Sunday, May 31, 2015


by ScottDS

Here's a question for the readership. I'm working on some book covers for classic dystopian novels and, in an effort to do something a little different, I've decided to use photos of real politicians and pop culture figures, people who might be identified with the ideas presented in the novels.

The novels are 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Animal Farm, Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange, and The Handmaiden's Tale. I've only read two and a half of these novels, but I like the idea of presenting them in an interesting way. And in a bi-partisan way! Books like these are often claimed by one side or another, but I don't want this to be strictly conservative or liberal. (Some see 1984 and think Bush, others think Obama, etc.)

So... who comes to mind when you see these titles?
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Friday, May 29, 2015

Kit's Friday Thoughts: Duggar, Iraq, and some other stuff

By Kit

Duggar Family Scandal
A number of you are probably aware of the sex abuse allegations that have hit the ultra-conservative Duggar family of the reality show, 19 and Counting. If you are like me and before the scandal broke had no idea who the Duggar family were, only vaguely aware of the existence of a show called 19 kids and Counting, and had absolutely no interest whatsoever in it, here are the details from what I know.

The Duggar family is, as stated above, a very conservative, Christian family who hold very restrictive views on gender roles and sex —even by the standards of most conservative Christians; they allow no kissing or even any physical contact between members of the opposite sex prior to marriage and there are always chaperones for their daughters, usually the older brothers (Source). Bennett and Darcy’s courtship in Pride and Prejudice was Sex and the City by comparison.

And speaking of the older brothers…

Now, before I go any further I want to point out that I really don’t care how they choose to live their lives or raise their kids. As long as it operates within certain basic parameters of no abuse, I don’t care. Really, I don’t. It’s America. I love living in a country where you can have two agnostic (or Presbyterian) gay men raising a kid next door to a super-religious family with 12 kids.

Anyhoo, back to the family.

Speaking of older brothers, it turns out the eldest son, Josh, sexually molested five girls back when he was 14 or 15 by fondling their breasts and genitals. Four of them were his younger sisters. The family, it appears, only told a few close family friends and, when law enforcement was eventually contacted, it was a police officer the family knew who reportedly gave Josh a “stern talk” —and was later arrested on counts of child pornography.

As for Josh Duggar, he recently became executive director of FRC Action, which wikipedia describes as “the non-profit political action and lobbying arm of the Family Research Council.” A position from which he has now resigned.

First, I’ve never much cared for these family reality shows. Or most reality shows in general. I find them very stupid. The few times I’ve watched one, or, more accurately, been trapped in a room with people who are watching one, I’ve come away with a very low estimation of the human race. While there are in all likelihood at least one or two that are probably, most have come across as little more than voyeuristic freak shows; look at these weird people being weird!

Say what you will about the circus freak show of old, at least they typically had to develop some skill or talent. Like juggling.

Second, the family, going into damage control, said that the victims have forgiven Josh. Ok, that is good. Forgiveness is often better than holding onto bitterness and anger, even justified anger. It allows you to move on with your life like nothing else can. So to those girls I say, bravo.

BUT THAT STILL DOESN’T CHANGE WHAT HAPPENED! If this was one time event where he did it, got caught, and was punished at 14 then maybe, maybe, I could be grant them that point and move on. But he continued to molest his sisters, even after getting caught. That’s a pattern.

Finally, if you want a good takedown of the family’s actions and behavior, particularly those of the patriarch, from a conservative Christian point-of-view I recommend David French’s post at the National Review, “Put Not Your Faith in Duggars, or Any Other Christian.” It’s quite good. LINK.

And much of what he says about the Duggars is quite good, even if you are not a Christian: “If the past 30 years of very public Christian scandals should teach us anything, it’s that no one should put their trust in famous Christians. They often can’t even get the basics right, much less serve as shining examples of faith lived the right way. In the case of the Duggar family, they hid sexual abuse from everyone but those they most trusted, delayed notifying the authorities for months (and then afterward telling only a close family friend), escaped prosecution only through the expiration of the statute of limitations, and then had the audacity — knowing full well that these events had occurred — to put themselves out to the public as a role-model family. The abuser himself decided to become a leader in the Christian pro-family movement, as the executive director of the Family Research Council.”

Not much I can add to that except, “Amen brother.” Read the whole thing.

Obama’s (and Hillary’s) catastrophic failure in Iraq
Last Friday, Krauthammer wrote an excellent column for the Washington Post where he pointed out that instead of running around asking if we should or should not have invaded Iraq in 2003 we should be asking whether it was right for Obama to leave Iraq wholesale as he did in 2003?

Obama can complain about the crappy economy and the stuff in Afghanistan but he was handed a victory in Iraq on a silver platter. By his own admission, the surge was a success. All he had to do was maintain a minimal amount of troops in Iraq and it is certainly possible things over there would be a lot better now.

But he didn’t. So here we are.

Obama the Federalist?

I recently read a story in the USA Today about how Obama, now failing to get any of his measures passed at the federal level is now taking things to the cities, such as minimum wage raises (which are having the predictable effects).

Now, there is some debate about whether the cities can actually do this considering that traditionally the states and the federal government have handled this responsibility with the feds setting the floor and the states deciding whether or not to go up from there.

But, hey, at least he’s realized that not everything must be done at the federal level. Even if its really just another example of his “ends justify the means” mentality… and its constitutionally sketchy.

But, baby steps…


— No book of the week this week. Though I hope to have Road to Serfdom finished by next Friday. Nearing the end, it is very good.

— I will be resuming Summer of Marvel this coming Monday with The Incredible Hulk, so stay tuned!

— It was revealed that Bernie Sanders wrote an essay back in 1972 saying most men fantasized about raping women and most women fantasized about being gang raped.


Now, normally, I could not care less what someone wrote back when Nixon was President but in this case, considering that if he was a Republican we would never hear the end of this, I say hit him, and the Democrats, hard over this. They need to be held to their own standards. It’s the only way they’ll ever learn.

— Kevin D. Williamson wrote a great piece for National Review where he hit Bernie Sanders for his “Dark Age Economics”. Read it here: LINK.

Now, in there he referenced what Cthulhu would say on the subject of money. Jonah Goldberg, sensing an endorsement for the crustacean Great Old One, responded that the Sweet Meteor of Death (SMOD) would be a better candidate in “The Real Primary: Cthulhu vs. SMOD”: LINK

Kevin hit back in “The Campaign Call of Cthulhu”: LINK

Jonah will reply in his newsletter, the G-File, tomorrow. (Side-note: The current format of my Friday’s Thoughts are directly inspired by Goldberg’s G-File)

The highlight of the debate so far is from Goldberg: “replacing public-sector unions with Cthulhu cultists strikes me as, at best, a modest improvement.”

— The series Honest Trailers has now done 100 trailers and to honor that auspicious event they are doing 50 Shades of Grey. Give it a watch, though I warn you, it is very much NOT SAFE FOR WORK! LINK

As always, the thread is open for the weekend. Discuss anything you want, Hillary’s shell corporation or Cthulhu vs. SMOD (It’s Cthulhu).
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Thursday, May 28, 2015

No Arrests, But Lots of Useless Studies...

Since there haven't been any elected officials arrested this week, I am not sure what to write about. Oh, wait, how about a couple of studies that I picked up in the newspapers that have been published lately...

The first learned, scientific study from Sweden's Karolinska Institutet concluded the reason that so many people are obese...wait for it...wait for it...wait for because of noise pollution. Daily Mail - Traffic Noise 'raises obesity risk'.

Okay, not exactly the noise itself from planes, trains and automobiles, but the effects of noise that interrupt our sleep patterns and make us less likely to exercise. That sounds reasonable until you take into account statistics that people who live in urban areas where noise is the #1 reason for civil complaints also have the lowest rate of obesity.

And the second learned, scientific study from Columbia University "found that children born to moms exposed to high levels of pollutants called PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) during pregnancy and reported economic hardship, scored significantly lower on IQ tests at age 7 than children born to mothers with less exposure to pollutants and greater economic security." Polluted NYC Air Lowers IQs: Study. PAH's are pollutants produced from burning fossil fuels, such as gasoline, diesel, and heating oil.

Okay, just off the top of my head here - how does one explain children with higher IQ's who are born into a better economic environment with the same exposure to the same pollutants who live just a few block away? One even more striking example used to critique this is study is children born in Shanghai, one of the most polluted cities in the world, also has children with some of the highest IQ's in the world.

