Thursday, January 31, 2013

Caption This: Michelle Ma Belle..

Honestly, I do not think I would have considered making light of our former first ladies while they were living in the White House. But there is something about First Lady Michelle Obama that just begs for it. It's that indefinable "je ne sais quoi" of our Michelle...

I am sure that if we put our heads together, we can define that "it" that makes her so special.

What was our lovely First Lady (with the elbows on the table) thinking sitting there next to the Boehners?
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Conservatives versus The Media

Let’s hit this straight up: the media is not all powerful. I know that much of the conservative world is convinced that the media has some voodoo power over the electorate which is the only reason Obama won and why we have such a bad image, but it’s just not true. The truth is WE are causing our own problems. Here’s why.

The Public Is Not Brainwashed.

Let’s start with something that should be obvious, but apparently isn’t. The media has NO power to brainwash the public. If the media had such power, the election results would have been a lot different. Of the 310,000,000 Americans, there are 208,000,000 eligible voters. Obama got only 60 million votes. That’s only 28% of all eligible voters (19% of all Americans). If the media really had power to brainwash people, WAY MORE than 28% of eligible voters would have turned out to support Obama.

Likewise, Obama lost 9 million votes between 2008 and 2012... 13% of his total. How can that be explained if the media has this magical power to make the public do as they wish?

Also, if the media had this power, why are people in certain states immune to their manipulation? And why does the media mysteriously lose this power on issues like guns? The “the media brainwashed people” argument has no merit and conservatives should stop hiding behind it.

The truth is, the public did not “buy” Obama, nor did people do what the media wanted. The public stayed home. The public stayed home because it saw no reason to vote for either side. In fact, the biggest winner on election night was None of the Above at 44%. Obama and Romney were a distant second and third at 28% and 27%. That’s on us. We need to focus on why we couldn’t get more than 27% of eligible voters to support us. We need to look at ourselves. Observe...

Why Our Image Stinks: We Do It To Ourselves.

Ok, so if the media can’t brainwash the public, then why does the public believe that conservatives are extremists? The answer is simple: that’s what WE tell them. In the entire universe of political movements, conservatives are the only ones (except maybe anarchists) who disdain the moderate label. Everyone else, from the Nazis to the Commies to the Democrats, claims to be moderates who speak for the forgotten man in the middle. They do this because the goal of politics is to win a majority of the electorate, so it’s important to tell the public that you and they are the same.

Not conservatives. Conservatives have developed a bizarre mentality where they compete with each other to prove how extreme they are. Conservatives brag about being “genuine” conservatives, they use the word “moderate” as a slur, and they equate moderates with traitors. Because of this mentality, our candidates routinely proclaim their purity and try to attack their primary opponents as being secret moderates. This implies (and is sometimes explicitly stated) that being a moderate is something we disdain, which translates into a message of “we are extremists.”

Make no mistake, the media could not sell the public on the idea that conservatives are extremists if we weren’t busy selling the image ourselves.

Why Don’t We Get Credit For Things We Do: Because We’re Nasty.

But wait, you say, even when conservatives act like moderates, we never get the credit! Isn’t that the media’s doing? Well, no. The problem is that while conservatives sometimes do “moderate/liberal” things, they do them kicking and screaming and lobbing insults. No one is going to give you credit in that type of circumstance.

Take the upcoming immigration reform effort. It will pass with Republican votes. As it does, talk radio, pundits, various grandstanding politicians, and bloggers will scream racist sentiments at the top of their lungs and whine about how these dirty Mexicans will forever destroy America and how any Republican who votes for it is a dangerous RINO who needs to be driven out of the party. These same conservatives will wonder a year later why conservatives got no credit from Hispanics for passing the bill.

Think about it this way. Suppose you want to post an article about your ugly, stupid kid at the blog. You nag the crap out of me to post it because you’re an a*hole who won’t shut the f*ck up and doesn’t realize nobody cares about your lame kid. I finally have enough of you and decide that I’ll let you talk about your dumba*s spawn. So I post the article with this disclaimer: “Here’s an article about some retarded kid you won’t care about, but ___ won’t leave me alone, so I’m only doing this to get them off my back.” How happy are you going to be with me? And are you going to give me any credit for posting your article?

It’s the same thing in politics. Conservatives don’t get credit for things they do because they do them kicking and screaming and making it clear in no uncertain terms how much they hate doing them and how, if it was up to them, they wouldn’t do them.

Why Are Scandals Worse For Us: We Mishandle Them.

That brings us to the next issue. Conservatives claim bias in how scandals get portrayed. They claim that nothing the Democrats do sticks to them because the media covers for them, but everything sticks to us. Again, this isn’t accurate. Yes, the media covers for them, but the Democrats are better at separating themselves from their lunatics.

When the Democrats get a lunatic, they immediately dismiss them as not representative of the party. Essentially, they tell the public, “oh, that’s just crazy uncle Joe. He’s harmless.” This works because the Democrats claim the moderate label, and thus, they can put space between themselves and their fringe. Conservatives, on the other hand, do this backwards. First, we all claim to be at the fringe, so there’s no space to be had. Secondly, we attack our own right out of the gates and then try to circle the wagons after we’ve told the public this issue is an outrage. The Democrats don’t do that. They remain flexible until they see how the wind is blowing and then they act accordingly. And contrary to conservative belief, when the Democrats get someone they can’t explain away (e.g. Weiner), they disown them in a heartbeat and they don’t keep trying to prove that they were actually right. We do.

Why Doesn’t Democratic Hypocrisy Stick: Because We Help Them.

Conservatives complain that Democratic supporters are blind to their hypocrisy. But the problem is actually that we help the Democrats sell their false image. Look at the issue of cronyism. Republicans are seen as cronies because. . . well, they are. So are the Democrats, but they aren’t seen as cronies. What accounts for the difference? For one thing, Republicans brag about helping Big Business, whereas the Democrats lie about hating Big Business. More importantly, however, we help them sell that lie.

Consider Obamacare. Obamacare is nothing more than a power grab on behalf of insurance companies. But no one is telling that to the public. The Democrats certainly won’t say it, and the Republicans won’t say it because they’re working for those same companies. Moreover, conservatives don’t say it because they’re busy mischaracterizing Obamacare as “government run, socialized medicine.” And in screaming that, they reinforce the false sales pitch the Democrats are trying to sell to their own people.

Any liberal who has doubt that the Democrats really are liberals gets constant reinforcement from conservatives that everything the Democrats are doing is “liberal/socialist.” Look at the gun control debate. Obama’s gun control plan is nothing more than a placebo, yet conservatives are screaming that it’s one step away from banning guns. Obama’s environmental agenda is a sop to unions and GE, yet conservatives scream about it being “anti-business” and “wacko environmentalism.” On issue after issue, WE are the Democrats’ best salesmen because WE are pushing the very false image the Democrats need their followers to believe.

Anyway, believe it or not, all of the above is good news. It really is.

The American people did not “buy” Obama. They are not brainwashed by some all-powerful svengali media. And our problems are of our own making: WE poisoned our own brand and WE protect the Democrats from their stupidity with our misdirected hyperbolic rhetoric. That means WE can fix these issues OURSELVES because we are victims of our own stupidity and not of some powerful external conspiracy.

I know it may not seem like it, but that really is a good thing. It means that we are not doomed. It means that we just need to make a few changes and we need to work on winning back those None of the Above voters. And our only enemy is ourselves.
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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

MacGuffin With Cheese

All right, I’m going to upset Scott a bit. Sorry, my friend. I’m going to talk about MacGuffins and why the Sankara stones in Temple of Doom are not a good MacGuffin.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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News From Around The World

How about a little foreign news? I know how much you all love foreign affairs. But stick with me because this is interesting. Plus, you can then make fun of the French in the comments. Ho ho ho!

Egypt: Egypt seems to be on the verge of revolution. What’s upset them? Believe it or not, they’re upset about the lack of checks and balances on the government. What started things was President Morsi’s declaration (discussed here LINK), which gave him dictator-like powers. . . which he took under a declaration of “trust me, I’m doing it for Islam.” People freaked out and started protesting. Morsi recently responded by imposing a curfew and a state of emergency. This turned into a running battle between the police and the public. The Army has decided to stay out of this so far.

What interests me here are three things. First, the Army’s decision to warn both sides and then to stand back tells me that the Muslim Brotherhood has no control whatsoever over the Army and that the Army is probably hoping the public overthrows the government. This suggests Egypt will be a lot more like Turkey than people expected. That’s a good thing.

