Sunday, July 31, 2011

VP to Let

So, Vice President Biden charges the Secret Service rent for the use of the cottage near his Delaware home in order for them to better protect him and his family.

And to think, there probably never was a vice president the enemies of this country more wanted to keep alive.

No Comparison

And I can't believe it was Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) who made it.

On FOX News Sunday, Senator Kyle said this: "The tea party folks in the House who say they're standing on principle not to raise the debt ceiling remind me a lot of Senator Barack Obama who did the same thing -- voting against the debt ceiling increase when he was in the Senate."

I'm sorry Senator Kyl, but former Senator Obama's objection to raising the debt ceiling had nothing to do with a principled concern over the size of the national debt, a fact that has become all too clear with his, ahem, less than disciplined fiscal policies.  His point then, which was clear at the time, was a completely political and partisan one of sticking it to then President Bush and the GOP.

The Tea Partiers, by contrast, ran and were elected on a pledge to rein in deficit spending and get the national budget under control.  Their stand is not only consistent with that pledge, it is demanded by it.

This is a comment I would have expected from that other Arizona senator, you know the one, the Maverick, but not from Senator Kyl.  However, it does serve to demonstrate once again just how much the Senate, unlike the House, is a far too chummy club.

The case for term limits grows again.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Truth...and it Hurts

NRO's Andrew McCarthy comes out swinging against the Boehner plan for all the obvious reasons and more.  The "more" is the key.  Pardon the long passage, but read it and, yes, weep if you must.
The pass we are at is not an avoidable disruption. It is a disaster that has already begun to unfold, reversal of which cries out for bold action. The Boehner plan, or any other scheme that balks at forthrightly dealing with our financial straits, merely makes it more likely that our nation cannot survive as we have known it. In the shorter term, the Boehner plan ensures that, when serious steps are finally taken, the metastasizing debt disease will be trillions worse, if not terminal. 
Equally wrongheaded as imagining that an existential threat can be allowed to fester untreated is the insistence on seeing the threat in political rather than substantive terms. 
There is no doubt about why we are in a crushing economic disruption. Yes, the proximate cause is President Obama’s unprecedented spending spree — his follow-through on the campaign promise to change America fundamentally. But today’s Republican establishment shoulders plenty of the blame. In the first six years of the George W. Bush administration — when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, with Speaker Boehner then among the GOP’s House leaders — the debt ceiling went from $5.95 trillion to $8.97 trillion. It had taken a decade (from 1987 to 1997) to increase the ceiling by the $3 trillion it took to get to $5.95 trillion. Republicans took only six years to do it again. Under President Bush, who has reportedly whipped GOP lawmakers to vote for the Boehner plan, the national debt rose by almost five trillion dollars, to $10.6 trillion — i.e., it nearly doubled. 
Bush’s profligacy pales by Obama standards. The current president is spending the nation into oblivion. He has taken less than three years to run up almost $4 trillion in debt. 
The most transparent administration in history doesn’t write down the positions it argues in closed budget meetings with congressional leaders. Senate Democrats, moreover, have stopped submitting annual budgets, though federal law requires them. Transparently, this is done to avoid an embarrassing paper trail, documenting trillions in deficits, projected as far as the eye can see. But you can’t non–paper over a catastrophe. The government now spends so much more than it takes in that 40 cents of every expended federal dollar is borrowed. 
This cannot continue. Every day it is not dealt with is a day that we punish future generations. “Deficit spending” is a euphemism. If we were honest, we’d call it “deferred confiscatory tax spending” — we blithely party like there’s no tomorrow, and when tomorrow comes, our children and grandchildren get stuck with the unfathomable bill.
None of this is mysterious. It is easily verifiable. You don’t need a degree in economics to understand it. In fact, it is well understood: The country’s grasp of our dire straits is one reason spendthrift Republicans were ousted from power in 2006 and 2008, and it is the reason why President Obama led his party to a crushing electoral defeat just nine months ago — one in which Democrats were swept from power in the House, now barely cling to control of the Senate, and were routed in state races across the country. 
Americans did not suddenly fall in love with Republicans. They remain wary of the GOP, and — as we’re seeing — for good reason. The electoral revolt was strictly a center-right nation’s revulsion against governance by the hard Left. Republicans reaped the benefits because they were the only alternative, not because the public is convinced that they’ve learned anything from their stint in the wilderness.
The main lesson that should have been learned but hasn’t been is this: While every issue has political overtones and consequences, that does not make every issue political in its essence. The debt-ceiling controversy is not, as Republican leadership and its cheerleaders maintain, about politics. It is not a matter of, “If we don’t handle this correctly, if we push this too far, if Americans think we’re too extreme, President Obama will be reelected.” The debt ceiling is about the debt, not about how politicians can optimally position themselves to evade accountability for the inevitable consequences of the debt.
With apologies to Leon Trotsky (yep, him of all people), you may not be interested in the debt, but the debt is interested in you.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Wait Just One Minute!

