Archive for April, 2009

Little Laws

Friday, April 24th, 2009


[M]y husband and I were strolling through the city and realized we were going to be late for a gathering, so we hopped in a cab and had a very interesting chat with the driver, an Afghani (is that correct?) who has lived here for 30 years, raised a family and so forth. In talking about the advantages of working for oneself, he said he had not yet felt the pinch of the bad economy, but he expected he would, sooner or later. Then he complained that America was “no longer a democracy.”

I asked him what he meant by that and he said, “this country used to be about freedom. You work, you pay your taxes, and you are left alone to live your life. That was freedom. Now America is all about little laws, I am being nagged to death with the little laws. I work on cars like a hobby. I always keep my cab covered, out of regard for my neighbors. Then I am told, ‘you’re not allowed to cover your car’, I think because they wonder what is under it. So I don’t cover it, and then I get told it must come off the street because it is an eyesore, but I am not allowed to cover it.”

“Yeah, those little laws,” I teased, “Chesterton said, ‘When you break the big laws, you do not get freedom. You do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.’ ”

“But I am not breaking any laws!” he said, “I do nothing but work and work and I work very hard, and I feel like every day America is finding new laws, more laws, and no matter how much I want to just live my life and keep to myself, America is making so many laws that we all cannot just live anymore, now we have to always answer to someone. I don’t like it.”

“No, I can’t say I like it much, either,” I agreed.

But the little laws are costless, we think. We must think this sometimes at some level, otherwise, would it be such a simple matter to create a society so full of the little laws?

Costless. Affordable. But are they?

Of course, as our government steals more and more of the wealth from its own citizens, we’re seeing that the responsibilites that the government is entrusted with are being breached. If we’re going to have a fascist government, they’re at least supposed to keep us safe, right?

Yeah, not quite.

Just look at Contra Costa County in California, where certain criminals are no longer going to be prosecuted.

Misdemeanors such as assaults, thefts and burglaries will no longer be prosecuted in Contra Costa County because of budget cuts, the county’s top prosecutor said Tuesday.

District Attorney Robert Kochly also said that beginning May 4, his office will no longer prosecute felony drug cases involving smaller amounts of narcotics. That means anyone caught with less than a gram of methamphetamine or cocaine, less than 0.5 grams of heroin and fewer than five pills of ecstasy, OxyContin or Vicodin won’t be charged.

People who are suspected of misdemeanor drug crimes, break minor traffic laws, shoplift, trespass or commit misdemeanor vandalism will also be in the clear. Those crimes won’t be prosecuted, either.

Jeremy Clarkson, host of BBC’s Top Gear, rules himself out of consideration for the job of Prime Minister of the UK…with some interesting words that dovetail nicely into this topic overall:

He ruled himself out of Downing Street when asked at the Hay Festival in Powys about a 1,000-strong Facebook group calling for him to get his job.

He talked of his loathing for health and safety rules and bureaucracy.

The broadcaster said the government should be in charge of “building park benches and nothing else”.

This is a country in which you’re supposed to have a license to watch the “telly”…the equivalent of 300 USD, I understand, per year…and then they have some goo-gooder nanny-constables knocking on the door of your “flat” looking for television sets so they can enforce this. The English need a Prime Minister Clarkson; it would do ’em some good. I see them as the nicely-poached frog floating belly-side up in the pot of boiling water. That Spirit of 1776 that compelled us to sever the bonds, out of protest of taxation-without-representation — it is a regional thing. It is the absence of something-else, like the dark or the cold, but it is something more than that, I think. It is a recalcitrant refusal to co-exist with the invading nanny-state that insists your kids have to wear helmets and elbow pads on a swing set.

The “little laws” of the nanny-state, in turn, constitute a recalcitrant refusal to co-exist with common sense. Before you know it, you’ve blown so much time & money on the fancy cupholder and seatwarmers that you can’t afford to make the engine run. You’re letting criminals out of jail — so that you tell people what to eat and how to live.

Make sure the good guys win and the bad guys lose…maintain some police stations, fire halls, and maybe Jeremy’s precious park benches…and that is it.

High Taxes, High Unionization or Both

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Volokh Conspiracy:

The six states with the highest unemployment rates are:
 • 12.6% Michigan
 • 12.1% Oregon
 • 11.4% South Carolina
 • 11.2% California
 • 10.8% North Carolina
 • 10.5% Rhode Island

The six states with the lowest unemployment rates are:
 • 5.2% Iowa
 • 5.2% Utah
 • 4.9% South Dakota
 • 4.6% Nebraska
 • 4.5% Wyoming
 • 4.2% North Dakota
Putting this together, 3 of the 6 states with the highest unemployment (California, Oregon, and Rhode Island) have both high marginal income tax rates and high union representation. Michigan has high unionization but moderate marginal income tax rates, and the Carolinas have high marginal income taxes, but low unionization rates.

Among the 6 states with the lowest jobless rates, 4 have low unionization rates and no state income tax or modest marginal rates and a fifth (Nebraska) has average income tax rates and low unionization. The exception is Iowa, which has average unionization rates (13%) and high marginal income taxes (8.98%).

I would put less emphasis on my analysis of the LOW unemployment states because they are all in the upper Great Plains. But the HIGH unemployment states are otherwise quite diverse (from the West Coast to New England to the upper Midwest to the Carolinas). What they share are high marginal income taxes or high unionization or both.

As with so many of the reforms contemplated in the budget passed a few weeks ago, we can’t know that they will be counter-productive, but the stated goals and the means to achieve those goals do seem to point in opposite directions.

Golly. Make it tough…and unrewarding…and unfulfilling…and needlessly expensive to do business, and business shows that you aren’t treating it too well. Kinda like a flower or vegetable garden. Who’d a-thunk it?

Hat tip on this one, goes to Alan.

Link Roundup: Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Making the rounds this week: The Roots of Liberal Condescension, from the Claremont Institute.

Thus, if patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, snobbery is the last refuge of the liberal arts major. The striver may wind up with the bigger house, better car, and nicer vacations, but the very meretriciousness of these aspirations confirms the liberal arts major’s belief in the striver’s inferior taste and barren inner life. Conspicuous consumption advertises not the wealth but the cluelessness of the consumer who acquires to flaunt. It has been supplanted by conspicuous disdain for conspicuous consumption. The Toyota Prius is a testament to its driver’s virtue, not a mark of his prosperity. Its distinctive homeliness has made it a hit, at a time when Honda has cancelled production of the hybrid version of the Accord: it turned out nobody wanted to buy a hybrid that was indistinguishable from an iceberg-melting V-6.

To complement it: Liberals and Conservatives Hold Different Moral Foundations.

The research, published in the May 2009 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggests that liberals consistently identify with two sets of moral foundations — those that emphasize harm (harm/care) and fairness (fairness/reciprocity). Conservatives, on the other hand, consistently used all five sets of moral foundations more equally.

“In all four studies we found that liberals showed evidence of a morality based primarily on the individualizing foundations, whereas conservatives showed a more even distribution of values, virtues, and concerns,” noted the researchers who were led by Jesse Graham at the University of Virginia.

The harm/care foundation, according to the researchers, reflects the “widespread human concern about caring, nurturing, and protecting vulnerable individuals from harm,” while the fairness-reciprocity foundation is concerned primarily with fairness, reciprocity and justice.

The other three foundations measured by the researchers included ingroup/loyalty (virtues associated with loyalty, patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group’s greater good), authority/respect (virtues associated with obedience and respect for authority, leadership and protection), and purity/sanctity (virtues associated with religion, hygiene and marking off a group’s cultural boundaries).

In four separate experiments that included more than 12,000 participants from across the United States, researchers found consistent support that people who self-identified themselves as holding “liberal” political views were more likely to emphasize the importance of the harm/care and fairness/reciprocity foundations. Conservatives, on the other hand, identified more equally with all five foundations.

This may be the repair of an egregious mistake committed about a year and a half ago: Brains of Liberals, Conservatives May Work Differently, plainly put out by some dedicated liberals who’d missed some of life’s more important lessons.

The work, to be reported today in the journal Nature Neuroscience, grew out of decades of previous research suggesting that political orientation is linked to certain personality traits or styles of thinking. A review of that research published in 2003 found that conservatives tend to be more rigid and closed-minded, less tolerant of ambiguity and less open to new experiences. Some of the traits associated with conservatives in that review were decidedly unflattering, including fear, aggression and tolerance of inequality.

What an embarrassment that was. Rather like the blonde protesting that she cannot write dates on her tupperware because the damn things won’t fit in the typewriter…you moron. Anybody of moderate disposition and sound mind, who’s watched intelligent conservatives and liberals go at it, understands it implicitly: Conservatives comprehend history and are ready to write off ideas demonstrated by history to be bad. Liberals, because of a charitable nature, lack of attention to detail, faulty memory, perhaps all three — wanna give it another go. History always began yesterday.