Let's discuss. But while I am waiting to read your always inciteful comments, I am going into my isolation tank full of purified air...just in case.
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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Leftist Mad at Middle Class Gays in Chelsea for Being Middle Class

By Kit

Since it appeared no one was posting anything and I was very bored I decided to write something in response to a Slate article I read.

Note: The following contains some crude references to sexual acts.

Sometimes the greatest joys in life are the little joys and sometimes the greatest little joys come from reading the clueless ravings of magazines aimed at liberal upper-middle class whites. I am referring, of course, to the New York-area rags Slate and Salon. Now, while Slate is the more sane of the two (not exactly high praise), featuring writers who are occasionally willing to buck the left-wing party line, Emily Yoffe’s work on the rape culture hysteria comes to mind, they are still a magazine of the upper-middle class white urban left; I.e., the folks who whine about the gentrification of lower-class neighborhoods as they eagerly move into newly-gentrified neighborhoods. Which means that while Salon, with an eclectic mix of articles featuring some rant on the latest iniquity committed villainous Koch brothers one day and a woman recounting “How (insert non-normative sexual act here) made me a happier person” the next, is by far the more entertaining of the two magazines Slate still does its work in providing enjoyable work for those of us who dwell on the Right side of the political spectrum.

Which brings me to a column at Slate by J. Bryan Lowder, the site’s resident LGBTQ writer, headlined, “Gay Parents Fight Valiantly to Protect Children From Gay Culture.” You see, a group of parents in Chelsea, NY are trying to get a gay sex shop in their area closed because the shop features advertisements for sexual paraphernalia, as well as several items sexual paraphernalia, in its windows in full view of their kids. Also, this shop appears to promote a free-for-all sexual lifestyle as “they find used condoms and latex gloves in front of their homes, have light bulbs removed to darken their vestibules, and see men having sex in the hours before dawn on playground benches,” complaints that Mr. Lowder finds “silly.”

Now, it would be one thing if he were criticizing them on the libertarian principle of free speech; the “I may be offended by what they are selling but I will defend to the death by their right to sell their wares and display them in their front window for all to see —even if those wares are double-ended dildos that allow two consenting adults to bugger each other in the rump at the same time” principle.But, as you may have guessed from his headline, Lowder is furious because several of these uptight parents are… gay!

To him, by protesting these gay sex shops they are betraying gay culture and everything it has ever stood for. (To him.)

Mr. Lowder’s frustration with these prudish middle-class gays is, I think, best encapsulated here (emphasis mine), “The desire on the part of many gays to assimilate into traditionally straight ways of living is not in itself a bad thing; the problem comes when that move is made as some kind of repudiation of other, gayer ways of living, particularly as manifested with regard to important gay spaces like bars and shops.”

Catch the references to “traditionally straight ways of living”, such as raising a middle-class family, and “gayer ways of living,” as defined by sex shops and bars where you can have one night stands? It seems that he and other members of the gay left are discovering, apparently to their shock, that now having gained the right to marry and raise kids, many gays want to marry and raise kids responsibly. They want to be good spouses and parents. They want a house, a white picket fence, a well-paying job, a safe neighborhood, and finally, many want good, clean environments in which to raise their kids.

As P. J. O’Rourke said, “Gays want to get married, have children, and go to church. Next they'll be advocating school vouchers, boycotting HBO, and voting Republican.”

The thought must really incense him.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Yet Another Telling Statement

Today's article is simple but I think rather cutting. This involves a statement David Letterman made during his final show. That statement really suggests to me why liberals cannot be trusted to make decisions regarding Islam.

Here is the statement:
"The reason we were attacked, the reason these people are dead... as I understand it (and my understanding of this is vague at best)... we’re told that they were zealots, fueled by religious fervor... religious fervor. And if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any sense to you? Will that make any Goddamned sense?"
Do you see the problem here? The problem is that Letterman admits that he is incapable of understanding what went through the minds of the killers. Nevertheless, he continuously criticized people who did understand what was going through their minds and were trying to put policies in place to stop them. Think of it this ways. What Letterman has said is the same as saying, "I sure don't understand cancer, but those doctors better not do anything I don't think is right in fighting it." You would smack that Letterman upside the head as a retard, yet the one who opines about Islam is considered nuanced.

Now look, I get that this is largely hyperbole on Letterman's part and the reality is that he just doesn't have the stomach to face reality, but this is not an uncommon thing for liberals. In fact, it fits their mindset. Liberals have proven time and again that they are incapable of grasping that other people can have genuinely different mindsets. They show it in their inability to deal with opposition. They show it in their excuses for criminals and their need to see the perpetually unemployed class as "just like us, only suffering from bad luck," when the reality is that this is a drugged-fueled lifestyle choice. They show it in their need to describe people like Hitler as insane, when the reality was that he was quite sane until the end... he was just a rotten piece of sh*t. In fact, Liberals have proved so often and so consistently that they cannot grasp that others can legitimately have different beliefs that it strikes me as proven that they are genuinely incapable of understanding that not everyone shares all of their beliefs.

What Letterman says is proof of that once more. Like so many other liberals who assume that radical Islamists really do want equal rights for women (after all, they have daughters and liberals would never treat their daughters that way), gay rights, pro-environmental policies and $15 an hour wages at McDonalds, Letterman is completely incapable of grasping that Islamic terrorists genuinely believe that it is their duty to slaughter non-believers in the name of their one, true God. Like Charlie Manson, they not only shed no tears for their victims, they revel in the deaths and suffering of their victims. This is simply inconceivable to Letterman except as mental illness.

And if Letterman and his liberal friends cannot understand that, then how can they possibly propose valid solutions to the problem? So why won't they shut up when smarter people do talk about solutions? Because their very worldview prevents them from believing that anyone else can understand the things they cannot. Hence, what they don't know about cancer, no doctor can know about cancer either.

This stuff drives me crazy about liberals and it drives me even more crazy that they are too delusional and/or stupid to see it. This is why they are always caught flatfooted when their ideas implode and why they say, "Gee, no one could have known," even as every conservative and independent on the planet warned them all along the way.

I honestly do believe that liberalism is a mental condition... and Letterman just admitted that everything nasty he ever said about Bush or Cheney or anyone else who dealt with fundamentalist Islam was a statement made in ignorance. Good riddance, a-hole!
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Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Open Thread

By Kit

Not much today. No post from Andrew and no new Summer of Marvel review (that will come next Monday). So instead it is an Open Thread.

Since Memorial Day was started to honor those killed in the American Civil War, I thought I would share this reading of Major Sullivan Ballou's letter to his wife, written just prior to his death at the First Battle of Bull Run: LINK
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Friday, May 22, 2015

Kit's Friday Thoughts: Memorial Day Weekend

By Kit

Well, it's Memorial Day weekend. Today I'll be touching on Tsarnaev, Boy Scouts, and a new series I might be starting, "Book Recommendation of the Week."

Death Penalty for Tsarnaev

Recently Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death, and with his sentence the usual objections to the Death Penalty have been raised. The Christian magazine Relevant argued that a Christian can't be consistently pro-life on abortion and pro-death on the death penalty.

First, this is a position I find rather odd because the Bible itself takes that very stance. In fact there are numerous places where the Bible imposes the death penalty. And not just in Leviticus.

But, this is not a religious site. This is a political/cultural site. So, instead I'll make my case on secular grounds:

The State has the right, perhaps even the duty, to execute persons who have committed particularly heinous murders in order to declare such actions beyond the realm of civilized society.

Let's look at Mr. Tsarnaev as an example. He planted his suitcase full of explosives next to 8-year old, Martin Richard and his sister Jane Richard. Martin was killed in the explosion, Jane lost her leg. The deliberate harm of a child should at the very least warrant some level

Further, a terrorist act in this case is not directed at a particular individual but against a society as a whole. The Tsarnaevs were not trying to inflict harm on just a handful of people at the Boston Marathon nor on the city of Boston as a whole but upon the whole of the United States and the American people. They were attacking every single one of us. That is the purpose of terrorism; to terrorize.

Lastly, on the question of "humanitarian" reasons for not executing him. If he was sentenced to Life without Parole he would be spending at least 50 years (guessing by the average human life expectancy) in a 10-foot by 12-foot cell at ADX, a prison that one former warden compared to "hell." LINK

Boy Scouts ban Watergun fights

I wish I were joking. Kids are no longer allowed to shoot each other with water pistols because it is "not kind." From the new manual: "Water guns and rubber band guns must only be used to shoot at targets, and eye protection must be worn."