Secondly, the fact the public is upset about a lack of checks and balances is a pretty advanced “Western” thought about democracy. This is something most people didn’t expect as democracy generally takes a long time to build the institutions it needs to thrive, yet here are the people demanding the core stabilizing element of democracy. That’s a great sign and again suggests a Turkey-like Islamic model.

Third, during the protests, the public has chanted “the Guide needs to go.” The “Supreme Guide” is the name given to the head of the Muslim Brotherhood, who is seen on the street as the real power behind Morsi. This is interesting because it represents a serious blow to the MB and their belief that Muslim populations are ready to impose unchecked Sharia law when given a choice. This again gives me hope that Egypt is trending toward Turkey.

France: France is “totally bankrupt.” So admitted their Labor Minister Michael Sapin. Yeah, big surprise there. But don’t worry, it was Nicolas Sarkozy’s fault, which means there’s no problem, right? As an aside, since Hollande took over, unemployment rose to 10.7% (a rise of 15% in one year). That must be le Bush’s fault.

This won’t surprise you either, though it’s come as a big shock to the French, but Hollande’s massive tax hike on the rich hasn’t exactly worked out as planned. Instead, data from the Bank of France shows that capital has been fleeing the country and continues to flee. Imagine that. Hollande is not deterred and he plans to jack up taxes another $30 billion over the next five years. Good luck with that, mon frere!

Anyway, don’t worry about the bankruptcy thing, the government assures us they can in fact pay their employees. And Hollande plans to cut $75 billion from their budget to get things into shape.

Hmm. Wait a minute. Hasn’t the left everywhere in the world been telling us that spending boosts the economy? Why would France cut spending at a time when their growth is close to 0%? Shouldn’t they spend their way out of bankruptcy? I think they should build a Death Star.

Mali-bien-phu: All is going “well” in Mali. The French and their African chums have “defeated” the al Qaeda backed rebels and driven them from a couple of “key” cities. Nothing to see here. Move along. These are not the droids you’re looking for.

As an aside, from what has been reported, they’ve killed almost no rebels. Indeed, they were bragging about possibly killing 12 the other day. The reason is either the totality of the French victory turned them all to dust or the rebels have done what they always do... they disappeared into the population and plan to conduct terrorist attacks. Now le Froggies are sending more troops, including British advisors and French combat troops from other nearby countries. This kind of reeks of Vietnam.

So far, Obama has refused to get involved (except for some mid-air refueling) because the Pentagon thinks France has no exit strategy. Personally, I’m thinking their best strategy would just be to raise the tax rates in Mali to 75% and watch al Qaeda flee.

You know, speaking of using government in its most effective form, why did it take the Pentagon so long to find Osama bin Laden? Why didn’t they just call the student loan people. Those people can find anyone, even people who’ve fled to caves on Mars.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Laughter Is The Best Weapon

Dear Suckers, uh. . . democrats, you’ve been had. . . again. Obama just appointed Mary Jo White to head the SEC. She’s a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York who “has experience policing Wall Street.” Clearly, she’s gonna put a boot up Wall Street’s ass, right?! What an amazing victory for the little people. Cue the lamenting Republicans... “Boo hoo hoo, Obama’s anti-Big Bank!! Boo hoo hoo. Who will protect these vulnerable banks?!” Good grief.

Let me give you a couple facts about our jackbooted anti-Wall Street thug. These are things you won’t hear because it doesn’t fit the narrative of either party:
1. Mary Jo White was indeed a prosecutor who prosecuted securities crimes. Yep. Then she switched sides. White is currently the head of litigation at Debevoise & Plimpton. D&P is an international law firm based in New York. They have 700 attorneys and they represent some of the biggest companies in the world. In particular, they represent Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley, along with Goldman Sachs, is one of the big corrupt players who control our Treasury, the SEC and pretty much the banking system.

Imagine that, Morgan Stanley’s lawyer gets appointed to run the SEC and regulate Morgan Stanley’s trading! How can this be? Is Bush back in the White House?

2. In October 2008, the SEC’s Inspector General issued a report critical of the SEC’s enforcement chief for providing to Mary Jo White evidence the SEC had gathered against her client, John Mack, the CEO of Morgan Stanley, for insider training.

Why is this important? Because this shows that White was willing to use her contacts at the SEC to improperly help her client. This suggests that White is hardly an ideologue, but is instead a paid whore for her client. In fact, you don’t rise to be head of litigation at a firm like D&P unless you have a certain moral flexibility that favors your clients, i.e. you’re a whore.
This, of course, fits everything the Democrats and the Republicans do. This is also becoming a pattern with the Democrats. I know conservatives want to see the Democrats as crazed ideologues, but their actions say something different. Their actions tell us the rhetoric is just a smokescreen to hide a party that appoints Wall Street stooges to regulate Wall Street, crafts environmental laws to help donor companies like GE sell their products, crafts a healthcare reform bill to hand the health insurance system to insurance companies, creates fake gun control measures to drain the suckers, promises massive change in foreign policy but continues Bush’s policies, promises to jack up taxes on the rich but only raises them 3% if that -- less than they raised middle class taxes, and so on.

So, what’s the point to bringing this up? The point is simple. This is the precise sort of thing conservatives should be mocking... and I mean that term precisely. This is not something conservatives should fight by trying to hold up her nomination. Nor should conservatives try to attack her from a pro-Big Bank perspective. Indeed, doing that will only convince Democratic supporters that they were right in selecting her.

Instead, the proper approach with a nominee like this, who flies in the face of the image the Democrats try to sell of being opposed to Wall Street, is to mock their supporters. Call them suckers for believing the rhetoric that the Democrats oppose Wall Street and the Big Banks when they really pimp for them. And then walk away after you mock them.

Trust me on this, condescension stings. It’s the one form of attack that is guaranteed to raise blood pressure and get the other side upset because it makes people feel like you don’t respect them at a fundamental level. Moreover, because mocking someone presents a picture of total indifference, there is no avenue for liberals to alleviate their frustration by counterattacking conservatives. Instead, they will direct their frustration at the person who made them look like a fool... Obama. That’s human nature.

If you want to break the Democrat’s PR about them fighting the big guy on behalf of the common man, and you want to force them to actually need to follow through on their rhetoric, this is the only approach that will work. This is the only approach that is guaranteed to cause dissention in Democratic ranks.

Laughter is not only the best medicine, it’s also one of the most powerful weapons. Conservatives should learn to use it.
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Ha ha! Obama Sells You Out Again, Liberals

Stupidity has a great way of catching up to you. And the Democrats are nothing if not stupid. What now? Well, it turns out there’s a little known provision of Obamacare that nobody noticed which is freaking out the Democrats. What provision? You’re gonna love this.

Ok, before we continue, I want you to remember that Obama campaigned against big, nasty insurance companies to get Obamacare passed. Remember how those bad companies hurt people and deny them coverage and make coverage too expensive for people to afford? Yeah, that was the rhetoric. Woo hoo! Obama gonna git them big insurance companies! He’s my hero.

Now I want you to remember that the insurers mysteriously backed Obamacare. It’s one of those things science has no answer for, like lemmings heading to the ocean or how pigeons navigate without GPS. Oh... wait a minute... that’s right, they supported it because Obamacare forced 310,000,000 people to buy insurance. I knew it was something.

Anyway, it turns out it’s even better/worse than we thought. See, buried deep in the bowels of Obamacare, next to the legisphincter, is a little known provision that allows those same evil insurance companies to do the following:
● Charge oldsters “up to” three times (300%) what they charge their younger customers. Take that greedy, rich seniors!

● Charge smokers “up to” a 50% penalty on smokers.
“Up to” of course means “absolutely.”

Oh, and those “tax credits” you’re supposed to get to help pay for premiums can’t be used to offset the penalties. So sad. You can, however, reduce the cost of the smoking penalty if (1) you get your insurance through your employer AND (2) they offer a smoking cessation program (which I believe entails letting clowns touch your genitals every time you light up).

There doesn’t appear to be an old-age cessation program.

So here’s what can happen. Assume a 60-year-old smoker making a whopping $35,000 a year. That’s a prime Obama voter. Under the new Obamacare, this person’s premium based on age will be $10,172 a year. Factoring the “tax credits” Obamacare supposedly pays will drop to $3,325.

As an aside, those “tax credits” are a subsidy ($7,000) paid directly to the insurer by Uncle Sam... yes, the same insurer Obama claimed to vanquish.

Then the insurer adds the smoking penalty. That adds $5,086 to the bill, meaning our oldster will pay $8,411 out of pocket and Uncle Sam will pay $7,000 more to the insurer... money which could have gone to any number of good causes. Let’s hope the oldster doesn’t want a home, or food, or anything else really.