With the passage by the House of the Boehner Plan currently at great risk, far too many conservatives pundits are already playing right into the Democrats', along with their numerous friends in the elite media, hands.  It seems the "heavies" in this whole tawdry scramble to find some palatable way to raise the nation's debt ceiling and avoid the Apocalypse are the Tea Partiers after all, and especially the House members they helped elect.

Even the NRO's Mona Charen, normally rock solid, has gone wobbly, launching this invective against them:
The tea-party activists are excellent patriots, but during the debt-ceiling confrontation, some have displayed an obtuse and even vain rigidity.
Listen Mona, and all others similarly-minded as well, it's more than a bit obtuse of you to expect people who were elected precisely because they pledged not and never to compromise their principles, most especially when the heat was on, to do so now.

I'm willing to concede that Boehner and the House Republicans who agree to support his plan are all principled men and women.  In their estimation, the tactically correct move at this point is to pass this less than perfect bill and make the Democrats, for a change, react to it.  They may be right.

But they may be wrong.  American political history, the last 50 years or so anyway, is almost perfectly described by a long train of Democrat Party abuses.  That history has taught the Tea Partiers, as it should teach you as well, that making deals with Democrats is always dangerous, and often downright foolish.  Need I point out that when Reagan compromised with them in 1982 by raising taxes (just a bit), they never delivered on their promise to cut spending in return and Reagan regretted the deal the rest of his life?

No, the "heavies" in this story are, and must remain, President Obama and the Congressional Democrats.  Over the past two and one-half years, it is their incontinent spending and irresponsible management of the nation's fiscal policies, if one can call refusing to pass a budget at all  "management", that has lead us to this crisis.  Their stimulus-package-that-failed-to-stimulate has alone pushed the country almost one-trillion dollars closer to the current debt limit.

Meanwhile, Obama, Reid, and Pelosi somehow get to stand smuggly by, tapping their toes and drumming their fingers, insisting that it is the Republicans' responsibility to do something now.  This narrative must be challenged, again and again, as long as necessary.

You more "reasonable" conservative commentators are often reminding the Tea Partiers that because the GOP controls only one-half of one-third of the government, they must avoid the temptation to overreach, they must not assume they can actually govern from that very weak position.  But now you're effectively demanding that they do just that anyway, that it is somehow their fault if we reach Armageddon next Wednesday morning.

Look, everybody's tired, nervous, and maybe even a bit frightened just now.  This can lead to a feeling of helplessness which sometimes makes you look for relief by transferring your frustration with the other side onto someone else, perhaps even one of your very own.  You can't control the other side, but you can exert pressure on your ally. 

I would urge all you increasingly skittish scribblers to recognize this for what it is and then redirect your growing frustrations in this way:  Concede that men and women of good sense and good will can sometimes disagree.  Then point again your talented pens, always mightier than the sword, at the party most responsible for this mess.  Their name begins with a capital "D", by the way, not "T".

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Is this Hooterville?

Remember that 1960s TV show Green Acres?  The one where Eddie Albert as attorney "Oliver Wendell Douglas" leaves Manhattan with his glamorous wife for "farm livin'" in Hooterville, USA?  The running joke on which the rest of the show's humor was based was that Albert was the only sane person in the community, while everyone else, including his wife, were more than a little weird, crazy, or just plain stupid.  But as he was absolutely alone in his sanity, and they, all of them, unified in their insanity, well, an absurd, topsy-turvy world ensued.

