Archive for June, 2008

Follow-Up on Horn

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Joe Horn is a free man.

The legal justification is supposedly the “Castle Doctrine,” a subset of Texas’s self-defense law that lets you defend yourself and your property by firing on an unlawful intruder without having to “retreat” first. Having spent the past hour poring over the statutes and giving myself a migraine, it seems to me there are two gray areas: One, whether Horn is to be thought of as defending his home, his neighbor’s home, or himself when the shootings occurred, and two, whether having the right to “stand your ground” (i.e. not retreat) entitles you to precipitate a confrontation that could have been avoided by simply not doing anything. The sections that authorize defense of property (9.42 and 9.43) do allow for deadly force — but only at nighttime in the case of burglary, presumably because it’s harder to tell what a burglar’s packing in dim light and also because a burglar who’s coming through the window at an hour when he knows people are likely to be home is likely to be a bolder, more dangerous burglar. The Horn shootings happened in broad daylight. Which means if he’s off the hook, it has to be on grounds that he was protecting himself, not his property, during the confrontation with the burglars.

Dunno if I agree with this analysis. It presumes the Grand Jury followed the letter of the law, and furthermore that there must have been some tip-off of imminent danger to Mr. Horn. The latter of those has not been substantiated by the 911 call I heard (follow link at the top), and the former of those of course has not been substantiated by anything.

I think the grand jurors simply decided they’d had it up-to-here with the law standing up for bad guys. They didn’t think they should have been meeting for the purpose at hand; they moved to dismiss.

Not sure I can agree with that if that’s the way things went down, but I’m certainly not shedding any tears over it.

H/T: Ace.


Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Anticipating for yourself what will have to be done; gathering your gear; putting it where you can get to it when you need it; maintaining it properly.

RedundancyThat’s me, clarifying the eighth rule for manly thinking, yesterday morning here at The Blog That Nobody Reads.

Wrong f**king goddamn valve type.

Me, to myself, in the park, upon unpacking my spare bicycle inner tube following a blow-out. Three miles from home. Today.

And that one…and THAT one.

Me again, an hour and a half later, in my living room, going through my entire inventory of spare inner tubes none of which had the correct valve.

Shopping tomorrow.

Today was a pretty nice day for a walk anyhow.

And we can all always use a little more humility.

Pretendin’ Like They Luv Each Other

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Yeah Travis speaks for me, pretty much. Except I don’t see it as a Republican/democrat thing. As the years roll by and my hair loses its color, “people pretending to like each other when they don’t” ascends, slowly but surely, closer and closer to the top of my list of pet peeves.


I do not understand how this fools people. It seems to be a public-relations ploy that goes back to Roman times, and doubtlessly extends back thousands of years before that…unchanged.

The political contender says,

I want people to be unified after they’re forced to agree with me

And what he really means, is…

I want people to be unified after they’re forced to agree with me

And after untold thousands of years of this bait-and-switch game, people still gulp it down like it’s yummy caramel-covered popcorn. Mmmm…look, he wants to unify people!

Dionne Didn’t Read the Decision

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Phil’s eyes are bleeding as he reads the commentary from E. J. Dionne about the DC vs. Heller decision.

Me, I’m just shaking my head and giggling. Dionne has just ‘fessed up to writing about the decision without reading it, and the poor bastard doesn’t even realize that’s what he’s done. But to anyone who’s so much as skimmed through it, it’s crystal-clear.

Dionne writes…apparently, thinking he’s making a great point, and playing the English language like a virtuoso plays a fine Stradivarius violin…

Conservative justices claim that they defer to local authority. Not in this case. They insist that political questions should be decided by elected officials. Not in this case. They argue that they pay careful attention to the precise words of the Constitution. Not in this case. [emphasis mine]

I’m rewording slightly, here, my comments to Phil’s post (pending moderation there as of this writing):

Um, E.J., Justice Scalia began to parse out the exact wording in the Constitution on p. 2 (5 in the Adobe PDF file), and is concerned with absolutely nothing else until p. 27 (30) when he turns to relevant historical events. He even has footnotes in his analysis in which he respectfully deals with opposing viewpoints of the language.

I struggle to remember the last time I’ve seen so few words in the Constitution, analyzed by so many words in the decision that labors to fairly and accurately interpret them. Each significant noun and verb is subject to cool, reasoned scrutiny about what it might possibly mean and what it could be reasonably interpreted to mean. The reading within those 26 pages, as one might expect, ends up being a little dry; so I suppose it’s understandable you couldn’t get around to grinding through it — except, that is, for your wanting to write about it, in which case I would have expected you to at least crack it open.

Now you’re nailed. How embarrassing for you.

How did a talented, intelligent guy like Dionne get here? By being overly concerned with what others are thinking, and trying too hard to be a loyal member of a group. From there the words “The Constitution,” seemingly unambiguous, take on a life of their own. That phrase comes to represent the intents not of the Founding Fathers as they signed a specific document, but of liberals in good standing.

So he ends up bitching at Scalia for not being a good liberal. But as he delivers his snotty lecture, behind him the trained eye can see the DC v. Heller decision lying on his desk, with the seals intact, under a thin layer of dust. Dionne didn’t read it. Dionne didn’t skim it. Dionne knows not of what he speaks. Dionne’s opinion is utterly worthless, and he’s the last one to know how much.

But where it really sucks to be Dionne? A year or two from now, DC v. Heller will be a part of law that you will be expected to know if you’re a first-year law student. It does what Supreme Court decisions are supposed to do — end the debate, not with phony aristocratic authority, but with reasoned scrutiny and logic. It’s settled, and the nation will by then have moved on…and Dionne will be hoping-against-hope that the law students will somehow remain ignorant of his ignorant comment on it.

Now THAT is Scary

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

In fact, I don’t think you’ve seen anything as scary as this in quite some time. (H/T to Rick, who linked it differently.)

Kind of makes you look at the When I Start Running This Place page in a whole new light, huh?

Not In It For The Attention, Mind You… XVIII

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Two great-lookin’ babes with wonderful minds. Should I mention them both in the same post? They’re not exactly of the same mind, and there’s a chance someone will get offended, I suppose…but it’s always better to ask forgiveness than permission.

Becky, the Girl in Short Shorts Talking About Whatever, registered and entered a few words after I picked on her rather mercilessly. Her anti-war passions are misguided, but she has a lot of synapses firing per millisecond upstairs and we’re plum pleased to see her stopping by. Legs ‘n all. And we still think she’s right a lot more often than she’s wrong — just puts a lot more thought into how to win, than what’s going to happen after she does so win. Oh well. She’ll come around someday.

Becky is pro-gun?I know she will, because she’s not one of these pure-bred small-l libertarians who obsess over legalizing pot and heroin and crystal meth — and beyond that, their concerns over individual rights come to a screeching halt. You know the type. Becky isn’t like that at all. She thinks for herself; I mean, she really does. She’s a feminist, Catholic, gay, conservative in her own way…I think pro-gun…the girl just isn’t that anxious to fit into any kind of cookie-cutter.

She’s not that eager to play on a level field, either. If I wrote up some stuff that as hurriedly presumed nasty things about gay people, as some of the stuff she’s written about straight white guys…whew. But oh well. When she applies her mental horsepower, it’s considerable and she makes a lot of good points about things you don’t see made anywhere else. Well worth reading.

Speaking of which. Hawkins put out his list of favorite blogs for the quarter and no, we didn’t make the cut. Hey, remember this is The Blog That Nobody Reads.

However, #10 was blogger pal and uber-cutie Cassy Fiano…whose bikini pics make us feel all dirty inside because of the yawning gap of an age difference. And she was kind enough to put in a good word for us. A very, very good word.

My Favorite Blogs
House of Eratosthenes:
Smart commentary with interesting stories you can’t find anywhere else.

Holy guacamole…

While we’re wiping that lipstick off our face, you know you can take a couple of eggs and fry ’em up on those big red ears of ours. This one made our day.

Thanks Cas!

For the first two years after we registered with Sitemeter, a “good” day for this blog would have been anything north of a hundred hits — which is pathetically low. For the last three months or so we’re averaging well above double that, and the pattern is not at all consistent with “flash in the pan” stuff. These seem to be brand new nobodies not coming by to not read the Blog That Nobody Reads — and they’re not coming by each and every single day. Actually, the last time we fell short of our old hundred-hit target was over a month ago, for one day, when Sitemeter had an outage and all the hits that would’ve been logged instead went in the phantom zone.

In short — the evidence seems to indicate we’ve made a lot of new friends. We’re happy you’re here. Look around, kick off the shoes, have a cold one, drop a note.

