Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Where Is The Rage? Boo hoo hoo

Guns. Duh. Must stop guns. Durrrr. There are few issues that expose the inability of people to use their brains as clearly as gun control. Willful blindness and rank stupidity are the order of the day. Take, for example, an article in which the Christian Science Monitor tried to figure out why the public wasn’t outraged about the failure of the gun control bill in the Senate.

Said the article:
“Only 47 percent of respondents said they were ‘disappointed’ or ‘angry’ that the Senate last week failed to advance a bill to expand background checks to gun shows and online sales. Yet in February, a Pew poll found that 83 percent of respondents supported an expansion of background checks to cover gun shows and all private sales – measures that would actually be stricter than what the Senate rejected.

If Americans overwhelmingly support strict background checks, why aren’t they angrier that the Senate failed to pass even moderate background checks? How could 39 percent be "happy" or "relieved" by the result? Where is the outrage to which President Obama was appealing when he called the Senate vote ‘a pretty shameful day for Washington.’”
The article then goes on to look at some of the possibilities. Some apparently suggest that the reason gun control failed is because Americans have an “enduring libertarian streak.” Apparently, “Americans are loath to tell their neighbors what to do.” Maybe, but that doesn’t explain this issue. If it did, then you wouldn’t have the first poll showing that 83% of the American public support background checks, would you? Or are we to believe that people lie on polls to jack up the support for things they plan to oppose?

Others suggest that this shows that the gun lobby lies. In fact, a political scientist quoted in the article says “that’s the only way to make sense of that many people being happy with the outcome.” Idiot. This is usually how morons argue – the bad guys lied, the voters are low-information voters, etc. This is simple delusion for people who don’t like the fact that what they want doesn’t sell.

Others said that maybe the problem was the public realized that this bill wouldn’t have changed anything. Indeed, even the bill’s sponsor Dianne Feinstein “conceded that none of the proposed laws, including her assault weapon ban, would have stopped the [Newton] massacre.” Could be, but then why not be angry that Congress didn’t fix the problem?

In the end, the writer scratches his head, tries to evolve, and fails fails to reach any conclusion.

Ya know... this isn’t that hard. In fact, the answer is actually pretty obvious. When you ask a question in a vacuum, people will respond whether the issue matters to them or not. In other words, asking a question in a poll only tells you how they would answer that question, not whether they care about that issue. Thus, it’s apples and oranges to assume the 83% number in the first poll actually means anyone cares about this issue. And if they don’t care, they won't be angry, will they? This about it this way... if we asked people if they want lobster if given a choice, we may find that 90% of the public says yes, but odds are that few of those people have had lobster lately or intend to have it again in the future. It’s the same thing here. People might support background checks by 83% when asked to state an opinion, but they just don’t care about the issue when they aren’t asked. So why would they be angry if it doesn’t pass? Oh, we don’t get lobster, gee, I’m angry now.

This interpretation actually was born out by the “anger” poll, which showed that only 40% of respondents were following the vote.

IN OTHER WORDS, the public doesn’t care about gun control. We know this because six in ten weren’t paying attention even though this was an issue the media covered obsessively and which Obama talked about incessantly. Even worse for gun-control advocates, of the 40% who cared enough to pay attention, 31% said they were happy the bill failed (only 22% were angry). The rest were non-committal. That means the country breaks down this way on gun control:
That’s right: 72% of the public did not care or actively opposed the bill. 8% favored it. And 20% were open to it. That’s not a chart that’s going to change anything.

Another reason the failure doesn’t make anyone angry is that there is a huge difference between supporting something in principle and supporting the specific bill in which it’s included. Supporters admitted this bill wouldn’t solve the problems they claimed it would. So why would anyone care if it fails unless they are an ideologue who wanted this to pass on principle? Moreover, they tried to fill the bill with all kinds of things with which the public did not agree. Again, this is something only ideologues want and, apparently, there are only 8% of them.

So there’s no contradiction at all between these two polls. To me, it’s pretty obvious that what’s going on is that the public just isn’t ideological on the gun control issue. They will accept reasonable restrictions if they think they will work, but they don’t want solutions that don’t work and they don’t want ideological crap rammed through on the back of the reasonable stuff. Sadly for the ideologues, that’s not enough.

The lessons here are that the liberal media is out-of-touch with the public and this should be a huge warning bell for them -- I kind of laughed when I saw an article the following day talking about how the Republicans who voted against this are now in danger with the voters. Talk about delusional. The other lesson is that the public remains much less emotional and much less ideological than people think.
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Monday, April 29, 2013

WHCD = Bias

Our media is pathetic, but then you knew that. They are biased. They are ideological. They are sycophantic. What’s even funnier though is when they pretend that they aren’t, like with the recent White House Correspondent’s Dinner.

The WHCD is a tradition which goes way back. Basically, the idea was that for one night a year, the media would call a truce with the politicians they supposedly ruthlessly cover like bulldogs, and they would all get together for a few drinks, some heavy petting and more drinks. An honorable tradition... wink wink.

But now, sadly, things have gone off-kilter. See, at one point, this was just journalists and a few politicians trading favors in darkened restrooms and coat closets. But now, Hollywood has gotten into the act. Thus, luminaries like Tom Brokaw are upstaged by Lindsay Lohan (right). . . which made poor Tom denounced the WHCD.

Poor Tom, what has become of his noble profession.

Ok, enough facetiousness. Let’s state the obvious: this whole idea is rotten to the core. The theory behind journalism is that journalists are unbiased reporters of all the ugly things that powerful people don’t want told. Indeed, being unbiased and avoiding the appearance of bias is such a big deal that it’s part of their code of ethics. It’s also the excuse they use for horrible misconduct like the guy Bev reported about who watched someone get killed by a train rather than helping or for being disloyal, like when Mike Wallace claimed he would not warn US soldiers “if he learned the enemy troops with which he was traveling were about to launch a surprise attack on an American unit.” Apparently, his duty as a journalist comes first... humanity and loyalty come second.

So how can journalists be unbiased and avoid the appearance of bias if they attend a big old get-together with the people they’re supposedly covering so mercilessly? They can’t and they know that, but they still try to justify it.

Take for example, Roger Simon of Politico, who lashed out at those attacking the ethics of those who attend the WHCD. He notes that this is just a party and it’s no different than singing the Star Spangled Banner at the ballpark. Really? So let me ask this... assume that Fox News held such a shindig for conservative politicians, do you think Simon would just excuse that as a party and being no different than singing the Star Spangled Banner? I doubt it. He’d be attacking the ethics of Fox News.

The New York Times has taken a strange, hypocritical stance on this dinner. They used to sponsor a table, but now they don’t. According to the Times:
“[W]e came to the conclusion that it had evolved into a very odd, celebrity-driven event that made it look like the press and government all shuck their adversarial roles for one night of the year, sing together (literally, by the way) and have a grand old time cracking jokes. It just feels like it sends the wrong signal to our readers and viewers, like we are all in it together and it is all a game. It feels uncomfortable.”
Interesting. So the problem is that this creates the appearance of bias because it makes it look like journalists and politicians are all playing a game together... YET it wasn’t a problem until all the celebrities started showing up and people started seeing what was going on. In other words, secret violations of ethics aren’t violations of ethics. Incidentally, the Times won’t criticize anyone who goes because they always protect their friends.

This is yet another dagger in the heart of the public’s perception of the media. According to a Pew Poll, 80% of the public thinks journalists are influenced by powerful people or organizations, 77% think they favor one side, 72% think they try to cover up their mistakes, and 63% think journalists are biased. Do you think attending this party will help or hurt those perceptions?

As an aside, here are some other interesting findings from Pew. Apparently, 46% of CNN’s coverage and 45% of Fox’s coverage in 2012 was devoted to news. The rest was opinion. Pew thinks that’s bad because it means the public is less information and it used to be well above 50%. Oh... and I should mention that MSNBC was examined too. They didn’t do so well: 15% news, 85% opinion. No wonder their audiences are idiots.

Here are some other things you may find interesting about the media:
● There are now 40,000 fewer employees in newsrooms than in 1978.

● Local TV news coverage of government politics has been halved since 2000.