Now, the oldster can reduce the $5,086 if they like clowns, but even that is estimated to cost around $1,200 a year, and it will suck the life right out of you.

So much for Obama helping the poor, the middle class, the old, the uninsured. In fact, the only people who seem to benefit under this are insurance companies. . . and clowns.
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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Discussion: David Mamet, Conservative

David Mamet - Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Oscar nominated screenwriter, essayist, novelist, and Conservative. His body of work to date includes such thought-provoking plays such as Glengarry Glen Ross (currently in revival on Broadway starring Al Pacino) and Speed-The-Plow and screenplays for The Verdict and Wag The Dog, he took time out to pen this piece for Newsweek-slash-Daily Beast (a/k/a "News-Beast" or "Beastly-News"). It is kind of surprising that this op/ed piece actually got passed Evan Thomas and the editors at News-Beast. Who knows why, but please read it and let's discuss. So without further adieu...

Gun Laws and the Fools of Chelm written by David Mamet
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Open Thread -- Vox Populi

"All movements go too far."

-- Bertrand Russell
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Friday, January 25, 2013

Film Friday: The Dead Pool (1988)

The Dead Pool is the last Dirty Harry movie. As cop movies go, this one is ok, but as Dirty Harry films go, this one stinks. Believe it or not, the reason is political. By the time The Dead Pool was made, there just wasn’t that much left for conservatives to complain about in the criminal justice system. And that left this film rudderless.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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The Return of the Irrational

Okay, so it's no secret that conservatism has a lot of problems right now. Some of these have already been addressed on the blog, but I thought I'd go in a slightly different direction and bring up a moral flaw we and American society in general suffer from. And no, I don't mean that kind of moral.

I was started thinking along these lines by an article in Spectator magazine last fall, essentially discussing how "moral relativism" has become more a conservative bugaboo than a real thing. Long story short, there are people who claim to be relativists, but no one who can consistently hold to it. You know the drill: Dogma is bad, you can't categorically say that something is wrong, unless it's racism, sexism, homophobia, blah blah blah. It just goes to show how liberalism is a completely contradictory "philosophy," if you can even call it that. In any case, pure relativism is losing ground with the public and even pop culture, as a look at the popularity of principled heroes at the movies will tell you.

No, the real problem, according to Spectator, is a particular kind of morality we modernites are susceptible to: utilitarianism, for lack of a better word. What this simply means is that it is possible, still, to make objective moral statements. BUT, they can only be made if based on statistical or technical data. Want to say something is "good" or "bad" for society? Find study X or survey Y to back you up. Once you have the numbers on your side, then you're getting somewhere; otherwise, you're just fishing in the dark.

There are several reasons why this is bad for conservatives.

First, it makes argument in general a very dicey thing. As the whole healthy/unhealthy food studies prove, there is rarely such a thing as conclusive scientific proof on a social issue, of any kind. Take gay adoption, for example (something closely tied to the larger gay marriage debate); no sooner can I find a study showing that children raised by gay parents tend to do worse than those raised by straight parents than my debate opponent can put out one saying the former turn out just hunky-dory. In cases like this, desirable as such statistical information can be to buttress your argument, relying strictly on a scientific basis for moral points doesn't really do much to advance the debate. The veracity of the science itself just comes under fire.

Furthermore, this kind of approach constrains our battlefields. In arguing on whatever subject, if we restrict ourselves to statistics alone in supporting our position, we make ourselves dependent on what has and hasn't been done on it, not to mention what can and can't be done on it. Illegal immigration and drugs, for example, are subjects inherently somewhat secluded from outside analysis, so we can't argue with fully accurate data at our backs.

But there's a broader way in which this is problematic. Conservatives (and by extension the GOP) have often been branded "the stupid party," people who cling to tradition and prejudice to make decisions. There is truth to this; yet I don't consider that an insult necessarily. As a political philosophy following in the footsteps of Burke and others, conservatism is not, in the main, concerned with purported scientific "laws" of society--even valuable market-based ones such as Smith's and Hayek's--but with proposals about how we should act, individually and collectively; proposals which cannot be proven by social science. The statement that change should not happen for its own sake, for example, is one most conservatives would agree with, but you can't whip out an academic study confirming or denying this. Nor can you produce one showing that the collected wisdom of our ancestors should be considered when making a political or economic decision.

At bottom, conservatism (like other philosophies) asks questions about life, liberty, community, etc. And while the natural and social sciences can inform us about portions of those concepts, they can't tell us why those concepts are good and desirable in themselves. Nor can they tell us everything about how to best pursue and preserve those things. We have to be okay with the fact that reason alone can't answer all this. Or at least, the overvalued pure empiricism we rely on can't.

I don't have a concrete suggestion on how conservatives should proceed with this in mind. Ours is a society extremely wedded to what can be empirically proven, and nothing else. But as we go forward, we need to keep in mind that this is not the only branch of human knowledge, and maybe not even the most important one. We ought to look for a way to demonstrate that what we can't quantify has just as much to say about life and society as what we can.

Thoughts? Suggestions?
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Caption This: Obama's Women

It was announced yesterday that Leon Panetta's final act as Secretary of Defense will be to lift the ban on women serving in frontline combat. I say it's about time. If women want full equality, then serving in the front lines of combat should be part of that and with that should come all the opportunities of advancement. And, just so you get how really "feminist" I am, I believe that if we ever re-institute the draft, it should include women 18 years and older.

Now that I have gotten that off my chest, aren't we glad we have a President who is so interested in the opinions and advancement of equality for women? I mean, he has made sure that the women at the WH are paid equally...oops, well, okay, not true. Okay, but even more importantly, he appointed more women to his cabinet than any other President. So, with most of the women cabinet members "retiring" in the next few weeks, it is kind of funny that the guy whose central theme of his re-election campaign was the "War on Women" is replacing each one of them with...old, white men. Huh???, hey, at least he's sending them to the front lines, right?

Anyway, let's play a game to take our minds off of the most important scandal of the week: Lip-synch-gate*!

Can you spot the women in this photo? No? Where did they go? What are they doing? You decide...

Oh, wait, there's one in this photo. That arrow points to Obama's Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett supposedly, but still where are the other women?

And, by the way, would it kill them to dress appropriately in the Oval Office??

*We predict this will be nominated for "Best/Worst Use of Misdirection/Diversion by the MSM To Overshadow Big, Bad Issue That The WH Needs To Cover Up" at the upcoming Comment-A-wards Ceremonies (or "Commies")this Spring.
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Obama's Legacy: Reviled

The second term of a president is usually when they start trying to define their legacies. Reagan spent his second term consolidating his economic policy and ending the Cold War. Nixon spent his second term destroying his reputation. Carter spent his “second term” giving aid and comfort to anti-Semites the world over. Now, Obama faces the same question. Sadly for him, his legacy is going to be pretty horrible.

It’s always difficult to predict how the next four years will go politically speaking, but some things seem obvious at this point.

Horrible Economy: The economy is atrocious and it’s not going to get any better. It’s probably the worst economy since the Great Depression. Somewhere around 20 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. Kids coming out of college are finding no jobs. Minority employment and youth unemployment are soaring. Personal incomes are falling. Prices are soaring. Housing prices are flat or sinking.

This is going to get worse too. For one thing, everything Obama does is bad for the economy. Tax hikes and regulations will keep tripping the economy. The real effects of Obamacare will start to kick in over the next two years as well. The world is tipping back into recession. There is fear that central bankers are being pressured to engage in competitive devaluation to make their economies competitive, which will lead to inflation and falling asset values. Ironically, he’s even standing in the way of the one thing that could turn this around – natural gas.

Obama’s economic legacy will be tens of millions of people unemployed, falling home and assets values, a falling dollar, falling incomes, and a generation of people put onto a lower economic track.

Fiscal “Bankruptcy”: The US won’t go bankrupt. That’s a ridiculous idea. The US has too many assets and generates too much income for that to happen. BUT... the government has pushed the economy to the limits. The government now takes enough that it’s interfering with the economy. Moreover, about 1/3 of what the government spends is borrowed, and we can’t borrow much more. Essentially, Obama has spent the government to the point that it is incapable of spending more, i.e. “fiscal bankruptcy.” Further, much of the future budget will be wasted on interest payments. Also, because Obama failed to address entitlements, they will slowly eat the budget. In effect, Obama has destroyed the government’s ability to act.

