50th Anniversary: Doctor Who (1963-2013)

Doctor Who is perhaps the greatest science fiction show of all time. It’s also so amazingly unique that nothing has even come close to copying it. And on Saturday, it turns 50 years old. Who would have guessed?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Camelot, And Its Fanatics

Today is, as you know (probably), the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination. I figured it behooved me to write something for the occasion, because, you know. It's sort of important.

Problem is, I started to type this post and....of course, I couldn't think of a single substantive thing to say. Because hey, I didn't experience it; I wasn't born for another quarter-century. I can't relate to it on an intimate level. Besides, Bev already said most of the relevant stuff along those lines. I know it's a big deal for my parents' generation, because they all usually talk about it every year at this time. And I can understand why, to an extent. After all, I did experience 9/11, a similar traumatic experience after which the world was never quite the same again, so the mental break it represents makes sense. A CBS commentator made the interesting point that 11/22/63 was when the Baby Boomers' parents went from being the youthful, optimistic "Greatest Generation" of the post-war era to the middle-aged, stodgy "squares" of the late '60s and '70s. Could be.

And of course, JFK himself has a lot to do with the traumatic nature of the event. He projected youthful vigor, he was a war hero, and though he may have been more of an intellectual lightweight than anyone would admit at the time, he was of course a brainiac compared to two or three of his successors. There's a charisma there that you can't deny. Just look at the many conservatives who have tried to claim ever since that Kennedy was really one of them. (They're wrong about that, I believe--although certain of his positions would be very unsettling to the leftists of today.) But, look: There's no reason to think Kennedy wouldn't have faced the same problems as LBJ, what with Vietnam (which he did a lot to get us into), domestic upheaval over civil rights (which he was ambivalent about for a very long time), and so on. Maybe he would have handled those problems better than Johnson did; but the truth is, JFK had the good fortune--assuming you define getting sniped in the head as "good fortune"--to die before he really had to tangle with them, allowing his memory to be sanctified by American liberals.

So I don't believe there was ever a "What should we learn?" from the assassination. And if there was, presumably it would have been discovered in the past fifty years. There wasn't a bright, shining path that was suddenly taken away from America, however much some people want to believe there was. Which, of course, is why the conspiracy theories flourish around Kennedy: No one wants to believe that so much youth and promise could be snuffed out by one lone gunman who's a bit off his rocker. It had to be a conspiracy.

And, naturally, also the result of a "climate of hate," as they called Dallas afterwards. Because, after all, Dallas is in the South, and the South opposed civil rights, which Kennedy was making a few moves towards; ergo, Kennedy was killed by hateful racists. The NYT headline the next day read "Kennedy a Victim of Violent Streak He Sought to Curb in Nation." The same paper, in a recent retrospective, continued to label Dallas "The City With a Death Wish in Its Eye," which had utterly failed to come to terms with the atrocity that had happened within its bounds. None too surprising for the New York Times, because they're liberals, and that's what liberals do. But it was also bound to happen, because when you deify a leader as much as Kennedy has been, there's almost always an accompanying demonization of someone else. Which is never good, because using the "hatred card" (a term I just made up) to exploit a tragedy is just as bad as hatred itself.

So....yeah. I guess if there is a lesson from the JFK assassination, it's to embrace the occasional randomness of the universe, and not to see every tragic event, such as the death of a world leader, as the result of large-scale malevolence. Sometimes bad things just happen, like a nut with a rifle deciding one day he's going to put a hole in your head, and that fact of life can't be changed. Best to just accept it.

Kind of bleak, I know. So, er....heard any good jokes lately?
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

JFK Assassination From The Perspective of a Dallasite

In the lead up to the 50th anniversary of the Assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas, let me set the record straight. Okay, for the record, I had nothing to do with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Yes, I was in Dallas, but I was 4 years old and probably taking a nap. There I said it. it wasn't me. I know you may think that it goes without saying, but growing up in the specter of the assassination and guilt that has been foisted on Dallas that has followed these 50 years, you may be able to understand the guilt I may or may not carry. But really, I wasn't involved. With that out of the way, I also have no direct memories of the assassination either [naptime, remember?].

All that out of the way, I can admit now that I have spent many years wondering why Dallas has been held responsible rather than one lone Marxist assassin named Lee Harvey Oswald. Other cities have hosted assassins:

Washington D.C:

President Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865 (died April 15, 1865).
President James A. Garfield was shot by Charles Guiteau on July 2, 1881 (died September 19, 1881).

and Buffalo, New York:

William McKinley was shot by Leon Czolgosz on September 4, 1901 (died September 14, 1901) in Buffalo, New York.

Yet, neither of these cities has been held responsible. But then, the shooting in Dallas was different and I finally understand why. In each of the other shootings, it was obvious who did the shooting. Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley were all shot at close range and their assassins were caught almost in the act. Boothe was killed, but he was clearly the assassin having shot Lincoln in full view of an audience of a theatre audience at Ford's Theatre during a performance of "Our American Cousin". Guiteau and Czologz were tried and were brought to justice in a court of law, and both were executed. Cases closed.

Lee Harvey Oswald, on the other hand, shot Kennedy from a longer range with rifle from a window overlooking Dealey Plaza. He was arrested later in the day, but was killed by Jack Ruby before any investigation could be completed. Another unique aspect is the Zapruder film. Kennedy's assassination was the first caught on film. It isn't a stretch for me to believe that one lone, crazy gunman with a grudge could do this. There have been many unsuccessful attempts on other President throughout our history by lone gunmen (or women) yet the conspiracies persist with this one. But what do you think?

