Archive for June, 2010

More Insight on the Helen Thomas Thing

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

The Rabbi who brought an end to the nonsense after it had dragged on for half a century, describes his experience.

We were on the White House front lawn when I told the teenagers that approaching us was the most famous reporter in the world — Helen Thomas, a veteran who had covered presidents from Kennedy to Obama. We stopped her. I told Thomas that the young men were starting out in the press corps and hoped to be reporters. She kindly shared notes about journalism with us. “You’ll always keep learning,” she said. It was an honor.

Then I asked: “Any comments on Israel? We’re asking everybody today.” Like saying a password to enter a new, secret place. “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine,” she replied, and “go home” to Poland and Germany.
I merely asked a question with a video camera to a columnist. She answered me with an opinion that was unacceptable not just to me but to former and current press secretaries, politicians, the president, her agent and a great many other people. Her freedom of speech was not stifled; on the contrary, it was respected.

She didn’t say that the blockade was unjust, or that aid was not getting to Gaza, or that there was a massacre on the high seas, or that East Jerusalem is occupied, or that the settlements are immoral…and get out and go back to West Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat. No. This was not the two-state solution. This was get the hell out and go back to the places of the final solution, Poland and Germany. The Jew has no connection with the land of Israel.

And why? Because, as Thomas went on to explain to me, “I’m from Arab descent.” That’s it? That’s all you got? Do we all travel with only our parents’ stereotypes to guide us, never going beyond them to get to a peaceful destination?

I hope this is just the beginning. Helen Thomas’ continued association with that coveted “front row seat” was preserved purely out of name recognition. It had no basis in anything except those parts of aristocratic England that were never supposed to have a place in the New World, the country “of laws, not of men.” I continue to see it as a jutting appendage of the whole union mentality that sees a person’s job not as an association with an employer who needs work done, not as a contract, or an obligation, but as property. As a feudal title.

Anyone who promoted that or accepted that, I hope this manure just rolls straight uphill and their asses get fired. We’re supposed to despise “old boys’ clubs” in our modern enlightened society. Why should they get a pass just because they promoted an old girl? These jackasses went through the motions of pretending to bring us news, and instead just preserved a stale, do-nothing organizational hierarchy that gave a modern Hitler a soapbox. And then they kept right on doing it for as long as they could get away with it.

Oh and one other little thing. From all the years that I have listened to Helen Thomas’ “questions”…the idea of her telling young aspirant reporters “you’ll always keep learning” is something I find to be rich, risible and snort-worthy. The woman is the living pinnacle of intellectual stasis. Seriously — seriously — what does she think about things now, that she didn’t think at the very beginning?

The answer to that one would be a worthy addition to my collection of thin books, I think.

Obama Blames Unemployment on Republicans

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

President Barack Obama on Saturday pinned blame on Republicans for making life harder for the unemployed and for those who could lose their jobs without new federal intervention. He did so even as he sought to distance himself from the “dreary and familiar politics” of Washington.

Capping a week in which the administration scored a victory _ a $20 billion fund to be paid by BP for the victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill _ Obama reserved his radio and Internet address to focus on the work that didn’t get done.

His main concern was the rejection of a bill in the Senate that would have provided more money for the long-term unemployed, aid for strapped state governments and the renewal of popular tax breaks for businesses and individuals.

The story goes on to mention that the Republican position is not altogether opposed to everything in the bill, but they are “demanding changes to shrink its toll on the deficit.”

Oh yeah, that. We are all so concerned about the solvency of the Republic. Why I just heard PrezBO deliver another one of His wonderful speeches in which He expressed His concern…when was that? Oh, woops. Been quite awhile since I’ve heard anything like that out of Him.

Okay Carrie Fisher, it’s settled. Someone needs to remind Obama of things like budget deficits, He’s clearly not going to take on the issue on His own. So that doesn’t make you a racist. We’ll be awaiting your apology with eager anticipation — if, by “eager anticipation,” you understand what I really mean is disgust and eyeball-rolling.

This thing about “Republican policies are the reason for all your suffering” mystifies me. I suppose it’s to be expected; there are 41 Republicans in the Senate, and they’re using the filibuster to hold up this bill. If the President belongs to the majority party, it’s only natural to see him on the stump delivering speeches about why we should rally the troops in November to whittle the 41 down to something lower. What’s mystifying is the “Republicans cause suffering” meme; obviously, we’re supposed to interpret that as “democrat policies are the only ones that really work.”

And what are these “democrat policies”? They are taking money away from the producers, and giving it to the non-producers. And a new spending program that is, gosh darn it, so important that this time we simply cannot afford to think about whether we cannot afford it. This time, we can’t afford not to spend the money!

VuvuzelaExcept every single lap around the track is like that. You cannot listen to these, if you possess any working long-term memory at all, without feeling like your intelligence is being insulted. Because it is. Today we have to spend the money on this. Yesterday it was that other thing, completely unrelated to this thing…and yesterday, not a single soul mentioned today’s thing, they just tried to sell you yesterday’s thing. Tomorrow — take it to the bank — it will be some other damn silly thing. And the day after, and the day after that. Nevermind the fiscal impact, we can’t afford NOT to do it!

Why do these tidbits take hold so well, when it’s impossible to listen to them without feeling like your intellect is being insulted? Because nowadays, the plain truth of it is a lot of voters don’t have an intellect to insult. Blame the parents and the educational system. They haven’t been taught to evaluate a decision from two sides. They haven’t learned to walk any kind of tightrope. They cannot navigate between a Scylla and a Charybdis. There is only “should do” and “should not do.” Up-with-this and down-with-that.

Timing and prioritization are rather elementary talents in the animal kingdom. A mongoose trying to figure out the right instant to lash at a cobra, can do this. But humans enjoy a lot of creature comforts a wild mongoose does not, and these have had a stultifying effect on some of us. And so Obama can say this stuff. We have to spend money on My gimmick today and just worry about consequences later, and don’t worry your pretty li’l head about why I didn’t mention My gimmick today back when I was trying to sell you on the stimulus plan — why I couldn’t lop off a few billion over there, to spend here, if today’s thing is so all-fired important. Don’t worry about that. Just say yes.

And of course when we find out it didn’t work, and now there are consequences to be endured, it’s always, always, always someone else’s fault. It must be true. He’s such a great speaker.

It reflects poorly on Him to be selling this stuff. But the fact that people are buying it, is most certainly not His fault. It’s theirs. They own that mistake.

Grateful hat tip to KC for leading us to the graphic. We’ve been looking for an excuse to use it and we’re glad, albeit unsurprised, it didn’t take long.

Memo For File CXVI

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Your bank, which is where Blue Ravine and Green Valley meet with East Natoma, closes at one sharp on Saturday afternoons.

Your bank, which is where Blue Ravine and Green Valley meet with East Natoma, closes at one sharp on Saturday afternoons.

Your bank, which is where Blue Ravine and Green Valley meet with East Natoma, closes at one sharp on Saturday afternoons.

Your bank, which is where Blue Ravine and Green Valley meet with East Natoma, closes at one sharp on Saturday afternoons.

Your bank, which is where Blue Ravine and Green Valley meet with East Natoma, closes at one sharp on Saturday afternoons.

Your bank, which is where Blue Ravine and Green Valley meet with East Natoma, closes at one sharp on Saturday afternoons.

Your bank, which is where Blue Ravine and Green Valley meet with East Natoma, closes at one sharp on Saturday afternoons.

Your bank, which is where Blue Ravine and Green Valley meet with East Natoma, closes at one sharp on Saturday afternoons.

Your bank, which is where Blue Ravine and Green Valley meet with East Natoma, closes at one sharp on Saturday afternoons.

Your bank, which is where Blue Ravine and Green Valley meet with East Natoma, closes at one sharp on Saturday afternoons.

No, I’m not pasting from the clipboard. I am typing it in by hand, each letter, over and over again. Scolding myself; a true MEMO FOR FILE. It is rage at one’s self you are seeing above, since I have been bitten in the rear end by this before. From here on out I intend to get it right no matter what it takes.

Also, the mail is picked up at one-freakin’-thirty. Oh-fer-two.

That’s okay. On this round of peregrinations, getting the mail out was the only thing that really mattered. The drop boxes by the downtown post office aren’t cleared out ’til three.

Carrie Fisher is Why I’d Vote No on Legalizing Drugs

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Or she’s part of the reason why.

I’ve drawn a lot of flak on this and why I draw flak on it, has always been a mystery to me. Whether or not any drug should be legal, is a question on which the federal government has no jurisdiction whatsoever. Congress can declare things illegal, but only after it has been granted the authority to declare them illegal. Congress receives the authority it has through the Constitution and amendments to that document, and by no other means. It cannot grant this power to itself, nor can it be conferred upon the legislative branch by the other two.

If there’s a Supreme Court decision that says otherwise, it is quite simply wrong.

Give a FingerMaking a drug illegal is a states’-rights issue. It would be better to legislate such a matter at the county level than at the state level. It would be even better to decide it in a township. Best of all, make it a homeowners’-association clause. The idea of one man, pointing at another man across the miles, lakes, fruited planes, degrees of longitude, into some locality he will never visit, and declaring what the other man may not consume, just repels me. It’s not just a constitutional question, it’s a question of sound law enforcement.