My take on it overall?

Liberals are choreographers. They have these expectations of how people around them, within line-of-sight as well as outside of it, will be doing their dancing. They are grown-up versions of the girls who played with dolls too much, and the boys who didn’t play with their flesh-and-blood friends nearly enough. There’s always this script about what the other person is going to do. Because they have these expectations, they have visions…and because they have these visions, to the weak-of-mind, they sometimes appear to be stronger.

Trouble is, they count on these visions coming to fruition. These plans they have, they depend on it.

Employers will keep hiring after we make it unworkable and exorbitant, in all kinds of ways, to hire people.

As soon as we dispose of our nuclear weapons, that nutbag over there will dispose of his.

People “hate” our country because we “torture,” so if we stop doing it they’ll like us moar-better.

If we stop emitting carbon, the earth will cool down again.

Note: It is exceptionally rare you will hear of a liberal actually saying any of this. Instead, it is much more common for them to say negative things about the status quo: Employers won’t hire people because they’re greedy, that nutbag has nukes because we’ve got ’em, people hate us because we torture, the earth is warming because we’ve emitted.

It is a bandwagon upon which people can hop, when at heart they long to destroy things, and desire to conceal themselves under the disguise of a builder. All things that the liberal wishes to preserve, are, in some ways, destructive agents; all things the liberal wishes to destroy, exist either to build things, or to destroy something that so that something else can be preserved or built. The long-term vision is always that something beneficial or admirable is to be diminished.

Greenest Celebs

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Ten of your favorite Hollywood halfwits, arranged into a slideshow. The ones that are “greenest” as compiled by some flibbertigibbet by the name of Jaime Honkawa.

These days, eco-celebs are popping up like pesticide-free greens on an organic farm. From Leonardo DiCaprio to Brangelina, these sustain-a-stars are getting their hands dirty and showing that they care about the environment—sometimes almost as much as they care about taking home that little gold statue. (Almost.)

We’re counting down the top ten sexiest do-gooders to see what they’re doing to make our world a better place, and just how hot going green can make you.

I don’t know how old Honkawa is. My guess is she’s still using fake ID to buy booze. After all, being green isn’t supposed to be synonymous with, or relational to, being “hot.”

She seems to be blissfully ignorant of the basic difference in concepts between doing little, and doing much. At no time is this more evident than when she profiles Leonardo DiCaprio —

In addition to all that he created the Planet Green docu-series “Greensburg” that follows the sustainable reconstruction of a town that was torn apart by a tornado. Oh yeah, he’s also developing an eco-resort on a private island in Belize—you know, just as a side project. All this, and he was on “Growing Pains.” [emphasis mine]

The name of the game, Jaime dear, is to cut down on pollution. DiCaprio “offset” this abundance of wonderful greenology with all his wasteful ways in times past…which is another way of saying, if his net carbon emissions are equal to or greater than the average, he isn’t green at all. Assuming you really think carbon is some kind of pollutant.

This type of eco-warrior-ing is just another form of bathosploration. That means, if you’re slobbering over how “much” someone is doing, you’ve completely missed out on the concept already. It is a form of nihilism; the object of the exercise, is to paint a hole on the ground, jump into it, and pull it in after you. Quietly. The task at hand, can be defined as: Make the world, upon the instant in which you leave it, resemble as closely as possible what it was the moment you entered it. Pass through it like crap through a goose. If you’re making noise doing whatever it is you’re doing, you’re just not trying. If you’ve got a long list of things you’ve been doing, likewise, you’re just not trying.

Thanks for playing, Jaime. Now try again. Or don’t, and say you did.

Kari Byron

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

…just because.

I think she’s Daphne‘s ugly twin. That must be true, right?

United in Hate with America’s Foes

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Dr. Sanity revisits her Four Pillars of Socialist Revival:

In the few short months that the dedicated leftist Barack Obama has been in the White House, we have seen a rapid acceleration of the “forces of revolution” rising to overth[r]ow this country. Obama’s World Apology and America Bashing Tour is nothing if not a crystal clear delin[e]ation of the sides of this battle. There is no dictator or tyrant he won’t abase himself to, or belittle his country for; there is no ally that he is not willing to give up or betray in order to demonstrate his willingness to submit to Islamic bullying.
All four of these strategies arose from the metaphysical, epistemological and ethical dead-end that traditional Marxism found itself in toward the end of the 20th century. Fortunately, postmodern philosophy has led them out of the “wilderness” of rational thought and objective reality, and brought them to the promised land; which, as it turns out, is a neo-Marxist revival, accelerated by the fascist goals of leftist environmentalism.

The intellectuals of the left have been unable to abandon their totalitarian/collectivist ideology, even after communism and national socialism proved to be crushing failures in the 20th century. But the new face of their same old tired ideas has been rehabilitated and madeover by their clever adoption of postmodern metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Slowly, but relentlessly, the dogma of multiculturalism and political correctness has been absorbed at all levels of Western culture in the last two decades–and after the end of the cold war, it has been accelerating. Slowly but relentlessly they have found new ways to discredit freedom, individuality and capitalism.

Hat tip: Gerard.

Harvard Students Get Rejected

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Yes, they really do.

The dirty secret is out. Harvard students fail sometimes. They are denied jobs, fellowships, A’s they think they deserve. They are passed over for publication, graduate school, and research grants. And when that finally happens, it hurts. Big time.

To help students cope, Harvard’s Office of Career Services hosted a new seminar last week on handling rejection, a fear job-seekers are feeling acutely in the plummeting economy. The advice from panelists could have come from a caring, patient parent. No rejection is the end of the world, they said, even though it might feel that way at the time.

Participants, who wore snappy buttons with the word rejected stamped in red, also received a road map of sorts on handling failure, a pink booklet of rejection letters and personal stories from Harvard faculty, students, and staff members.

Anybody else see something terribly wrong with this? I mean sure, it’s better to produce graduates who’ve been “taught” how to handle rejection than graduates who have not been. Sure.

The problem I have with this has to do with what one might describe as the “default.” Toward the end, one authority tacks on the obligatory “Statistically you are rejected, and probablistically it is fair.”

My beef is this: “Fair” doesn’t enter into it. For such an instruction to become necessary for educational value, emotional healing, or any combination of those two…there has to have been a previously-existing delusion that post-graduate life would be rejection-free. I imagine this crop is not going to be the first to suffer this mistaken notion, nor shall it be the last. But I imagine, further, that once the problem has reared its ugly head…and it must have, with some regularity, for the critical mass that demands such an event to pop up…the soothing balm for the hurt feelings just might not constitute the dominant pressing priority.

To put it more plainly. Are Harvard students taught early on that being accepted is the exception, and being rejected is the rule? Regardless of your Alma Mater?

Hat tip: Dr. Helen.

Thing I Know #263. The one thing that’s wrong with higher education that nobody ever seems to want to discuss, is that it is valued through something called “prestige.” Get this prestigious diploma. Get that prestigious degree. Attend a prestigious university. My alma mater is more prestigious than yours. Trouble is that genuine learning has very, very little to do with prestige. It is, arguably, the exact opposite.

The Dissenting Party Asks Questions

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

What do you do when your son wants to drop out of college and become a basketball star?

When your best friend wants to take her estranged husband back after he walked out on her and moved in with his girlfriend…for the fourth time in three years?

When your daughter wants to become an emancipated minor and travel the country with her no-good excessively-pierced-and-tatoo’d motorcycle thug boyfriend?

In a perfect universe, you’d look for ways to refine your message. Look in the mirror to figure out why, thus far, you have not quite managed to get your common-sense through whatever impenetrable barrier is blockading it. But — and this is sad — this is not a perfect universe. Eve did eat of the apple, people are flawed, and although they live on the plane of reality all the time, they’re only open to that plane’s teachings a portion of the time.

Which means it’s quite often that they have to learn from their own mistakes. Time, often, is the teacher of last resort. The best recourse for those of us who can see the plain folly of what’s being done, is to wait, ask that most pointed of questions…”so how’s that workin’ out for ya?”…wait some more…ask again.

Now, lately I’m hearing an awful lot about how the Republicans are facing some kind of crisis about refining their message.

Three months into the new Congress, Republicans are struggling to reinvent themselves on the fly as they adjust to life without a president of their own party or a majority in the House and Senate.

Opposition to President Barack Obama’s policies is relatively easy to achieve. But developing alternatives that can appeal outside the party’s conservative core seems more difficult.

On taxes and other issues, polling suggests Republicans are facing a far different electorate from the one that trusted them with control of Congress for more than a decade and twice elected George W. Bush president.

You have got to be kidding me. I’d sure like to see the questions in that “polling.” Not really; truth be told, there are few matters on which I’ve been able to drum up less curiosity, than about what those polling-questions are. I’m pretty sure I know.

