Archive for May, 2010

“And Then, on June 6 1944, Came the Sun”

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Hat tip to FARK.

Man Shoots Self in Nards

Monday, May 31st, 2010

MyNorthwest. Yes, I’ll be the first to admit this about my old stomping grounds. Those disparaging things Californians and Easterners say about the moss west of the Cascades, the mildew, the slugs, the rain 350 days a year, how it puts mold on your brain and slowly starts to eat it out of your skull?

It’s not such a rare thing I find myself nodding that they might be right. This is the kind of story that, er, makes that go off.

Police say a man accidentally shot himself in the testicles at a Lynnwood department store.

Police spokeswoman Shannon Sessions says the man was carrying his handgun in his waistband and it accidentally went off about noon Sunday.

She says he was wounded in the testicles and also in his leg and foot. No one else was hurt.

The man was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, but there was no immediate word on his condition.

Went to a going-away party Friday for a colleague who got a job with Google. He’s going up to this area, will be living in Kirkland. This makes me somewhat envious. I’d say the one spot I was most sorry for having left, would be Kirkland. That may be because of the horrible chapter that followed. This was twenty years ago.

But back to the subject at hand: I must make a note to update my list of things I don’t want to see in movies ever again, with this testicular injury/jeopardy. Tucking a (often very large caliber) sidearm into the waistband; and while I’m at it, vaulting over a balcony railing from the third or second story, onto a horse. Oof.

Maybe some holster manufacturing company can put out a PSA. Holsters == good. Get one.

The Children Sing

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Hat tip to At The Point Of A Gun, via The Other McCain.

Home Offices Being Invaded

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Home Office InvasionDavid St. Lawrence has started to notice something:

Now that we are becoming a nation of work-at-home professionals, I notice a subtle addition to even the most business-like home offices.

It is quite apparent that we are being infiltrated by feline operatives, who under the guise of being helpful will pull valuable papers out the printer, walk across freshly sprayed artwork, and lie on keyboards ignoring the plaintive peeps of an outraged computer.

Oil Spill: What’s Your Vision?

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

No wonder the New York Times comes across as a place; a desperate, cheerless, gloomy, dismal, hopeless place. This reflects no hope. No hope, no vision.

When Katrina hit, Bush was in his second term and his bumbling was not a shock to a country that had witnessed two-plus years of his grievous mismanagement of the Iraq war. His laissez-faire response to the hurricane was also consistent with his political DNA as a small-government conservative in thrall to big business. His administration’s posture toward the gulf region had been telegraphed at its inception, when Dick Cheney convened oil and gas cronies, including Enron’s Ken Lay, to set environmental and energy policy. The Interior Department devolved into a cesspool of corruption, even by its historically low standards, turning the Bush-Cheney antigovernment animus into a self-fulfilling prophecy and bequeathing Obama a Minerals Management Service as broken as the Bush-Cheney FEMA exposed by Katrina.

Obama was elected as a progressive antidote to this discredited brand of governance. Of all the president’s stated goals, none may be more sweeping than his desire to prove that government is not always a hapless and intrusive bureaucratic assault on taxpayers’ patience and pocketbooks, but a potential force for good.
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We expect him to deliver on this core conviction. But the impact on “the people” of his signature governmental project so far, health care reform, remains provisional and abstract. Like it or not, a pipe gushing poison into an ocean is a visceral crisis demanding visible, immediate action.

Obama’s news conference on Thursday — explaining in detail the government’s response, its mistakes and its precise relationship to BP — was at least three weeks overdue. It was also his first full news conference in 10 months. Obama’s recurrent tardiness in defining exactly what he wants done on a given issue — a lapse also evident in the protracted rollout of the White House’s specific health care priorities — remains baffling, as does his recent avoidance of news conferences. Such diffidence does not convey a J.F.K.-redux in charge of a neo-New Frontier activist government.

But there is hope here, because there is a vision behind it (hat tip once again to Gerard).

Here’s my question: Why are we drilling in 5,000 feet of water in the first place?

Many reasons, but this one goes unmentioned: Environmental chic has driven us out there. As production from the shallower Gulf of Mexico wells declines, we go deep (1,000 feet and more) and ultra deep (5,000 feet and more), in part because environmentalists have succeeded in rendering the Pacific and nearly all the Atlantic coast off-limits to oil production. (President Obama’s tentative, selective opening of some Atlantic and offshore Alaska sites is now dead.) And of course, in the safest of all places, on land, we’ve had a 30-year ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

So we go deep, ultra deep – to such a technological frontier that no precedent exists for the April 20 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

There will always be catastrophic oil spills. You make them as rare as humanly possible, but where would you rather have one: in the Gulf of Mexico, upon which thousands depend for their livelihood, or in the Arctic, where there are practically no people? All spills seriously damage wildlife. That’s a given. But why have we pushed the drilling from the barren to the populated, from the remote wilderness to a center of fishing, shipping, tourism and recreation?

Not that the environmentalists are the only ones to blame. Not by far. But it is odd that they’ve escaped any mention at all.

But waitaminnit Freeberg!, I hear you saying. You cannot find hope and vision in the Krauthammer piece, he’s breaking all the rules isn’t he? He’s criticizing. He’s looking backward and not forward.

Yeah, I say, but Krauthammer’s vision is more realistic. For many reasons, starting with the plain and simple fact that he at least has one. Mr. Rich, on the other hand, is in a blind and frantic search for a national savior, some wonderful God-King-Man to put at the tippy top of our government which he seems to think should be properly festooned at the top of everything.

Another problem with the Frank Rich “vision,” if there is one, is the big elephant in the room: Sixteen months ago he got exactly the leadership he wanted, and here he is bitching. Frank Rich is finding out the hard way, just like Peggy Noonan, that the verticality does not work. We aren’t going to produce wonderful results, as a nation, just by putting our Most Wonderful People up at the top and letting everything work out from there.

Because when you do that, all you get back is stuff like this (hat tip to blogger friend Rick). Listen to the congressman describe what’s going on:

You don’t like what Krauthammer had to say because some of your best friends are tree huggers? Well fine, come up with your own idea. But first step back a few paces and take a look at the big picture. This nation needs oil. It cannot import all of the oil…and our own turf is filled with all these spots where the enviro-weenies say “can’t drill here, can’t drill there.” We put this charismatic speech-maker in charge of everything, and the only superlative we’ve gotten out of Him is a more soothing, dulcet tone as He proceeds to tell us that this-or-that cannot happen because the rules say you can’t.

But as Frank Rich points out, at least He’s been doing that “from the start.” Or, I believe the proper cliche is “took charge From Day One.” Well, here’s a news flash: That doesn’t help too much when taking charge consists of telling people they can’t do things. Especially because of ++snort++ environmental impact.

I do think overall the Obama administration is getting a bum rap in all this. If we really want to fix this thing and (more realistically) take steps to ensure it never happens again, or happens as rarely as is possible, we need to do some learning fast. Not quite come up with some new visions, as harshly evaluate the visions we already have.

A nation is not a cult. We do not select our leaders by figuring out who’s got the most charisma. Presidents of the United States do not stop oil leaks, nor do they halt Category 5 hurricanes. In fact, the President has no authority to guarantee a perfect outcome, or even an adequate one, for anything, anywhere. Read your Constitution; it is not an outcome-based position of authority.

Yes, let us accuse Obama of mediocre leadership, when & where He deserves it. But let’s form some realistic and plausible ideas about where exactly it is that He deserves it. Why are we blaming Him? Is it because he didn’t say “Plug The Damn Hole!” with suitable authority, weight, majesty and flourish?

Count me outta that one.

The lesson here is pretty simple. You put people in charge who are fun-to-watch, and what you get isn’t leadership. Anybody who’s ever had trouble fitting a resume onto a single page already knows this to be true: Some of the worst bosses to have, are the ones who are most skilled at manipulating emotional tenor in others to get things sold. You only have to work underneath them a little while before you figure out their skill is in taking credit and avoiding blame. And if you know how to do that, why bother to learn how to do anything else?

So when you put the people in charge who are fun-to-watch, what you get is just another bureaucrat. Just another voice, more sonorous and soothing than most perhaps, but the syllables it strings together are the same as they were before so it might as well be Charlie Brown’s teacher. Nope. Sorry. Can’t do it. Make one exception and I’ll hafta make a thousand. Rules, rules, rules.

The most bitter disappointment is the one experienced by people like Frank Rich, who thought this would have some impact on what decisions would be made. You almost feel sorry for ‘em.

How Predator Shoulld Have Ended

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

The Pancake Act

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

It’s satire, but it’s good satire. Without the Onion logo and without me telling you, you would’ve bought it until halfway through. If you do a better job paying attention to current events…maybe all the way to the end.

Because there’s a lot of truth in it.

Hat tip to Linkiest.

Memorial Day 2010

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

“Try not to forget what it’s about.”

Video embed removed 6/4/10 because it started auto-playing its advertisements.

You can view it here.

Hat tip to Daphne, who got it from Sippican.

Honda U3-X

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Via Flixxy.

I like the space savings.

But I perceive a conspiracy to confuse medical requirements with just-plain-laziness and desire to live a cloistered, possibly prodigal lifestyle. My enthusiasm would increase measurably if I were to be assured of some workable breakwater between those things.

Come to think of it, I have exactly the same concerns about medicinal marijuana.

D’JEver Notice? LVII

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin received a whole lot of criticism this week for the terrible crime she committed of being-spied-on.

My d’jever-notice-moment comes from reading the late, but now lengthy, history of Palin criticism. Ever notice that with ninety-nine percent of it, if you take out all the occurrences of “Sarah Palin” and replace them with “Barack Obama,” it makes more sense after you do that than before?

Obviously the paranoid stuff about water breaking and labor pains doesn’t fall into that. I said “ninety-nine percent.”

I’m talking about the lack of experience, the questions that “come up” every time she does something, the press not doing their jobs, you aren’t allowed to criticize her (!), the silly fantasies about dirt that has yet to come out, we-don’t-know-who-she-really-is, et cetera, et cetera.

She wrote a book, and the publisher went and printed it! For money! ZOMGWTF!!

Yeah you’re right Andrew, we really haven’t done any homework about her. It’s almost like Barack Obama, with just a few exceptions.

1) She’s a private citizen and nothing more than that, which means she’s an idea and nothing more than that. When her face comes on the teevee while it’s on mute, you have the luxury of saying “Oh jeez not her again!” As opposed to “Oh, what the fuck did he do this time?” This is why a lot of sane people are questioning and criticizing our President — it used to be the very definition of “patriotism,” remember those old days? — and when you express the same frustrations that this private citizen hasn’t been similarly “vetted,” you just look deranged and silly.

2) We don’t really have any indicators to clue us in that she’s fond of socialism, or has communist-oriented colleagues or mentors in her past;

3) If & when you do delve into that past, when you talk to people who went where she went and who ought to be able to remember her, they can.