People have a right to decide how they’re going to live, and that means the local community has to reign supreme. People in Oregon have a right not to have their votes on such questions watered-down by people in California. People in Davis have a right not to have their votes on such questions watered-down by people in Folsom.

But — and here’s where I take the flak — in my corner, I’m voting no. Don’t legalize.

We do not need more of what this does. We do not need more Carrie Fishers.

They just aren’t that special.

I have made occasional reference to the fact that I grew up in a college town. In truth, I had a little bit closer contact with the spoiled-rotten, tweaker, can’t-think-straight, long-hair maggot-infested Ozzy Osborne wannabe kids than that.

The college campus was at midpoint between home and my middle school. My friends tended to be older, and in junior and senior years I visited them in their dorms. I did volunteer work for & with them. One of the more educational stints involved working as a disc jockey at their radio station. At the time, you could qualify for a Class D radio operator license at age thirteen, and so I did. This involved occasionally sitting in after-hours with the Program Coordinator and other artistes to plan out what we were going to do.

From these and other experiences, what do I know?

A great tragedy that has fallen upon our mature society, is summed up in ignorant comments like this:

I am certainly not ordinary. I think it’s been hard for my daughter. I know it’s not easy for her to have a mother who is bipolar and had a drug problem. My father had a drug problem. That stuff’s tough. It makes you grow up too fast. My daughter has had to be very strong to overcome some of my challenges and she is.
It’s hard to freak me out. I’ve had a lot of extreme experiences in my life.

She’s fifty-three and still talking like this. It is never stated outright, but you are supposed to infer that these “extreme experiences” that make it “hard to freak me out” and “[make] you grow up too fast” — there is something glamorous about them. These tragedies in the formative years give the speaker certain bragging rights. In spite of what has been screwed up as a direct result, these things are assets. They are recollected that way, treated that way.

In Fisher’s case, she’s passing it on down to the next generation. Oh look, I handed this bag of crap to my daughter; she shouldn’t have had to deal with it, but look how strong she is as a result.

Well now. There certainly is something to this, I’ll admit. Or rather, there could be. “Hard to freak me out” can be an advantageous quality.

Trouble is, in order to gain a win from that, you have to translate it into Kipling’s “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you”. In other words, low-drama. Failing that, there’s no gain from this.

These people are not low-drama. Not even close. In fact, the net loss is rather profound because this business of “I’m just so jaded” leads, rather directly, to an inability to discern. And their judgment is seduced.

Metal BikiniLook no further than the interview I’ve already linked, for a glorious example of this.

Is there anyone you haven’t met that you’ve always wanted to?

I’m surprised you haven’t met him.
I know. I love him. Hopefully I’ll meet him sometime. I’m just happy he exists.

Do you think Tea Party is just people who are pissed that there is an African American president?
Yup, and the fact that they chose to call themselves “teabaggers,” which is slang for a certain act involving b***s. It sort of says a lot. I would say a mouthful. Looks like it’s very upsetting for them, but he’s brilliant. The thing is, he’s half white but that’s still not enough — for them it’s all white or f**k off. I think we don’t deserve him and certainly teabaggers don’t deserve him.

Okay, in an ideological sense I disagree with this and if you are familiar with some of my past comments, it would be redundant for me to explain why.

Fisher got some facts grossly wrong about the Tea Party movement, and even if you lack sympathy with it, they’re probably easy to spot so I won’t point ’em out.

As I said, these jaded-druggie-rock-n-roll kids suffer a weakness in discernment. This is my critique about those final paragraphs in the interview. By now, it’s hardly news to anyone that Barack Obama is a rather ordinary politician. Agree with His policies if you like, but you haven’t heard any talk about “He’s Sort Of God” lately and there are a lot of reasons for that. He’s an excellent speaker, a kind of mediocre politician, a poor executive and — well, how I rank him against the other presidents is not germane to my point.

I’m sure Fisher would rank Him differently from the way I would, and I cannot fault her just for this. Life would be boring if we all agreed on everything. I do fault her for being in love with someone she’s never met.

You’re seeing a manifestation of what all those lectures from your parents, maybe from your high school health class, from your gym teacher, were about. Carrie Fisher cannot think straight. She is damaged goods.

She is a walking incarnation of the reason I would vote to keep drugs illegal. These people have “been through a lot”; they think they’re special because of this, and they’re wrong. They’re rather humdrum. Their ranks are swollen and they are common. I can write their little “been through a whole lot” speeches, for them, with blistering accuracy, entire phrases at a time. Because that’s how they talk, in cliches.

Each one speaks as if he or she is the first to go through this, when it isn’t true. This is the great tragedy. This is why they think they’re special when they aren’t really special.

And this discolors the lens through which they view all others. They seem to show great reliability in seeing extraordinary things as ordinary things, and — more often than that, perhaps — ordinary things as extraordinary things.

They do the greatest damage when they see healthy things as unhealthy things and vice-versa.

Their solutions to problems are the exact opposite of what common sense would offer. I don’t know if this can be completely explained by what follows, but I’m settled on the idea that this is, at least partly, because they perceive the components of the problem as more-or-less the opposite of what they really are.

There is a huge underwater spigot of oil that is contaminating the gulf. Their solution is to put a “boot in the neck” of the oil company that caused it, and — while that company is still in charge of cleaning up the mess — extorting billions of dollars out of them to put under the control of lawyers. And let’s see…what else. Pass cap and trade, ban all offshore oil drilling for some indeterminate period of time, impose some new taxes on the other oil companies that aren’t culpable in this — as well as on the customers purchasing their products — and use the proceeds to fund research into “alternative fuels.”

See what these plans all have in common? This coveted resource which is oil, and all products that are derived from it, which includes energy — is to be made more scarce. So these people want to run everything. And they’ve lost touch with reality to such a great extent that they cannot even maintain a working comprehension of the basic laws of supply and demand.

Also, the non-productive are treated as if they are productive. And, again, vice-versa. Yes, lawyers make big heaping truckloads of moolah. It’s never failed to amaze me how, when it’s time to toss up the evil-awful-greedy-rich-people on the giant display screen for the two-minute-hate, it’s always supposed to be some kind of a “hedge fund manager,” maybe a CEO who started his company by building a real thing that helped real people…and not a lawyer.

Little bit of a side-trail here: Isn’t it rather breathtaking the free ride lawyers get? It’s gotten to the point that there are two things in this whole freakin’ country: Things that work the way lawyers say they should work, and things that will work that way someday soon as they get around to it. But for all our various problems we’re supposed to blame all these other rich people.

Back to the subject at hand about these residual druggies, who may or may not still partake, but have divorced themselves from clear-minded straight thinking…

Your BrainThey will object most vociferously to the criticism that sticks the best: They are malleable. It is easy to sell them things if you just push the right buttons. These people are so jaded, their gears are so stripped, they’ve grown up so fast and it’s so hard to freak them out…that it becomes quite a simple matter to tell ’em what to think, and they don’t even know it. They can be told who to hate, and they’ll follow right along.

They lie to themselves, so what they say to others cannot be trusted. They all seem to have it in common that they are, ostensibly, in search of a life they can live out in peace, free of interference from others. This is absolutely, positively, not what they want. They want everyone living, of whom they will ever gain a working knowledge, to be tethered to a yoke and then they want to have control over that yoke; or someone they “love” to have control over that yoke.

They want the commoners to be controlled, and they want a special, non-universal, exclusive, elite class to do the controlling. They’re in favor of democracy, of course — but only if & when the correct side wins. Otherwise, someone must have tampered with the ballot boxes. They’re fair-weather friends to democracy.

They want laws that help “everyone,” laws that “everyone” likes especially if there is some part of the “everyone” that actually is hurt by the laws, and hate them. They like the laws even better, then. They want laws that cause injury to some of us, and then they want to make sure everyone who disagrees cannot have any voice in the process.

What they really want is slavery. This is why they go through this business of ostracizing the dissenters, slandering them, gutterballing them. And now, if you have some beef with the unprecedented Obama deficits and you’re worried that your kids & grandkids won’t be able to keep any of their paychecks, you oughtta be joining the Ku Klux Klan. Nice one, Carrie.

My bottom line?

We just don’t need any more people acting this way. We don’t need more people thinking this way. We have more than enough already. Case closed.

Update 6/20/10: Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Let’s Shift to the Right Brain

Friday, June 18th, 2010

…because the left brain is for figuring out puzzles, and everywhere we turn there’s puzzle pieces being brought to us by people we know damn good and well are lying to us.

I think Daphne’s got the right idea. She’s going with a techno version of Bach’s Fugue…which I can tolerate during the few seconds before it goes techno.

I see your Bach, and I raise you a Bruch. From an eight-year-old.

I’m gonna go get another beer.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s all small stuff. We-ell…not really…but you can’t do much about it tonight.

Best Sentence XCI

Friday, June 18th, 2010

John Hawkins takes the ninety-first award for Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL). This nugget distills the entire argument down to its bare essentials, and you can disagree with it only by avoiding the essence of it.