● One in three people reported that they stopped going to particular news sources because they felt they no longer offered them the news they were used to getting.

● In 2012, only 27% of statements about candidates records were from news reporters, the rest came from partisan talkers, which is a complete reversal of 2000, when 67% came from reporters.
None of this bodes well for the media. On the plus side, it does seem to open the door for whoever is smart enough to seize the market the media is abandoning.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Open Thread -- Vox Populi

"There they are. See no evil, hear no evil, and...evil."

-- Bob Dole, watching former presidents Carter, Ford and Nixon standing by each other at a White House event.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Film Friday: Zulu (1964)

Zulu is one of my favorite films. It’s a war film about the 1879 Battle of Rorke’s Drift between a small detachment of British soldier at a farm in South Africa and an army of Zulus. It’s one of those films that does everything right.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Better Than The Alternatives

Where American politics are concerned, few things come in for more criticism than our two-party system. Just look at all the third-party movements we've seen over the years. And it's understandable that a lot of conservatives, for example, would want to leave or replace the Republican Party. But is it a good idea? Not really.

For the past few years, there has been on-and-off talk among conservatives about bolting the Republican Party, forming a new Tea Party or Conservative Party, and running against the established two. People like Scott Rasmussen and Michael Barone have discussed this, as have a lot of bloggers and grassroots organizers. Much of the talk has run to replacing both the Democrats and the Republicans with explicit Liberal and Conservative Parties; which makes a lot of sense on the surface. Both parties would be very clear about what they stand for, it might take care of some of the overlap within the two parties, etc.; on our side, conservatives could theoretically have a lot more control over the GOP's successor. Seems logical enough, right?

Well, that's why we shouldn't enact stuff just because it "seems logical."

A basic fact of U.S. politics has to be kept in mind before criticizing how our political parties operate. In a system with strict separation between the executive and the legislature, and with party strength dependent on winning a majority or at least plurality of votes in a given territory, the number of parties naturally reduces itself to two. Not one, because there always has to be an opposition, and not three or more, because that would divide the pie too many ways.

Now, keep in mind I'm talking about mainstream political parties. Of course there are lots of parties today--the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the Rent Is Too Darn High Party, etc. But there's a reason only the Dems and GOPers are actively contesting the Presidency and 99 percent of Congressional seats. It's not a law of politics, but it's the next closest thing. Only large, national parties can effectively compete, and collective self-interest dictates that there be as few of them as possible and that they each encompass a broad range of groups. This has been the way throughout American history. Sure, you can point to a few instances where national elections saw a three-way race, but those were isolated and unstable anomalies, which had completely disappeared by the time of the next big contest. What this means is, a Conservative Party, like a Liberal Party, could not coexist with the Republican Party for very long. One would have to absorb the other, and the longer this takes, the longer the non-leftist vote will be split and ineffective.

But let's say this happens, and we get a Conservative Party replacing the GOP and things quickly settle down. Would the ensuing situation be more desirable for us? Well, probably not. Consider who's traditionally supported such an idea.

Creating liberal and conservative parties is not actually a new idea; it goes back to the New Deal era and was proposed by a lot of academics, especially political scientists. In fact, many of the most famous representatives of the liberal intelligentsia, such as Harold Laski and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., supported it, arguing the formation of an actual conservative party as a way to raise the moral content of political debate. BUT, they weren't exactly being genuine about this. These New Deal liberals believed in what you might call "Sherpa conservatism," in which the Right would be just as committed to long-term progress and change as the Left, only offering quiet critiques here and there: a kind of minor "course correction," if you will. Plus, they figured this would be a good way to expel the conservative wing of the Democratic Party and make it a fully leftist organization. Having a balance between liberals and conservatives in politics was never part of the plan.

But forget the academics. How bad could the consequences of such a change be, after all? Well, just know up front that we won't get rid of the McCain-Graham brand of RINOs. For whatever reasons, these people have chosen to camp within the GOP's tent; the complex of political and economic factors involved in sustaining a national political party suggests that a lot of these people would find their way into this hypothetical new party as well. So we'd be left with a party that, in practice, is not that much different from what we left.

Also, keep in mind that this hypothetical Conservative Party, by being so explicitly tied to conservatism, might well end up discrediting the movement. Think about all the scandals and disgraces the GOP suffered through in the past decade or so. If that repeats itself at some point--as seems likely, given the conditions under which it will probably operate--those debacles are happening in conservatism's name, as it were. There's a reason Left and Right hide within parties which aren't explicitly identified with them; if the goal is the maintenance of the political ideology, it's better not to be tied to a particular party.

Fighting within the framework of the existing parties can be very frustrating. Having worked for the GOP in the past, I know that all too well. But short-term costs have to be weighed against long-term benefits, and in this case, it would appear to working to change the Republican Party from the inside continues to be a better option than breaking off to form a third option or a replacement. But you may disagree. Opinions?
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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why We Love The FDNY...

There are many reasons why the New York Fire Department is the best. But who knew they would protect us from just about anything including....

Well, now that we all can rest easy knowing that the Zombies will be dealt, what's on your mind? What do you think of the pending internet sales tax legislation? Oh, didn't hear about that? Or how have you been affected by the Great Sequester of 2013? The floor is open.

I will be in and out today, but feel free to discuss, comment, or if the mood strikes, give us your best joke...
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Guest Review: Compliance (2012)

A Film Review By Tennessee Jed
Most of us have seen movie posters or trailers touting “based on” or “inspired by” real events. For me, that tends to evoke images of a story so loosely based on facts, any similarity to a real event would be strictly coincidental. Compliance is yet another of the small independent productions to which I have been attracted of late. Directed and written by Craig Zobel, it premiered at the 2012 Sundance Festival. The storyline is generally linked to an actual series of prank phone calls made to fast food restaurants over nearly a decade. This film is based on one particular such incident occurring at a McDonald’s Restaurant in Mt. Washington, Kentucky in 2004.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Has The World Lost Its Mind?

Has the human race gone insane? Maybe. There do seem to be a lot of nuts out there. And people are definitely dumber than they used to be too, right? Probably. Well, actually, probably not. Let’s discuss this.

I don’t know about you, but I hear a lot of very, very, very stupid things these days. There are whole supposedly-professional blogs that are nothing but fountains of idiocy – HotAir, Huffington Post and (increasingly) the Daily Caller. We’ve got politicians who couldn’t count to ten if they were barefoot. Talk radio is pure fantasy. And the news is full of people who are too dumb to live. And oh good grief the conspiracy theories! What isn’t a conspiracy anymore? Morons.

So I guess something has gone wrong, right?

Well, that’s tough to say. See, the thing is that we are assuming that people were smarter in the past. . . but they weren’t. And no, I don’t mean that their science info was lacking, I mean that they were just as retarded, just as gullible, just as superstition, just as paranoid, and just as looney toons as today. Consider this.

At one point, people believed in sea monsters and witchcraft. Ha ha ha, can you believe that? Those Dark Ages fools! Yeah, only it’s not them I’m talking about. In the 1960/70s, there was a widespread belief in spontaneous human combustion, levitation, the Loch Ness Monster, alien abductions, and exorcism. People expected Atlantis to surface. There was a human face on Mars and people could spy on the other side of the world just using their mind and a comfy chair. Idiots. Scientologists followed a conman who invented a cult about dead aliens poisoning our souls. I mean, how stupid do you need to be to buy into that crap? At least no one believes in witches anymore though, right? Not since Salem. Well, yeah, except Sarah Palin got caught on camera receiving a blessing to protect her from witchcraft... not a happy moment for Republicans with brains.

These idiots were conspiratorial too. In the 1960s, fluoride made you sterile. The moon landing didn’t happen. Kennedy was shot by a vast conspiracy of people who all kept quiet... no doubt intimidated by the moon non-landers. Fed conspiracy theorists got their start in 1913. Jews have controlled the world since the 1880s at least. Well, Jews and the Masons. Oy vey.

