Archive for February, 2006

Must-Tards V

Friday, February 24th, 2006

Must-Tards V

From the President of the United States, all the way down to the guy who cleans gum off the sidewalk after a carnival or a parade, I have a lot more confidence that these offices will successfully fill their assigned duties when they’re filled by Republicans than by Democrats. That is not to say, however, that I trust Republicans much. Now that the Grand Old Party is kicking ass for, oh, what is it now, about six years straight…we’re heading into a time when I’m going to run out of reasons to support them. When the delta between their priorities, and mine, is going to start to mean something.

First things first, though. I want Democrats to be defeated a few more times. Until they’re all the way gone, and not coming back. I believe that’s the American Way, because it hasn’t escaped my notice that on every issue that comes down the pike, Democrats seem to consistently take the position that makes America weaker, less important, embarrassed for itself, ready to compromise prematurely, restricted by special rules that apply to no one else, or some combination of those five. They’ve gotten so much better at proclaiming their outrage about this, that, or some other silly damn thing, than they are at articulating what is to be done about it. I’m looking forward to the day they go away.

And I really like looking at beautiful women in bathing suits. They brighten my day, and besides, like millions of other men, I’ve learned something about women: When women are insecure, trouble looms ahead. Insecure women are black holes for your energy. And they tend to be expensive. So women in skimpy outfits appeal to both of my “heads”.

So this offends me on two fronts. It is a call to action from the American Decency Association, and it has two likely effects, one intentional, one perhaps not: 1) To get rid of the famous Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, and 2) to give people a reason to vote for Democrats again.

Lisa VanHouten, ADA Executive Assistant, writes an analysis of this highly erotic magazine – offering further commentary as to why this magazine needs to be avoided and combated.

“…. Each lust-producing pornographic pose reinforces the message, to the ogling men and boys who pick up this smut mag, that women are nothing more than sexual objects to be used. And wives and young girls, whose husbands or fathers bring home this issue, are taught that their worth depends on the sum of their body parts…

… This outrageous display of pornography is nothing more than a Playboy, yet, to some in America, the name Sports Illustrated seems to give it a semblance of �acceptability�. Men who would not dream of buying a Playboy, without a thought have the SI Swimsuit Edition in their home or on their coffee table. However, there is nothing acceptable about pornography and that is exactly what the SI Swimsuit issue is � material produced for the purposes of eliciting a sexual response. There is nothing acceptable about the degrading display of women as sex objects. There is nothing acceptable about luring susceptible young boys and men into a pattern of lust and escalating pornography use. There is nothing acceptable about looking the other way when local grocery stores, gas stations, or other shopping establishments such as Target or Wal-Mart display this filth in their magazine racks. …”… Also revolting are the numbers of American companies that have debased their corporate name by aligning with this smut. Many of the corporations stoop to the same level as Sports Illustrated by using very sexual, erotic imagery and innuendo in their ads. In some cases there is little difference from the ad displays of bikini clad models to the SI photo displays.

That this collection of pornographic images is produced in the guise of a �legitimate� sports magazine should outrage you. The fact that this too easily accessible magazine has the potential of starting many young boys down the path to a life-destroying addiction to pornography should anger you. These reasons and many others should drive you to speak to store managers at stores that carry this magazine. And the fact that mainline companies such as McDonald�s, Wendy�s, General Motors, Dodge choose to advertise in, and thus condone, this smut should cause you to exercise your calling to be ‘salt and light’ and email, phone, or write the corporations who align their name with pornography.”

Filth. Smut. Unacceptable. Should outrage. Should drive you. Should anger. Must. Ought. Gotta, gotta, gotta.

Hey Lisa, what happens after we get rid of the SI swimsuit issue? Should all the men become gay? I’ll bet some of the supporters of your boycott would say so…or should American society look to the parents of adult singles to arrange marriages for them, as they do in other countries? Some of your supporters would approve of that, too. In fact, I’ll bet this is the kind of question you wouldn’t want to have asked. I’ll bet if you get this boycott off the ground, it’ll be a critical-mass hodge-podge of lefty-loosies and tighty-righties. Man-bashing ugly feminists who haven’t had a date in years, and don’t want the sexy single men to have dates either…and stuffy Christian fundamentalists who don’t want anyone looking in magazines they wouldn’t buy themselves.

Either way, your little jungle-telegram boycott, here, is likely to flood the American environment with two things I want to see even less than you want to see Sports Illustrated: Democrats, elected by well-meaning imbeciles who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the Democrat agenda, but simply want to be protected from puritans like you; and otherwise-gorgeous women with shrunken titties in short boy bowl-haircuts and ugly fat-jackets and long pants.

Who do you represent, anyway? You look like some misguided conservative bible-thumper; but I couldn’t help noticing you’ve got all these brittle-feminist-hippy buzzwords in your little screed. “Reinforces the message that women are nothing more than sexual objects to be used”; “wives and young girls are taught that their worth depends on the sum of their body parts.” That’s not Christian-fundie talk, those are brittle-liberal-feminist talking points. And what’s with all the victim-moaning? Call the Waaahmbulance. Do men and young boys complain when they’re taught their worth depends on looking like Orlando Bloom — or on the size of their paychecks? Or on their family’s trust funds?

No, they don’t. Men don’t whine about these things…although they certainly could, if they were so inclined. I can’t help noticing, when you tune into television networks made for young, starry-eyed women…like WB, for example? What do men look like on those shows? Do they look like men you meet in real life? Certainly not. They’re overwhelmingly caucasian, with hairstyles defined by the costuming department to be chiseled just so, and either long, or layered. Primped and preened and gelled and blow-dried in such a way that you’ll never see a man in real life who looks like that if you walk around the hardware store or the shopping mall all day and night. And always talking in that alto/falsetto voice. And wearing a purple shirt. With a skinny violet necktie. You won’t see a flesh-and-blood man, of any persuasion, doing that either.

Do men whine about this? It’s not even thought of as a cause for whining by most men. It’s something that simply is. Some guy on a silly show they don’t watch unless their girlfriends want them to watch it. Just a bunch of guys on one show, all with the same height and build and hairstyle, making it hard to tell ‘em apart.

But act all put-upon and victimized about it? Men don’t do that. Maybe if someone started to ask why that is, they’d have a better handle on this self-esteem issue for women and young girls, than you’ll ever get with your boycott.

Oh, do go back to bed and take your “must ought should gotta” screed with you, Lisa. I like the landscape the way it is just fine. Gorgeous women in swimsuits and microskirts and Hooter’s outfits, and Democrats getting their asses kicked in legislative chambers and Congress from sea to shining sea. Tax cuts and dead terrorists, as they say. Just for a change of pace, now that things are working that way, let’s keep them like that awhile, m’kay?

Besides, if this is your idea of “pornography,” you would be amazed at what’s out there, for a lot less money than a Sports Illustrated issue. And you can get it in ways that, trust me, will not be the least little bit congested or obstructed in any way, regardless of what GM, McDonalds or Wal-Mart decide to do.

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… V

Friday, February 24th, 2006

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… V

A few hours ago, this article rolled into my inbox. It’s worth a read. I agree with the sentiment involved, but the format of the article is wrong. It has all of the ingredients of a speech and a miniskirt: Long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to hold your attention. Be that as it may, the issue of the right to free speech, versus the responsibility of governments to prevent chaos and protect people, is a complex issue in which the briefest recitation of the facts often results in bad decisions.

The issue is the prohibition in Austria, and nine other European countries, against “Holocaust Denial” and the consequent legal problems of noted author and suspected Nazi sympathizer David Irving…

There are many reasons to regret the decision by Austrian authorities to prosecute, sentence and imprison for three years or more British pseudohistorian David Irving. Liberal democracies ought not to be in the business of criminalizing speech, except speech that incites violence. Prohibitions against specified types of speech, such as Holocaust denial, have a tendency to invite further prohibitions and risk rendering the concept of free speech a nonsense. Imprisoning people for their views alone has a way of turning louts into “martyrs.” And just when the Danish government is under unprecedented attack for its refusal to intervene in the editorial decision-making of a private newspaper, it seems perverse to offer Muslim provocateurs an example of a European country catering to one set of sensitivities but not another.

I have nothing to add to the core message, but I would like to expound on the whole business of “martyrs.” My dictionary says a martyr is “one who makes great sacrifices or suffers much in order to further a belief, cause, or principle.” Problem: The usage of the noun, in context, is much broader than the definition specifies. You punish David Irving simply for holding contraband views, and what you have to do is punish in like manner anyone else for holding similar views. The intent on their part to further their cause through self-sacrifice, becomes a non-issue. They may intend to go to jail to further the political cause in the public eye; or, they may not. (According to this News.Telegraph article, Irving had already purchased his plane ticket to London, confident that the arrest would not be forthcoming.)

Does it really matter? The population of people born after 1945, myself among them, is swelling rapidly. A lot of us embrace the American value, even in other countries, that truth has no need to be enforced through the police power of government. This contradicts the European value that if government should ever stand mute on any particular question, government runs the risk of being thought to endorse the less appealing answer — and therefore government is obliged to form, maintain and enforce an answer to everything that comes along.

Well, Austria is part of Europe, and I’m not empowered to vote in Austria or affect Austrian policy in any way shape or form. But I know a bad idea when I see one. To place the public bureaucracy under the burden of opining on everything, using legal pain to silence dissenting views, creates the appearance that those contraband dissenting views have the grain of truth. And who, among those born after 1945, is to say they do not? After all, it’s not like the argument is being granted a fair hearing.

Worst of all, according to this principle government is obliged to haul out all kinds of things decided privately, and turn them into public matters. Here in America, we get to make up our own minds about whether man-made global warming (MMGW) is contributing to irreversible damage to the ecosystem, or not. On both sides of this question, we can find a good helping of scientists with sturdy credentials who agree with whatever we think. Is there an official government opinion? Maybe we should criminalize whichever opinion is opposite. Why not? If MMGW is destroying the environment, people like me who say it isn’t so may be defeating our last, best chance to save the planet for ourselves and future generations. That’s genocide! On the other hand, if MMGW is a myth, or exists but is entirely benign over time, those who insist it is a danger are threatening the world economy over nothing. Mass starvation is bound to be the result. Off with their heads!

Now, imagine the arguing that would take place if one of these factions, or the other, was up for being thrown in jail like David Irving — but it was an open question as to which one. Hoo, boy. The Florida election of 2000 would look like a Sunday picnic.

What about abortion? There are a lot of people who think if you’re a man, you shouldn’t have an opinion about it one way or another. (Curiously, those people never rush to silence a “pro-choice” man.) Maybe we should legislate that. We already argue about abortion a whole lot more than we did when the matter was left up to the states. We have special-interest groups who exist specifically for the purpose of keeping the states from being able to vote on the issue, and we have millions of people who maintain a white-hot fiery interest in the Supreme Court, but labor under the delusion that the Supreme Court’s only job is to keep people from being able to vote on abortion. Why not take it a step further? Why not make it a crime to speak out against abortion, if you’re a man? Or suppose the other side wins, and we criminalize anything said in favor of it? Why not? There are plenty of people who think it’s murder. Usually, when free speech is criminalized in “free” societies that normally would stand against censorship, the objective is to uphold the “higher ideal” of keeping innocent people from being hurt.

Again: If you want every presidential election to teeter on the brink of a civil war, it’s a great idea.

Some conservatives say we were winning every battle in the Vietnam War before Walter Cronkite offered his opinions on the Tet Offensive and effectively turned the tide of the war against his own country. I notice liberals never seem to have a snappy comeback to this, even the ones who are hooked on “The Daily Show” and live every single waking moment according to the rule of snappy comebacks. Why not simply criminalize people who say it? When the opinion is allowed to stand, it seems almost compulsory to get a revolution going against our “fourth estate” of journalism. Appearances being any indication, we lost a war solely because of them. Well golly, if a revolution is imminent, doesn’t our government have a responsibility to protect us from the speech that might incite it? Or why not go the other way, and use the government’s legal powers to lock up Cronkite for saying what he said? I see no reason for a statute of limitations to apply for such a heinous act of sedition.

Why not?

It would make for a critically important campaign issue, after all. Lock up Cronkite, or lock up his critics. Why, I’ll bet the voter turnout would be ninety percent or more.

That’s exactly the problem.

This is America. And this is yet another reason why it kicks so much ass to be living here. We embrace the ideal that there are some issues on which government should just keep its big mouth shut…and in order to maintain that day-to-day, we have to believe that when government keeps its silence on any particular matter, it means just that. Silence. Nothing.

It’s not good enough to have the First Amendment. You have to have the culture that goes with it. A culture that says when someone is saying something that’s wrong, we believe in giving them enough rope to hang themselves, instead of trying to shut them up. And that’s why, when we let them keep talking, the opinion our government holds about what he’s talking about, can be inferred to be…nothing.

A couple years ago, some senator from Massachusetts was running for President on the platform that he wanted us to do things more like the way Europe does them. I may think David Irving is a kook, and a bigot, and it even seems an almost settled matter that he’s a Nazi sympathizer. But his troubles with Austria make me happier than ever that that senator lost the election. Had the election gone in that senator’s favor, we would have lost our national identity, and we would have never gotten it back again.

Thing I Know #8. It is hard to get people to argue about private matters, but easy if you can somehow turn them into public matters.

Nobody Ever Asks

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

Nobody Ever Asks

Michael Angelo Morales killed Terri Lynn Winchell twenty-five years ago, by stabbing her after striking her in the face two dozen times with a claw hammer. This week, he was up for execution. Everybody loves to ask why we execute people. Everyone loves to ask if this is for justice, or revenge — and who knows the difference between the two? It’s also popular to ask if anybody thinks the execution will bring Terri Lynn Winchell back to life. And those of us who are in favor of the execution, have we ever watched one. That’s a real thigh-slapper, that one. Oh, and even more popular still, is the question of how would we feeeeeeeeel if we were the ones being executed, knowing we were falsely accused.

Well, as of last night, Morales walks. Not because he was exonerated by DNA evidence, or even because new evidence placed his guilt into any degree of doubt. Not because his execution would have been cruel or unusual, since California just got done executing Tookie Williams and Clarence Ray Allen exactly the same way they would have dispatched Morales, after a long, drawn-out episode of harsh scrutiny over the cruel-and-unusual clause.

No, Morales was allowed to walk because of media noise. That’s it. Oh, we had media noise with Williams and Allen, but this time it stirred up just the right tempest in a teapot to coincide with unfolding events, to produce the desired result.

Morales is the guy who wrote in with his fears that the lethal injection process would not subdue him adequately before the final serum would bring paralysis to his heart, killing him. If he wasn’t properly put under, he would feel everything, and be able to communicate nothing.

Gee. That would hurt. Like…being bashed in the head with a hammer.

Well, at the eleventh hour, the Ninth Circuit Court issued a decree denying clemency to Morales, but empowering the anesthesiologists to take “all medically appropriate steps” to make sure the convict stayed under. The unnamed anesthesiologists, who apparently were under the impression they’d merely be observing the execution, had ethical problems with taking a more active role. With them walking off the job, the state explored other alternatives for carrying out the prescribed punishment, and essentially gave up. Now Morales’ execution has been postponed indefinitely.

Indefinitely. Anti-death-penalty weenies 1, sensible people 0.

Well, now. I just find this interesting. Morales’ guilt has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt according to established law. His crime being deserving of the death penalty, also, is a matter of established law, and for now California is a state that allows the death penalty. There is precedence to indicate that the lethal injection process is constitutional, including but not limited to the cases of Messrs. Williams and Allen. By any reasonable standard of equal protection, Morales should be wearing a toe-tag.

Yet he lives, and only for two reasons: 1) he requested a entitlement to be spared physical pain, superior to any entitlement he recognized on the part of his victim, and 2) our media, justice system, and activists granted that request for superior entitlement.