[T]his is not a statement that should have ever come out of the mouth of an American President.

I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required…

The President and His followers have been working pretty hard this week to convince voters that the opposing party is in the pocket of big oil, and this business with Congressman Barton apologizing to BP has predictably helped that along. It’s the first significant event that’s been politically beneficial to the goals of the democrats since…well, a very long time. Obama’s inauguration, maybe. They’re bound to make the most of it and you can’t really blame them. Them’s politics. Politics occasionally becomes separated from the genuine state of things, and although that’s unhealthy, it’s always tremendously satisfying for about half of us.

As the wax strip of politics is peeled away from the pelvic area of reality, though, eventually you get to a point where enough is enough. I know lots of Republicans, and lots of folks who consider them to be conservatives. My informal polling indicates a clean split. A slight majority says Congressman Barton was completely out of line and may be bat-shit crazy. A bare minority is on the side of myself and Hawkins — we agree BP needs to belly up to the bar and own this problem, but the President is way out of line in ordering them to do so.

Even the wise people who agree with me, like Hawkins, concede it was over the top for Bargon to offer an apology that was not his to give. From reading his apology for the apology, as well as the original comments delivered just hours previous, I would even go so far as to count Congressman Barton in that.

I don’t know of anybody on the conservative side, in a position of leadership or simply voting, who thinks we need to go apologizing to oil companies that screw up.

But I do see a lot of liberals, in positions of power as well as simply voting that way, who seem to live in a sort of Bizarro-world of ecnomics. They seem to think if we “stick it” to the oil companies artfully enough, all sorts of wonderful things will happen. It’s got something to do with dirt-cheap gasoline, affordable in abundance even for those among us who barely scrape by, delivered into our waiting hands without any of that drilling for icky crude oil — anywhere. Not in the USA, not overseas, not offshore, nowhere. It’ll just be conjured up out of thin air and sold to us for 63 cents a gallon, if only we pull off a sufficiently vigorous job of telling the oil companies what filthy bastards they are.

If I could find a Republican who truly thinks we need to go apologizing to oil companies for getting in the oil companies’ way, I would find that position, by comparison, eminently reasonable.

But I cannot.

Mount Schlussel is Erupting

Friday, June 18th, 2010

I just finished checking out what Debbie Schlussel had to say about several of my blogging compatriots. It took me a few minutes, not a whole lot, but it isn’t an exercise I wish to repeat because I have to go to work.

Unfortunately, no sooner had that been done than I see by my e-mail updates that Sammy Benoit is also complaining Debbie Schlussel is sliming him.

I just don’t have the time for this.

My comments at Cassy’s place are as follows:

The one point to be made about all this, is this is my experience when I did the appropriate homework and made every attempt to give Debbie the benefit of the doubt. I read HER material, and when I was done reviewing it, there was NOTHING there. I’ve had this experience with Schlussel before. She holds a law degree from the University of Wisconsin. The woman cannot logically make a point. Speculating on it, I would say she possesses a number of appealing attributes that bring all kinds of coveted credentials and accolades to people who don’t deserve the privileges that go with them, and do not command the talents they should require. She’s female, attractive in her own way, skinny, blond, driven and mean.

In high school, every girl-clique has a ringleader, the “Alpha male” of the group. This one has the final word on who’s on the outs, who’s headed there, what boy is to be thought-of as cute. She has the final word on these things because she is accustomed to having it, and for no other reason; and she’s female cute skinny driven & mean. My speculation is — that’s Debbie. When she presents an argument, it all seems to boil down to “You’re not evaluating what she has to say, she’s evaluating you. You’ve got one shot to show Debbie you’re a decent person, and if you fuck it up you must be an antisemite.” And what I really find disturbing and troubling is, I’ll bet my last $10 that in the course of pursuing that law degree, this worked out for her just fine. Everything is a 15-year-old-girl argument. “She didn’t do what I said! We’ll all just HATE her forEVER!!!”

Great googly moogly Deb, try decaf.

Over in Europe, in several countries it is illegal to deny the holocaust took place. Now, I really don’t have much information about who, if anybody at all, is being prosecuted over this. Probably the dregs of society, and maybe the streets are actually safer because of those laws.

But…oh dear, here goes my name, onto that list…it is a blessing that such a law is, for now, unworkable here in the United States. It’s not just the free speech aspect of it. Such a law encourages people to think the Debbie Schlussel way. You know, you have these “pure” people who are right about everything, and impure people who are wrong about everything. You become an impure person if you are connected to another impure person, or connected to a person who is connected to a person who is connected to a person who is impure. Once that happens you can’t ever be right about anything ever again. You’re an intellectual leper.

I’m sure, if the issue is holocaust denial, in some cases that is entirely appropriate. But this is not the way grown-up adults do their reasoning. People are people, ideas are ideas. Like the guy on the radio said a few months ago: “If you can somehow manage to find, in this day and age, a real, live, Nazi from Hitler’s Third Reich and everything…and that Nazi happened to be opposed to the Obama health care plan. The Nazi might be right, I’d say, about that one, solitary thing.”

Schlussel is bright in her own way, but she’s allowing whatever legal talents she has, to atrophy. By “legal” I really mean forensic; conducting rational discourse about a point. She has allowed herself to become accustomed, for how long I do not know, to an environment in which once you “slime” whoever your opposition is in the moment, the job’s done and you move on. And it says something when she goes on the warpath, and suddenly everyone who’s anyone finds themselves tossed into the Schlussel-icky-people-barrel within 24 hours of each other. Guess I’m headed there myself.

She is, in the final analysis, becoming precisely what she hates. That’s a shame.

First they came for Cassy Fiano and I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t Cassy Fiano…then they came for Emily Zanotti and Sammy Benoit…

Congressman Barton Apologizes for His Apology

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Here’s the original:

“I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Barton said. “I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case, a $20 billion shakedown.”

He complained that “the attorney general of the United States, who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do so to protect the interests of the American people, [is] participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that’s unprecedented in our nation’s history, that’s got no legal standing, and which sets, I think, a terrible precedent for the future.”

“I apologize,” Barton told [BP President Anthony] Hayward. “I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is — again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown. So I apologize…I’m speaking now totally for myself,” he noted. “I’m not speaking for the Republican Party.”

Charles Krauthammer says this was the politically most stupid statement of the entire year. This may explain why Barton was forced to retract these comments. The whole episode really is the first significant problem the Republicans have had in re-taking Congress.

So if you’re talking politics, I suppose I would have to agree. But waitasecond. Suppose, somehow, BP had managed to cause this much damage to the Gulf or to some other piece of Creation, without suffering any of this tarnish to their image. There would be no slush fund; there would be no shakedown. Now turn it around. Suppose BP did the damage and then managed to hang it all on someone else…a contractor, maybe. Or suppose someone else did the damage and hung it on BP. The extortion would be done against whoever got the black eye, not against whoever did the damage. You know it, I know it, we all know it.

Oh, and would anybody like to step forward and express their brimming confidence that the $20 billion will be effectively used to repair the environmental damage?

So this isn’t about the fact that BP screwed up…although, for the record, they most certainly did. If the cost of putting things right exceeds their worth, then I see no earthly reason why they shouldn’t be subjected to corporate euthanasia and parted out like an old car at a junkyard.

Leaving that aside though, Barton’s original statement was completely right. The precedent is horrible. In fact, the spectacle of the Congressman being bludgeoned into apologizing the very same day raises very disturbing possibilities. The appearance — to me, anyway — is that Republicans and democrats alike who work in the beltway are putting together a phantom industry. It is an avenue toward fantastic profits to be enjoyed by the non-producers.

I know, it’s the beltway. I really shouldn’t be surprised.

Is it entirely unreasonable of me to suggest that such a phantom industry of non-producers, should perhaps enjoy all of the power of real industries but no more than that? Think about what we’re looking at here, it is utterly reprehensible. We already saw it with the Tobacco settlement. Now this phony industry is bullying Congressmen who speak inconvenient truths.

Think about any other business doing this. Grabbing a Congressman by the lapels and giving him the “Don’t ever take sides against The Family again, Fredo” speech.

I’ll just come out and say it. There is not a single thing wrong with what Congressman Barton said. Well, except perhaps for the apology. Krauthammer’s right, that was dumb. Even if you agreed with it, and I most certainly don’t, it was not Barton’s to give.

But “shakedown” is absolutely accurate. Who can give me a qualifying criteria for that word, that does not apply here? Who can provide me with some assurances that this won’t change the landscape of corporate America forever? BP was subjected to entirely legitimized extortion, the chosen enforcement angle of a brand new subterranean alternative legal framework.

Not because they killed fish, shrimp, birds and whales. Not because they despoiled beaches. But because they were, in the moment at hand, unpopular. So who’s next?

I’ll say something else; something that I hope just cuts right to the quick. Unkindly.

Our nation’s Constitution provides us with two critically important assurances: That We, The People will be in charge of our government — that they will fear us, rather than the other way around — and that, once we are put in charge of our own destinies, we will enjoy an absolute and unfettered right to our own profits and property.

