Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!

With the New Year upon us tonight, and the booze already flowing freely in the Commentarama e-ballroom, it’s time to take a couple more days off. So we’re going away until Monday morning. But first, let me leave you with some predictions for the coming year. Magic 8 ball says.....

Prediction No. 1: Obama Resigns!. . . from golf club. Why pay for it when you get it for free from the taxpayers?

Prediction No. 2: Biden walks out of the VP mansion in his underwear, holding a goldfish and a bowling ball and is never seen again. Conspiracy theories abound.

Prediction No. 3: Hillary Clinton exposed (eww). . . as a Republican operative. Gets deported to Republica, f/k/a South Dakota.

Prediction No. 4: CNN folds. No film at 11:00.

Prediction No. 5: Royal Marriage disrupted, as police wrestle a man wearing only underwear and carrying a bowling ball and a goldfish to the ground as he tries to greet the happy couple during the ceremony. Elton John writes a song about this, called “Little Weenie”.

Prediction No. 6: Commentarama wins a Pulitzer for series of articles exposing the Biden Conspiracy and showing conclusively where "the fuzzy thong" came from.

Prediction No. 7: Nancy Pelosi banned from commercial flights after being forcibly removed from four commercial flights in one week for biting stewardesses. . . on the butt.

Prediction No. 8: Michelle Obama wonders aloud at cake shop why homeless don’t just move into hotels.

Prediction No. 9: Hitler found living with Elvis in Cuba.

Prediction No. 10: The world ends. . . the Mayans were right.

Feel free to add your own predictions, or some resolutions if that’s your thing, or just talk about whatever’s on your minds! Just make it quick. . . see No. 10.

Happy New Year everyone!

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Victor Davis Hanson Looks Back (And Forward)

As many of you know, I have a few writers whom I particularly favor. Victor Davis Hanson is one of them. I had been putting together an article on the decline of the once-great State of California, when I came across a Davis article that already had all the elements I was going to discuss. So in a divergence from my usual habit of doing my own analysis, I'm going to defer to the professor.

Professor Hanson speaks of the artificial water shortage created by the eco-nuts and bureaucrats who couldn't care less if California agriculture simply goes away and leaves them to their green initiatives. If you haven't already read it, I'm including a link to my article on the subject at the bottom of the page. Since moving to Caliente in the Central Valley of California, I have become more attuned to the problems that Central Valley native Hanson has observed as a lifelong native Californian. That said, here is Victor Davis Hanson on California's decline:

The last three weeks I have traveled about, taking the pulse of the more forgotten areas of central California. I wanted to witness, even if superficially, what is happening to a state that has the highest sales and income taxes, the most lavish entitlements, the near-worst public schools (based on federal test scores), and the largest number of illegal aliens in the nation, along with an over regulated private sector, a stagnant and shrinking manufacturing base, and an elite environmental ethos that restricts commerce and productivity without curbing consumption.

During this unscientific experiment, three times a week I rode a bike on a 20-mile trip over various rural roads in southwestern Fresno County. I also drove my car over to the coast to work, on various routes through towns like San Joaquin, Mendota, and Firebaugh. And near my home I have been driving, shopping, and touring by intent the rather segregated and impoverished areas of Caruthers, Fowler, Laton, Orange Cove, Parlier, and Selma. My own farmhouse is now in an area of abject poverty and almost no ethnic diversity; the closest elementary school (my alma mater, two miles away) is 94 percent Hispanic and 1 percent white, and well below federal testing norms in math and English.

Here are some general observations about what I saw (other than that the rural roads of California are fast turning into rubble, poorly maintained and reverting to what I remember seeing long ago in the rural South). First, remember that these areas are the ground zero, so to speak, of 20 years of illegal immigration. There has been a general depression in farming — to such an extent that the 20- to 100-acre tree and vine farmer, the erstwhile backbone of the old rural California, for all practical purposes has ceased to exist.