How to Earn a Eulogy Full of Awkward, Empty Bromides

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

1. Don’t notice anything someone else hasn’t already noticed even if it becomes painfully obvious; and if you do notice it, don’t say anything.
2. Don’t look for ways to make anything better.
3. Accept all criticism, even when it makes absolutely no sense. Become less of what you are, until people decide you’re okay, even though they never will.
4. Even as you accept unreasonable criticism, avoid criticizing anything anybody else does, unless someone else is already criticizing it.
5. Be eager to contribute your energy but avoid contributing your judgment — don’t decide anything. Just be a beast of burden.
6. Don’t do anything that involves risk; before you become part of something, make sure it’ll succeed just as well without you as it would with you.
7. Don’t take yourself too seriously, in fact don’t take yourself seriously at all. Be the comedy relief.
8. Don’t do anything until you’re sure it will earn approval from others.
9. When choosing people to do things for you, favor the mediocre.
10. Avoid decisions; when forced to make one, side with the majority.
11. Learn by repeating what others have to say. Don’t validate anything; when you see authorities contradict each other, decide in favor of the ones you presume have power over you.
12. Eschew any form of confrontation — except, that is, for confronting people who aren’t following the eleven rules above.

14To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
— Revelation 3:14-16

Manly Thinking Is

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

1. Going with the crowd when it makes sense to do so; going against it when it makes sense to do so; leaving it alone when it makes sense to do so.
2. Taking advice from those who can state their cases in logical terms and who you know share your goals. Advice…not instructions.
3. Upholding the Morgan Rule #1: If I’m gonna be accused, I wanna be guilty. An identity of displayed and assured harmlessness, is an identity of eunuchs.
4. Asking the five W’s — who, what, when, where, why — when you hear those empty-headed magic words “supposed to.”
5. Engaging diplomacy when the language used is one of diplomacy. And when the language used is the one of horse heads in beds…engaging that.
6. A resolve to defend the weaker from extraordinary threats — but not from ordinary ones, or disasters of their own making.
7. Taking personal ownership of the fitting between Pillars I and II, and of the fitting between Pillars II and III. Know, for yourself, why you know the things you think you know, and why you should be doing the things you think you should be doing.
8. Anticipating for yourself what will have to be done; gathering your gear; putting it where you can get to it when you need it; maintaining it properly.
9. Learning how to maintain the car before you learn how to drive it. That includes changing the tire. Any machine you use, when you use it, the machine is responsible for the predictable behavior and you’re responsible for decisions — and maintenance. You push the button and the light is “supposed to” come on, that means you should know what the light means, so when the day comes that it stays dark you know something about fixing it yourself, or at least figuring out what’s happening.
10. Trust but verify.
11. Don’t get mad; get even.
12. Treating your allies with respect, like they’re adults. Don’t “urge” or “insist”; instead, lay down conditions. Communicate. Negotiate. Compromise where it makes sense.

Where George and Gerard Agree

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

good sense is being made.

…and we think some plastic bags and aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet isn’t going anywhere. WE ARE.

Backing the Nanny State…AGAIN

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

That makes two, for me, counting the hands-free requirement that goes into effect Tuesday. I’ll back up the nanny-state goo-gooders again here. All those of you who’ve said I’m “locked in” to my viewpoints on things, take note, I can be flexible if things make enough sense…

Under new regulations, parents who are asked by the organisers of a children’s sports team to take other children to sports fixtures like football or cricket matches will have to be vetted.
The new rules are part of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and are due to come into force from October next year at the same time as a new Independent Safeguarding Authority to vet adults.

I was wondering about this when my bicycling experience was tapped to teach the cub scouts how to hit those trails. Yes I get checked out when my registration is complete…but…I can lead these kids into the woods on bicycles? Sure, I’m the dad of one of ’em, but other than that what do you know about me?

It’s not the kind of thing where “if you do nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about.” I had the hair go up on the back of my neck, in particular, when one of the littler ones straggled and I had to go chasing off after him. It gets a guy to thinking: This is a fairly commonplace thing. I’m me. What of the other guys who are put in this situation, who aren’t me? Are they all parents? What if a couple of them are “That Weird Uncle So-And-So” who’s taking the family’s little tyke to the bike meet, whom the parents are just sure is alright…everyone else is sure because the parents are sure…

Like I said. When you’re a parent, the mind wanders. Yes, if you have a virtual stranger around other people’s kids, you ought to know something. I would hope it wouldn’t be a controversy.

Professor Frank Furedi, whose “Licensed to hug?” report for thinktank Civitas this week triggered a debate about the use of Criminal Records Bureau checks, said he knew of parents who have been rebuked for taking too many children to matches without being vetted.

He said: “I have talked to people who were reprimanded for taking three to four boys to football training. They were told they should have spoken to the manager.

“People can drive their own children to matches – but to drive four kids to the same match you should get CRB-checked.”

Makes sense to me. And it seems they got that far without doing it this way in uber-nanny-state Britain, no less. Whod’ve thought it.

Update: Regarding that other nanny-state thing, the hands-free deal. My thoughts are pretty much the same as what they were two years ago — except, as of now, I have in fact successfully trained myself to avoid texting. With considerable but not insurmountable difficulty.

Frank Drews. David Strayer. William Johnson. As of today, those are the only names I have found behind “all these studies that say” that hands-free devices fail to make driving safer. I continue to be told there are all these studies that say it’s the conversation that distracts the driver and not the physical presence of a hand-held device pressed up against the face. Those “studies” are attempting to assert a physical impossibility — when holding a device up to the ear, I cannot change lanes, and neither can you. And, furthermore, to the best I can determine, those “studies” are just being cranked out over and over again by three people. For reasons I don’t know, and don’t really care to find out because it doesn’t matter.

It’s a bunch of baloney. Two hands are better than one, and the discussion ends there.

Having said that, I do agree that the root of the problem is an exaggerated sense of self-importance because out of a hundred calls coming in to your cell phone, only one or two are important enough that it makes sense to take ’em while you’re driving…hands-free device, or no. By that I mean, someone is in the emergency room, and it’s somebody you didn’t know was in the emergency room before you took the call.

Here in NorCal, people take a hundred calls out of a hundred. About stupid crap.

“Get milk on the way home” doesn’t cut it. Sorry, it just doesn’t. If you weren’t planning to get groceries on the way home as of that morning, you don’t need to pick ’em up tonight. If you were, and something got left off your list, call the missus after you park the car at the store. If you’re worried that by the time you get there, she might have her phone turned off or she might otherwise be unavailable…you know what? She doesn’t really want the damn milk!

So shut up & drive.

Anna Malle Died a Couple of Years Ago

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Just found out. Pretty freaky.

Anna Hotop-Stout, 38, known to the adult film world as Anna Malle, died Wednesday after the car she was traveling in collided with a pickup truck while making a U-turn. She had not been wearing a seat belt, Nevada Highway Patrol officers said.
Hotop-Stout had retired from the film business a year ago and was working at a Bloomingdale’s wedding registry in Las Vegas, Armstrong said.

“She didn’t want to be known as the old chick that had to work,” he said. “She wanted a normal life again.”

The Las Vegas resident was a passenger in a 2005 Dodge Stratus that was making a U-turn on state Route 160 when it turned into the path of a 1985 Chevrolet pickup truck, the Nevada Highway Patrol said. She was taken to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, where she died.

What a tragedy. Tim Russert and George Carlin get a zillion mentions on the boob tube, on the blogs, on the radio, in the papers…our porn stars burn out, quietly, silently.

Following-Up on the Gloucester Pregnancy Thing

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Sorry Becky. I do think your point about “yellow journalism” has a grain of truth behind it; I’m certainly not saying Time Magazine was well-served running with this “pact” based on what little evidence they had. I agree they should probably take another look at that process.

But your skepticism was a little bit too solid. Your demand was that we forget how human nature works, and those things never work out very well. This seems to have happened and been validated as a “pact,” in all the ways that matter to me anyway.

None of the rising juniors TIME identified as being members of the pact have come forward publicly, but nine Gloucester High students have talked to TIME about the girls who decided to get pregnant. Some described the pregnant teens as having little parental supervision. “They could stay out all night if they wanted,” says a classmate, whose parents requested that she not be identified by name. Others noted a herd mentality. “I think the plan was a lot about peer pressure,” says Nicole Jewell, a rising junior who describes herself as being friends with some of the girls involved. “But a lot of girls were excited to be a part of it.”

So did the girls make a formal pact to get pregnant together or not? Without comment from any of the pregnant students themselves, it may be impossible to determine exactly what they agreed to, and when. So far, the only school official to use the word pact is Sullivan, who reportedly now says he does not recall who told him about the pact in the first place. But what does seem clear based on TIME’s reporting is that some of the girls in question did at least discuss the idea of getting pregnant at the same time, and that too little was done to educate the girls on the potential ramifications of that choice.

Our Split

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Now that voter registration doesn’t work for this purpose, how do you tell our blue-staters and our red-staters apart today? To a child, or someone from a foreign shore, wanting to understand the definitions — how do you explain the split? Here’s one proposal:

A red-stater and a blue-stater break up a fight between a couple of kids on the middle school playground, and start debating what should happen to them.