Obamacare: Obama’s obvious legacy is Obamacare, but what kind of legacy is it? It was supposed to make sure that 42 million Americans got insured. I’ll bet you the numbers don’t budge. Millions of Americans will now find it harder to get insurance as their employers drop their plans. Doctors are leaving the profession – making the existing doctor shortage worse. It does nothing to control out-of-control costs. It will weaken Medicare and make it harder for old people to find doctors. It will push numerous states to bankruptcy because it expands Medicaid. Obamacare’s legacy will be failure. People will be less and less happy with the medical system and all the statistics will get worse. Eventually real reform will be needed, which will include completely replacing Obamacare.

Way Too Big To Fail: Obama signed into law a banking reform bill that was little more than a declaration that the largest banks were free to eat up all the smaller banks. They are doing that. Right now, the biggest banks are much bigger than they were when everyone worried about too big to fail, and they are getting bigger all the time. And thanks to the Democrats, we are backing more of their risks than ever. Obama’s legacy in this regard will be the creation of a mega-opoly of banks who will dominate the economy and hold taxpayers hostage.

Global Warming: Obama wanted the US to become an international environmental leader. That didn’t happen. In fact, Obama’s failed push to take charge seems to have destroyed the international environmentalist movement. Obama went to Copenhagen, hoping to impose liberal environmentalism on the world by treaty. Instead, Brazil, India, Russia, China and South Africa seized the agenda and all but killed international environmentalism. He also mishandled the carbon debates and failed to assure the public of reforms in the wake of Climategate. The result is that there is no longer any international consensus on anything environmental.

War: Obama has been the most bellicose President we’ve had since. . . well, ever. He “ended” the already-ended war in Iraq, but then dramatically expanded the Afghan War into Pakistan, where the CIA is using drones to hit thousands of targets. Obama also bombed Yemen and Somalia. He sent combat troop to Uganda and the navy to fight pirates. He bombed Libya. He will soon be involved in Mali and Syria. He’s been fighting an informal war with Iran, which I suspect will become a shooting war soon enough. Obama’s eight years will be one continuous undeclared war after another.

Moreover, despite screams of “war crimes” when Bush did it, Obama has not closed Gitmo. He tried to make terrorist suspects into “non-persons” so they had fewer rights than even Bush gave them. He hasn’t stopped “illegal renditions” or most of the things he once called “torture” (except waterboarding). Obama is using drones all over the place and doing so under policies that are legally questionable – “signature strikes,” which are like “racial profiling with extreme prejudice” where the CIA doesn’t actually know who they are targeting.

Obama’s legacy is that the US will come to be seen as a pretty murderous country that shoots first and bombs anyone it doesn’t like.

Polarized Electorate: One of the things all great Presidents have is the ability to get people on the other side to respect them and people in the middle to follow them. FDR, JFK, Reagan, Clinton all had strong, broad-based support and were remembered fondly. Obama won’t have that to help his legacy. Obama has polarized the electorate beginning the day after he took office, and his despicable re-election campaign made that worse. Now he’s talking about becoming hyper-partisan. Good luck.

Obama will fall into the category of Nixon, Johnson and Carter. He will be reviled except for a small base of supporters. The right hates him as a tyrant, the left hates him as a corporate-crony sellout who won’t actually push liberal/progressive policies. Even among his supporters, there is lots of evidence that he’s not liked personally.

This is not a legacy to be proud of, but I think this is the legacy Obama will have.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Guest Review: Sound of My Voice (2012)

A Film Review by Tennessee Jed
Last May, I reviewed Brit Marling’s first feature, a low cost, independent production titled Another Earth in which she both co-starred, and co-wrote. At the time I concluded that while flawed, it generated sufficient interest to recommend, and that Marling exhibited definite potential as both an actress and writer. Her second film shares similarities with that earlier effort, but reveals a stronger storyline. It deals with the paranormal, presents a more unified, clearly defined theme, while providing a somewhat easier concept for viewers to grasp. Marling, who partnered with different writers/directors for each film, is likely the dominant creative force behind both.
Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Republicans Can Win The Senate? Uh, No

Fair warning: I’m going to crap on an article that’s all unicorns and happy dust about the Republicans winning the Senate in 2014. So if you want to believe that all is well, then ignore this article. But if you’re interested in getting a real sense of what is going wrong for our side right now, then read on. The article in question comes from Breitbart, but I’m seeing similar analysis all over the place. And this article highlights how blind the conservative pundit establishment really is at the moment.

The article starts by suggesting that the Republicans have an advantage in terms of taking the Senate in 2014 because 20 of the 32 Senators up for re-election are Democrats. Sounds great, right? Moreover, we only need to win 6 seats and 12 of those 20 Democrats are in “a state that is red or swing.” Gee, that sounds really great! What are those red/swing state? Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia.

Uh. . . no.

Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota and West Virgina are reliable blue states. So scratch them off the list. Moreover, states like Virginia and North Carolina are trending blue. And don't forget, we lost red states North Dakota and Montana in the last Senate election cycle, and we lost Alaska before that. In fact, reaching back, we lost both Montana seats, both Virginia seats, both West Virginia seats, both Colorado seats, and both Minnesota seats in the past few years. Not to mention the Democrats in Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and South Dakota are long-time incumbents, and the Democrats are very good at picking people who play well in those states. So what we're really looking at is maybe two vulnerable seats. Hence, forget winning.

But wait! This article also assures us the issues are on our side. Which issues? Well, Obama’s gun control push will force Democrats either to “back the President’s gun control agenda or risk handing their GOP opponents an effective talking point.” Really? What if the Democrats just do what they always do. . . they go home and talk about the need to save us from guns while simultaneously swearing they will protect the Second Amendment. Then they watch the House kill Obama’s proposal and the issue dies without them ever taking a stand. Huh, didn't see that one coming.

Wait, there's more!

“If the Republicans play their cards right,” the debt-ceiling debate is another “edge” the Republicans hold. Ha ha ha ha! Ok, first, the Republicans never play their cards right. Secondly, there is no right play here.
(1) You can’t play chicken with someone who wants you to hit their car, which is what the Democrats are. They want the Republicans to appear to wreck the government and the economy. . . it gives them cover.

(2) Do you really think anyone cares if the debt ceiling is $14 or $15 trillion? No. This is not an issue that you die for. And die it will be because the Republicans will be tarred with claims that (i) Social security will stop making payments, (ii) Medicare will stop paying doctors, (iii) soldiers won’t get paid, (iv) unemployment benefits will stop coming. . . all because the Republicans are trying to score political points to extract some worthless, meaningless promise of cuts that will never happen.
But more fundamentally, do you notice anything missing here? Yeah, the actual goal. This is Underwear Gnome Theory again: STEP ONE, hold country hostage... STEP TWO, _____... STEP THREE, profit. Seriously, this person is telling you the fiscal cliff holdup will win the day for us and they don't even realize there's no actual demand, there's just the holdup and the assumption of victory.

And they aren't done. Apparently, the evil Democrats in the Senate have “refused to pass a budget for the last four years. (Why aren’t we hearing more about this !?1?!)”. Good grief. We aren’t hearing more about this because it's technocratic bullship. Taxes get collected. Agencies get their share. Money gets spent. Programs continue. There is no substance to this argument, it's all procedure.

So look at what you're being sold here. You're being told there is the promise of a takeover of the Senate because 12 of 20 Democratic seats are vulnerable. The reality is we're talking about two. You're being told the Democrats will be forced to admit they want to round up guns, which won't happen. You're being told the public will magically fall in love with us if we disrupt the government for some goal to be named later. And you're being told the public will suddenly love us if we make the Democrats fill out Form A instead of Form B. This is delusional. Please do not believe this crap.

But even putting this aside, do you see the real problem? Ask yourself, what is our agenda? What are we offering the public? The answer which this pundit thinks is so wonderful is: (1) Stop Obama from doing something about guns. (2) Stop Obama from spending more money. Translation: vote for us so nothing changes!

If the Republicans ever want to win again, they need some actual ideas. They need to tell people how they will make the job market grow. How they will fix the housing market. How they will fix the student loan problem. How they will make the country safer. How they will make kids smarter and less ugly. “Vote for me and I’ll make sure nothing changes,” simply doesn’t work, and we need to stop accepting it.

Here are three names that are at least making moves in the right direction. Bobby Jindal is trying to eliminate the income tax in Louisiana. The same thing needs to be brought to the national level. Marco Rubio is talking about immigration reform. Again, we need to stop the bleeding on this issue and admit the inevitable. Rand Paul is talking about a foreign policy that involves a strong military, but dropping the idea that we should bomb everyone on the planet.