Nobody ever asks the anti-death-penalty types any schismatic questions, inquiries that would surely tear their gatherings asunder ideologically. Questions, such as: Are you opposed to Morales’ proposed execution because you want him to live, or because you want to make absolutely, positively sure he is spared pain?

Do you believe the death penalty has a deterrent effect? If not, do you think it would have a deterrent effect if it was carried out more quickly? And if that’s the case, do you feel responsible for some of the murder rate? Do you ever think there may be some dead people under ground who would be walking around today, enjoying sunshine, fresh air and love, if it were not for your activist efforts?

If you do think the death penalty has a deterrent effect, do you ever feel some pang of conscience about trying so hard to get rid of it?

How is it you feel the sanctity of human life trumps the administration of justice, but at the same time, is too trivial to be enforced by that same system of justice?

That last question pretty much sums up all the problems I have with these people. One subject is under discussion, and human life is all-important, taking a back seat to nothing; and then it’s time to ask what the innocent among us can be protected, and whoops! Suddenly, human life isn’t all that important anymore.

I guess they need to see the human life in the flesh (or on TV) before they pay it any importance. Some creep who “found religion” or wrote children’s books, after murdering people in cold blood for a couple hundred dollars in cash, is worthwhile. A young lady smiling into the camera in a black-and-white quarter-century-old photograph, even with her whole life ahead of her, isn’t quite as important. Sure she’s a pretty girl. But she doesn’t move. She doesn’t gasp, or sob, or even put a lilt into her voice, like the man who killed her. She can’t. She’s dead.

We’re always going to have people in our midst who like to make life-changing decisions for other people, based on their feeeeeeeelings. Instead of with their deep, quality thinking about what’s good for society, or what it takes to protect people more innocent. Those people will always be around. And I’m even in favor of listening to them…we should listen to them.

I just don’t understand why the “gotcha” questions, with no easy answer, are saved for the rest of us. For those of us who think rationally, recognize the ugly truth that some people’s gears are permanently stripped, and nobody ever said that everyone can live in close proximity with everyone else.

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… IV

Monday, February 20th, 2006

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… IV

One of the things I find particularly enjoyable about Neal Boortz’ program notes is that when he gets excited about something, his grammar, punctuation and spelling just start to go to hell. Well lately, I notice I’ve been slipping in that department myself, and now Neal and I are neck-and-neck. It gets worse. Today, he’s absolutely in a lather. Boy, the words are so angry they just leap off the paper or out of the screen. And near as I can tell, everything’s perfect. Perhaps I’m biased in this case because I agree with the sentiment a hundred and ten percent.

As is usually the case when I find something so precisely dead-on and accurate that I couldn’t have said it myself, I have nothing to add to the core message, but I do have a few things to bolt on to the end. Which I will do after giving proper credit/linkage, and quoting verbatim. Enjoy.

Those of you who are constant listeners know my feelings about government schools and teachers unions. I firmly believe that in the long-term this country has more to fear from teacher’s unions than we do from Islamic terrorists. I fully believe that Islamic terrorists will once again strike this country, and they may well manage to kill ten thousand or more, but at this point I don’t think they can kill the dream of our forefathers. We recognize (I hope) the terrorists for the enemies that they are. We don’t recognize government education and teacher’s unions for the enemies that they are. Because we are so unaware and asleep at the switch, the education establishment can bring us down, where the terrorists probably cannot.

There is a level of ignorance in this country that the word “stunning” does not even begin to describe. Not only are we producing high school “graduates” who cannot read and comprehend the most basic of writings, they have no understanding of American government or our true history. These kids couldn’t even begin to tell you the difference between a constitutional republic and a democracy. They have no concept of the differences between the rule of law and the rule of men. They cannot tell you that our founders feared a democracy, nor why a democracy should be feared. They’re ignorant as to our culture, our history and our form of government … not to mention basic math and science.

And then there’s economics. Our typical high school grad has no clue as to how a free enterprise economy works. He couldn’t write a cohesive paragraph on the law of supply and demand or the difference between a profit and a profit margin. This, of course, makes the high school grads just lumps of clay ready to be molded into whatever their union officials or teachers want them to be.

I was listening to my pal Sean Hannity do an “I hate Hannity” segment on his show last Thursday. Several callers began slamming Hannity on, believe it or not, the Wal-Mart issue. They just couldn’t believe that Sean wasn’t joining them in their hatred of Wal-Mart. It was clear, of course, that these were uneducated, union-oriented people. They would come up with lines like “Well, if the unions aren’t for the workers, who will be?” Duh … how about exercising that responsibility for yourself! At any rate, one caller really caught my attention. He started out with this “Republicans are for big business and rich people” nonsense. Then somehow he got into the subject of income taxes. Everybody knows, he said, that rich people don’t pay income taxes. Sean reminded him that the top 10% of income earners in this country pay about 70% of all personal income taxes collected by the federal government. The caller said “That’s only on paper. They have all these write-offs so they really don’t pay anything.”

That conversation was four days ago now, and I can’t get it out of my mind. How, in this country, can anyone possibly be that completely and absolutely ignorant? How can they actually believe such nonsense? One answer — government schools. There is no excuse for this level of stupidity, and it must be turned around or this country just flat-out isn’t going to make it. The most immediate answer? Get rid of teacher’s unions. Across the nation job one for teacher’s unions is to fight school choice. Parents must be denied the opportunity to chose where their children will go to school at all costs. In Florida the teacher’s unions recently managed to kill a voucher program in the courts. Only children who went to government schools that failed to get a passing grade for two years in a row were eligible .. but the teacher’s unions declared war … and won. One teacher-plaintiff even said that competition is not good for schools, and it’s not good for humans. This is the lesson she’s teaching someone’s son or daughter right now.

Wake up folks. This country was handed to us on a sliver platter. Now it’s up to us to save it, and we’re not doing all that good of a job.

I particularly like those last three sentences. If I were condemned to relegate my gravestone epitaph to the pet peeves that had upset me in life, and I were allowed to choose only two, my top two pet peeves would have to do with our ancestors: 1) We commit sacrilege against them by comparing our contemporary challenges with the problems that had been faced by those ancestors, and pretending that the two were somewhat equivalent; 2) we take for granted the gifts we were given, by them, failing to treat those gifts with the protection and respect they deserve.

We have the luxury of waking up, stumbling into the kitchen to grab a bite to eat, invading the refrigerator and pantry, and discovering — Surprise!! — that we’ll just have to go to Carl’s Jr. because we forgot to go shopping. A hundred and fifty years ago that would have been a fatal screw-up. FATAL. In those days, if you wanted to eat in January, you had to be thinking about your January empty belly in the previous freakin’ March. No harvest, no eat; no sow, no harvest; no seed, no sow. Rich man, poor man. Grab that plow in the spring, and get those veggies planted — and that’s whenever you’re finished with your “real” job, representing your constituents in Congress, or building horseshoes, or cleaning stables — or else you starve.

And now? If you want a belly full of food, you can get one. If you want to get it through hard work, by means of a job, you can have one. If you want to have it given to you, and someone else’s expense, you can have that done too.

At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the phrase “separation of church and state,” which was not yet used verbatim anywhere, meant that if you were a Quaker and had been voted into public office, you could take your oath of that office by “affirming” instead of by “swearing.” Now we get to debate whether our government is obliged to deny the existence of God. Therein arises a deep constitutional schism, because our Founding Fathers failed to anticipate this. Why did they fail to anticipate this? Atheism just wasn’t taken seriously. Not that it was personal or anything. There are no records of atheists being forced to use back entrances, or to use different drinking fountains; persons known to us, or suspected by us, to be atheists — were actually treated fairly well. The principle simply wasn’t taken very seriously.

Try living in an agricultural society for five years solid, in which there is a good assortment of diseases that will almost certainly kill you or your children once those diseases set in. Try being an atheist. Just try it. You’ll be praying every day before Month #20. Maybe even before Month #3. Today, atheism is much more “important” simply because it is much more plentiful…and atheism is much more plentiful, simply because we can afford it. We have gained perspective technologically, and in so doing used science to explain things that were formerly attributed to God. But we have lost perspective spiritually. We get out of bed in the morning, and we don’t really know what we need to do that day to survive. Where did this food come from? What makes the electricity? Why is the water hot? A lot of people don’t know…but back in the day, Joe Six-Pack got out of bed, and he knew exactly what he needed to do to survive. And he knew exactly what kind of help he needed and from whom. So, naturally, he maintained his relationship with Almighty God, just as he would maintain a piece of critically-important, life-sustaining farm equipment. And taught his children to do the same.

It was a matter of survival. We think of it as a matter of personal preference, because our limited capacity for understanding precludes us from thinking of it in any other way. Stripes versus plaid. Sunroof versus soft-top convertible. Chocolate chip mint versus Rocky Road. That is our prevailing sentiment about the question between spiritualism and atheism…and the word “foolish” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Some of us who live in a city that is about to be flooded, are fortunate enough to receive word from the Government that we should get out. And when those fortunate persons ignore the warnings, they get to tell stories of their ensuing adventures from their government-funded hotel rooms and act as if their “civil rights” have been violated. Mass communication makes it possible for their stories of misery to reach tens of millions of sympathetic souls, in a heartbeat; it also makes it possible for the money to come pouring in, from great distances, as quickly as you could physically carry a golden coin, say, across a small town. For a farmer struggling with a flood crisis at the beginning of the nineteenth century, this would have been such an abundance of miracles that any one of them would have been beyond imagining. “Miracle,” to that farmer, would have meanth he could get sufficient help from the twenty or thirty souls it was possible to contact, that his family wouldn’t starve. And staying put, after he was told to leave? It would have been unthinkable. Or suicide.

The point is, the things that divide us today, are things we can afford to have that divide us. Atheism. Secularism. Nihilism and apathy. Going through life as a “Yang”, concerned with the perpetual stimulation of your own emotions and the emotions of those around you, above the fulfillment of previously defined objectives. Like Jack Nicholson said in “A Few Good Men,” “you have that luxury.” Perhaps these perspectives on life would be somewhat valid…if that luxury had been free.

The school student body that Boortz is using as a warning signal, letting him and the rest of us know that something is terribly wrong, could be given a precious education about all this pretty easily. A simple timeline of human history would show with crystal clarity that something is going on here…perhaps a roll of butcher paper all around the classroom, with little push pins demonstrating when exactly we could start being assured of our right to vote. When we could start refrigerating our food. When we could start surfing the “innernets”. To say nothing of where. Why are so many push pins crammed into this one small space, right where we happen to be?

What does this say about how lucky we are?

What does this say about our purpose for being here? What does this say about our character, if we consciously conclude that we grew here like a fungus, as opposed to being placed here by a Higher Power, and therefore have no compelling purpose in life?

And if my skin happens to be darker, do I really have a “civil right” to have a certain number of points added on to my college entrance exam, so an equivalently-qualified white candidate will be arbitrarily dismissed in my favor? If so, is this “civil right” on par with my right not to be forced to work in a cotton field for someone else’s benefit eighteen hours a day?

And what does it say about how many people toiled throughout their entire mortal lives, for little-to-no material benefit of their own, just to provide more opportunities to their children and grandchildren? Is there not some injustice to be observed, knowing these ancestors died generations or centuries before it could be confirmed that this objective had some measure of success?

Some will think Neal is being pretty hard on the teachers’ unions. But I’ll guarantee you this; you’re not likely to see those teachers’ unions provide sanction to the lecture I’ve just outlined. And that’s a shame. A student who attended a lecture like that, would never look at the bellyaching about what passes for “civil rights” nowadays, quite the same way again.

Nobody’s being forced to ride in the back of a bus now.

Nobody’s playing games to try to keep groups of people from voting. Minorities, women, the handicapped, urban people, rural people.

Our social safety nets, should they fail, fall back on other social safety nets.

Nobody has to think about an empty belly in January, during the previous March.

There is no such thing as a “local” famine anymore. If the riverbeds run dry during the spring, and that summer is light on sun and heavy on parasites — produce will be trucked in from somewhere else. Economic injury results for those who have an economic stake in the local produce market…but it doesn’t qualify for what your great-great-grandfather would have called “economic injury,” by any means.

And when we safeguard our liberties against the tyranny of government…more than half of us think that means bellyaching about the administration of a President who will be out on his ass, no matter what, on January 20, 2009. Only when our mass media instructs us that we should be vexed and frustrated about this issue, or that one. And we have little, or no, vision of what to do after that. Just bitch about Bush. That’s it.

Unbe-freakin’-lievable.

Thing I Know #7. A lot of what passes for bad news in a technological society, wouldn’t be discussed in an agricultural one because it would be a waste of time.

We Love Racism

Saturday, February 18th, 2006

We Love Racism

No, I don’t think we really love racism. But there is one thing we continue to do that makes it a real possibility.

Here’s a hint. KWWL TV has put up a short article listing the ten greatest Presidential errors. One massive, glaring error remains unmentioned on the list…as does one bad, racist President. This racist President will show up this President’s Day on many, many “Best Presidents” list, more often than not, in the top three slots.

Tomorrow we commemmorate the 64th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the internment of American citizens of Japanese ancestry.

We’re supposed to think that was a really bad idea, but we still have the face of the guy who signed that instrument on our money. Something to do with our country winning a really big war at the time he was President.

That’s a load of crap. If FDR were a Republican, it would be universally acknowledged that it really doesn’t matter how much credit people would want to give him for the war…his racist actions would be a black eye on all Americans. And so it is with FDR. Somehow, Japanese Internment remains a deplorable chapter in American history…not Roosevelt history, but American history. As if there was some kind of referendum on whether or not the policy should have been put in force.

In short, if FDR were a Republican, he’d be treated the way George W. Bush is treated. Except a whole lot worse. You see, when the Bush administration appears in court to provide a legal defense for the indefinite confinement of “enemy combatants,” they are relying on precedent. You know what else? They are relying on precedent from the Franklin Roosevelt administration. Yeah, Roosevelt’s brain trust invented the whole concept of “Enemy Combatant.” Learn something new every day, don’t you?

On the other hand, the Roosevelt defense against charges of constitutional skullduggery, was “hey, we’re at war…that’s just tough.” Yeah, they browbeat the Supreme Court into upholding the idea that the Constitution just doesn’t work all the time. The Supreme Court, at a low point in honoring the principle of judiciary independence, working as soft puddy in Roosevelt’s hands, recognized the Constitution as a peacetime document in Korematsu v. United States (1944):

We uphold the exclusion order as of the time it was made and when the petitioner violated it…. In doing so, we are not unmindful of the hardships imposed by it upon a large group of American citizens…. But hardships are part of war, and war is an aggregation of hardships. All citizens alike, both in and out of uniform, feel the impact of war in greater or lesser measure. Citizenship has its responsibilities as well as its privileges, and in time of war the burden is always heavier. Compulsory exclusion of large groups of citizens from their homes, except under circumstances of direct emergency and peril, is inconsistent with our basic governmental institutions. But when under conditions of modern warfare our shores are threatened by hostile forces, the power to protect must be commensurate with the threatened danger….

Good stuff, huh? Has the Bush administration even tried for something like this, let alone twist the arm of the Supreme Court into going along with it?

Wait, it gets better.

It is said that we are dealing here with the case of imprisonment of a citizen in a concentration camp solely because his ancestry, without evidence or inquiry concerning his loyalty and good disposition towards the United States. Our task would be simple, our duty clear, were this a case involving the imprisonment of a loyal citizen in a concentration camp because of racial prejudice. Regardless of the true nature of the assembly and relocation centers — and we deem it unjustifiable to call them concentration camps with all the ugly connotations that term implies — we are dealing specifically with nothing but an exclusion order. To cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue. Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast temporarily, and finally, because Congress, reposing its confidence in this time of war in our military leaders — as inevitably it must — determined that they should have the power to do just this. There was evidence of disloyalty on the part of some, the military authorities considered that the need for action was great, and time was short. We cannot — by availing ourselves of the calm perspective of hindsight — now say that at that time these actions were unjustified.