On the western side of the Central Valley, the effects of arbitrary cutoffs in federal irrigation water have idled tens of thousands of acres of prime agricultural land, leaving thousands unemployed. Manufacturing plants in the towns in these areas — which used to make harvesters, hydraulic lifts, trailers, food-processing equipment — have largely shut down; their production has been shipped off overseas or south of the border. Agriculture itself — from almonds to raisins — has increasingly become corporatized and mechanized, cutting by half the number of farm workers needed. So unemployment runs somewhere between 15 and 20 percent.

Many of the rural trailer-house compounds I saw appear to the naked eye no different from what I have seen in the Third World. There is a Caribbean look to the junked cars, electric wires crisscrossing between various outbuildings, plastic tarps substituting for replacement shingles, lean-tos cobbled together as auxiliary housing, pit bulls unleashed, and geese, goats, and chickens roaming around the yards. The public hears about all sorts of tough California regulations that stymie business — rigid zoning laws, strict building codes, constant inspections — but apparently none of that applies out here.

It is almost as if the more California regulates, the more it does not regulate. Its public employees prefer to go after misdemeanors in the upscale areas to justify our expensive oversight industry, while ignoring the felonies in the downtrodden areas, which are becoming feral and beyond the ability of any inspector to do anything but feel irrelevant. But in the regulators' defense, where would one get the money to redo an ad hoc trailer park with a spider web of illegal bare wires?

Many of the rented-out rural shacks and stationary Winnebagos are on former small farms — the vineyards overgrown with weeds, or torn out with the ground lying fallow. I pass on the cultural consequences to communities from the loss of thousands of small farming families. I don't think I can remember another time when so many acres in the eastern part of the valley have gone out of production, even though farm prices have recently rebounded. Apparently it is simply not worth the gamble of investing $7,000 to $10,000 an acre in a new orchard or vineyard. What an anomaly — with suddenly soaring farm prices, still we have thousands of acres in the world's richest agricultural belt, with available water on the east side of the valley and plentiful labor, gone idle or in disuse. Is credit frozen? Are there simply no more farmers? Are the schools so bad as to scare away potential agricultural entrepreneurs? Or are we all terrified by the national debt and uncertain future?

California coastal elites may worry about the oxygen content of water available to a three-inch smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, but they seem to have no interest in the epidemic dumping of trash, furniture, and often toxic substances throughout California 's rural hinterland. Yesterday, for example, I rode my bike by a stopped van just as the occupants tossed seven plastic bags of raw refuse onto the side of the road. I rode up near their bumper and said in my broken Spanish not to throw garbage onto the public road. But there were three of them, and one of me. So I was lucky to be sworn at only. I note in passing that I would not drive into Mexico and, as a guest, dare to pull over and throw seven bags of trash into the environment of my host.

In fact, trash piles are commonplace out here — composed of everything from half-empty paint cans and children's plastic toys to diapers and moldy food. I have never seen a rural sheriff cite a litterer, or witnessed state EPA workers cleaning up these unauthorized wastelands. So I would suggest to Bay Area scientists that the environment is taking a much harder beating down here in central California than it is in the Delta. Perhaps before we cut off more irrigation water to the west side of the valley, we might invest some green dollars into cleaning up the unsightly and sometimes dangerous garbage that now litters the outskirts of our rural communities.

We hear about the tough small-business regulations that have driven residents out of the state, at the rate of 2,000 to 3,000 a week. But from my unscientific observations these past weeks, it seems rather easy to open a small business in California without any oversight at all, or at least what I might call a "counter business." I counted eleven mobile hot-kitchen trucks that simply park by the side of the road, spread about some plastic chairs, pull down a tarp canopy, and, presto, become mini-restaurants. There are no "facilities" such as toilets or washrooms. But I do frequently see lard trails on the isolated roads I bike on, where trucks apparently have simply opened their draining tanks and sped on, leaving a slick of cooking fats and oils. Crows and ground squirrels love them; they can be seen from a distance mysteriously occupied in the middle of the road.