But at least people had taste, right? I mean, they may have gone full-retard when it comes to superstition and paranoia, but dammit... they loved classics! There were no sitcoms or surfing the net for porn for them! No sirree. Well, actually, sitcoms were invented during the age of conservative Valhalla known as the 1950s... so was the Playboy club. And it didn’t start there. At almost every Roman archeological site they’ve found tons of porn. The Victorians had porn too... I’ve seen it and it’s not this “oh, she showed an ankle” stuff people like to believe. No, this is illustrated Hustler. Hollywood needed a conduct code in the 1930s because it was becoming a porno factory. And about those classics Ricky “I really really swear I’m not gay” Santorum loves so much... did you know that The Maltese Falcon is crawling with gay references? Do you know how many Hollywood stars were gay or drug addicts? Heck, they used to put cocaine in soda, never mind that Ricky “Really, I’m not Gay” Santorum’s forbearers in the prohibition movement spawned the mob because the nation wasn’t going to give up their vices.

And what about Shakespeare? Do you realize that some of his comedies are essentially written-versions of “Three’s Company”? Seriously. He just used prettier words. “Hark Janet, Me thinks Mr. Furley cometh. Hideth the hookers.” Even his dramas include lots of gore to draw in the standing-room only crowd called the groundlings. They reveled in the blood and gore and fart jokes. Sound familiar?

The point is this. As tempting as it is to think the world has gone insane, the truth is that the world is the same as it always has been. It only seems more insane today than in the past, and there are three reasons for this:
● First, we remember the past through rose-colored glasses because (1) that helps us deal with pain on a personal level by forgetting about it, so we remember things as better than they were, and (2) society only keeps the good stuff. Indeed, for every Mr. Smith Goes To Washington there were ten Mr. Smith Goes To Des Moines, but those have been forgotten. So when we look at the past, we see a much higher percentage of good things than bad and we remember everything better than it really was. Since we can’t do the same with the present, the present seems less pleasant to us.

● Secondly, the modern age of communication has given the idiots a much bigger platform to reach us. In the past, there were all these gatekeepers to keep the real lunatics from being heard by the public. Today, any fool can start a blog or get a talk radio show. Thus, while there aren’t more fools as a percentage of the population, the fools we have are much more noticeable. That’s why we seem to be awash in them.

Moreover, there’s a vicious circle problem right now too because the idiots tend to be the most vocal, the most intense, and the most active because they tend to be obsessed. That makes them the audience of choice because they are the most loyal listeners, viewers, voters. So, slowly but surely, everything from politics to films to news starts catering to the idiot fringe.

● Finally, related to the second, we just hear about these people more often. In the past, you had no way to know about the nut job who tortured his neighbor in London or the cannibal in Tokyo or the gang slayings in Detroit. Today, they are all over the net and all over news all the time. The news has become a sensationalizer of the obscure. And that makes it seem common.
So, it may seem like the world has gone insane, but it really hasn’t. It’s only that the insane now get noticed a lot more. Everybody else is just out there doing their thing helping the world run smoothly.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Demonization of Marco Rubio

For the past week, the conservative establishment has been trying to destroy Marco Rubio. It’s time to debunk the lies, the distortions and the smears.

Lamar Smith I: Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) attacked the Rubio bill the moment it came out. Lamar said, “This bill guarantees there will be a rush across the border to take advantage of massive amnesty.” Except, as Lamar knows, the law provides that they need to have arrived prior to December 31, 2011, so any rush to come here now would be pointless – those people will be deported.

Lamar Smith II: Smith also attacked the bill as “offer[ing] to legalize the relatives of illegal immigrants outside the U.S. and even others who have already been deported back home.” In other words, he wants you to believe that people who were deported can come right back as can the families of those already here illegally. That’s a lie to.

Under the bill, family members of those here and those already deported need to go through the same immigration process everyone else does. What Lamar is really saying is that these people would not be permanently banned from the US, but he’s phrasing it in a way to mislead you by falsely implying that they would instantly be made residents. He’s lying to you.

The Regulatory Canard: Bunches of conservatives have whined that this bill would result in new regulations. This is misleading. ALL LAWS RESULT IN NEW REGULATIONS. Regulations are how laws get implemented and the government acts on regulations, not laws. So screaming that a law will result in regulations is beyond disingenuous as the same criticism could be made of ANY law.

It’s Big Government!! I: The Daily Caller attacked the bill because it would impose “big government” upon us. How you ask? Well, all those poor conservative farmers and small businesses would be FORCED to use the “intrusive” E-Verify system. The horror... the horror. Keep in mind that every conservative advocates using the e-verify system, so attacking the bill for using that is sheer hypocrisy.

It’s Big Government!! II: The Cato Institute argues that improving border security means big government because it means we would need a stronger “biometric” system to monitor who comes and goes. In other words, conservatives argue that the bill must be stopped because it doesn’t fix the borders, yet the bill also must be stopped because fixing the borders would mean big government.

The $3,000 Canard: There is real deception going around about the idea that the “bill gives the newly legalized a $3,000 hiring edge over US Citizens.” That’s Drudge’s headline and it’s been repeated ad nauseum by conservatives everywhere. Sounds like the law was meant to favor THEM over US, doesn’t it?

Well, the basis for this claim is that these people won’t be allowed on Obamacare, so they will cost employers $3,000 less. Only, that estimate is false. It will be closer to $500 and it will only be true for companies who choose to pay the Obamacare fine rather than providing healthcare to their employees. Secondly, it ignores the fact these people have a massive advantage over Americans already because they don’t get minimum wage or withholdings. These same conservatives simultaneously whine that the problem with the bill is that these illegals will actually get our precious Obamacare.

They’re Going To Ruin Welfare!: Jim DeMint and basically every other conservative is whining that these illegals will now get welfare and other federal benefits like Obamacare. They ignore the fact that the law expressly precludes that. That makes their argument a lie.

Many, like Ann Coulter, get around this fatal flaw in their attacks by further whining that there’s no way to enforce that part of the law. That’s a lie too. And even if it wasn’t, it’s a disingenuous argument because you could make the same attack on all laws. Why ban abortion if it might not be enforced right?

Heritage did a “study” in which they laughably claim that expanding welfare to include these people will cost $2.5 trillion. That number is bogus. As mentioned above, these people can’t get welfare, so the actual cost is $0. Moreover, there are 50 million people on welfare today and the system costs $1 trillion. Adding all 11 million illegals (a nonsensical assumption) should at most cost another $200 billion.... less than a tenth of what Heritage is pimping. If only 10% apply (which is still far too high) then Heritage’s number is 100 times greater than reality. It is safe to say that Heritage is lying.

400 waivers... and a mule: The Daily Caller ran a headline warning that Rubio’s bill includes 400 waivers, exceptions and exemptions. This was meant to scare you into thinking that Rubio’s real intent was to hand Obama the power to not enforce the law and then to grant a secret amnesty. Of course, this is nonsense. For one thing, that’s not a valid way to find waivers, exception or exemptions in a law. Further, anyone who has ever read laws knows that most exceptions are procedural only and therefore meaningless. Most importantly, the fact that only one “exception” has become subject to conservative whining tells us this was false analysis.

That exception is the border security commission. The bill provides that Homeland Security will have five years to secure the border with biometric identification measures. If DHS fails, then that role gets stripped from DHS and goes to a commission to handle. Rubio described this commission as consisting of representatives of border states.

Conservatives pounced on this. First, they accused Rubio of “failing to stay awake in his civil procedure class” in law school because they claim that an error in the way it is written means that the commission could be wiped out if someone challenges the validity of the commission and the Supreme Court takes more than ten years to decide the matter. But there are problems with that. First, the Supreme Court won’t take ten years to decide the issue. Secondly, the fence (the conservative placebo) can’t be challenged. Third, it’s not clear the commission could be defeated in this way in any event. Fourth, even if the critics are right, then the fix is to add a sentence to the bill making sure that doesn’t happen... not to whine like children that the whole bill must be defeated.

These conservatives also squealed that Rubio “lied” when he said the commission would consist of border state representatives because the President, the Senate and the House also would appoint members in addition to the border state governors.

Ann Coulter: Finally, we come to Ann. Ann smeared Rubio in an article titled, “If Rubio’s amnesty is so great, why is he lying.” I was going to dissect her article and show you the kind of crap she’s using to call Rubio a liar, but it’s just too depressing. Essentially, she invents a quote for Rubio, then she disagrees with a subjective adjective she included in her invented quote, and on the basis of her disagreement with her own invented adjective, she says that “Rubio was the Mount Vesuvius of lies about his immigration bill.”