Pretty cool, huh? It wasn’t because of Korematsu’s race, it was because we were at war with the Japanese Empire!

What a great decision. What are your Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections worth?

Why do I blame Roosevelt for a bad Supreme Court decision that happened to be in his favor? He packed the court…or he threatened to, anyway, and by threatening to he got exactly the Supreme Court he wanted. This thing that George Bush was accused of doing when Alito was nominated to the Supreme Court late last year…as if the President’s constitutional authority and duty to simply name someone, constituted a “packing” of the court. That is bull feces. That’s not packing. Packing is what Roosevelt did. Go on, do some research: What did the Supreme Court do that caused indigestion over at the White House, before 1937? What did it do after 1937? Not nearly as much. They were afraid to go against America’s first third-term President.

We’re supposed to abhore racism in this country. How about showing how much we despise racism, by sanding this bastard’s face off the dime and putting someone else on there instead?

Whatever Happened To Free Speech?

Saturday, February 18th, 2006

Whatever Happened To Free Speech?

I remember soon after the September 11 attacks, we had a lot of discussion about what was happening to free speech in our society. I was told that people were being called unpatriotic for questioning the government. That struck me as interesting; questioning the government, certainly, is part of what should be protected speech. So is calling someone unpatriotic. No matter, however, because in this case the “being called unpatriotic” was supposed to be a sinister harbinger of intolerable free speech restrictions yet to come.

This eerie premonition floated around for awhile, free of any noteworthy real-world examples, until Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon were booted out of the fifteenth anniversary Bull Durham celebration for having used their celebrity status to promote our “Just Don’t Fight Terrorism” terrorism-fighting strategy. Dale Petroskey, President of the Baseball Hall of Fame who made the decision to revoke the famous couple’s invitations, was a former press secretary for President Reagan…so there ya go. A solid link had been established between the “Chill Wind,” in the words of Robbins, and the government. Of course, if Dale Petroskey had simply been a private citizen with a semi-consistent track record of voting Republican, this would have been just as solid a link, but no matter. The argument was kind of legitimate. And to today’s anti-war liberal, a kind-of-legitimate argument, so long as it’s friendly to liberals, is every bit as potent as a proven fact. Ergo, George W. Bush personally kicked Tim Robbins out of the Bull Durham anniversary, as Madison, Jefferson, and other free-speech advocates spun in their coffins in horror.

“I was looking forward to a weekend away from politics and war to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of ‘Bull Durham.’,” said Robbins in his response. You know, as long as kind-of-legitimate arguments are being given the equivalent weighting of proven facts…it impresses me as a kind-of-legitimate argument that I can count all the weekends Tim Robbins has wanted to spend “away from politics,” since about 1980, on one hand. Anyway, if both sides agree the issue is keeping baseball insulated from politics, and it appears that both sides do — it all boils down to this: Is a politically-neutral gathering more safely insulated from politics when Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon participate in it, or when they are absent from it? The answer to that seems fairly obvious.

Funny. I don’t remember all this concern about “free speech” a decade ago, outside of right-wing talk-radio shows, when the Clinton administration began promoting hate-crime legislation. Very seldom was a hate-crime-bill proponent called upon to explain how our right to free speech would remain unscathed by this new legal concept, and when/if any of them graced us with an answer, it was a variant of the old “if you don’t kill or hurt anyone you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Well, I doubt Ann Coulter’s killed anyone lately, and yet here we go with that mindless buzz phrase we never heard before the death of Matthew Sheppard: Hate speech, hate speech, hate speech…

Conservative columnist Ann Coulter received a rock star welcome at the Conservative Action Political Conference (CPAC) Friday, but when she used the term “ragheads” twice in a speech before a crowd of college students, bloggers accused her of “racism” and “hate speech.”

Referring to Iran, Coulter said, “What if they start having one of these bipolar episodes with nuclear weapons? I think our motto should be, post-9/11, ‘Raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.’”

“Ann Coulter Hate Speech Gone Wild” quickly became the headline story on BradBlog.com. The story then spread to the rest of the blogosphere.

The owner of BradBlog.com was one of a select group of bloggers “credentialed” by CPAC to report live on the conference. Brad Friedman, owner of BradBlog, had turned his CPAC blogger duties over to Dan Borchers, founder of the Citizens for Principled Conservatism website and CoulterWatch.com.

You know, I’m no judge, but if “hate speech” has a practical meaning to me, it would have to indicate the underlying desire to cause harm to someone’s safety or property through one’s speech. The “yelling fire in the crowded theater” scenario, in other words. I don’t see any indication that Coulter was trying to do this…and I certainly haven’t demonstrated any desire to do this in my own use of similar epithets like “weird beard” and “goat molester”. To the contrary, it would appear what Ms. Coulter is describing, is a scenario involving this “raghead” engaging in exactly that kind of malicious activity: making comments for the express purpose of injuring people and/or damaging property. And as for my own comments, I was describing someone actually doing the injury and/or damage.

Yet there’s nothing in the liberal anti-war mindset, I’m quite certain, to separate what Ann Coulter said, from what I said.

So if you’re going to muzzle Ann Coulter, for putting out phony “hate speech” about REAL hate speech, then you also have to muzzle me, for putting out phony hate speech about people actually doing things.

And by extension, logically, you would have to muzzle everyone else who says anything similar. Now we have acts of murder and property destruction, being incited on a massive scale within a certain culture and/or ethnicity, and simply noticing the patterns of culture and/or ethnicity qualifies as “hate speech.” That’s what these bloggers want.

Yeah, they’re just highly-adrenalized protesters at a speech Ann Coulter was giving. Nothing to worry about. Well, I’m not resting easy. I’ve heard that “hate speech” thing thrown around far too often over the last decade, to be relaxed about anything. It would be awfully hard for any single individual to sit down and, between his own ears, come to the conclusion that Tim Robbins is the victim of a widespread conspiracy to force his silence, and Ann Coulter labors under no simliar challenge. Yet those on the left who insist on doing the thinking for much larger groups of people they intent to mobilize en masse, are insisting on exactly that.

Watch those people closely. If they enjoy any success in what they’re doing, our right to think freely as individuals is in danger.

Jalapeno Double-Standard

Saturday, February 18th, 2006

Jalapeno Double-Standard

More cutting-edge insight from that sage of wisdom, Bryant Gumbel, courtesy of sportswriter Chris Russell

Gumbel should be blown out
February 16, 2006
:
I didn’t see it, but I sure did read the unofficial transcripts of what Gumbel said on the show that he hosts, a show that normally has some very interesting features.
:
In case you missed it, which apparently a lot of people did, Gumbel delivered a commentary on the Winter Olympics. “Count me among those who don’t care about them and won’t watch them. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention,” said Gumbel.

He went on to basically dismiss the Olympics, which are televised by his former employer at NBC, and talked about how he’s looking forward to March Madness. I wonder if Gumbel would have said what he said about the Olympics if he was still working for the peacock network.

So far, everyone who’s seen fit to comment on Gumbel’s blatherings, Russell included, has gone on to reverse the blatant double-standard — setting up a hypothetical in which a white man refuses to watch the NBA because there are too many black guys in it. With his comments raised to a publicly-visible pedestal, and given the weight of some kind of authority or endorsement, would we tolerate that? Obviously not.

However although I agree with that assessment, and what it says about the underlying fairness or lack thereof, I disagree with the approach. This is a “Jalapeno” double-standard. You know what Jalapenos are, right? They’re really, really hot peppers you can find in most sports bars, sometimes served as a garnish with an order of Nachos. Every once in a great while, someone will make a show out of eating Jalapenos. Maybe they’ll have a Jalapeno-eating contest. And the guy who wins is one really, really tough guy who gets lots of attention.

And yet…even the toughest among us, would never dream of living on Jalapenos for a week. If anyone ever did, and somehow survived, they’d never want to see a Jalapeno ever again.

Maybe that’s the answer. I’m barely old enough to remember a time when my mother taught me how to be a lifetime non-smoker: She let me smoke, at seven. There are legends of some parents, way back in the day, catching their teenage children sneaking a smoke behind the garage, and forcing said children to finish off the whole pack. The results, reported by those children once they grow up and tell the tale, are the same.

I think there’s some potential here. Let’s have a festival of celebrating the double-standard. Make it three months long, or so. Let’s freely trash any and all activities that have too many white guys in them. Day and night. Put some money into it so it reaches everyone. Our model should be the first season of “Survivor,” during which you couldn’t do anything without hearing about this hot new show: work, eat breakfast, eat dinner, commute, play golf, work out — certainly you couldn’t watch TV. Make it so that everyone hears from someone, every hour of every day, slamming this, that, or some other silly thing for being way too vanilla. Seinfeld, Norway, the Luge, the Skull-n-Bones society, New England…the list goes on and on.

Every day. Three months. The taboo against speaking ill of anything for being “too chocolate,” would remain in full force. And let no one protest, either. Hey, if a little of something is good, a lot of it must be better.

At the end of that…let’s just see how much “tolerance” we have for the double-standard which, until now, we have politely overlooked. Let’s see whether we think, at that point, that it’s compatible with a civilized society which upholds equal protection FOR ALL.

Then we figure out what Mr. Gumbel’s ultimate fate should be.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Sergeant Joe Friday was well-known on prime-time TV for insisting on “just the facts.” That used to be an easy thing to define, but it no longer is. I remember at the beginning of last year, as the Iraqi elections were approaching, how I began an intense discussion with my then-seven-year-old son what the difference is between a fact and an opinion. I was reading something on the front page, a product of the Associated Press if memory serves. It was squarely between this, which is an excellent digest concerned purely with matters-of-fact; and this, which is nothing more than a snotty smear-piece (“Donald Rumsfeld, whose uncontrollable mouth is sometimes useful insofar as he lets the truth slip…”).

What I was reading, made potent use of the gray area between fact and opinion. It was chock full of gray-area phrases like…”challenges loom ahead, even if the elections go as planned.” What is that? Fact, or opinion? The existence of those challenges, is it arguable, or not? And yet, where I found this story on page A-1, there was no room for opinion. Here was this ingenious method for sneaking the opinion in anyway.

This made a deep impression on my son, which lasts clear through today, and probably beyond — as he asked me “why are you so angry at the newspaper, Daddy?” I did what I always do. I told him the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I wasn’t angry that the writer of the AP story had a different opinion than what I had, and I wasn’t angry that they were putting it in a “news” story. I wasn’t even mad at their insincerity in cloaking this opinion, as news. What got under my skin, was the precision and practice they showed in doing so. I almost had to admire them. You can only get this clever, by exercising what you were doing, over and over and over again. What kind of concern does that inspire.

I should have clipped that article. “Fact or opinion?” has become one of our favorite father-son intellectual exercises.

Well, I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone to learn this critical distinction before they’ve reached their eighth birthday, but I do think it would be constructive for them to have at least a passing acquaintance with it before watching Dana Milbank’s performance when he reported on Vice President Cheney’s hunting accident.

It seems I’m not the only one to find this objectionable, and to those of us who object, it has become very popular to use the phrase “lighten up!” as if we were taking to the streets with pitchforks and torches. Er…pardon me for saying so, I don’t think us “objecting” people are understood very well by the “lighten up” people. Perhaps someone, somewhere, is getting really huffy puffy and outraged. Perhaps someone somewhere is angry.

I haven’t seen any such anger, and I’m not angry, or outraged. I see no cause for outrage, or for anyone lecturing anybody else about how to lighten up. What I see here, is far, far worse: It’s a good, sound reason for the MSNBC watcher, to tune out and go get his news somewhere else. What is this wisecrack about the “Wichita Eagle-Beacon”? What’s this concern about releasing things to local papers?

Er, I’m sorry Mr. Milbank. Being one of the hundreds of millions of people who will find out about what’s going on whether I get it from the Eagle-Beacon, or you, or the New York Times, or some blog…I don’t see why I’m supposed to give a rat’s ass. Which means, every second you spend griping about news being handed on a silver platter to someone besides you, you’re making me happier that I don’t get my news from you — whether you get it first, or not. What the news actually is, affects me. What the pecking order is as it makes it’s way to me, is decidedly irrelevant. Maybe not to you, but definitely to your viewers.

Like I said, that’s a logical reason to get news from somewhere else. And that’s the worst thing you could do. You could piss on crucifixes and publish smartass cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad all day long, and these wouldn’t be nearly as bad.

But that’s just my opinion.

At least I know that’s just my opinion.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form VI

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

In September, I called out a widespread, prevailing cynical detachment from the truth in our society today, blamed a certain former President for having created this disconnect, and everyone else for putting up with it. The occasion was Congressman Curt Weldon’s comments at the time about Able Danger. I was incensed not because of what Congressman Weldon had said, or the fact that the Pentagon was directly contradicting him, but that the disagreement took place with something that ought not be subject to debate, unless someone was lying.

Now here’s my point: [Pentagon Spokesman Army] Major [Paul] Swiergosz is lying, or else, goddamn it, Congressman Weldon is lying. If both of these sources are telling the truth, then one or the other is so woefully uninformed that that person might as well be lying his ass off. And that, I’m afraid, is about as complicated as the matter gets…Congressman Weldon’s comments are accurate, or else they’re not. Somewhere, someone knows which is which, and presumably that someone includes Weldon and Swiergosz…He-said-she-said situations like this, raised with regard to things that aren’t completely unknown to all parties involved, represent a contempt for the truth in the higher eschelons of our leadership. For this, the blame must ultimately rest with the electorate. We shouldn’t be tolerating this.

I don’t know if Neal Boortz reads my blog. I would suspect hardly anybody does. But how else do you explain this gem which appeared this morning in “Nealz Nuze”:

Remember ‘Able Danger?’ This is a secret group of military people that knew about some of the 9/11 hijackers before the planes flew into the towers. They have also been silenced….they weren’t heard from or investigated by the ridiculous waste of time known as the 9/11 Commission. Well, now they’re back.

Representative Curt Weldon, Republican of Pennsylvania, held a news conference yesterday to announce that the Able Danger group had identified 9/11 hijacker and ringleader Mohamed Atta 13 times prior to 9/11. That’s right, 13 times.

What’s more is the Able Danger group also knew about the attack on the U.S.S. Cole before it happened. Well, they knew something was going on in Yemen and that something might happen at that port, yet the commanding officer on the Cole was never told about it. Nice.

So when will all of this be investigated? Doesn’t seem like anyone is in a hurry to. The 9/11 Commission shows no willingness to re-form and take a look at it. Why is it being swept under the rug? Isn’t this what the 9/11 Commission was for? Why the cover-up?

Either these Able Danger people know something…or Weldon is full of it. Let’s investigate and find out. [emphasis mine]

I’ve been robbed, but I’m not calling the police. I’m quite flattered.

Dime People

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

Dime People

Back in July I had made a denigrating reference to the “Dime People”. The “Dime People” make up a pretty fun crowd. They get way too much attention, although for some reason I neglected to add them to my list of people & things that get way too much attention. They are fun because they tend to be brittle. “Brittle” has a razor-thin, precise meaning here; it means when these people come into proximity with a spoken, subjective opinion that is different from their own, they can’t tolerate it. It’s an unfinished task, which they lack the restraint needed to logically evaluate, rationally question, or simply let stand without comment. And their own opinion, which must always be given the final word, is that there is “not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties.” That is, Republicans and Democrats.