I wish we could muster up just a fraction of the righteous outrage to safeguard the latter, as we do to protect the former. I could go up to Capitol Hill tomorrow and say “I don’t think you should be able to vote if you haven’t paid attention to what’s gong on,” and people would be ready to tar & feather me. You know they would. I could threaten to take the vote away from…people with very low IQ’s. People who don’t know the name “Barack Obama.” People who won’t take the time to go out and vote unless ACORN offers them a ride and a free pack of smokes. Anybody. I make noise about disenfranchising someone, and critics will come out of the woodwork.

Politicians make all these restrictions on how much money the “corporations” can make, and when they can keep it…it goes without saying all these restrictions apply to everybody else…and we just, aw well, that’s alright. Carry on.

Patterico Destroys the Lies of a Liberal Blogger

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Should I even give this one an intro. It hardly seems necessary, I thoroughly enjoyed every single paragraph of this take-down.

Account Nuked!It doesn’t really prove very much. It’s more of an exercise in creating doubt about the opposite. But the doubt it creates is, to say the least, significant. And it always entertains me when left-wing blogs yank things. The pattern that continues to emerge is that they aren’t acting to keep the conversation on an even keel, it’s more about promoting the beloved agenda and making sure anything that might bring harm to it, is kept hidden from view.

Today’s dedicated liberals embrace diversity in all things except thought.

Hat tip to Kate at Small Dead Animals.

“Do You Fully Support the Obama Agenda?”

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Hat tip to Rick.

Christie Makes it Look Easy

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

And Americans are yearning for his style.

It seems like every week or so, you see blogs and Twitter comments in the vein of, “Hey, did you see this great speech by Chris Christie?”

And they’re not actually great speeches, at least not the way we’ve been conditioned to expect in the Age of Obama — not much flowery language, not much rhetoric that soars — but just him and a group of New Jerseyans, and him laying out the state’s enormous problems in blunt honesty, and a raw, unvarnished pep talk that the path ahead is going to be hard, but will be the responsible and wiser course in the long run. And what makes him seem great is that the audience knows he’s not trying to sell them anything; we know he’s not making an implausibly optimistic promise because what he describes is not all that appealing, or at least not all that easy. He’s leveling with everyone, treating the voters like grown-ups, and they’re appreciating it, recognizing that it is radically different from what politicians usually offer.

Compare and contrast:

I hope this is just a devastating comparison. It should be. Let’s just cut through all the crap here & now: Nobody really needs to be told which of these leaders is apt to fix a problem, and which one is inclined to make new ones.

We all know. That’s why the speech that’s supposed to be boring is actually great, and the speech that’s supposed to be great is actually boring.

American Digest Turns Seven Years Old

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

As Lorne Greene might’ve said, “that’s a-hundred-and-five to you or me.” And there he sits, somewhere in the space around Queen Anne Hill and Lake Union, piling thousands upon thousands of items into the two columns, the left and the right.

He’s in that paper-thin upper crust of bloggers…and of course, although few will aspire to point it out, we all know what that means. It means he possesses the testicular fortitude to notice things. I first noticed Gerard Van der Leun noticing things some four years ago, shortly after Rush Limbaugh noticed him noticing his things. You’ll recall a certain young maggot, kind of a freckle-faced evil Jimmy Olsen, had opined in a newspaper column “I don’t support the troops.” Hugh Hewitt subsequently interviewed the maggot on a radio program, and listeners tuned in to find out if this was the work of a brave conscientious objector speaking truth to power, or…a maggot.

The sound clip is no longer available. But the verdict was clear. Maggot, maggot. Supermaggot. I made earlier reference to testicular fortitude — this poor maggot had been robbed of his, by a post-modern culture a little bit too eager to apologize for a patriarchal supremacy that it never really had.

Of the tinny anti-masculine undertones, Gerard had this to say:

You hear this soft, inflected tone everywhere that young people below, roughly, 35 congregate. As flat as the bottles of spring water they carry and affectless as algae, it tends to always trend towards a slight rising question at the end of even simple declarative sentences. It has no timbre to it and no edge of assertion in it.

The voice whisps across your ears as if the speaker is in a state of perpetual uncertainty with every utterance. It is as if, male or female, there is no foundation or soul within the speaker on which the voice can rest and rise. As a result, it has a misty quality to it that denies it any unique character at all.
Above all, it is a sexless voice. Not, I hasten to add, a “gay” voice. Not that at all. It is neither that gentle nor that musical. Nor is it that old shabby lisping stereotype best consigned to the dustbin of popular culture. No, this is a new old voice of a generation of ostensible men and women who have been educated and acculturated out of, or say rather, to the far side of any gender at all. It is, as I have indicated above, the voice of the neutered. And in this I mean that of the transitive verb: To castrate or spay. The voice and the kids that carry it is the triumphant achievement of our halls of secondary and higher education. These children did not speak this way naturally, they were taught. And like good children seeking only to please their teachers and then their employers, they learned.

It now seems prescient. This was the topsoil from which the weed that is the Obama administration eventually sprang forth. The American Castrati, each individual deciding for himself how he would speak his truth to power, what jokes to recycle, where to insert the word “basically” into his next quasi-question…but…as far as what to think, deciding without benefit of mental testicles. Going with the herd. Or the swarm. Floating up his audible trial balloons, with the “slight rising question at the end of even simple declarative sentences.”

And somewhere in the nest, at the nucleus of the swarm, someone makes the call about which trial balloons will be given an atta-boy and which will be smacked down. From that binary enforcement, the message radiates outward and the hive is kept in sync. It opposes war, and troops. Champions increased minimum wage. Rolls back the Bush tax cuts. It seems to think the ultimate solution to the oil spill is to tax and fine BP out of existence. It loves the ObamaCare law, no matter what it says.

It knows of few constants in the universe. Other than whatever is white must be bad, whatever is male and straight must be bad, anything gay is golden, and one of the best ways to make a given commodity more affordable is to make it much more expensive for companies to bring it to market.

Gerard noticed the urban, neutralized, gelded oration from those in what we call Generation X. He noticed this because he has the balls they lack. He’s a registered democrat (or was), brought into the real world, the world of cause-and-effect in which true things remain true regardless of who agrees — by, among other things, that awful Tuesday morning in 2001.

Some of the most fascinating and foresighted bloggers I know are in that camp. They were on the left side until eight years and nine months ago.

Here’s to ya Gerard. Many more.

Your Obligatory “Obama’s Crappy Speech” Post

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

There’s no buzz about “OMGWTF It’s The Best Speech EVAR!!1!” this time. Not happenin’.

What are we doing? We’re holding meetings with people, spending money, and handing out power to people and commissions.

William Jacobson bottom-lines it in one sentence:

I don’t know where I’m going, but follow me anyway.

I see on Sean Hannity’s show Karl Rove came up with an interesting point: This is like what, Day 57 or something, and you just met with BP and told them to use all available technology? Huh. How inspiring. So what was our government doing during the first 56 days?

The President is drawing a lot of flak over this comment about convening a commission to tell Him whose ass to kick. There are three major reasons why He should consider kicking His own ass:

Aw c’mon, say the 46 percent who still support His Eminence — what else do you want from Him? He’s doing all He can! Can’t swim to the bottom of the ocean and suck it up with a straw, after all.

Well, Human Events editors have put together a list of ten good ideas He could have engaged by now…

1. Accepted help from the Netherlands when they offered it shortly after the accident. The Dutch, experienced in the oil business, offered prompt help for oil skimming booms and plans to create barriers to stop the oil from infiltrating into wetland areas.

2. Suspended the Jones Act, as President Bush did after Katrina, to allow foreign vessels into American waters to assist with recovery without having to swap ships and transfer equipment onto American flagged vessels.

3. Suspended the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage laws, as President Bush did after Katrina, to allow rapid deployment of new workers to help with containment efforts.

There are several miles of boom available in Maine, ready for shipment down to the gulf at any time.

Packgen’s boom not only passes every independent ASTM assessment, it’s apparently superior to the material currently being used in the Gulf. According to John Lapoint, it’s priced only slightly higher than oil boom that BP apparently normally purchases from places like China. And according to Packgen, boom manufactured in Auburn, Maine, on Monday can be onsite at the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday. Boom from China normally has a lead time in months.

Packgen still has the 13 miles of ASTM certified floating oil containment boom, packed and palletized and ready to ship at a moment’s notice to the Gulf Coast.

It’s crisis management; basic communication. The same sort of stuff you’d want to see happening if it was the roof of your house with six-foot tongues of flame leaping out of it at 2:30 in the morning.

That we haven’t seen much of it by now, makes it unlikely we’ll see much of it from this point on. It’s a culture of opportunity-from-crisis, glorious speechifying, commissions, czars, anti-capitalist bullshit, photo-ops, symbolism over substance, talking over doing, strutting and posturing.

“Executive Command”?

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Chris Matthews has now figured out what Peggy Noonan nailed down over two weeks ago: Our nation’s first Holy President does not have something called “executive command,” nor does He seek it, since said command would require a solid ownership of the technical details relevant to the oil spill…or any other given problem. This is not the Obama way. He convenes panels, commissions, councils, committees. These exercises in group-think are executed not quite so much to produce the answer that provides the greatest potential for a good outcome, but rather to produce the answer that will bring the least damage to His presidency. For His political ambitions, the outcome is about as beneficial as anything else possibly could be…which in this case is not much.