These ideas are a good start. They barely scratch the surface of what we need, but they at least are something more than “Vote for me and I’ll make sure nothing changes.” The truth is, we need an agenda that will create jobs, that will make people more secure financially and protect them from ill-health and old age, an agenda that helps people get out from under their debts, send their kids to college, and provides genuine protection from bad guys. And we need an agenda that promises personal freedom. I'm hoping to start unveiling such an agenda in a couple weeks, but in the meantime, start thinking about conservative solutions to problems people actually care about. Until we do that, more and more states will turn blue.

In the meantime, don't believe this garbage that everything is going great.
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It’s About Fargin Time!!

My greatest frustration with the GOP, among a list of many, is that the GOP completely lacks the ability to engage in strategic thinking. If these guys fought a war, they would try to coordinate battle plans with the enemy. Well surprise, surprise, the GOP is trying to do something strategic. Shocking.

One of the favorite tricks of the left is to tinker with the electoral system to try to win elections. Here are some examples:
● Liberal states are trying to switch to a national popular vote plan which would benefit liberals by letting all the extra liberals in California outvote people in the smaller states.

● Liberals in California switched to a system that allows the top two vote getters to run against each other, regardless of party. The idea was to wipe out the GOP by keeping GOP candidates from even qualifying.

● Liberals in several red states, most recently Colorado, tried and failed to get those states to apportion their electoral votes rather than go winner-take all. They abandoned this when Colorado turned blue.
Here is the list of things the GOP has tried at the same time:
● Jack
● Sh*t
So imagine my surprise when the GOP in several blue states where the GOP somehow holds all the power at the state level announced plans to try to change their system to apportion their votes proportionally. In other words, when the Democrat wins 52% to 48%, the Democrat would only get 5 or 6 of the state’s 10 electoral votes and the rest would go to the Republican. The states in question include Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, with Ohio, Virginia, Florida and North Carolina also possibly joining the list.

How could liberals object to this, right? They tried to do this in several red states, and they would never object to something they tried to impose on other states, would they? Moreover, this is consistent with the Democrats’ supposed love for Democracy and the popular vote. So they should love this, right?


The Democrats are outraged that their own tactics could be used against them:
● “This is nothing more than election-rigging,” wailed Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer.

● “It is difficult to find the words to describe just how evil this plan is. It is an obscene scheme to cheat by rigging the elections,” cried Democratic Pennsylvania state Sen. Daylin Leach.

● “We can't sit silently by as they try to manipulate the democratic process for political advantage. We can't let them attack the very democratic institutions and rights that others have sacrificed so much to gain — just because they don't believe they can win in a fair election fight,” whined Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
This is awesome. I feel their pain and it makes me whole. :)

Seriously, does everyone see how bizarrely hypocritical this is that they are smearing something they invented? How about the fact that they are smearing the very principle of the popular vote and direct democracy they claim to love? Man, I love the smell of napalmed donkey in the morning.

Sadly, before anyone gets too excited, this is the GOP we are talking about and the weak links are already coming out of the woodwork. For example, Louisiana GOP Chairman and national party vice chairman Roger Villere, stupidly says, “The Electoral College has served the country quite well. This is a system that has worked. That doesn't mean we can't talk about changes, but we have to be very careful about any actions we might take.” No doubt other brain-dead eunuch will follow.

I hope the GOP follows through with this. Point out that the Democrats have tried to push this crap on red states. Point out how its “more fair” that “the people” get to have their electoral votes go where they want them. Use liberal arguments against them... and in the process, change the electoral map in our favor in a big way. Just don’t do this in red states.

Come on GOP... you’ve stumbled upon something smart, now grow a pair and follow through.
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Monday, January 21, 2013

The Theater of the Absurd: Gun Control

I’m a huge cynic, but sometimes the cynicism from Washington shocks even me. Take the issue of gun control. Obama made a huge noise... gonna take action! The gun control advocates fiercely exploited the bodies of dead children... what about the children! Talk radio spoke about the great gun grab and impeachment... harrumph, Nazi Germany! A battle for the ages was forming!! Don’t make me laugh.

Here’s the reality. Guns are the Democratic version of abortion for the Republicans. The idea of banning guns, just like banning abortion, whips up the vocal part of the base and generates mucho dinero for the political class. But both parties realize that actually pushing these issues is suicidal. For one thing, the public doesn’t like either idea. For another, when you have a sucker on the hook and you are emptying his pockets, you never give him what he wants because then he stops paying out.

So here we are, with both sides doing their best to whip up the suckers and empty their pockets. And then Obama strikes... he issues his proposals. To say that liberals should be underwhelmed and furious is an understatement. Here is what the Hustler in Chief actually proposed:
● Reinstating the assault weapon ban.
● Restoring the 10-round limit on magazines.
● Eliminating armor-piercing bullets.
● Requiring criminal background checks on gun sales.
● Hiring more cops.
● Creating a new federal gun trafficking law.
● Providing mental health services in schools.
● By God, he’s going to nominate the ACTING head of the ATF to become the official head of the ATF.
Yawn. Worthless. Even the NRA used to push for background checks. The 10-round clip thing will only be on new guns, so the billion existing larger clips will still be out there. The assault weapon’s ban is a joke as it just makes manufacturers remove cosmetic features of guns, which can be replaced with aftermarket parts. Gun trafficking is already illegal. Mental health services are already provided in schools. And more cops just means donut sales will go up.

This plan is designed specifically to do nothing. Not a single issue here will remove a gun from anybody’s hand. Not a single issue here will prevent anyone from buying anything they want or shooting anyone they want.

This is a joke.

So are liberals upset? You tell me. The Huffington Post article introducing Obama’s plan fawned over it and actually started like this:
“In a bold and potentially historic attempt to stem the increase in mass gun violence, President Barack Obama unveiled on Wednesday the most sweeping effort at gun control policy reform in a generation.”
Bold? Potentially historic? Sweeping? Huh? Clearly this reporter is delusional, right? Let’s see what the gun control groups say. How about this quote from Josh Horowitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence:
“This is a monumental moment. It’s a long time coming and we’re thrilled the president’s putting the full weight of his office behind this.”
Give me a break. Your organization has been waiting for a long time for a placebo?

Stop and think about this for a moment and ask yourself why these people would be declaring this such a victory? In a word: fundraising. By describing this mouse as a lion, they can get the bases on both sides to pour their money into this. The left will pony up to try to finally defeat evil guns once and for all... the right will pony up to save the Second Amendment from extinction! And the truth is, this bill couldn’t be weaker if it was designed by the NRA.

And it gets worse... or better. See, everything Obama is proposing needs to be approved by the House. That means the Republicans get a chance to milk their suckers too and the Democrats get a second chance to milk their suckers. And then the House can make sure nothing happens so they can use this issue again in the future. Perfect balance.

This is more theater of the absurd folks. Both sides are playing their bases for suckers. This bill is about as meaningless as it can possibly get in the way of guns, yet the political machine and its hangers on will tell you that this is life and death. And in the end, both bases will love their sides: the Democrats will have martyred themselves and the Republicans will have stood tall for freedom... and no one will have noticed it was all a big joke. Moreover, since nothing will actually happen, even if some part of this pass, the rest of the public will shrug their shoulders and not need to vote for either side because nothing changed. This is a scam designed to make you think that the parties are at each other’s throats as they quietly work together to jack up the deficit by another half billion dollars.

Anyway, there are two points here. First, don’t let yourself get sold a bill of goods. Don’t get worked up. Don’t give money. Don’t cite any of this as a reason to support your side. They are playing you for a sucker.

Secondly, consider what I’ve said and use this as a test to grade the pundits, the radio talkers, and the politicians. If they are telling you that this is really a world-ending issue, maybe you should ask yourself what else they’ve told you that is crap.
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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Inauguration Weekend of Fun

"In a way, Obama's standing above the country, above -- above the world. He's sort of God. He's going to bring all different sides together."

- Evan Thomas, editor of Newsweek 2009

So, just in case you didn't know, it's the moment we all have been waiting for, isn't it? It's the second annual Obama Inauguration Weekend in Washington, D.C.!!! Yes, we will be swearing our Commander-in-Chief for his second shot (oops!) at righting (or "lefting") our National course. This weekend will have all the pomp and circumstance of a country not in a fiscal crisis too! Here's just a sampling of what you can expect.

And if you can't attend, but want to keep the memory with you always, here's a site where you can get your very own set of Presidential golf balls and golf towel that may very well come with its very own Presidential sweat! (how inappropriately cheeky!)