Other than those, the situation is exactly…er…hey, wait. I lost track of whether that makes the Palin situation better than the Obama situation, or worse.

Keep digging, Andrew. Maybe you’ll eventually find out Trig is someone else’s baby, and as a bonus, she spent twenty years going to a church that installed a bigoted anti-American Marxist asshole as its pastor. That would really make your day wouldn’t it.

One other Palin gem came out this week. Blogger pal Gerard Van der Leun liked and linked our take-down of Peggy Noonan, for whom we still hold some measure of respect and admiration, although nowadays it is a vestigial moon-shadow of what it used to be. And so we were kinder than this older fusillade with which he paired us…kinder and less delicious.

As an aside, the analogy that connects a vote for Barack Obama, to bringing a baby bear cub home, was something that just popped into my head when I was grasping for a way to illustrate something. Before I even knew it had been excerpted, I was mulling it over in my head throughout the day, thinking a bit more about all the ways that it worked. It does work. It works well. People go ’round living their lives, 24/7/365, making life-changing decisions based on whether this-thing-or-that-thing is cute. Within the city limits, you generally don’t get in too much trouble doing that.

What’s the appeal of camping out in the woods? You are forced to make wise decisions. Where do we build the fire. Where do we pitch the tent. Can we drink the water. It’s an environment still considerably more sanitized than what was endured by a ’49er stumbling on a fresh patch of turf to prospect, but it’s an environment in which every li’l thing out there isn’t necessarily there to entertain, thrill, palliate, or spoil you. For some of us, that feels good.

Bringing a baby bear to the car to take it home, would be something done by someone who just missed the point entirely. It would probably be whoever wanted to stow the iPod with the water softener tablets. The city folk who are accustomed to everything in sight being built & done for their benefit, and with no other purpose to it at all. Everything’s all about them. And with that mindset at work, some of the decisions they make are poorly-thought-out and quite wretched.

That’s a bunny trail within a bunny trail. It also says just a little, in a great many words.

Must mark off this link to something that says much in just a few words:

You’re Peggy Noonan and you’re jealous. You started a new venture, “The Women on the Web” website, a very conservative, free-enterprise thing to do and still you are not appreciated. They talk about the Palin family fishing business — big deal. Anyone can get a couple of fish — just call Leonards’ on Third Avenue and they will deliver. [emphasis mine]

When I find a way to chisel this down into a one-line item, I should add it to my list of things I notice about the Palin-bashers:

They seldom-to-never state it outright, but they speak of Palin falling short of what is required for the presidency as if she is part of some larger continuum of persons, some odious sub-strata of humanity, similarly unqualified. It isn’t just her.

Up top, I compared the criticism of Palin to the criticism of Obama. Funny how we’re told by the loud people, those ever-present yelling people who must always have the last word, who may be many and may be few, that criticism of Obama is actually bigotry in disguise. Meanwhile, Obama Himself is actually on record as having been associated with a real racist. But when you take the time to talk to an Obama critic, you find out it’s really just about Obama and His inner circle. And it’s informed. They have paid attention to the decisions He has made, and how He’s made them, and applied logic to this to figure out what kinds of decisions He is likely to make that He hasn’t made yet.

Criticism of Palin is a mirror-reverse of this. It is supposed to be only about Palin, but when you take the time to talk to a Palin critic you find out their criticism is for an entire way of life. That, and they really don’t know what they’re talking about. These are the people who think bringing in a couple of fish is no big deal, just call Leonard’s and have it delivered. These are people who’ve never watched Dirty Jobs, and if they ever did, they’d sneer at the people being interviewed and change the channel in a great big hurry. Probably to The Joy Behar show. But their hatred of Palin is just a reflection of their hatred for this entire way of life. They want entire classes of people to be disqualified, permanently, from ever making any decisions about anything. It is things about Palin that they don’t like, not the outcome anticipated should she ever be put in charge of deciding something. The state in which she resides, the schools to which she went, the things she has done for a living, the kids she has had and how she has chosen to raise them.

Whether they realize it or not, they’re setting aside big chunks of humanity, millions of souls strong, as they so breezily pronounce these personality attributes and personal histories as disqualifications for higher office.

I linked a few days or weeks ago to Volokh who was bitching that everyone making any decisions right now graduated either from Harvard or Yale. It isn’t a picture of America, and it’s a problem. When these people bitch about Palin, with their vague and useless descriptions of what’s wrong with her and why she isn’t suitable, they reveal themselves to be that problem.

Peggy Noonan is in Shock

Friday, May 28th, 2010

And she’s spilling her guts, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

I don’t see how the president’s position and popularity can survive the oil spill. This is his third political disaster in his first 18 months in office. And they were all, as they say, unforced errors, meaning they were shaped by the president’s political judgment and instincts.

There was the tearing and unnecessary war over his health-care proposal and its cost. There was his day-to-day indifference to the views and hopes of the majority of voters regarding illegal immigration. And now the past almost 40 days of dodging and dithering in the face of an environmental calamity. I don’t see how you politically survive this.

The president, in my view, continues to govern in a way that suggests he is chronically detached from the central and immediate concerns of his countrymen. This is a terrible thing to see in a political figure, and a startling thing in one who won so handily and shrewdly in 2008. But he has not, almost from the day he was inaugurated, been in sync with the center. The heart of the country is thinking each day about A, B and C, and he is thinking about X, Y and Z. They’re in one reality, he’s in another.

She is brilliant at what she does. But I’ve always had some reservations with what she does.

Eagle-eyed readers of The Blog That Nobody Reads, might notice on very rare occasions I’ll make some vague, perhaps irritatingly vague, statements about my own vocation which has something to do with technology and engineering. And project management too I suppose. These are things that have to do with two and two being four, and remaining four now and forever, without regard to how many people want it to be three or five, or nineteen, and how desperately they want that.

Nothing personal against Peggy, but this is something of the opposite of her own profession. As a speechwriter, and as a column writer, she makes it her business to be more concerned with having her finger on the pulse of…something. America, I suppose. She lives in a world where, if a whole lot of people are ticked off that two and two are four, then maybe we should sit down and talk about that awhile, maybe find out if we can come up with something different.

And that is a valuable insight to have. Presidents need it, and really anything political needs it…which is to say we all do.

But the woman has a long, long history of thinking about X-Y-Z when I’m thinking about A-B-C. This sometimes leads to her telling me what I’m thinking — I’m part of “everyone,” at least logically I am — and two-and-two-make-four people don’t respond too favorably to that.

In fact, now and then we receive an unpleasant reminder that two-and-two-make-four people are concerned with the workings of the universe, and peoples’ pulses are made up from that. This creates problems with the pulse-people, like Noonan, and it creates problems for them as well.

Like for example what she wrote twenty months ago:

A great moment: When the press was hitting hard on the pregnancy of Sarah Palin’s 17-year-old daughter, [Obama] did not respond with a politically shrewd “I have no comment,” or “We shouldn’t judge.” Instead he said, “My mother had me when she was 18,” which shamed the press and others into silence. He showed grace when he didn’t have to.

There is something else. On Feb. 5, Super Tuesday, Mr. Obama won the Alabama primary with 56% to Hillary Clinton’s 42%. That evening, a friend watched the victory speech on TV in his suburban den. His 10-year-old daughter walked in, saw on the screen “Obama Wins” and “Alabama.” She said, “Daddy, we saw a documentary on Martin Luther King Day in school.” She said, “That’s where they used the hoses.” Suddenly my friend saw it new. Birmingham, 1963, and the water hoses used against the civil rights demonstrators. And now look, the black man thanking Alabama for his victory.

This means nothing? This means a great deal.

Perhaps it is unfair to recall this and scrutinize it with the benefit of a year and a half watching the Holy Emperor screw up. In fact, let us file that under “probably” rather than “perhaps.” But this is important stuff. Every month, every week, we see someone making big, huge, irreversible decisions, in politics and out of politics, confident that this is the right way to go because their finger is on a “pulse.” We watch someone pull a Noonan.

It is laughable nowadays to consider that Barack Obama said “My mother had me when she was 18″ rather than “I have no comment” or “we shouldn’t judge” just to show some grace. Nowadays, another sentiment has taken hold that Obama may be a man completely lacking in grace; this has taken hold because of our experiences with watching Him, and at 400+ speeches per year it is not trivial experience by any means. We know from the Cop-and-Professor-beer-summit debacle from last summer that Obama is not inclined to say “I have no comment” or “we shouldn’t judge,” and may be altogether lacking in the personal attributes required to string such words together.

No, He saw another opportunity to talk about Himself. Peggy Noonan interpreted this to be a display of grace. Beginning to see where I’m going here? Whether it’s your lifetime vocation or not, being too concerned with what others think can get you in a whole lot of trouble. It frequently leads otherwise competent, capable people possessing otherwise sound, reliable judgment to think with the heart and not the head.

Oh look at that baby bear, isn’t it cute? Let’s take it home. That would be another decision along the lines of what I’m talking about; on par with what Noonan did when she inferred that Obama had grace.

These are not good decisions. Their appeal is based on emotion, and emotional appeal can only be based on the immediate moment because there is no way to chart or predict where emotions are going to be further down the road. Also, they must be inherently narcissistic. It’s all about me. The stubby ears, the big brown eyes, the li’l pug-nose, everything that tiny bear cub has must be there to appeal to me, me, me. Just like when President Obama gets in there, He is going to do what I, I, I want Him to do.

We live in a universe that plain and simply does not work that way. A universe filled up with things that do not exist for our benefit. Like a mother bear’s protective instinct, and Obama’s incredible, perhaps unprecedented, feeling of self-importance.

Whoever told us Obama would see America as something placed in His care? Whoever told us Obama had a personality inclined toward stewardship — looking after something — seeing to it that some jurisdiction of His would fare better as He left it, compared to how He’d found it? Were there any anecdotes about anything, anything at all, involving more real responsibility than an assistant-professorship? We had people pointing this out, and it was dismissed as a bunch of conservative ankle-biting. I guess it’s hard to make it look like something other than that.

But with our experience we have now that we didn’t have then, we see there was something to it. Stewardship is, among other things, a personality. It is a long term looking-after of something, with a sense of conviction that you’re beginning each day with the rewards, or the wreckage, of your performance the day before.

Obama doesn’t have it. We haven’t seen Him actually maintain anything, besides relationships; and human emotions being what they are, with relationships you don’t work with the rewards or the wreckage of your work the day before. Obama, from the best information we’ve managed to seize about Him, seems to have spent a lifetime being blissfully insulated from the conditions of things.

Fer chrissakes, we don’t even have a story about a bicycle lovingly maintained, or a household pet. He doesn’t have the “guardian” personality. He is not, by personal inclination, a steward of something. There is no evidence whatsoever to indicate a refinement of the requisite skills, or a personal interest in refining them.