If you're too young to remember that show, the second Bob Newhart show, the one where he was an innkeeper in Vermont, had almost exactly the same premise.

Anyway, I sometimes feel like the Albert character as a I follow the news about the negotiations over whether, when, and how to raise the nation's debt ceiling.

How President Obama and the congressional Democrats, the very people who alone (i.e., without any Republican votes) are to blame for bringing us so soon to this crisis point due to their world class incontinent spending over the past two and one-half years, are treated by all concerned, most especially by the elite media, as somehow responsible parties in the on-going negotiations is, quite frankly, beyond my ability to respond sensibly.  As I say, I feel like Mister Douglas in the show.

So again I ask, is this Hooterville?  

X Marks the Spot

I'm curious.  Do you think there's any correlation between those who are supportive of the group currently agitating to remove the Christian cross from Ground Zero and those who were sympathetic a few months back to the construction of a Muslim mosque next door?

Just wondering.

The Tragic View

NRO's Victor Davis Hanson argues that the current crisis marks a turn, or re-turn, to the tragic understanding of the state's, each individual's actually, limitations and possibilities.
In hard times, as in war, questions arise that were once considered taboo. As we approach $15 trillion run up in aggregate national debt, and confront the reality of a welfare state that is predicated on flawed assumptions about everything from demography to human nature, a rendezvous with brutal reality is now upon us.
Another name for our "rendezvous with brutal reality":  The Great Reckoning

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

At Least Hobbits Have Honor

Unsurprisingly, on cue actually, Arizona Senator John McCain unloads on the Tea Party using the works of J.R.R.Tolkien for his text.  Rather, he unloads on all conservatives.

And to think it was precisely the kind of people who comprise the Tea Party who, against their better judgment, swallowed hard and supported this guy for president in 2008.


Justice's Illegitimate Child

So, I'm reading this review of What's Wrong with Benevolence: Happiness, Private Property, and the Limits of Enlightenment by the Australian philosopher, the late David Stove, (yea, I know, I need to get a  life) and early-on in the piece the reviewer quotes directly from the book: "[It] is quite certain that the psychological root of 20th-century Communism is benevolence."

I'm pretty sure that this is a fairly common assumption about the psychological roots of not only Communism, but Socialism, and contemporary Liberalism as well.  I'm also pretty sure it's incorrect.

Part of Stove's project was to demonstrate that our almost unalloyed faith in the benefits of altruism are misplaced and that, often as not, our benevolent acts end up doing at least as much harm as good, if for no other reason than the law of unintended consequences.

No argument here.  However, the corollaries that sometimes derive from that general principle have often bothered me, and more than just a bit.  One in particular I've always strongly resisted goes something like this:  The political Left is naive but good-hearted, while the Right is realistic but hard-hearted.

Hogwash!  (That's family-friendly blogspeak for "bull$#!+!")

To the contrary, I find very little of a benevolent spirit motivating nearly anything the Left does politically or otherwise.  If you come across a poor man and are motivated chiefly by benevolence, then you buy him a bowl of soup, offer him a ride, or slip him a buck (maybe).  But the plight of a poor man rarely inspires such a good work on the part of a Lefty.

For your average Lefty, the sight provokes instead an eruption of anger and disgust.  When he sees poverty in the midst of plenty, he notices immediately and fixates upon the obvious inequality. Refusing to examine further, he continues by confusing the inequality for inequity.  He is willing to do this because his chief motivation is not benevolence, but is rather an overexcited sense of that bastard child of justice, envy.  Envy that cannot bear and will not tolerate inequality of any kind.

If you're looking for the genuine psychological origins of any of the-collective-trumps-the-individual isms that plagued the 20th century, and, frustratingly, continue to do so in the 21st, look no further than envy.


Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson this morning posted on NRO an  "Open Letter to the House GOP".  He's among a growing number from the Right and from within the GOP counseling the House Republicans to "accept the victory and move on."  But what makes his counsel significantly different from thje others in the chorus is that he includes this: "I respectfully suggest that you rake in your chips, stuff them in your pockets, and tell the dealer to deal the next hand."

He may or may not be right about the timing.  After all, we still have a week before the artificial line in the sand is crossed.  But we thank the Senator still for the key word he uses and sentiment he expresses is "respect."