Really. Read it here: LINK

Book Recommendation of the Week

A thing I might be starting. Recommending a book I've read recently. This week it's Monster Hunter International. It's about a man who gets recruited by Monster Hunter International, an organization that serve as bounty hunters except instead of people they hunt monsters; vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc., collecting bounties for each kill.

It is a ton of fun. The hero and his team hunt and shoot monsters and in the process protecting the innocent from the creatures that lurk in the dark. The heroes are likable and fun. The writer, Larry Correia, has planted the story firmly in the B-Movie universe but has fun with defying the stereotypes of the genre. He takes the stock characters, such as the "thuggish-looking" black guy best friend, and turns them on their head, and gives us that quintessential quality of a good ensemble action/adventure cast; a desire to hang out with our heroes again and again.

The only downside is that the writer at times goes into a bit too much detail on the guns the characters are using. One instance involved a page and a half describing a gun they were just looking at. That could've been slimmed down a bit.

The book also has a big anti-authority libertarian streak and his pro-gun attitudes are established within the first couple of pages. I'll let you decide whether that is a bonus or drawback.

It is currently free for eBook! So you have nothing to lose! Here is the Amazon link: LINK

Tolkien and Lewis Lectures

Professor Ryan Reeves at Gordon-Conwell Seminary has a series of lectures posted on youtube about C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, each ranging from a half-hour to an hour in length.

The first one I watched was "C.S. Lewis, Narnia, and the Medieval World" where he described Lewis' use of the "Seven Heavens" of medieval astronomy in his work and from then on I was hooked. Now, I'm about halfway through and still eagerly devouring the lectures.

Now, it is at a seminary and an evangelical one to boot, which means they are intended for future pastors and ministers (I intend to be neither) and are from a generally conservative evangelical point-of-view, so a caveat emptor there. But, the information he gives on the world views of the two men, their backgrounds, and the themes of the works are quite interesting. At least to me.

Here is the playlist: LINK

Some News

I probably won't be doing a Summer of Marvel review for this Monday. Instead you may see something from Andrew or I listing off favorite war movies or something like that. We'll see.

I start classes next week so you might see some hiccups in the Summer of Marvel during the month of June, but, again, we'll see.

Have a great weekend.
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Happy 6th Anniversary!

First of all, let me congratulate all the Commentarama/CommentaramaPolitics-ians on our 6th Anniversary! What a wonderful and thoughtful ride we have had for the last six years. I especially want to thank Andrew for giving me the opportunity to air my thoughts for all of these years and a very special thanks to Kit and all who contribute their inciteful comments and humor year after year. I continue to learn so much and laugh a lot! Also, I would like to add on this Memorial Day 2015, how much I miss our dear LawHawkSF/LawHawkRFD. He is missed every single day.

So, as we go into the official first weekend of "summer" and our seventh year, short of anything ever written by Shakespeare (or Andrew!), below is one of the most memorable speeches ever given commemmorating those who gave and continue to give their lives for the greatest cause of freedom. It was purported to have been written in haste on a train on the way to the brutal battlefield of Gettysburg on November 19, 1863.

The crowd expected another long, droning speech, but instead Abraham Lincoln delivered a short three minute speech. But in that that three minutes, the speech Lincoln gave has become one of the most memorable speeches ever given about war and the great sacrifice of those who "gave their full measure of devotion". Bless all of those who give their lives for the great cause freedom and may we never forget their sacrifice.
Abraham Lincoln - His Address Delivered at the Dedication of the Cemetery at Gettysburg
November 19, 1863

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Bless all those who have served and continue to serve, and those who have given their lives for the cause of freedom.

Interesting factoid - "Lincoln was feverish and weak, with a severe headache the day of the speech. A protracted illness followed, which included a vesicular rash and was diagnosed as a mild case of smallpox. It thus seems highly likely that Lincoln was in the prodromal period of smallpox when he delivered the Gettysburg address." [Wikipedia]
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New York Corruption Without Limit

Andrew mentioned something in a comment last week about needing a distraction with more arrests of politicians. And as always, the State of New York is always happy to oblige! New York leads the country in highest taxes, best of the worst states to do business and...well, apparently corrupt politicians! Woo-hoo! Oh, wait...

Since the first of the year, both the leaders of our state legislatures have been publicly led off in hand-cuffs. And because all if fair in politics, one was a Democrat and one was a Republican. And, if what the local papers say is true, then we might not have to wait too much longer to add the Governor to the list.

As I have written before, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) used as an election "promise" in 2010 to investigate the rampant corruption amongst our elected official in the state. He did not start right away. But nearing his 2014 re-election, he finally started by appointing a commission to investigate ethics in the state - the Moreland Commission. But as soon as the Commission began to sniff a little too close to the Governor's mansion and threaten his re-election bid, he abruptly disbanded it.

That's when the U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara took notice and requested all the Commission's files. He picked up where their investigation left off which shortly had led to the two long-time leaders of the State Legislature being led away in hand cuffs. He has promised not to stop until he cleans up the state and right now Cuomo is in his cross-hairs. If that happens and Cuomo is implicated, this could be just the distraction Andrew was looking for! I will keep you posted. And I will keep my eye on Preet Bharara because his political star is on the rise...

As I have before, below is an incomplete list of politicians who have been arrested and mostly convicted in the last 15 years or so [with help from Wikipedia] Revel in our corruption knowing that your state will never measure up...


State officials -
1. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R) (and his son) was arrested for corruption on May 4, 2015. Case pending.

2. Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver (D) was arrested for multiple counts of bribery and corruption January 22, 2015. Case pending.

3. Majority Leader of the New York State Senate Malcolm Smith (D) was found guilty in federal court of conspiracy, wire fraud, bribery and extortion for trying to bribe a Republican Party official to let him onto the Republican ballot in the 2013 New York City mayoral race. (2014)

4. State Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa (D) sentenced to a year in jail for entering into a sham marriage in order to gain U.S. citizenship. (2014)

5. State Assemblyman William Boyland, Jr. (D) convicted of bribery (2014)

6. State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson (D) found guilty of bribery, conspiracy and other related charges. (2014)

7. State Assemblyman Nelson Castro (D) convicted of perjury (2013)

8. State Assemblyman Chris Ortloff (R) pleaded guilty to a felony charge of online enticement of minors for trying to have sex with a child after leaving his seat to become a member of the NYS Parole Board. He was sentenced to 150 months in federal prison (2010)

9. State Senator Shirley Huntley (D) convicted of mail fraud. She was sentenced to one year and a day in prison. (2013)

10. 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. (2012)

11. State Senator Vincent Leibell (R) found guilty of felony bribery, tax evasion, and obstruction of justice charges related to $43,000 in cash kickbacks he took from 2003 to 2006. (2012)

12. State Senator Nicholas Spano (R), convicted of federal income tax evasion. Spano pleaded guilty to the single felony. He was sentenced to 12 to 18 months in federal prison. (2012)

13. New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi (D), was convicted on charges surrounding a "pay to play" scheme regarding the New York State Pension Fund, and was sentenced to 1–4 years. (2011)

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

15. State Senator Efrain Gonzalez Jr. (D) was convicted of fraud and embezzling $400,000 from the West Bronx Neighborhood Association Inc. and was sentenced to seven years in federal prison (2010)

15. State Health Commissioner Antonia Novello (R) pled guilty to costing the taxpayers $48,000 by making her staff carry out personal chores for her such as taking her shopping and picking up her dry cleaning. Her plea deal calls for 250 hours of community service at an Albany health clinic, $22,500 in restitution and a $5,000 fine. (2009)


16. Mayor of Mount Vernon Ernie Davis (D) was convicted on federal misdemeanor tax evasion. (2014)

17. New York City Councillor Dan Halloran (R) convicted of taking bribes and orchestrating payoffs. (2014)

18. New York City Councillor Larry Seabrook (D) On February 9, 2010, a federal grand jury indicted Seabrook on 13 counts of money laundering, extortion, and fraud. Seabrook was convicted on 9 charges (2012).