The red-stater wants detention for whoever threw the first punch.

The blue-stater wants detention for whoever threw the last one.

Stare Decisis, and Panic For Sake of Panic

Friday, June 27th, 2008

I was checking out Brutally Honest, Rick’s site to follow up on a mildly interesting and explosively-expanding thread underneath the Harley Davidson “Screw It, Let’s Ride” commercial. I have found it to be a dialog worth following, because it has morphed into a deliberation of manhood; an inspection of what, exactly, it is. We can always use more of that, and I’ve noticed both sides are putting a lot of thought into it. Rick (and Gerard too, evidently) sympathized with the ad and the attitude it sought to promote. Guest blogger and frequent commenter BroKen did not. It would seem at first blush that such an exchange wouldn’t have much place to go, since it’s a battle between pet peeves and therefore between emotions. Rick is sick and tired of being told the planet is in danger and we all need to buy some carbon credits and unplug our cell phones; Ken is sick and tired of apathetic, irresponsible people.

I think Ken’s crime, here, is one of overanalysis. He’s rather like the guy who’s told the urban legend about the late-night pedestrian who sees two headlights coming toward him, assumes they’re motorcycles, and goes between them…is DRT (Died Right There)…and upon hearing the story, the guy asks “but how do they know what he was thinking if he died?” Sometimes logical questions can open up entire sub-arguments that, when all’s said & done, aren’t worth pursuing. It’s possible.

Also possible, is the Panic For Sake Of Panic, and although I’m sure Rick has other examples in mind besides global warming, the environmental movement is certainly central to his inspiration. We’re being called-upon to panic over things quite a lot lately. Panic is not constructive thinking. Masculinity, Ken’s comments about it notwithstanding, can have a lot to do with letting it pass by with little action, or even no action at all. This would be the “keep your head together” aspect of manliness. In the case of the gas that costs almost five bucks a gallon, our error is in forgetting supply-and-demand, being too quick to blame cartoonish stereotypes like “Oil Executives”…presuming that our destruction is desired by people who are engaged in trade with us, and not by the people who seek re-election to Congress periodically through messages that resonate with our suffering. In the case of global warming, we’re confronted by a boogeyman that exists in the mind. Buzzwords, a few “scientists” funded with George Soros’ money, the allure of knowing massive bureaucracies and orthodox fellowships are already mobilized into motion around the boogeyman. The ambition to be part of something huge, nevermind having no impact at all on what it does based on one’s individual participation in it. Like the Barack Obama campaign, modern radical environmentalism has become a tantalizing pastime for those among us who lack intellectual masculinity. Those who desire to clamber on board a massive ship so they can be seen being on it, to grab an oar and help row it so they can be seen rowing it…and have nothing to do with steering it. Steering entails decision-making, and decision-making involves far too much responsibility for the gelded mind.

The four-word tagline “Screw it, let’s ride” is a joke that’s gone over Ken’s head, I’m afraid. In some situations, it can be a healthy and mature attitude. Like, anytime panic is the point. When someone nameless and faceless wants you to lose your bearings, and whispers scary campfire stories into your ear so you’ll fearfully listen to whatever comes next. The headstrong, able-minded manly man says “screw it, let’s ride.”

Through the kernel of truth that was involved in the scary story to make the remaining 99% of the panic digestible, this may entail risk. But we tend to forget that life is all about risk, and it is only through the elimination of life that you completely eliminate all risk.

Enough about that particular confusion vis a vis manhood, masculinity, manly thinking, etc. Let us examine another flavor of such confusion. Let us turn our attention from those who over-analyze, to those who do not analyze enough.

Rick has some more good stuff that is worthy of comment.

Dahlia Lithwick has made a career out of commenting on American law, especially as it is molded and shaped in our Supreme Court. She was born, and remains, a Canadian citizen. If you’ve exchanged ideas over the innernets with enough Canadian citizens about American law, as much as I have, you know what’s strange about that. For the benefit of the uninitiated, I shall expound…

The weakness in her mindset is betrayed by the passage:

The conventional wisdom that the Supreme Court is precariously balanced on a knife’s edge—with four liberals and four conservatives battling for the heart and mind of swing Justice Anthony Kennedy—is too simplistic. The current term has seen enough unanimous and near-unanimous decisions to suggest that the story of a 5-4 court is dramatic but inaccurate. That said, it’s clear there are four justices on the bench who deeply mistrust the judiciary, in the manner of a Rockette who doesn’t care for dancing. Dissenting in this month’s habeas case, Justice Antonin Scalia predicted that judicial overreaching “will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.” John Roberts added that “unelected, politically unaccountable judges” should not shape detention policy. One more jurist at the high court who generally believes that jurists cannot be trusted would spell the difference between a court that is a coequal branch of government and one that cheers from the bleachers. [emphasis mine]

Okay, now for this to make any sort of sense — you have to believe that any self-imposed limitation on the Supreme Court’s authority would be tantamount to an internal, self-criticizing belief “that jurists cannot be trusted.” Her “Rockette” crack makes it clear, to me, that she means to devalue such restraint, to make it equivalent into almost to sort of a mental illness. Perhaps she doesn’t realize the extraordinary intellectual difficulty that would be involved in applying this rule to the Supreme Court, and keep other institutions insulated from it, but I’m willing to go out and a limb and presume: Dahlia Lithwick does not believe in restraint of authority anywhere. Wherever someone can order something, they should. She probably liked it just fine when Gavin Newsom handed out marriage licenses when the law clearly said he didn’t have the authority to do it; I’m sure she was just as fond of the Supreme Court giving George Bush the smackdown over Guantanamo detainees and military tribunals.

How about President Bush’s decision to form those tribunals before the Supreme Court decision came down? If I’m correct in thinking Lithwick admires lack of authoritative self-restraint, that’d be a great example of it. Her careless, breezy use of the word “coequal” implies that she thinks the three branches should be able to do more-or-less the same things, and her implication that the Supreme Court carries legislative power would help to substantiate that. Somehow, I don’t think Lithwick is going to be quite as big a fan as that. No, she likes restraints on government-branch power to be jettisoned, when the decision under consideration is one she happens to like.

You simply can’t have separation of powers…a uniquely American doctrine…with that in place. Furthermore, as it’s been pointed out in many other places since then, Lithwick is engaged in some Holy Battle in which we old white males represent the forces of evil, because we’re old, white and male:

Anybody who believes the current Supreme Court looks like America needs to take a few more trips on a Greyhound bus. All the judges are white and/or old; most are both. [emphasis mine]

I have to stand on what I entered at Rick’s place:

What I wouldn’t give for a pleasant (hopefully, to stay that way) dinner conversation with her, or someone from this planet. Is their idea of the “wall of separation” between judiciary & legislature, the same as mine? Do they even have one? Or are they so much into “pack every single panel that has any authority at all with good people like me” that they haven’t even put that much thought into it?

In order to define what exactly is wrong with nutty, delusional people, sometimes it’s necessary to state the obvious. Popular belief notwithstanding, this is something I really hate doing…but let’s go for it.

You have a law. Like most laws, it leaves room for interpretation. Perhaps because the law exists in a context in which it’s impossible to avoid that, or perhaps because the law just happens to be worded badly. Let’s make it a badly worded law to make the example clearer — the law is:

Don’t Drive Fast Here

You drive through there at 45 because you think that isn’t fast. Why, on the freeway, you’re allowed to go as fast as 65! But the cop who busted you thinks anything over 30 is pretty fast. He busts you. You appeal. The case goes all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Court, here, essentially has two options: 1. It can uphold your penalty or 2. It can let you off the hook. It comes down to the “opinion” of the Justices overruling all other opinions now and forevermore (or at least, until a better sign is put up with a better law behind it). The side effect is that, if you are let off the hook for driving 45, it will become legally impossible to cite someone for driving through the same thoroughfare doing 35. On the other hand, if you’re busted, then anyone who gets a ticket for driving 55 and wants to appeal can just forget it.

This is jurisprudence. It is, specifically, stare decisis et non quieta movere; “stand by and adhere to decisions and not disturb what is settled” — or at least, that’s what it is called the next time a different case presents the same question. It is “law,” in all the ways that matter, but without democratic participation by the electorate, without critical thinking, without deliberation about cause-and-effect. Consistency is the only virtue to it.

I made reference to Lithwick’s “planet.” On mine, stare decisis is a noble ideal but when too much emanates from it, that is a toxic agent. So people like me see the Supreme Court as engaged in a struggle, to continue deciding cases for as many decades as possible without hopelessly tying itself up into a huge knot. The nightmare scenario is one in which stare decisis runs headlong off in one direction, and common sense sprints in the opposite direction. At that point, the Supreme Court must overrule itself, and admit that justice has been miscarried. For years.