What Thompson implicitly acknowledges, what some on the Right and far too few many within the GOP still refuse to acknowledge, is that not for the Tea Party, absolutely none of what has transpired, of what has finally been exposed about and conceded by the White House and the Congressional Democrats, would ever have happened.

We are not presently engaged in some routine squabble over a few, or even a huge pile of bucks, the kind of squabble that in the past made you roll your eyes and pronounce a pox on both their houses.  Rather, we are engaged in a war, a war for both the life and soul of the country.  And if we lose our soul, we'll lose our life as well.  In a war, extreme measures are sometimes called for.  For heaven's sake, a war is extreme by definition.  Tea Partiers know this, which is why the Tea Party exists in the first place.

The Great Reckoning continues. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Who's Up, Who's Down?

Was it just me, or were you as interested in Speaker Boehner's response last night as you were in the President's address?  I can't remember a time when I was even curious about, much less motivated to watch, the response to the president, whomever it may have been.

What does that signal about who's winning and who's losing the current political debate?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Murder in Norway

New York City Mayor Bloomberg retracted his Saturday comment that the mass murder was likely perpetrated by some Tea Party member frustrated over the debt ceiling impasse.

Couldn't resist.

By the way, how did this guy, the real murderer, that is, get a gun anyway?  I thought that only happened over here.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Imperious Presidency

There was a great deal wrong with President Obama's intemperate remarks and press conference last evening, but one that immediately stuck out was his summoning of the Speaker of the House, the Senate Majority Leader, as well as both houses Minority Leaders to the White House today.

There's no other way to say it: Who the hell does he think he is?

For a guy who, as they keep telling us over and over again in order to burnish his otherwise slim credentials, taught constitutional law, he seems pretty weak on the part about the separation of powers among co-equal branches.

It would have been impolitic to do so, but Speaker Boehner would have been within his authority to have responded with, "When I receive a written invitation from him, I'll consider it.  Not before."

Friday, July 22, 2011

We're Having a Heat Index Wave

How did that old tune go?   "A tropical heat index wave"

Yea, it's hot out there, it's hot out almost everywhere.  But have you noticed that to make it appear even hotter than it actually is, the media have taken to printing or posting the "heat index" versus the raw temperature?  When did this practice become so widespread?

Two Theories:

1.  Global warming has been so thoroughly discredited at this point, not to mention supplanted by fear of a very real financial collapse, that the elite media feels some obligation to help out their fellow "warmers."  The "heat index", a register of both heat and humidity, is always a bigger number and when you show a map of the US filled with 100s, well, then maybe there's something to that climate change stuff after all.

2.  The temperature is a hard number.  The humidity is a hard number.  But the "heat index" is an index of "feeling".  As in, "Yes, I know it's only 95, but it feels like a 100, doesn't it?"  What could be more modern than that?

No Borders

NRO's Rich Lowry has a nice piece about the meaning of the end of Borders, the national bookstore that you soon used to find in nearly every mall in the country.

For Lowry, Borders' story is the story of free-enterprise:
Nostalgia aside, the extinction of Borders is the very model of a free-market economy at work. The store fell victim to the unyielding injunction of a truly creative economy: “Adapt, or die.” It failed to keep up with evolving technology and shifting consumer preferences, and so has been forced to make way for more adept competitors.

This ruthlessly efficient reallocation of resources took place because Borders wasn’t big or politically connected enough to get a bailout; because its employees didn’t belong to a powerful union favored by the White House; and because it didn’t sell something, such as green energy, deemed worthy of taxpayer support. The upshot of the changes that buried the store, and were allowed to unspool without governmental interference, will be cheaper and more readily available books.

The story of Borders has been repeated again and again by all the countless American companies that have risen to prominence only to disappear. It started with an inspired innovation only to be overtaken by subsequent innovations. It had an advantage that, in new conditions, became a liability. It lost its footing on the free market’s ceaseless wheel of change.
I agree with all of that, although one of the reasons I stopped patronizing Borders (Barnes & Noble too) was that the delicious aroma of books, new and old, could never quite overcome the unmistakable odor of left-wing politics that always lingered in the air.  One would have thought that the same people who keep NPR alive could have managed a government subsidy or two. 