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


State Officials

20. State Representative Anthony Seminerio (D) pled guilty to taking large sums of money from hospitals through a consulting firm while still a member of the New York State Assembly. His appeal was never heard but his conviction was abated due to death. (2009)

21. Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Spargo (R), was convicted by a federal jury of attempted extortion and attempted soliciting of a bribe for pressuring a lawyer to give $10,000 to his defense fund. (2009)

22. State Senator Efrain Gonzalez (D) was sentenced to 84 months (7 years) in prison, followed by two years supervised release, following pleading guilty to two conspiracy counts and two wire fraud counts. (2009)

23. Majority Leader of the New York State Senate Joseph Bruno (R) was convicted on two counts of wire fraud. (2009) Update: Exonerated of all charges on appeal (2014).

24. State Representative Brian McLaughlin (D) was arrested in 2008 and sentenced to ten years in prison for racketeering.(2009)

25. State Senator Hiram Monserrate (D), convicted of one count of misdemeanor assault, and acquitted of two counts of felony assault and one other count of misdemeanor assault. (2009)

26. State Representative Gloria Davis (D) was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years probation for bribery. (2003)

27. State Senator Guy Velella (R) was indicted for bribery and conspiracy for accepting at least $137,000 in exchange for steering public-works contracts to the paying parties.[179] He ultimately pleaded guilty to one count and received a year in jail. He served 182 days. (2002)


28. New York City Councillor Miguel Martinez (D) pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy two days later. Martinez admitted to stealing $106,000 that was for children's art programs and low-income housing.[181] Martinez was convicted on three felonies, and was sentenced to five years in prison. (2009)

Sadly, this isn't the end of the list...
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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Stop Praising The Enemy

One of the things that annoys me with the GOP is that they don’t understand the nature of how to fight modern politics. In particular, they don’t grasp the need to undermine the credibility of those who will be attacking them. Nothing highlights this better than when some scandal arises that engulfs one of their enemies. For whatever reason, dozens of Republicans rush to the microphones to provide aid and comfort to the bad guys. I just don’t get it. The latest example of this comes from Marco Rubio and George Stephanopoulos. Here’s what’s happened...

With Hillary Clinton running for el Presidente and the left not being so enamored of her because she’s bland, she’s corrupt, she’s a tool of big business, and she’s only ideological when it’s absolutely safe to be, a goodly number of journalists have decided to look into various Clinton scandals to see if they can’t kill the Hilldebeast.

In doing so, they investigated the Clinton Foundation, which is little more than a slush fund to pay for Bill Clinton’s hookers and enrich the Clintons while Hillary may have traded favors, while acting as Secretary of State, in exchange.

In the process of investigating this, it has come to light that a sizeable number of journalists and journalistic organizations have been donating money to the Clinton Foundation. Some of these supposedly impartial organizations include Reuters, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Judy Woodruff, publisher Houghton Mifflin, Bloomberg, HBO, Turner, Google, Twitter, NBC Universal, etc.

Also on the list was George Stephanopoulos. Stephanopoulos gave $75,000 to the Clintons, and didn’t even disclose it as he was doing stories about them. That’s a real problem even considering the loosey-goosey rules of ethics that journalist pay lip service to. And with the disclosure of his donation, this has blown up on him. He’s even needed to issue an apology.

So what should the GOP do?

Stephanopoulos is a former Clinton aid who moved into journalism as so many have done and he’s continued to support Democrats at every turn. He does puff pieces on how great the Democrats are, he takes shots at GOP ideas and persons, and he soft peddles Democratic scandals, particularly those related to the Clintons. Now, is he as bad as others? No. Truth be told, he’s probably one of the less offensive “former” Democrats who have moved into journalism – he would never fit in at MSNBC. But he is biased.

So I ask again: what should the GOP do?

Well, the answer is obvious. As impartiality is considered a key selling point when it comes to journalistic credibility, you take moments like this to lower his credibility. Essentially, you point out the conflict of interest. You accuse him of bias. You make it clear that this man is not impartial. And whenever anyone suggests that he is you bring up this and other scandals to keep it in the public mind that he is biased.

Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Rand Paul have both done this. Paul said that he won’t do interviews with Stephanopoulos “because he’s too close to the Clintons to really give an objective interview.” And that is perfect! There is no anger, no attempt to make the story about himself... he just takes a shot at Stephanopoulos’s credibility, wounds his precious reputation for impartiality and moves on.

If you do this enough, then the MSM slowly bleeds away its credibility and soon the public views its reports as just as biased as a report from Fox News.

Unfortunately, not all Republicans get this. Enter Marco Rubio.

Rubio was asked about Stephanopoulos and he jumped to his defense. He noted that he “never had any reason to question his credibility.” Really? Even though he worked for the enemy and remains so close to the enemy that he donated $75-fricken-grand to them? Gee, Marco. When would you be worried?

Marco then blathers on:

“I feel that George Stephanopoulos has been fair to us in the past. I personally have never had a negative interaction with him or the feeling that he's asked me anything unfair or improper. That said, obviously, we know what we know and it does cause questions, but I personally have never had any reason to question his ability to be an effective journalist in the times I've interacted with him.”

And like that, Rubio has undermined any claim that Stephanopoulos is biased. This is the problem with guys like Rubio, the Bushes and John McCain. They lose track of the fact that the field they are in runs 24/7/365. Everything is political. That means you need to take advantage of these moments, whether you want to or not. You can’t afford to treat these people fairly as friends and colleagues. The Democrats get this, but this little group of Republicans don’t. They always rush right out to defend people who spend their days tearing them down.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Kit's Friday Thoughts

By Kit

I had a long thing on free trade planned but it got scrapped due to travel, so instead it is, again, an open thread, with some last minute thoughts.


So, let's start with…


Estonia is worried that the Russians might pull a stunt in eastern Estonia similar to what they pulled in Ukraine. Sending special ops men to take the area by supporting local Russians. So they've announced that they will just shoot them.

Rolling Stone sued

Sabrina Erdely and Rolling Stone are being sued by a UVA Dean for portraying her in a way that even Jackie said was incorrect.

I hope the dean wins.

Are you a feminist?

The Guardian's resident feminist Jessica Valenti, who has previously complained about having to wrap presents for Christmas and said it was Rolling Stone's job, not Jackie's to get the facts of the alleged sexual assault correct, recently tweeted this: "The guy next to me on the subway was checking Twitter; he followed almost all the same people I did but NO WOMEN. Passive sexism is for real".

First, is it possible that since she just didn't see the women he was following as he was scrolling them, and second, why was she peeping on a random dude's phone?

Iowahawk put it well: "Reminder to vulnerable young men who ride public transportation: it's important to carry pepper spray"

She followed up this stupidity with, "It's like when you meet someone whose favorite authors, musicians, artists, etc are all RANDOMLY male. Suspect."

Now, I don't know about what kind of misogyny occurs in progressive but let's see if I pass her "sexist" test. From my iTunes library:
—Johnny Cash. Male
—The Beatles. 4 males.
—The Civil Wars. Man and Woman (a moment of silence in memory of their break-up)
—Charlie XCX's "Boom Clap". Female.
—A slew of songs by largely unknown violinist Taryn Habridge. Woman.
—Boston. A group of men.
—Idina Menzel's "Defying Gravity." Female.
—The awesome and beautiful Lindsey Stirling. Female. (Really, check her out!)
—Corb Lund's "Horse Soldier" and "I Wanna Be in the Cavalry." Male.
—2 Sinatra albums. Male
—2 Runaways albums. All-female rock band.
—Muddy Waters. Male.
—"Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. Males. (Don't believe me? LINK
—A few Taylor Swift songs (so sue me). Female.

Now, I have some musicals and Disney movies which feature a mix of male and female singers and some movie scores which, alas, were mostly conducted by men. Also, I have no Bieber, who I am told counts as two, maybe three, women.

I have a few female authors I like, but given previous comments by feminists of her ilk, I'm not sure if Ms. Valenti would count them as "women": Camille Paglia and Claire Berlinski, and I read columns and essays by women such as Katherine Timpf, Christina Hoff Sommers, and Cathy Young. I also read Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson.

So I'm afraid I would not be considered a "male feminist" by her. That saddens me.

C. H. Sommers takes on Haters

A professor attacked dissident feminist Christina Hoff Sommers a "rape apologist." Her response on Facebook was, in modern lingo, epic.

Dad Bod

Hear about the Dad Bod? Yeah, its a slightly chubby look some guys have. Not overweight but not lean. Apparently, some women like the look, some are meh, many don't care. But a few women got their panties in a twist and are mad about it, tweeting photos of themselves.

Me? Eh, I react to twitter/instagram selfie fads like a hungover drunk who's just rolled out of bed, "Huh? What? Oh, Ok. I don't care and I don't want to see them. I don't like seeing anyone's half naked selfies. Now where's some damn advil?"