For the rest of us, it’s about as beneficial as whatever would be produced by a monkey throwing darts at a spinning circle.

Oopsie. “Monkey.” Was that racist?

There really is no race involved; this custom is so much older than the Obama Administration. We’ve made these offices to be filled by an executive who will possess singular, individual ownership of a problem — an then the executive convenes panels so that there is no ownership. “I was following the recommendation of the blue-ribbon commission,” he’ll say.

Sarah Palin had some thoughts about Obama’s speech as well. FireDogLake would like to make Palin the focus; they’re not too fond of her comments. They’d like to critique them before anybody has a chance to pay attention to them.

But Palin does have executive command. She sees entities, and she sees responsibilities that are upheld by those entities. In the case of the oil companies, she understands their mission is to bring a return on investment to the shareholders. Which means they can be trusted to bring oil up out of the ground — and that is all. Sure it’s not in BP’s interest to have this kind of disaster drag on day after day, but it isn’t appropriate to trust them to prevent it when the rest of us, be we direct consumers of oil or be we not, have such a heavy stake in it. Her words strike an appropriate balance, she even swivels Bill O’Reilly around to her point of view when he does not initially agree, and FireDogLake cannot stand it.

And now I’m going to say something exceptionally unkind.

Barack Obama is doing everything exactly right. He comes from a dysfunctional piece of America, one so obsessed with interpersonal communication that the persons living there are thoroughly drunk on it. He is one of them. They are blisteringly angry, right now, with Him. They live out their lives by avoiding technical details like vampires avoiding holy water. They voted for Him, because they didn’t want Him to be one of them; They wanted Him to be better. They wanted to bundle up all of the bothersome technical details they cannot begin to understand, throw them at Him, and have Him sort them all out with his hopey-changey-wonderful-charisma-or-whatever.

That is how they do their thinking: They externalize it. It is their very fabric. You are reminded of this when you try to discuss things with them: “Do you presume to know more about global warming than hundreds of Nobel-prize-winning scientists?”

Here He is treating arcane technical minutiae precisely the same way they do, by punting to someone else. How dare He!

His antithesis, Palin, maintains at this late hour a very high unfavorable rating. That is because the wrong people are being asked. The hopey-changey-charisma people don’t want to be part of the decision-making process. They want someone much better — meaning, different — to make the decisions. They want to throw the decisions at someone else, someone entirely alien, just as Obama wants to throw the decisions at committees.

They should be made irrelevant and ineffectual, because that is what they wish to be. They don’t want to be held accountable to anything. They just want to hear themselves talk.

We have a President who lacks executive command, and doesn’t want to have it, voted into office by people who go to great lengths to avoid it and really don’t want to learn anymore about what it is. These are the folks who have so few stories to tell about going against the majority; they’ve never done it, except for those rare occasions on which they thought they could flip the majority around. If it worked they came out the hero, and if it didn’t then of course they gave up.

Well, you aren’t going to have this executive command unless you can tune into the vibe of the biggest majority of all, which is reality. And you cannot master reality if you do not assume command of the relevant facts, and what they mean. You have to think like a builder in order to do that.

In 2008, that is not what this nation wanted, so today we do not deserve to have it. We got some guy who’s good at giving speeches, good at packaging up the “whatever” so that the gift wrap is lovely regardless of the contents. We got that, because that is what we said we wanted.

Now we’ve got a real problem and there’s no leadership installed that is prepared to deal with it.

There’s a profound lesson in there for us all.

Update: Daniel Hannan says I admit it: I was wrong to have supported Barack Obama.

These errors are not random. They amount to a comprehensive strategy of Europeanisation: Euro-carbon taxes, Euro-disarmament, Euro-healthcare, Euro-welfare, Euro-spending levels, Euro-tax levels and, inevitably, Euro-unemployment levels. Any American reader who wants to know where Obamification will lead should spend a week with me in the European Parliament. I’m working in your future and, believe me, you won’t like it.

“You Gentlemen Revolted Over a Tea Tax! A Tea Tax!!”

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

A grateful hat tip to Harvey at IMAO.

BP Spills Coffee

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Some naughty language. But yes, it’s funny and true.

Hat tip to KC.

So once this latest crisis reaches a conclusion in whatever form it may…how do we stop it from ever happening again?

Changing a Tire

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

German cars are meant to be driven. It seems there is a tradition with German automobiles, that once you’re put in a position where you have to effect some first-stage repair in order to get rolling again, you can start to feel the German engineers fighting you. Sort of a “Devil Take the Hindmost” type of thing.

Blogger friend Mark ran into this on I-90 eastbound:

Dis-assembled in about fifteen parts, most of them plastic, none of which looked like it was capable of lifting a car off the ground, the box also contained a small booklet with instructions on how to assemble and use the jack. Opening the booklet, I noticed with mild disgust that it was printed in German. I don’t speak German. It was starting to rain.

It’s like watching an Inspector Clouseau sketch. It’s what the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies were trying to be. Except it’s real life.

Hmmm…I’ve had the Honda for a couple of years by now. Before I chortle too much about my fellow blogger’s wounded male pride, perhaps I should set up a short pretend-tire-change session, see what they have planned for me. The previous chariot had something similarly feeble, overly-complicated and fragile. I don’t even remember the first time I used that one, but I’m pretty sure if it was a public demonstration of my masculine resourcefulness and wherewithal it was a less than ideal one.

Not quite as bad as Mark’s. But when you’re the household patriarch and you’re put in that Dagwood Bumstead “call the plumber” situation and everyone’s looking at you with that frown that simultaneously pities and dismisses, it’s far too late to go groping around for an excuse. We have to plan ahead.

Or else prepare for our spell in the dungeon of “Ain’t No Way You Look Cool Doin’ That.” We’ve all been there sometime. The knight in shining armor who remembered everything on the list, but bought the wrong kind of salad dressing. The shade-tree mechanic who would know exactly what to do, but is powerless because he just realized all the bolts are metric. The master barbecue chef who, for one reason or another, must hit the speed-dial button for pizza.

It is a shame no one with a verginer will ever know. Er, uh, ah…so I’m told, by those who’ve gone through it.

“Who Cares Who Filmed It?”

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

I’m enjoying watching the Washington Post get their butt cheeks handed to ’em on a platter by the folks commenting on their blog.

A democrat congressman was approached outside a Pelosi fundraiser by some unidentified young camera-persons who claimed to be “students” working on a “project.” For reasons unknown, the congressman became immediately combative when they asked him if he supported the Obama agenda. The story is already a little bit old & worn-out by now: He claimed to have a “right to know who you are,” grabbed the person asking the question in a full body hold, grabbed him by the neck, and generally acted like a jerk. A drunk jerk. His intent was clearly to intimidate, and as far as the body contact people have been prosecuted for less.

Whoever runs the Washington Post blog thinks the big scandal is about who was filming this & why. If the persons commenting reflect the persons subscribing and reading, that dog won’t hunt.

According to Ben Smith at Politico, the democrats are going to use the talking points anyway:

1. There is always the part of the story that you can’t see in these gotcha style videos — what were these folks doing, how did they approach him, how were the cameraman and/or others off camera acting?

2. Why would any legitimate student doing a project or a journalist shagging a story not identify themselves. Motives matter — what was the motivation here? To incite this very type of reaction?

3. This is clearly the work of the Republican Party and the “interviewer” is clearly a low level staffer or intern. That’s what explains blurring the face of the “interviewer” and refusing to identify the entity this was done for. The Republicans know if they were caught engaging in this type of gotcha tactic it would undermine their own credibility — yet if it was an individual acting on his own there is no reason that person would have blurred themselves out of the video — and if it was the work of a right wing blog they would have their logo on the video and be shouting their involvement from the roof top.

4. This was a purposefully partisan hit job designed to incite a reaction for political reasons — but it is a tactic so low — the parties involved are remaining anonymous.

5. The fact that no one wants to take credit for this should raise real questions in the minds of voters and the press.

This further supports my theory that progressives are the kids you knew who got away with everything under the sun, now all grown up. Their mommas caught ’em red handed fishing a cookie out of the jar, and when “I was just putting it back” didn’t work, they went for the tried-and-true “Who ya gonna believe Ma? Me or your lyin’ eyes?” They think this will work, because it always has, and they could very well be right.

In their world, they can’t really be caught at anything. Anything. Ever.

Myself, I’m just trying to think of when a guard at Guantanamo was ever availed of such a defense. Or in Iraq or Afghanistan. Is that how we should have handled the Koran-toilet-flushing “scandal,” progressives? Thunder away with righteous indignation, demanding to know who came up with the story and what they were after?

Because it occurs to me, in that case, once the facts were all in it emerged that might’ve been the appropriate response.