There is much evidence to indicate otherwise.

Sorry you’re shocked, Peggy. Had you taken the time to ask yourself some questions others were asking, it would not now be so surprising.

Hear endeth the lesson: Putting your finger on a pulse is an educational thing to do, only so long as it remains educational. So long as it involves taking additional information in. Once you start ignoring some valid observations because your finger’s on the pulse, it ceases to be an exercise in education and it becomes one of ignorance. Every now and then, there are consequences to this…because, when all’s said and done, we do live in a universe in which two and two make four.

Hillary Trots It Out One More Time

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Ben Smith, Politico:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a rare foray into domestic politics today, offering her view that — given America’s high unemployment — wealthy Americans don’t pay enough taxes.

“The rich are not paying their fair share in any nation that is facing the kind of employment issues [America currently does] — whether it’s individual, corporate or whatever [form of] taxation forms,” Clinton told an audience at the Brookings Institution, where she was discussing the Administration’s new National Security Strategy.

Clinton said the comment was her personal opinion alone. “I’m not speaking for the administration, so I’ll preface that with a very clear caveat,” she said.

Clinton went on to cite Brazil as a model.

“Brazil has the highest tax-to-GDP rate in the Western Hemisphere and guess what — they’re growing like crazy,” Clinton said. “And the rich are getting richer, but they’re pulling people out of poverty.”

Both Clinton and Obama campaigned for president on promises to allow the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans expire this year, a plan that is now part of Obama’s budget. The move will effectively raise taxes sharply on people earning more than $250,000.

The Administration’s new formal strategy document makes the case that domestic economic strength is crucial to influence abroad.

And get a load of the comments underneath. Although, to be realistic about it, there may be more overlap between Politico commentators and taxpayers, than between likely voters & taxpayers.

Dare I hope that the “tax the rich” swill has been declining in popularity just as quickly as the Obama administration for the last year and a half? Could it be there is a palpable feeling that left-wing social experimentation can only be afforded in limited doses, and we’ve exhausted our quota?

Could it be that people are getting worried we need to turn around and back out of this cul de sac…before we become another…uh…Brazil?

See, I have this idea in the back of my mind that nobody is falling for this. We’ve got politicians selling it, who don’t really believe in it. They’re generally well-off personally, after all. Are they mailing extra cash off to the Treasury? Whatever surplus it takes for them to feel like they’ve been taxed enough?

We’ve got college professors and left-wing economists saying that narrowing the wage gap is the way to go. Do they ever make calls, maybe place bets on ‘em?

We’ve got a lot of people who say they believe in taxing the rich. None of them are rich, or if they are, they don’t see themselves that way.

Some teevee station went out into the streets of New Jersey to find out what ordinary residents had to say about Gov. Chris Christie. He’s taken the position directly opposite from Ms. Clinton about taxing the rich. I found these comments telling:

“I’d rather see a tax on millionaires…It’s about time we stopped paying for everyone else.”

“Taxing the millionaires sounds great. The only concern I have is the millionaires have the ability to take their money and leave.”

Like, duh.

Should I even get started on how things are going in the Golden State? Nah, you probably don’t want to read about that. All our economic situations are plenty depressing enough. Ah, don’t tell me let me guess: We here in California aren’t taxing the rich enough. That surely must be the problem, right Hillary?

Hat tip to Gerard.

“Leaving Islam?”

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Fox News:

The questions on the ads aren’t subtle: Leaving Islam? Fatwa on your head? Is your family threatening you?

A conservative activist and the organizations she leads have paid several thousand dollars for the ads to run on at least 30 city buses for a month. The ads point to a website called RefugefromIslam.com, which offers information to those wishing to leave Islam, but some Muslims are calling the ads a smoke screen for an anti-Muslim agenda.

Pamela Geller, who leads an organization called Stop Islamization of America, said the ads were meant to help provide resources for Muslims who are fearful of leaving the faith.

“It’s not offensive to Muslims, it’s religious freedom,” she said. “It’s not targeted at practicing Muslims. It doesn’t say ‘leave,’ it says ‘leaving’ with a question mark.”

Geller said the ad buy cost about $8,000, contributed by the readers of her blog, Atlas Shrugs, and other websites. Similar ads have run on buses in Miami, and she said ad buys were planned for other cities.

Atlas Shrugs is here.

I hope it doesn’t cause too much of a fuss. After all, I recall barely a ripple of discontent a couple years ago when Richard Dawkins launched his “There Is Probably No God” campaign.

Sauce? Goose? Gander?

Sestak-Job-Offer-Gate Not Going Away

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

All seven Republicans on the judiciary committee have asked the Attorney General to name a special prosecutor.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder today, all seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee “urge the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Congressman Joe Sestak’s claim that a White House official offered him a job to induce him to exit the Pennsylvania Senate primary race against Senator Arlen Specter.”

AllahPundit at HotAir has more:

Darrell Issa, who started the drum-beating about this, is calling it Obama’s Watergate and potential grounds for impeachment, and went as far this week as to threaten Sestak with an ethics complaint if he doesn’t come clean. Here’s the key federal statute, although it’s not the only one in play potentially: Karl Rove cited three criminal provisions on Monday night that could conceivably have been violated.

Sec. 600. Promise of employment or other benefit for political activity

Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

The defense, I assume, will be that no job was explicitly “promised,” just sort of hinted at in order to preserve plausible deniability. E.g., “Gee, Joe, it’s a shame you’re running for Senate. We were thinking about you for Secretary of the Navy in two years.”

Byron York is skeptical.

The first reaction of most observers is that, barring some new revelations, there is little or no chance the GOP senators will get their way. Holder has already rejected one such request from Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, and in the Senate, the Democrats who control the Judiciary Committee are not calling for an investigation. With Democrats in control of the White House, the House and the Senate, the president and attorney general don’t have to do anything. On the other hand, Republicans controlled the White House, House and Senate at the time of the Plame affair, and a Republican attorney general appointed Fitzgerald. But that only happened after a media firestorm over the CIA leak matter, and there has been no such storm over Sestak. Without a public outcry, and with Democrats controlling all the levers of power, Holder and Obama are free to deny all investigation requests from Republicans.

Yeah. They’re not dictating what Holder is going to do, they’re making it more expensive for him to do it. Good on ‘em anyway.

So how’s that transparent-administration workin’ out for ya?

Memo For File CXIV

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Goodness, gracious me. I had no idea when I jotted down yesterday’s comments about the “McGinniss siege” yesterday morning that this was going to be the main story of the blogosphere. We got a “Memeorandum-launch” out of it again, from linking to Dave Weigel’s confession that he is an insane person.

The background is that a certain private citizen who lives in Alaska, who holds no elected or appointed office whatsoever but once was that state’s governor and whose name was on a major party ticket for the Presidency, is being stalked by an unscrupulous biographer. The writer has rented the house next door to hers, and his new front porch comes within fifteen feet or so of hers. So she snapped a photo of it and uploaded it to her Facebook page with some pithy comments. Yep…altogether now…she can see his house from her house.

None of this was sufficiently remarkable, to me, to merit a post. What really tipped the scale was that Weigel — are you sitting down? — sees Sarah Palin as the perpetrator and McGinnis as the victim. She invaded his privacy with that Facebook entry.

Palin informs her readers that McGinniss is “overlooking my children’s play area” and “overlooking Piper’s bedroom.” Alternately sounding angry and mocking, she refers to “the family’s swimming hole,” which at first reference sounds like she’s accusing McGinniss of checking out the Palins in their bathing suits, until you realize the family’s “swimming hole” is Lake Lucille. And she posts a photo of the space McGinniss is renting, captioning it, “Can I call you Joe?” Can somebody explain to me how this isn’t a despicable thing for Palin to do?

Heheh. Yeah Dave, I could, but why should I have to? Have you read many of the typical Facebook entries? “Feelin’ blue, listening to a Whiter Shade of Pale on my old turntable.” “Walked out to my car in the rain, didn’t know I had a hole in my shoe, my sock got wet.” Some creep is renting the house next door so he can spend half a year spying on you, that’s some delicious red meat right there. Facebook should pay her an advance.

Blogsister Daphne is on Weigel’s side on this thing. She thinks Palin’s whining about the natural consequences of being in the public eye, or something.

This is one of those rare happenstances in which my reasonable and well-thought-out opinion happens to be in line with that of the majority. Although I have to admit, it wasn’t the undeniable logic of my defense that swayed the majority; this is The Blog That Nobody Reads, of course. The viewpoint that seems to surface over and over again is that people took the time to read Palin’s Facebok entry (linked above), and to listen to her interview on Glenn Beck about this matter, and when they kept an ear our for some whining they just didn’t find it. From that, I think they figured out they were being directed to despise somebody just for her noticing something.

That’s a relic from the 1970′s; Archie Bunker probably started it. We can figure out you’re a baaaaad person, by noticing you noticing things. It seems kinda like noticing some guy’s skin is black, get it? So when you notice things, like some asshole reporter is going Peeping Tom all over you for an entire summer, we can notice you noticing things and that makes you bad. Well — that nonsense has been going on for forty years now, it’s aged badly and that dog won’t hunt. Palin got a new neighbor, she noticed it, uploaded an entry on Facebook, and all-in-all that strikes most clear-thinking people as pretty reasonable. Actually, it’s a much cooler reaction than they or I would have.

Dave Weigel is feeling defensive about this. He wrote a follow-up piece about his “Palin mailbag”; he was as surprised as I was that this thing would catch fire. He then treated his critics the way most newspaper employees, I’ve noticed, treat their critics. He pulled out four or five samples that would most effectively buttress his intended theme, which is one of “I’m a fair guy and trying to give these Palin defenders a shot at saying what’s on their minds, but gosh, these people are just whacked.”

This has always concerned me somewhat, and over the years I must confess it’s caused me to delay buying newspapers, and more recently, to skip the ritual altogether. It’s just lazy thinking. If one Palin defender fails to catch on to a joke, and another Palin defender uses potty-mouth language in a letter, that doesn’t mean they all do. And even if they all do, what of it? Ask an idiot whether it’s raining or not and the idiot says yes it’s raining, does that mean it isn’t raining? No, it doesn’t. Like I said: Lazy thinking. And I’m more inclined to believe idiots than lazy thinkers, because if you’re a lazy thinker you can be a freakin’ genius and you’re still going to be opining on pure nonsense, or stuff that is only correct now & then by random chance. Whereas the idiot might at least try to get it right.

Erick Erickson sees things my way with regard to the Weigel problem. He just can’t take the man seriously anymore, although his reasoning is slightly different.

A reporter moves in next door to Sarah Palin — a reporter with a negative history reporting on Palin — and Palin takes to Facebook to complain about the rather stalkerish vibe of this reporter taking up residence right next door to snoop on the family. This is the same reporter who once tried to get into a charity contest where he bid $60,000 to have dinner with Palin. Imagine if you had someone like that move in next door to your family and say they were going to write a book about being your neighbor. We all know that’s exactly what this guy is going to do.