Conventional wisdom dictates that anyone with serious misgivings toward both major political parties, is a “centrist.” My personal experience contradicts this sharply. Over time, I’ve noticed certain things about Dime People:

  • For every one that is centrist, or leans right, three or four more of them lean hard-left. They have an agenda, and this agenda has a lot more to do with the destruction of one of these parties than with the any damage to be dealt to the other. Very rarely are Republicans attacked for bearing too close of a resemblance to those far-left, extremist, nasty Democrats; the disenchantment being communicated, far more often, is toward the Democrats for “caving in” to those far-right, extremist, nasty Republicans.
  • They think “Fahrenheit 9/11″ was a documentary. The most reckless, frenzied, baseless liberal propaganda, is very rarely met by them with so much as a whiff of sensible skepticism.
  • Without exception, a “Dime Person” fancies himself to be a truly independent thinker — yet his response to certain arguments, is absolutely predictable. I mean absolutely. Nobody who’s been paying attention, will have even the slightest doubt what the counterargument is going to be, when you tell a Dime Person “well, you know, Clinton was a Democrat, and he lied.”
  • I’ve noticed they have a particular spike in their level of emotional excitement when they are accused of being Democrats. The denial of “no, I am not a Democrat” is like Game-Set-Match, for them. The argument has been won — any cognition that was endorsed by them, has been irreversibly proven, and any that met with their disapproval, has been irreversibly refuted. Although, how, exactly, is a mystery known only to them.

Well, now that we are in Day Four of Cheney-Shotgun-Gate, I see some enterprising individual has — at breakneck speed — produced a handy bumper sticker capturing his thoughts, and no doubt the thoughts of millions of others. “I’d rather hunt with Dick Cheney than ride with Ted Kennedy” (link goes to site where you can purchase for a low, low price).

It’s a reasonable personal preference, I must say. After all, one of the things that makes Sen. Kennedy’s 1969 mishap such a scandalous event, was not so much the accident itself but the failure to go get help — something the Vice President did immediately.

The Dime People have been getting louder and louder as the Republican party stays in power longer and longer. Conservative Libertarians would love to peel off a layer or two of Republican support, and use those numbers to raise their own party into some position of power…and the liberal Libertarians, well, they just hate everything the Republicans stand for. Those two unlikely bedfellows have been allowed to fuse themselves together, spared from the harsh and scrutinizing questions that could be used to divide them again. So they just get to parrot over and over again…not a dime’s worth of difference…not a dime’s worth of difference…not a dime’s worth of difference…

Here’s a bumper sticker caption. Well, it almost fits, anyway.

If there really wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties, Mary Jo would be alive today.

Doggie Love

Monday, February 13th, 2006

Doggie Love

Answer quick! How many options do you have, when your significant other disagrees with you about something?

There are a lot of us running around who could ponder this question all day long, and come up with no more than one answer, maybe two. Many more among us could make a longer list: change the subject, use the Icy Look of Doom, capitulate, compromise, blackmail, threaten, come up with an idea that makes the disagreement irrelevant, come up with an idea that gives both parties what they want, find common ground — but in real life, fail to put this beneficial assortment of options into practice.

You learn by doing. Some people simply don’t do. Our society discourages this; for all the arguing about politics we do, a lot of the time people simply don’t disagree with each other. We’ve erected a taboo on that, and enforce it harshly, especially toward women. After all the CALWWNTY that’s been going on (follow link for an explanation of the acronym), the modern woman finds herself empowered like never before to form her own opinions about things — but just as encumbered from constructively arguing with anyone, as she ever was before. Bear in mind, that being a loathesome, screeching bitch isn’t the same as constructively arguing.

So we have this ignorance about how to resolve a dispute, widespread in modern times, but encumbering to women especially. Women aren’t expected to disagree…except when they are, for the sake of manifesting their supposed independence, and if that’s the goal, then what? You’ve got to keep on manifesting, which means compromise is out of the question. So until the fairer sex has multiple children, or teaches kindergarten, the fine art of dispute resolution eludes them.

That’s my explanation for the results of this survey, in which 34 percent of dog-owning women are found to wish their mate was more like their dog. Desirable canine attributes cited included the “perennial good mood,” which seems understandable. A significant other who is in a good mood, usually means a good day. Who doesn’t want to have that every day? And yet…there was that movie that came out last year about what a great ol’ time the men had when the wives were put in that “perennial good mood.” The message of the movie seemed to be that this isn’t such a swell idea, so someone somewhere must be hip to the point I’m trying to make. People are people. If you want a good mood all the time, maybe a dog is the right idea.

There are some passages in this story that cross the line into cringe-worthy territory…

Other key qualities, says New York psychologist Joel Gavriele-Gold, are that “dogs don’t talk back and you don’t have to worry about their emotions.”

“In fact, you dont have to worry about what they are thinking either…This has not always been the case in many of my human…relationships. Something gets lost when the significant other is capable of speech.”

Step right up, studs! Get paired up with a desirable bachelorette who doesn’t care about your emotions, and doesn’t want to start caring.

This is highly amusing. You unattached guys out there, next time you get a serious relationship going just try this, and see how long things last. Be a dog. Never tell her what your thoughts really are about anything, don’t have any preferences, any objections, any opinions at all. Smile a lot — all the time, to the point where if anyone asks her what you think about anything, she won’t know. For bonus points, pee on anything that doesn’t move, and screw anything that does. Never, ever, ever make a dime doing anything.

Any experienced man knows these are qualities that women genuinely despise. Playful, cheerful, ready to go for a run? Pffffft. What the hell good is that, if the lady doesn’t know what you like and what you don’t?

Yin and Yang

Sunday, February 12th, 2006

You’ve heard the expression “there’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything,” haven’t you? Well, the older I get, the more I start to think that perhaps that’s a relative thing, after all. That there is no absolute right answer.

That sounds awfully new-age and hippy, I know. Perhaps it is. But take, for an example, traffic. Nobody ever says “I wish I could get the hang of this driving thing, everybody else is so good at it and I can’t figure it out.” Nobody says that. Nobody says they’re average, either, and very few people admit they ever made a mistake unless said mistake is in the distant past. We’re all a bunch of James Bonds out there. But when is the last time someone could have benefited from some advice from you — or a swift kick in the ass? Probably the last time you were on the road, right? Everyone else is a dumbass, you’re the only one who has it all together.

My favorite pet peeve is the asshole who wants to go ninety miles an hour in a sixty-five mile speed zone, is always behind me. And the slow-ass old fart who wants to play amateur traffic cop, making sure everyone drives at a safe speed, seems to always be in front of me. I never get to see Mister Rocket-Butt zip along on his merry way, to come almost to a screeching halt behind the lethargic old goat in the Cadillac. That would be entertaining. No, I seem to always be sandwiched between them.

Only with the wisdom and maturity acquired through hundreds of thousands of miles of driving and many years — since I’m better than Bo & Luke Duke and Mario Andretti combined, aren’t we all — that I’ve come to be fully conscious of the fact that the old fart thinks I’m just as big of an asshole, as does the caffeine-buzzed stress puppy eating my back bumper. The former thinks I’m going too fast and the latter thinks I’m too slow. They’re both right. And I’m right about them. It’s relative. The only absolute is the posted speed limit, and since everyone’s ignoring that, does it even matter?

And after pissing away all of my twenties and most of my thirties, I’ve come to appreciate that this is a metaphor for life. If you were to make a dozen clones of that sleepy old goat doing 45 miles and put them on the freeway, the result would be — pretty good. Until someone came along who wanted to drive faster than 45, you’d have the safest stretch of highway for miles around. And if we were to Xerox several copies of Rocketman back there, the result would be pretty good too. It’s the inequality of speeds that causes the problem. That’s when simply driving down a half-mile of pavement starts to demand all kinds of strategic maneuvering that it shouldn’t.

Life is like that, in that it gets complicated not because of what we have decided to do, but from the difference between the way we want to do our thing, and how the other guy wants to do his stuff. The guy who’s never held a job, gets drunk all day, doesn’t pay child support, thinks he’s doing everything just right. He’s got problems, of course; but he figures his problems are caused by the cop that busted him for loitering, the district attorney who learned about the child support delinquency and decided to go after him, and the judge who sentenced him. You know, in his own world, he’s right. Where he comes from, people don’t take responsibility. They push it off somewhere else. So the problem comes not from his refusal to accept responsibility — they come from the expectation of others that he should do so. He has is own expectations: His ex-wife should marry some hard-working lunchbox carrying guy, who will cheerfully take on the responsibility of raising another man’s kids. This would free him up to be left alone to smoke grass and drink hooch all day, since, after all, that’s what he’s used to. That’s the way it’s supposed to work: Responsibility for those who accept it, and not for those who don’t. Purely optional.

Who cares where we would all be, if we all coped with life the way he does? How does that matter? Who ever said we should all do everything the same way, anyway?

Maybe that’s the answer.

Over time, I’ve formed the theory that, just as it’s the speed differential that makes traffic unsafe, perhaps the lifestyle differential — differential in our expectations of how people accept their responsibilities — is the source of all complaining. And for the time being, when I say “all” I do mean that. As theories like this are refined, absolute statements like that tend to whither away and get pruned off fairly early, so this is a fairly nascent theory. But so far, the absolute statement has yet to be pruned. I’ve made a point of checking all complaining against my new theory, as I become aware of the complaining. My complaining, other people’s complaining…liberals complaining about President Bush.

So far, it all seems to fit. Where someone complains about something, it can be traced to two classes of people coming into social contact, who should have been kept isolated. Yin, and yang. Some of us believe in personal responsibility, and others don’t. Thinking, versus feeling. Opinions based on personal observations and logical cogitation, and opinions formed to please others.

Just like speed-demon and lead-butt. If all the world was full of mommas-boys who drank moonshine and smoked grass and screwed around all day, everything would be fine. We’d have no justice system to speak of, illiteracy would be rampant, the streets would be full of filty bastards with dirty diapers half-hanging off their butts — but no dead bodies. Maybe we got something here. Just treat people like matter and antimatter, making sure that never the ‘twain shall meet. Build some big-ass wall separating everybody.

The government of Porter County, Indiana, needs to be on the dirty-diaper, feelings-matter-more side of this wall (although to be fair about it nearly all county and state governments would likely be better off joining them there.) That isn’t just my assertion. They’ve admitted it. Freely. Well, kind of freely, in that circumstances have forced them to admit it.

Porter County is not “Yin,” they are “Yang.” As a Yin male who believes in personal responsibility, thinking over feeling, pulling in lots of cash, spending only what is needed to address the needs but spending it wisely — I have stuck my pecker in so many female Yangs, I know a Yang when I see it. Why do I think Porter County is Yang?

They’re in financial trouble — but Yins get in financial trouble all the time, so let’s look further. Are they in financial trouble because of revenue issues? Businesses leaving? Employment down? Or perhaps something on the expenditure side? Catastrophic road damage? Maybe asset/liability management issues? Long-term investment in unstable commodities? Failure to lock in favorable interest rate on a loan? No…they’re in the financial trouble you only get into, when you manage finances the way the Yang manage finances.

…guided by its computers, the county expected to collect taxes on this startling new abundance, and other taxpayers were asked to pay a little less. Budgets were built around the phantom figures. [emphasis mine]

“And that’s when the poop hit the fan,” the treasurer said.

Eighteen taxing districts from the city of Valparaiso, the county and the Valparaiso schools now find themselves in the position of having to return to the county an advance of $3,090,287.33 that was never collected.

That’s $1,700,192.51 from the Valparaiso Community Schools, which had counted on the money for their $38 million 2006 budget.

It’s also $1,045,527.33 back from the city of Valparaiso (2006 budget: $21.3 million), which had been mounting an aggressive city beautification effort, complete with street resurfacing and sidewalk repairs.

“You can imagine the panic it caused here,” said City Administrator Bill Hanna. “You won’t find us buying laptops.”

Still, no matter what anybody says, “We’re not even thinking about laying people off,” he said.

But that cracked sidewalk? Might have to wait until next year.

Budgets were built around the phantom figures.

Let me repeat that. Budgets were built around the phantom figures.

Hey…this is the way things work at nearly all county governments, I’m sure. In fact, I doubt like hell you can find a county government that doesn’t operate this way. But it strikes me as a little bit odd. There were phantom figures to begin with. Rosy figures. Happy figures. But phantom figures…which means, they ultimately had to dissipate into a cloud of smoke. The wealth was never there.

The strange part is, because of the phantom figures, the cracks in the sidewalk won’t get fixed. And yet, had it not been for the phantom figures, with all the “real” stuff being kept as it was, the sidewalk probably would have been fixed. I mean, that’s what we’re being told, anyway.

Now how does that happen?

It happens with the way governments tend to treat the word “budget,” and I can’t use the typical conservative-libertarian line, “would you run your own household this way?” The answer to that question, about fifty percent of the time, is…yes. Half the households are Yang households. Maybe a little bit more. That’s one of the defining differences between the Yin, who do things in order to meet previously defined objectives…and the Yang, who do things in order to minimize dissention.

Take a look at how a budget is used by the Yin, who strive to meet defined objectives. You have some things that have to get done, you prioritize them and figure out the dates they have to get done…and you compare it to the money coming in. A “budget” for a particular period, like a month, or a two-week paycheck period, is simply a capturing of all these income-and-outgo events taking place within that period. By capturing that slice of time, the budget simply demonstrates that there will be adequate funding for everything during that slice of time. That’s all. What’s left over, is left over. The objectives having been met, you sit on the surplus in case something bad happens. That’s the way a Yin handles a budget.

A Yang budget is prepared differently; the Yang has a different concept of the budgeting period. For the Yang, the period is everything. You start with the revenue, and then you find things to spend it on until it is gone. If the number doesn’t equal zero, you aren’t finished yet. Because if you leave a surplus, someone’s going to feel bad. Someone’s going to have something they think is pretty important, that is being left undone. And they’ll be ticked when they find out you could pay for it, but you’re keeping the money locked up until something “important” happens, because they feel that their thing is already pretty important.

So you make everybody feel good, by getting rid of the money. Then, at least, you can tell everyone that, shoot, I’d love to fund it, but I can’t because the money’s all spent. Maybe next year. Same result, but now everybody feels better.

Except in Porter County, they don’t feel better. And the meat-and-potatoes stuff that’s supposed to get fixed, is going unfixed — when nothing bad happened on the expense side, or on the income side.

Nothing happened except disappointment.

What kind of disappointment? Well, now it gets interesting…

In October 2004, give or take, a real estate agent�or maybe a title company employee�checking on the value of the Valparaiso property on a county computer system apparently tapped the wrong key. Officials figure it was an accident.

The unidentified user stumbled onto a restricted screen, and then changed the value of the $120,000 house in the 1100 block of Chicago Street to $400 million.

Trying to reconstruct the event, officials imagine the user looking up and realizing something was amiss, then hitting “escape” to leave the screen. But the new value stayed in the computer, and the property tax bill for the house leaped from $1,500 to the upper seven figures.

“They never reported it to the county that they got a funny screen,” Porter County Treasurer Jim Murphy said of the mystery typist.

Don’t you just love that last quote? Imagine what the liberals would say if President Bush dished out that kind of an excuse about the Valerie Plame scandal. Yeah, see, uh, our computer system that stores confidential information is based on…well, on this kind of honor system. We let people get into it, and we don’t know who they are, and when they change stuff there are no value constraints that sound alarms when they tack on a few extra zeroes on something. But back to the honor system. We have this help desk that takes phone calls from users, where the users report they went to this screen that looked kind of funny. That’s how we ensure the integrity of the database…and this safeguards our national security. Now, this mystery guy didn’t do this, and we don’t know who he is…so there ya go.

Oh my God. Helen Thomas would have an aneurysm.

This is really an interesting story. If you go through it carefully, you should be able to identify about…I think five big huge things that are glaringly out of place, and maybe five more cases of someone not taking responsibility for what happened. But the thing that really impresses me — and I’m sure this just goes to show my naivete about how county governments work — is that a county government apparently ran years and years just going from one fiscal year to the next, taking their rosy prospects for revenue, and making up Yang budgets. Just take number X, and divvy it up. Spend it until it is gone. Make sure it’s gone.

And then they got CAUGHT.

Like I said, I’m not going to sit here and say “household budgets don’t work that way.” Many do. That’s why the divorce rate is so high. That’s why our society can’t save money, unless the money is in a 401k.