There is no God (Maybe)

The Hillary Clinton propaganda-piece Madame Secretary was renewed but Forever was not. I am beginning to seriously doubt the existence of God. Wars, famines, plagues, I can comprehend. But this might be too much.

On the other hand, Once Upon a Time, Agents of SHIELD, and Agent Carter are getting renewed. The latter two I plan to review later this summer, the former I have yet to watch all the way through this season.

Oh, and Obama is being attacked as sexist for his response to Elizabeth Warren's attack on the free trade deal. Pass the popcorn.

Have a nice weekend!
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Thursday, May 14, 2015

I Got Nothing Open Thread...

Sorry, people of CommentaramaPolitics. I've got nothing I want to write about today. I know, I know, me without an opinion about something? How can that be? Hey it happens. But to make it up to you, here are some photos of puppies and kittens...

Cute little puppy. This one doesn't have enough doggie DNA to actually BE a dog, right?

A cute kitten. Now I am not that fond of cats, but this one is just too cute.

And a tiny pink piggie...sadly, they do not stay this small and cute.

And what could be more fun that a tiny pig eating an ice cream cone at a tiny picnic table!

Ooooooohhhhhmmmmmm. Now I feel a little better. So anyone have anything to talk about?
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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Deflategate: A Study In Journalistic Bias

I’m going to talk about Deflategate, but the real topic is journalistic bias. It’s been fascinating to watch the media respond to Deflategate and I think the lessons are easily transferred to the MSM and their relationship to the Democrats.

For those who don’t know, the NFL just sent down a punishment on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots for their role in the secret deflation of footballs below the air psi levels allowed by the rules and for their failure to cooperate with the NFL’s investigation. Let me make some quick points that will be useful as background.
(1) The investigation was conducted independently by an attorney who has worked for the NFL before, but no one objected to his impartiality until after he released his report. All of his findings were supported by written evidence in the form of text messages between Patriot employees and his scientific conclusions were reached with the aid of the head of the Science Department at Princeton.

(2) The reason deflation of balls matters is this: it affects the football itself (the key object in the game) and it provides the Patriots with a competitive advantage. Specifically, it makes it easier to grip the ball in cold weather, which makes it easier to throw and catch. Moreover, as Tom Brady alone was aware of this, only he had the opportunity to become accustomed to such balls, which according to Eli Manning do fly very differently. Hence, his opponent was always using a ball with unfamiliar traits whereas Tom was not. This goes directly to the integrity of the game.

(3) The penalties inflicted upon the Patriots and Brady are extremely light. Yes, light. A four game suspension (what Brady got) is typical for players found to have taken performance enhancing drugs. But players who have been involved in issues more fundamental to the game, such as the Saints’ bounty scandal, have received much longer suspensions, and their investigations haven’t been delayed until after the season... allowing them to play out the year as Tom did. Other coaches, like Sean Payton, have been suspended for as long as a year for failure to control their employees, even though he knew nothing of the violation. Belichick got nothing. The Patriot’s loss of a draft pick also is less than it appears as the pick will be from 2016 for a 2014 violation (picks are generally considered to lose one round in value each year).

(4) It is impossible not to see this as affecting Brady’s legacy. Keep in mind that the Super Bowls Brady won were all won in the last second by field goals, so any advantage would be huge. The first set were won when Brady had the illegal advantage of knowing the defensive signals. The new one was won when he had the advantage of the deflated balls, and even then was only won because of a fluke play by the Seahawks.
Against this backdrop, here is the issue. Almost every single analyst or talking head at ESPN and the NFL network has some close connection to Brady. Most are former teammates. Some are former Patriots executives. The pure journalists almost all come from the Boston papers or Sports Illustrated, which is located in that region. To a one, they have shown amazing bias:

(1) Most will openly begin their discussions by stating some sycophantic love of Brady. They will blather on about how amazing he is, how handsome, how his wife is beautiful, how great he is, etc. They have almost uniformly stated that “the public” views Brady as “the perfect athlete and the perfect man.” They don’t seem to be aware of the fact that the public outside of the Boston area and their newsroom sees him much more negatively. They claim his legacy is that of a squeaky clean athlete, which is not anything the public at large would say about Brady.

(2) In his defense, they have done several entirely intellectually dishonest things:
(A) They have only presented people who think Brady is innocent or doesn’t deserve to be punished. So far, I have only seen two people allowed on these shows who think Brady needed to be punished, and even they have said so grudgingly.

(B) They have misstated the report and the basis for the punishment repeatedly. For example, the report concluded that there was sufficient evidence to find that it is more probable than not that Brady was involved. That’s legal speak for “meets the preponderance of the evidence standard.” But they have argued this is equivocation, which it is not. They have also argued that there is no “smoking gun” because the report never found anyone who specifically admitted that Brady was involved. Yet, it is almost unheard of to find such evidence. Almost all cases are handled on the basis of circumstantial evidence. They have also misstated the basis for the punishment which is the violation AND failure to cooperate. They only stick to the first part of that and they claim they don’t see the proof.

(C) They have openly misstated the report to such a degree that its author took the unusual steps of debunking their reporting today.

(D) They have pretended that they are incapable of seeing any competitive advantage to doing this, even as others have pointed out the numerous advantages, and even as that would make Brady a total fool.

(E) They routinely endorse the conspiracy theory that the league wanted to punish Brady for reasons that make no sense in their assumptions and asides.
The worst of the worst is this dipstick named Mike Florio. He runs a rumor website which NBC bought, and he has been dishonestly defending the Patriots for years. Since this story broke, he’s been on the offensive. In the past several months, he has done each of the following:
(A) Tried to suggest that the mere act of testing the PSI in the balls caused them to become illegal, i.e. the NFL invented the crime.

(B) Made a wrong claim about how far below the legal limit the balls were and then debunked his own claim and used that debunking to attack the report as flawed as if the report relied on his own claim.

(C) Despite writing article after article attacking the report at the edges, he never once wrote an article outlining the actual findings of the report, like the damning text messages.

(D) He did things like claim that Wells’ claim of a lack of cooperation is based on Wells basically harassing the Patriots with “many requests” to interview the same employee, when the reality is that Wells only made two such requests and he said he would work around the employee’s schedule.

(E) He wrote articles saying this could not have led to an advantage and never reported the NFL quarterbacks and scientists who stated to the contrary.

(F) Then he got tricky... realizing perhaps that his case was hopeless, he began to write articles claiming that “everyone” does this. Despite the fact he never could identify a single QB who admitted that, he began using his own report as evidence of “public dissent” with the official report. (Others actually wrote articles saying that Tom should have been allowed to do this because... well, because!)

(G) He tried to deflect attention from Brady by attacking the Colts for reporting the crime... blaming the victim.

(H) He began attacking every other team or player he could find who had broken any rules. Basically, he smeared everyone else. He would also accuse any journalist who discussed Deflategate in anything less than a totally pro-Patriot’s manner of bias.
Today, the grieving process finally took these “unbiased” journalists to the point where they were assuring each other that the Patriots would teach every other team a lesson for doing this to them: “We’ll show you!!”

All of this has been an amazing example of what happens when you are biased and what can happen to a news organization when it collects a critical mass of similarly biased individuals. These Patriots-fanatics/friends-of-Tom-cum-journalists have (1) blinded themselves to the world outside their bubble where Tom is not seen as Godlike or pure... he’s seen as an arrogant cheater, (2) they have excluded those who do not belong to the bubble, (3) they have convinced themselves that there is simply no proof of guilt by demanding that the report achieve an impossible standard (“absolutely certainty”), (4) they are passing around conspiracy theories and attacking the messenger and the victim, (5) they are blind to the horrible PR that the tantrum the Patriots are throwing is doing to their image, indeed, they have embraced it – one even called it “a well needed middle finger to the NFL,” (6) they are dismissing all evidence of which they don’t approve as bias and skewing the rest, and (7) they have chosen to defiantly defend their friend.

This is IDENTICAL to the way the MSM treats the Democrats. Isn’t it interesting that the same MSM is packed with former Democratic operatives and journalists married to current Democrats?

The coverage of Deflategate should be used as a model for studying how the reliability of journalists breaks down when they are biased. Those lessons should be used by conservatives as a means of demanding new rules of ethics from the field of journalism.

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Elections and Other Stuff...