But Weigel, along with a host of other reporters in DC, is going after Palin for being upset about it.

Politicians don’t have veto power over who gets to write about them, or how they research their stories, as long as they’re within the bounds of the law. It’s incredibly irresponsible for them to sic their fans on journalists they don’t like. And that’s what Palin is doing here — she has already inspired Glenn Beck to accuse McGinniss of “stalking” Palin and issuing a threat to boycott his publisher.

This follows on the heels of this defense of the White House that could have been ghostwritten by Greg Sargent, the Post’s lockstep defender of the left. According to the logic of the piece, it was impossible for anyone to know that Sestak was running for the Senate until the day he announced, and it would be totally impossible for Barack Obama to move someone out of the way for Sestak once that person was confirmed by the Senate. That one doesn’t pass the laugh test.

In fact, if you go through Dave’s archives you’ll find a slew of stories from the most recent one as I write to others that no one on the right really cares about, but people on the left who see the right collectively as fringe will eat up. And that’s the whole point of why he’s there.

On the other hand, our resident “gadmaggot,” TBogg, is within the vocal minority. He’s following the Weigel approach of, nevermind whether Palin is being stalked by a creepy neighbor even though that’s what the subject is supposed to be. Let’s talk instead about irony and how some people aren’t capable of comprehending it.

So when Sarah Palin goes Full Metal Mayella Ewell, accusing Joe McInnis of eye-raping her children, [Mark] Hemingway buys it and the horseshit it rode in on. Not willing to settle for being a garden variety half-wit, Hemingway doubles down when McGinnis’ son replies sarcastically to an email from Politico’s Ben Smith:

Bestselling author may be romantically stalking Sarah Palin
By: Mark Hemingway
Commentary Staff Writer
05/25/10 1:10 PM EDT

[...]

Well, it gets even crazier. Ben Smith of Politico got ahold of Joe McGinniss’ son and asked him about his father’s recent move to Alaska:

I haven’t been able to reach McGinniss, but did send an errant email to his son, the novelist Joe McGinniss Jr., who replied, “Sadly, she’s right. We tried our best to intervene, but alas, the heart wants what it wants. We can only pray for him now. He’s convinced that Todd will step aside and when the time is right, he’ll be there, right next door, to pick up the pieces.“

Wow. Just wow.

People like Hemingway like to complain that someone is always trying to shove something down their throats. This may be because they seem all too willing to swallow just about anything.

I note, with interest, that all TBogg has to say about this is that this Mark Hemingway guy failed to comprehend the joke. In his world, the story begins and ends there. That’s all he has to say.

And what a fragile little hook upon which this chandelier rests. “Wow just wow.” When you think about it…that doesn’t even prove anything. Not that I care. This whole irony-thing is just a bunny trail.

See, TBogg doesn’t live in a world of ideas. He is one among many lightweight thinkers who just want to be on the good side of things, to be assured that no one who agrees with them ever has a bad idea…and spin a fantasy that nobody who disagrees with them can ever have a good one. So if you read through his archives you’ll see his blog is just one meandering ad hominem attack. Oh, and it’s hip and edgy too. So he’s selling what lots of other folks are selling.

As an argument about the subject at hand, it is a curious one to say the least. Let me see if I can follow it: I am TBogg! You are scum! There are good people like me, and bad people like you and Sarah Palin. My people are better. Sure, they believe so much in what they’re doing and get so caught up in sliming your people that we sometimes do creepy, stalker-ish things, like move in next door so we can spy on your people all summer long and write books about it. But we understand irony. And our ability to understand irony (while we spy on you) makes us much, much better.

Okay TBogg. So noted.

Mediaite tries once more for the “Palin’s the real stalker here” defense. Good luck with that, guys.

But if you want something with real meat, I’d be remiss in leaving out Sheya’s piece at Conservatives4Palin, “David Weigel Doesn’t Get It.” Now, that is a rebuttal. “Conservative” Weigel indulges in a longstanding liberal tactic, which is to make a passing reference to something with a history behind it and hope to hell you don’t go doing any homework about it. Sheya did the homework on the Conde Nast Portfolio hit piece, and the results are devastating for whatever argument it was Weigel was trying to put together.

But after reading all this stuff that came up yesterday, I see it all this really comes down to one thing. I had made a passing reference to it twenty-four hours ago, having no idea how incredibly prescient the comment was and how relevant it was. In this comment, is the key to all things Sarah-Palin-related you’re hearing nowadays…at least, from the critics who are so desperate for her to “just go away already.”

Just dang, if Joe McGinniss burned her house down would you come down on her for using up his matches and gasoline?

Palin FenceSee, this just cuts to the heart of it. And most of us can’t see it because Palin’s not out there trying to be a victim, not running herself breathless trying to fill the role of victim, there’s nothing “victim” about her at all. McGinniss has laid his little siege; so Todd’s building a fourteen-foot fence. Problem, solution.

But you see, these people aren’t thinking straight. They can think logically about it, but thinking logically is a procession in a sound direction from whatever point of origin, and if the point of origin is cockeyed then the logic doesn’t do a lot of good. Their point of origin is that Palin cannot be a victim — ever. In many cases, they have built an entire social life around this. Here’s a story about that Palin chick we all want to “go away” so badly, let’s talk about it and give her the attention we’re wishing people would stop giving her…and the first person to show her any of what looks like sympathy, is to be drummed outta the club.

There are events taking place in real life, now and then, in which people are victims whether they accept the role or not. And when you start out with the prejudiced determination not to ever acknowledge that, you end up saying childish boneheaded stupid things, just like Dave Weigel. And that’s the problem they’re having. In their world, if you run over Sarah Palin with your car, the story is about the damage her rear end did to your car.

Weigel made an ass out of himself and he knows it. I know he knows it, because he did what newspaper people do when they realize they’ve made asses out of themselves. “Uh, I recieved a lot of complaints, and they’re all from crazy people, get a load-a this.” Sure, Dave.

As for Daphne, she’s just made the mistake of accepting a false choice about Palin’s motives. See, Sarah Palin may be motivated by a sincere desire to turn the country around and put grown-ups back in charge again…or…maybe she really is just “Sarah Paycheck” and is motivated by the money. To me, the whole thing is a First Amendment issue because the First Amendment isn’t about edgy shocking talk radio or crucifixes soaked in urine, it’s about efforts to change the government be they ultimately successful or not. Now, if everyone with an influential presence & set of opinions is forced, in this new “McGinniss siege” cultural protocol, to build fourteen foot tall fences around their homes just because they’re having an impact on things, that isn’t the death of the First Amendment. But it’s certainly takin’ a beating, in spirit, there can be no doubt about that.

Daphne uses sound logic proceeding from an unsound point of origin: That Sarah Paycheck is a showgirl. Palin doesn’t give a rat’s behind where the country is going, she just wants her book advances and royalties. She goes to give speeches for the money. Wherever she goes, she chuckles at suckers like me.

If you’re going to presume that, then I can see this makes some measure of sense. Palin’s flying around from one hot spot to another not giving a shit about politics one way or another, fooling suckers and making big coin. So all kinds of reporters want to know more about her, and sooner or later someone rents the place next door. Why yes, that does seem just natural. Live by the spotlight, die by the spotlight.

I’ve borrowed a favorite phrase from Obama Speech Bingo and called that a “false choice” because that’s exactly what it is. You see, Palin can be about both the money and about changing the country for the better. All the other politicians are supposed to be about both of those two things, I don’t see any reason why she has to be the exception. Palin’s life has been inspected with magnifying glasses, microscopes, rectal-scopes, fine-tooth combs. There is not a whiff of evidence anywhere that her personal values are anything but exactly those: Personal values. She believes in ‘em. Not a syllable has been uttered by anyone suggesting anything to the contrary, save for the ugly whispering about Bristol’s pregnancy. Months of digging through the trash cans in Wasilla and Juneau, that’s the best they could do. So if Palin is indeed a charlatan, she isn’t a pure one; or if she is a pure charlatan who is apathetic about politics & the way a society should be run, she is awfully clever.

And you know what, Daphne? If both of those motives apply to what she’s doing, which is a virtual certainty — the values, and the moolah — my argument wins and yours falls flat. She is a potent force for jettisoning the liberal bullshit, starting right now, and the folks who happen to like the liberal bullshit recognize this and are engaging in the same bullying tactics we’ve been seeing for the last twenty-one months now. Whether Palin is officially appointed to a high office or not, the chessboard looks a lot different with her off of it, than with her on it. She’s the Queen. The liberals are doing what makes the most sense in a game of chess, and so is she. So she’s making money at it; so what?

Except in their case, it’s a little bit of Einstein’s classic definition of insanity. Renting a house next door for an entire summer while you’re writing a book about the person who lives therein…it’s just pure bullying, like everything else they’ve been doing, just pure “We’ll show you what’s in store for conservative media darlings, now how do you like THEM apples.” Well, some folks can be bullied and others cannot. So the people who want her to go away, and have their reasons for wanting her to go away, must understand this whole anti-campaign of theirs holds very little prospect for victory. There is no reason for them to keep deploying it, unless someone has figured out there are no other options available.

So in the last twenty-four hours, I’ve come to have a change of heart about this. Not about Sarah Palin being a whining crybaby who’s unable or unwilling to accept the natural consequences of being in the “public eye”; really, enough is enough Daphne. Your readers aren’t with you on this, the evidence isn’t with you. Give it up. No, what I’ve changed my mind about is the importance of the story. I did not see, at first glance, all the importance that was wrapped up in it. It is a newsworthy item — not that Palin put up a Facebook entry about McGinniss moving next door, but that McGinniss bothered to move next door. Very, very big event. If, that is, you see 2010 as a promising year for getting the kids-in-charge back to the kiddie-table where they belong. We need to know what’s going on with this procession of related events, and the “McGinniss siege” supplies a lot of clues as to what is going on.

But Legal Insurrection summarized the entire absurd situation as capably as anybody else, IMO:

There is something strange, unprofessional and paranoid going on here, but it’s not Sarah Palin.

Updated: Picture of Palin Fence — that’d be your Lake Lucille version of “whining” — borrowed from Gretawire, by way of John Hawkins.

Go Todd, go.

“How Did Politics Get So Messed Up That This Type of Conversation is Considered Appropriate?”

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

BlackFive links to the risible parallel-monologue dialogue:

I didn’t have much of an opinion on Joe Sestak before today…But I’d like to make a couple of observations about his claim to have been offered a position in the administration by the White House in return for ending his primary challenge to Arlen Specter. The first is that if indeed this offer was made by one or more members of the Obama administration, it was corruption, a felony. The second is that it was Joe Sestak’s legal obligation as an American, and more importantly his duty as a retired Admiral, to report it to the authorities as soon as it happened.