Lithwick’s planet is one in which this is a desirable outcome. Bad laws like “Don’t Drive Fast” breathe life into the judicial branch, give it a reason for being “coequal,” and the courts are at their most noble and glorious when they seize this false authority and wield it.

I do not know what people on Planet Lithwick mean by “coequal,” exactly. I really don’t. I don’t think they know either. It’s clear to me they think decisions are “good” when they exude greater volumes of stare decisis side-effect…make things illegal that weren’t before…make things legal that were illegal before. It’s obvious they think more highly of the decision when the interpreted effect is contrary to the reasoned expectation of Congress, or other lawgivers, when the laws were legislated or ratified. They place a value on unintended consequences.

On my planet, we call that what it is: Bad law. We count on the judicial branch to step in, and make law that way where it did not exist previously — when Congress is unwilling, or unable, to do it’s job. And it’s an occasion for mourning, not celebration, because we know a law has just been made that has no common sense behind it. We know a “committee” decision — the most dreadful kind — has just been made, and nobody will be accountable to it because it will not have been made in any one individual’s name. Breathy, throwaway phrases like “evolving social mores” and “standards of decency” will be used to announce the results of polls — polls that were in fact never taken. Impact without ownership. Remember what I said about decision-making being an unacceptable burden to a gelded mind. This is an entire system of government, ruled by gelded minds.

So I agree with Planet Lithwick about the stakes being “very high.” She’s right. Just not in the way she thinks she is.

This is America. You may have heard of it, Dahlia. It is a place where our Supreme Court, and all the rest of our judicial branch…is not a supplementary Congress.

Our real Congress has long vacations for a reason, after all — we can only take so much of what they do. The courts are places where Congress’ messes are cleaned up. Congress certainly doesn’t need help making them.


Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Arrived by e-mail…

A man was washed up on a beach after a terrible shipwreck. Only a sheep and a sheepdog were washed up with him. After looking around, he realized that they were stranded on a deserted island.

After being there awhile, he got into the habit of taking his two animal companions to the beach every evening to watch the sunset.

One particular evening, the sky was a fiery red with beautiful cirrus clouds, the breeze was warm and gentle – a perfect night for romance.

As they sat there, the sheep started looking better and better to the lonely man. Soon, he leaned over to the sheep and put his arm around it.

But the sheepdog, ever protective of the sheep, growled fiercely until the man took his arm from around the sheep.

After that, the three of them continued t o enjoy the sunsets together, but there was no more cuddling.

A few weeks passed by and, lo and behold, there was another shipwreck.

The only survivor was Hillary Clinton.

That evening, the man brought Hillary to the evening beach ritual. It was another beautiful evening – red sky, cirrus clouds, a warm and gentle breeze – perfect for a night of romance. Pretty soon, the man started to get ‘those feelings’ again..

He fought the urges as long as he could but he finally gave in and leaned over to Hillary and told her he hadn’t had sex for months. Hillary batted her eyelashes and asked if there was anything she could do for him.

He said, ‘Would you mind taking the dog for a walk?’

This one also arived via e-mail…

A Kansas farm wife called the local phone company to report her telephone failed to ring

When her friends called – and that on the few occasions, when it did ring, her dog always

Moaned right before the phone rang.

The telephone repairman proceeded to the scene, curious to see this psychic dog or senile lady.

He climbed a telephone pole, hooked in his test set, and dialed the subscriber’s house.

The phone didn’t ring right away, but then the dog moaned and the telephone began to ring.

Climbing down from the pole, the telephone repairman found:

1. The dog was tied to the telephone system’s ground wire with a steel chain and collar.
2. The wire connection to the ground rod was loose.
3. The dog was receiving 90 volts of signaling current when the number was called.
4. After a couple of jolts, the dog wo uld start moaning and then urinate.
5. The wet ground would complete the circuit , thus causing the phone to ring.

Which demonstrates that some problems CAN be fixed by pissing and moaning.

And this one comes from Holtie’s House

The seven dwarfs go to the Vatican , and because they are the seven dwarfs, they are immediately ushered in to see the Pope.

Grumpy leads the pack.

‘Grumpy, my son,’ says the Pope, ‘What can I do for you?’

Grumpy asks, ‘Excuse me your Excellency, but are there any dwarf nuns in Rome ?’

The Pope wrinkles his brow at the odd question, thinks for a moment and answers, ‘No, Grumpy, there are no dwarf nuns in Rome .’

In the background, a few of the dwarfs start giggling.

Grumpy turns around and glares, silencing them.

Grumpy turns back, ‘Your Worship, are there any dwarf nuns in all of Europe ?’

The Pope, puzzled now, again thinks for a moment and then answers, ‘No, Grumpy, there are no dwarf nuns in Europe .

‘This time, all of the other dwarfs burst into laughter.

Once again, Grumpy turns around and silences them with an angry glare.

Grumpy turns back and says, ‘Mr.. Pope! Are there ANY dwarf nuns anywhere in the world?’
The Pope, really confused by the questions says, ‘I’m sorry, my son, there are no dwarf nuns anywhere in the world.’

The other dwarfs collapse into a heap, rolling and laughing, pounding the floor, tears rolling down their cheeks, as they begin chanting………………..

‘Grumpy shagged a penguin! – Grumpy shagged a penguin!

The one that follows is pretty decent, too.

Judge to prostitute: “When did you realize that you had been raped?”
Prostitute, wiping away tears, “When the check bounced.”

Plagiarizing Goebbels

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler thinks George Lakoff, author of “The Political Mind” (Viking, $25.95) is stealing material from Joseph Goebbels. Lakoff’s point is that we’re voting “the wrong way” because our synapses are being unfairly exploited by conservatives, and if “progressives” simply retool their messages to manipulate our frames of references rather than give us these pesky “fact” things, we’ll start voting the right way again. Which is a chuckle and a snort to anyone who’s been paying attention to what kind of material the “progressives” have been selling up ’til now…sure they’ve got problems, but dishing out facts doesn’t seem to be one of ’em, at least to me.

They think they can win elections by citing facts and offering programs that serve voters’ interests. When they lose, they conclude that they need to move farther to the right, where the voters are.

This is all wrong, Lakoff explains. Neuroscience shows that pure facts are a myth and that self-interest is a conservative idea. In a “New Enlightenment,” progressives will exploit these discoveries. They’ll present frames instead of raw facts. They’ll train the public to think less about self-interest and more about serving others. It’s not the platform that needs to be changed. It’s the voters. [emphasis mine]

As Rottie has pointed out — the idea that liberals offer “programs that serve voters’ interests” is something of a hoot as well. That is, unless you consider the possibility that liberals have now successfully recruited so many illegal aliens and dead people into the voting process that the term “voter” has substantially changed.

And I’m wondering how neuroscience goes about showing that self-interest is a conservative idea. What’re they doing, strapping a guy in a chair, having him make self-interested choices in some creative experiment and then peeking at his “conservative” lobe to see if it lights up? Hmmm, I wonder what the conservative lobe would be. I would guess when you know a stove is hot, the liberal lobe is the one that lights up when you think “I think I’ll put my hand on that” and the conservative one would be the one that lights up next time ’round, when you think “that didn’t turn out so good, I believe this time I will not be doing that.”

From this, Lakoff’s agenda follows. In place of neoliberalism, he offers neuroliberalism. Since voters’ opinions are neither logical nor self-made, they should be altered, not obeyed. Politicians should “not follow polls but use them to see how they can change public opinion to their moral worldview.”

Yeah, I’m reading through all this stuff and you know what I’m seeing?

“I want liberal ideas to prevail and they damn sure aren’t going to prevail if those promoting them continue to muddle around with ‘facts’ and ‘logic,’ so I want them to start selling snake oil instead.”

And I don’t think Goebbels is the only one plagiarized here. I remember seeing it just a short time ago. Ah…here it is — here and here and here.

This column from Robyn Blumner about a psychology professor named Drew Westen telling Democrats to abandon fact-based campaigning and employ emotional tactics instead would be knee-slappingly hilarious, something fit for the pages of The Onion, were she not so gosh-darn serious about it all.

In one exceptionally clear 400-page volume, Drew Westen, a professor of psychology at Emory University, lays out everything that Democrats have been doing wrong. He explains it all in neuroscientific terms according to what regions of the brain control political decisionmaking, but it comes down to this. In election after election, Democrats have been appealing to the dispassionate, rational, fact-sensitive voter. A being, apparently, who doesn’t exist.

According to The Political Brain: The Role of Emotions in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, winning elections is all about influencing feelings and emotions. Westen says bringing more passion into politics requires the use of storytelling narratives and other emotional cues that powerfully engage those circuits of the brain that recruit and reinforce beliefs.

Democrats keep losing presidential campaigns, not because the issues they stand for are unappealing, but because they tend to structure their campaigns to engage the brain’s reasoning centers. And that just doesn’t cut the synaptic mustard.