I don't have much for today, but just a little about my assessment of recent elections. I am not sure that the Liberals really grasp how badly they lost in 2014. Not only did they lose the Senate badly, but, according to National Conference of State Legislatures, "Republicans gained 300-350 seats in state government and control over 4,100 of the nation’s 7,383 legislative seats." The last time this happened was in the 1920's.

That's great, but here is why I think they are even more clueless. Earlier this year, Obama's crackerjack election team went to Israel to help and advise Isaac Herzog on how to defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Herzog and his party lost badly.

David Axelrod, key election adviser to Obama along with our dear New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio traveled to England to advise Ed Millibrand and his Labour Party on how to defeat David Cameron and his Conservative Party. Millibrand and Labour lost badly.

They just don't get that the people are just not buying what they are selling.

Now, here is where it gets really fun. NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio is travelling the US to sell his version of the Liberal "Contract With America" that will be revealed soon. He is convinced that the Democrats can win in 2016 if they can just move sharply left. Now, Bill has never really understood that he won by only 18% of vote of NYC registered voters despite that the fact that he swears he has a "mandate from the people". This is his now-famous quote from his recent Rolling Stone Magazine interview:

"A lot of people outside New York City understand what happened in the first year of New York City better than people in New York City. But I´m convinced something very special happened here."

Yeah, real special - murder is up 20% including three dead cops and we just don't "get" his brilliance. [Full disclosure: I have not read his RS interview because I just don't want to.] Though he has already announced that he will run again in 2017, I predict that he most certainly he will not win. He is that unpopular.

Anyway, let's hope the Dems keep up their present election track record.

Oh, did I forget to tell you that yet another New York State elected official has been indicted for wrong-doing? Remember earlier this year, I told you about long-time Democrat Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's arrest. This time it is the Republican State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos who was arrested on federal corruption charges and after much wrangling, he finally stepped down today. I don't know the details and it almost doesn't even matter anymore. But at this rate, we may have to ask for volunteers to fill our state legislature simply because no one will be left who isn't already in jail.
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Monday, May 11, 2015

Obama v. Warren

This is one of those interesting moments. Elizabeth Warren has gone on the offensive against Obama’s attempt to create a little free trade and Obama fired back. Let’s discuss.

Point One: Free Trade Is Conservative. Free trade is the most fundamental issue of conservatism. Why do I say that? Because free trade is the issue that began it all when Adam Smith opined about the power of the invisible hand to establish market prices. All of conservatism and its endorsement of the freedom of individuals to chart their own course flows from that. Hence, any true conservative should support free trade, both within our own markets/economy and in our dealings with other countries.

What’s more, the history of free trade has been a stunning success at bringing peaceful growth to the countries involved. Countries that engage in free trade grow faster, create thriving middle classes, and generally stop going to war.

Our history, however, hasn’t always been pro-free market. In fact, the GOP has often favored tariffs and other stupidity. But since the 1960s, when Milton Friedman came along, free trade has been a fundamental pillar of conservatism... at least until the populists showed up in 2010.

Democrats, on the other hand, hate free trade... or claim to. They whine about unfair trade practices and how free trade means shipping jobs overseas and how big evil corporations use free trade to weaken our labor and environmental laws.

Hence, it is interesting to see Obama in the position of defending free trade while the rest of the Democratic party seeks to stop him. So is he a secret conservative? Well, no. The truth is that there has always been a bit of fraud regarding free trade and the Democrats. By and large, the Democrats in Washington are fine with free trade. They understand the benefits. They just need to avoid being seen favoring it, so they rail against these treaties while letting the President take the heat... as he’s doing now.

Point Two: Obama v. Warren. Generally, I take Democratic fights with a grain of salt. And I would normally say that any fight between Obama and Elizabeth Warren is political theater. They are intellectual fellow travelers. This time, however, the fighting seems to have gotten rather personal. Indeed, Obama has made comments that sound like he’s suggesting her criticism is stupid. Specifically, he said:
“The notion that I had this massive fight with Wall Street to make sure we don’t have what happened in 2007 and 2008, and then I sign a provision to unravel it? I’d have to be pretty stupid.”
It sounds like he is offended. I also go back to the points that (1) Obama does not take criticism well and (2) he particularly does not take criticism from women well. What’s more interesting about this, however, it that usually in the past, Democratic presidents have avoided firing back on potential Democratic presidential candidates as they try to pander to the electorate by claiming to be more pure than the sitting president. Obama, however, just fired back. That makes me wonder if Obama isn’t going to be more interested in protecting his legacy than he will be in helping whoever is running to replace him. Could get interesting to watch.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Kit's Friday Thoughts: UK Election, Charlie Hebdo

By Kit Well, this week this has been an interesting week with a big election and some nut jobs attempting to stop somebody's freedom of expression (Unfortunately they tried this in Texas) and a couple of people accepted an award on behalf of their friends who actually were killed by nut jobs trying to squash their freedom of expression.

Let's look at both, shall we?

UK Holds General Election, Conservatives Remain in Power

Last night the British had an election.

—The Conservatives will go from minority coalition government with the Liberal Democrats to slim majority. It looks like they will have 324 seats, just enough to form a government (323 needed) and just one shy of an absolute majority. However, see DUP & UKIP below…

—The Liberal Democrats, who had formed a coalition with the Tories in 2010, could now be described as an endangered species, having been reduced from 57 seats to 12. Nick Clegg’s victory speech after keeping his constituency was probably the most depressing victory speech I have ever seen.

—The Scottish National Party obliterated Labour’s presence in Scotland. In fact, the leader of the Scottish Labour Party actually lost to a 20-year old college student. Now, what does this sweep mean? Well, former Scottish First Minister and former leader of the Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond said the SNP’s sweep “leaves David Cameron with no legitimacy in Scotland whatsoever.” (Despite being, you know, Prime Minister) I’m afraid we’ll have to wait and see what exactly the Scottish Hugo Chavez meant by that.

—The conservative-leaning Democratic Unionist Party picked up 8 seats in Northern Ireland. If you add 8 to the Tory’s 324 you get 332, which means you could see a Tory coalition.

—UKIP picked up 2 in England. Two things: First, this proves my theory that British and European conservatives love to send their fringe anti-EU parties, like UKIP in Britain and to Brussels to troll the European establishment but prefer more sober-minded and moderate leaders running their country. Second, while these results were disappointing for a party that hoped to replace the Lib-Dems as the major third party, especially considering neither of those seats was the one where Nigel Farage was running (he said a loss would be the end of his political career), they could provide a way for UKIP to have a voice in British politics, especially if the Tories did not grab a majority.

—Boris Johnson, Britain’s most entertaining politician, is now a Member of Parliament AND Mayor of London. Well, at least for one more year, then he will just be a Mayor of London.

—The British National Party (BNP), a neo-nazi, fascist, anti-EU, anti-NATO, anti-American, anti-immigrant, and anti-Monarchist political party based in the old coal-mining areas, which just a few years ago sent the British media into frightened fits over a FUTURE FASCIST TAKEOVER OF BRITAIN, was nowhere to be seen this election. The Monster Raving Looney Party got more votes (Yes, they are a thing).

Oh, and the Communist, Soviet-loving, terrorist-apologizing, anti-semitic, Oil-for-Food scam profiteer George Galloway lost his seat.

You can celebrate. :)

Note: Updates will be added if more results come in that change anything.

Update: Here are the final results and remember, a party needs 323 to govern and over 325 to have an absolute majority. In the parentheses are their numbers prior to the election.
—Conservatives: 331 (304)
—Labour: 232 (258)
—Liberal Democrats: 8 (57)
—SNP: 56 (6)
—UKIP: 1 (1)
—DUP: 8 (0)
—Other: 15

Now, as a segue into my next post, shortly before the election, Ed Miliband promised to ban “Islamophobia.” The fact that he never really went into detail about this was a bit disturbing. It probably played a role in Ayaan Hirsi Ali endorsing David Cameron.

PEN Gala Gives Award to Charlie Hebdo for Freedom of Speech

PEN, short for Poets, Essayists, and Novelists, held a gala this week where they gave an award for Freedom of Speech to Charlie Hebdo largely because a bunch of Islamist terrorists murdered 9 and injured 4 writers, cartoonists, and editors over their satirical attacks on Islam. As well as killing a building maintenance worker and two police officers assigned nearby.