At crossroads, peddlers in a counter-California economy sell almost anything. Here is what I noticed at an intersection on the west side last week: shovels, rakes, hoes, gas pumps, lawnmowers, edgers, blowers, jackets, gloves, and caps. The merchandise was all new. I doubt whether in high-tax California sales taxes or income taxes were paid on any of these stop-and-go transactions.

In two supermarkets 50 miles apart, I was the only one in line who did not pay with a social-service plastic card (gone are the days when "food stamps" were embarrassing bulky coupons). But I did not see any relationship between the use of the card and poverty as we once knew it: The electrical appurtenances owned by the user and the car into which the groceries were loaded were indistinguishable from those of the upper middle class.

By that I mean that most consumers drove late-model Camrys, Accords, or Tauruses, had iPhones, Bluetooths, or BlackBerries, and bought everything in the store with public-assistance credit. This seemed a world apart from the trailers I had just ridden by the day before. I don't editorialize here on the logic or morality of any of this, but I note only that there are vast numbers of people who apparently are not working, are on public food assistance, and enjoy the technological veneer of the middle class. California has a consumer market surely, but often no apparent source of income. Does the $40 million a day supplement to unemployment benefits from Washington explain some of this?

Do diversity concerns, as in lack of diversity, work both ways? Over a hundred-mile stretch, when I stopped in San Joaquin for a bottled water, or drove through Orange Cove, or got gas in Parlier, or went to a corner market in southwestern Selma, my home town, I was the only non-Hispanic — there were no Asians, no blacks, no other whites. We may speak of the richness of "diversity," but those who cherish that ideal simply have no idea that there are now countless inland communities that have become near-apartheid societies, where Spanish is the first language, the schools are not at all diverse, and the federal and state governments are either the main employers or at least the chief sources of income — whether through emergency rooms, rural health clinics, public schools, or social-service offices. An observer from Mars might conclude that our elites and masses have given up on the ideal of integration and assimilation, perhaps in the wake of the arrival of 11 to 15 million illegal aliens.

Again, I do not editorialize, but I note these vast transformations over the last 20 years that are the paradoxical wages of unchecked illegal immigration from Mexico, a vast expansion of California's entitlements and taxes, the flight of the upper middle class out of state, the deliberate effort not to tap natural resources, the downsizing in manufacturing and agriculture, and the departure of whites, blacks, and Asians from many of these small towns to more racially diverse and upscale areas of California.

Fresno 's California State University campus is embroiled in controversy over the student body president's announcing that he is an illegal alien, with all the requisite protests in favor of the DREAM Act. I won't comment on the legislation per se, but again only note the anomaly. I taught at CSUF for 21 years. I think it fair to say that the predominant theme of the Chicano and Latin American Studies program's sizable curriculum was a fuzzy American culpability. By that I mean that students in those classes heard of the sins of America more often than its attractions. In my home town, Mexican flag decals on car windows are far more common than their American counterparts.

I note this because hundreds of students here illegally are now terrified of being deported to Mexico. I can understand that, given the chaos in Mexico and their own long residency in the United States. But here is what still confuses me: If one were to consider the classes that deal with Mexico at the university, or the visible displays of national chauvinism, then one might conclude that Mexico is a far more attractive and moral place than the United States.

So there is a surreal nature to these protests: something like, "Please do not send me back to the culture I nostalgically praise; please let me stay in the culture that I ignore or deprecate." I think the DREAM Act protestors might have been far more successful in winning public opinion had they stopped blaming the U.S. for suggesting that they might have to leave at some point, and instead explained why, in fact, they want to stay. What it is about America that makes a youth of 21 go on a hunger strike or demonstrate to be allowed to remain in this country rather than return to the place of his birth?

I think I know the answer to this paradox. Missing entirely in the above description is the attitude of the host, which by any historical standard can only be termed "indifferent." California does not care whether one broke the law to arrive here or continues to break it by staying. It asks nothing of the illegal immigrant — no proficiency in English, no acquaintance with American history and values, no proof of income, no record of education or skills. It does provide all the public assistance that it can afford (and more that it borrows for), and apparently waives enforcement of most of California 's burdensome regulations and civic statutes that increasingly have plagued productive citizens to the point of driving them out. How odd that we overregulate those who are citizens and have capital to the point of banishing them from the state, but do not regulate those who are aliens and without capital to the point of encouraging millions more to follow in their footsteps. How odd — to paraphrase what Critias once said of ancient Sparta — that California is at once both the nation's most unfree and most free state, the most repressed and the wildest.