Anyway, with the news of Borders demise, I have a few predictions about the future of books and bookstores:

1.  Borders' loss will not be Barnes & Noble's gain.  B&N will go the way of the dinosaur as well.

2.  The death of the big bookstore will, ironically, mean the rebirth of the small, local shop, you know, the one "around the corner" that couldn't compete 15-20 years ago.  For most serious readers, there remains something irreducibly tactile about the practice.  They want to hold the book, turn its pages, read a few passages, etc., before they buy it.  Moreover, bibliophiles love little more than to roam leisurely through the stacks, hoping always to be pleasantly surprised by some unexpected title.  The market for that will be small, to be sure, but large enough to make the small shop profitable.

3.  Books will more and more have to succeed on their own merit.  That is, the substance of the book will matter more, and the marketing of it less.  Cover design and shelf placement won't decide whether a book sells or not.  Good, but otherwise obscure writers will have more of a chance to break out.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Shootist

As in shooting back, that is.

Conservatives everywhere were heartened to learn that Rep. Allen West (R-FL) returned Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz' (D-FL) fire, and did so with both barrels.

Among his email comments to her:
Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional ,and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up.
It's true, to respond to calumny routinely can become counterproductive.  But to let your supporters know from time to time that you care, that you're a man, that you're alive for heaven's sake, is more than welcome.

John Wayne as "John Bernard Books" from the film The Shootist: "I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a-hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them."

Not a bad code to live by.

Not a bad code to govern by either.

In Case There Was Ever Any Doubt

The Obama Administration's commitment to traditional marriage, i.e., marriage between one man and one woman, "evolves" again.

And to think there were some who actually believed he supported the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as he said he did during the 2008 campaign.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

If Not Now, When?

"Cut, Cap, and Balance"  Aside from the cute alliteration and meter, it's an extremely inelegant policy instrument, isn't it?  It seems that almost everything the Tea Party-constrained GOP leadership advances to address the debt crisis, the budget crisis, and the faltering economy is clumsy and ham-fisted, doesn't it?

Meanwhile, the President and the Democrats sit idly on the sidelines offering neither budget nor plan, offering nothing in fact but higher taxes, more regulation, bigger government, and criticism, sarcasm even.  Still, somehow, they manage to emerge the responsible party in the debate.

It ain't fair, is it?

No, it's not.

But the real adult in the room doesn't get stuck on "fair".  He doesn't stop, when the house is on fire, when the bus is careening over the cliff, when the ship is sinking, to fret or scheme about who benefits, who pays.

Instead, he acts, and he does so decisively.  He acts because it's necessary, he acts because he's duty-bound to do so, he acts despite the hard, cold, unfair fact that he will likely garner little credit for it and may even shoulder much of the blame.

The Great Reckoning continues.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Grecian Formula

I can't tell from this whether Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman is happy that we, the US, is not yet Greece, or disappointed that we're not.

Goods and Rights

Noemie Emery writes a very good piece over at the Weekly Standard about the propensity of the Left to try to make a good, health care, for example, a right.  As she points out:
The problem is that...goods and rights are not the same things. People tend to concur upon rights (except for the speech rights of those who oppose them), and they do not depend upon others to supply and pay for their rights. With goods, there is always a political argument: about the value of the good, who is to get it and who is to pay. And all this comes down to the question of “fairness,” about which there is no end of disputation and grief.
Well said.

I will, however, quibble with her over this:
It was not wrong to have a fling with the welfare state sixty-five years ago, when it was a noble experiment that had not yet been attempted. It is wrong to ignore the evidence that in some ways it is failing, that the model set up has become unsustainable, and that renovations are needed if its critical functions are to survive.
Among some, too many I fear, the chief reason we must finally step up to the difficult task of weeding the overgrown welfare state is that now, like never before, we're undeniably broke.  (Although there are still some on the Left who insist we're not.  Unbelievable.)

But, as Mark Steyn (him again) is apt to say, even if Bill Gates himself were to agree to pay the entire tab, the welfare state would still be wrong.