Sounds reasonable, oui? And this attack did not come out of the blue but came well after Al-Qaeda issued a “hit-list” of writers who have defamed Islam and should be killed. Not to mention the affair involving Salman Rushdie and the murder of Theo Van Gogh. They took a stand for free expression in the face of death threats and paid for that right with their lives. So, we all agree that it was reasonable to give them an award. Writers from Neil Gaiman to Salman Rushdie agree.

About 200 writers, echoing the arguments made by Gary Trudeau, wrote a letter protesting the decision. You can read it here: LINK.

The arguments, again, are the same as Trudeau’s but nowhere near as well written as Trudeau’s. Yes, you read that right, the letter is a chore to get through. It consists of Trudeau’s basic ideas but in much more constipated language; they were attacking an underprivileged group from a position of privilege. They were “punching down” instead of “punching up.” You know them.

In a recent post for National Review Jonah Goldberg quoted New York Times columnist Ross Douthat: “power flows from pre-existing privilege, it also grows from the barrel of a gun, and the willingness to deal out violence changes power dynamics.” LINK

Now, like Jonah Goldberg, I am not someone who would normally be a huge fan of Charlie Hebdo. Their attitude towards religion seems to have been the same sneer you see in those anti-theists who think believing in God is the same as believing the Earth is flat and that religion as something practiced by morons. They mocked Mohammed, yes, but also Christ and the Virgin Mary in very disgusting ways.

But, so what? Someone putting a cross in a jar of piss as a piece of cut-rate shock art does not infringe upon my freedom of religion. And how does a scandalous depiction of Mohammed infringe upon a Muslim's freedom of religion. The best response is to roll your eyes and move on. Yes, I may not want my local town paying for it but, on the whole, I really don’t care.

Hell, since Andrew lets me write posts on this site every Friday, if some moron decided to write an article in the local college newspaper mocking Christianity I could write a post here pointing out what an idiot he is.

That is what I love about the First Amendment. You can call me a dumb poopy-head and I can hit back with, “I know you are but what am I?” Classic!

But, back to privilege, Ross Douthat's quote, and mocking Islam. Let’s, for a moment, concede to the critics their claim that Muslims are economically disenfranchised and underprivileged, as one Relevant magazine article criticizing #JeSuisCharlie declared, but as Douthat and Goldberg pointed out, you may come from the poorest, most underprivileged background in the world, but if you get a hold of a gun and are willing to use it, you ain’t powerless.

Actually, you are quite powerful. Especially if you can walk into the offices of those you declare your enemies and kill them —and the police protecting them.

As we saw in Paris and Garland, there are a number of radical Muslims who are willing to kill people simply because those people mocked their religion and, unless they’re in Texas or a government building, they are likely to take rack up a sizable body count.

I’m not a fan of Pamela Gellar, either. I’ve found her anti-Islam stance to be annoying and obnoxious at times. And, yes, I don’t think trying to openly mock Islam is productive in the grand scheme of things but, and this is MY big “but” Marci Stasi, I firmly believe they have a right to do so. And, Ms. Staci, Trudeau, and the PEN boycotters, anyone who claims that those people “caused” the deaths and injuries resulting from a terrorist attack is full of it. It may not be right to be a provocative, sneering, obnoxious asshat but it in a society that allows freedom of religion and freedom of speech, it is every citizen’s God-Damned Right.

Ms. Stasi, she mentioned freedom of religion, well, guess what? Every religion is an idea, with its own unique claims about how the cosmos works and its own variety of ideas about how best to live your life. True, most religions’ ideas overlap in many areas but there are just as many areas where they don’t overlap. And those areas have to be argued, debated, and criticized in order for us to find out which one, if any of them, are at the very least likely to be true. And allowing that debate means even allowing mockery. Even disgusting and offensive mockery.

And, you know what? Sometimes, standing up for free speech means standing up for speech you find at best unwise and at worst disgusting. But you stand up for it because freedom of speech and religion must be protected from the government and the mob, be it a mob of 40 or 2 angry youths with guns.

That is why I tweet #JeSuisCharlie.

Have a nice weekend.
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At The Film Site: 2010 (1984)

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

More On Pamela Geller

Okay, just one more time about Pamela Geller. I read an Op/Ed piece this morning in the New York Daily News written by Linda Stasi titled "With Pamela Geller's Prophet Muhammad cartoon stunt in Texas, hate rears its ugly face again". Oh, you can pretty much guess what she had to say. Shame on Pamela Geller for inciting Islamic terrorists to commit murder. She got what she wanted - dead terrorists. [In my mind, that is actually the big plus. But that's just me...]. Oh, yeah, Stasi was very careful to reiterate that trying to murder people over cartoons is really, really bad, BUT [there is always the "but" with liberals], Pam was asking for it.

In the middle of her long-winded indictment of Pamela Geller, this one statement jumped out at me.
"While we have freedom of speech, we also have freedom of religion, which shouldn’t be impinged upon."
It made me go "Hmmmm". I wonder what those Christian florists and bakers who refused to participate in gay wedding ceremonies would think of this? You know, the ones that are being protested against, sued and fined out of business. I wonder if all of those religious organizations and businesses that want to exercise their religious freedom right to protest their objection to being forced by the government to pay for abortificients, would be interested in knowing that Stasi thinks their rights should not be "impinged" as well. The florists, bakers, and nuns haven't tried to kill anyone. They were and are just politely trying exercised their freedom of religion as afforded to them by our Bill of Rights.

Frankly, I am confused and mighty frustrated in trying to gleen when it is that our liberal friends believe that our rights should and shouldn't be impinged and when our Bill of Rights are absolute these days. Is it just me or are they just a bit schizophrenic. If I were a bettin' man, I would think that liberals are scared witless about Islamic terrorism and will do anything to "be safe" including compromising our rights but only when it's convenient to their narrative. It just reminds me of the famous quote of Benjamin Franklin - Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

As an aside, this video by Steven Crowder for his blog Louder by Crowder should really put liberals into a major quandry. But interestingly enough, this was completely ignored in the Gay Weddings v. Religious Bakers, Florists et al. controversy -

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Open Thread

I must be missing something. After those ISIS morons in Texas decided to try to kill some Texans, a very stupid move as any American would know... do your killing in blue states, my friends... I assumed Obama would come out and warn us not to leap to conclusions, not to think this was terrorism just because it involved Muslim terrorists trying to kill Americans in the name of jihad, and to remind us that if so many Texans did not own guns then it's possible that no one would ever die anywhere. Instead, he called them terrorists. Huh. I wonder why. What do you think?
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Monday, May 4, 2015

What I Did On My Vacation and other stuff...

Hi-ho, people of CommentaramaPolitics! I hope you didn't miss me too much. I just spent a glorious week in jolly ol' London and had a mahvelous time. London is a wonderful city of civilized people where autos actually stop for pedestrians crossing the street and the Underground runs like clockwork. If the New York subway system ran one tenth as efficiently, New Yorkers would have to find something else to complaint about! Seriously, London is great.

The most astounding was Westminster Abbey where I stood at the graves of the entire history of the British Empire. I paid homage to Henry V who was immortalized by Shakespeare in the "St. Crispin's Day" speech. I was walking through this glorious Abbey, I stopped to look around. When I looked down, I was standing on the grave of Charles Darwin! I admit that I wept at Poet's Corner where all of the greatest writers of the English language are buried - Keats, Shelley, Audin, Austin, the Brontes, the list was endless. And then there was Sir Isaac Newton. All of it was a breath-taking.

However, on a bitter note, I was disappointed that the Queen did not answer the doorbell at Buckingham Palace. I mean, really, I am about 6 millionth+ in line for the Crown. You'd think that she wouldn't be so ill-mannered to not receive me. But then again, with the pending birth of little Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, I can only assume that she and the other royals were otherwise occupied. But frankly, I thought it was really rude that they couldn't arrange for Kate to give birth while I was there. I suspect that they specifically waited until I was safely on the plane going back "across the pond" to announce the birth. Well, I will certainly return that baby gift!

All bitterness aside and as a complete non-sequitor to my vacation, I want to share something that I read before I left for jolly ol' England. It is one of the most elegant responses that I have ever read on the subject of "Religion v. Science". Of all places, it appeared on the Village Voice blog written by a young man who goes by the moniker of Andrew W.K. To look at his photo, one would suspect that he would not or could not be so elegant. To me this is the perfect example of why I strive to "never judge a book by its cover". I am copying his response to a question in its entirety because it is worth reading: Ask Andrew W.K.: 'How Do I Show Religious Freaks That Science Wins?':

Yo, Andrew.