But my household budget doesn’t work like that. And I think the purpose of taxes is to raise revenue…the purpose of that revenue, being, to fund expenses — not to be entirely consumed by those expenses.

If everybody thinks the way I do, a lot of our problems go away…and if nobody thinks the way I do, a lot of our problems go away, too. We have problems because people disagree about how to see things. Too much diversity.

But at this point, I’m sure all Porter County is worried about, is the short-term budget crisis. I just hope they find enough time and energy left over to put some security controls on their assessment database. That honor system thing is gonna have to go.

Calling It

Thursday, February 9th, 2006

Calling It

I’m not in the habit of calling out what’s going to happen so I can say, later on, “Ah hah! I told you this would happen!” This is a popular gimmick with talk radio hosts, particularly of the conservative variety. Where it succeeds, the point that is supported by the success is something I personally don’t endorse — that our country’s political theater has become so shallow, simple-minded and uninspired that it is flat-out predictable. Yes, it IS shallow and simple-minded. But not predictable. I’d be a lot happier if it was predictable. People’s actions are predictable when they think rationally and methodically, with a sincere desire for success. They become unpredictable when they ignore that goal of success in favor of an ulterior motive to please others.

Also, it’s somewhat disingenuous. Nobody cares about what someone else writes as much as they care about what they write themselves — or as much as that someone-else who did the writing. And that goes for everyone. Even for a living icon like Rush Limbaugh, as much as his transcripts are scrutinized by people who oppose everything he stands for in hopes of finding some kind of “gotcha” — Rush, being himself, is the primary authority on what-Rush-said. Once he makes a prediction, he will talk about the prediction more than anybody else. But only if it comes true. I would expect that as meticulous as he is about correcting misstatements of fact, if he ever gets a prediction wrong, then nobody will talk about it. A prediction is not a statement. Nothing to correct.

The same luxury of commenting on past predictions, only if they have since borne fruit, would be available to me if I chose to use it. That’s why I think the tactic says so little.

But this time I can’t resist. I’m going to call something, even though at this late date, I’m still waiting to see if the last thing I called has worked out the way I thought. This contradicts all of the above. I don’t think predictability is a big help in this area, and I wish to make a point that our political system is too predictable here. The politicians we elect to represent us, think we are stupid, and they must be right or else they wouldn’t be there. This is a bad thing.

Here is the prediction: Sometime around the third quarter of 2007, you’re going to see the following come out of our Democrats in Congress. I’ll put some money on all of it, but I’ll put more money on the words that are in bold.

  • My fellow Americans…
  • You sent (or returned) me to Washington to represent you, so that we could at long last put an end to the corrupt regime that is the Bush administration.
  • “lied about Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq”
  • Political cronies outed Valerie Plame Wilson.
  • However, I am also mindful of the emotional burden under which Americans have been laboring since the administration’s misguided decision to invade Iraq in 2003
  • We all know now that there never were any Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • #### servicemen killed, ##### wounded, ##### Iraqis killed and ###### wounded, since hostilities began — and xxx much of this since Bush announced the Mission was Accomplished the following May
  • Vietnam type of Quagmire
  • We abandoned them in their time of need (if we have left by then, or) they want us to leave (if we haven’t)
  • Mothers, like Cindy Sheehan, have been forced to send their children into battle, only to have those children return in a body bag.
  • The nation needs a healing time
  • As Abraham Lincoln said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand”
  • We need to get back to the work of the people
  • Make the minimum wage a living wage
  • Shore up Social Security, mend it don’t end it, and save our labor unions (they may or may not use the word “unions”)
  • We deserve an education system that will address the needs of all our children
  • The constitutional crisis created by hearings (they won’t use the “I” word) would distract from this legislation, just as President Clinton was distracted from his important work eight years ago, and if President Bush is left in office he will stay there only (between 500 and 600) days before his term naturally expires. (You’ll hear lots of quotes about how many hundreds of days before President Bush’s term naturally expires.)
  • Additionally, the issues involving the people President Bush has chosen to succeed him, are not to be ignored. (Insert a bunch of slander directed toward Vice President Cheney, here.) (Insert some ignorant and/or misleading comments about the President’s right to choose his own running mate, here) …womens’ right to choose.
  • President Bush’s successor is likely to choose three Supreme Court justices, maybe more
  • (Insert slander directed toward Justice Samuel Alito, here.)…womens’ reproductive freedom.

If you can read between the lines, you see where I’m going with that. They’ll run for election, or re-election, on a platform of throwing Bush out of office. And within a year of winning, they’ll tack to a different course. Aw gee…it’s such a gut-wrenching process, it’s just going to leave us with Dick Cheney in there. And, c’mon, we only have to put up with this guy for 500 days if we leave him in.

They aren’t playing to a crowd of reasonable moderates who simply want the country to change direction slightly to the left. That would necessitate an a mission of finding out what such an electorate would want, and then actually doing it. No, they’re playing to a crowd of leftist extremists. And extremists don’t really want their agendas to be enacted — not unless you re-define the word “want” to mean “they get to loudly complain and act all put-upon when it doesn’t actually happen.” Extremists thrive on noise. The noise of politicians promising to do what the extremists want done…and the noise of the extremists, themselves, as they complain that things weren’t actually done that way. Delivering on a campaign promise? That’s just something you do for the moderates. Moderates, as in, people who don’t give a rat’s ass whether Republicans or Democrats control something.

That is the definition of who used to decide elections for the rest of us. That no longer seems to be the case. That’s a good thing, in the sense extremist groups aren’t actually exercising as much control as they pretend to. But it’s bad in the sense that, whereas the delivery of our political figures traditionally falls short of their campain promises, but at least used to drift in the same direction…now those deliveries have become completely unhinged from that specified direction, or any other.

Too much CALWWNTY

Tuesday, February 7th, 2006

Too much CALWWNTY

“CALWWNTY” is my name for a time-honored and widely-exercised tactic of managing people. I actually touched briefly on the concept last month, throwing some compliments in the direction of — of all people — Former President Bill Clinton. The following exerpt captures the point I was making:

Bill Clinton, the guy who actually won a couple of times, almost never said “it is a neverending morass of muck and mire and surrounded by the putrid stench of failure and when one wades into it his eardrums swell with the sound of weeping, wailing and the gnashing of teeth and I know we can do better.” President Clinton nearly always found a little bit of sugar in the status quo…no Democrat who is big enough to get his name in the limelight seems capable of doing what Bill Clinton did. They can’t say “there is a lot that’s good about the status quo but there are shortfalls too, and we can do better.” If they said that, they’d do what Bill Clinton did: Win. This is such an intoxicating elixir, when you say “you done good — let’s see if we can improve some more.” People can’t get enough of that.

It is an acronym for “Come A Long Way, We’re Not There Yet.” The effective manager who strives to make his office a truly rewarding experience for those who report to him, is going to interpret this as an encapsulation of the messages that must be articulated. That is a productive and benign use of the concept, and it is outside of my intended meaning when I use this to criticize.

What I mean to criticize, is abuse of the concept. This is how the tactic is seen by shameless race- gender- and sexual-preference-panderers: It’s a cassette to be played as an endless-loop. This is like dangling a carrot in front of the donkey’s nose, while riding in the cart that he’s pulling, so that he never actually reaches the carrot. That this works, at least according to legend, is testament to the donkey’s lack of reasoning skills.

Well, CALWWNTY works great, especially when it’s being abused. And when it’s abused, it’s a testament to poor reasoning skills. Let’s review, shall we.

  • Women: About 38 years, give or take, of bitching about unequal pay scales, glass ceilings, skimpy Hooters waitress uniforms, and being sent down the hall for coffee and slapped in the ass on the way back. Thirty-eight years of coming a long way. Making great strides. “You’ve come a long way, baby.” Those who lead the charge of the feminist movement, once summoned to comment on the issue, invariably take the position that no, not quite, we’ve still got a lot of work to do. Not there yet.
  • People of Color: Forty-two years, plus a whole lot more — add another century if you want to capture what the Republican party did to abolish slavery. And if you want to add the tensions that led up to the civil war, you can tack on an additional couple of centuries. That’s a long time. Come a long way. Not there yet.
  • Homosexuals: Okay, this is a somewhat legitimate use of the term, although “not there yet” has a lot to do with legalizing gay marriage, and allowing homosexual couples to adopt, efforts which I personally oppose. People are entitled to their own opinions about things, and if they see this as something that has to be done, I suppose they could say they’re “not there yet.” Nevertheless, isn’t it a little bit conceited to establish a political agenda that is contrary to the wishes of so many other people, who are equally entitled to vote against it — and regard it as an unfinished task, just because the agenda has not been imposed on those who don’t like it?
  • Peace in the Middle East: Puh-leeze.

And this is why people like me get so frustrated. I’m an ordinary guy. I have no formal education beyond high school. Nobody in their right mind is going to pay twenty-five cents for my opinion about anything, let alone four hundred dollars an hour. And yet, in a distressing throwback to the Clint Eastwood problem, I could have easily predicted that comments like these, uttered at Coretta Scott King’s funeral, are bound to invite criticism from several different directions and renewed controversy about where to draw the line in eulogizing departed people who were politically active in life.

The criticism will ultimately be devastating because it will be offered by people who don’t give a rat’s ass about political parties. And, further, it will be devastating because it will be entirely valid:

Like speakers before him, former President Bill Clinton reminded those attending that the work the Kings set out to accomplish is not complete.

“What are we going to do for the rest of our lives?” he asked, urging others to follow in the footsteps of the Kings.
:
Some of the speakers took not-so-subtle stabs at the current White House.

The Rev. Joseph Lowery, former head of the Southern Christian Leadership, which King helped found in 1957, gave a playful reading of a poem in his eulogy:

She extended Martin’s message against poverty, racism and war
She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar.

:
Former President Carter alluded to the hardship faced by the Kings in their struggle for civil rights, including — he added, pointedly — secret wiretapping and harassment by the FBI.

“The struggle for equal rights is not over,” Carter said. “We only have to recall the color of the faces of the people in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi � those who are most devastated by Katrina � to know that there are not equal opportunities for all Americans. It is our responsibility to continue.” — [emphasis mine]

Okay, so we’re about a half-century into this loathsome practice of defining special-interest demographic groups of people, shunting aside any hopes and dreams and ambitions they may have on an individual basis, and defining some perceived shortcoming they may be convinced they share as a group. There may once have been a valid reason for that, but read back to the previous sentence…HALF A GODDAMN CENTURY!

What the hell is the matter with you people?

What if your mechanic worked on your vapor-lock or your tune-up or your flat tire for fifty years and when you asked him how it’s going he said we’ve made GREAT strides…come a long way…we’ve still got a long way to go.

It just amazes me. Hundreds of thousands of women out there, might get a stopped up drain, maybe they’ll bust the garbage disposal. And before their poor husbands have had time to grab at the chicken bones that are stopping the thing up, they’ll be all “that’s taking way too long, you obviously don’t know what you’re doing, I’m calling the plumber.” But they can be told by race-movement activist overlords and feminist-movement activist overlords, “come a long way, not there quite yet, need to concentrate our energies for the struggle ahead” for freaking generations. Oh no, nothing wrong with that, I’m sure it’s all on the up-and-up. Just get back to me in five or ten years and let me know how the “struggle” is doing, okay?

You know why that little speech never changes? It has to do with defining the pain threshold downward. In the sixties, women really were treated like second-class citizens. A lot of people didn’t take them seriously…and you know, even that is a trivial complaint. Think about it. You’re a woman doctor in 1966 and everyone expects you to be a man, or they talk to you like you’re a nurse, or they look all surprised when you open your mouth and turn out to actually know something. That’s not abuse. That’s not being forced to work out in the cotton fields for fifteen to eighteen hours.

NOW, we’ve “come a long way” to the extent that a woman can end a guy’s career if she can walk into a room where he’s sitting, and tell someone “he made me feel uncomfortable.” Nobody’s being forced to sit in the back of a bus. In order to find grievances, we’ve got to send analysts out into the business world with their clipboards and see how the statistics look. No individuals can find anything to beef about, but the average woman makes 5% less than the average man, and the median woman makes 10% less than the median man…oh dear, we’ve got a long way to go.

The litmus test is this: Can the leaders of the activist movement articulate exactly what it is that has yet to be done? The answer is almost always no. For those exceptional cases where the mission of an activist movement really does include a measurable goal that has not yet been realized, it’s only natural to ask a second question: When the movement first started half a century ago, could you have sold this objective that, today, according to you, remains unrealized? And I can’t help noticing, the answer to that is always no.

So people are buying into something, years into some kind of struggle, that they would never have bought, had they not yet invested the effort and emotion into that struggle. That’s the equivalent of bringing home a puppy to see if you want to keep it. Or driving sixty miles to hear a pitch for a timeshare.

These are bad ideas.

And here’s another thing. One more thing that will ensure we can, with things left unchanged, hear the CALWWNTY drumbeat for another fifty, hundred, two hundred years without any change at all. It has to do with personal attitudes. Politically-incorrect personal attitudes. Listen real hard next time you hear someone say we’ve “made great strides, but still have a long way to go” or “we’ve come a long, long way, and should congratulate ourselves, but not pause long to do it because we’ve still got a long way to go.” Treat it as a special occasion when those cliche-masters define exactly what still has to be done. What do you hear? Is it what I hear? I’ll tell you what I hear…a lot of jawing about other people’s personal attitudes. The fact that some knuckle-dragging cretins, in that sacred space between their neanderthal ears where they have the God-given right to form whatever opinion they want — think that homosexuals complain a lot. Or that a woman isn’t as physically strong as a man. Or that certain ethnic groups eat a lot of certain kinds of food.

Horrors! We’ve got a long way to go!

That’s when things get scary. The fact that in a country that’s supposed to cherish free speech and freedom of choice, you can form certain thoughts in your own brain, and if you say something that betrays these thoughts and some uptight activist zealot doesn’t like it — it’s an incomplete political agenda. And off he toodles, to sell to his loyal followers, CALWWNTY — boy howdy we’ve come a long way, but you KNOW we’ve still got a long way to go because you know what I heard some guy say in the shopping mall today?

That’s not a grievance. That’s not a legitimate complaint. What that is, is people ripping each other off.

People taking other people for a ride, are always going to be among us. And people willing to be sold a bill of goods like this, are also always going to be among us. But must it be so popular to sell CALWWNTY in so many places and so many ways, so much of the time, with so little effort to disguise it? And must it work so often, and be exposed to so little challenge?

Clop clop, clop clop. Walk faster, little donkey. The carrot awaits…

Imitation is the Sincerest Form V

Monday, February 6th, 2006

Imitation is the Sincerest Form V

A couple months ago I made an observation about something really and truly bizarre that hasn’t gotten very much press at all since then. I would expect there would be a lot more eyebrow-raising and tongue-clucking about it, since I don’t like it. And failing that, if a whole lot of people disagree with me and like what I don’t like, I would hope there would be a lot more discussion about it. There hasn’t been any discussion. None.

I’m referring to the decision by a whole bunch of power-brokers in Washington, who know a great deal more about the inside political track than I do, that as the world’s oldest political party gears up to fight in the midterm elections and possibly take control of a chamber of congress, that party’s official position on what to do about Iraq will be — and you could never write this as fiction, no publisher would accept it — Nothing! Butkus! Did you know that? Did you know Democrats think, officially, that the time has come to get back to scaring old people with wildly implausible tales of Social Security payments being cut? Did you know they’re getting ready to run the campaigns you remember, “blah blah blah lock-box blah blah blah cost-of-living adjustment blah blah blah right-to-choose blah blah blah rich get richer, poor get poorer blah blah blah glass ceiling, make the minimum wage a living wage.”