There is a lesson here. When you’re no longer advocating a certain course of action because you think it’s wise, and instead you’re advocating a certain course of action because you think it makes people all better & wonderful, it has an intoxicating effect. People start to embark on this “ends justify the means” thing. While Congressman Etheridge is drunk on…whatever it is he drank…the Washington Post seems to be drunk on this stuff. Omigaw, we’re supposed to be objective journalists but our beloved progressive agenda is getting some abuse here, and we cannot allow that. Let’s go out and tell the sheeples what concerns they should really have. They’ll do what we say — they always have…

Great googley moogley, what breathtaking arrogance, presuming to tell us who the good guys & bad guys are while going through the motions of running an objective and unbiased newspaper. You don’t develop that kind of hubris overnight; this must be a longstanding habit. Really makes you wonder what was going on before the YouTubes, that nobody really bothered to show us at the time. Because they didn’t have to.

“Leadership, Gotta Love It”

Monday, June 14th, 2010

I come back from vacation to see Cassy’s spot is the one to watch if you really want to find out what’s going on. OBambi compared the oil spill to 9/11 then disappeared into a golf course. For several hours.

Barack Obama told Politico yesterday that this oil spill in the Gulf… why, it’s like the next 9/11 or something! Because, you know, an oil spill is just like the murders of 3,000 innocent Americans by bloodthirsty terrorists.

Obama — facing mounting criticism of his handling of the BP gusher, even from longtime allies — vowed to make a “bold” push for a new energy law even as the calamity continues to unfold. And he said he will use the rest of his presidency to try to put the United States on a course toward a “new way of doing business when it comes to energy.”

“In the same way that our view of our vulnerabilities and our foreign policy was shaped profoundly by 9/11,” the president said in an Oval Office interview on Friday, “I think this disaster is going to shape how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come.”

This, of course, was followed by some more finger-pointing (we didn’t start this mess!). Obama’s leadership style stays constant as always: refusal to take any responsibility for his own actions, and using inflammatory rhetoric without actually taking any action to back it up.
And if this is just as bad as 9/11, then why is it that Obama has been spending more time on the golf course than he has in the Gulf? After his Politico interview Sunday, exactly what did Obama do? He played golf. Again. For four hours.

Ah, our brave leader. He’s never afraid to kick some ass on the golf course, to fearlessly conquer all 18 holes, all while ignoring his actual job responsibilities. Leadership, guys. Real leadership. Gotta love it.

Here’s what drives me crazy about these democrats: If you watch the way they run their party, their campaigns, you’ll see them behave exactly the way we want the leaders of our nation to behave.

If the fulfillment of a goal requires the consumption of a resource, it’s gone.

If the only way out is through, they go through and don’t apologize.

If they have to use disproportionate force or none at all, they will deploy disproportionate force.

The positions they occupy are positions of service — not personal titles, like out of the English aristocracy, or assets. They know there are responsibilities attached to these roles, and for the good of the party, they dispatch them.

They worry about being respected for their loyalty. If they figure out someone is being disloyal, they drum him out toot-sweet.

They can’t wait to waterboard a Republican.

By their actions and by their statements, it is abundantly clear they fully understand the simple concept of destroying one thing to preserve another. But only for the good of the party. Not for the nation.

Worst crisis since 9/11, so hey let’s play some golf. Yeah, we’re in some good hands.

Girlfriend’s Pictures, Vol. 3

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

As I mentioned in the previous, we booked only one night at Timber Cove. Our reservations for Wednesday were down in Napa. After showering and partly-packing, as we wolfed down our Eggs Benedict down in the dining room, we explored the possibility of an alternate road trip purely on a lark. We could have gone back the way we’d come, or opted for Plan B which has become something of a custom, to zip upward toward 101 from the mouth of the Russian River.

But there was an alternate route, an innocuous looking one, that pokes out at Stewart’s Point just to the North. We inquired to our waiter what his guesstimate was for going up that way and coming out at Healdsburg; it had been twelve years since I’d gone over that narrow road, and nine since I’d visited the fair city. I always wanted to take new gal. When we got back to the room we realized the waiter’s best-guess was very close to Google Maps’ figure, a little over an hour. Just a few minutes later, at 11:30, we were at Stewart’s, taking the hard-right with the car’s rear end pointed oceanward, gunning it as fast as seemed safe. Twenty-five miles per.

The following shot seems to have been taken on this journey. At this point, we’re running into a patch where, again, The Girlfriend and I have yet to synchronize our albums. I recall pulling over for many a fine shot with that marvelous camera of hers, but we’d only done our file transfers the night before.

The following two are from hers, though. Healdsburg is a beautiful city. Not much to do besides browse antique shops, but it certainly is visually pleasing.

The remaining are all taken with my Polaroid.

We checked into the Vino Bello Resort, just outside the city limits of Napa. The following morning, Thursday, she and I hiked up the hill into the vineyard to snap some more pics. At this point, the ratio between what you see, against what actually got saved, is getting quite low; we may have literally hundreds just from this walk, or something approaching that.

I have an Excel table I’ve been maintaining in version control, that defines exactly why Timber Cove Inn is 150.2 miles away from our local gas station by car, and 178.6 miles from my front door by bicycle. Someday, maybe I might actually take that trip on two wheels; naturally, it nails down exactly where lodging is available and where food and liquid refreshments may be sought. There is a conspicuous entry halfway down that says “72.0: Big Metal Man.” The sculpture is visible from over a mile away in all directions and is a well-known landmark in the area. This is a tribute, as I understand it, to the laborers who helped build the Napa valley’s thriving wine industry. You can see someone else’s capture of it here, and what you see below is mine.

There is a wine tasting room under the vineyard. I have some cool shots of the interior, which I checked out while we were checking out the appointment book for her eyebrow-waxing & what-not. This is pretty cool, I’ll have to add something like it into that half-mile-wide dream house when the time comes to build it. Lots of candles on wrought-iron stands, dripping with wax, like something out of a Vincent Price movie.

Now that I’m home, I see I got lazy toward the end with preparing these batches. But not, fortunately, with snapping the shutter. We’re halfway through our “relax & tend to business” day, our singular buffer between sunburns and punching that timeclock on Monday…cavorting around in our underwear, doing laundry. I’ll see what I can do about squeezing in one more batch.

This Is Good LXXIV

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Hat tip to No Sheeples Here, by way of Gerard.

Dramatic Cat

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Sneezing Baby Panda

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Fifty Things That Make You a Better Person

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

A short time ago The Blog That Nobody Reads put up a list of one hundred things that do not make you a better person. We perceived then, and still maintain today, that the need for the list was present, intense and palpable. People nowadays seem to be grasping at straws, trying to find ways to show their wonderfulness; and the things they do to show off their wonderfulness, overall, do not seem to have beneficial effect.

Frankly, over the years we have come to see this as something of a crisis. We’d even go so far as to say society would be better off if everyone just chucked the whole effort, and contented themselves with regarding all others as a bunch of stinkers, and being seen that way.

We had many thoughts about the ensuing reactions to this list, which we jotted down during vacation. We were most impressed by this: If you measure the response by nose, it seems close to ninety percent of the readers agreed with us. If you measured it by perceived volume, the ratio became reversed. To put it more simply, those who objected to our list objected loudly and forcefully, toward the end of projecting greater numbers in their camp than it seems actually exist. And they seem to be doing this deliberately. It seems they’ve picked out their chosen techniques for demonstrating some cosmetic personal wonderfulness they don’t really have; showing it over and over again, manic-compulsively, takes enough of their energy and they aren’t terribly receptive to having to contend with debates about whether the wonderfulness is genuine or not. Wasn’t part of their plan.

It occurs to me that perhaps there’d be less consternation and contention if alternatives were provided. How can people show off their wonderfulness? My short answer would be: Just stop showing off. After all, if you look to others to confirm that you’re wonderful, and what you’re really after is self-confidence, obviously you’re never going to get there — you have to develop your own internal barometer for your wonderfulness. You need to be sure. You have to get hard-nosed enough that a whole room full of people can tell you you’re wrong about something, and deep down you’ll still know you’re right. You have to measure this independently.

I was not able to come up with a list of a hundred things that really do show you’re a better person. But I did come up with fifty.