It is, therefore, rather ironic that Coulter led off her article with this quote: “When Republicans start lying like Democrats, you can guess they are pushing an idea that’s bad for America.” Yes, Ann, that’s true... but Rubio isn’t the one lying.

If conservatives want to object to Rubio’s bill, that’s fine. But it’s not fine to lie, to distort, to scaremonger and to attempt to destroy Rubio in the process. This is a credibility killer, especially as I see this on issue after issue now from the narcissists who run the “genuine conservative” movement. At this point, I simply no longer believe anything they say until I can find the proof independently. . . they have become MSNBC to me.

I’ll tell you what I like about Rubio though, and why I am thinking it is increasingly likely that he will be our next president. Rubio has an unflinching positive attitude. He doesn’t grouse or whine or hide in a bunker telling himself that he’s the purest of them all. He seems genuinely interested in finding conservative solutions to problems and with making the world better. He is everything the above “genuine conservatives” are not. He’s also not afraid of the “genuine conservatives,” which is the kind of person it’s going to take to not only fix the Republican Party but to save conservatism from narcissists who speak for it now.
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Word Association Presidential Style

Presidential periods can be summed up in single words, and I don’t just mean presidential agendas. I mean in the broader scope of things. You can define an era using single words and do so remarkably well. At this point, I think we can define Obama’s era, so let’s do that. In fact, I think you’ll find his word to be surprisingly fitting. Read on.

Before getting to Obama, let’s back up so you can see what I mean. The word that described Jimmy Carter’s administration was “malaise.” Everything seemed to be grinding to a halt and nobody cared about anything. There was a real sense that the world’s better days were behind it and everyone was just waiting for the lights to go out. If you don’t believe me, just watch a few episodes of Barney Miller and you’ll get the vibe of the era. . . rundown, resigned, defeated. People even talked about the Presidency being too big of a job for one man.

If I had to pick a word for Reagan’s era, it would be “deregulation.” Reagan privatized government functions, slashed regulations, and devolved power to the people. But most importantly, Reagan instilled the idea that America was a do-it-yourself nation and we didn’t need Washington telling us how.

Then came Bush Sr. His word was “multilateral” because he wanted everyone to hold hands and play follow the consensus on everything from budgets to war, which is exactly how horrible, gutless decisions get made. It’s a thousand points of pathetic if you ask me. Fitting with Bush’s timid mindset, this was the age of “consensus leadership” in management schools, as if there can be such a thing. . . leading from behind.

Bill Clinton’s word was “pretend.” Heh heh. Good old Bill did what anyone married to Hillary would have done... he pretended he wasn’t married and he dragged a $10 bill through a trailer park and a cigar through an intern. But Bill was hardly alone in his peckerdilloes, hence, this word defines his era. Indeed, the people who pursued him so obsessively had likewise been buggering the interns as they pretended they were Christian soldiers in good standing. Bill friends and biggest supporters were all Hollywood types, i.e. the land of make-believe. His foreign policy was make-believe as well as he pretended that launching a couple cruise missiles would wipe out terrorism. The stock market was all pretend too as companies with no prospects of ever making money were valued higher than the world’s greatest cash cows. . . tech-bubble make-believe.

W’s word was “incompetent.” Bush took office under a cloud of incompetence in our electoral system as we got to watch some truly incompetent people count hanging chads. Then Bush stepped in with incompetent political messaging combined with an incompetent defense of conservatism, incompetent handling of regulations, incompetent handling of Iraq and Afghanistan, and incompetent handling of budgets. But he wasn’t exactly alone. Incompetent car companies and banks collapsed after incompetent regulators assure them of bailouts. Why? Because they made loans to people who weren’t competent to pay them back and they traded in these things even though they weren’t competent to understand them and their insurers weren’t competent enough to value what they had insured.

And now we know Obama’s word: “frustration.”

In a broader sense, Obama’s term has been nothing but frustration: people are frustrated finding jobs. They are frustrated that their homes lost value. They are frustrated there is nowhere to invest. They are frustrated that nothing seems to want to get better. Europe is frustrated by its never-ending Eurozone crises. The world is frustrated by pirates, petty dictators with nuclear missiles, and a never-ending supply of terrorists.

Obama specifically has been huge on frustration. He frustrated moderate/conservative whites who thought voting for him would mean a shift to the right for the Democrats, an end to racial strife, and a less polarized political system. That didn’t happen because Obama has zero ability to create consensus or to work with those he doesn’t like. He is polarization personified. Conservatives have been frustrated by a budget that has gone out of control, Obama’s destruction of our healthcare system, and our inability to win the public to our side.

Liberals are frustrated because Obama can’t seem to pass anything they wanted. And some of them are starting to realize that (1) this is because Obama is lazy and (2) this is because the Democrats are lying about their intent to pass things. Think about the things Obama dangled before their selfish eyes:
● universal medical coverage
● an assault weapon ban, gun registration, and an assortment of measures to slowly end the private ownership of guns
● cap and trade
● an end to corporate privilege
● ending too-big-too fail and regulating big banks
● gay marriage
● illegal alien amnesty
● an equal pay law for women
● national back-door unionization through the NLRB
● and so on...
So far, all he’s delivered has been money for big business and a “healthcare” plan that puts people at the mercy of big insurers. . . something even his supporters are seeing as a pending disaster. Beyond this, leftist journalists are getting frustrating dealing with him personally. Late-night comedians have been frustrated by their inability to poke fun at such a soft target. Foreign governments are getting frustrated at the constant sleights and uncooperativeness of Obama’s administration. Leftists are frustrated that they sold their souls to this man with the idea being he would stop things like drone attacks and global warming and now they are being played.

I suspect that looking back at this period in time, future historians will call this period a Dark Ages for leadership, with the exception of Reagan. But even before we get to that, I think we’ve found Obama’s word... frustration. Watch for it as we move to the end of his term.
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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Open Thread -- Vox Populi

"If there were more people like you, there would be less people like you."

-- Hawkeye Pierce

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Film Friday: Prometheus (2012)

Prometheus is perhaps one of the most anticipated films of modern times. Tantalizingly premised on the Alien universe and directed by Ridley Scott, who has redefined science fiction a couple times, this was a film everyone wanted to see. So how was it? Well, that depends.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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America's Newest Racists: Union Members

Or at least, I'm sure that's what Chris Matthews and company will say if they ever report on this. (Actually, unions do have a long history of bad race relations, but that's another story.) In the interests of making us feel better at the end of a grueling week, here's another case of liberals turning on each other.

So when ObamaCare was passed three years ago, unions were among its loudest cheerleaders. And why wouldn't they? It was supposed to be the legislation that would ensure health care for all, make it affordable, lead America into a new Golden Era, blah blah blah. Besides, there's party loyalty to consider. So they backed TOTUS all the way.

Well, it's no secret to any of us that ObamaCare hasn't been delivering the flying unicorns it promised us. And the unions have slowly been figuring that out too. Even though many of the leaders spend their time ripping off the rank-and-file members, they still have to pay attention to those underlings' grievances. And what do a lot of union members see happening? Health insurance premiums continuing to go up, myriad other costs following suit--this is putting the squeeze on unions' own health plans, leading many to consider whether it wouldn't just be easier to go directly onto the government's plan. Which is not good--like any other organized group, the first law of a labor union is self-preservation, and one of their chief attractions has been their health insurance. If that's no longer a draw, then what?

So for the past few months or so, a lot of folks from Big Labor have been getting on the White House's case to adjust some of the requirements to make the legislation more palatable for unions. These haven't really gotten anywhere, and the frustration has risen to the point where one of them, at least, has decided to bolt. The United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers (I honestly didn't know waterproofing was its own profession) issued a press release this week announcing that, their prior support for Obama and friends notwithstanding, their concerns about the consequences of the health-care bill were completely ignored, their health insurance has now been endangered, etc., they are therefore "calling for repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act to protect...our members and their families," plus puppies and kittens and so on.