It’s kind of stunning. A major political party is flailing around trying to find some issues, obviously having a tough time finding them…hundreds of weird-beard goat-molesters are trying to kill us in order to broadcast a political message. If you are travelling overseas, you may be kidnapped and killed. If that previous sentence was “if you are out walking too close to a power line, you might get cancer and die” — Democrats would know what to do about that. Whoa, try and stop ‘em. Just don’t expect anything to actually be done to make things better for you if you’re the one with cancer! But when it comes to the mad mullahs, it’s a whole different kettle of fish. Our fearless Democrats who want to be our fearless leaders, are willing to come out and say that they’ve got nothing to say.

I don’t know if Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite, who represents the 5th Congressional District of Florida, reads my blog. I would expect hardly anybody does. But how then do you explain this gem which appeared in the St. Petersburg Times-online this morning.

Every time I meet with the liberal antiwar groups, the buttons always say, and are invariably the first words out of their mouths, “We support the troops.” I always wonder what liberals mean by “support” for the troops. And I have had quite a bit of difficulty finding out. These groups can never tell me.

As far as I can tell, when liberals say, “We support the troops,” they mean this time around they aren’t going to spit on our vets and they won’t protest welcome-home celebrations. When liberals say, “Support the troops,” as far as I can tell they mean refrain from personal attacks on our soldiers. This time around, liberals are hiding behind the rhetoric of a button and a slogan.

I disagree. Support is not a slogan. Support is more than wearing a button. Support is active. Supporting the troops is not saying things that encourage our enemies. Support is not saying things that make it harder for our troops to fight. Supporting the troops requires a commitment to win.

Let’s ask Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., about her support for the war on terror. I’m talking about her actions, not her rhetoric. The leader voted against funding for the Patriot Act and she voted against establishing the Department of Homeland Security. How about for our troops on the ground? The leader of the Democrats voted to cut intelligence funding by $500-million and voted to cut intelligence authorization by nearly 1 percent. This is how liberal Democrats support the troops.

Now, that’s solid gold stuff right there. But then Brown-Waite swooped in for the kill:

Anyone can criticize any aspect of the administration’s policy, but like it or not, it was a policy choice. Liberal Democrats have no policy and no vision for our security. Pelosi, the liberal leader in Congress, even said they would have an issue agenda for the 2006 elections, but it will not include a position on Iraq.

Are you kidding me? The minority party will not have a position on the biggest foreign policy challenge we face? Oh, I forgot Democrats’ position is they “support the troops.”

I’ve been robbed, but I’m not calling the police. I’m quite flattered.

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… III

Sunday, February 5th, 2006

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… III

…and so I shan’t.

However, I do have an additional thought or two that I would like to put down in writing before the whole stupid controversy goes away…and Lord, I hope I’m just scoring these two points at that buzzer.

We have millions upon millions of bright, educated, otherwise-reasonable people in this country who are convinced…beyond the shadow of any doubt…that the whacko Islamic-militant embassy-burning goat-molesters are in the right on this one. Or, if they’re not in the right, certainly should be treated as if they are. That is to say, we should be looking all beady-eyed in the direction of Denmark, and between our ears we should have a thought or two kind of like “if you didn’t draw those damn cartoons, those embassies would still be standing.” In other words, the whacko goat-molesters are just doing what should be expected of them. They aren’t “responsible” in the true sense of the word, as responsibility is applied to thinking humans. They are about as culpable for torching those embassies…as a tornado is culpable for carrying away a mobile home.

I just figured out where I have seen that kind of thinking before.

Have you ever encountered one of those whacked-out families where one family member is just completely off his nut? Or her nut? Maybe the matriarch of the clan has a drinking problem. Or the baby-of-the-family is just spoiled rotten, jobless at 44, can do no wrong. Or the sister-in-law is manic-depressive and out-of-control.

Yeah, let’s say it’s the sister-in-law. Let’s say her name is Hannah. Haven’t you ever known about a family like this? Mark did something awful! What did he do? He made Hannah angry! Months pass…Oh my God, George did something terrible! What? He pissed off Hannah! Next year…that was the worst Christmas ever, Mary ruined it for everyone! How? She made Hannah upset!

After a few years, maybe someone will get married and a new member will join the family, perhaps saying something logical when he forgets to keep his mouth shut. “Excuse me, but…wouldn’t we all get along a little better if there was more of an expectation put on Hannah to take her goddam medication like she’s supposed to, and quit snapping off at everyone? How come it’s always Dave’s fault, or Mark’s fault, or Mary’s fault? How about we tell Hannah to put a cork in it, and if she can’t do that, just ignore her instead of snapping at whoever’s made her list?”

More often than not…the marriage that introduces this voice of reason into the fold, crumbles inside of two or three years. Then the dysfunctional family goes right back to the way it was. One crazy person, one or two enablers, and a whole crapload of weary people who would rather put up with the situation than do something about it. And so it goes.

The trouble is, though, the people who recognize the whacko weird-beard goat-molesters as being the problem — CANNOT just get a divorce to get out of the family. The enablers who like to make their overbearing — and wrong-headed — proclamations about who is to blame, who is a victim, and who is just a force of nature with no culpability for the awful things they do, are proclaiming this for EVERYONE. The WORLD. Not just a messed-up family.

This is one of those deals where evil will triumph when good men do nothing.

What can good men do? Plenty. Just seeing things as they really are, speaks volumes. Protesters burned down embassies. PROTESTERS burned down embassies. A Danish cartoonist did not. And the Danish cartoonist committed no blasphemy — not unless said Danish cartoonist happens to personally belong to a religion that regards this as blasphemy, which, I don’t think he does. And if that’s the case, I hope you weird-beard goat-molesters will shut your cakeholes and pay for the reconstruction of the embassies you burned. Not holding my breath, though.

But that is my opinion…and no amount of “Oh my God, what in the world did you say to HANNAH?!? SHE’S SO UPSET!!” is going to change my mind about that.

If we accept the argument that the Danish cartoonist is truly culpable, and the weird-beard goat-molesting building-burners are just non-sentient forces of nature, this will become true. The cartoonist will be punished, and in the next generation we will see many, many more burned embassies. Just like my metaphorical dysfunctional family can and will see many, many more temper tantrums out of Hannah.

Update 2-15-06: It’s awfully embarrassing for me to have to admit this, especially in a web forum visible to a whole bunch of strangers. Of course this is the blog that nobody ever reads, so how bad can it be. But it’s been asked of me if the previous rant about the reasonable person marrying into the dysfunctional family with Hannah the crazy whacked-out sister-in-law, is autobiographical.

Well, my marriage(s) history has been a rocky patch of road, and to tell you the truth, it was enough of a jarring educational experience about how the world works, which I desperately needed to learn, that…well, I just don’t know. Couldn’t tell ya. I can recall things that happened afterward with crystal clarity, but what happened before & during — really, it’s just a fog. I hesitate to call that “PTSD” because I haven’t seen combat, and I think this association would be a glaring disservice to people who’ve suffered from real PTSD. So as far as I’m concerned, I don’t have it. But I’ll admit, with the passage of time, I’ve noticed I can’t remember things like I rightfully should be able to.

Well, the trouble with Hannah has indeed been noticed by others, in fact, years before I was ever born. There’s a great illustration of it in a famous Twilight Zone episode that aired on November 3, 1961: It’s a Good Life, about that creepy kid who wished people into the cornfield. The episode starred Billy Mumy as Anthony Fremont, possessor of an (unexplained) omnipotent power, which he could use to do…anything, to anyone, anytime. As the episode worked onward, the story focused not so much on the genesis of this power, but on the reaction of those who had to exist in close proximity to the freaky kid.

Anthony had this power since infancy, if I recall right, and had matured into a young boy with a truly nightmarish personality, since, of course, he had developed without any disciplinary limits placed on him. Who could impose such limits, after all? What would happen to them? So Anthony had never been punished; indeed, Anthony had never even been criticized. His detachment from reality grew just as surely as his pant sizes grew.

It ended up being a very famous episode of Twilight Zone. It was one of the few episodes where there were no “central” characters. No “straight men.” No “ordinary” people. How in the world could there be? For Anthony, or anyone else, to conduct themselves in any “rational” way was declared to be a logical impossibility, so we, the audience, were left to supply the role of “rational” observer…watching this endless parade of strange people in front of us, one all-powerful and rude as holy hell, and the rest of them a quivering jello-like mass of puppets deathly afraid of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Twilight Zone made a lot of mediocre, obscure episodes, recalled nostalgically by absolutely no one, swallowed entirely by the sands of time. This would surely have become one of them, if the scenario didn’t resonate in some disturbing way with lots of people. Sadly, I’m afraid it would have been quite difficult to imagine in 1961, what a quivering, jello-like mass of puppets we would have become in 2006, with the weird-beards filling in for the role of Anthony Fremont. Just as Anthony’s parents and other relatives became just as weird and comical as he was, so too are the rest of us about to become just as weird and comical as the goat-molesters.

He Had No Choice

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

He Had No Choice

Oh boy, that Julian Bond of the NAACP is in some real trouble, at least, he’s headed in that direction if conservative bloggers have any pull with the public-at-large. Which they don’t, of course. So he’s scot-free.

In fact, even today very few people are aware of, or can even find out about, the inflammatory statements made by the Chairman of the NAACP at Fayetteville State University on Wednesday. Sister Toldjah has captured the essence of what went on and I’m just going to link to her and quote her verbatim because, as it turns out, she lives right there. And I couldn’t say it better myself than the way she put it. And she looks much more appealing that I do, so here goes.

NAACP chairman makes GOP/Nazis comparison

Right here in North Carolina:

Civil rights activist and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond delivered a blistering partisan speech at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina last night, equating the Republican Party with the Nazi Party and characterizing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her predecessor, Colin Powell, as “tokens.”

“The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side,” he charged.
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The harsh partisan rhetoric from Bond should not have surprised anyone who has followed him in recent years.

In July 2001, Bond said, “[Bush] has selected nominees from the Taliban wing of American politics, appeased the wretched appetites of the extreme right wing, and chosen Cabinet officials whose devotion to the Confederacy is nearly canine in its uncritical affection.”

Gee – and to think there were actually people who raised the roof on the fact that the President didn�t want to meet with the NAACP?

Update 8:31 PM: Well wadda ya know? A quick search of GoogleNews.com using the terms �Julian Bond� and �swastika� as of this writing yields exactly three, count �em, three entries with the mention of the swastika reference, and only one of them is from a semi-MSM website: World Net Daily, which is the piece I�ve got quoted in this post. Another search of GoogleNews – this time using the terms �Julian Bond� and �FSU� (where he was speaking) generated two MSM results, and neither of them (here nor here) mentioned the swastika reference.

Let�s give it up for our MSM, ladies and gents! As always, they are complicit in the racism of black Democrats to the point they won�t even report it. I guess it�s become so old hat to hear such comments from racist black Democrats that maybe the mediots don�t even consider it news anymore.

Now, what should be newsworthy about this is obvious. The “black vote” has come to be a critical resource to Democrats every single election cycle, kind of like pickled pigs’ feet is a critical resource to a redneck, except the redneck doesn’t have to pretend to respect the pigs’ feet. He just gnaws on them, whereas Democrats have to go through a ritual of fake respect before exploiting the black vote. So if the question did not stand before Julian Bond’s escapades, it sure as hell must be asked afterward: Can you be a Republican and support the NAACP?

As Sister Toldjah points out, President Bush is supposed to be receiving a lot of flak for his refusal to meet with the NAACP last year. One would have to presume, as one prepares to get all huffy-puffy about the deletion of the NAACP card from the White House rolodex, that NAACP membership is not mutually exclusive from being a Republican. But it appears Chairman Bond would disagree.

Well, the IRS would like to have a word or two with the NAACP about their new role as a Democratic National Committee satellite office. But to be realistic about it, Chairman Bond really has no choice but to drop to his knees and kiss the DNC’s ass. The sad fact of the matter is, that under Bond’s leadership, the NAACP can’t be friendly to Republicans — and it has nothing to do with “Advancement of Colored People,” it has to do with the way you talk to people when you try to convince them of something.

Earlier today I got all cheesed off about the State Department’s comments in response to the Danish “Muhammed with a bomb in his turban” cartoon. My point remains that when you skip past why people are supposed to think something, and hurry forward to the part about what you ultimately want them to think, you are affording yourself a luxury which cannot be purchased except for the expense of basic politeness. When the State Department says “inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this matter is not acceptable,” with the actual power to monitor Danish press content lying well outside of its jurisdiction, the State Department embraces a culture that is downright rude — and quite un-American.

Let’s take a really simplified example of what I’m talking about here. Let’s say there’s some guy named Bob and I think Bob’s a dolt, and I want to convince you that Bob’s a dolt. I could do it the Rush Limbaugh way, which is the American way. I could say “Snerdley, cue Cut #15. Here we go, folks, Bob commenting on (blah blah blah).” The cut runs. And immediately afterward I come on and say “so there you have it, folks! There is only ONE WAY that Bob could be actually believing the things he’s saying…he’s a dolt.”

You’re still free to believe Bob’s not a dolt. But as a courtesy to you, I have provided you with the foundation to determine why you and I disagree about Bob’s doltishness. Before I’m even aware that you disagree, you have all the pieces of the puzzle. You’ve got a good mapping of what convinced me that didn’t convince you, what convinced you that didn’t convince me, and where we fall into line with each other. In fact, until you reply, you know a little bit more than I do about some important stuff.

It’s politeness. It is nothing more than manners. It’s like when you’re standing in my way at a coffee shop, I say “excuse me, may I please get through here?” instead of “stand aside, you’re in my way.” Polite people take the first approach, even though they really don’t think they’re interrupting something important, and they’re really not open to being denied permission to cut through. Polite people go through the motions anyway. It’s a sign of respect. It shows that you consider the person you are addressing to be a peer, an equal — who might possibly know some things that you don’t.

What’s another example of this politeness? Well, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, who is the president of Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny (BOND), seems to have a polite way of convincing people of his point. He’d like to have a word or two with Julian Bond, by the way.

NAACP President Bruce Gordon and the NAACP Board of Directors should repudiate the reprehensible remarks made by Julian Bond. Over the past several years, the NAACP Chairman has repeatedly made bigoted remarks about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other black conservatives. It�s time that he�s held accountable for his words.

It�s no accident that Bond delivered his hate-filled speech at a historically black university during Black History Month. The NAACP Chairman is intentionally maligning the character of black conservatives in hopes of poisoning the minds of black Americans to keep them on the racist liberal Democrats plantation.

If the NAACP leadership does not repudiate Julian Bond�s remarks, then we can only assume Bruce Gordon and others are in agreement with Bond�s lies and hatred of black conservatives. [emphasis mine]

There ya go. What does Jesse Lee Peterson think about Bruce Gordon’s opinion? Why does he think that? It’s all crystal-clear. From Rev. Peterson, to anyone taking the time to read the BOND press release…a small but meaningful dose of simple, common, basic, God Damned baseline-level respect. Feels good, doesn’t it?

That’s what Rush does every hour of every day. It’s what Sister Toldjah did, above. If I disagreed with Sister Toldjah — and I don’t — I would have a clear-cut definition as to why. That’s nice.

Obviously, Chairman Bond is not nice that way. He talked down to his audience, according to the transcripts I saw, and simply commanded them from his high podium to incorporate his viewpoints about President Bush. Why does he think Bush is a Nazi? I don’t know; perhaps he gave a good foundation for this viewpoint in his speech, but I strongly doubt it. Nor do I think it’s really that big of a mystery what the reason is. Let’s just go waaaay out on a limb here, and just suppose Chairman Bond is a passionate Democrat who has found the NAACP to be a good recruiting vehicle. I don’t really know that for a fact. It doesn’t matter. The IRS is working on that case right now anyway, and it’s much more important to them than it is to me.