Here are some fun facts: My mother worked at Parkland Hospital and was at the hospital on the day Kennedy was brought in. She was the head therapeutic dietitian and was put in charge of Gov. Connally who was also shot by Oswald. She was almost fired because she fed the Governor chili. When he was able to eat, she went to his room to ask what he would like for lunch. Mrs. Connally asked what was on the menu and she told her that they were serving Texas chili. Mrs. Connally said then that would be just fine for the Governor. Later in the day, my mother's boss, Mrs. Lively, called my mother into her office and was furious that my mother gave the Governor chili! My mother, no shrinking violet, shot back (no pun intended) that it was what he wanted! Well, she wasn't fired...

A few years later, my mother was also assigned to Jack Ruby when he was in Parkland suffering from advanced lung cancer. My mother was so paranoid that someone would try to poison Ruby that she decided that she ordered that only one of her trusted cooks or she would personally make his meals. But, on January 3, 1967 she was late for work. She was driving to the hospital with the radio on when a breaking report came on that Jack Ruby has died. In a panic, she got off the highway and went to the first payphone she could find and called in. She just needed to make sure that Ruby had died BEFORE he had breakfast! He had...phew.

Truth in better than fiction, right?

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Why People Prefer New Films

A good question came up Sunday asking why audiences prefer new films to older films. For the vast majority of people, if a film isn't truly fresh, then they aren't interested, even if they haven't seen the older movie. Why are people like this? Let's discuss some possible answers.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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The Ethanol Dilemma

My my my, things can change quickly. For years, conservatives pointed out that ethanol is horrible idea. Liberals, as they always do, dismissed conservative complaints because they “knew” better. Now everything we’ve said has come to pass and liberals are fretting about all the problems “no one could possibly have foreseen.” Things are so bad that many liberals (the rational ones) now want to kill the ethanol program... only, their Dear Leader doesn’t.

Here are the conservative complaints about ethanol:
(1) It’s not actually green as it only seems green if you don’t count the fuel it took to produce the ethanol.

(2) Consumers don’t want it or it would already exist without government pressure. And subsidizing it will crowd out better alternatives.

(3) Using corn for fuel will cause massive inflation in food prices.
“Pshaw!” said liberals. Then reality struck. Now they see these problems too. In fact, there have been a number of studies liberals take on faith which show that corn-based ethanol is not a good biofuel at all. It takes so much energy to produce, so it's worse than using oil and actually causes global warming cooling climate change. Even worse, the subsidies have caused farmers to destroy million of acres of pristine land to plant corn. That has resulted in wetlands and “protected” land being plowed under, as well as the release of carbons from those lands. It has resulted in massive amounts of fertilizer being used, which has polluted rivers and made the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico much worse. It has caused food prices to spike all over the world.

Because of this, articles are appearing from the left demanding that Obama end the ethanol mandate to stop any further damage being done. The AP just did an investigation (LINK) of this, which it called “the secret, dirty cost of Obama’s green power push.” Check out how this article starts:
“The hills of southern Iowa bear the scars of America's push for green energy: The brown gashes where rain has washed away the soil. The polluted streams that dump fertilizer into the water supply. Even the cemetery that disappeared like an apparition into a cornfield.

It wasn't supposed to be this way.”
Yep, that's not a happy article. Unfortunately for liberals, Team Obama is in no mood to comply. Why? Well, for one thing, they get a ton of money from industry groups who want this to continue. The entire ethanol industrial complex is big into lobbying. At the same time, Obama doesn’t admit mistakes. And in this case, they fear that if they admit a mistake, then that (1) will create a groundswell against “clean energy” generally and (2) will scare away companies that are investing in biofuels that might actually work. This is what happens when you build a house of cards.

Then came Friday.

On Friday, the EPA issued new regulations cutting back on the amount of ethanol it requires oil companies to use. Has Obama finally seen the light? Hardly. The EPA really had no choice. The way the regulations are written, Congress required a certain number of gallons of ethanol be used. But with Americans using significantly less gasoline than expected in recent years, the EPA mandate was about to hit something called “the blend wall,” where the EPA was requiring the oil companies to use more ethanol than was physically possible given the amount of fuel drivers are using. In other words, the EPA had no choice but to cut back the mandate or everything would have pretty much stopped in the nation’s fuel supply.

Naturally, ethanol groups are very upset that the government didn't ignore reality. Apparently, government money makes you stupid. More interestingly, liberals are knee jerking this all over the place and it points out how hopelessly muddled and clueless their “ideology” has become:

First, you have liberals who are screaming that this will hurt the biofuel industry. They worry this will “chill” companies who are developing better fuels. Yeah, right. How does it help to implode the fuel system of the country in the name of the ethanol fantasy? This is what happens when reality bursts your bubble... reality wins and you retreat or die.

Secondly, they are labeling this a victory for oil companies, which is unacceptable in liberal circles. But you can’t criticize Obama either. So his siding with oil companies is creating a lot of contortion-related head trauma on the left. It also raises this problem: if eliminating ethanol is the environmentally friendly thing to do, but it helps oil companies, how can they do it? They can’t. That’s the problem with ideologues... they get stuck in loops.

Third, they are choosing to hate on oil companies at the expense of helping food companies who are making it harder for the poor to buy food the world over. Nice. “Sorry you poor bastards, but we have an enemy we don't want to see make any more profit than they already do... we're doing it for you.”

Fourth, in their efforts to not let oil companies win, they have sided with the likes of Monsanto and ADM, which is another liberal no-no.

What an interesting illogic problem. Anything they do will help someone they hate and the right choice is to abandon something they believe on principle even though they now know it not only doesn’t work but actively does harm to their favorite causes. Twisted. And in the middle is their un-criticize-able leader profiting from each side. Twisted indeed.

Ah, liberalism.
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