I actually heard about this guy on Rush Limbaugh the other day. Basically, his strategy for winning elections for Democrats is to have them appeal to the emotions of voters rather than their reason. Which, to me, sounds a bit like “just tell ‘em what they want to hear.” Not to mention more than a little insulting for American voters. Apparently we’re all a bunch of morons who aren’t smart enough to wrap our minds around the brilliance and nuance of liberal policies.

Though I’m curious as to how Professor Westen thinks won Democrats the last election. Did they win because they just told Americans what they wanted to hear? Did the Democrats abandon reason and play on our emotions?

Exactly the question I had with this Lackoff guy. We’re still in the first term of the Marc Foley Congress, in which democrats took charge of everything because we “all” figured out they’re so great and Republicans suck so much. That’s what I keep getting told, anyway…doesn’t that mean our “progressives” are happy with the way things turned out? Westen’s masterpiece popped up during this first term, in fact when the victory was supposedly still fresh. Lackoff’s book, also, is published during this first term.

I’m already familiar with the fact — oops! Sorry guys! — that liberals have a distinct tendency to engage schemes that have failed repeatedly…like universal healthcare, minimum wage, price caps, gun control, the list goes on and on. So it took me by surprise, although I suppose maybe it should have been a foregone conclusion, that they want to change things that have worked well.

Is that what’s going on here? Or should I stick to my original theory, that the way they run their political campaigns is in a manner completely opposite to the way they want to run things once they accumulate more power across the national landscape? I’d like to know which it is, because I like that original theory better and it seems to hold true. You little people should be ashamed of being able to hold on to your money…we can have tax loopholes…you should ride razor scooters to work…we get to ride in limousines…you have to call 911…our bodyguards can carry Smith & Wessons…the world is mad at you for recognizing enemies…we shall prevail over our Republican opponents no matter what it takes…

Either way, I pity the poor democrat strategist who’s been tasked to read Lackoff’s book and look for ways to implement it. How do you shun facts, and embrace phony propaganda, more than the democrats have already been doing it? How do you repeat empty, vapid messages more often than they already have? In 2008 they’re down to just repeating the monosyllabic “hope…change” over and over again.

And, finally, I have to revert back to one of my favorite questions about liberals. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could rustle up just half the acrimony, half the anger, half the resolve and half the determination to prevail against an enemy at any cost — against the terrorists, as they do against Republicans?

House of Eratosthenes Battle Bridge

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Neatnick Buck has responded to a challenge to show off “your” workspace…”your” being him, me, you, whoever. Sez Buck…

This is a pretty quick, easy, and fun sort of meme…so play along if ya want. Jenn has only stipulated one rule: Don’t clean up first. Let’s see it, warts and all.

Oy. Well, as we like to notice around here: Life’s full of challenges. Well, that reputation I had as a fastidious clean-freak was kind of fun while it lasted.

Grigori the Blogger Tower is gunned up and begins roaring to life with one of my favorite backgrounds, the Bugatti Veyron 1000HP W16 quadruple-turbocharged engine. I don’t have one of those, I have to settle for viewing a digital image of it. For now. You can tell I’m right-handed because of the twin bladder-busters: A coffee cup warmer for those quiet, chilly mornings, and a wall-mounted bottle opener for those hot summer twilight sessions. The electric teakettle is on the left, for late night sessions when I need to soothe the belly without wandering out to the kitchen to get the stove-powered model whistling away and maybe waking up my gal. Gear is important! Like it sez in the cartoon: Someone is wrong on the innernets. Gotta be prepared.

Battle bridge viewed from the left. The broadband Internet/television gateway is up-top. Grigori is now chugging away loading desktop icons, trying to decide whether it’ll spend the next few hours doing useful things on my command, or giving me dumb looks. The LCD portable movie player is for watching whatever might suit my fancy, and the neon blacklights are for…well…the coffee cup warmer has a ring of glow-in-the-dark paint. That’s for old goats like me that set wine glasses down on the wrong place, sometimes tipping ’em over. The blacklight recharges it; and I kind of find it soothing. Don’t know why. Maybe it’ll give me cancer someday. Who knows.

HEY…you said don’t clean up. Be careful what ya wish for.

Deserving of Execution

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Under the precept of justice that punishment is to be graduated and proportioned to the crime, informed by evolving standards, capital punishment must “be limited to those offenders who commit ‘a narrow category of the most serious crimes’ and whose extreme culpability makes them ‘the most deserving of execution.’ ”

So says the Supreme Court, represented in an opinion delivered by Justice Anthony Kennedy…a star chamber that, apparently, can no longer distinguish between a fact and an opinion.

I have some evolving standards too, and mine say, well, I don’t know what Misha has in mind exactly when he says

Fuck ‘em all. We’ll just have to “take care” of child rapists ourselves, then. They’ll be begging for some “cruel and unusual” lethal injection juice before we’re five minutes into their punishment.

…but I’m betting I like it a whole lot. Something that involves the smell of knife sharpening oil and burning flesh.

I used to have a co-worker who would brag about the messes he’d make at fast food establishments with rude customer service people. Like, if he asked for extra napkins and got nothing but a dumb look out of ’em…he’d do something like…hold the half drunk milkshake out at arms’ length, and let it plop on the floor. Know what he said to justify that? “I’m gonna get customer service outta you. One way, or the other.”

That applies here just fine, according to my “evolving standards.” When it comes to child rape, we’ll get justice…one way, or the other. Oh what’s that, this is anarchy? Something about refusing to live in a decent, civilised society? Don’t talk to me about it. Talk to the folks like Anthony Kennedy who systematically dismantled that civilised society. Civilization protects kids, or affords justice to kids who have been denied it. Justice…one way, or the other.

Not a threat — a prophecy. We’re going to have some child rapists accidentally shooting themselves from fifteen feet away before they can be taken into custody. Testicles first, breadbasket second, bridge-of-nose third. Whoopsie.

H/T to HotAir (via Rottweiler), who points to some fascinating news of a Rasmussen poll indicating — who’d a thunk it? — most of us think the Supremes have their own personal agendas.

Sixty-percent (60%) of voters believe Supreme Court Justices have their own political agendas, while just 23% believe they remain impartial, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Those sentiments are similar along all party lines and among voters of varying ideological beliefs. More men (66%) than women (54%) believe Justices have their own political agendas. While 25% of women believe the justices to be impartial, only 20% of men agree.

Best Sentence XXXI

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Colorado Right thinks it goes to Right Wing Nut House for this comment about the fidelity shown to The Obamessiah by his Obamazealots:

He could be caught tomorrow in a bathtub, naked, with Larry Sinclair, puffing away on a crack pipe while getting serviced by 3 Boy Scouts and 2 altar boys and they’d still think he was the bee’s knees.

But I dunno.

I think Harvey at IMAO gets it, for this fictitious quote he stuck in The Obamessiah’s holy piehole. For that link as well, I get to thank Colorado Right. But it could have been attributed to just about any socialist-in-donkey-clothing tax-and-spend democrat:

“But how will you pay for it?”, sobbed Marilyn.

“Same way I’ll pay for everything I promise – by stealing money from someone who has more of it than you but less than me.” [emphasis mine]

Oof. You see, that’s almost worth framing.

I’ll pay for it by stealing money from someone who has more of it than you but less than me.

Someone just shrink that down a tiny bit more so it’ll fit on a bumper sticker. I’m a democrat, and I’ll steal from someone who has more loot than you but less than me.

Targeted Wimp-Out

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
Daisy Duke Golf
I really don’t know what this picture has to do
with the subject under discussion
but it looks pretty good to me

Becky, the Girl in Short Shorts Talking About Whatever, is ticked. She’s ticked at the democrats because the democrats wimped out to President Bush. Like millions of anti-war bloggers and activists, she wanted them to hold firm, not wimp out; she wanted them to hang on to the bitter end. About — wimping out to the terrorists. She wanted those limp flaccid democrats to carry the fight to President Bush, so that they could be victorious and prevail, in the battle to get him to stop carrying the fight to the terrorists, and stop trying to be victorious and stop trying to prevail. She’s upset at them for caving in to him, as he continues to not cave in to the terrorists.

She’s upset about the “wimp out” that took place in the battle to wimp out.

She wants to see more determination and resolve…in the battle to not show any determination or resolve.

She wants more spine shown in the battle to show spinelessness.

Targeted wimping-out.

This is, as I’ve commented a few times over at her blog, what is wrong with libertarianism in 2008. You use that word (capital-L) “Libertarian!” and I think — more freedom. People can do what they choose to do as long as it does not harm others. More authority at the local level and less at the federal level.