But the point is, with his style of speaking Chairman Bond has to support Democrats. HE HAS TO. He has no choice. Because when you talk down to people like that, telling them what to think — guess what? You can’t stop. You can’t go out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays engaging in the courtesy of saying “okay, this is what somebody said, and this is my evidence that they know better, and that’s how I formed my opinion that they’re a liar, see?” — and then on Tuesdays and Thursdays, indulge in the purely High Priest mystic European tactic of “Bob’s a dolt, George is a Nazi, Kevin’s a fag, Barbara’s a slut. Get it? Got it? Good.”

It’s like oil and water. You can’t mix the two up.

Why? Because if I start accumulating a faithful audience that just believes everything I tell them like a bunch of simpletons, as Chairman Bond clearly expected his audience to do, and then I feed them my propaganda for an extended period of time — I’ve got to stick to that tactic. If I switch, and start explaining myself Rush-Limbaugh style, I have to give people my rationale. If I give them my rationale, they might find the conclusion is quite acceptable to them, but the process held some logical leap they can’t support.

And then, if you’re in that audience you have no choice but to start saying — “well, if you’ve got this prejudice that moved Argument A along, in a way I don’t find acceptable, how then did you arrive at Conclusion B?” Every little thing that I told them according to the European High Priest method, would now be opened to doubt. The bubble will have burst.

So it’s one or the other. Julian Bond, because of the way he talks down to his audiences, instead of addressing them as thinking, receptive, somewhat-intelligent people, can’t be a Republican and he can’t exist in the same ecosystem as Republicans. That other political party, which was built up on a history of union goons talking down to their union members and telling those members who to vote for and what initiatives to support, and now works day and night to convince us “Bush LIED!!!” without once specifically telling us what he lied about — that is the only comfortable home for the Julian Bond brand of agitprop.

He has to be a Democrat. And his organization has to be a Democrat party satellite. They have NO CHOICE.

Must-Tards IV

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

Must-Tards IV

I have a number of comments to make about this worldwide dust-up over the Danish cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban. The first comment I’ll make without making any comment at all. I’m a great believer in the power of leaving things unsaid, when the time is right, and I think the time is right here. So no commentary for this comment. Just facts.

Muslims across the globe have been organizing protests to give voice to the outrage they have over this cartoon. I have been called upon, like all commoners, by the High Priests of diplomacy and journalism, to accept the meme that Islam is a religion of peace and that those who practice terror only claim to be Muslims, but aren’t really. In the front section of my Saturday paper, an Associated Press story appeared very prominently giving me the latest news about how angry the Muslim community really is over this blasphemous misrepresentation of Islam.

Clerics in Palestinian areas called in Friday prayers for a boycott of Danish and European goods and the severing of diplomatic ties. Tens of thousands of incensed Muslims marched through Palestinian cities, burning the Danish flag and calling for vengeance.

“Whoever defames our prophet should be executed,” said Ismail Hassan, a tailor who marched in the pouring rain with hundreds of other Muslims in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “Bin Laden our beloved, Denmark must be blown up,” the protesters chanted. [emphasis mine]

Foreign diplomats, aid workers and journalists began pulling out of Palestinian areas Thursday because of kidnapping threats against some Europeans.

See? No commentary. Just facts. And yet, a representation of the Muslim faith has been made to me, and this representation has made an impression. I’ll leave unmentioned what that impression is. It should be obvious. I mean, Muslim protesters have gone out of their way to do that representing, and I feel it only fitting I should let their words speak for themselves.

Wouldn’t want to offend anyone.

Next commentary. The story continues to point out,

Islamic law, based on clerics’ interpretation of the Quran and the sayings of the prophet, forbids any depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, even positive ones, to prevent idolatry.
:
The State Department (that’s ours, the U.S.) called the drawings “offensive to the beliefs of Muslims” and said the right to freedom of speech must be coupled with press responsibility.

“Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable,” State Department press officer Janelle Hironimus said. [emphasis mine]

My commentary is simply this. It wasn’t quite so long ago we had a groundswell of left-wing weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth that someone from the government — specifically, the Joint Chiefs of Staff — had imposed a “chilling effect” on free speech simply by transmitting a written protest about something on Department of Defense letterhead. What was being protested? A cartoon! “As the joint chiefs, we rarely put our hand to one letter, but we cannot let this reprehensible cartoon go unanswered.” This earned a widespread rebuke from the liberal blogging community, which in my opinion was articulated most skillfully by “Atrios”:

The point is there’s a big difference between someone like Bill O’Reilly saying “people should watch what they say” and Ari Fleischer saying it. Both are meant to intimidate, but one is an agent of the government and one is not. Both can have a chilling effect on speech, but only one has the official government approval on doing so. Censorship? Not quite. But creeping close to it.

Calling Atrios, calling Atrios. I’m not bright enough to get your e-mail address to work right, but you need to know about this. The State Department is having a chilling effect upon free speech…it’s complaining about a cartoon. The State Department works for the Government.

I hope Atrios and people like him wake up about this. Whereas I thought the complaint about the Joint Chiefs of Staff was laughable, and said so, I’d support a protest over this latest issue.

This is America, and when you belong to a certain religion that deplores certain illustrations, and you see such an illustration in the press, the solution is for you to cease & desist looking at that illustration. You do have the right to give voice to your opinions about why the illustration is so deplorable, and if you have children under your care who are under 18 and not yet emancipated, you can control what they look at. IT STOPS THERE.

You may not assemble with others who are similarly offended, for the purpose of coercion, especially with violent acts or threats of violent acts. Our Constitution specifically addresses this by recognizing the “right of the people peaceably to assemble” [emphasis mine]. My dictionary defines “peaceably” as “Inclined or disposed to peace; promoting calm.” I do not recognize “Bin Laden our beloved, Denmark must be blown up,” and “Whoever defames our prophet should be executed,” as inclined to peace and promoting calm.

Granted, those protesting Muslims are no more bound to any interpretations of the United States Constitution than the Danish cartoonist is bound to interpretations of the Quran (ahem, ahem). But the State Department is obligated to promote the values of that Constitution in all things.

The State Department has failed in the discharge of that obligation here.

This is America. We may have kicked the world’s economic ass over the last hundred years plus, but you know what? We didn’t do it just by being mean, and we certainly didn’t do it by being fat, oblivious and lazy. Those Americans who contributed positively to the coveted posture which the country enjoys today, did so by bearing in mind the crucial distinction between “things the way I want them to be” and “things the way they are.”

We don’t obsess over the word “must” here. And we damn sure don’t tolerate our government giving European-style “must, ought, should, gotta gotta gotta” directives to the PRESS, whether that press is based here or somewhere else.

This is a very subtle distinction. A razor-thin distinction. The State Department could have issued a statement calling out the danger that has been imposed upon foreign nationals, particularly Danish foreign nationals, traveling in predominantly Muslim countries at the time the cartoon appeared. It could have issued a statement urging the Danish newspaper to express regret over publishing the cartoon. It could even have done what the Joint Chiefs of Staff did with that other cartoon, perhaps even blatantly ripping off their material, saying the newspaper and cartoonist “have done a disservice to readers and to [their] reputation by using such a callous depiction” of the prophet.

Instead, by using that highly charged word “must,” the State Department has sought to appease the Dynamite Muslim community — hey, now there’s a useful phrase — by jettisoning American values, in favor of theirs. The State Department has borrowed the Dynamite Muslim community’s “MUST”. Of necessity, therefore, the State Department has kept silent on what will happen if the Danish press refuses the counsel offered — as you always have to do, when you throw around that word “must.” That’s the whole problem with the word. It short-circuits any discussion of alternatives. It’s a my-way-or-the-highway word.

Well, here is my discussion of alternatives. The War on Terror, as much success as it may realize in the arena of good-guy casualties versus bad-guy casualties, or in the arena of taking control of land and countries, is at a critical juncture in the arena of ideas. Does the little guy have the right, anymore, to think for himself? Can he enjoy that unmolested right, Thomas-Jefferson style? The people our servicemembers are fighting, would like the ultimate answer to that question to be a big fat “no.” They would like a worldwide system of government to be adopted where, when a man marches toward the edge of a cliff, and his government tells him it’s safe to keep on going, he goes.

And that really sums up the alternatives. Who decides what reality is? The guy who will profit or suffer based on decisions based on that reality — or the ruling class to whom he owes some kind of fealty? Do individual cognitions matter? Does the little guy collect facts, form opinions, gauge his confidence in those opinions, and make decisions based on them? Or do High Priests tell us what to think?

What does it mean to be free, here in America? Are we sovereigns, or vassals? Grown-ups, or virtual-kids?

I’d like an answer to that question. Because I think everything depends on it.

And I’m looking at a news story where “Muslims” say they’re peaceful and then, in the very same breath, say Denmark ought to be blown up. My High Priests in journalism and in government are giving me these commands that I am to keep in mind the former, and not the latter. They’re telling me what to conclude about what I have seen; and these pre-digested opinions being pushed on me, are quite out-of-step with what I think common sense leads me to believe.

I’m pretty unimportant, so the directions being given to me, are being given to everybody.

This is America. We believe in the brains between our ears, here. We are supposed to believe in what we see and hear, subordinating our own senses to the authority of no one else, no matter what their station. Is that still the way it works today? Or has someone from half-a-world away, quite deliberately changed that for us?

The only other comment I have to make is that before we throw out newspapers for good and resolve to get all our news from the innernets, we should look well on this episode. A cartoon appearing on the innernets wouldn’t cause this kind of trouble because when the heat got above a certain temperature, down that cartoon would go. Already, with regard to this particular cartoon, I can show you one web location where it is right now and six more locations where it used to be but no longer is. Is that freedom of the press? Similarly, there are all kinds of hot-spots on the innernets dealing with news stories about how outraged the Dynamite Muslims are, but very few of them include this bit about executing whoever defames the prophet, or blowing up Denmark. I had to type in that little gem by hand from my printed copy.

Perhaps there is a copy of such problematic comments floating around in electronic form. But after a handful of fruitless Google searches, I have no reason to think so. What I have reason to think, is that it would be very difficult to overestimate the abundance and aggressiveness of “cleansing agents” out there sanitizing news we collect from other countries. And it’s the duty of every free man and woman to collect what news they can collect, as “raw” as that news can possibly be, and make up their own minds.

Their own minds. That is the key. I have so much more respect for someone who forms their own opinions based on what they can learn, even if they completely disagree with me, than I do for someone who deals with mindless High-Priest-to-pauper talking-points…whether they disseminate the talking points, absorb them, or pass them on.

Messianic Complex

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

Messianic Complex

Not that it’s any of my business — or maybe what’s becoming a vexing concern to me, is that it is being made my business — but it’s a challenge for me to piece together how Rock Star Bono spent Thursday of this week.

Appearances being any indication, he kicked it off schmoozing it up with President Bush, religious leaders, and members of Congress with a plea for “an extra once percent” of the federal budget to be spent on poverty in Africa, at a time when we just wiped out one-and-a-half percent of that budget that had been spent on programs for the poor in our own nation.

Bono used the “tithing” argument. Now there is something I wish would get a little bit more of an intensive debate. Is it just, proper, or even fitting with a consistent mission, when taxes are used for tithes? What does the word “tithe” mean in relation to the federal treasury? Does it even have a place? Does it make us better people when we are involuntarily taxed in order to salve Bono’s “messianic complex”?

U2′s Bono, citing the Koran, the Bible and rock band Dire Straits, urged President George W. Bush on Thursday to boost US aid to the world’s poor by about $25bn (about R150bn).

“This is not about charity, it’s about justice,” the singer and activist told an annual US national prayer breakfast, peering through orange-tinted glasses at Bush, US lawmakers, and Muslim, Christian, and Jewish leaders.
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“Mr President, Congress, people of faith, people of America, I want to suggest to you today that you see the flow of effective foreign assistance as tithing, which, to be truly meaningful, will need an additional 1% of the federal budget tithed to the poor,” said Bono.

Bush’s Office of Management and Budget estimated that the US government spent about $2.473 trillion in 2005, making the singer’s request roughly $25bn.
:
“If you’re wondering what I’m doing here at a prayer breakfast, well, so am I. I’m certainly not here as a man of the cloth, unless that cloth is leather. I’m certainly not here because I’m a rock star. Which leaves only one possible explanation: I’ve got a messianic complex,” he quipped.

Well, before Thursday was out, Bono seems to have forgotten to dance with who brung him. He warmed up the crowd at a Democratic party event, in which famous presidential loser Al Gore got to get a few “extra” jabs in about domestic spying and global warming.

The annual retreat of the U.S. House Democratic caucus in Kingsmill featured the rock group U2′s singer Bono on Thursday, and former Vice President Al Gore was expected to speak today.

The retreat’s events were closed to both the media and public.

Bono’s speech Thursday night touched on themes of fighting AIDS and promoting debt relief in Africa, said a congressman’s press secretary, who was at the retreat but spoke on condition of anonymity.

Gore was expected to address global warming and the Bush administration’s domestic spying program – two issues he has recently criticized.

Interesting thing about that word “extra”: It pertains to Gore’s complaining about domestic spying and global warming, since Gore has complained about this before, and it also pertains to our proposed “tithe” since our federal coffers have already put out some cash to help the world’s poor, especially in Africa. “Extra” is used when something has already gone ahead of what’s proposed. I’d like to know: Does Bono even know how much has gone ahead of the events this last Thursday? Does he know how much sore-loser bellyaching Al Gore has been doing? Does he even know how much the United States has done in Africa?

Off the top of my head, I don’t know the answer to that last one, but I don’t have a messianic complex about Africa. You need to know that fact before you start making moral pronouncements on whether our “tithe” is adequate or not.

I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on the objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents. — James Madison

Federal aid in such cases [federal aid to drought-stricken Texas farmers] encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthen the bond of a common brotherhood. — Grover Cleveland

Hey, Greenlight This

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

Hey, Greenlight This

Here’s an interesting article from January 31 that touches on a lot of the left-wing stuff to come out of Hollywood lately. I think Hollywood’s doing the “Michaelangelo Virus” propaganda trick. That’s where you flood your propaganda while protesting “no, I’m not being liberal, no, I’m not being liberal, no, I’m not being liberal” until some pre-determined date, after which your tactic becomes “YES I’m flooding American cinema with liberal messages, and GODDAMN IT THAT’S MY RIGHT!” And of course anybody who’s taken the time to notice the liberal messages, is anti-freedom and anti-American.

The author has found quite a few examples, considering he’s only covering what came out late last year.

Hollywood sends a message?

After hearing the list of Oscar nominees Tuesday morning, you might have thought Hollywood was trying to send a message with its best-picture choices.

It’s not a stretch, given the increased criticism for liberal politics that movies and the entertainment industry in general have taken since the beginning of the millennium, some of it unwarranted, some of it completely justified.

Look at the best-picture category and you see “Brokeback Mountain,” a movie about two cowboys who carry on a decades-long love affair; “Crash,” a searing examination of racism in this country; “Good Night, and Good Luck,” which chastises the government and media using the battle between legendary CBS journalist Edward R. Murrow and Sen. Joseph McCarthy; and “Munich,” which filters the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum through the events after the Munich Olympics in 1972. Even the other nominee, “Capote,” could tweak a few noses because its title character, celebrity author Truman Capote, was gay.

We’re still in the “denial” stage of this liberal monotone, which means there are many industry-watchers who will challenge the assertion that Hollywood is even liberal — no doubt putting the blame for that perception on the eyes of the beholder. To them, I submit my list of movie projects I’d like to see sometime…although I’m not holding my breath.

1. September 11: A five-hour miniseries detailing the last days in the lives of the September 11 hijackers before their notorious attack on the United States. Includes over one full hour of footage that documents the actual hijacking, especially the agonizing decisions of victims who jumped to their deaths from the World Trade Center to avoid roasting alive. Starring Ben Kingsley with a realistic hairpiece as Mohammed Atta.