1. Run.
2. Walk.
3. Ride a bicycle.
4. Run, walk or ride, just a little bit further than you ever have before. Make records. Break them with new records. Then break those.
5. Read until you find a word you’ve never seen before. Find out what it means. Use it…just once. Then do it all over again.
6. Notice some things about what people do that you’ve not heard of anyone else noticing. Point it out.
7. Donate — anonymously.
8. Open a door for a pretty girl.
9. Open a door for an ugly girl.
10. Teach a child a new skill.
11. Make a list of things to do for your entire day. Cut it off at five. Make a list for the entire week. Cut it off at seven. Make sure each one is all-the-way-done.
12. Make a pot of coffee while your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife is still sleeping. Prepare a cup exactly the way they like it, and bring it to them.
13. Stop an echo.
14. If someone’s working hard to sell you something, and the product makes sense to you, buy it. If it doesn’t, tell them why you aren’t buying. Tell them exactly why. The whole story. Whether you think they can do something about it, or not. Put them in charge of figuring out the next move.
15. Find someone you know who is doing more than their share of the work. Figure out if there’s anything you can do to help. If you can do this, then get it done. If you can’t, ask.
16. If you can see the bartender is one of these workhorses that keeps the whole place from collapsing, and she’s keeping track of what’s going on, taking initiative, but doesn’t enjoy any advancement or seniority from any of this, tip her something crazy. I mean, like 150% percent. Tell her why.
17. If you see a soldier out celebrating his safe return with his girl, motion your waiter over and tell him you’d like to settle the soldier’s bill.
18. If you can do #17 anonymously, do so.
19. If you cannot, give the soldier a great big thank you.
20. Find some arcane political issue you’ve never understood. Read up on it until you do understand it.
21. Always vote down whatever creates a new “civil right” that didn’t exist before, since this would deprive someone of freedom.
22. Also, anything that would nationalize an industry or function that is currently within the private sector. We’ve moved far enough in that direction already.
23. Whatever would make litigation more plentiful or likely, because hey, who really wants to live in a world like that.
24. Everything that would make it more difficult or impractical to start, buy or manage a business; if the thing we want is a stronger economy, then let’s start working toward that.
25. Find out who is responsible for the proposed laws that fit #21, #22, #23 and #24, and vote them out of office. Something tells me they don’t really want to be working at anything anyway.
26. Always give kids the bigger picture. If you’re watching a thirty year old television show with a twelve-year-old, explain Watergate and Nadia Comaneci, so he knows why bad guys had to wear business suits and good guys had to rescue Russian gymnasts who were trying to escape bad guys in nice business suits.
27. Completely sidestep it when a liberal veers off the subject of the argument, and starts evaluating your worthiness as a person. Just come out and tell him: Yes, maybe I’m a creep, but back to the subject at hand…your idea won’t work. Keep doing it.
28. Grab the grocery cart that jerk has let loose in in the middle of the parking lot; use it as yours if you’re looking for one, otherwise put it where it belongs.
29. Pick up litter.
30. On a rainy day, hold your umbrella over the head of a woman who forgot to bring hers.
31. If you know an old person who is living independently, see what you can do about delivering their groceries.
32. Take lots of pictures.
33. Show them to people.
34. Put them on the Internet, if that’s appropriate…
35. Having your life at the mercy of a complex piece of machinery is a privilege and an opportunity, not a problem or a burden. If your home computer does things you don’t understand, find out what those things are and figure out how they work.
36. If you’re told the rules say you can’t do it, take the time to find out what rule that is. Make them tell you.
37. Better yet: Call back, get a different person on the line, find out if they’ve ever heard of this rule, and if that really makes it impossible.
38. Even better still: Find out what it takes to change the rule. People who lack this vision, shouldn’t have control over the people who have it.
39. If you gave someone some money because they needed it, and a very short time later they need more, find out why.
40. If someone is angry and you have the opportunity to mollify them by doing something, remember Thing I Know #52. Put some real thought into maybe letting them stay as angry as they want to be.
41. Usually when people are unwilling to consider clearly superior alternatives, it’s because they don’t have a full reckoning of the consequences of what they want to do. This is especially true if they refuse to allow anyone else to get a word in edgewise. See what you can do about letting them feel the full weight of the consequences, you might be doing them a favor.
42. Combine your bill-paying into your exercise routine.
43. Project what day your bills are due, with what day-of-week that is. Plan it out three months in advance, and see if you can pay every single bill a little bit early.
44. Browse a store that sells fine, reliable tools. Then browse your home looking for something that doesn’t work quite right. Repeat, and repeat again, until you can define an inexpensive project that will improve things. Then do it. Keep doing this. Think creatively. Build things that work for you, regardless of whether they’d be right for anybody else.
45. Follow objectives, not procedures. If there is a list of steps in your life that you have to follow, take the time to learn about each step until the list itself comes to mean nothing. See if you can learn enough to improve the list.
46. If the teevee show is put on the teevee to indoctrinate, rather than to entertain, change the channel.
47. If the school’s special activity is there to indoctrinate rather than to educate, pull your child out of it.
48. This one is for my blogger friend Daphne, who is currently stressing (although I’m sure she doesn’t really need to be told): Don’t keep your kids away from dangerous things. Put together a list of safety rules; make sure it is right. Triple check it. Make sure they understand all of the rules and competently practice them. Then let ’em go do it.
49. Find something people had to know how to do, back in your grandparents’ time, that they don’t have to know how to do today. Figure out how to do it. Even better, figure this out with your kids.
50. Find someone who wants, desperately, to be wonderful; point out to them the things they have already done that are genuinely wonderful, and make sure they know they are admired for this. Maybe you can stop them from supporting liberals.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Women on Top?

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Chris Wysocki has an excellent round-up of our post-modern feminists lately going batshit-crazy. This is useful right now, because this week a whole lot has been happening at once and you need to be looking in a lot of directions to see how nutty it all is.

The people who call themselves “feminists” are filled with hate, looney-tunes, and they’re acting that way. There is very little unusual about this, in & of itself. What’s different about this week is that their grip on sanity has so weakened that they cannot even act to preserve their precious movement. This is why I call them, not “feminists,” but “the people who call themselves ‘feminists’.”

Treated Like ChildrenLet’s just be refreshingly blunt: This is not a pro-woman movement. It’s just another gimmick to get liberal democrats into office and to keep them there.

ReelGirl is pretty pissed about me pointing this out. She insists that “Morgan seems unable to listen to logic” but this reveals a failure to keep track of her own argument, because any discourse that ensues from “Keep mean girls out of office” is going to be inherently illogical. If logic is your lodestar, then what’s up with this business of adjudicating meanness? It’s just a way to change the subject. We can’t afford sound policies, we can’t afford logic or common sense, we have to keep the mean people out of office.

I pointed out that if the message is “We cannot afford to consider replacing Barbara Boxer because her challenger is a meanie-cow,” it doesn’t resonate much because Sen. Boxer is a very poor archetype of nice-ness. And that’s being charitable.

You guessed it. I’m on the attack now. I’m a sinister, shadowy, menacing remnant of the patriarchy…and the feminists are recoiling, like a 1950’s housewife climbing up atop a chair to escape a mouse. Eek!

How do you get more thin-skinned than that. Seriously. Try to envision a way. You can’t. This is a movement to empower women?

After winding up my vacation with my girlfriend, who is properly deferential to my masculine will on matters where she knows she should be, although she’s quite strong willed and anything but a wallflower, we headed back into town (the man driving of course), and pulled into Hooters for a big ol’ mess of hot wings. We briefly reflected on this Internet dust-up, and how the owner of the flog is threatening to ban me. It was then I realized something:

I have been arguing with left-wing twits on some kind of networking computer system for twenty-four years now. To my knowledge, I have yet to be banned from anything.

It’s not that I see getting banned as a badge of honor, but a quarter century without having it happen certainly doesn’t command any bragging rights. My God, all the mental instability I’ve seen out there in all that time. Someone should have banned me by now. If this is where my cherry gets popped, I’d say it’s way overdue.

ReelGirl doesn’t seem too interested in dialogue; flog-posters typically are not. I point out the many inconsistencies with what’s been said, and they go away and I figure I’ve killed the whole conversation. And then a whole day later someone comes back and tut-tuts me, demands to know of my military service record or embarks on some other similar tangent.

If they do it again I’m gonna go all Cartman, and tell them to get their fat asses back in the kitchen & make me a pie. If you don’t see why, go back and read Wysocki’s piece from top to bottom. Republican women are pulling off exactly the kind of revolution feminists say they want, and far from celebrating or throwing a ticker tape parade, they’re crying in their Ben & Jerry’s.

Like I said. It’s just another ploy to elect democrats. It’s been reduced to that and nothing more for a very long time now; every now and then we get a stark reminder of it, and it’s up to us to decide whether to pay attention to it or not. We just got another reminder.

P12Update: Forgot to make a note of it. Everything said from their side on that site, is pure garbage. Every single speck. But there is something revealing and notable in what one of ’em said…others have commented on it before. The graphic that has been in the sidebar on & off for quite awhile now, and has been a constant fixture since the year began. Wonder Woman, side profile, in an action pose, slightly altered to look like Sarah Palin. This brings down thundering disapproval because it is a testament to my “shallow thinking.”

Purest bile, purest nonsense — because if my politics were more in line with theirs and I used exactly the same graphic, the graphic would “reveal” entirely different things. I know it, they know it, everybody knows it, they know everybody (who cares) knows this.

Ever watch a Justice League cartoon? Wonder Woman never really has been just-another-super-heroine, has she. She can’t be, because she was endowed by her mother with the powers of all the Greek gods, including love and wisdom. She negotiates before she fights, but once she’s started fighting she’s all-in, and she’s in it to win it. She does not need any experts to tell her whose ass to kick, she figures it out. She’s a natural leader, possessing both power and judgment. When the other members of the JLA are quarreling like little kids, she’ll put a stop to it. She possesses perhaps the greatest potential, out of all of them, to come up with the most constructive resolution to whatever the problem is. She may even surpass Superman in this respect.

This is not a justification for Heather or for ReelGirl to be reading. They don’t need it. Like I said: They’d see this aspect immediately, on their own, if only my political leanings resembled theirs. (Of course, to make that happen, the reference would have to be to someone besides Palin…but still.)