And I’d write them differently. I’d write them…to reflect the choices that really confront Americans. Start with “Is government the solution, or is government the problem?” There. Now how’s that poll looking?

That’s how you refine your message. Stop it with the push-polling…for the other side. Build your polls, instead, around how much Americans do or don’t know about how these problems came to be. Do they understand how it is all these burr-in-the-sweater issues came up in their parents’ and grandparents’ time, and generations later we’re still — laughably — voting in each election cycle on how to fix each one Once And For All?

And if your polls capture ignorance, your message is to educate. If they instead capture knowledge, mixed with apathy, your strategy is to wait. It’s that simple.

But it seems the Republicans who make the decisions, are taking the bait.

“Rhetorically, Republicans are having a very hard time finding something that raises the consciousness of the average voter,” said Saul Anuzis, a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party who recently lost a bid to became national party chairman.

Workaday labels like “big spender” and “liberal” have lost their punch, and last fall, Senator John McCain of Arizona and Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska gained little traction during the presidential campaign by linking Mr. Obama’s agenda to socialism.

So Mr. Anuzis has turned to provocation with a purpose. He calls the president’s domestic agenda “economic fascism.”

Yeah good luck on that.

“Your boyfriend’s a scumbag and he won’t be able to provide for you.”

“Screw you, dad, we’re going to live on our love!”

“Alright then, your boyfriend’s a…a…um, an asshole! There, see the light now?”

That dog ain’t gonna hunt.

People are in the mood for some socialism now. If there was some urgency involved in Republicans refining their vocabulary, using just the right words to prevent some dreadful mistakes from being made, purely out of love for the country…that kind of urgency was defeated when these enormous gobs of money got spent. That was the horse running out of the barn, right there. Everything that can still be prevented, now, is just frosting on the cake.

Some of it still does have some urgency to it. There is a new global warming tax looming. Again, if this is the scumbucket boyfriend with whom the daughter wants to elope, there comes a time you’ll have to admit you can’t stop it.

But there are advantages to being in the opposition. The biggest one which all these stories are missing, is this: You don’t have to come up with the perfect answer. Defeat can be a marvelous coagulant. That’s what these “Republicans trying in vain to hone their message” stories are there to prevent. They are anti-coagulants. The people pushing them understand, implicitly, that if the forces that oppose democrats can be prevented from coming together in their hour of defeat, then they can be prevented from coming together anytime.

That is what needs to be fought. For example: What’s the Republican answer to gay marriage, make it a states’-right thing, or pass an anti-gay-marriage amendment? Answer: WHO CARES? Nobody’s looking to “do” gay marriage the Republican way. That isn’t happening anytime soon, whatever it is. And there sure as hell isn’t any same-sex-marriage ban being ratified into the Constitution this year or next. The question is just silly. The only reason to be asking it now, is to push a political agenda and keep the Republicans, and other anti-democrats, splintered apart.

In sum — a party that has been so solidly thrust into the position of the minority…as the democrat party regularly was, just a few years ago…doesn’t have to answer any questions. Such a party gets to ask them, instead. As the democrats did, when they were there.

And the future of the country depends on it. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. What’s a more relevant question to be asking right now: “Should we have a same-sex-marriage ban written into the Constitution?” — or — “Is it possible, or even likely, for a nation to spend itself into prosperity?”

Which one of those questions is more pertinent to the challenges facing us in the year ahead? That debate is settled before it’s begun.

Here’s another one: “Should we have a law against teaching evolution in the public schools?” — or — “Is it proper to put taxes in place for the purpose of controlling people, rather than to raise revenue?”

See how that works? The party-out-of-power, for the good of the country, gets to ask the questions. We really don’t have much to gain from asking quasi-rhetorical questions, leading questions, push-poll questions, for the purpose of making the party-out-of-power look like they belong there. That matter has already been decided. A questioning session about all the things we’re definitely not going to be doing, is just a silly waste of time…and that is at best.

Republicans, libertarians, John Birch Society folks, Objectivists, et al — instead, need to ask the questions about the things we will likely be doing. That’s far more beneficial and a more effective use of time. Are we going to go into debt in order to improve our country’s financial situation? And how does that work, exactly?

Are we going to tax people into the right behavior? What exactly would people have been doing with that money being taxed away, if it weren’t taxed away? When I keep hearing that taxes were cut “for 95% of all households,” is that a literal 95% that is nineteen-out-of-twenty…or is that a figurative 95%…as in “everyone, or something close to everyone, something that might-as-well-be everyone.” (As I’ve said before, and said often, the figure “ninety-five percent” is commonly used to describe both of these, and it’s rather stunning that nobody’s nailed the administration down on this simple but valid point up until now.)

Do we really have a climate change crisis? Is carbon dioxide the cause of it? Actually, you know that particular question has been asked enough…the question we really need to be asking is, instead…can we stop an oncoming climate change crisis by yanking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere? Who says so? How far do we need to get that down, in parts-per-million? What does that cost? What happens if we do? What happens if we don’t? Those are the questions that really matter.

See, it comes down to this.

We’ve been conditioned to think everyone who’s asking a question, especially if they’ve been elected into a majority position and then start asking the questions, is thinking like a grown-up. In politics, the opposite is very often true. In April of 2009, there is no reason — none whatsoever — for any grown-ups to be asking what the Republicans would do, if they were in charge of things, to make the country into a Christian theocracy.

There’s no reason to be asking that at all, and to even ponder it is to be thinking like an immature child.

Questions are for the powerful. Just like it was asked of Republicans, years ago, “Is waterboarding torture?”

President Obama, when you were talking about the “failed policies of the Bush administration,” did you have in mind one of the most popular examples of such policies…the repeated failure to veto new spending plans from Congress? Is your $3.6 trillion budget supposed to be a departure from that?

Like that. What is so hard about that?

Let the legislation go forward…but push for sunset provisions. Sit back and wait. Point out the errors that could’ve been prevented. Every now and then, say “How’s that workin’ out for ya?” And most important of all…ask questions. That is the dissenting party’s job. The party-in-power, has the job of answering them. Not asking them.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

D’JEver Notice? XXVII

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

There is no re-definition taking place about conservatives, right now, or for that matter about liberals either. The history involving these two camps stretches backward through the generations, quite far, and remains essentially unchanged.

The liberal says “If I can make it sound appealing enough to try my idea, it doesn’t matter how many times it’s been tried already or how badly it turned out. You have to go through it again to prove you’re a decent person.”

The conservative says “If you can’t give me some firm evidence that this makes things better, or at the very least leaves things unharmed…let’s just not try it, and say we did.”

The year 2008 didn’t change any of that. That’s Surprise Number One. Surprise Number Two is, that out of all these ideas liberals want us to try that conservatives don’t…very few of them even approach something you could legitimately call “new.” Nearly all of them have been tried before. Here, or elsewhere.

Conservative Economics in Quotes

Monday, April 20th, 2009

John Hawkins has the round-up. I award the booby-prize to this one…

“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.” — Milton Friedman

Among the ones that are not to be found on the list, this one is my favorite…it must’ve been an oversight…

Underwear Gnomes

Monday, April 20th, 2009

I finally figured it out! It’s a case of Life Imitates South Park…specifically, the episode about the “Underwear Gnomes” that steal that little boy’s underpants. I made the connection because of that detail that’s kinda-sorta missing from Step 2. Recall when the underpants gnome explains the business plan…

That’s the answer. The Obama administration, and the media that is so insistent at soft-balling the interviews with them, and covering up for them…they’re just a bunch of Underwear Gnomes. They’re sworn in, they’re still (somewhat) popular — obviously it’s time to activate whatever plan they’ve got in mind to solve all our problems.

But all we get is a bunch of rhetoric about what a great idea it was to put them in charge. As if that was still the decision that confronted us. The time to stop campaigning, never quite seems to come. In a rational universe, there should be so much work to do and so much urgency involved in getting it all done, there should be absolutely zero spare time to circulate paranoid “threat awareness” reports, or sound bites about the Party of No.

This thirteenth-hour campaigning must be part of the plan…or perhaps…it is the plan.

Now if we could just fill in some of that missing definition around Step 2. But I suppose that’s what being an underpants-gnome is all about.

“Step Two,” in fact, seems to be missing from all liberal schemes as well…not just voting for Obama. Everything. “Step One, we sit down and talk to our enemies…Step Two…HEY! Wasn’t that a great idea sitting down and talking to our enemies?? What wonderful great people we are!!”

Forcing states to keep abortion legal, when the people living in those states don’t want to.

Nuclear disarmament.

Gun control.

Increasing the minimum wage.

Saving the planet by imposing a cap-and-trade scheme on carbon emissions.

Closing down Guantanamo.