Hundreds of thousands sense all that and vote accordingly with their feet, both into and out of California — and the result is a sort of social, cultural, economic, and political time-bomb, whose ticks are getting louder.

Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, the editor of Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome, and the author of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern.

And as promised above, here is my link to the discussion of the Central Valley water shortage: The Fish That Conquered California.
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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Barack--Meet Your Primary Opponent

Say hello to Alvin Greene, former candidate for the United States Senate from South Carolina, current candidate for the South Carolina House of Representatives, and future candidate for President. He should be a formidable opponent, and his qualifications rival those of the former Junior Senator from Illinois.

To start with, Mr. Greene has absolutely no experience running anything. His BA in political science is easily as valuable as Mr. Obama's alleged degrees from Columbia and Harvard, and at least Greene's academic achievements are public record. People at his alma mater, the University of South Carolina, actually recognize his name and remember him from being in classes with him. Those at Columbia and Harvard, not so much.

After graduating from college, Mr. Greene followed Mr. Obama and went into the caring industry. Obama cared for ACORN volunteers and community organizers, where Greene's profession is in-home caregiver for his father. With that kind of background, it is hard to see a dime's worth of difference in the qualifications of both candidates for running the largest economy in the world.

No sense belaboring the obvious--they're both Democrats. Neither resembles the previous Presidents on our paper currency. Both suddenly sprang onto the major political scene by having the same type of name-recognition, which is to say, "who the hell is that?" Both won Senatorial nominations when nobody could find anybody who had ever heard of them. Nobody could figure out in either case where the money came from to run for such a lofty office. Neither had any real qualifications for a Senatorial seat, so both got the Democratic nomination.

During his care-giving days, Obama sent out criminals to solicit votes. Greene has gone him one better by being charged with a crime--showing pornographic pictures to an eighteen-year old college student. This all seems perfectly normal to me. What else would a Harvard grad from the South Side of Chicago do? And what could be more normal that showing obscene pictures to a college girl? That makes them both All-American men.

Obama won his Senatorial election because the Republican Party in Illinois died. Greene is running for the S.C. House because the incumbent died. Both have therefore learned how to overcome tragedy. Now there is one minor difference in that Greene was born in the United States where Obama was apparently born in several different places, only one of which is in the United States (or its territories). Both men are young for a potential President. Obama was forty-seven when first elected, whereas Greene would be thirty-five if elected (the minimum age for a President).

Both were groomed for politics, and Greene has a specific memory of one of the high points of his childhood. "I followed politics as a child. I remember when Jesse Jackson ran for President when I was nine years old. He's a South Carolinian native. I made a campaign sign out of construction paper and put it out on the highway so folks could see it as they passed by." Green's money politics are a little leaner than Obama's were (there's not as much concentrated wealth and as many suckers for plucking in all of South Carolina as there are in Chicago alone). His youthful experience will serve Greene well, since it's likely he'll have to repeat his construction paper campaign on a slightly larger scale.

Both have honorable military careers. Greene served as an intelligence specialist in the United States Army, the Air Force, and the National Guard. Obama was an officer in the ACORN army, and served as an intelligence adviser to the Tides Foundation. Greene's "honorable but involuntary discharge" from the Army is almost as mysterious as Obama's editing of the Harvard Law Review.

Upon receiving the Democratic Senatorial nomination by a surprising 59%, the Democratic Party chairwoman Carol Fowler said she had not seen Greene since he filed to run. The County Democratic chairman told local newspapers that local party leaders had not met Greene, that he had not attended any local Democratic events, and had not responded to any invitations to local party meetings. The Illinois Democrats were more succinct about Obama--"He must have been active in the Party, he won the nomination, didn't he?"