How can anyone believe in religion? It's so ignorant and obviously fake. I've always backed science since I was a little kid, and now I'm proud to say that I'm studying to be a molecular biologist in college. The thing is, I'm surrounded by a lot of religious idiots at this school, and whenever I try to explain to them how believing in a man in heaven who rose from the dead and all that superstitious BS is literally causing the murder of millions of people, they argue back and tell me that "science is evil and is playing God," and that I should develop my "faith" before I blow up the world.

What is the best way to finally get through to these ignorant people and explain to them simply and finally that they're wrong? If they would just give in and accept the scientific future, they would see that they don't need religion to enjoy life.

Thanks for your feedback,
Enlightened Scientist

Dear Enlightened Scientist,

Science versus religion.

I've always found this to be one of the most unnecessary arguments in contemporary society. Why does it have to be one way or another? I may not be the most mature or educated person, but when I see highly esteemed academics twice my age arguing about this, on and on, it puzzles and concerns me. Arguing about whether science or religion is better seems about as futile as arguing about whether day or night is better. Both have their qualities and shortcomings; neither can (nor should) be expected to replace the other. They are two sides of the same coin, and they both emerged out of — and are aspects of — a fundamental search for reality.

Both science and religion came from mankind's desire to know. Both are striving for truth. Science wants to understand truth. Religion wants to experience it. Science wants to get at truth from the outside in. Religion gets at it from the inside out. Science gives us the how; religion gives us the why. Science gives us the means to an end, religion gives us the meaning of that end. Science wants to bring comprehension to the universe. Religion wants to bring tangibility to the intangible.

You say your argument is that science has never killed anyone like people have been killed in the name of religion. While people may not murder each other "in the name of science," we do know that nuclear bombs, chemical weapons, eugenics and biological experimentation can also contribute to death and killing in an endless variety of ways. Both science and religion can be used as a method or justification by those who want to cause pain and suffering and break the rules of common sense and humanity. And even if one has a more extreme body count than the other, it doesn't mean that one should exist and the other shouldn't. None of the crimes that humanity has committed against itself mean that science is evil or that religion is bad. All it means is that people can do horrible things to each other using all sorts of convoluted reasoning.

Ultimately, it seems that when people complain about the harm of religion, they're often simply complaining about people behaving badly. They're talking about their dislike of people behaving barbarically. As much as the truth of God may be beyond description and intellectual grasp, the truth of human cruelty and ignorance is all too familiar and measurable. And when people claim to talk about the evil of science, they're actually just complaining about those unfortunate scientists who lack the ethical tools or moral integrity to guide and refine the use of their discoveries. Both religious people and scientific people can behave badly. A closed-minded scientist can be a jerk just as easily as a devout religious person can be a fool. No mode of thought or set of beliefs should be blamed for the lack of character in a particular individual. Nor should the vast array of benefits found in both science and religion be thrown away just because some people behave poorly in spite of them.

So your complaint really shouldn't be with religion or people who are religious, but simply with the unfortunately all-too-familiar shortcomings of the human race. Any religion that promotes hatred is not really a religion at all. And any scientist who cannot live with the spirit of brotherly love in his heart has more problems to investigate inside himself than in the material world. Every person who feels it necessary to battle over the definition or location of truth is neither in possession of any truth to begin with, nor do they have the possibility of experiencing any truth while existing in a prejudiced, spiteful, and unloving state of mind. We must do better than this. We have to grow.

Out of all the principles we should tirelessly strive to live with, gentle kindness, flexibility of spirit, open-mindedness, and a type of pure and unconditional love are the most crucial — especially when we feel most compelled not to behave that way. We simply cannot claim to be real human beings until we can learn to live with the other human beings around us, no matter how religious or scientific they may or may not be. Learning to live with one another remains our first and most urgent challenge, and it starts with each of us honestly working at it from the inside. It's much easier and much more tempting to lash out and attack everyone else we think is wrong, but we must start much closer to home. We can't fix the world until we fix ourselves first.

Someday, maybe science or religion really will claim dominance and beat the other once and for all. But until then, it seems that we each have plenty of work to do personally and internally, in order to become more gracious, more tolerant, and more humane human beings.

Your friend,
Andrew W.K.

Please feel free to discuss...
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At The Film Site: The Life And Times of Chief Martin Brody

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Forget Our New Overlords...

I love disaster enthusiasts. If you listen to these people, the world is coming to an end at every turn. The sky is falling. Humanity is doomed. And there’s nothing we can do about it!! I find these people laughable. Let’s consider the latest problem: computers/robots.

There is an estimate that around 30% of all current jobs will be replaced by computers and robots over the next decade. Clearly, the world has come to an end and we will all die!!

Ok, step back. That’s bunk. First, keep in mind that this has always been the case. Indeed, to a degree, this is a natural state of affairs that has been going on since forever: technology destroys some jobs. The plow replaced the need for whole communities to work the fields. The cotton gin changed the economics of slavery. The industrial revolution eliminated the need for apprentices and guilds, the assembly line wiped out the need for craftsmen, the word processor killed the typing pool and so on. That’s the way it’s always been and the way it always will be.

Yet, none of us would look back at history and believe the charge that technology has destroyed mankind, would we? Why not? Because technology also creates jobs. Humans are amazingly inventive. When one job vanishes, more spring up because people find new things to do with the new technology.

In 1980, when the world first started coming to terms with the idea that we would all be replaced by robots, no one had any idea that the internet would come along. Even when the net became widely available, people still didn’t realize how powerful of a job creator it would be. Faster machines mean bigger projects are in reach. Better tools mean the innovative types reach higher. The human race doesn’t sit on its butt. Sure, a lot of people do, but the right people don’t... they innovate. And that innovation results in the need to keep hiring the butt sitters.

Further, I seriously doubt the 30% figure. For decades now, the job market has been flat. Part of the reason for this is that technology has been wiping out jobs as quickly as new jobs were being made to replace them. At this point, the economy has become relatively lean and the only jobs that still exist are service industry jobs and decision-making jobs. Those are jobs that machines simply can’t replace. That means it will become increasingly difficult for machines to replace people, and the 30% figure strikes me as a pipe dream.

And the reason it’s hard to replace people in the decision making and service fields is that (1) humans don’t trust machines to make decisions and (2) humans hate dealing with machines when it comes to service issues. Heck, we even hate dealing with foreigners when it comes to service issues. And we hate it to such a degree that many of the companies that outsourced customer service to India have discovered that they need to bring it back.

The real problem with replacing humans, however, is that machines lack judgment and creativity. I recall arguing with an engineer once who thought that attorneys could be replaced by machines because you could just plug the law into the machine and it could spit it out, just like a human does... right? Hardly. Lawyers don’t spit out “the law.” Indeed, there is no “the law.” The law is a mess of conflicting, unclear and often times contradictory rulings. And what the attorneys provide is a way to assemble your version of the law in a way that either provides you with comfort that it will stand up in court or that lets you sway a judge.

Machines can’t handle contradictory inputs and use creativity to create an output that gives a customer a subjective product.

Doctors similarly rely on a tremendous amount of judgment. Check out how often people go online, find lists of symptoms and determine that they have everything from a hangnail to the plague from the same list of symptoms. Machines will be trapped in that loop because it takes something special that humans have which machines never will... an ability to parse truths and contradictions and to understand which truths to ignore.

So forget machines taking over the economic world. No job that includes discretion will be able to be taken over by a machine.

That brings me to a second and related point, by the way. Apple co-founder Steven Wozniak has recently made headlines (about a month ago actually) when he said that the human race was doomed to be controlled by computers because they will be so much smarter than we are. Ergo, we simpletons will be forced by our machine overlords to submit to them.

That’s total bunk.

What Steve fails to grasp is that raw computing power does not translated to useful decision-making ability. Before computers could even come close to taking over, they would need to find a way to translate their raw computing power into the ability to make irrational decisions when needed, and they just can’t do that. It flies in the face of the very nature of computers, which is to process the world to find the single right answer. Unfortunately for them, in human endeavors, there is never a single right answer.

It is because of that, that humans will never hand true decision-making power to machines. And if you want proof, let me suggest this. Think back on history and think about the world today. Has the world ever been run by the best or brightest? The clearest thinkers? The biggest brains? No. The world is run on an entirely different set of principles: shit floats.

So while computers may take over more tasks for us, they will never have what it takes to be given real power.

The robot holocaust is fantasy.

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