Making it illegal, or all-but-illegal, for parents to whack their own kids on the butt.

Abolishing capital punishment.

Filing court injunctions to make sure people can keep voting — without proving who they are.

Putting schoolkids through a specialized, medicated curriculum…or…a not-English curriculum.

The stimulus plan, in which we climb out of all this debt by spending money we don’t have.

What do all these schemes have in common? The underpants-gnome thing. There is no Step 2! Step 2, if there is one, consists of patting yourself on the back for engaging Step 1. Step 3 is, of course, the thing “we all agree” is what we want to have happen. But it’s just like that classic joke about the two physicists in front of the blackboard, y’know?

Update: You know where this theory breaks down: The elections themselves. When they’re trying to get elected to something, that gaping disconnect in the middle of the blackboard that always has to be there within all other issues…suddenly disappears.

Liberals that want to win against conservatives, plan their strategy a lot like conservatives. Not when they’re trying to win against terrorists — no, against conservatives. The flow chart on the blackboard, suddenly, is complete, complex, detailed, intricate…foolproof. Suddenly it’s just chock-full of if-then.

No “Then A Miracle Occurs” there at all. Nope. If we can make Sarah Palin look like a dumbass…then we can get the insecure-woman vote back. If we can make fun of John McCain’s inability to use a computer…then we’ll lock up the geek vote.

In all other matters, things that are supposed to help others besides themselves, that chasm of a disconnect has to be there — all the time — smack dab in the middle of the flow chart, where it always goes. Suddenly it’s time to lapse back into “Underwear Gnome” mode, with that big blobby mid-blackboard inexplicable miracle.

Step 1, spend three trillion dollars; Step 2 … ??? . Step 3, Profit!


Monday, April 20th, 2009

Know what a credit card skimmer looks like? Good information to have at the right time, huh…

…well, you should know how to pick one out after reading this.


Monday, April 20th, 2009

I’m liking what I’m reading here. Still lots of room remaining for a possible enormous disappointment regarding Windows 7. But this seems to me, at first blush, a heartily sensible way to design an operating system. And, pleasingly, it’s not the Microsoft I’ve come to expect.

To design Windows 7, Microsoft analyzed billions of pieces of data. It studied exactly what PC users do in front of their screens. It tallied hundreds of thousands of Windows surveys. It got feedback from people all over the world who tried different versions of the software.

Windows 7As a result, every change or new feature in Windows 7 comes with a back story. Here is a sampling of things you’ll see in the next operating system and explanations of how each came about.

What I like here is the presumption that, without a formal study process put in place and then vigorously pursued, Microsoft does not know its user community. And that’s not a slam against Microsoft (although it’s true, by-and-large). It’s just true of all intellectual pursuits: You need to maintain an accurate assessment about what you do & don’t know. And err on the side of acknowledging your limitations.

I’ve been a professional computer geek for twenty-one years now…most of it in software development…and if there is one thing I’ve learned in all that time, it is this. There is a reason why the truly talented software engineers have a reputation for possessing crappy communication skills. And it’s not the reason people expect.

The reason is, this stuff we call “excellent communication skills” get in the way. Think about what they are. They are empathy. And empathy is — talent in conveying and receiving ideas informally. Mental telepathy, body language, chats by the water cooler, whatever ya gotta do.

Over the short term this seems like a wonderful deal. Generically intelligent people working together cohesively: Who can possibly criticize that? But over the long term it hurts, and it hurts a lot. Documentation ends up not being written. I’m not talking user manuals. I’m talking about internal specs…and when internal specs don’t get written, people feel like they can modify stuff when it suits them. The result of this is that the new Module A worked fine, but ended up in the trash heap because it depended on Module B and Module B didn’t hold still. Testing ends up being done inconsistently, and then people don’t want to admit it happened. There was no test-script, you see. Two guys who worked together so well and made such a great team, implicitly understood what “Does It Work?” meant. The criteria weren’t defined for the benefit of new team members. And the new team members did show up…count on that…because fewer questions are asked with greater frequency than “Well, can you meet the new deadline if you have more people?”

People engage other people to get things built on by proxy, “knowing” it’ll get built a certain way, but not really knowing that at all. Generally speaking, people who are ingenious at finding these sixth-sense ways of communicating with their known peers, exude a recalcitrant resistance against writing things down. Friendships, thought to be a foundational layer to the business of getting things built, end up displacing the business of getting things built.

Worst of all, “key” people are key because they “know” the customers need this feature or that feature. When in reality, if you bother to go asking, you find out the customer hasn’t the slightest idea the feature is there, and doesn’t care about it. I’ve seen this. I’ve seen it dozens of times if I’ve seen it at all.

And Microsoft’s been a worse offender than anyone. An application or operating system becomes the de facto standard across the entire western hemisphere, and then they upgrade it. Across the time zones, millions of voices cry out in unison the same thing: “God dammit, there was a way to do this…where the hell did it go??” And…”So frustrating…I know what it is I want to do…I’m burning up the better part of an afternoon arguing with this Microsoft piece-of-crap about doing it.” And…”Chrissakes, this used to take two keystrokes, how come now it takes seven??” Answer: Microsoft assumed you were using it this way, and not that way.

And MS-Word 2007, I’m looking straight at you.

Damn, that felt good.

The Axis of Evil…Now

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Byron York writes about the Bush speechwriter responsible for the term “Axis of Evil,” and his reflections on whether it fits today.

Recently I called David Frum, who is a friend and also the Bush speechwriter who came up with the “Axis” concept. (He originally wrote it as “Axis of Hatred.”) Given the seriousness of the situations in Iran and North Korea today, I asked, why all the mocking of the concept, virtually from the very beginning?

“The thing I never cease to marvel at,” Frum told me, “is that the phrase has become more and more of a joke even as the demonstration of the validity of the concept has become more extensive.” Frum listed some of the things the public knows now that it didn’t when Bush gave his speech — the A.Q. Khan network, the Iran-North Korea connection, the Iran-Hamas link. That’s just the kind of thing Bush was talking about.

But why were people ever laughing? Well, a lot of them just liked to laugh at Bush. But Frum believes there’s something else — the complicated nature of the word “evil.” “It just seemed overtorqued,” he told me. We use the word “evil,” Frum explained, in two very different ways. One is the totally serious sense in which we describe a very, very small group of bad actors — a group that doesn’t extend far beyond Adolf Hitler. The other is the sense in which we use “evil” as a light-hearted description for things that are at most a bit naughty — like saying we feel “evil” after ordering the chocolate cake. “If you’re not talking about Hitler, you’re talking about cake,” Frum said. “That’s why it was funny.” But that incongruity made it difficult for people to take the “Axis of Evil” seriously, even though it was, and is, quite serious.

…[T]wo-thirds of the “Axis of Evil” are still at it, and still among the most pressing problems facing the United States today. And that’s no “Saturday Night Live” skit.

I have a different thought about that word “evil.” Whether you’re talking about an evil tinpot dictator or an evil slice of chocolate cake, in my mind, is fairly well determined in an instant, right down to the very core of the brain of the person using or hearing the word. I don’t think Frum’s thoughts here make a great deal of sense, frankly, because I don’t think there’s any lack of understanding or ambiguity here whatsoever.

I think that lack of ambiguity is the problem. People laugh at the term…out of nervousness.

It commands a sense of responsibility. It commands action. I say “that guy down the street did something rude…” or “liberal…” or “radical…” or even “environmentally unsound…” and it seems more than reasonable to leave well enough alone, go back to watching Dancing With the Stars and gnawing on a butter stick.

But to say someone close by did something evil — that’s practically the same as demanding someone actually do something about it. Who among us can say out loud “I know of an evil thing that is being done but I’m not going to do anything about it”? Sure you can do that, but you can’t take pride in it.

So if you’re already fixated on laziness, and someone comes along to point out something evil was done, that gentleman is ruling out continued laziness as an option. That’s why he has to be ridiculed and mocked. It’s absolutely necessary.

The irony is, in such a lazy society, the only thing that remains truly evil is noticing evil. And, after a time, the only thing that remains “good” is a readiness, willingness and ability to pretend evil is not taking place when you know damn good and well that it is.

These are treacherous times. We’re allowing our court jesters to become our kingmakers. Down that road lies a sure path to ruin.

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil…” — Isaiah 5:20

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Meghan McCain…At it Again

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

She’s trying to play down a feud she had a few days ago…and the best way to do that, in her young ditzy mind, is to warn of an upcoming civil war within “her” party.

Meghan McCain warned a group of gay Republicans Saturday that there was “a war brewing in the Republican Party” – a war between the past and the future.

“Most of the old school Republicans are scared s***less of that future,” she told a gathering of the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay and lesbian party members.