Greene was the first African-American to be nominated for the U. S. Senate by a major party in South Carolina. Obama was the first African-American (sort of) Senatorial candidate in Illinois to win the Senatorial nomination without anyone outside of the South Side precincts of Chicago ever having heard of him. It is more likely that Obama is entitled to use the expression "African-American" by virtue of one of his birthplaces than Greene who is clearly an American-American (or perhaps even a Native American).

So as you can see, Obama has more to worry about than who his Republican opponent might be in 2012. He has stiff competition within his own party. Personally, I wish Alvin Greene the very best of luck. At least he doesn't remind me of a robot.
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Boiler Boiler, Toil and Trouble. . .

There is an old saying that God watches over idiots and drunks. But the arrogantly stupid are another matter. In fact, the universe seems to love messing with those people, and it LOVES ironic punishments. Take the case of Britain, a leading proponent of global warming, and the “condensing boiler.”

Five years ago, drunk with self-righteousness, New Labor passed a law outlawing existing boiler technology. In its place, New Labor decreed that the people would use condensing boilers. Thus, it became illegal to install any kind of boiler other than a condensing boiler. Consequently, eight million of these things have been put into service in Britain, and every year another 1.2 million of the old ones are scrapped.

The reason for this change was simple: global warming must be real, despite the science to the contrary, because all the right people say it is. By forcing people to install condensing boilers instead of the old kind favored by the ignorant masses, everyone would save money in the long run on fuel bills and the country’s carbon footprint would be reduced.

Here’s why. A regular boiler produces hot gases when the methane fuel is burned off to heat water for radiators, dishwashers, tap water, etc. Around 25% of that heat vents out the exhaust pipe in the form of steam and evil CO2. But a condensing boiler captures that steam, lets it condense back into water, and returns it to the system. According to advocates, this should increase the efficiency of the units from 75% to 93% and will thereby lower fuel bills and reduce carbon emissions. Hurray! Praise the maker!

But something went wrong between the drawing board and reality.

First, these things cost around £2,000, which is a lot more than the older versions. Indeed, assuming the fuel bill savings are as advertised, it will take ten years to make up the price difference over the older models. BUT... these things don’t last ten years. According to a plumbers association in London, the boilers are only likely to last three to six years, whereas the old ones lasted twenty years. Moreover, the replacement parts are so expensive that it’s usually cheaper just to replace a broken unit than it is to have it repaired.

Secondly, these things don’t work as advertised. For the water to condense, it needs to be below 55 degrees Celsius. But the steam typically produced is around 65 degrees Celsius. To fix this, customers either need to buy over-sized radiators for their homes (thereby wiping out the environmental efficiency benefits) or pipes need to be installed into the walls and floors to let the steam cool. This can cost thousands of pounds.

Third, the condensed water vapor is often acidic, as it contains nitrogen and sulphur oxides, and will corrode the boiler components and lead to breakdowns.

But the biggest, most ironic problem of them all was exposed over the past few weeks. See, it turns out that while this steam is racing through these pipes to cool off and condense, the cold air from a particularly cold winter. . . like the one they are having at the moment despite claims that global warming would end such weather forever. . . will cause the condensed water to freeze up into ice. This blocks the pipes. Once the boiler senses the blockage, it shuts down.

Yep. No heat.

In Yorkshire alone this past week, very angry British people called British Gas to come fix 60,000 units because they froze up. The cost of these plumber visits ran between £200 to £300 per visit, plus 20% VAT tax.

So think of the irony: a record cold snap that should no longer exist according to global warming enthusiasts, is destroying heaters that are being foisted on people by those same enthusiasts for the sole purpose of stopping the global warming that isn’t coming. Way to not-solve a non-problem! If that isn’t the definition of irony, then I don’t know what is.

Moreover, this technology that was meant to save the planet costs more and ultimately pollutes more (when you consider the scrapage and the cost of replacing units more frequently) than the tried and true technologies it was meant to replace. In other words, the enthusiasts made the very problem they are combating worse.

Nice huh?