Anyway, if you will be watching as I know you will, what will you hope to hear from "The Second Coming" as he was called by Evan Thomas of Newsweek Magazine (again)? Do you think he will be soaring with rhetorical brilliance with fresh and expansive ideals to take our country forward together? Or will he be...well, you decide. There may be prizes galore for the one with the best answers...
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Open Thread -- Vox Populi

“Won't somebody please think of the children?!”

-- Helen Lovejoy-Obama

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Film Friday: Stargate (1994)

Every time I see Stargate, I wonder why I don’t like this film more than I do. I love the idea. The actors are perfectly cast too. I even love the television series that followed. Yet, after a good start, the film very quickly leaves me cold. Ultimately, I think the problem is this just isn’t a smart film.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Not Again....

Boy, the Arab Spring is really the gift that keeps on giving, isn't it? It's time for one more headache in that great arid part of the world--and also one more nail in the coffin for poor neoconservatism and its friends.

Welcome to Mali, home of sand, poverty and forgettable Matthew McConaughey movies. If you don't remember hearing anything out of this North African nation in--well--ever, that's okay; most people aren't even aware of its existence. But thanks to the unpredictability of foreign policy, we may have to start paying attention.

In a nutshell, here's what's happening: In the past four years, the U.S. has been heavily involved in counterterrorism work in Mali and other Saharan countries, providing military training and equipment to their armed forces. These armed forces, theoretically, could then do our job for us, keeping out Islamic terrorists in these nations without requiring a direct military presence on our part. As so many things do, it probably seemed like a great idea at the time. So what's the situation now? Well, a revolt has broken out in the north, a revolt which is both gaining steam and has fallen under the control of said Islamic militants, namely Al-Qaeda and assorted other jihadist groups, which is always fun--especially since some of the army officers who received our military aid defected to their side. To make things worse, another of those army officers we just invested time and money training took it upon himself to overthrow the government and establish authoritarian rule. So the choice now is between a strong-arming tyrant in the capital and rebels proclaiming a mixture of democracy and radical Islamism. Is this ringing any bells?

As usual, there's all kinds of potential geopolitical ramifications at work. A success by Al-Qaeda and company in taking over Mali, or even in carving out a chunk of territory, would firmly establish Islamic terrorists in North Africa, creating a whole new front next to Libya and Egypt, which will become so much more stable as a result. As for what the U.S. has been doing in response, we've already pledged to send drones in to help out the government and the French, who have sent in a handful of ground troops and are being their typical effectual selves. Where our involvement goes from there is anyone's guess, but more importantly, the whole episode is another argument against such an involved foreign policy.

While I still don't like to knock Bush too much for how the War on Terror played out, it is undeniable that the goal of retaliation against our enemies became badly entwined with the dubious aim of "building democracy" in the Middle East. We saw it in Iraq, we've seen it in Obama's interventionist policy in the Arab Spring, and now it appears we may see some form of it in North Africa. The idea--under both Bush and Obama--has been to establish and safeguard democracy in the Arab world, partly because it's the "right thing to do" and partly because it serves our interests. There are any number of reasons why this has been coming back to bite us, but the main one is this: However popular it is or isn't, a democracy/republic/constitutional government can not simply be called into being one day. It's something that has to evolve over decades, even centuries. The West doesn't have such a form of government because of its religion or culture or superior technology (although those didn't hurt); it developed democracy after long periods of interaction and competition between elements of society. I can't write an essay on it, but the point is that you have to work with the political culture and structures you find, not simply create carbon copies of whatever the U.S. has. No one in Washington, Republican or Democrat, seems to understand that, and we keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

Bottom line: I'm becoming more and more sympathetic to the idea that we ought to end our foreign involvement in its current form altogether. In a fight between authoritarian rulers and Islamist democrats, what's the scenario where we win? I don't see a way out of it. Maybe these areas are best left alone.
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Have A Coke And A Smile, Tubby

Ok, this is political, believe it or not. I’m going to talk about Coca-Cola. Delicious, refreshing Coca-Cola. . . and why you stop drinking it. How is that political? Well, bear with me.

I love Coke. Always have. I could drink nothing but Coke and my life would be complete. I dabble occasionally in the diet drinks, but they just aren’t as satisfying. Anyway, it turns out this stuff is really bad for you... all of it. Yeah, makes me sad.

There have been numerous recent studies involving drinks that contain high-fructose corn syrup. High-fructose corn syrup is used in everything from Coke to cookies to tomato sauce. It’s made from corn. And according to these studies, high-fructose corn syrup activates the part of the brain which makes you hungry. In other words, there is scientific evidence gathering that drinking Coke makes you hungry. If this is true, then high-fructose corn syrup could well be a HUGE contributing factor to our nation’s obesity problem.

But is it true?

Well, I’ve done a little experiment. I track what I eat and I decided to go a few days without drinking Coke. Honestly, the difference was shocking. I found that I wasn’t nearly as hungry AND it was easier to eat less. In other words, I didn’t want to eat more than I should have and I had no interest in eating junk. I didn’t crave anything. I had more energy and I felt better. But that could be a fluke, right? So I tried this off and on for a couple months. Every single time the results were the same. Each time I skipped the cola (diet or otherwise), I ate less and felt better.


Now, I know that one person’s experience means nothing scientifically, but I am left to wonder when I see numerous studies all saying the same things and then I experience something this dramatic. That makes me think there is something to this and I’ve decided to cut my Coke to a bare minimum and even then to switch to the version with sugar in it (you can get that in Mexican grocery stores... at least around here).

As an aside, several studies say diet drinks are worse, i.e. they cause people to eat more, they slow the metabolism, and they are now linked to a significant risk of depression.

But here’s the catch: there is no such thing as certainty in science. Science simply doesn’t deal in absolutes. It deals in more likely than not. So you can never be 100% certain. And this is where the politics enters the picture. When a study comes out accusing some product of doing something harmful, the industry quickly runs out and attacks the study, and the preferred attack is bogus, it’s aimed at the idea that the study “isn’t conclusive”... which no study can ever be. This is a much higher standard than we even require to convict someone of murder.

Industry then calls their lobbyists who race to Capital Hill Republicans to get them to attack the study. In fact, all industry needs to do is complain that it must be “leftists attacking our jobs” and conservatives automatically knee jerk defend the product as blameless and Holy and accuse the scientists of being secret communists. This is really, really bad for America, for us, and for our ideology.

1. For one thing, there ARE dangers out there. Not everything is Alar. IF high-fructose corn syrup is causing the problem the studies claim, as it appears to be, then it’s foolish to defend that when a simple change back to sugar from corn could go a long way to fixing the public health. When did conservatism become about ignoring dangers just because we like the guy hiding the danger?

2. By dismissing everything, conservatives take themselves out of the debate. Name the issue and conservatives automatically jump to the defense of industry... nothing proven conclusively here folks, move along.

When you dismiss everything out of hand every time, people stop listening to you because they don’t think your position is fair or reasonable. They see you as an inverse chicken-little who will happily ignore real dangers for ideological reasons. And as much as some conservatives don’t want to hear this, the reality is that the public does care about pollution and consumer safety. The public simply does not want dirty air, dirty water, poisonous food or exploding cars. And the public doesn’t trust industry to police itself because they know better. They know that the incentive of industry is to get away with as much as possible because they are motivated by profit, not “the common good.” And they’ve seen industry take stupid risks to squeeze the bottom line. That means, the public trusts the government to regulate, not industry. Conservatives need to understand this and accept it as a fact.

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t bad studies. To the contrary, leftists are big on using half-assed studies and bad science to push an agenda. Look at the global ice age/warming/cooling/climate change industry. BUT if conservatives want to influence the public on regulation... if they want to be taken seriously when they point to something as a bad regulation or a false study... they need to stop knee-jerk defending industry and demanding a standard of proof that is scientific nonsense. Just because smoke doesn’t always mean fire doesn’t mean it never means fire either. Liberals are in the always camp, conservatives are in the never camp. . . the public rejects both.

Finally, let me address another aspect of this. Conservatives have been played for suckers with this idea that these studies (and regulations) are an on/off issue: either you bless the product or you ban it. That’s simply false. The reality is that there are many levels in between and those are where conservatism used to lie. For example, most conservatives will agree that a proper role of government should be the dissemination of accurate information to the public. Hence, a warning label makes sense. Yet, when the cigarette industry got their hands into conservatism, suddenly conservatives bizarrely started opposing that. Ask yourself why? Why should conservatives ever oppose people being well-informed? Ditto on genetically modified foods and ditto on meat from clones and ditto on publicly-traded company financial statements. Each time conservative objected that it would “cost too much” or “hurt the industry” to make them warn consumers. What a load of crap. The real fear was the public would reject those products and the industry paid Republicans to try to stop the government from letting the public make up its own mind.