The 24-year-old daughter of former GOP presidential candidate John McCain pushed back against critics upset over her comments to CNN that she wanted President Obama to succeed, and played down her recent headline-grabbing feuds with conservative commentators Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham. “I did not expect my frustration with what I perceive to be overly partisan and divisive Republicans to cause a national incident,” she said.

Meghan McCain“I feel too many Republicans want to cling to past successes…I think we’re seeing a war brewing in the Republican Party,” she said. “But it is not between us and Democrats. It is not between us and liberals. It is between the future and the past…

Whatever your vision on the same-sex-marriage issue — if you are not insane, you are at least open to, and would hopefully recognize, the solution is the recognition of the sovereign authority of the states. Yeah, states-rights. De-stigmatize that, cherish that, embrace that, learn to love it. It’s not a white-supremacist’s battle cry, it is the heritage of our nation.

Because if you want to force another state, two thousand miles from your home, to recognize same-sex marriage…as Meghan McCain does…there is something hideously wrong with you. Forget voting. You shouldn’t be allowed out of the house.

That goes for those of you who want to force another state two thousand miles away to ban it, if the citizens living there don’t want to ban it. You’re a bunch of raging psychopaths too.

This is a phony issue. California just voted on this. I voted “yes,” meaning I didn’t want same-sex marriage to be legal. My side won. This being California, there was a decent chance it would’ve gone the other way — in which case, I would have evaluated how important this issue is to me, decided it really doesn’t matter that much, and opted to stay where I am.

What matters more to me? Things that Meghan McCain doesn’t seem to give two shits about. I want to buy a newspaper — or crack open the web page for a federal agency — and not see words like “program,” “subsidy,” “deficit,” “need,” “demand,” “cuts,” “regulation,” et all…instead, I want to see words like “freedom,” “opportunity” and “liberty.” I’d like to see a better tethering between our nation’s founding vision, and the direction in which it is headed. I’d like to see a better tethering between the people who run that nation, and reality. And I don’t want to see euphemisms like “undocumented immigrant” ever again.

Because the people we elect into office, lately have the power to decide how much those things are discussed; what’s centralized as a “moderate” argument even if it’s silly, what’s marginalized even if it’s just plain common-sense.

Which is another thing I’d like to see fixed.

But Meghan McCain is more concerned about re-defining marriage. Good for her. And now, in that vein, she wishes to re-define the word “Republican.” Well, not in my dictionary, sweetie.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

If the Giant Step Stumbled

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

…and if the small step was the last one. The speech Nixon would’ve given, if Armstrong and Aldrin weren’t able to get back.

While Neil Armstrong’s immortal lines “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” have entered history, 233 other words, written for a tragedy that everyone hoped would never happen, were consigned to an archive and forgotten until now.

They are contained in a typed memo from President Richard Nixon’s speechwriter, Bill Safire, to White House chief of staff Harry Haldeman, dated July 18, 1969 – two days before the landing was due.

Chillingly entitled “In the event of Moon disaster”, the stark message brings home just how dangerous the mission was.

If Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin had been stranded on the Moon, unable to return to Michael Collins’s orbiting Apollo 11 command ship, Nixon would have called their widows then addressed a horror-struck nation.

“Fate has ordained that the men who went to the Moon to explore in peace will stay on the Moon to rest in peace,” he would have told the watching millions.

These brave men know there is no hope for their recovery but they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

“These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

“They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.”
Once the speech had been delivered, Mission Control would have closed communications and a clergyman would have conducted a burial service like the one used at sea.

The memo lay dormant for decades in Nixon’s private papers in America’s national archives, laid aside once the astronauts had completed their perilous mission.

Of course a lot of things can change in the cultural climate of a nation in forty years, especially in its political echelons. So it’s worthy of note that no mention is made…things didn’t work out too well here, because of the greed of a few billionaires and the Failed Policies of the Johnson Administration.

After all, much was messed up in the late 1960’s. But back in those days, every once in awhile, shit-happened. It wasn’t absolutely, positively necessary to find a lightning-rod scapegoat for every single disaster.

Garofalo Says Tea Party People Are Racists

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

Is Janeane Garofalo the author of that goofy Homeland Security “report”?

I have to ask, because the logic is so similar. You know: I have this bad thing to say about those people…I have that bad thing to say about those people…I can’t substantiate any of it, I just sorta pulled it out of my rear end.

So even if she isn’t the author, she is to be thanked for giving us a face paired up with that kind of mindset. Which could come in handy — in case anyone was tempted to put too much faith in that mindset being in any way stable.

These people won. They won just about everything. That’s supposed to mean, in addition to all this authority, they’ve got the responsibility that goes with it. Why all the hating? Why all the fear? Don’t they have something more pressing to do with their time?

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Was Waterboarded 183 Times in One Month

Saturday, April 18th, 2009


On page 37 of the OLC memo, in a passage discussing the differences between SERE techniques and the torture used with detainees, the memo explains:

The CIA used the waterboard “at least 83 times during August 2002” in the interrogation of Zubaydah. IG Report at 90, and 183 times during March 2003 in the interrogation of KSM, see id. at 91.

Note, the information comes from the CIA IG report which, in the case of Abu Zubaydah, is based on having viewed the torture tapes as well as other materials. So this is presumably a number that was once backed up by video evidence.

This is beyond appalling, and it demands an immediate investigation, with some teeth. I’m talking criminal sanctions. National security is/was at stake, after all…

I demand to know why the asshole wasn’t waterboarded something like 183 times a day.


Saturday, April 18th, 2009

The Anti-Obama?

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Via Gerard: Susan Boyle, the Anti-Obama. William Tate, writing in the American Thinker blog.

I, and apparently millions of other people, have found ourselves watching the video over and over. And I’m struck by our fascination with it.

From the moment she strides resolutely, solidly, on stage, this frumpy Scottish spinster captivates our attention. Not because of her beauty; to call Miss Boyle’s appearance plain would be like saying the U.S. Marines have a lot of firepower. Or her style; she’s wearing a beige dress, dark stockings and white shoes. Not because of her poise; at one point, flustered, she has trouble answering a question from the show’s judges.
Then Susan Boyle opens her mouth and sings.

And her voice sends a shiver through you. Just as it must have the audience, even the jaded judges–come on, you’ve heard Simon Cowell called worse than that–on hand to hear it in person.
It is a remarkable performance that, even now, gives me goosebumps. As Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Cooper says in the clip, we’ve just been given a stunning wakeup call not to judge a person by her, or his, looks.

But I suspect that there’s something more powerful even than that at work, to cause the almost-universal appeal of Miss Boyle’s performance. What we sense is that this plain woman–hair unstyled, eyebrows unplucked, an image consultant’s worst dream sprung to life–is the rarest of things in this age of soundbites and spin doctors and focus groups: a real person, completely lacking in artifice.

At a time when the President of the United States feels compelled to use a teleprompter for even the most minor appearances, when Grecian columns are necessary props for campaign speeches, when public figures are as carefully packaged as your morning cereal boxes, after watching plain Susan Boyle sing with a voice for the ages, you feel like you have witnessed a real person do something that’s real. And right. And good. No, extraordinarily good.

You see what’s happened here? It’s crystal-clear, if only you think on it for a little bit.

Around the 1970’s, it started to become extremely fashionable to indoctrinate school-age kids with the laudable notion that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Indoctrinate…then brainwash. Looking back on it, it seems quite ridiculous, to me. Rather like one of those protestant customs in which the pastor speaks on behalf of The Almighty, scolding the congregation for all the sins they’ve been committing all week long, without knowing a single thing about the personal lives of any of ’em. Just assuming the worst. This was the same thing: The recess bell would ring, we’d go out and play together in a diversity-utopianist’s dream: Kids of all different colors, pushing each other on the swings, playing tag, nobody giving a single thought to anything so boring as skin color. Then the bell would ring again, we’d be herded back in and we’d listen to a few more lectures. Maybe watch a film. Surreal, as if a yard teacher had just overheard a whole string of racial epithets out there and they decided they had to do something about it.

But the kids weren’t the problem. The kids were socializing together with no stratification taking place anywhere…except perhaps for the gender line, which diminished as the years rolled by. Cooties and all that, ya know.

The grown-ups were, and are, the problem. Did you hire enough Hispanic people in this department. How many women are serving in the Senate. Obama’s gonna be the first black President, I want to be part of this thing.

And Susan Boyle has made us realize something not quite so much refreshing, as spellbinding. Two generations have now been indoctrinated not to judge books by their covers…two generations have become intent on showing off that they don’t judge books by their covers.

And they’ve just been caught doing that very thing. With all the decades of snotty lecturing, it would seem someone has forgotten to teach someone else how to open the “books,” and read what’s in there. In this happy utopia we have been chasing, after all, Boyle’s capable command of the melody, her gifted talent with controlling the pitch and tenor of her voice as she delivers measure after measure that sends chills up the spine — it would’ve possessed absolutely no surprise, no shock-value, for anyone, anywhere.