A nation of welfare state-reared subjects is incapable of self-government.  Self-government demands, by contrast, a nation of citizens, that is, self-disciplined, self-reliant, and independent men and women.  Men and women who know the difference between goods and rights and who insist that the distinction be maintained.

Mark His Words

I've pointed you to the always insightful, biting, and laugh-out-loud funny political commentary of NRO's Mark Steyn before--several times actually.  His latest on the "charade" that is the raising-the-debt-ceiling negotiations between the President and the GOP legislators does not disappoint.  Except, I would say, that it's more than a bit discouraging, dispiriting even, as well.  Steyn:
Nothing good is going to come from these ludicrously protracted negotiations over laughably meaningless accounting sleights-of-hand scheduled to kick in circa 2020. All the charade does is confirm to prudent analysts around the world that the depraved ruling class of the United States cannot self-correct, and, indeed, has no desire to.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The California Curriculum

In addition to teaching the "3 Rs", cutting-edge California has instituted a new requirement that the state's public schools educate their students as well in "Gay History."

The net result:  Even more parents will abandon public for private and home schooling for their children.

Meanwhile, even as the Sacramento Savants fiddle, another kind of bankruptcy looms for the once Golden State.

God help us.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Who Then?

Regarding the continuing impasse on raising the debt ceiling, the last caller to Rush Limbaugh's radio program today said something that suggests a potentially very useful line of rhetorical attack for the Republicans.  Actually, it's more than just rhetoric.

The next time McConnell, Boehner, or Cantor stand in front of a bevy of cameras they should ask this question:
"In the absence of a meaningful agreement to cut federal spending, the debt ceiling simply will not be raised by this Congress before the President's deadline of 2 August.  However, on that day there will remain in the treasury, nevertheless, multiples of billions of dollars of unspent funds.  In fact, that number will grow considerably over the following days and weeks.  If it is the President's intention, as he and his Treasury Secretary have indicated, neither to service the debt, nor to issue social security checks with the revenue on hand, on what and to whom will the money be spent?  Those who will or will not receive a check deserve to know in order to plan for the contingency."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lights Out?

The repeal of the first phase of the incandescent light bulb ban failed to pass the House of Representatives yesterday, 233-193.  House rules required a a super-majority vote to overturn the original bill.

That an organized and vocal minority can impose their will upon a majority is nothing new in politics.  The perceived benefits to the minority are concentrated upon them, while the costs to the majority are widely spread over their number.  Hence, the minority simply has more motivation than the majority to act.

However, I think the failure of the repeal measure illuminates (get it?) something more troubling.

Since it's passage in 2007, the BULB (Better Use of Light Bulbs) Act has received not only increasing criticism from the majority, but outright derision across the country.  One would think that alone would have made repeal of the act more likely than not.  So why is it still the law?  Two things come to mind.

First, our political class is increasingly populated with men and women who are altogether different from the people they represent. They constitute, whether from the Left or the Right (although far more from the former than the latter), an almost entirely different species of American. 

Second, that which distinguishes them as a species is their complete inability ever to think, much less to say, "Yea, sure, maybe, I don't know, but it's none of my business anyway."

Throw the rascals out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

That's the Way to Do it!

So, President Obama, along with Senate Majority Leader Reid and other Democrats as well, are using the debt ceiling impasse to fret publicly about whether or not Social Security checks will in fact be issued in August.  The purpose of this, of course, is to blame it all on Republican intransigence and thereby increase the pressure on them to cave. 

The GOP simply must fight back and this Drudge headline not only highlights the story, it shows them how to do it:  "OBAMA THREATENS TO HOLD UP SOCIAL SECURITY CHECKS"

Boehner, McConnell, and Cantor at least, as well as all the GOP presidential candidates should  immediately sprint to a microphone and ask why Obama and the Democrats (they must include the whole lot of them) would threaten to do this, why would they deny our seniors what is rightfully theirs when they don't have to?

Pencils Down

Together, let's watch the soft bigotry of low expectations unfold in the Atlanta public school system, shall we?

Do you care about the cheating scandal?  I mean, really care?  I don't?  Why not? 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Can you say "Nanny State"?

President Obama on the necessity of reaching an agreement on raising the debt ceiling now and not later.  It's time, he says, to:
Pull off the band-aid. Eat our peas.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What Would Charlie Do?