The war has badly damaged the Libertarian party. Badly. Too many loud, angry small-l libertarians are insistent on a falsehood — that capital-L Libertarianism is inherently anti-war. Well, it isn’t. Capital-L Libertarianism is about the right to defend yourself; individuals have the right to defend their homes, states have the right to defend themselves from invasion by illegal aliens if the feds aren’t up to the job, and the federal government has the authority and the responsibility to defend the nation. The small-l libertarians insist that “Libertarians” see the Libertarian movement their way, not my way; that there are no Libertarians who recognize true Libertarianism as Libertarianism.

Well, they’re wrong. This is a red-hot issue in the Libertarian movement: When we use that word on ourselves, are we calling ourselves a bunch of deranged Jimmy-Carter peaceniks? Some, like Becky, say yes; some say no.

Becky Does Not Make Sense TodayWhat is really destructive about this, is the method by which these pronouncements are made. Former President Carter’s comments and bullying implications notwithstanding, there is no verbiage in the Constitution or in any treaty, not on any legally binding hunk of paper floating around anywhere, that outlaws preemptive war. When our small-l libertarians call that “illegal,” they mean someone said “That’s just wrong! Can I get an amen here?” and a bunch of other small-l libertarians said “Hell yeah!”

Populism, in other words. The Libertarian movement has been subject to an incursion by anti-war peacenik populists. That is why they are small-l libertarians. Unlike Becky, most of these folks couldn’t give two hoots about the ideals that are really part of capital-L Libertarianism. They couldn’t give a rat’s ass about states’ rights, or the right to home-school, or ratcheting down on federal spending for social programs, or any of the other stuff; they just want to be a bunch of anti-war halfwits.

The foundation of anti-war halfwitism, however, is that if one side is engaged in a war, and it calls a halt to the war, the other side will automatically stop fighting too. That’s why we don’t want these people making important decisions about anything — they don’t understand human nature and they don’t care to understand it. They’re delusional Utopian thinkers who do all their reckoning with reality while high on airplane model glue fumes.

The foundation of this small-l libertarianism that results when classic capital-L Libertarianism mates with populism, is — words like “constitution” and “illegal” are defined by that “Can I Get An Amen Here?” process. Which, in my book, is the direct opposite of capital-L Libertarianism. This is the difference, when you get down to it, between what Ron Paul was pretending to be and what Ron Paul really is.

Their ultimate goal, of course, is to make sure our country wimps out, on everything, and everyone living within it wimps out too. All the time — except when people oppose the small-l libertarianism. Essentially, it is a political movement that insists that nobody, anywhere, at any time, is worth fighting or resisting…except the enemies of that particular political movement.

Targeted wimping-out; targeted standing-up. No real principles involved in any of this. Just a half-assed effort to put forth the appearance.

Sorry, small-l libertarians. If we have a need for a political movement like that, that’s exactly what democrats are for. One of those is enough of a headache, we don’t need two.

Update: Link submitted by Becky’s commenter Mark Wadsworth: Democrats Vow Not To Give Up Hopelessness. Good ol’ Onion.

That’s satire news, for those of you who may not be in the know.

In a press conference on the steps of the Capitol Monday, Congressional Democrats announced that, despite the scandals plaguing the Republican Party and widespread calls for change in Washington, their party will remain true to its hopeless direction.

“We are entirely capable of bungling this opportunity to regain control of the House and Senate and the trust of the American people,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said to scattered applause. “It will take some doing, but we’re in this for the long and pointless haul.”

“We can lose this,” Reid added. “All it takes is a little lack of backbone.”

Not Because He’s a Nice Guy

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Coming up sometime today — I have little doubt of this — is a protestation that “State Representative Fagan’s remarks were taken out of context.” Let’s go ahead and do our homework before we’re asked to do it this time, and consider the sad case of James Fagan of Massachusetts. I feel like this is where Rod Serling should glide into view and intone, “submitted for your approval…James…Fagan.”

Via Hot Air, via Ace, also via Constitutionally Right, via Jay, via Cas: This guy said some things that you wouldn’t expect to out of the Twilight Zone. Dee dee dah dah dee dee dah dah…

Let me tell you why it’s so wrong, It’s so wrong because in these situations…that 6-year-old is going to sit in front of me, or somebody far worse than me and I’m going to rip them apart. I’m going to make sure that the rest of their life is ruined. That when they’re 8 years old they throw up; when they’re 12 years old, they won’t sleep. When they’re 19 years old they’ll have nightmares and they’ll never have a relationship with anybody. And that’s not because I’m a nice guy. That’s because when you’re in court, and you’re defending somebody’s liberty, and you’re facing a mandatory sentence of those draconian proportions, you have to do every single thing you can do on behalf of your client. That is your obligation as a trial lawyer.

The point he’s trying to make, is the same one that’s been made by our liberals about “torture” inflicted by the United States at Guantanamo, and about the three-strikes in California. It’s a cute little way of playing at cause-and-effect thinking, by those who are all but complete strangers to cause-and-effect thinking.

It goes like this: If you have a twenty year automatic sentence for one conviction of child rape, and I’m a defense attorney and my client’s been accused of it, I will be playing “accuse the accuser” all the time with each case that comes up, because I’m going to be holding nothing back when it comes to keeping my client out of jail for two decades.

So you see, there’s just a scintilla of reasoned consideration of consequences in what he’s saying. Just enough to give the feeling that that’s being done. It would be funny, were the subject matter different.

If this were an honest argument, legislators like Fagan would be making the same one when it’s time to raise the minimum wage. I can hear it now. “If I’ve got twenty kids working for me and next week they’re going to be costing me an extra $400 a week, I’m gonna rip them apart!” When’s the last time you heard Fagan, or anyone from his party, saying anything like that.

But you see, that would be a far more reasonable implementation of this cause-and-effect method of debate. If I have twenty people working for me at $7 an hour — or if I’m just thinking of hiring that many — you have to assume that as a businessman, I’m going to instigate a change in my plans if & when that goes up to $8. It’s quite unavoidable.

Contrasted with that, Fagan’s argument only makes sense if he can say “life, for our child molestation victims, will remain relatively pleasant and carefree if we ritually allow our predators to take a walk after a token rap on the knuckles.” That’s the opposite side of the coin that is his argument, and I’m afraid it’s so patently absurd that nobody’s going to step up and even pretend to put their name by that. Quite to the contrary, Charles at Constitutionally Right puts the kibosh on that whole thing, adroitly and concisely:

While it is true that it is a defense attorney’s obligation to defend his or her client to the best of his of her ability, that is true in all cases. Mr. Fagan would have you believe that he would be harsher in his cross examination of the victim if his client is facing 20 years then if he was only facing 5 years. His illogical, and downright offens[iv]e argument is that by mandating a sentence of 20 years, the State legislature will be victimizing the child by forcing him and his peers to traumatize the little girl on the witness stand. In essence, he argues that the only way to prevent him from “ruining” her life, is by offering leniency to the child rapist in the hopes he does not attack another young girl.

The victims of these predators have already lost what they’re going to lose. Yes, it’s heartbreaking to even consider them being “torn apart” like that, and that does happen, but the reality is they didn’t make the situation. The prosecution didn’t make the situation, the legislators who would sign off on the law didn’t make the situation. The predator did, and he deserves to go away for a long time. The crime itself has lasting effects; the cross-examination, brutal as it may be, does not. It’s a sacrifice some families choose not to make, but that others do, to make sure others aren’t traumatized the same way.

Here’s another way to look at it: If we pass this law, and in another twenty years we have a whole generation of grown-ups who were raped and brutalized as little kids and then “torn apart” by the defense attorneys because of Jessica’s Law…will it make sense, at that time, to say “darn that Jessica’s law, all these people were forever psychologically damaged because they were torn apart on the witness stand by the defense attorneys“?

No, that would be a very silly thing to say. Fagan’s argument, therefore, is not only lacking in merit but wholly disingenuous as well. Quite to the contrary, finding ourselves up to our armpits in traumatized adults who were victimized as kids, we’d blame the perpetrators. And, if for some reason there was a sharp up-tick in persons known to have been so brutalized by then, we’d say “Thank God for Jessica’s law putting these creeps away for twenty-five years, I wonder how bad the problem would be if we didn’t have that.”

That would be only reasonable. If that happens in the wake of passing Jessica’s Law. But the evidence indicates, overall, that the innocent are victimized in direct proportion to the leniency built into our justice system. You lock up bad people, crime goes down, you let ’em out, crime goes up. And that, right there, is the cause-and-effect argument Fagan is trying to avoid: If we don’t want our children molested so that it becomes necessary to put them on that stand in the first place, what do we do with our convicted child molesters? Lock ’em up, or let ’em out?

Cassy thinks we should go ahead and just execute them. Frankly, at this point, I’m not entirely sure I disagree with that anymore. There are real lives being put in danger while we tolerate these utterly absurd nonsensical arguments from people like James Fagan, and if we just execute the child molesters we can stop arguing about them. At that point, who knows what happens to Representative Fagan. A good chunk of his reason-for-being would go away, then, so he could retire from his state legislature and pursue whatever other leisurely activities he has in mind. My guess would be going fishing, ripping the fish apart, making sure they can’t sleep, making them throw up. Whatever.