Our entire ideology depends on having a well-informed public making rational decisions, how does it help to suppress the very information the public needs? The next time you hear conservatives scream that some study is just another “assault on industry,” ask yourself if that’s really the case.

In the meantime, I recommend cutting back the Coke.
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Guest Review: The Dark Knight (2008)

By: T-Rav

The Dark Knight is my favorite superhero movie ever. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s as close to perfect as any of the big players in this genre, and in many ways transcends the superhero format altogether. And, of course, it’s often thought of as a deeply conservative movie. I agree, but for somewhat different reasons than the oft-cited ones.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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How to Debate: Drugs

How about we talk about how NOT to win the marijuana debate. Perhaps in pointing out why something won’t work, we can help some people figure out what will work. For this lesson, let’s focus on an article from Denver a couple weeks ago which highlights exactly the wrong approach to take in arguing against drug legalization.

The article in question starts with an interview with Sgt. Jim Gerhardt of a Denver-area drug task force. He was asked to discuss the effects that legalizing pot will have in Colorado. He made all the usual points you always hear from the non-legalization side. Let’s examine his points one by one:
“There’s plenty of evidence that this a harmful thing for kids. I can’t even believe I have to say that.”
This is a horrible start. Do you know why? Because he just lost half his audience. Indeed, this opening shot discredits him with people who favor legalization precisely because he’s just stated a heavy bias. He’s basically told them that he thinks they are so stupid that he doesn’t even need to offer evidence to refute their views. After this, who could see this man as a credible source of information? And since he needs to reach people who favor legalization if he wants to prevent or reverse legalization efforts, this is a horrible way to begin.

He continues:
“We’ve seen children infant age that have been getting into this stuff and hospitalized, and this has been under medical marijuana. I can’t imagine how bad it’s going to get with full blown legalization.”
This is a loser with the public. The fact that a couple people have been irresponsible simply does not sway the public to take away freedoms. It hasn’t worked with guns, it hasn’t worked with alcohol, it hasn’t worked with anything. The American public does not believe that something should be banned just because someone misused it. Not to mention, the “do it for the children” approach has been so ruthlessly mocked that it is no longer a valid argument with the majority of the public, and it certainly holds no sway with the part of the public that is looking at pot as just a little bit of fun.

Unfortunately, he then fails to offer any real evidence of harm. Thus, his statement that “there’s plenty of evidence that this a harmful thing for kids” sounds like a lie and this reinforces the idea that the anti-legalization people have made up the dangers to scare us.

Next an addiction counselor adds this:
“Children are more likely to become dependant when they start use early. Even if it’s an advertant use. In children in particular the brain is still developing. It’s actually developing up until age 25. So we’re not sure how the substances impact the developing of the brain.”
This is disastrous. First, again, we don’t ban something just because some idiot misuses it, even if their kids get a hold of it. BUT more importantly, notice the admission that they don’t know “how the substances impact the developing brain.” In other words, her argument is fabricated. She is arguing, “we have no idea how this actually hurts kids, but trust me, it will hurt kids.”

She then notes that kids are more likely to try pot if someone puts it in brownies and she lists two incidents where someone gave pot-laced brownies to a teenage girl and a college student and professor. Each of them ended up “going to the hospital.” She then gravely warns, “All the problems we’ve already had have exploded, and I think they are going to get worse.”

Can you see the problems? First, she failed to point out any harm from pot, yet now she proceeds to scaremonger by warning us of the pot brownie menace! Oh my! “I can’t tell you why this is bad, but it will be even worse once brownies enter the mix!” Then the pot brownie menace turns out to be two instances... and all we know about those people is that they ended up going to the hospital. There is NOTHING here that will sway anyone who doesn’t already believe. There is nothing to tell you why pot is harmful or why brownies will make it worse or how legalization will be worse yet... maybe we’ll get four people visiting the hospital with diarrhea! Oh my!

This is the problem with the anti-legalization crowd. They offer nothing but unsubstantiated opinion of mass horrors which they cannot even find evidence to support except for a handful of anecdotal instances that reek of simple misconduct. That is not going to sway anyone who doesn’t already believe that drugs are evil.

If you want to win the legalization issue, you need to learn to reach the people who aren’t already true believers. That means finding ways to sway people who simply don’t see the harm in it. Offering up anecdotal evidence of three people making non-specific hospital visits and unproven assurances of great horrors no one can see just isn’t going to do that. If you want to win this debate, get some real proof pot really does hurt people. Do statistical analysis. Look at the mental health, the physical health, the financial health and the criminal records of users. You can’t win significant public policy arguments with “trust me, it could be bad.”

And most importantly, find proof that allowing people to smoke pot hurts other people. Remember, the argument you need to defeat is that legalization is about personal freedom. That’s a powerful argument, and defeating it requires focusing on the people who will lose their freedoms if you grant this one. Focus on the people who will be randomly drug tested. Focus on the people who will die in accidents, the employers who will get sued, the taxpayers who will pay for a massive regulatory scheme, the increased crime rate, the increased cost of social services.

This point here actually applies to a lot of conservative arguments. Too often, conservatives present arguments that only appeal to believers. They need to learn to reach the people who are sitting in the middle and don’t buy the arguments conservatives have already tried, but whose minds are open to aspects of these issues they haven’t considered. You will never win an argument be repeating an argument people have already rejected.
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Overpopulationists: How Did This Not Happen?!

Ah, liberals. They’re such fun to watch. When their theories prove false, they stand there, like idiots who can’t for the life of them understand why NOBODY saw that their theories were garbage (of course, they conveniently ignore all the people who told them their theories were garbage). Yep, the world was blindsided. The overpopulation crowd just ran into this.

Anybody who understands... well, anything... knows that the world is not overpopulated nor will it ever be. The idea of overpopulation was born in the 1970s when chicken-little leftists noticed that it took a lot less time for the world population to go from one billion to two, and less to get to three, and less to get to four, and less to get to five. Here’s a handy chart of DOOOOOM:
123 years.... 2 to 3 billion
33 years...... 3 to 4 billion
14 years...... 4 to 5 billion
12 years...... 5 to 6 billion
At this rate, we’ll be at 100 billion in minutes, right? Well, hardly. If you have even the slightest grasp on demographics or anything else in nature, like how diseases spread, you know that these things peak and then collapse. So it’s inevitable that this will actually stop and reverse itself. But don’t tell that to liberals because they LOVE straight-line projections... one... two... infinity!

Anyway, the academic world has now caught on to the problem. It turns out that it took 13 years to get to 7 billion, i.e. longer than it took to get to 6 billion. This shocked people because it wasn’t supposed to happen, so they began looking for an explanation and, lo and behold, they discovered that birthrates are falling everywhere. They are falling so much that Western Europe is expected to fall from its estimated peak of 460 million to around 350 million by the year 2100. China’s population will fall by half in that time, as will Russia’s. Mexico’s birthrate has crashed from 7.3 births per woman in 1960 to 2.5 today and is still falling. India’s fell from 6 to 2.5. Brazil’s fell from 6.15 to 1.9. And so on.

What happened is this. Birth rates soared when mankind learned to stop the diseases that were killing most of people when they were young. Then capitalism reached every corner of the world and birth rates started to collapse because prosperous people have fewer kids. This trend isn’t stopping either: it’s consistent across countries and cultures. And the people studying this now believe that most of us will still be alive to hear the news that the world population has actually begun shrinking.

Sadly for the left, the premise of so many of their beliefs is this idea that the population will continue to rise forever. That won’t happen now and you can already see them decoupling their ideology from this rotten apple. Indeed, the article mentioning this tried to pretend that the whole population bomb was just one of those US things and not leftist dogma. It actually said,
“This is a counter-intuitive notion in the United States, where we’ve heard often and loudly that world population growth is a perilous and perhaps unavoidable threat to our future.”
Yeah, right. Actually, none of us believed it except dogmatic enviro-leftists.

Anyway, not all liberals are onboard with the newthink yet. The Los Angeles Times is running a seven part series on the horrors of there being seven billion of us and how this trend of growth without end will lead to “bleak living conditions.” Oh well, give them time. Soon all of liberaldom will be safely within the groupthink and they will be preaching the dangers of the population shortage. No doubt they’ll recommend forced breeding, which sounds like a perfect solution for liberals: it’s simple, it’s oppressive, and it’s guaranteed not to work. Ah, liberals.
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Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Day Democracy Didn't Die

Democracy is a sham, folks. The White House turned down our petition to begin building a Death Star. Oh, and Piers Morgan won’t be deported! And some stuff on secession. Blah.