Now, this is the only union which has as an organization abandoned ObamaCare (so far). But there are plenty of rumblings below the surface in others, too. Many local chapters have likewise demanded repeal, including those in the United Federation of Teachers, the Social Service Employees Union, the Teamsters, and even the SEIU (!). And it's not just the unions. Even Montana's Democratic Senator Max Baucus, who was crucial in writing this monstrosity in the first place, has begun voicing criticisms, complaining about delays in setting up the necessary programs and warning that it has the potential to become a "train wreck." Er, thanks for that news flash, Senator.

It would appear that the groundwork is in place for a large-scale defection from support of ObamaCare. Now, don't hold out any hope of Obama giving up and repealing or drastically reforming the legislation. We've already talked about how this may be practically the entirety of his legacy; that's even more true now, with the recent failure of the gun control legislation and immigration reform anything but a certainty. He's going to hang all his hopes on this one, that's for sure. But it does provide a little bit of Schadenfreude, at least, to see Obama's coalition falling apart, even if it won't have any concrete results in the near future.

Racial identity groups, class identity groups, gender identity groups--they're all at odds with each other, and then they all attack the government when they don't get what they want. If we didn't get caught in the political consequences so often, it would just be a barrel of laughs.
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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Caption This: Just For Fun

How many times will we get reports that someone has been arrested in the Boston bombing only to be told soon after that the MSM jumped the gun (no pun intended)! My favorite report so far is when the AP reported that the police were on the way at that moment to arrest someone. Really? Because we all know that criminals and terrorists are definitely not watching the news, right? Since the last few days have been trying, let's switch gears for a few hours. Sometimes you just need to take a breath, mellow out and look at kittens and puppies doing cute things or...

I have to say, I often ponder what I would ask a group of penguins if I ever got the opportunity. If these penguins could really talk, what would you ask them? What would they say? Like...well...take a breath, mellow out and just let go.

As always, please feel free to discuss whatever you want.

Oh, and on a positive note, amazingly, no elected officials in New York have been arrested this week...so far!
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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

American Mythology

Unfortunately, genuine analysis is becoming a lost art. Indeed, in the modern world, most analysis takes the form of uninformed opinion followed by the cherry picking of facts to fit the conclusion. This is probably because it’s easier to be right when you pick your own facts. In any event, I ran into just such an article the other day and I think it’s worth discussing.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Our "Elite" Enable Terrorism

The Boston bombing is frustrating on many levels. For one thing, it’s obviously frustrating that people were hurt or killed and that lives have been disrupted. Yes, people die every day, but it’s frustrating that this was done intentionally. What’s really frustrating, however, is that so many of our chattering/political class seem intent on giving these terrorists exactly what they need.

Terrorism is an act of impotence. Essentially, there are two types of people who commit terror. The first group is the impotent loner. This is someone who is so pathetic and insignificant that they decide the only way to make themselves into a complete person is to commit some act of heinous violence so the world finally pays attention to them. These weirdos are usually shooters.

The other type is the radical. This is someone without the brains or muscle to sway the public to their cause and without the courage to stand up publicly for a cause they think is right. In effect, they are impotent to create the change they want and they think that if they can kill enough people, then the world will take them seriously and will bend to their will.

What both groups have in common is a screaming NEED for recognition. They NEED the public to take an interest in them. The impotent loner gets off on the attention. To him, this is the moment that he enters the history books, the moment where he becomes something special instead of a nobody. These losers revel in the attention – good or bad, because it gives them what they need. . . it gives their lives significance. The other group needs the public’s attention too. They need the public to hear about their pathetic cause, be it some idiotic black-helicopter cult that thinks it stands for freedom or some gutter-religion that somehow thinks their flying spaghetti monster told them to kill non-believers. They need the public to acknowledge them and to fear them.

This is what they have in common. Without attention, they are nothing.

So what does this tell us? It tells us that the only way to fight terrorism is to deny terrorists the one thing that makes it worthwhile: attention. Indeed, it is a law of human nature that people don’t do things they don’t think will give them what they want. So to stop conduct, you take away the benefit. This works with kids, it works with dogs, it works with everyone.

Unfortunately, this is where things go wrong. In our modern media world, the chattering class loves to exploit terrorism for their own gain. Within minutes of the bombing, journalists are salivating at the opportunity to throw out crocodile tears to earn ratings. “Good God! There could be a Pulitzer if I find the right words!!!” They can’t get enough. The papers, the radio, the television all go into uber-coverage mode. Every detail must be revealed, analyzed and speculated over a million times. “Oh... what does this all mean?!!!”

Then the political savages get started. The conspiracy nuts spread their poison to make themselves feel important too. Meanwhile, the Chris Mathewses of the world try to use the event to smear groups they don’t like. “Must be the Tea Party!!!” The Democrats actually called a press conference to blame the Boston bombing on sequester. At least none of them tried to wear a bloody shirt this time. The conservative chatterers are no better. They start pointing fingers at Islamic terrorism within seconds. Soon the left and the right are hacking away at each other, with both giving all the terrorists of the world. . . exactly. . . what. . . they. . . want: attention and significance. Suddenly, the impotent terrorist isn’t really so impotent because the whole world seems to be dancing to their tune.

These enablers even do stories pointing fingers at other people for encouraging terrorism.

Then comes the next wave. This is when everyone cancels events and holds vigils and does entire shows dedicated to talking about the horror of these events and how the world has changed. This is when bloggers and talk radio hosts and whatnot demonstrate how impotent they are against the terrorists by struggling to find ways to express how helpless they feel. Sure, they talk about being resolute, but their words ring “helpless.” This is the moment the impotent terrorists realize their power as they see the helplessness of their victims.

Finally, we get a break in the case. We find out who did it! Woo hoo! It’s time to really exploit this sucker! Journalist after journalist will dive right in. They will splash the name of the impotent fools all over the news. They will analyze everything they did and why they did it. They will repeat manifestos and lists of demands and will carefully explain why we should all care about this weirdo’s cause -- often with a fake disclaimer that they don’t endorse the manifesto they are publicizing. This completes the cycle. This immortalizes the impotent-loner or the forgotten-causer. For a brief moment, their pathetic, impotent little cause is the most important story on Earth, and their names now sit next to Jesus, Caesar, Hitler, and Reagan in the history books. And the only reason that happened is because our media and our political class are so determined to play right into the terrorists’ hands.

This is the problem.

If you want to stop terrorism, you deny them the benefit of being terrorists. You don’t spend time dwelling on what happened. You never explain why they did what they did. You never tell the world their names. You make it impossible for these impotent little pricks to find satisfaction through terror and you let them die unknown. That deprives them of everything they were after.

Unfortunately, our entire chattering class is determined to do its damnedest to help these people succeed. They are to blame here.
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Gun Control Charade

Let’s talk about the gun control deal between Sen. Joe Manchin (D-Buckwild) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa) because there are some interesting facets of it that have come to light. I suppose we’ll need to wait to see how the amendment process goes, but right now it looks like this bill is going to freak out both sides. Interesting.

From what I’ve seen, the stuff Obama claimed he wanted is already out of the bill, but then we knew it would be. Obama’s gun control promises were basically impossible promises mixed in with a few placebos. I suspected the goal was always to get the placebos and declare victory, but now I’m not even sure they even want the placebos. Observe.

The big issue everyone is talking about which Manchin and Toomey worked on is the issue of background checks. Most people favor background checks and this makes a lot of sense. Criminals and the mentally ill simply should not be allowed to buy guns legally and the only way to prevent that is with background checks. Moreover, most on the right have accepted the idea of background checks. So I figured that would happen. But now I have my doubts.

What happened is that there are some concerns with background checks. For example, conservatives don’t want leftists like Obama’s Justice Department trying to create a database of gun owners. There are also concerns that requiring background checks will prevent sales by anyone except retailers. Thus, for example, people couldn't sell their own guns if they wanted get rid of them and they couldn’t give them to their kids. These concerns basically would have killed the bill if they weren’t addressed.

So along come Manchin and Toomey, who apparently worked out deal. This deal will:
● Require background checks for all commercial gun sales, including sales at gun shows, but excludes gifts and sales between families and “temporary transfers” between hunters and sportsmen.

● It will include some form of record keeping, but it’s not clear what that is yet.