The third observation — and most important — is that Joe Sestak did no such thing.

Instead, what we get are a bunch of non-answers from Joe Sestak to direct questions from David Gregory:

MR. GREGORY: What, what job were you offered to stay out of a primary race by the administration?

REP. SESTAK: It’s interesting. I was asked a question about something that….

…happened months earlier, and I felt I should answer it honestly. And that’s all I had to say about it because anything beyond that gets away from what we just spoke about.

MR. GREGORY: Right.

REP. SESTAK: What are the policies that are really going to help people who’ve been slammed by the economy…

MR. GREGORY: All right, but you’ve campaigned on transparency. It’s part of the politics. You talked about standing up to the White House when they’d fielded a candidate–made a deal with Arlen Specter. So isn’t it in the–in the spirit of transparency, were you offered a job by the administration? And what was it?

REP. SESTAK: I learned, as I mentioned, about that personal accountability in the Navy.

MR. GREGORY: Yeah.

REP. SESTAK: I felt I needed to answer that question honestly because I was personally accountable for my role in the matter.

MR. GREGORY: What’s the answer? What’s the job you were offered?

REP. SESTAK: And–but anybody else has to decide for themselves what to say upon their role, and that’s their responsibility.

MR. GREGORY: Yes or no, straightforward question. Were you, were you offered a job, and what was the job?

REP. SESTAK: I was offered a job, and I answered that.

MR. GREGORY: You said no, you wouldn’t take the job. Was it the secretary of the Navy?

REP. SESTAK: Right. And I also said, “Look, I’m getting into this…

MR. GREGORY: Was it the secretary of the Navy job?

REP. SESTAK: Anything that go–goes beyond that is others–for others to talk about.

Yes yes, personal accountability. They teach that in the Navy. Got it. Now here’s the thing. According to Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod, no such inappropriate offer was made to Joe Sestak. Which means: Someone is lying.

Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod — obviously dispatched from a central location with coordinated talking points — take an Officer Barbrady “move along folks, there’s nothing to see here” approach. You think that means they’re clarifying what’s going on? Think again.

“NOTHING inappropriate happened,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says about the job offer that Rep. Joe Sestak, now the Democratic nominee for a Pennsylvania Senate seat, claims the White House dangled to induce him to back away from challenging incumbent Arlen Specter. “It has been looked into,” adds White House senior adviser David Axelrod, and “nothing inappropriate happened.”

Can’t even get a yes or no. But move along. We looked into it.

Phew! Good thing we have an ethical, transparent administration in charge of things.

The headline is from commenter Durka-Durka, who speaks for me.

Sarah Palin Has a New Neighbor

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Creepy. Really creepy.

Here’s Palin, giving McGinniss a little advanced publicity for his stalker’s journal, though she doesn’t have much choice, given the bloodsport that is Alaska politics, I suppose. (Sigh.)

Spring has sprung in Alaska, and with this beautiful season comes the news today that the Palins have a new neighbor! Welcome, Joe McGinniss!

Yes, that Joe McGinniss. Here he is – about 15 feet away on the neighbor’s rented deck overlooking my children’s play area and my kitchen window.

:
Politico contacted McGinniss’ son, who offered this response:

Sadly, she’s right. We tried our best to intervene, but alas, the heart wants what it wants. We can only pray for him now. He’s convinced that Todd will step aside and when the time is right, he’ll be there, right next door, to pick up the pieces.

I guess maybe he intended that as a crack about Palin, rather than his dad… I don’t know though. Palin didn’t suggest that McGinniss had some sort of romantic obsession, just that he was creepily spying (which he is; that’s going to be the marketing campaign for his book, of course). It was just the son who brought up that angle.

Unbelievably, David Weigel thinks Palin is the one that’s done something wrong here. Uh, come again Mr. Weigel?

Palin informs her readers that McGinniss is “overlooking my children’s play area” and “overlooking Piper’s bedroom.” Alternately sounding angry and mocking, she refers to “the family’s swimming hole,” which at first reference sounds like she’s accusing McGinniss of checking out the Palins in their bathing suits, until you realize the family’s “swimming hole” is Lake Lucille. And she posts a photo of the space McGinniss is renting, captioning it, “Can I call you Joe?”

Can somebody explain to me how this isn’t a despicable thing for Palin to do? She describes McGinniss as the author of “the bizarre anti-Palin administration oil development pieces that resulted in my Department of Natural Resources announcing that his work is the most twisted energy-related yellow journalism they’d ever encountered.”

Another way of putting it would be that McGinniss is an investigative journalist who wrote his first best-seller at age 26 and was shopping a book about Alaska and the oil industry when Palin was named John McCain’s running mate.
:
Has McGinniss gone to an extreme to get a story? Well, we don’t have his side yet — not that this has prevented every other media outlet from typing up Palin’s Facebook post like some lost Gospel. But assuming he’s rented the house near the Palins for some period of time, assuming the Palins know he’s there and that he’s writing a book, then what, exactly, is wrong with this? [emphasis mine]

Dude. He’s stalking her to get his story.

You’re just so blind. Let go of the Palin hatred for a second or two. Just dang, if Joe McGinniss burned her house down would you come down on her for using up his matches and gasoline?

Can someone please rent a house next to David Weigel’s for five or six months? As long as you got your writing career started at age 26, he doesn’t have a problem with it. Bring your binoculars.

Regulating

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

The word means so much to us, and we take so little trouble to define it.

Late night talk show host Jay Leno managed to connect the BP oil spill to the tea party. Lack o’ something called “regulation.”

JAY LENO: Well, to me, BP is a perfect example. BP seems to have done this on their own. They don’t pay attention. They essentially make their own rules because they pay off everybody. That’s what the Tea Party wants. That’s unregulated and look what happened.

DAVID GREGORY: Right, but in this case, right, you have a breakdown of regulations that led to getting contracts and their technology breaking down. But, right, I mean at some point, the government is the only entity that can clean up after a huge mess.

I’d sure like to know what magical power, what birth star, blood line, what is it exactly? — What’s supposed to make these government regulators so much wiser than the people they’re regulating. I’ve talked and talked and talked to these “we need more regulation” people and none of them have ever been able to tell me.

I doubt highly that Jay Leno, David Gregory, or any of the rest of ‘em have ever been as close to the application of such regulations as yours truly. Trust me, if you love sausage…

In fact, what I’m reading about the regulations that were applied to BP all seem to say the same thing: There were regulations, and they were applied. The people who were in charge of applying those regulations did a shitty job. Yeeaaahh…you know what, that doesn’t look to me much like fixing or preventing a problem. That looks to me like finding a scapegoat while you’re pretending to get something constructive done, and frankly it brings back feelings of deja vu.

I’ve been there, and if I have to have brain surgery I think I’d prefer to have it unregulated. Maybe, maybe not. But I certainly wouldn’t count on regulation to prevent disasters. If it’s going to happen, it would be simple regulation. The door’s hinges are on the inside of the wall or else they’re not.

Half-wits like Leno and Gregory are talking about…and this is a well-rehearsed script by now…robust, beefed-up regulations that will really fix what was broken here.

It isn’t unlimited faith in government. It is a cowardly avoidance of specifics. Government regulators are supposed to prevent an oil rig from blowing up…how, exactly? They can’t answer. They don’t know enough about the situation. They just wanted to participate in the discussion and say something that sounds powerful.

But their plan depends on government being wise and, perhaps in some way, superhuman and perfect. That’s why it is important these people not have anything to say about anything. They lack the perceptive powers to realize that people don’t become perfect just because they manage to affix their names to an agency payroll. Too many episodes of X-Files, I suppose.

It’s exactly what we saw last year with the financial meltdown, remember that? “We need stronger oversight to check the greed that made this mess in the first place!” At least, in the case of the BP oil spill, we have yet to see strong evidence that the “oversight” actually caused “this mess in the first place.” That albatross continues to hang around the neck of the 2008/09 meltdown.

Our continuing survival may depend on finding a better definition for the R-word. Either that, or somehow stop twits like Jay Leno and David Gregory from voting. The crazy-loop whirlpool of stupid is small enough and tight enough that it is now predictable: Regulation causes a problem, blame goes flying around, people start pointing fingers, and then the intellectual lightweights come out of the woodwork to say “Goodness, what a mess, we need some more regulation.

Word to the wise: Maybe not.

Here‘s the vision that jumps into my head when I think of “more regulation,” Jay Leno. What is it that you have in mind? And based on what exactly?

On Obama Getting Angry

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

My girlfriend has a habit of turning on the teevee the instant she wakes up, and leaving it on until she goes off to work. A lot of women do this for the sake of having the background noise. In my case, this means I receive a daily education about Idjit-News, that stuff which purports to be “news” that throws itself at us across the room from the Idjit-Box.

I don’t think of it as news, because it isn’t stuff I need or want to know. It’s stuff someone else needs or wants me to know. It’s as if someone called up the teevee station and said “we need to have the dumb masses told about this” and the teevee station said “okay, alright.”

A great example of what I’m talking about is holiday speed traps. We have one coming up don’t we? Leading up to the three-day weekend, the Idjit-News will tell you “law enforcement will be out” and I had better be on my best behavior. So we all start behaving out there. Laudable goal. But this isn’t news I can use. News I could use, would be “they will be out, with a motorcycle cop on Highway 50 about halfway between Prairie City and Bidwell Road exits heading westbound.” A deliberately-vague “they’ll be out there” is a bit of communication for someone else’s benefit, and just because I’m on the receving end does not mean I’m that someone. See, I don’t mind that they’re working for someone else. Just say so fer cryin’ out loud.

For the past several weeks now I have been hearing something else that is to someone else’s benefit and not mine.

I’ve been hearing a whole lot of it.

The President is angry at BP.

Isn’t it funny how the emotion of anger is used to send messages in politics? We want to discredit the Tea Party movement, we just call them “angry.” But President Obama uses anger as a soothing balm, to take the pressure off Himself. There is a pattern to this, it seems: I hear of some hardcore lefties who are Obama’s “base,” becoming restless with Him because it seems He is not doing enough about the oil spill and it’s starting to turn into His Katrina, the next week I can count on the prediction that He is going to become blisteringly angry. And His “base” will be palliated.

It’s just like the three-day-weekend traffic stops. Someone called up the teevee network and said “get the word out, He is pissed.” I saw this before. When He was first anointed as Our Savior and began to “rule” over us, I was told He just found out about the “Wall Street bonuses” and got unbelievably angry about them. This drama, now, seems to be a reprise of that.

I never did hear much about George W. Bush getting angry. When I did, it wasn’t because President Bush was ducking responsibility for something. It was more like he was taking it on; I’m thinking specifically of taking the fight to the Taliban after 9/11. Can’t think of too many other examples than that.