Update: Mark Lunsford, father of the Jessica after whom the law is named, responds:

“Why doesn’t he figure out a way to defend that child and put these kind of people away instead of trying to figure ways for defense attorneys to get around Jessica’s Law?” Mark Lunsford fumed, slamming recent remarks by Rep. James Fagan. “These are very serious crimes that nobody wants to take serious. What about the rights of these children?”

Lunsford, whose daughter Jessica was raped and murdered in Florida by a repeat sex offender, will be in Massachusetts tomorrow to push lawmakers to pass Jessica’s Law, which would require a 20-year sentence for rape of a child under 12. The House passed a watered-down version of the bill last week but Lunsford and other victims’ rights activists will be pushing the Senate to include mandatory prison time in the final law.

“If this bill is not going to put these people away, don’t disrespect me by putting my daughter’s name on it,” Lunsford told the Herald last night. “You have to put these guys in prison and admit these people are uncurable.”

H/T: Apathetic Lemming of the North, via commenter Brian, commenting on Scotto Blogo.

Waters Backpedals

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008


In speaking to oil company executives at a May 22 hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Waters tried to hold her tongue but nonetheless said: “This liberal will be all about socializing, uh, uh … would be about basically taking over and the government running all of your companies.”
But Michael Levin, communications director for Waters, told Cybercast News Service on Friday that Waters did not mean what she said.

“It was one comment in a long hearing, and it has continued to have a life of its own in the blogosphere,” he said. “It was not her intention to announce a big policy proposal. It’s not a developed policy proposal. It was not an intentional statement.”

I wasn’t taking the cookie out of the jar, because you weren’t supposed to catch me doing it.

Thing I Know #230. We’d call them “rationalists” if they thought things through rationally; that’s why they’re called “socialists.”

Consider the following, substituting “democrat” for “burglar” and “socialist” for “encyclopedia salesman.” It holds true and sums things up rather nicely.

Yup, all the way to the end with the salesmen flying out of the window.

Update: I see Phil is still busy with his graphic artistry, and he’s had much the same idea before I had it.

Church of Environmentalism

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

I missed this when it went up three weeks ago. Wyatt’s Torch has a great round-up of various articles all pointing out the same thing, that environmentalism has become a religion in all the ways that matter. This goes back to Bidinotto’s essay in 2003.

Price Cap on Gas

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Via Boortz, a frightening snippet from someone who (I presume) is as free to vote as you and me.

Why not speak about taxing the windfall profits of the oil companies, or legislating a cap on the price of gasoline via legislation?

If capped at $2 a gallon, ExxonMobil profits would still be well higher than $20 billion a year. Why on earth do they need to make twice that and bring the economy of this nation to its knees in the process?

Capping the price of gas puts dollars in everyone’s pocket, and helps reduce the cost of all products we consume, which further bolsters the economy. It’s a common sense solution that works across the board.

Yeah, like, uh, do the numbers! If gas cost $2 a gallon, you’d have money in your pocket! Like…a bunch! Whatsa matta with you, you stupid or something?

Next, we repeal that law of gravity.

Q: A blonde ordered a pizza and the clerk asked if he should cut it in six or twelve pieces.
A: “Six, please. I could never eat twelve pieces.”

How to Talk to an Obama Cultist

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Via Stop The ACLU, via Rick:

This guy’s got ’em pegged.

I feel this subconscious sympathetic twinge for these people when they start arguing with me. It’s so sad; they’ve got nothing to say and they damn well know it. “Hope change got elected to the Senate the real deal illegal unjust war”…and that just about wraps it up for them. That, and bitching about people mentioning his middle name, some global warming propaganda, and they’re done.

democrats’ Message

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Via California Conservative, we learn of an interesting editorial that appeared in WSJ:

If nothing else, the 2008 election will resolve the question of whether the Democrats have been losing the White House in recent decades because of their message or because of their candidates’ inability to articulate it well.
After the 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2004 elections, Democratic leaders argued that the American people had not rejected their ideas or governing philosophy. Instead, they said, their nominee had not effectively communicated the party’s core message. It wasn’t the American people rejecting those views and values, they contended.

Whether that was an accurate reading of the electorate or a self-serving analysis by the party’s elites, it has made wonderful cocktail party fodder for years. But it has also been used as a rationale by those who didn’t see the string of defeats as a call to retool the party’s message.

These Democrats argued their politics were not out of step and there was no reason to overhaul the party message; they just needed to tinker with it around the edges and find a better communicator to make their case.

Well, give the democrat party for being consistent with itself, for once. If you think you’ve got a good message and you continue to fail at the presidential elections because your “messengers” suck so much, it would logically follow that someone with a polished talent for delivering messages would really capture your excitement.

The part about the message being perfectly decent, or adequately decent, doesn’t quite fit in though. Five elections lost in 28 years, comes to 71% failure. The same guy won the only two elections that went to the democrats in that time — so that’s five democrats out of six who lack the hunting talents to go out with this bait and bring something back. What kind of message needs a turd-polisher so impassioned and so skilled, that he has to bubble up to the eighty-third percentile before he can think about taking it on? It’s not quantum physics. It’s “vote for us and we’ll stiff those other guys to give you some bennies.” I have a reputation for making essays much longer and more bloated than they need to be, and in the verbal medium I’m not nearly as much fun to listen to as Sen. Obama, but even I managed to fit that on one line.

The editorial continues:

Nevertheless, it’s clear that if Sen. Barack Obama loses this November, Democrats will have to conclude that yes, in fact, their defeats are linked to their brand of politics, not their salesman’s communication skills.

Not only is the political playing field stacked in the Democrats’ favor — an unpopular war, an even less popular Republican president, and a slow and perhaps shrinking economy–but also their White House candidate is the extraordinary communicator in this race. Sen. Obama is clearly the most charismatic candidate and the best public speaker that the Democrats have offered in many decades. Some might say since John F. Kennedy; others might go further back.

Therefore, the argument goes, if the Illinois senator, who could sell ice to Eskimos, can’t close the deal, there is a pressing need for a serious overhaul of the Democratic mindset.

I doubt that very much. What the hell are they going to do, say to themselves “well, we tried driving a wedge between the classes for all these years and we failed, I guess America is the one garden on the globe where the weed of socialism can’t take root.” And then find a sudden hitherto-undiscovered loyalty to capitalism, free trade, the right to self-defense, the right to worship freely, to eat meat, to drive big cars, to leave the coffeemaker plugged in, to defend the country on the battlefield and in the public discourse without apologizing for doing so? To travel overseas and say “I’m American” without “sorry” tossed in immediately afterwards?

No. Obama could get creamed like Walter Mondale — which I highly doubt is what’s gonna happen — and four years onward they’ll be back to sell us the same crap. Everybody who has money must have stolen it, everybody with a different skin color is out to screw you, sacrifice is the only noble human virtue, the Constitution is a living breathing document, you’re breathing too but you shouldn’t be because you’re poisoning the planet, you shouldn’t have guns, you shouldn’t worship a god, you can’t drill for oil because the caribou will be upset, there’s nothing that can be done about high gas prices but to blame Republicans.

In short, you aren’t here to do anything, you’re here to be comfortable. And everything in your life that’s comfortable is because of us — even though our central purpose is to make sure you can’t do anything — and everything that makes you uncomfortable is because of those other guys. Vote for us, we’ll make sure you have everything you need or want, limited, of course, to the extent to which we think you should want it. You’ll eat the food we think you should want to eat, go to the schools we think you should want to go to, drive the cars we think you should want to drive, pay your carbon sin taxes, rely on a public agency to defend your family from the guy breaking into your house…and, basically, become a well-managed non-unique human ball bearing.

That kind of message has to do with preserving an aristocracy. The ivory tower types get to make up the rules as they go along, the hoi polloi down in the trenches just go where they’re told and do what they’re told. democrats have a real passion for this, and it’s the kind of passion that comes from personal insecurity and a desire to control others.

If it was the kind of “message” that would be dropped after a string of electoral defeats, it woulda happened by now. No, the message will not be changed. It is expected to endure even throughout the most discouraging setbacks; it is designed to so endure. And that’s proven easily: You’ll not hear it defined, by a democrat, with the level of clarity that was used above. It’s stated by those who seek to promote it only in vague terms, behind thick veils of obfuscation, peppered densely with buzzwords like “choice,” “wealthy,” “working families” and “environment.” Such protections are not available to messages that are subject to dismissal, if & when they are found to be bad messages. These are the protections wrapped around fake ointment products, that will continue to be sold, no matter how many people reject it or how many times they so reject.