● Moreover, the background checks apparently will be done through some sort of licensing requirement rather than a federal database. It’s not clear what that is either, but it sounds like you will need a federal license to buy a gun.
On the surface, the first one seems to make sense, but the next two seem to be intended to make conservatives oppose the bill. Requiring a federal license strikes me as unacceptable because it is the first step in creating a gun-owner database. Indeed, while I see no issue with creating a database of people who cannot own guns, I think that creating a database of those who can is a different matter entirely because it tells the government where to look for gun owners. I think the combination of needing a license and there being some sort of record keeping requirement on sales also makes this worse because it’s pretty obvious this will result in a database of who owns what, even though the bill supposedly prohibits the creation of a gun registry. So I expect conservatives will shoot this bill down.

But then, get this. . . the bill also includes a provision requiring states to grant reciprocity for concealed carry permits. Thus, a state like New York would need to honor and allow someone granted a concealed carry permit in Texas to carry their gun in New York.

Excuse me for a moment...
I’m back. It will be interesting to see how liberals respond to this. I can’t imagine this will be acceptable to them.

Similarly, the bill apparently will allow dealers to sell across state lines. That means that all those wonderfully stupid laws passed in places like Colorado will become meaningless because I could then mail order a gun from Texas. Essentially, all Colorado gun control will do is make Colorado gun dealers less competitive.

Excuse me again...
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!! Ouch, my kidney.
I’m back. Anyway, I think these provisions will be stripped from the bill in the Senate because they would wipe out state-level gun control... or at least make it ineffective. That will then allow the Republicans to vote against the bill on the basis that the Democrats broke the deal they had crafted.

In the end, this lets both sides paint themselves favorably. The Democrats can tell their left that they passed strong gun control measures, which those meanie Republicans stopped. send us money They can also tell the center that they aren’t radicals because even far-right-Republican Toomey agreed before he reneged, plus nothing happened anyway so why worry about it? Meanwhile, the Republicans can tell their base that they stopped this monster cold. send us money They can also tell the center that they are moderates who were ready to reach a deal on background checks if only those radical Democrats hadn’t tried to break the deal.

Call me a cynic, but this reeks of political theater and I’m seriously starting to wonder if the two sides aren’t working together to write the scripts.


Update: After I wrote this, Lindsey Graham decided to oppose the bill, so it looks like the thing is doomed for sure. His reasoning was that this bill does nothing to solve the problem of gun violence.
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Monday, April 15, 2013

Sen. Rubio's Immigration Bill

With the immigration reform bill being presented this week, and several talk radio hosts calling it the end of the world. . . if those sneaky gays don’t get us first. . . I thought it would be a good time to discuss a couple issues related to the bill. We don’t know much yet, as no one has seen the bill, but here is what we do know:

The Need For Reform: Let’s start by repeating why this needs to be done. There is a 0% chance of sending these people home again, but leaving these people in this illegal status is bad for average Americans – (1) they pay no taxes, but they use government services, (2) they are a menance because they drive without insurance and cannot report crimes to the police, and (3) letting them get hired illegally lowers wages for everyone else in America. Politically speaking, the Republicans also need to repair the damage done by conservatives on this issue before it becomes impossible to win elections.

Path to Citizenship: So is this an amnesty bill or not? Yes and no. Obama campaigned on the idea of an immediate “path to citizenship.” Basically, if you were here, you would become a de facto American immediately and then would get legal citizen status automatically thereafter. That idea was DOA in the Senate. Instead, the Rubio bill creates a process that must be completed and, according to Rubio, it’s actually a rather complex process which is harder and more expensive than just going home and coming back legally. Said Rubio:
“It will actually be cheaper if they went back home, waited 10 years, and applied for a green card. . . . we've not awarding anything. All we're giving people the opportunity to eventually do is gain access to the same legal immigration system, the same legal immigration process that will be available to everybody else.”
Apparently, what happens is this:
(1) The people already here will need to apply through the normal legal immigration system. If they qualify, they will receive a temporary status and will be allowed to apply for a green card. I haven’t seen how long they must stay in this legal status before they can apply for the green card, but I’ve seen suggestions that it will be ten years.

(2) Each applicant must submit to a “rigorous background check.” They must pay all outstanding fines and back taxes. People who’ve committed “serious” crimes won’t qualify for the legal status and will be deported. Moreover, to be eligible, these people must have been in the country before December 31, 2011. Everyone arriving illegally after that date will be deported.

(3) To keep this legal status, they need to be gainfully employed and must be paying taxes.

(4) To get the green card, they need to prove that they’ve been gainfully employed and that they can support themselves.

(5) It will take at least thirteen years before these people can start to become citizens.
No Welfare: Rubio also said the new bill will prevent these people from getting federal benefits. According to Rubio, under the new plan, these people cannot get any federal benefits while they are in the legal status nor can they get federal benefits for the first five years after getting green cards.

Border Security: The bill will include border security. Specifically, it will include an entry/exit tracking system, something which is a real problem at the moment. About 40% of current illegal immigrants are here because they’ve overstayed a Visa. And the reason that works is that it turns out that the US is quite good at tracking who gets into the country, but we’re very bad at tracking who leaves again. Congress has tried to fix this several times since the 1990s, but the systems they use don’t really work. The reasons given, however, strike me as excuses for bureaucratic stupidity: (1) they claim lack of resources – as every airport, border crossing and harbor would need to be manned, (2) the system causes unacceptable delays (attempts to test a system in Detroit led to massive delays), and (3) privacy concerns because they claim they would need to track Americans as well, though I don’t see why this would be true. Personally, I doubt any of those are valid, but we’ll see what the bill proposes. Rubio says they will fix this.

Rubio also says the bill requires universal e-verify for employment, which should make it impossible for illegal aliens to find work.

Guest Workers: The guest worker program will be expanded. Thanks to labor union lobbyists, the number of low-skilled workers allowed in will be capped at 200,000 people annually. The Chamber of Commerce wanted a lot more, and now opposes the bill because they think this number is too small, but I haven’t been able to find out how many more they wanted.

All in all, this will be an interesting bill. It actually sounds rather rational and it’s stronger than I was expecting. Ultimately, it’s a much better solution than I was expecting.
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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Another Tax-Related Open Thread

Name: Barack Obama
Spouse: Michelle Obama
Address: 1600 Pennsylvania
Occupation: Asshole, Thief
Dependents: 147,000,000
Income: $608,611
Tax Owed: $112,214
Effective Rate: 18.4%
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Friday, April 12, 2013

Dark Shadows (2012) v. The Addams Family (1991)

Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows and Barry Sonnenfeld’s The Addams Family are the same movie. Both are films adapted from television shows from the 1960. They involve similar plots, similar themes, similar sets and even similar gags. Both are good films too, though The Addams Family ultimately proves far superior. Here’s why.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Book Thread!

Since apparently it's a slow-news/throw-everything-at-the-post-and-see-what-sticks week for the blog, I thought I'd just talk about a couple books that have come out recently. And yes, they're history-oriented, because that's what I do, but they're also books conservatives should check out.

While there are a lot of new good books out right now, I thought for today I'd focus on two biographies. They're both well-written and about important people, and they reveal some things about the past.

Coolidge: By Amity Shlaes

Shlaes is also the author of The Forgotten Man, a somewhat revisionist history of the Great Depression, and by "revisionist" I mean she definitely does not portray it as the story of FDR arriving to save us all from our laissez-faire sinfulness. So, clearly a woman who should be given the benefit of the doubt, and her biography of our 30th President more than justifies this trust. Stylistically, I thought the book maybe left a bit to be desired in how it abruptly shifted from one aspect of Coolidge's presidential life to another, but that's a rather pedantic, nitpicky criticism. As to what she actually has to say, her portrait of "Silent Cal" absolutely shatters the frequent image we have of a cold, callous man who did nothing to help the country. Coolidge, who had warm relationships with his family and friends, was also a principled man who was not only active in his own way, but had to really fight to carry through his vision of what the government and the country should be.