And it isn’t that I think there’s too much difference in the frequencies by which President Bush got, and President Obama gets, genuinely angry about things. If I had to guess, I’d say behind closed doors if you had a way of measuring it they’d be about the same. But only one is using anger as a political tool. As if to say “Look, I’m still relevant! Grrrr!”

I shouldn’t be finding this too discouraging, although I do.

It isn’t telling me anything about what’s going on, that I didn’t already know: That as of this moment, our nation is being governed by children. Immature little whelps who think, when you have a job to do, the outcome is somehow affected for better or for worse by how angry you get. In the case of the Tea Party movement, anger says something derogatory about your worthiness as a human being. In the case of His Eminence, that anger is some harbinger of wonderful glowing achievement to take place in the near future.

Remember that Saturday Night Live skit with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? “The Rock” Obama? It seems to be a common Manhattan-moonbat Daily-show narrow-purple-necktie fantasy: Oh, if only Obama would get more angry!

I just see these people as people who go through the motions of doing some kind of “work,” and have no idea what it really is. I’ve spent my working life, for the last quarter of a century now, on computer networks…or on things that could have passed for being computer networks at the time, and maybe wouldn’t nowadays. Computer networks are all about having your work connected to the work someone else is doing. People are not as good at communicating as they think they are, and believe you me, I have seen some things over the last twenty-five years that have really cheesed me off.

Does it affect my output? For good or for ill? Nope. The only effect is that whatever pissed me off in the first place, delayed my delivery by a few hours. Does it mean I’ll deliver something I otherwise would not have? No. I just mutter something about “you fucking douchenozzles” and grind onward, as adults do.

What if I was waiting on someone to deliver something to me, and they got angry about something that was supposed to be delivered to them, and it became very important to them that I knew how angry they were? It didn’t take me long to figure out what that meant. It meant they weren’t planning to deliver their stuff to me. They didn’t have the creativity to explore alternatives, were not interested in developing it, and if I was going to deliver my stuff I would have to show the resourcefulness they didn’t have. Also, they were not too terribly concerned about coming off being incredibly, unbelievably lame. Their anger could be distilled down into two words: “Got nuthin’.”

That’s how grown-ups look at it. Because grown-ups divide their work from the emotions that rise up around it from time to time. I’m sure the emotions that rise up when you find out someone is getting angry, are powerful emotions. How do you make a movie-bad-guy really scary? You have him kill off another movie-bad-guy. But when it comes to getting real work done, these emotions are quite useless.

Obama seems to know who His supporters are, and He doesn’t seem to think they’re in the “working” camp. The camp of grown-ups who get work done. He must think this, because obviously He thinks His anger is going to get Him somewhere.

I think overall He’s probably right about that.

Update: Oops, they’re starting to catch on it looks like.

President Soetoro, You’d better get angry about something right quick.

Rectal-Cranial Inversions…

Monday, May 24th, 2010

With regard to these hard-left barking moonbats…

…as long as we’re overhauling our health care system, is there some plan within that overhaul to get them the help that they need? And in the meantime they’re not being entrusted with any actual responsibilities, are they? Are they being kept away from sharp objects? If they have money, is it being kept in trust somewhere so it can be managed by someone more competent?

I worry about all this adrenaline being channeled into saying foolish things to “prove” personal, inner decency. From where does the necessity arise? What did these people do to create such a giant sinkhole of guilt?

They are incomplete people. They need help.

Hat tip to Boortz.

America’s Culture War

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Arthur C. Brooks

This is not the culture war of the 1990s. It is not a fight over guns, gays or abortion. Those old battles have been eclipsed by a new struggle between two competing visions of the country’s future. In one, America will continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise — limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces. In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution. These visions are not reconcilable. We must choose.
:
I call this a culture war because free enterprise has been integral to American culture from the beginning, and it still lies at the core of our history and character. “A wise and frugal government,” Thomas Jefferson declared in his first inaugural address in 1801, “which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” He later warned: “To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” In other words, beware government’s economic control, and woe betide the redistributors.

…is the latest to see the difference between Architects and Medicators.

Architects tend to see property and wealth as compensation for time, services or goods. Consequently, they see an unusually high personal accumulation of wealth as a sign of productivity, efficiency, or possibly theft.

Medicators do not see material property as a metric. Their tendency is to envision wealth as a desirable commodity that is distributed randomly. They see a distribution that should have taken place, and another distribution that really did take place — these two are always different.

Brooks continues with a perplexing question:

The irony is that, by wide margins, Americans support free enterprise. A Gallup poll in January found that 86 percent of Americans have a positive image of “free enterprise,” with only 10 percent viewing it negatively. Similarly, in March 2009, the Pew Research Center asked individuals from a broad range of demographic groups: “Generally, do you think people are better off in a free-market economy, even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time, or don’t you think so?” Almost 70 percent of respondents agreed that they are better off in a free-market economy, while only 20 percent disagreed.

In fact, no matter how the issue is posed, not more than 30 percent of Americans say they believe we would fare better without free markets at the core of our system. When it comes to support for free enterprise, we are essentially a 70-30 nation.

So here’s a puzzle: If we love free enterprise so much, why are the 30 percent who want to change that culture in charge?

And an observation…

The irony is that it is the 30 percent coalition, not the 70 percent majority, that is fundamentally materialistic. What do they consider the greatest problem of poor people in America? Insufficient income. What would be evidence of a fairer society? Greater income equality. For the leaders of the 30 percent coalition, money does buy happiness — as long as it is spread evenly. That is why redistribution of income is a fundamental goal and why free enterprise, which rewards some people and penalizes others, cannot be trusted.

…which I’ve been noticing, myself, for awhile…

Architects are not concerned about whether someone else possesses more wealth than they do. Their concern over whether someone else possesses more skill, begins and ends on the question of whether or not that other person can help them in some way, and whether there may be low-hanging fruit for them in the self-improvement department.

Medicators don’t want anybody else to have something they don’t have, be it skill or money. Jealousy is a common failing for the Medicator. They easily fall prey to “Tall Poppy” syndrome.

Not In It For The Attention, Mind You… XLII

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Nice Lookin' LadyOur dear blogger friend Irish Cicero has made a list of bloggers that “humble” him. It must have been through a clerical error of some kind, but we made the cut. Actually we’re in the Number One slot.

There are twenty-three blogs in that list, most of which, in our humble opinion make us look like dog barf. Not that this takes much. We’re just a guy. A guy who brings absolutely nothing to the table at all, other than a mediocre writing ability and a determination to think like a grown-up. You know…I see this thing, this thing must mean that thing, and because I infer that thing, I’m going to do this other thing and not some other stupid thing.

It used to be a requirement for survival. Now it’s a lost art.

This is enough to put us at the top of such a list? As we pointed out there, we hope not; we hope the ordering was random.

Cicero, we’re thinking of you tonight as we drain off the current box o’ suds. Here’s mud in yer eye pal. And thanks for the undeserved attention.

Paraphrasing Inaccurately

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

I’m just loving what Ann Althouse wrote this weekend:

If you’re going to criticize the new social studies curriculum adopted by the Texas Board of Education, you’d better quote it.

Or at least link to the text. And if you choose to paraphrase and not even link, and I have to look up the text myself, and your paraphrase is not accurate, it is my job to embarrass you by pointing that out.

“RTWT,” as they say, which is a modern-day acronym for Read The Whole Thing. Go, do it. I’ll wait.

Back already? Here’s a link to Dean Acheson. Julius Rosenberg. The Venona Project itself.

This is not the impression you got when you read the Washington Post story now is it? No, it’s not. The FACT of the matter, FACT in capital letters, is that they were communist spy fuckbags. They were guilty guilty guilty!

Something is wrong with Ms. Althouse’s permalinking, it’s probably The Good Lord’s way of telling her she needs to move her butt off of Blogger. But that which is supposed to be Comment #127, from New “Hussein” Nam, speaks for me:

No, this is the Washington Post. Except for the NY Times, this is the newspaper in the country that sets the tone. The very best journalists in the country are gathered together in these two places to create what are seen as the world’s two best newspapers.

Whenever they do something, it is deliberate. Nothing occurs in the pages of this newspaper without the express consent of its senior editors, people culled from the absolute cream of our nation’s crop.

And so you have to ask yourself … if the cream of our nation’s crop is deliberately mis-characterizing easily check-able facts … what exactly the fuck is really going on in our country?

I mean, who do these people think they’re fooling.

If some podunk fucking law professor in Wisconsin can fact-check their asses and show them to be complete fucking tools without even leaving her wine-soaked veranda, what exactly does the Washington Post think it can get away with?

And yet … they did it. They went ahead and ran this shit.

What does that tell you?

It tells me that they do so with complete fucking disregard for whether they’re caught lying or not. They don’t fucking care. They believe (whether it’s true anymore or not) that what they write BECOMES the truth. [italicized emphasis in original, bold emphasis mine]

Now, to figure out why I’m agreeing so strenuously there is a fair amount of reading for you to do. While you’re chasing off after all those links, you might want to take a breather and watch this:

It is an amateur-ish bio-pic about one Steve Benan, which I called up in order to educate myself. All you’re going to really learn is that young Mr. Benan blogs, and does it for a living. How admirable. And just for the record, although his political leanings are different from mine by a good angle, I agree with pretty much most of what he said about blogging and how it is cleaning up our discussion & thinking about current events…

However, I had to take young Master Benan out to the woodshed on his own blog. For the simplest of reasons, he’s a fucking goddamn craven pussy liar.

I’m wasn’t [whoopsie!] acquainted with the name Steve Benen before, but I am now. You’re going in my Liar File because I know I can’t depend on anything you say.

I included a link to an earlier poster, Algernon, who summarized things thusly:

Once again you state that Rand Paul “opposes the Civil Right Act” [sic]. That isn’t true. To this point, I figured you needed a short phrase, a quick restatement of the case, but this is inaccurate and misleading. He has, specifically, voiced an extreme libertarian view with respect to Title II — he does not oppose the Act in its entirety and you are continually claiming that he does.

The fact that you repeat this over and over is very disappointing. I’ve been reading your blog every day for a long time and this really bugs me.

Let us be fair, this is not exclusively Mr. Benan’s sin. For several days now the “blogosphere” has been covered with the slime and the muck and the ooze of craven lying pussy liars, intent on convincing multitudes that Rand Paul wants all the black folks drinking out of separate fountains and using separate entrances at all the fine eating establishments.

What comes next is not a representation of my fine self as a blogger, but as a consumer of blog feeds, and of news in general: I shall not be putting up with this shit anymore. These are whistle-stop lies in the age of the YouTubes, and as God is my witness I do not know what in the hell you fuckfaces are thinking. Your lies are a hundred and ten years behind the times, maybe a whole lot more than that. There are other bloggers out there.

Seriously…SERIOUSLY…how did you think you’d get away with this shit?