And yet here we are, so easily distracted. We just got done deciding the most important Presidential election ever, with the least serious discussion about “hard” issues, like policies and proposals — ever. We decided it based on looks. Everyone voted for the black guy so they could show off that they weren’t racists.

Why does Susan Boyle pack such a punch? Because she’s a wake-up call. The decisions we’ve been making, the ramifications of the way we have made them, these are things that require exploration, deliberation, debate. That all has to be done across time, and time mutes the message. Susan Boyle makes us realize — well, those among us who still need to realize it — that the way these things have been decided is badly in need of review. That still leaves quite a bit undefined, but it’s a sharp, staccato one-note. Like a slap across the face.

And so many people voted for The Messiah, and as they did so, they were all so sure of themselves. Never looking back. Not until Susan Boyle opened her mouth, and showed everyone exactly how mistaken a first-impression can be sometimes. In this way, this latest experience is unsettling for some. And that’s a good thing; a very good thing.

Daily Kos Sees America as a Woman

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

The left-wingers on FARK are just giddy over the creative-writing genius of bernardpliers at Daily Kos, who came up with the idea of envisioning the Republican party as a deranged ex-boyfriend of a woman who was America. Said FARK libs found this so uplifting, they celebrated in one of the few ways they know how…they got in a silly fight about it (some twenty or so comments submitted between 10:03:08 and 11:11:09 EDT).

As a side note, someone else did the “America as a woman” thing first, and better. Just sayin’.

Obama DeficitAfter all this interest throughout last year about what exactly it is liberals think of America, I see this little treatise offers a rather clear, concise answer in the form of this hypothetical and fickle female. She must be terribly naive, perhaps young…perhaps exceptionally stupid. Let’s see, she gave the Republicans the old heave-ho because they were going through her purse, is that one of the complaints? So now the new boyfriend is pulling hundred dollar bills out, whereas the old one was lifting twenties and tens. That’s alright — oh, and the new boyfriend sweet-talked her into going on a vacation because it would help “stimulate” her, and it turned out what he put on her credit card was just a bunch of expensive gifts to his illegal-alien buddies.

Another interesting angle to this is the idea that America is finally finished, once and for all, for good, finito, with that no-good whacked-out crazy crackadoodle latent homosexual of an ex-boyfriend. Wow…so it seems liberals are not too fond of homosexuals either. One wonders if they have more issues with Republicans for being closet homosexuals, or with homosexuals for being closet Republicans. This must be that liberal tolerance I hear so much about. But anyway — is she done with that ex-boyfriend in all aspects? As in, while she sails around the world with her sexy smooth-talking melanin-gifted dude and her old pantywaist ex stews in his white-boy latent-homosexual racist venom…keeping his distance because of that soon-to-be-filed “restraining order”…he can cancel that credit card she’s carrying around? She doesn’t need his money anymore?

So far, it doesn’t look like America is quite that “done” with him.

Okay, so in liberal-eyes the country is a gold-digging bitch, in addition to everything else.

And a little bit of a bore. As DarthBrooks said:

It’s more like the woman at your office who got a divorce last year and just keeps droning ON and ON and ON about what her ex-husband is doing somewhere else and wasn’t he just plain awful and wait don’t go I have to tell you what else I didn’t like about him…

Liberals don’t seem to be conscious of how silly they are made to look, by this argument of theirs that the conservative movement is now just a relic of history, like the silver-standard movement. We’ve said before, many times, that if an argument is weak enough the worst thing you can do to it is take it seriously. This argument, once taken seriously, not only makes itself look ridiculous, but those who keep pushing it, as well. Lessee: They were elected on this platform of “change,” and now my gosh there is all this terrible wreckage to be cleaned up, a big mess made by those stupid other-guys. But — nobody’s grabbing a mop! Darth Brooks nailed it: It’s just “Here’s something else wrong with him…and here’s another thing…and another thing…and another thing.”

Usually, in that situation, it’s the bitter divorced-woman who wants to go on and on like that. “Wait don’t go I have to tell you what else I didn’t like about him…” If there’s a new boyfriend in the picture, his preference is that the topic be changed to something else. What we’re seeing right now is a situation in which America isn’t in that big of a hurry to get into a bitch-pitch about what a terrible awful latent-homosexual the old boyfriend was — she’d rather see the new boyfriend get busy cleaning up the mess, like he said he was going to do. But it’s the new boyfriend that keeps it up with the whining. And doesn’t seem to have an awful lot of anything else to say.

Other than, y’know, “Honey…where’s your purse?”

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Update 4/19/09: Clearly, the whole point to the Kossack piece is to catalog the personal shortcomings of the right-wing ex-boyfriend, not of the lady who seeks the restraining order. And so I have to wonder if they consciously realize what a dizzying array of vices they have fastened to this imaginary female. She is weak and vacillating in choosing her men; she has been complicit in this fiscal recklessness with her ex (and with the current one too), and is therefore a spendthrift; she files restraining orders on men, while continuing to live off them, so she’s a parasite; the new guy is motivating her to spend three or four times as much money just by being cool, so she’s something of a dimwit; it takes her forever and a day to figure out her boyfriend is more into guys than her; she tolerated, for an extended period of time, his racism.

And by now it’s very well-established that if you quiz a faithful liberal about the wonderful things America has done in her history — not the wonderful heights to which he plans for her to aspire, after he re-makes her into something different from what she currently is, but what past deeds she has done in which she can show some legitimate pride — you just get back a deer-in-headlights look and a hasty change of subject. He “loves” her in the sense that he wants her to justify her existence; but she hasn’t done it quite yet.

In sum, I think of all the things that could be wrong with a real, flesh-and-blood woman…try to make it as complete a list as I can…and from this, I subtract the list of things that are wrong with this imaginary woman, which is America as the Kos kids see her…and I’m only left with one thing, a venereal disease. Everything else is represented in their vision. The fickleness, the meanness, the inconsideration, the hypocrisy, the excessive materialism. And most of all, that gritty determination to make herself happy at the expense of the happiness of all those she knows, coupled with a dazzling ignorance of what is needed for her own happiness.

That’s how they see her. That’s the image flowing from the poison pen of bernardpliers and cheered on by his ideological compatriots. A woman whose approval is sought by many, especially at election time; but who is wrong in every single way a woman can possibly be wrong.

Let’s just suspend that question about whether liberals love America. Are they even capable of tolerating her for more than a minute or two?

Daphne Kardashian

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Lovely bloggress blogger-buddy Daphne came by yesterday to talk about breasts and vaginas. Our, uh, Sitemeter traffic perked right up.

Daphne's ChickensWhat else is exciting in her neck-o-the-woods lately? She’s following in the Kardashians’ footsteps…although, one would hope, perhaps with a tad less drama. Yup, she’s ordered twenty-five chickens.

I’m not sure at this point if that means she has twenty-five chickens. There is a great variety of methods of chicken-death being planned…and suggested…in those parts. The ones that have to do with the food chain, as well as mechanical stuff. Not that the birds have too much of a life expectancy guaranteed…”half acre in suburbia”? Suburbia could mean a lot of different things. Head on out west of Oak Avenue Parkway, and there’s lots of stuff that could be called suburbia that’s fairly lousy with chickens. They seem to be making it just fine. But I’m not sure what kind of suburbia she has. Her confidence in it as a chicken habitat seems to be less than stellar.

Anyway, I like Daphne’s chickens. They look to me like the kind of poultry I could learn to appreciate. Nice and plump. Good with dumplings, peas and carrots.

Hope the experiment turns out differently than T.R.’s legendary exodus.

Two Steps From Dipso

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Blogger friend Andy has a two-step plan for dealing with pirates.

I like it. I like it a whole lot. I like it the way I like Oxy-Clean…which means…by channeling a tiny vestigial quantity of resourcefulness, such a morsel as I would not deign to boast about…I can come up with some productive new applications for this simple formula above and beyond what its creator ever intended. I want to use the two-step plan on tinpot dictator assholes like Kim-Jong. Panhandlers. Telemarketers. Kids that skateboard in retail store parking lots after the assistant-manager that drew the short straw was sent out to ask them to stop.

School Form

Friday, April 17th, 2009

This is me, filling out a form for my son’s field trip. I’ve been known to be ticked off by a lot of things that tick off a lot of other people…on the other hand, I’ve also been known to be confused and befuddled by things that are crystal-clear to everyone else. Over the years, I have learned when I find some matter of interpretation to be confusing, usually you could round up ten randomly-selected people — not only would all ten of them be decidedly un-confused…but eight or nine of them would be at a complete loss to explain how there could possibly have been any ambiguity about it.