For those of you living under a rock, here is what happened. Sensing a great disturbance in the Force, a vast swath of America submitted a petition to the White House demanding that the administration start construction of a Death Star. Team Obama has denied that petition and I think their reasoning is very instructive. Here are their reasons:
● The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.

● The Administration does not support blowing up planets.

● Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?
Grrr. Think about this. The first point really shows liberal hypocrisy. Aren’t these the same people who believe in Keynesian economics? Seriously, if a trillion dollar stimulus was supposed to create jobs, why won’t they spend $850,000 trillion? Huh? Tell me that... liars.

The second and third points show that liberals are stupid. First, what’s wrong with blowing up planets? Damn environmentalists. Be even more, why is this administration so unwilling to be prepared? What are we going to do when somebody else’s Death Star drifts into our system? As for this idea of being exploited by a “one-man starship,” first, it was a snub fighter a-holes, not a starship. Secondly, how stupid do you need to be to decide that the project can’t be fixed? Just put a damn grate over the exhaust vent, don’t scrap the whole idea! Seriously, are liberals really this stupid?

And another thing, why the heck aren’t we deporting Piers Morgan? People want it. The guy is an annoying turd. He’s so annoying, the British... a land of arrogant, annoying people... tossed his butt out. Seriously, how bad do you need to be to get tossed out of binge-drinky, knife-fighty land? Sure, the Constitution guarantees you the right to be an ass, but dammit, aren’t we grown up enough as a people to toss this jerk off out of the country? And for those of you who think this isn’t a big deal, let me point out that since Morgan came to the US, there have been numerous mass shootings, the deficit has soared, New Yorkers have started robbing each other for pain pills, and millions of jobs have been lost. Coincidence? Hardly. I... blame... Morgan.

Finally, I am horrified that Team Obama turned down all those petitions to secede. What an outrage! Such tyranny! This is an issue talk radio should adopt. I’m sure that if they did, 70%, 80%, 90% of the public would be behind us! Grumble grumble grumble. Democracy is indeed a failure when a small group of citizens can ask for things that are either idiotic or which violate the Constitution and not get their way. Harrumph.

Nah, I'm just kidding.

In all seriousness, I’ve enjoyed the petitions and I need to give Obama credit for his responses, especially the Death Star thing. Team Obama took the Death Star thing in the spirit in which it was intended and responded with good humor. On the Morgan thing, they made a solid point about individual rights. And the secession thing, well that was just stupid, but Obama responded in good faith and pointed out the Constitution really doesn’t include an exit clause.

IF conservatives were smart, they would use these rulings to make a point.
1. Keynesian economics is garbage. If it was true, then we should start building a Death Star. You can’t spend your way to prosperity, nor can you spend your way out of debt. And Obama seemed to get that this time... too bad he didn't get it before he created trillion dollar deficits.

2. Freedom of speech includes the right to say things that people might not like. We need to stop the assault on freedom of speech in college speech codes, in attempts to censor talking heads we don’t like, in censoring the internet, and in criminalizing “hate.”

3. The Constitution does indeed have mechanisms within it to change things you don’t like. We should respect those mechanisms and stop looking to judges to make law or change the Constitution without the consent of the people who gave their consent to Constitution.
Obama is right in each of his responses, but not for the reasons he thinks. We should be pointing that out to people.
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Saturday, January 12, 2013

New York State of...Insanity

Okay, I guess I just can't get around it anymore. I have to give you an update on the happenings in the State of New York. Ugh. Let's see where do I begin?

Sports: The football season is winding down. The Giants are still in the playoffs. Go Team! Oh, but the Jets, those wacky Jets! Do you remember Tim Tebow? You know, that college quarterback who went viral with his kneeling and praying bit? Well, he was drafted by the Jets this season and pretty much benched for the entire season. Nobody liked him, not even his teammates.

I think it is because of his obvious religious tendencies and the fact that he is openly "pure and chaste" (if you know what I mean), he was making the rest of the drugging, drinking, and womanizing element on the Jets team look, well, like the drugging, drinking, and womanizing sinners that they are! I am guessing he made them feel bad about themselves just because he was around. In all my years of watching team sports, I have never seen a team turn against a teammate for being a great guy. We'll never know whether he was a good player because they wouldn't let him play. He did win the Heisman, so he must be a fairly good player, right? Well, he is now being released from his contract, but nobody wants him.

The State of the State: Okay our state is broke, and because of some ridiculous political wrangling, we haven't actually settled on which party is in the majority in our state Senate (more on that in the next installment), BUT we must focus our attention on GUNS, GUNS, GUNS! WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT THE GUNS??? (and casinos and other stupid stuff) I am sure you have all read about the edicts and swearings of our dear Mayor Bloomberg- about "automatic weapons bans" which forced our Governor Andrew Cuomo to make his own edicts and swearings in his State of the State address this week. Ooooh, he got angry and was yelling and stuff too! We can't get anything else done in this city and state, but BY GOD we are going make automatic weapons illegal. Except I thought they already were illegal. As a matter of fact, most guns are illegal in New York.

But here's the really funny part. As our Mayor and Governor are swearing and edicting, our state-appointed judges are ruling that the police are being really heavy handed and mean when they are stopping and frisking people with potential illegal guns on their persons. It's just not fair that the police are targeting Black and Hispanic youths in the high crime areas of New York City and not targeting those dastardly mostly-White stock brokers on the Upper Eastside!

It doesn't matter that crime rates in these high crime areas have gone down dramatically since they first started the "stop and frisk" policy OR that New York City saw the lowest rate of gun crime in 50 years in 2012. And, of course, that MOST of the gun crimes in the city are perpetrated by Blacks and Hispanics on other Blacks and Hispanics. No, that would racist, now, wouldn't it?? So here we are, trying to get laws enacted to do what is already being done, so that everyone can feel like they are doing something.

Oh, and the Gawker and Journal News in Westchester posted the names of ALL the legal gun owners in one of New York's wealthiest areas (Westchester and Rockland Counties) which only really served to let all the criminals with all the illegal guns in on the places that they could safely target. Good job you liberal idiots! Of course, the Journal is so upset that gun owners objected (and one clever blogger posted a list of the names and addresses of Journal News journalists) that they hired their own contingency of armed guards to protect them! Boo-Hoo! They really are stupid.

But on a lighter note: Let's see where to begin, where to begin? Oh, let's see, another City Councilcritter was sentenced to hard time upstate for the usual graft, greed, and theft of city funds. His name is Larry Seabrook. You can read about it if you want. At least he has temporarily lost his seat on the City Council, but that is probably only until he is out on parole. Oh, I shouldn't be so hard on him. The city council members are given "discretionary funds" to spend on "projects" in their respective districts in anyway they want. Unfortunately one of those ways has been to use these funds to set up "non-profit" agencies to "help people" that are just fronts to pay their family members and friends to do pretty much nothing. They just forgot to include in the by-laws, that the money should be spent legally, that's all! But in the State of New York, "legally" for politicians is some kind of undefined grey area that always leaves them surprised when the handcuffs go on.

Just to keep up, here is a list of public officials who have been convicted since 2010:

State Senator Carl Kruger (D) - resigned his seat and pleaded guilty to charges of corruption and bribery. (2011)

State Senator Hiram Monserrate (D-NY) - of the 13th District, was expelled by the New York State Senate on February 9, 2010 in connection with a misdemeanor assault conviction against his girlfriend.

State Senator Efrain Gonzalez (D-NY) On May 25, 2010, Gonzalez was sentenced to 84 months (7 years) in prison, followed by two years supervised release, after pleading guilty to two conspiracy counts and two wire fraud counts in May 2009.

President of the New York City council Andrew Stein (D) - was convicted of tax evasion regarding a Ponzi scheme in November 2010.

Majority Leader of the New York State Senate Pedro Espada Jr. (D) - On May 14, 2012 a federal jury found Espada guilty of embezzling money from federally funded healthcare clinics, after 11 days of deliberation.

State Senator Nicholas Spano (R) - in 2012 Spano was indicted for Federal Income Tax evasion. Spano pleaded guilty to the single felony. He admitted that he under-reported his income — $42,419 in federal income taxes and $10,605 in state taxes — from 2000 to 2008. He is to be sentenced to 12 to 18 months in Federal Prison in June 2012.

Oh, by the way, this list does not account for those already serving time or who are currently under investigation because quite frankly that list is too long.

Next time More Mayoral Hijinks and we are now less than 12 months and counting down until the end of the reign of Mayor Bloomberg.
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