The pro-business climate of the '20s, for example, did not just happen--progressives in Washington fought to block plans for low income taxes and reductions in spending, and it required a great deal of tenacity and maneuvering by the President to overcome them. The flip side of Coolidge's reticence was his ability to make his opponents underestimate him, and time and time again he used that to blindside them. Partly he did it with a careful command of the facts--he clearly pointed out that everything they knew suggested tax cuts would actually increase government revenue over the long run, and sure enough, he was right. I have never yet met a liberal who will admit to this unfortunate truth, or who even seems aware of it.

Perhaps the most interesting that comes through in Shlaes' book is Coolidge's vision of the presidency as an institution. As the author has said in interviews, he interpreted his position quite literally--as "Presiding Officer." He would do what he needed to do to preserve or enhance national security or prosperity, but beyond that, it was his job to give his fellow citizens as free a hand as possible, and not to micromanage their affairs. Indeed, that was why, despite immense popularity, he chose not to run for another term in 1928; staying in Washington much longer, he feared, might inflate his ego and corrupt his principles. Thinking of how far we've fallen from that view, I could almost cry.

Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life: By Jonathan Sperber

Okay, full disclosure on this one: I know Sperber, a professor at the University of Missouri, and in fact he is currently my graduate advisor. No, that does not make this a shameless plug. Actually, being no conservative himself, he finds the idea of Karl Marx as a bloodthirsty totalitarian rather humorous. (My moonlighting as a right-wing blogger, if he knew about it, probably less so.) So you're definitely not going to find anything in this biography about how terrible Marx and Marxism were and are.

Why am I bringing it up, then? Well, it has a lot of keys to Marx's psyche and thus to how he developed his "philosophy." The book's main theme is that the Communist founder was more of a journalist than a careful theoretician; were he alive today, he would likely become a blogger. (The author's words, not mine. Just clarifying.) He wrote better in catchphrases and slogans than in lengthy treatises; everyone knows "Workers of the World, Unite!" but even his most devoted followers never made it through Das Kapital.

Plus, a look at Marx's personal affairs makes it much easier to understand how he could have such an inhuman outlook on the world. Only a handful of people could ever stand the guy; he belittled and alienated practically every one of his political colleagues at some point, and indeed probably delayed the growth of a broad leftist movement because of the rivalries he got bogged down in. And while he clearly loved his wife and kids, he also had no problem taking advantage of the family maid and then getting his poor friend Engels to take responsibility for the result nine months later.

Now, Sperber pedals some of this a bit more softly than I am here, and treads rather lightly on the issue of Marx's anti-Semitism. But unlike many historians of a leftist persuasion, he lets the facts speak for themselves, and they reveal a very smart, very harsh, very flawed individual who undoubtedly would have been quite the dictator if he'd ever had the chance.


So those are my mini-reviews for the "Conservative Book Club," as it were. I could probably go on if I had the time, but let's turn it over to you. Any thoughts on these books? And are there other recent publications you would recommend?
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Thursday, April 11, 2013

New York - Oops, It Happened Again...

I have said for years that it would just be easier to move our state capital from Albany to Ossining (home of Sing Sing Prison) just to streamline the process for taxpayers as our politicians move from the State House to Big House. Yes, as hard as it may be to believe, not 24 hours after I posted last week that Sen. Smith and Councilman Halloran had been arrested, another of New York's elected officials was behind bars and another had resigned.

This time it was Assemblyman Eric Stevenson (D/Bronx). He was arrested by the Feds for accepting bribes to pass legislation that would limit the opening of adult day-care centers so that his co-conspirators could have a monopoly. The other politician, Assemblyman Nelson Castro (D/Bronx) resigned after he was used by the Feds to wear a wire to catch Stevenson. Castro was under indictment for a previous charge of perjury.

Apparently it is quite common in New York for politicians to take bribes to get legislation passed to benefit the bribers. Another member of the Assembly who shall remain nameless for now, is currently under investigation after he introduced legislation that would require all wine to be warehoused in New York for at least one day before being sold in local stores. I imagine that I don't have to tell you that his biggest donor is a New York beverage distributor. One would think that if these guys and gals were just a little bit smarter, they would just pass legislation that would make all of this legal.

Needless to say our Governor Andrew Cuomo is not happy. He wants to run for President in 2016 and all this corruption is really harshin' his mellow. Or in layman's speak, it reflecting badly on him since he ran his 2010 campaign on cleaning up the corruption and "business as usual" in Albany.

Oh, and this is the guy who is doing all of this - US Attorney Preet Bharara. Remember that name because he will either be running for Governor one day or have to arrest himself when he becomes a New York State Legislator.

So drum roll please as I add the latest members to the Albany/NYC Rogues Gallery of Arrested/Incarcerated/Recently Released Corrupt Politicians:

State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson (D)- Arrested for accepting bribes to pass legislation for his special interests with 4 co-conspirators.

State Assemblyman Nelson Castro (D) - resigned after turning states' evidence and wearing a wire to implicate Assemblyman Stevenson. He was compelled to help the Feds because he was under indictment for perjury.

State Senator Malcolm Smith (D) - Arrested for paying bribes to NYC Councilman Daniel Halloran (R) to secure a spot on the Republican ticket for the upcoming Mayoral election.

NYC Councilman Daniel Halloran (R) - Arrested for accepting a bribe from State Senator Malcolm Smith (D) for same.

Oh, plus "...five other politicians, three Republicans and two Democrats, were also arrested and charged with collectively accepting more than $100,000 in bribes in meetings that often took place in parked cars, hotel rooms and state offices..."

Just in case you are keeping score, here is the previous list from 2012-2013:

State Senator Shirley Huntley (D): pleaded guilty to embezzlement of $90,000 in taxpayer funds for personal shopping sprees.

State Assembly Vivian Cook (D): not yet charged; implicated in procuring funds to be funneled to Sen. Huntley and participating in personal shopping sprees.

State Assembly Jimmy Meng (D): pleaded guilty to soliciting bribes

US Representative Gregory Meeks (D): Currently under investigation for accepting $40,000 in unreported "loans" from Queens businessman Edul Ahmad. Ahmad has pleaded guilty and awaiting sentences in a $50 million mortgage fraud scheme.

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.

Please feel free to talk about this or anything that might crop up. I mean, North Korea is poised to bomb us at some point this week...
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Letting the Geek Flag Fly

By ScottDS

A few weekends ago, some friends and I went to MegaCon, Central Florida’s largest celebration of pop culture, sci-fi, horror, comics, anime, and assorted nerdery. This was my fourth visit in ten years and the crowd was as big as ever. Looking back on the trip, a few thoughts have occurred to me... social, political, and otherwise.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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You know, I always thought it was Snuffaluffagus, but apparently it isn't. I guess my childhood was a lie. :( You know what else is a lie? The fricken news cycle! There's nothing worth talking about unless you live in Korea or you're a hateful leftist Brit. But the life of a blogger is to find something to talk about... anything... yep. Neither e-rain, nor e-snow yada yada blog gotta post. Oh, I know what we should talk about!

● Are We Dead Yet?: Today is the day that malignant dwarf (Kim No Hung, I believe) who runs what there is of North Korean threatened to launch his missile of death at something. So we could be at war by the end of the day, or not. Some people are better off dead and this twerp leads the list.

● Leftist F***s: For those who haven't noticed, the left is all happy that Margaret Thatcher has died. They are actually dancing in the streets and burning other people's property. This is why I have decided that speaking ill of the dead is fine from now on so long as they were leftists. They deserve no respect as they never had any decency. And I am looking forward to the party I'm going to have when Obama shuffles off this mortal golf course. Of course, he might be too lazy to die, but we'll see.

● Ricky "I Swear I'm Not Gay" Santorum: Ricky is trying to make himself relevant again by claiming that changing the GOP stance on gay marriage would be "suicidal." That's delusionally backward, but that's Ricky. Actually, what he said was interesting for all the wrong reasons. There has been a lot of talk about the GOP keeping the abortion issue but giving up on gay marriage to help detoxify the party -- in fact, this is inevitable from what I'm seeing. Basically, this would be a compromise aimed at keeping the religious right and the rest of the party together. What Ricky did was he equated gay marriage and abortion and he basically declared that both are a package deal. In other words, he's made it clear that the religious right are not interested in a compromise. So the question is what happens next? From what I'm seeing, this won't play too well with a huge number of conservatives (especially younger conservatives). And honestly, having this come to a head might be the best thing that could happen.