Demonstrating the chutzpah for which liberal Democrats are renown (the "chutzpah of hope", perhaps?), NY Congressman Charlie Rangel urged a group of religious leaders he was addressing to pressure the GOP to vote to raise the debt ceiling.  He asked of them, "What would Jesus do?"

Uh, Congressman, I'm pretty sure he would first pay the taxes on his villa in the Dominican Republic.  You know, "render unto Caesar" and all that.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Help a Blogger Out?, Part II

Several posts ago, I mentioned that I was having trouble responding to your comments.  Your help seems to have fixed that problem.   Now I learn that some of you are having trouble posting comments yourselves.

Any suggestions?

Which Three?

Head-shakingly unbelievable.

The latest proposal from the Colorado Department of Human Services:  All day-care centers in the state should be required to make available dolls representing three different races.

What about a single "Tiger Woods" action figure instead?
Don't know whether to laugh or cry.

I do know, however, that people who even entertain this kind of thinking (can there be any doubt about their ideology or party affiliation?) must be stopped, defeated, destroyed, and eliminated politically.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Babbling Brooks

I missed this when it came out the other day as I had stopped reading David Brooks' columns almost altogether.  Now I remember why.

The piece is a long rant about how irresponsible and immoral the GOP has become under the sway of the "movement", as he calls it.  I'm guessing he means the Tea Party, although he doesn't name names.  Anyway, my favorite line from the fellow who routinely poses as a conservative:
The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities.
Does he mean the scholars and intellectual authorities who got us into this mess?  Or is he just referring to himself?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Justice Served vs. Justice Done

More than a few people have surprised me with their defense of the jury's not-guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony trial.  Actually, it's the nature of their defense that has surprised me.
It's one thing to say simply that the government failed to meet the "beyond a reasonable doubt" legal threshold necessary to convict someone of a crime.  But then, in order to buttress what is undeniably a broadly unpopular position, to start sounding off about how there was no evidence that Ms. Anthony was a bad mother (as if failing to report a missing child was a normal maternal instinct), that in fact all the photos and home movies presented showed her to be a good mother (as if it were even possible to film an absent mother or likelt to film an unhappy event), that the family was dysfunctional (No!  Really!), that the father and the brother had molested her (that one asserted without any supporting evidence), etc., etc., etc..

I would like to ask any of those who have surprised me with their various defenses of the verdict, whether, the law aside, they in fact think Ms. Anthony had anything to do with the death of her child?  If they insist they simply don't, or can't, know, then I think they are guilty of being deliberately obtuse.

Look, the lady got a fair, jury trial, with the presumption of innocence, an opportunity to face and question her accusers, etc.  Justice was served.

But justice served is not the same thing as justice done.  If an innocent man is found guilty or (and just as importantly) a guilty man is acquitted, then justice is not done, even if both received a fair trial.  The society that is established largely upon the pursuit of justice is thereby wounded.  And wounds produce anger and outrage of the sort we are witnessing across the country precisely because of this unjust verdict.

I can concede that the government failed to make its case and at the same time know that Ms. Anthony was involved in some way in the death of her child.

I know it in the same way I know that Bill Clinton inhaled.  I know it because I am not a fool.

"The CSI Effect"

This is a new one on me, but from what I gather it has become an increasingly common phenomenon in jury trials. 

That is, because of the explosion of television crime shows in which the successful prosecution of the perp rests on the gathering and presentation in court of very high tech forensic evidence, there has now developed an unreasonable expectation on the part of many jurors in actual trials that the determination of guilt or innocence demands just such similar evidence.  As that kind of forensic evidence is rarely available in the real world, jurors have become more and more unlikely to reach a guilty verdict in largely circumstantial cases.

This "CSI Effect" is what some commentators are saying at least partly explains the acquittal of Casey Anthony yesterday in Orlando, but I'm not so sure.  I'm more inclined to think that the "CSI Effect" is more symptom that cause.

Sadly, we live in age when the epistemological crisis that has paralyzed the intellectual classes for a couple hundred years at least has finally leached into the popular culture as well.  We're no longer sure we can know anything.  Certainly we cannot know good from evil, right from wrong, if, that is, those concepts have any meaning anyway.  It's all a matter of taste, arbitrary opinion, and the exercise of power, right?