2. Without A Country: Two-hour miniseries discussing the decision of Franklin Roosevelt (James Woods) to violate the fifth-amendment rights of Japanese-American citizens, take them out of their homes, and lock them up in internment camps.

3. We Shall Never Surrender: A one-hour documentary examining the policy differences between Neville Chamberlin (Kelsey Grammar) and Winston Churchill (Wilford Brimley). Rich in commentary that some may think applies to our time.

4. Nine Old Men: A made-for-TV movie that recounts the days when Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes (Sean Connery) bravely fought off the court-packing plan of the Roosevelt administration in 1937.

5. For The Next 200 Years: A gritty and jaded behind-the-scenes look at the plan of LBJ (Kelsey Grammar, again) to pass the Civil Rights Act in order to “have those n***ers voting Democrat for the next 200 years”.

6. Morning in America: A three-hour miniseries that begins with the Hostage Crisis of 1979, right up until the hostages were released the day Ronald Reagan became President. A subplot examines how the gas crisis and “stagflation” crisis continued to fester under the presidency of Jimmy Carter, only to be both miraculously solved, also by Reagan. Includes a half hour of epilogue documentary footage in which economic experts from The Cato Institute discuss why Reagan’s economic and foreign policies were so effective. Special commentary by Prof. Arthur Laffer.

7. Smite The Infidel In Their Necks: Two 60-minute installments examine, year-by-year, the rise of the radical Islamist threat, from the death of the Prophet Mohammed to the present time. Goes into special detail on the Achille Lauro hijacking, the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, the USS Cole disaster and the September 11 attacks.

8. Wilson: A Jim Crow President. This three-hour miniseries follows President Woodrow Wilson (Robert Duvall) from his childhood until his death. The middle installment covers the segregationist policies of his administration during World War I in particularly specific detail.

9. Chappaquiddick: A True Story. Self-explanatory. Starring John Malkovich as a young Ted Kennedy.

10. Florida 2000: What Really Happened. A two-hour documentary recounting the Presidential Election of 2000 day by shameful day. Highlights include Al Gore’s retraction of his concession speech, and several narratives to correct the record as presented in “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Michael Moore’s 2004 “documentary.” DVD SPECIAL EDITION BONUS MATERIALS INCLUDE: An interactive, follow-up quiz.

11. Three Hundred Thirty-Six: Drawing on the 20th-Century Fox series “24″ for inspiration, this non-anthology series examines the life of a fictitious Supreme Court nominee, played by Val Kilmer, slowing down time to the extent that each SEASON of the show is a DAY in the two weeks from his nomination to confirmation by the Senate. While being grilled by bloated liberal senators who demonstrate their staggering ignorance of constitutional principles and history, he must covertly learn all he can to stop an imminent terrorist attack, possibly involving a nuclear weapon. Inspired by the nomination of Justice Samuel Alito, who makes a cameo appearance as the President.

12. My Dinner With Warren And Tom: A liberal law professor (Robert Conrad), suffering a heart-attack in his sleep, hovers between the planes of life and death. He is given the chance to invite any two historical figures he desires, to a dinner which he imagines to take place in his own living room. He decides to dine with Thomas Jefferson (Ted Nugent) and the great Chief Justice Earl Warren (Ricky Schroeder). He is shocked — SHOCKED — to discover they don’t get along. Will he survive? And if so, with a radically new perspective on American law?

Hotmail: Someone Squealed

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

Hotmail: Someone Squealed

I’ve had a Hotmail account since 1998. Somewhere back in the early days, Hotmail began to entice me to click on this link called “MSN Today,” which is like an online version of those cutesy old magazines all crinkled-up and covered with dry baby slobber at Supercuts, which you start leafing through absent-mindedly right after they tell you there’s a twenty-minute wait. Except where the slobbery magazines presume I’m a teenage- or twenty-something-girl because their market research tells them to presume such a thing, MSN Today has always been emphatically convinced that’s what I am.

Until lately.

Yeah, they’ve figured out I’m a guy. I’m not sure how Microsoft has gotten ahold of the technology to tell girls apart from guys, but somehow they got it done.

So no longer, do links dangle in front of me, enticing me to read stories about what I have to do to get a bikini-ready bod by April. No more tips on how to figure out if my “fella” is commitment-phobic, how to shape him up if he is, how to plan for my June wedding if he’s not. And I’m just going to have to look elsewhere for the latest recipes for that wild peach-and-peanut-butter avacado salad, sure to be a hit at the picnic when I finally meet his parents.

But I still get some personality tests! Oh joy! Actually, I’m not being sarcastic. If you’re going to put out a womens’ magazine with that staple of womens’ magazines, the personality test, and address it to guys — I think the MSN Today (Match) columnist has done a bang-up job of customizing the content to the audience. Take a look.

Is Your Honey High-Maintenance?

Sure, you want to be in a relationship. And you�re prepared to accommodate a few of your new partner�s requirements. But how can you distinguish between a lady who knows what she wants and a prima donna who wants you to get it for her? Take this fun quiz to determine if your new honey�s high-maintenance before it�s too late!

1. You land a huge new account at work. Your lady friend�s response:
Fantastic. Pick up something extravagant for me at Tiffany�s on the way home. (Score = -1)
Great. I have some items on lay-away that I can pay off! (Score = 1)
Finally! More money for us to enjoy! Let�s hit the mall this weekend. (Score = 2)
Let�s go out to dinner to celebrate! (Score = 3)
I�m so proud of you! Tell me all about it. (Score = 4)

:
:
:

Scoring
Less than 0:
Talk about a fixer-upper. This gal�s not only a money pit, but she�s going to require a lot of your time and attention. Unless you want to be henpecked for eternity, get out now.

0-5: She requires entirely too much attention to be any fun over the long haul. Life�s too short to suffer like this… Why not search for a new love?

6-10: She�s either self-centered or just plain rude. Maybe even both. You can do better. So cut your losses and look for someone who can focus on you now and then.

11-15: A little self-absorbed, but depending on your personality, you might not mind. Check your gut to see if you can deal with these behaviors.

16-20: Jackpot! This gal has high expectations, but low-maintenance needs.

I know this seems intellectually vapid, and many among those who read this, the blog that nobody reads, are going to protest that this is just another sortie in the never-ending mission to pussify American society. To make males into shemales.

They’re right.

But I find it awfully hard to condemn this…wasn’t so long ago, a quiz like this would have avoided me a whole world of grief. Guys don’t think about this kind of stuff. Especially young guys. They should.

Anti-Censorship

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

Anti-Censorship

Now here is an interesting proposal for us to contemplate, although it’s not being presented as a theory subject to our private consideration, but as empirical truth. It goes like this: Disapproval expressed by an agent of the government has a surplus chilling effect upon the target, above & beyond the effect from a private entity expressing equivalent disapproval. Therefore, anyone who is part of the (Republican) government should be put on a much shorter leash in expressing disapproval than, say, radio talk show hosts liberal bloggers and smarmy newspaper cartoonists.

Eschaton, a.k.a Atrios, a.k.a Duncan Black has done a very thoughtful job of breaking this argument down for us.

It of course isn’t strictly censorship, but any time a member of the government complains in this way, behind a government podium or on official letterhead, it does indeed get closer to official censorship. The point is to have a chilling effect…The point is there’s a big difference between someone like Bill O’Reilly saying “people should watch what they say” and Ari Fleischer saying it. Both are meant to intimidate, but one is an agent of the government and one is not. Both can have a chilling effect on speech, but only one has the official government approval on doing so. Censorship? Not quite. But creeping close to it.

Got that? Proliferation of a chilling effect, or an attempt to cause this chilling effect, potent or not, creeps close to censorship.

Atrios thinks a venture into that direction is worth pointing out, whether the journey eventually crosses the line into the umbra of actual censorhip, or not. Therefore, it seems a logical inference that the direction of this journey is subject to all of the moral disdain that would be invoked in response to real censorship — just, maybe, not as much of that disdain. It is the coercive quality involved when someone like Ari Fleischer notes that people should watch what they say. The “chilling effect.” That is the test.

That, and the question of whether the “watch what you say” guy works for the government.

But wait! Isn’t there a chilling effect involved when someone who is not associated with the Government in any way says that people should watch what they say? There must be…or else, why do it? Atrios says “The point is to have a chilling effect.” That is his test. But Bill O’Reilly wants to have a chilling effect too, does he not?

I’m afraid the distinction between O’Reilly and Fleischer has escaped me. One works for the government and one does not, that I get…but how is this made meaningful? If Bill O’Reilly thinks I should watch what I say, here at the blog nobody reads, I just might listen to him. The potential is there. Similarly, if the White House Press Secretary tells me to watch what I say, I just might tell him to stick it and keep talking; bloggers do so all the time. So I guess I need a little more foundation to the argument that these two kinds of “censorship” reside in somewhat different neighborhoods. Having trouble seeing it, from where I sit.

Now, if the the White House uses some kind of police power over me, THEN we can talk. That would be categorically different, since, of course, Bill O’Reilly can’t do anything to me. So let’s go back to Chapter One Verse One. Let’s find out what was done. What did the Joint Chiefs of Staff do to drum up this cry about censorship? — Or, rather, this cry about creeping toward censorship?

They wrote a letter. All six of the Chiefs of Staff put their signatures on the letter, and the letter was written to protest a cartoon (right). The Washington Post, today, put up a slightly edited version of what they received from the Chiefs:

We were extremely disappointed to see the Jan. 29 editorial cartoon by Tom Toles.

Using the likeness of a service member who has lost his arms and legs in war as the central theme of a cartoon was beyond tasteless. Editorial cartoons are often designed to exaggerate issues, and The Post is obviously free to address any topic, including the state of readiness of the armed forces. However, The Post and Mr. Toles have done a disservice to readers and to The Post’s reputation by using such a callous depiction of those who volunteered to defend this nation and, as a result, suffered traumatic and life-altering wounds.

Those who visit wounded veterans in hospitals have found lives profoundly changed by pain and loss. They also have found brave men and women with a sense of purpose and selfless commitment that causes battle-hardened warriors to pause.

While The Post and some of its readers may not agree with the war or its conduct, these men and women and their families are owed the decency of not having a cartoon make light of their tremendous physical sacrifices.

As the joint chiefs, we rarely put our hand to one letter, but we cannot let this reprehensible cartoon go unanswered.

Now because the Joint Chiefs took the extraordinary step of signing off chief-by-chief on a letter on Department of Defense letterhead, we are being requested to accept this new rule from liberal-land that this creeps “closer to official censorship” and is therefore to be regarded as a clarion call. Our rights are in danger. The Washington Post evidently agrees, having stated in their comments about the episode that “a cartoonist works best if he or she doesn’t feel there’s someone breathing over their shoulder,” according to Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt. Now, that is an interesting perspective. A cartoonist puts into pictorial form an opinion that is solid enough to appear in the pages of a major newspaper that will ultimately be seen by millions. But in forming that opinion and translating it into pictorial form, the cartoonist works best if he doesn’t feel that it will be exposed to the harsh scrutiny of…anyone.

Best of the Web, today, makes exactly the same point I’m making.

The equation of criticism with censorship is a tiresomely common left-wing trope. Of course, if Black’s [Atrios'] own comments are meant to be hortatory, his “point is to have a chilling effect” too. He would like the Joint Chiefs to keep their views to themselves. Does it matter, as Black suggests it does, that the Joint Chiefs are government officials? Only if you think that they have some way of enforcing their views, or that the Post is going to be intimidated by them, which seems about as likely as the Joint Chiefs being intimidated by a left-wing blogger.

And therein lies the entire issue, since I’m sure Atrios’ response is going to be some variation of “well I don’t work for the government, and they do.” He has left himself in a poor position to take advantage of any other flavor of intellectual defense; The Joint Chiefs have engaged in “censorship” by deploring the cartoon, and Duncan Black & Co. have engaged in “anti-censorship” by sounding Chicken-Little alarms about what the Joint Chiefs wrote. It’s valid to hold the opinion that the association with the Government, is a critical and defining distinction. My beef with Atrios is, that he isn’t consistent with this distinction. He says the “point is to have a chilling effect.” Which is it? What’s the acid test? Working for the government, or engaging in an attempt to coerce someone to keep their point-of-view to themselves?

Actually, if the latter of the two has anything to do with “creeping toward censorship,” I would have to regard the Joint Chiefs of Staff as having failed in their mission, since the cartoon has already appeared and no coercing by anyone is ever going to make it go away. Protesting the political use made from the injured service members by this cartoon, however, seems to be in keeping with the mission of the Department of Defense, whether it’s in the “censorship” business or not. The Joint Chiefs are the generals who run the military. They have command authority over the general officers, and through them, over the senior enlisted personnel who are charged to look after the day-to-day well-being of the rank-and-file.

If I had lost four limbs in Iraq, and had someone specifically tasked with looking after my day-to-day well-being, I’d sure want them to engage in a “chilling effect” the first time a cartoon exploited my condition so cheaply for someone else’s political agenda. And had no chilling been forthcoming, I would want that person to resign and make room for someone else more effective. Obviously, the need is there. Would Duncan Black prefer that some private enterprise be put in charge of writing the protest letters that I would want written? If so, who would pay for that? And under what moral underpinning could the U.S. Government abdicate this responsibility to me, leaving it for another entity to handle, after having called me into the service that cost me my limbs? Would not the Government’s silence on the issue be interpreted as an endorsement of Mr. Toles’ cartoon and his illustration of my injuries? It would be awfully hard for me not to take it that way.

Moral of the story: Free speech means free speech for everyone, whether some of us work for a (Republican) government or not — since if any among us are denied it, then all of us are. Lately, that seems to be something that conservatives get, and liberals don’t. And it looks more and more as if that’s the case, the more I see of this “common left-wing trope.”

They Think They Scored A Win

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

They Think They Scored A Win

During the State of the Union, President Bush commented that the Democrats in Congress stopped him from doing anything to fix the Social Security crisis. Privatization 0, Status Quo 1. Unexpectedly (?), the Democrats stood up and cheered. James Taranto touched on this briefly in the February 1 Best of the Web.

Now, it’s plain to see what this says about what Democrats think of Bush’s proposed solution: They don’t like it. And probably, they think it would have been harmful if it had been implemented. Valid opinions, although I disagree with them. But does it not say things about the status quo, and say those things with equal enthusiasm? Wouldn’t a responsible and reasonable spectator infer from their wild applause that with regard to Social Security, not only do they like things the way they are now, but they’re positively orgasmic about the way those things are? After all, this was a win for keeping those things unchanged, and here they are cheering like their team just won the Super Bowl.

How exactly are things the way they are, with regard to Social Security? The Democrat position, as I understand it — and this is only among the far-left, rabid, spittle-flinging Democrats — is “not that bad.” More centrist Democrats agree, with Republicans, that it does suck, they just don’t want the Republican plan implemented. Well, watch the video. You don’t cheer like that for “not that bad.” You don’t cheer like that for “let’s find a different solution.” You cheer like that if you’re running out of issues by which you can win elections (they are), you’ve been allowed to use a tired, fail-safe last-ditch issue in running for those elections (they have), and a threat against that tired, last-ditch issue was obstructed (it was). You might be inclined to cheer that way, even though people are being exploited shamelessly with campaign fearmongering in order to make this campaign issue work for you, and realizing dividends in their golden years far below what the private market would bear — if you’re one hideous, evil bastard.

Well, now. The Social Security status quo sucks — that isn’t really up for debate, what’s up for debate is how optimistic we should be about it. So cheering Democrats are either cheering for what sucks — pardon me, “is not that bad,” I guesss — or else they’re hideous evil bastards. Well, watch the video again. Which do you think it is?

Even better, read the thread under it. My GAWD. The spittle-flinging Far Left actually thinks their favorite political party scored a WIN!

Unbe-FREAKIN-lievable.

Yay!!! Status quo!!! Yay!!! Scaring old people in election season!!! Yay!!! A Republican didn’t fix the problem!!! Yay!!!