Yes, there is rage here. Rest assured, it is not the rage that comes from wasted time. You would be so humiliated, mortified, embarrassed, if you have one stinking shred of respect for yourselves or for the truth, if you could just catch a glimmering of what a quick and effortless chore it is to catch you at this time-honored tactic of churning out lies that used to work oh so well. Have a care and give it some thought, will you — if your intended victim has his suspicions so aroused, the entire chore is over and done with in the blink of an eye.

Using a black light to check an apartment for cat urine stains, that takes much, much longer.

No, my rage comes from having my intelligence insulted. Good gravy, how stupid you must think we all are!

Stupid, or unconcerned.

This Rand Paul thing is starting to take the form and shape of…actually, it took this form and shape a few days ago now…some good old-fashioned “classic” bigotry. Our left-wingers haven’t been so saintly about this, have they? Not now, not ever. Aw, them uppity black folks are so emotional, we’ll tell them Rand Paul wants to put them back on the plantation and they’ll just believe it. Black people are too stupid to know how to use Google!

Well, they’re not, and I’m not. You really need to drop this, like today. You aren’t planting any new thoughts in anybody’s minds at all. Except that people like you have absolutely zero respect for their readers, regardless of their skin color. Here I’d use the analogy about pissing on shoes and saying that it’s raining, but I don’t want to insult any shoe-pissers out there.

You people should be banished from Internet connections for decades at a time, right along with identity thieves and malware authors. Seriously, I really mean that. Without your “product” enriching our lives, what is the world missing?

“Dispute These Facts”

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Josh Painter says Sarah Palin is “so living inside the White House that they should be charging her rent.” Meheheh.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked by host Bob Schieffer to comment on Sarah Palin’s statement on “Fox News Sunday” that the Obama administration has a cozy relationship with Big Oil:

“Sarah Palin was involved in that election, but I don’t think, apparently, was paying a whole lot of attention,” Gibbs said. “I’m almost sure that the oil companies don’t consider the Obama administration a huge ally – we proposed a windfall profits tax when they jacked their oil prices up to charge for gasoline.” “My suggestion to Sarah Palin would be to get slightly more informed as to what’s going on in and around oil drilling in this country,” he added.

Gov. Palin wasted no time in firing back. She tweeted:

“Mr. Gibbs, BP gave over $3.5mill to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with with the largest amount going to Obama”

Moments later, she sent another tweet:

“During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years… Dispute these facts.”

The time has come to say it:

If the Obama administration is the picture of “sophisticated” people, and Sarah Palin is the antithesis, then nobody in their right mind should want to be what Gibbs calls “informed.” It’s obvious what he has in mind doesn’t have quite so much to do with uncovering facts, or committing them to memory, but cherry-picking them.

It isn’t that I think Palin is smarter than Gibbs. But it’s become undeniable that she is generally better prepared for reasoned, logical discussions involving those troublesome things called facts, than anybody who works in this White House on a more official basis. Cherry-picking is, lately, about all any liberal wants to have to do with the facts, and they’re hoisted by their own petard over this again and again and again.

Suggestion for the administration: If you’re going to willingly enter into an antagonistic relationship with the people who live in this country you seek to “rule,” stop living in a West Wing monologue. Put some thought into what the opposition is going to be saying about things, and prepare. Gibbs’ gaffe could only have been committed, here, by someone rigidly accustomed to living and working in a cloister, someone thoroughly unacquainted with real disagreement. It is the kind of error made only by someone surrounded by yes-men. It was a “George Lucas thinks up Jar Jar Binks” type of mistake.

Holy Man’s donations from big oil in general, and BP in particular, was hardly a low profile story. But it comes as no surprise to me at all that there may be some hardcore lefty types, perhaps even some highly placed in our nation’s executive branch, who are entirely unaware of it.

Expect more embarrassing boondoggles to take place before this drama’s done.

Not In It For The Attention, Mind You… XLI

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Okay, I may as well go ahead and acknowledge it.

The Blog That Nobody Reads has a brand new gadfly…although we don’t know if he/she/it will take on the persistence, incoherence and uselessness of the typical liberal gadfly, so for now let’s just call it a gad-maggot.

In a post called “Oh snap. You got me there,” some proud progressive guy named TBogg who may or may not be the gad-maggot in question, takes note of a provocative piece of artwork that appeared in our pages in which we acknowledged the juvenile level of discourse taking place with regard to the Tea Party movement. Points to TBogg for figuring out (roughly) the meaning behind our funny name, but you can make up your own mind how to grade his various conclusions that germinate from this.

From another one of those blogs with a fancy-schmancy name like Parmenides Surveys The American Experiment At The End of History, meant to convey to the reader that there is deep thoughts and intellectual rigor by the shit-ton to be mulled and savored … until the blogger actually posts something and then, you know: just another dumb-ass with a computer and no social life.

What a devastating attack that would be, if I were still twenty-two.

And an impressive array of likewise-thinking comments, seventeen items in total as of this writing. Not a single coherent thought behind any one of ‘em.

I’ve mostly shrugged off the ankle-biting. Partly because I’m not altogether sure why I’m attracting this ridicule for the specific attempt toward thinking in a logical, mature way, like a guy who measured the diameter of the earth before the invention of satellites, planes, et al. Why does this earn scorn? Is it my achievement or lack thereof? Or for merely putting forth the effort?

I’ve maintained for awhile that some of us, a good-sized chunk of us, come from a virtual-other-world, in which one is expected not to put in the effort. My theory is that these are quasi-adults, the weird other species we see before us when children are given every little thing they need or want in life without working for it…and then they mature. You see, there is no need for responsible logical thinking when you have that kind of enviable life. And is it really enviable?

No matter. If TBogg or some among his audience thought more kindly upon this ancient and perhaps dying practice of thinking like a grown-up, perhaps one among them would have figured out the graphic was not my creation, but that of Kini Aloha Guy.

Who at last report was doing a far superior job of bringing the fight to them, compared to what I’d be doing. Well, anyway, I guess you can peruse the pages of tbogg.firedoglake.com if you want to see how people do their blogging when they have social lives…sit on the edge of your chair quivering with suspense as you read about basset hounds getting jealous of each other, and Holy shit I forgot it was Wednesday night and I’m supposed to blog about something. The rest of it us rather mundane left-wing crap. You know the drill: “Oh I do not like this thing over here. Here is a link. Help me make fun of it.” Lather, rinse, repeat.

Exit question, and it’s a rather ancient one: What is their big problem with freedom & liberty, anyway? Is that like the axe-murderer boyfriend who says “if I can’t have you no one else can have you either”?

Out of Touch, Out of Line

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

“This crap is disgraceful,” thunders blogsister Cas. “There is no other way to put it.”

She may very well be right about that. I thought Michael Corleone might have done a better job when he said “Don’t ever take sides against the family again, Fredo.” But the analogy breaks down because our country has yet to leave a horse head in anyone’s bed…not nearly as much as I’d like us to anyway. And Fredo was born into the Corleone family, he didn’t swear an oath to defend it.

Like these clowns did with our nation and with our Constitution.

Two thirds of us think states like Arizona have a perfect right to do this…

…and one hundred percent of me thinks the old dictum about politics stopping at the water’s edge, was a darn good idea. Agree with that or not, you have to agree something is plenty well hosed here. Can President Obama fly on down to Mexico and give a lecture to their government, whatever remains of it…and lecture them that they’re “acting stupidly” with their laws? He seems to get away with an awful lot, and I know He’s got that phrase in His cliche dictionary somewhere. Trouble is, He won’t stop apologizing to foreign leaders long enough to put that to the test; the finger-waggling is only aimed at His own country. You live somewhere else, you get a bow.

Compare and contrast: The two highest authorities representing our legislative branch, react after President Calderon gets done bashing one of our own United States:

And then they react after he says something positive about the country they purport to represent:

Can you say loyalty issue?

Perhaps this is the kind of thing FrankJ had in mind when he came up with the democrat party slogan of:

We don’t like America and we won’t rest until you don’t like it either.

Although I’m also kind of partial to this other gem that appears further down on the same list: “The Founding Fathers shot British people for less than what we’re doing.”

I Made a New Word XXXVII

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Bi•no•pia (intang. n.)

As I’ve pointed out a few times, it’s easy to criticize something and labor toward its demise when it has a name, and it’s much harder to do this when it doesn’t have a name. By and large, when I invent names for things, they are things that have been sticking around for awhile and need to go away.

Folks, here’s something that needs a beat-down.

Binopia is a portmanteau between binary and myopia. I’ve lately become aware of this horrible afflication through the Rand Paul flap; it is a myopia that comes from seeing issues that involve permission and proscription in binary terms. It is an inability to comprehend the simple concept of passively allowing something, and at the same time, withholding your approval.

We’ve got an awful lot of people walking around who can’t comprehend this simple, entirely workable, dichotomy. To them, if you disapprove of something the only way you can show it is to pass a law against it.

It’s like what I’ve been telling my son for a few years now: When a conservative hears something on the radio he doesn’t like, he changes the station. The liberal who hears something he doesn’t like writes to his congressman expressing his support for, and demanding, a ban.

If we are to remain free, the people in that second group cannot have power to prohibit. Because if they do, they’re going to have to outlaw something every single time they want to make a statement about what wonderful people they are…which is all the time. When you have binopia, it is impossible to indicate to the waitress you’d like a stack of pancakes, without passing a law against eggs, sausage, bacon and cold cereal.

I see in that debate between Megyn Kelly and John Stossel, the Blonde One intoned — and this is the one anti-Rand-Paul argument I’ve heard thus far that’s made the most sense — that if we didn’t empower the federal government to lower the boom on these “public accommodations” and left things to the free market to sort out, maybe it would’ve worked eventually but it would have taken, gosh, a hundred years or so. That’s probably true. But I would say if you’re going to noodle on that one and figure out if it’s the right way to go, the first step is to call it what it really is. So let’s call it what it really is: We suspended our Constitution, which our executives, judges and legislators are sworn to uphold, which our public schoolteachers so regularly tell our children is such a wonderful perfect document that must be protected across the centuries. We trashed it to get quick results. We did an end-run around it.

Was that the right way to go? If so, then I want all those signs taken down: “We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To Anyone.” I want ‘em down, coast to coast. Trash ‘em. Because they’re not true.

Stossel has the right point-of-view in that match-up, because he is using his full range of vision. He doesn’t have binopia. He’s making a reasonable request, which perhaps isn’t possible anymore, but our enduring freedom absolutely relies on it: Those who want to have some say in what is made into an enforceable crime, could they please find some other way to communicate their likes and dislikes about things.

You aren’t a racist and you would never patronize an establishment that discriminates? Hey, that’s just awesome. If you feel a need to prove it repeatedly and compulsively, first of all, you have a problem. More likely than not, a skeleton in your closet that’s bugging you. Get some help. Yes, I’m dead flat-ass serious about that. Secondly: How about you just not go to those places and leave it at that. You don’t have to pass a law every time you disapprove of something.