Of course, the one thing we do know is that to decide and to act on what, after all, we only think we know, is to engage in undeniable bigotry or chauvinism.  It is to be, in a word, judgmental.  So, standing forever in the middle is not only safer, it's more sophisticated as well.

So, who am I to vote to convict Casey Anthony, or convict anyone else for that matter.  It's only my opinion.  How would I know?  I mean, I wasn't there.  I need something more.  DNA?  Yes!  Fingerprints?  You bet!  Chemical residue?  Yea!  Yea!

The epistemological crisis, standing forever undecided in the middle, however, is not sustainable and high tech forensic evidence may just offer a way out.  If you need it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Not Guilty!?

By now you've heard of Casey Anthony's acquittal by a jury of her peers in an Orlando courtroom.

It would appear that the citizens of Florida continue their long-standing problem with voting.


In the pages of Foreign Policy magazine, Mara Hvistendahl highlights both the history of, as well as the large and looming problems associated with sex-selected abortions.

In a nutshell, the history is that in the mid- to late-twentieth century, Western liberals fretting over the global population explosion, began zealously spreading the gospel of unfettered reproductive rights, i.e., abortion on demand.  The problem is that the right to abortion on demand was soon was coupled with emerging technologies that permitted the increasingly easy identification of the sex of the fetus. The result was sex-selected abortions.  But even that was no problem at first, I mean, it's all about "choice", right?  Besides, when women opt for male over female babies, the thinking was, they'll be less likely to have a second, or at least not several more in order to finally achieve that so-important male offspring.  There are currently 160 million more males than females in Asia alone.

Troubled by all of this, Ms. Hvistendahl investigated and was surprised by what she discovered:
Then I looked into it, and discovered that what I thought were right-wing conspiracy theories about the nexus of Western feminism and population control actually had some, if very distant and entirely historical, basis in truth. As it turns out, Western advisors and researchers, and Western money, were among the forces that contributed to a serious reduction in the number of women and girls in the developing world. And today feminist and reproductive-rights groups are still reeling from that legacy.
Still, she just cannot quite bring herself to concede that the other side, the pro-life side, is motivated by anything other than some medieval misogynist sensibility:
Anti-abortion groups and pundits have proven all too eager to to take on the issue, though they seem far more interested in driving home restrictions on abortion than they do in increasing the number of women in the world and protecting the rights of women at risk.
There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Independence Day

While I have no problem with remembering tomorrow as the "Fourth of July" or "America's Birthday", I think "Independence Day" does both it and us more justice.  

I'd like to suggest that tomorrow, in addition to celebrating this still great country, you would pause for at least a moment to ask yourself a question or two:  Who or what owns you?  What do you have to have?

Is it drugs, booze, tobacco, porn, golf, shopping, credit, government largesse?  Insofar as you're dependent on someone or something other than yourself and those closest to you, you're not a free man. 

After taking stock about whatever it is that does own you, I'd ask that you make a pledge before God that in the coming year you will make a genuine effort to break its bonds of dominion over you.

Then, next year, when we celebrate again, whatever else you are, you'll be a freer man, a man more jealous of the freedom he enjoys, a man more able to pledge yet again to become freer still in the year ahead.

Can you imagine a country of 300-million truly free and self-reliant citizens?

Our Founders could. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

"The one constant through all the years..."

If you're in need a short summertime diversion, you could do worse than a quick read of this piece by Jim Kaplan over at  It's an adaptation from his book The Greatest Game Ever Pitched about the classic 16-inning duel on July 2, 1963 between the Milwaukee Braves 42-year-old left-hander, Warren Spahn, and the San Francisco Giants 25-year-old right-handed ace, Juan Marichal, both destined for Cooperstown.

Because he was a superstar--although that word wasn't yet invented--I knew Spahn by name and reputation.  But his career was played out before I came of age.  Marichal, however, was very much a part of my growing up.  As boys learning to play the game in the mid- to late-sixties, we all tried to imitate his distinctively high leg kick.  If it worked for Juan Marichal, maybe it'll work for me. 

It didn't.

Anyway, enjoy.