Simply put, snake oil salesman don’t give a rip about the oil. There are the sales that are made, and there are the sales pitches that make those sales happen. That’s all that matters to the snake oil salesman. That’s one of the most reliable ways you can tell he is one.

The Obama Seal…

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

…is toast.

While we don’t have full details, someone at Obama’s press center, when asked if the seal would be used going forward said simply, “No.”

Too bad. So sad.

Nice Guys Sleep Alone

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Via Karol, confirmation of what you already knew, although quite a few folks have been telling you the opposite, or something calculated to slow your absorption of reality’s lessons. Females especially…Karol included.

NICE guys knew it, now two studies have confirmed it: bad boys get the most girls. The finding may help explain why a nasty suite of antisocial personality traits known as the “dark triad” persists in the human population, despite their potentially grave cultural costs.

The traits are the self-obsession of narcissism; the impulsive, thrill-seeking and callous behaviour of psychopaths; and the deceitful and exploitative nature of Machiavellianism. At their extreme, these traits would be highly detrimental for life in traditional human societies. People with these personalities risk being shunned by others and shut out of relationships, leaving them without a mate, hungry and vulnerable to predators.

But being just slightly evil could have an upside: a prolific sex life, says Peter Jonason at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. “We have some evidence that the three traits are really the same thing and may represent a successful evolutionary strategy.”

When the article says “nice guys knew it,” I expect what it’s talking about is the same personal experience all us guys have had at one time or another. You give some attention to a cute girl and you think it’s reciprocated. Maybe you actually go out with her a time or two. Then you find out your rival for her affects gets more affection…then more…then more…and pretty soon, she isn’t returning your calls. Meanwhile, he’s treating her like dirt. He doesn’t know she exists, she doesn’t know you exist.

And then your momma and your sister and your ex-girlfriend and every single other female you know, comments knowingly on it as if it’s an isolate incident. But in the years that follow, you learn it isn’t. And all the other guys you know, seem to have the same story. Huh. It’s like reading the National Enquirer — everybody refuses to buy it, only glimpsing at the cover while waiting in line to pay for groceries, but someone must be buying the damn thing, right?

Jonason and his colleagues subjected 200 college students to personality tests designed to rank them for each of the dark triad traits. They also asked about their attitudes to sexual relationships and about their sex lives, including how many partners they’d had and whether they were seeking brief affairs.

The study found that those who scored higher on the dark triad personality traits tended to have more partners and more desire for short-term relationships, Jonason reported at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society meeting in Kyoto, Japan, earlier this month. But the correlation only held in males. [emphasis mine]

I have a few ideas about this. They all blame the ladies. But that’s fair, isn’t it? Someone’s making the decision about whether these guys do or do not get some.

First of all, women tire quickly from having to make all the decisions, and with only a moderate level of experience, that’s exactly what a well-mannered gentleman is going to force them to do. It’s quite a simple thing to offer the time-honored advice, “Take charge!” But then what? You take her out someplace, there’s a choice to be made, and then the fella makes the choice so that his lady doesn’t have to. That gives rise to the possibility that maybe she would have preferred something else. So he asks, right? Just to make sure?

How far does he take that? If he checks with her about every little thing, he’s essentially placing the burden on her to choose everything. Feminism or no, women find that exhausting. Partly because it customizes every single choice to be made, with the profile of the woman’s preferences; partly because it deprives every choice to be made of the emotional imprint of of the man.

Simply put, such a considerate gentleman removes his unique signature, incrementally, until there is nothing left. At that point, she might as well be with someone else.

So of course she’ll be more attracted to the guy who doesn’t check. His list of preferences may not be the one that she would have picked, but at least it’s there. This is a metaphor for what takes place inside, after the genes have been spliced. She has an evolutionary instinct to look for the patriarch who will leave the most indelible signature.

I have another theory, inspired by the comment about “the three traits are really the same thing.”

What Jonason has discovered, I think, is what we’ve been exploring in these pages under the Yin and Yang theory. The Yang enter into a two-directional pact with those around them, benevolently manipulating others and at the same time, being manipulated. The Yin abstain from this, usually because they’ve been discouraged from it during childhood development by a lack of success — they’re what you’d call “nerds.”

Because of this natural emotional resonance that can only be developed from an early age, the Yang are more approachable even though they may be so manipulative as to qualify for the first trait in this triad, the narcissism. You see this in all kinds of people, men and women alike, who tend to obsess over “feelings” — they obsess, without thinking too much about it, about their feelings. The feelings of others usually don’t factor into it too much, and at that point you’ve reached the very definition of narcissism, and you’ve fleshed out much of the definition of the second trait as well — the psychopathic behavior.

So that’s two strikes in favor of the Yang; you have the easygoing emotional resonance, and you have the drive to get What I Want. It’s an intoxicating combination for the woman who isn’t consciously trying to avoid it (which, giving Karol the benefit of the doubt, is probably her).

The article closes with an interesting dissent:

“They still have to explain why it hasn’t spread to everyone,” says Matthew Keller of the University of Colorado in Boulder. “There must be some cost of the traits.” One possibility, both Keller and Jonason suggest, is that the strategy is most successful when dark triad personalities are rare. Otherwise, others would become more wary and guarded.

Yes, that’s my thinking as well. If everyone possesses this triad in abundance, the social order breaks down.

Another thing to consider is that society itself can’t continue if everyone’s a narcissist, psychopath and Machiavellian genius. You’ve got to have your celibate Teslas, so that things get built. Sure, an advanced society builds great things when there’s an egotist around to build them; there are very few Federation Starships being constructed “for the common good.” That’s what the Yin are for — they’re the egotists. But egotism is a completely different thing from narcissism. Narcissism tends to pull the trick involving Tom Sawyer and the whitewashed fence, and trick others into doing the work. And over the long haul, nothing really gets built that way, therefore society can’t endure.

Like the doctors said in Jurassic Park: Life will find a way. And that, in my theory-notebook, is why we’re still here and why we still have both kinds. And always will.

George Carlin R.I.P.

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

As a South Park Republican I’m divided about the departure of Mr. Carlin. I kind of see it Sister Toldjah‘s way, and I kind of see it Locomotive Breath‘s way.

I lean a little bit in the direction of LB, because in the end, ingratitude makes me sick. Carlin did very well in his country, and it wouldn’t have killed him to save a few kind words about it.

He was pretty sure Obama would get assassinated. He made the mistake of saying so out loud, but being a lefty, he got away with it. Of course. Like most atheists who brag about being atheists, the man had a lot of faith about things he never would’ve been able to prove if he tried to.

On the plus side, this routine stands out in my head as one of the funniest things I saw in my childhood. Mister Carlin, if I were Our Father Who Art In Heaven, I’d say this is just enough to topple you into the pearly gates. But, of course, I’m not Him and that’s not up to me. Hope you’re doing alright.

It’s Not Always About Me

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

The Blog That Nobody Reads has been tagged by blogger friend Judy Ann.

The rules:
1. Post the rules at the beginning.
2. Answer the questions only about yourself.
3. At the end of the post, tag five people and post their names, then go to their blogs and leave them a comment so they know they’ve been tagged. Ask them to read the sender’s blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What were you doing five years ago?
June 2003 — Lots and lots of traveling.

What are five things on your to-do list for today?
1. Wash the car.
2. Go to the bank to cash a check.
3. Make some important phone calls.
4. Put away some laundry.
5. Make love, and yes I have someone picked out.

What are five snacks you enjoy?
1. Pineapple
2. Jamba Juice
3. A plain bowl of cold cereal
4. Ice cream drumstick
5. Nuts ‘n bolts with Chex cereal and creamy peanut butter

What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire?
1. Build my dream house, and it would put Frank Lloyd Wright to shame
2. Make a big donation to Wounded Warriors
3. Buy a Harley-Davidson with all the accessories and get out of the house for a whole month
4. Check out Westminster Abbey
5. Get a Steyr-Mannlicher HS .50, go to Montana, and start splitting boulders in half from two miles away.

What are five of your bad habits?
1. Blogging, what I’m doing right this very second.
2. Complicating things that perhaps do not need to be.
3. Filing taxes late.
4. Believing people. I have a tendency to forget that just because intent-to-deceive is absent, doesn’t necessarily mean what’s being said is a hundred percent true.
5. Going too long without checking up on things outside of my comfort-circle. But then I guess we all do that to some extent, don’t we?

What are five places where you have lived?
1. Sacramento, California
2. Detroit, Michigan
3. Everett, Washington
4. Bellingham, Washington
5. Tempe, Arizona

What are five jobs you’ve had?
1. Project Manager
2. Senior Network Engineer
3. Consultant
4. Application Development Engineer
5. LAN Administrator

Five people I tag:
1. Misha
2. Rick
3. Gerard, who’s supposed to be sleeping right now, so I’ll make it optional for him and up it to six
4. Duffy
5. Cas
6. Karol