Third point: As I pointed out here, and I’m re-emphasizing in bold the part that has to do with this point…

I agree with what Rand said [the author, Ayn, not senate nominee Paul] in that paragraph, but absolutely agree with states’ rights. I imagine the two might seem to be mutually exclusive to anyone who hasn’t thought this out all the way, and that might very well include Ayn Rand.

The individual is to enjoy supremacy above the state AND the fed at least with regard to certain things. That is the original intent of the Constitution. These three entities are to share power — and not agreeably, because power is all about doing what you’re going to do when the other guy isn’t going to like it. Not one among the three enjoys complete power.

Fact remains, there is no authorization in the Constitution for what Rand Paul was criticizing. Nor should there be, since there is no mechanism installed anywhere that makes the federal government inherently wise or benevolent about restaurant service policies compared to restaurants, OR the states.

In fact, can a private business really oppress someone like a government can? It’s really hard to come up with examples. If you lay down the entirely reasonable restriction that discrimination is not oppression, since no choice has been actually taken away besides “you can’t eat at our restaurant” (and who’d want to, anyway?)…then it becomes even harder to come up with an example.

I got a feeling if you could revive Ayn Rand and ask her about this senate nominee who was named after her, she’d end up agreeing with what he said. I’ve also got a feeling that when this whole thing plays out and the dust settles on it, his critics will be missing more ass flesh than he will. Most people loathe discrimination, but have had some misgivings for a long time about government telling businesses what they can’t do. It seems like a swell idea until you have a personal experience that allows you to see up close how compassionate our civil servants are…heh…and then you meet some folks who act like Ayn Rand villains, and the flaws in the plan become really hard to ignore.

All a business can really do, in the final analysis, is offer a product or service…and withdraw it. And then they can be like BP and screw things up, I suppose. But discrimination is not that. It isn’t being poisoned, it isn’t being injured, when you get down to the nuts and bolts of it it’s really just stupid business. We don’t need laws against it, what we really need is to have our freedom back.

It’s embarrassing to have to point it out, but since 1964 we’ve lost a hell of a lot more rights than to throw people out of our businesses if we don’t like their skin color. Kids get suspended from school if they get caught with an Advil, we can’t change the oil in our own cars because we can’t dispose of the oil, we can’t cut our own grass because we can’t dispose of the clippings, we can’t toss out light bulbs or batteries. This is the binopia we need to start fighting. This is how all that nonsense starts. Someone somewhere has a preference…and they express it by means of a new law. We lose yet another freedom and our progressives say “Well what of it? It’s the right choice!”

So we might as well require it? Until everyone is forced to do the right thing all the time?

If you can’t see something falling away when that happens, you have a mighty strange definition of freedom.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Looking for Two Experiments

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

I’m looking for two experiments that deal with human impulses. One of ‘em I read about and then I promptly forgot all about anything by way of source (book, link, author, institution, periodical etc.). People sat at desks and played a game involving an accumulation of money; if you pressed a button, you could “vanish” somebody else’s fortune a dollar at a time, but it would cost you 25 cents.

The other one I heard about through lunch chatter. You give a small child a gummy bear and leave the room, but before you leave the room you say: If the gummy bear is still there when I come back, you get a second gummy bear. Then you don’t come back. The bear will be gone within 15 minutes, the trick is that within the 15 minutes, it will last an amount of time directly proportional to the child’s intelligence.

Anybody got sources for these? Or some hints?

Update: Ah, my brother came through in the clinch.

The Marshmallow Experiment – Instant Gratification from FloodSanDiego on Vimeo.

The Hello-Kitty-of-Bloggin’ does have its uses after all.

Update: Now that I know what it’s called, I like the YouTube version a little bit better. Not coming through all stoppy and congested and stuff…

I should add that my son is in the next room, in his fourth minute on this experiment. Although I suppose he’s a little on the old side for this.

Memo For File CXIII

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Enough about Holy Teleprompter Man. Let’s take a look at the people who work for Him. This is important. He sets the agenda, but these people carry it out.

Item: So much depends on their elitism, we may as well begin with that. Shortly after the electoral victory of He Who Argues With The Dictionaries, I had noticed the contradiction within modern liberalism that becomes irreconcilable and ultimately self-destructive when the liberalism wins elections. It wins these elections in service of a goal of “re-educating” us, by which I mean everyone…but I don’t really mean the classic definition of “everyone” because that isn’t what they mean. They want to take all of these ideas that don’t fit in with their own, and render them ineffectual. They want everybody who fails to believe, to either convert or die. But not all of us are to convert, and maybe all of us are not to die either. A complete victory here would ruin them, I said, because if everybody everywhere is in complete agreement that the liberal ideas are the right ones, then how do you prove yourself to be special by believing in those ideas? You can’t; therefore, this isn’t what they want. You can’t be in the elite club if someone isn’t being left out of it. So to be victorious, the liberal must prevail, and yet to achieve mere significance, the liberal must see to it that the conflict continues after he has prevailed.

Item: Last month, during a “discussion” with liberals about their most powerful females being consistently ugly, I noted on blogger friend Mark’s blog that Supreme Court nominee short-lister Elena Kagan was a dog. (She was, as we all know now, subsequently nominated.) If I were pointing out an isolated incident, that would of course be a cheap shot…and maybe it still is, but the fact remains this is part of an enduring trend. Our progressive “friends” remain ignorant, or put on a good show of remaining ignorant, of the plain, simple and undeniable fact: After the trend has played out for so many decades, whatever vestigial belief remains that these females are being picked for their qualifications, has to dissipate. It is the same situation that would exist if the same forty years ticked on by, with each female nominee to a position of power looking like a Playboy centerfold. Some competent women are homely; some are gorgeous. To so consistently avoid either extreme in service of some goal involving packaging, is detrimental to whatever cause depends on competence. Doesn’t our strength, our progress, depend on diversity? Where’d the diversity go? How come every left-wing power-chick looks like Shrek, except with the massive head slightly melted? Life-long bachelorette, white, nose the size of a large doorknob, hair looks like she’s made-up to play the wicked witch in a Hansel and Gretel school play. You halfway expect to see spiders or cockroaches crawling out of it.

Item: Arthurstone, trying to slam me (the slamming is obligatory when someone says something un-politically-correct, because silence equals consent don’cha know), in his exuberance and incompetence revealed a little bit too much about the plan:

Let’s call that the Arthurstone-discipline-of-liberalism: Manifesting some inner personal decency you may or may not really have, by showcasing your inattention to obvious fact. Kind of a modern, sickly variation of the parable about The Emperor’s Clothes…in reverse.

Rat PhotoItem: In the wake of the whole “rat photo” thing, blogger pal Gerard made the comment about the scene-stealing rodent,

The Rat’s either deserting the ship or applying for a job.

Item: The highly opinionated U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was caught not knowing a goddamn thing about the subject of his uninformed blatherings.

Item: Blogsister Daphne said Holder, who is black, is

…an affirmative action baby, and we all know it. Obama’s whole house is full colorful incompetence, that’s the way the liberals play. Shade over matter.

And then followed it up (knowing full well what was coming) with “Yes, I am a racist. Deal with it.” But this has nothing to do with race…as was aptly demonstrated when…

Item: Our ugly white Homeland Security Secretary was caught in the same way demonstrating the same abysmal ignorance.

Item: Blogger friend Rick brings us the story of a respected scientist who was brought into President Obama’s brain trust to figure out ways to clean up the oil spill, and then summarily dismissed from it when someone figured out his ideas weren’t quite right:

A St. Louis scientist who was among a select group picked by the Obama administration to pursue a solution to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been removed from the group because of writings on his website, the U.S. Energy Department confirmed Wednesday.

Washington University physics professor Jonathan Katz was one of five top scientists chosen by the Department of Energy and attended meetings in Houston last week.

Though considered a leading scientist, Katz’s website postings often touch on social issues. Some of those writings have stirred anger in the past and include postings defending homophobia and questioning the value of racial diversity efforts.

The question that arises is: What exactly does it take to successfully serve in President Obama’s cabinet…His innermost circle…or anywhere near 1600 Pennsylvania…or His kinda-sorta inner circle? Who are these people who wield all this power, these people who we are constantly told are oh-so-smart and will bring us all these wonderful results, just as soon as they stop talking about how wonderful they are and how wonderful their boss is, and start working on something? What makes them what they are, and what are they?

And the answer is starting to emerge.

We can tell by looking at them that they are pretty men and ugly women. That has been such a constant for so long that it seems discourteous not to take the time to notice it, after they’ve taken such trouble to persevere in the pattern. Nobody anywhere is asking the question, but it’s certainly a good guess that the clothes worn by pretty-men and ugly-women alike, cost more than anything ever worn by any Republican Vice Presidential candidate since, well, ever. They are book-smart, mostly from their college experiences many years ago when they were forced to read a bunch of garbage; lately, most of them don’t read very much, which stands to reason because they are not held to a standard that involves the production of good results. If that were the case they wouldn’t be liberals, of course.

They are not valued because they have noticed things. If anything, they are valued for not-noticing things. Which fills them with an adrenaline, a drive, to not-notice even more things. Arthurstone proved that much. As far as I know, he doesn’t serve on any special board fulfilling some Obama agenda, other than to log on to blogs that disagree with his ideas and enter silly nonsensical comments there. But hey, he’s got enough of the technique down that he’s worth watching; he is a dim, shadowy reflection of the folks in charge. They are pretty excited about not-noticing things, too.

But the most important thing worth observing about them is this: They do not really have ideas. Not novel ones, anyway; the ideas they do have are merely echoes of ideas someone else has had, which is to say they may as well not have any. I said something about producing good results — that, clearly, is not on the table. Had Professor Katz demonstrated only negligible promise of solving the oil spill crisis, but kept his ideas in line with what was expected of him…which means, kept them progressive and unremarkable…he’d still be in the brain trust. But his written ideas about entirely unrelated subjects are not to be tolerated. Don’t let the doorknob hitcha where the Good Lord splitcha, Prof. Katz, and that would remain the outcome even if you were an oil cleanup superhero.

The criteria is ideas, not results. But not ideas, either. Non-idea ideas. Provide the proper echoing resonance for ideas that have already been created by someone else. Reflect the ideas properly. Give them the right packaging. Be pretty if you’re a man and ugly if you’re a woman.

Are you ready for something really scary?

The Katz story is how these people respond to a real crisis. And we are stuck with their “leadership,” if you want to call it that, for at least thirty-two more months. Milquetoast ideas, no positive results, no priority given to the results, lots of pretty men and ugly women.

This is supposed to be all about “change,” remember that? You never seriously believed that did you? Keep your expectations low, you’ll never be disappointed.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Debating the Right to Discriminate

Friday, May 21st, 2010