But I lean right and they lean left. So all that matters is Wonder Woman’s flowing hair, her generous heaving bosom, her succulent bare thighs, and her curvy, sensuous, beautiful star-spangled rear end. Things I personally hadn’t ever even noticed before, myself.

ReelGirl spoke of logic. They’re not really using it over there. They’re “thinking” with their emotions, and this is precisely the trouble into which one gets. You look at things, and before you see what’s really there, you see what you want to see. Your God-given powers of managing your own senses to interact with your environment, naturally deteriorate. Notice that your intellect is not diminished in this way; it simply becomes irrelevant, because you’re only going through the motions of taking information in and not really doing it.

Update: Fellow Right Wing News contributor Kerrie Heretic comments on the nationwide sweep:

Also, as you skim through the Wysocki piece, don’t miss the link to Blogsister Cassy’s spot, she does a very nice job of capturing the widespread psychosis.

We really need to make a record of this and see to it it’s preserved in our long-term collective memory. It’s important. “Feminists” are saddened, shocked, appalled, disappointed…as women on the conservative side are making an historic advancement. Whatever they have in mind for a vision of what’s supposed to happen in our society, this is not it.

Their agenda, agree with it or not, is hidden because it must be. They cannot be trusted.

Update 4/13/10: Lori Ziganto’s post at David Horowitz’s blog contained a graphic I could not resist swiping.

Got a feeling it’s going to come in handy. Again and again.

I Like Beer

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Maggie’s Farm weekend links. Miss that page, you miss a lot.

Christian Nation?

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Pretty awesome. The dude measurably ran circles around the fembot. I say “measurably ran circles” because she brought some sourced arguments to the table to help bolster this idea that America is a purely secularist nation, intended from its founding to prohibit at the federal level any connection whatsoever between private worship and public resources; since some of these arguments have been made before, Christian-Nation-Dude came prepared, with sourced arguments about the sourced arguments, as if there was some kind of pre-debate discovery process and only one side made use of it.

To me, you have to define the question before you can proceed with the debate. What’re we arguing about? Is there a wall of separation of funding that was intended from the very beginning of the nation? Is there a wall of separation of recognition? Should atheists be able to look around and not see any evidence of anybody else’s faith, anywhere at all? Are your rights being violated when there isn’t enough room for everyone to attend your son’s public-school commencement ceremony, and so the ceremony is moved to a church and it makes you feel creeped out being in there?

Are these things just sturdy, reasonable, logical interpretations of what was written at the very beginning?

If that captures the argument, then the first time you see a founder scribbling down pious words in his capacity as a public servant, especially as our nation’s President, her entire argument has imploded. If it wasn’t something being practiced at the beginning by the men who supposedly erected this “wall,” then she has nothing worthwhile to say about it. It’s a linear argument, and it’s demonstrable something was grossly misunderstood way back at the beginning of the line. It’s like saying “As I recite Pi to 50 digits beyond the decimal point, alright nevermind whether I got the twelfth digit wrong or not…this 47th one I got right, dammit, and you’re a fool if you disagree!” That’s why I say linear-argument. If you’re not on the same page way at the beginning, then as you trot out from there you’re just fabricating bullshit whether you realize it or not. Each digit of Pi has 9-to-1 odds of being wrong; it’s correct only by random chance.

Hat tip to Boortz.

Top Ten Excuses for the Poor Response to the Oil Spill

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Last month, I noted with interest the shock and dismay one Peggy Noonan was feeling with America’s first Holy Roman Presidency and I let her have it with both barrels…because, as I’ve noticed repeatedly both silently and otherwise over the years, following the consensus is a religion just as irrational as any other. Obama-supporter Noonan made her mistake because, and only because, she happens to be somewhere around Arch-Bishop level in that religion. It is what she does. She figures out what the consensus does and then she jots it down. You could make a living that way, recognize you’re measuring something that could be right & could be wrong, and independently make up your own mind as to whether or not you will follow it. Noonan cannot, or will not, do this. She assimilates the consensus.

You can let her off the hook by saying she made a mistake simultaneously made by many, many, many others; that does not erase the fact she made a mistake that was very, very very easy to avoid making.

So now we see neither Obama, nor anybody on His team, even knows what to do when there’s a real problem to be solved. They just blame corporations and…is it lunchtime yet? The nation voted for something called “hope and change” and here’s a situation where it’s left with neither one.

FrankJ has compiled a list of ready-made excuses for His Holy Eminence:

10. Thought it wasn’t a problem because oil and water don’t mix.

9. Since it was British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico, he assumed other countries would handle it.

8. He thought the oil leak was just looking for attention and would go away if he ignored it.

7. It looked messy, and he had just bought a new suit.

6. Handling oil spills isn’t mentioned in the Constitution, and Obama only does things specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

5. We never listened to Obama’s pleas of “let me be clear”, and thus he was forced to be very unclear about things.

4. Louisiana did such a great job with the last big disaster that hit them that he assumed they were on top of this one.

3. Birds kinda looked like they enjoyed being covered in oil.

2. He never saw the problem, because his head has been stuck in a bucket for the past fifty days.

You have to follow the link to get hold of #1.

Girlfriend’s Pictures, Vol. 2

Friday, June 11th, 2010

A few of these are actually from my kid’s-toy, wind-up little tourist’s camera. The Fisher-Price model that floats in the bathtub. The rest of them are from the girlfriend’s “I-mean-business” Olympus.

Okay, so where we last left off we were walking around the hot sands of N. Salmon Creek. From there we went to the Point Arena lighthouse from the Mel Gibson movie…you read all about that over here. The following three pictures are taken from between those two points.

This highway, if memory serves, lies between Bodega Bay and the Russian River.

Just after you clear the river you go through Jenner. A few miles after that, the road will begin to terrorize you…gently at first, and then it climbs up to the places the mountain goats are afraid to go. Men and women start to embark on predictable arguments about whether or not you need to slow WAY down. And then some prosperous, fortunate soul seems to be enjoying the view of it all from this house. We had to do some fancy coordinating in order to catch a picture of it.

This shot is from the other direction, climbing this steep upgrade and looking back from whence we came. I’m not entirely sre how this was done, it might have happened the next day when we were going back South again.

Point Arena is about an hour North of all this excitement, which means we had to pull past Timber Cove Inn. Following the adventures there, Tuesday, we doubled back and booked in there for the night. TCI has become a regular fixture for us, in fact a landmark. To be precise, it’s at mile 35.60 on Highway 1 N. There are reasons for counting the miles so precisely, because along this stretch of road each mile is pulling some goodly sized amounts of energy out of you, power steering or not.

This is what’s so special about the place. You’re avoiding the 25mph speed trap of Jenner; then, you swear to God you’re going to fall off a cliff in to the ocean and you’re gonna die; then, you’re battling the wild-ass curves, the crazy locals who want to zip along at eight miles an hour for no good reason, maybe some weather elements which is where it gets really exciting.

And then you sit down in a bubbly hot tub in your room and watch the waves crash against the cliff. Pure awesome.

Anyway, by this time I was all engorged by three straight nights of salmon and beef steak. I went for a morning run because I was just in the mood for it at this point. Took my camera with me, and I was glad of it because TCI became enshrouded in some Seattle-like fog weather, which has a photogenic quality all its own.

The Peace Obelisk is visible from the highway as well as way out to sea. The innerwebs are very sparse with information about it, so what follows is the little bits and bytes I was able to pull in about it, combined with my memory of the trivia that used to be printed on the Timber Cove cocktail napkins.

It is an original work by local artist Benny Bufano who carved it in 1968 or thereabouts, to celebrate the work and stated mission of the United Nations. There is a bit more photographic evidence of it over here, and you can read up on Mr. Bufano over here.

There, that’s about all I know of it.

The last two I sort of snapped on our way out. We stayed one night, which is not our usual habit. We usually stay two nights at the very least, which experience has taught us is smarter. We’d probably stick with that wisdom if we had the week to do all over again, but why look back. Going forward, we’ll probably make a more religious practice of this rule, because even under the new management Timber Cove still rocks the house.

Red Skelton’s Pledge of Allegiance

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Awesome stuff…although I wasn’t too pleased with the part just past the 2:00 mark where he talks about the “United States.” He put a little too much emphasis on the united and not enough on the but separate, and I take exception to the “imaginary boundaries.” I would like to have seen more emphasis on the independence the states have from each other. It’s not just the screamin’ libertarian in me, it’s my genuine and heartfelt understanding that this was a fundamental design objective in our nation’s founding. Nevada can legalize gambling and prostitution, California can keep them illegal but legalize gay marriage and marijuana. The resulting union is stronger — more free — because it has these connected, but independently functioning, moving parts. Not at all unlike separating the TCP from the IP. The object of the exercise is freedom. Red should’ve given that a mention, I think.

As far as Skelton’s paramount concern, though, he’s got it nailed. Absolutely. You might even do well to call it chillingly prophetic.

Thanks to The Squeeze for pointing it out, and to our mutual friend Don Wood over at the Hello-Kitty-o’-Bloggin’.