I have zip-zero-zilch-bubkes of an idea which one this is. Leave your ideas in the comments below, and don’t worry about being kind. Insults-with-enlightenment, is a package I can use.

All I know right now is, in the course of trying to figure this thing out, my blood pressure must’ve easily doubled…

FORM: Name of student.

ME: Hmm, okay that sounds easy enough… I write kid’s name on form.

Language AdvisoryFORM: Parent.

ME: Alrightee, then. Morgan K. Freeberg.

FORM: Address.

ME: Oh, I know this one. Address goes in.

FORM: Phone number.

ME: Hmmm…they want to get hold of the kid, or they want to get hold of me. Must be me. I’ll write in the land-line, just in case.

FORM: Date of birth.

ME: Er…okay. Hmm. Um…lessee…yeah, that has to be me. July 15, 1966.

FORM: Age.

ME: (Right eye starting to twitch a little bit.) Let me think on this, now. There’s no way anyone can possibly give a flying fuck that I’m forty-two. They must be asking about the kid. Okay. Eleven. (Scratch scratch scratch scratch scratch…) I hate this form I hate this form I hate this form I hate this form. (Write in date of kid’s birth in the remaining space.)

What’s next?

FORM: Business phone.

ME: Son of a BITCH!! (Furiously scratch out kid’s date-of-birth, kid’s age, and as long as we’re at it, the land-line phone.) These fucking (write in cell phone #) assholes (write in my date-of-birth) don’t know how (write in my age) to make a goddamn (write in business phone) FORM!!!

(Hyperventilating now.)

What else?

FORM: Grade.

ME: GYAAAH!! (Eyes get a weird glow, skin starts glowing green, shirt rips…)

See, some of this frustration is cumulative, and it spills over from the maddening experience of finding Christmas gifts during the shorter days of the years, and movies during the longer ones. I have learned something about how this monstrous thing called a “civilized society” molds and shapes things just before they’re paraded under the eyeballs of these creatures called “parents.” It is not inconsideration. It is not lack of empathy. It is not lack of sympathy, it is not negligence, it is not simple laziness.

It is hatred. Perhaps it’s a subconcious thing, perhaps it’s not, but either way it’s clear to me there is some strong desire to deal injury to parents. Things that should be easy, are artificially difficult…not quite so much time-consuming to any great degree…but migraine inducing. And perhaps there’s nothing passionate about it. Maybe, like something out of The Godfather, it’s all business. Someone, somewhere, has figured out a way to create or accentuate a stream of income by giving migraines to parents…it works in some way that would be neutralized, somehow, if the parents did not receive migraines.

I don’t know how exactly that works.

But I swear to God — it must be there. The mothers, if not the dads, they must know what I’m talking about…especially if their kids were born in late summer. You know how it seems there’s a worldwide conspiracy in place to get you to faint, or vomit, or rupture your bladder as you carry that big ol’ belly around?

Well after the kid pops out and starts breathing air, it’s transferred to the dads. At which time, it becomes more real. Every little thing has that extra surplus of difficulty, or expense, or confusion, just to remind you of your inferior status. Usually it’s “family” movies that make the dad look like an ass, or a klutz, or a dimwit, or a workaholic, or a jerk or an acoholic or a strutting self-important martinet that everyone loathes. Things are two or three times as hard as they need to be. Two or three times as humiliating. Two or three times as frustrating.

Some of the other things are just five-or-ten-percent harder than it seems like they should be. Paradoxically, those are the more frustrating items. Like that damnable school form. It’s like they have to have that little frosting on the cake…some way of getting that middle finger in there.

It’s probably just my imagination.

But if that’s the case…suppose there’s a challenge to design a form more confusing than this one, without making it any more complicated. Would you know how to rise to a challenge like that? Because I wouldn’t be able to do it. If I had decades to think on it I’d never be able to come up with a way to “improve” it. Some form designer, somewhere, not only is childless, but really, really has it in for us.

What’s Happening to Net Neutrality?

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Finally, some good news:

Here was what was supposed to happen: With telco-friendly Republican Congress members swept out of the way, Democrats would usher in legislation enshrining Network Neutrality principles and give the FCC the power to enforce them.

Here’s what happened (is happening) instead: The most powerful Net Neutrality supporters (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton) are kicked upstairs while cable-and-Hollywood-friendly Democrats are killing Network Neutrality legislation in committees.

Wall Street Journal had some more, at the beginning of the month…

Just a few years ago, Net neutrality was one of the hottest and most contentious high-tech issues in Washington, pitting large Internet companies such as Google Inc. (GOOG) and Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) against network operators AT&T Inc. (T), Comcast Corp. (CMCSK, CMCSA) and others.

Internet companies raised the specter of network operators acting as gatekeepers, determining which Web sites consumers could visit and how fast they could connect. They also viewed such a development as a means by which network operators could charge Web sites more money to handle traffic flowing to their sites.

Telecom carriers and cable companies, however, repeatedly denied they had any such intention and significant violations of the principles of Net neutrality have been rare.

Congressional aides, however, left open the possibility of legislation if problems start to mount.

“We’ll continue to monitor this issue closely,” said Christal Sheppard, a staffer on the House Judiciary Committee and aide to Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

Conyers previously was a strong supporter of Net neutrality legislation and sponsored a bill in the prior Congress. He has not revived his earlier bill in the current Congress.

Behold, the logical boondoggle that is Net Neutrality: If we pass it, government calls the shots, and if we don’t, businesses call the shots. Businesses are dirty rotten creepy jerks and, for reasons that shall remain unexplored, Congress is not a bunch of dirty rotten creepy jerks…although no one is willing to step forward and say that outright.

But — we just got screwed by those dirty rotten creepy jerks in Congress.

It isn’t that complicated. It’s a question of whether your Internet services are to be provided by someone who makes money providing them to you and only if he can provide them to you, to your satisfaction…or whether these decisions are made by some paper-pusher guy who is part of some government agency you m-u-s-t use, just like the Department of Motor Vehicles. And if you look at the folks pushing hard for Network Neutrality as some kind of a great wonderful idea…you’ll notice something striking about them. Most of them are too young to have truly experienced this distinction between private-sector competitive service and a public-sector monopoly. It’s not something you figure out by the time you’re twenty-five. It takes a decade or two of going through the misery to understand this.

Another fine point: It is un-American to allow the Government to determine what kind of information you can & cannot reach. This is contrary to our core ideals as a free society: The People shall be allowed absolute and un-infringed freedom in making up their own minds that maybe, just maybe, the Government they elected is zipping off at a zillion miles an hour in the wrong direction. If we allow that to be violated we might as well just write off the entire experiment.

Numbers Are More Resistant to His Charms

Friday, April 17th, 2009


Franklin Roosevelt gave us the New Deal. John Kennedy gave us the New Frontier. In a major domestic policy address at Georgetown University this week, Barack Obama promised — eight times — a “New Foundation.” For those too thick to have noticed this proclamation of a new era in American history, the White House Web site helpfully titled its speech excerpts “A New Foundation.”

As it happens, Obama is not the first to try this slogan. President Carter peppered his 1979 State of the Union address with five “New Foundations” (and eight more just naked “foundations”). Like most of Carter’s endeavors, this one failed, perhaps because (as I recall it being said at the time) it sounded like the introduction of a new kind of undergarment.

Undaunted, Obama offered his New Foundation speech as the complete, contextual, canonical text for the domestic revolution he aims to enact.
Obama DeficitIn the New Foundation speech, Obama correctly (again) identifies the skyrocketing cost of Medicare and Medicaid as the key fiscal problem. But then he claims that Medicaid and Medicare reform is the same as his health care reform, fatuously citing as his authority a one-day meeting of hand-picked interested parties at his “Fiscal Responsibility Summit.”

Here’s the problem. The heart of Obama’s health care reform is universality. Covering more people costs more money. That is why Obama’s budget sets aside an extra $634 billion in health care spending, a down payment on an estimated additional spending of $1 trillion. How does the administration curtail the Medicare and Medicaid entitlement by adding yet another (now universal) health care entitlement that its own estimate acknowledges increases costs by about $1 trillion?

Which is why in his March 24 news conference, Obama could not explain how — when the near-term stimulative spending is over and his ambitious domestic priorities kick in, promising sustained prosperity and deficit reduction — the deficits at the end of the coming decade are rising, not falling. The Congressional Budget Office has deficits increasing in the last seven years of the decade from an already unsustainable $672 billion annually to $1.2 trillion by 2019.

This is the sand on which the new foundation is constructed. Obama has the magic to make words mean almost anything. Numbers are more resistant to his charms.

Actually it’s the “covering more people costs more money” point that I think is worthy of greater emphasis, if only for the reason that so many supposedly smart folks seem to incapable of absorbing the spirit of it even after multiple encounters with it. The mathematical concepts involved are elementary to say the least.