● Shameless: Obama is using the Newton Connecticut families as props for his pathetic gun control agenda. My sympathy drops for them with each word they applaud like trained seals.

● Need Signatures: One of our own has asked that everyone head on over to the White House and sign a petition. Apparently, Obama is using the sequester as an excuse to cut Medicare reimbursements for oncology patients. I am told that some doctors are already paying more for chemotherapy drugs than Medicare will reimburse. So head ==> HERE <== and sign the petition to make Obama answer for this. They need 100,000 signatures to make that happen.

● Book Update: Finally, I wanted to give you all an update on the Agenda2016 book. It's almost done. The draft is done and I'm getting some feedback. I've stopped posting articles at the moment because Amazon gives me grief when I put too much of a book online before publishing it. So I need to get the book published before revealing too much more. In the meantime, I need your help. In the comments, please give me the names of any talk radio hosts you listen to (left or right) -- including the local guys -- who might talk about political stuff. I intend to mail them all copies of the book once it's done. Thanks!
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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

News Round Up

All right, we are in a very, very slow news period as we wait to see what immigration reform will look like and how Obama’s gun regulation scheme will prove to be a paper frosted tiger. So let’s do a news roundup and talk about a few random things.

Moving to Texas: Rick Perry sent out letters to gun companies in states like Colorado and Connecticut where Democratic legislatures have passed anti-gun ownership laws. He’s apparently bagged his first prize: Colt Competition of Oregon, who make high-accuracy AR-15-type rifles for shooting competitions. Others may soon follow. Several gun equipment makers in Colorado have claimed they will leave as well, but we’ll see if they do. Let’s hope they do because it’s time to show people that legislative stupidity has consequences. And losing jobs is the best way to show that. Speaking of jobs...

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: The jobs report was ugly. The media tried half-heartedly to blame this on sequestration, but no one believes that because almost no one feels the effects of that. Others blame it on seasonal hiring, which is more likely the case. In the end though, bad economic performance falls on the president and his party. The media is trying to deflect this, but when the best they can say is, “both parties should be embarrassed by the latest depressing jobs report,” then you know they know they have problems.

Right now, people are worried that the next three years of Obama won’t be any better than the first four. And there’s really no reason they should be. None of the things holding back the economy have changed. Basically Obama tossed some money out the window of his car as drove through the streets, that didn’t work and now he’s begging for gas money to do it again. No one has considered finding ways to lower the cost of labor or to make working more profitable. Maybe it’s time for a change? Maybe it’s time for Hillary...

Hillary Clinton: The leftist media is starting to go all fan-boy over the prospect of Hillary running for President in 2016. Indeed, many of the articles I’ve seen on this are practically orgasmic:
“It was another week in American politics highlighted by the overwhelming and deep yearning by Democrats that Hillary should run for president in 2016, and the overwhelming and powerful support she would receive from Americans if she does.”
Yeah, everyone would love our Goddess... unlike that black guy, that pretend-messiah who can’t solve our problems. In fact, this particular article said something that struck me as rather interesting on this very point:
“It would be spectacular if Bill and Hillary Clinton would work with the Clinton Global Initiative to devise major new jobs proposals.”
This is interesting because it suggests that our slobbering author has given up hope that Obama will solve the jobs crisis, doesn’t it? And if Hillary can come up with a jobs plan as this hack believes, then why doesn’t the hack want Hillary sharing this with Obama? Why hope that Hillary waits to unveil it in her own run? I’d say the media crush is shifting to Hillary.

In fact, in the past few weeks there have been a series of things that make me think the media is done with Obama. There’s been a ton of coverage of the failures of Obamacare. There’s been extensive coverage of Obama’s “gaffe” of complimenting a chick attorney general on her looks. There’s been coverage of how big business is raking in the cash from Obama’s programs. There’s been coverage about Obama’s gun push failing because he didn’t really plan it right. And there’s been a lot of anger about the jobs report directed at “both parties.” These aren’t things that would have been covered in the past and the fact they are now suggests that the media is ready to be harsher on him.

Back to Hillary, the only real question right now is whether or not rank and file leftist fruitcakes are on the same page as the limousine media leftists. I have my doubts. So while it looks like Hillary will be anointed the heiress apparent to the pretend messiah by the media, I’m not so sure she’s going to do all that well in the primaries.

At least there’s only one Clinton, right? Uh...

Spawn of Clintons: As if this will surprise anyone, Chelsea is now dropping hints that she might one day very soon be interested in being handed an elective office. Shocker! I’d rather vote for a Kardashian.

Anything I missed?
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Monday, April 8, 2013

Nationalizing Our Elections! Oh My!

I wasn’t going to write about this because I don’t want to be accused of picking on Mark Levin, but then it got mentioned, so what the heck. Levin is “outraged” that Obama is trying to “nationalize the country’s elections!” Yep. And he’s right! To the bunkers! ...... Ok, for those of you still here, let’s talk about this because Obama did something interesting and we should think about this logically.

Here’s what happened. Two weeks ago, Obama signed an Executive Order establishing a Presidential Commission to deal with “election administration.” According to the Order, the Commission “shall identify best practices and otherwise make recommendations to promote the efficient administration of elections.” The commission will look at how to train and recruit poll workers, how to manage voter rolls, voting machines, ballot simplicity, English proficiency and absentee ballots.

Levin reacted angrily saying Obama used “falsehoods” about long lines “to nationalize elections” in a power grab to “further weaken our voting system at the state level.” Some election law expert even called this “a solution in search of a problem.” Are they right?

No. A commission like this has zero power. Presidents cannot make law and election laws cannot be overridden or amended by a commission like this. It takes an act of Congress to change election law and even their power is limited by various Supreme Court rulings. Thus, Obama’s commission is basically a “for entertainment purposes only” gimmick. . . like most of his agenda. So forget Levin because he doesn’t understand how our government works.

And what about this idea that this is a solution in search of a problem? Well, that’s wrong too. For one thing, this is not a solution since it’s powerless to do anything. Secondly, there is a problem here. Think back on the whining about voter fraud since 2000. The left squealed that Bush stole the election. The feds responded by giving money for electronic voting machines, which the left claimed were pre-programmed to vote for Bush. Starting around 2006, the right decided that the same voting machines were spitting out votes for Democrats. At the same time, the right became obsessed with illegal aliens and criminals stealing elections, black people voting without IDs, Black Panthers blocking polls, and so on. Blacks whine that they are kept from voting. Absentee ballots get delivered late. Etc. etc. For the past 13 years, we’ve all be screaming that we’re worse than a Banana Republic. So saying there is no problem when election integrity is vital to a democracy is pretty stupid.

Still, we should fight this, right, because Obama proposed it?

Well, let’s think about this. Right now, our election laws are about as rigged as they can possible get for the left. There are no requirements to vote. You can register anyone. You don’t need to show an ID. Liberals are constantly getting caught talking about voting multiple times and never get punished. Liberals are big on “finding” ballots to win elections, cutting off elections to stop conservatives from voting, keeping military ballots from counting, and getting recounts in liberal strongholds. What more could they possibly do to make things worse?

Moreover, when conservatives try to fix this, realize two things. First, the only states where they can fix things are states they already win, so the effort is pointless. Secondly, because those states are basically Southern states with a racist past and because conservative rhetoric has focused on “illegals stealing elections” and blacks committing voter fraud, the Democrats have been able to sell the idea that this is just conservatives trying to suppress minority votes.

Now imagine if rather than just attacking Obama’s commission, what if conservatives embraced a commission like this and forced their way onto it. Not only could they move election laws and administration to the right – since they can’t really go further left – but we could get things like Voter ID laws endorsed nationwide through the Congress without having to go state by state. That means we can reach the states we couldn’t normally touch because we aren’t even close to competitive in those states, and it means we can make this very rational change without facing the constant drumbeat that this is an attempt by Southern whites to control minority populations.

This is one of those things where conservatives need to stop thinking with their knees and work through whether or not this makes sense. It might not. I admit that. It could be there are some hidden dangers I don’t see. But from what I see right now, embracing this and joining it could only be very good for us.


Oh, and obey the Hypno-toad.
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