It’s also decidedly off-topic from the larger vision of electing Obama as The Change We Can Believe InTM as a protest against, and retreat from, an expensive invasion of Iraq and (at the time) unprecedented deficit spending. Change from the deficits of George W. Bush…by means of…universal health care. It’s like saving money on your car insurance by switching to a more expensive cell phone carrier.

Looking Back at the Somali Pirate Situation

Friday, April 17th, 2009

This video went up a week ago, before that bold rescue supposedly ordered by President Obama. Perhaps the President managed to catch this segment and see the wisdom in Ambassador Bolton’s remarks:

The President’s response to a reporter’s question at 0:44 is one of many reasons I’m convinced he’s a one-termer. Nobody voted for someone to talk to people constantly like the school Vice-Principal talking to the stupidest third-grader who’s just been sent down to the office for the eleventh time in a week. Alright…maybe some people did vote for exactly that. But for those who ever did find that appealing, how long does it remain so? Four years or more? I’m skeptical. Skeptical at best.

Steven Crowder call this out, and does his customary excellent job doing so —

Don’t be too tough on President Obama. If I were Him, it would be awfully tough to convince me the typical American voter had any intelligence at all.

Getting back to this rescue operation, though: Fellow Webloggin contributor JoshuaPundit has a few more questions about what exactly went on here…

[W]e already know that the US forces involved (either Marine Scouts or SEALS) were under orders to hold off while negotiations with the pirates were continuing.Aside from this factoid being released by the Department of Defense, this was confirmed by the fact that Captain Phillips made an escape into the water and started swimming for the USS Bainbridge. The Naval/Marine forces involved thus had a clear shot to take out the pirates, but held off and did nothing to interfere with Phillips being recaptured by the pirates.

They were obviously under orders not to shoot. So if there was a White House call, it was to remove previous restrictions on our military placed on them by personal order of the President.

I still give him kudos for that if that’s how it went down, but it leads to other questions.

I wonder… just why did this drag on for so long? Piracy is the only thing Somalia can claim as anything like a growth industry, and in the past they’ve hijacked cargoes and collected ransoms with impunity. Was President Obama planning to emulate the Europeans and pay ransom? Was that why the pirates were allowed to chat with CNN and their cell phones were not jammed?

What if the lifeboat Captain Phillips was being held on had started to make for shore? Were the men on the Bainbridge authorized to stop them? I have a feeling they weren’t., based on the rules of Engagement and the probable orders from the President.

And finally, why exactly is Somali piracy still a problem?

The locations of the pirate bases are known, and the President has supposedly pledged to work with other nations to stop Somali piracy and protect the international waterway at the Horn of Africa. So why haven’t there been decisive attacks on the pirate bases and the pirate’s Islamist protectors like the local al-Qaeda affiliate Al Shabab, which takes a share of the loot as ‘taxes’? It could easily be done from the air or the sea.

Why haven’t the navies of interested parties participated in a joint naval blockade, with instructions to interdict any ship approaching Somalia with suspicious cargo or to blow any Somalian craft that strays out of a clearly marked safe zone out of the water?

I keep hearing that President Obama is more “curious” and “open-minded” than His predecessor. Well, actually…it’s been a few weeks since I heard that. But still, that’s supposed to be the prevailing theme. Nevertheless, when questions like these are brought up, and “Pee Wee” dismisses them all with some flippant comment about “we’re talking about housing right now,” it helps to cement His reputation more and more as the President of non-curiosity.

Does He have a shot at re-election in 2012? Of course He does. He can answer some questions that aren’t completely to His liking and stop controlling what “we’re” all talking about from moment to moment. Or…He could still have a shot…but only in a country that has lost any & all respect for ideas and information. Within a society that has embraced the paste-jar and devoted itself to a return to Kindergarten days, where the rules were simple, a teacher was constantly telling you what to think & what to say, and they even had nap-time.

For the time being, His methods are well-defined. No more questions need be asked, President Obama orchestrated a brave rescue, now move along folks there’s nothing else to see here.

Yes, Vagina

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Amy Alkon, Monday:

Yes, Vagina, There Really Are Differences Between Men And Women
Some women do ballsy, physically stuff, but the truth is, the Evilla Knievels of the world are very few and far between — the point being that men and women truly are different in some ways, and denying that is silly, divisive, and seriously counterproductive.

By admitting the differences — say, for example, the way women and men tend to see dirt and mess differently (women tend to notice, um, detail, around the house; men, who evolved better distance vision from their days chasing wildebeests, tend to step over it) — maybe we can all get along a little better.

She makes a lot of good sense, for a chick.

No, seriously: This is the point where, whether the assertion is made by a gentleman or a lady, these “Men And Women Are Exactly The Same!” types come swarming out of the woodwork. The two major weapons in their arsenal: Comparing the elites with the commons (“I’ll bet you can’t run any faster than Jackie Joyner-Kersee!”), and comparing the gonna-dooz with the hav-dunz (“If women ran the world, we wouldn’t have all these wars…like we see with the men in charge of things.”) Both about as intellectually dishonest as you can possibly get. And, both much more concerned with making women better, goddess-like even, than the “same,” in comparison to those awful men.

I’m part of an expanding crowd of unfortunates: I had to learn about women twice in life, with explosive epiphanies, once before a financially devastating divorce and once afterward. There is a relationship between this misguided perception that we’re all the same, and a barely-muted hostility. If you’re my clone, what the hell do I need you around for? In fact, in what ways could you possibly appreciate me?

There is more, of course. The “Vive l’Difference” thing, in addition to being the key to a truly symbiotic, affectionate relationship between the sexes — constitutes a rare overlap between fundamentalist-religious types and the hardcore evolutionists. If you think we were put here by a Higher Power, there’s a good reason for men and women to be different. If you think we just grew here like fungus in a toilet bowl…there’s still good reason. As the human race toiled away in infancy, either carrying out the Lord’s work or evolving one chapter at a time…was it the gentlemen who raised the children back in the cave, and the ladies who dug holes in the ground to trap the woolly mammoth? Er, no…not quite. The two sexes evolved, or were created — perhaps both — differently. And we see evidence of it today. Doubt me? Trade chores with your “better half” one of these weekends. See if you can make it through without a major paradigm shift.

And that goes for both of you.

Therein lies the ugly secret about feminists and other “Men and Women are Exactly the Same” types. They are not well-rounded individuals. They do not easily absorb information. In most cases they haven’t been through a weekend-exercise like the one proposed above, nor would they be. Generally, they think men and women are the same creatures with the same abilities and same weaknesses, because they’ve been drifting through life, lazily, like plankton — filtering out any tidbit of information or evidence that would suggest the opposite. The decades come in, and go out, and throughout it all they commit the classical error of promoting with a militant exuberance certain “facts” they really don’t know. On average, they’re not very bright.

Hat tip for the Alkon article, to Dr. Helen.

Why Obama Will Be a One-Term President

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

What interests me about this article — other than where in the hell the paragraphs are supposed to begin and end — is that it was not written by a tighty-righty wild-eyed conservative, but rather by someone who seems to be among our modern socialists. By “modern socialist” I mean not quite so much a practicing one, as one who seeks to promote socialism by stigmatizing against anyone calling it what it really is. In fact, much of the verbiage is not quite so much an assertion that Obama will be a one-termer…although he does say that…but a rant against the tea party movement.

Again someone rails against the tea party movement with that tired, dishonest, “Where Were You When Bush Was…” argument.

I continue to be amused and amazed: President Change does things that simply cannot be defended, and yet, to some people, they must be. So in grasping at straws to defend the indefensible, they come up with this gem: Here’s something President Change’s predecessor did, that in some ways, could be regarded as similar to what is being done now. President Change can be defended, after all, because President Change is…consistent. President Change is good, or at least, you are not allowed to say or imply President Change is bad. Because President Change is not changing anything.

Raspy sigh. I saw a protest sign somewhere yesterday that said it best: How can debt be both the problem and the solution?

Ten Gadgets About to Go Extinct

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

This list could have withstood some polishing. There are at least three or four items on it that I figured were as good-as-already-gone. Perhaps it should’ve been promoted more as a list of “things you might not have realized you haven’t needed lately.”

I must say I’m surprised to see DVDs made the cut. I haven’t catalogued my collection lately, but it’s four shelves tall, two layers deep and about a yard wide…maybe half of them are singles and the other half are in a collection, like Star Wars, Godfather, et al. I’d venture to say just about every single disc has a feature you’re not going to see on cable, on Netflix Instant Play, any time soon. They’re “classics” in some sense. That’s why I wanted to own them.

That’s an unusual thing now? Nobody has any desire to see something that isn’t The Big Thing of the moment, anything at all?

Ah well. Just one guy’s opinion — movies are now things that are floating in the ether somewhere, no need for media of any kind. Time will tell if that’s true.