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dump Iowa/New Hampshire For Regional Primaries

Our electoral system is broken. The Electoral College system was designed to require primary candidates to attract votes from large states, as well as a small states, from rural states as well as urbanized states, from rich and poor, and from north, south, east and west. But our system no longer works that way because two states all but decide the outcome: Iowa and New Hampshire. This needs to change, especially because Iowa and New Hampshire are highly idiosyncratic states.

Iowa is a small farm state that is dominated by evangelical Christians on the right and socialist farmers on the left. If a candidate is not a member of the religious right, then they cannot win the Republican endorsement. And if a candidate is not an old-school socialist, then they cannot win the Democratic endorsement. Making this all the worse, Iowa uses a caucus system that lets votes be traded at the time of voting and which places an emphasis on getting voters to the right precincts in sufficient numbers to carry the precinct. Finding a less democratic system would be difficult.

New Hampshire is the opposite side of the same coin. Indeed, while New Hampshirites talk about the state’s conservative past, it’s not a conservatism that the rest of the country would recognize. It’s more like a big-government, elitist, country-club “conservatism.” The Democrats have a similar problem in that New Hampshire Democrats are more like their Alabama cousins, only richer, than their California comrades. Indeed, what comes out of New Hampshire (on both sides) is basically politics through the lens of elitists, who value the establishment above all else.

In and of itself, the idiosyncrasies of these two states would be meaningless, as they are so small. But they’ve been assigned a leading place in the primary season, which is what’s causing the problem we’re having with finding good candidates. Indeed, Iowa voters go to the polls first, where they select right wing and left wing extremists, both of very specific types. Then New Hampshire follows a little later, where they select the most “establishment” candidate. At that point, most of the other candidates will drop out of the race -- even when candidates survive losing both of these primaries, it’s rare that such candidates will be able to continue much longer. Thus, the choices voters appeared to have when the primary season began were actually an illusion as only candidates who fit the Iowa or new Hampshire mold could make it to the next round. This causes too many good candidates to fail before a single person in any other state gets the chance to vote for them.

So how do we fix this?

First, lets acknowledge that the country can legitimately be broken into different regions with relatively homogeneous beliefs found within each region: the Northeast, the South, the Rust-Belt, the mid-West, the West, and the West Coast. Each of these regions has largely similar views, though those views can clash wildly with other regions. Thus, voters within the Rust-Belt are much more likely to think like other Rust-Belt voters than West Coast voters or Southern voters.

Because of this, a series of super-primaries would be appropriate. For example, one week all of the states in the West could vote. A week or two later, the Rust Belt might vote, and then the South, etc. This would let the voters of each region make their selections at the same time.

Why do this? For one thing, this undoes the Iowa/New Hampshire problem because not all of the states in these regions are as intellectually narrow as Iowa or New Hampshire. In other words, while Iowa may be dominated by Type X people, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota are not cloned copied of Iowa. This makes the first primary more meaningful because the candidates would need to broaden the scope of their appeal to survive the first primary hurdle. No longer could they spend two years focused like a laser beam on just one state, hoping that a victory there will suffice.

So why not just have every state vote at once in a mega-primary? Two reasons. First, if we switched to a single primary, then we face the same problems we face with a national popular vote -- politicians will concentrate in voter-rich areas and will ignore smaller areas. That means they will begin pandering to big cities. Secondly, often times we don’t know what’s good or bad about a candidate until later in the process, e.g. after we see them recover from a loss or do something stupid just as they begin winning. A single primary day would let bad candidates hide their flaws because we would not see them having to adjust to wins and loses. It would also prevent good candidates from recovering from early mistakes.

But which region should go first? It should rotate. This is key. By rotating the order of the regions, politicians could not adopt the current strategy of simply trying to make their image perfect for the lead off states. Again, this means less pandering and more broad-based appeals.

Right now, Iowa and New Hampshire all but choose our nominees for us. But neither state fits in with the other 48 states. Thus, this system needs to change if we are to find conservative (and liberal) candidates who are more satisfactory to the country at large. A series of rotating regional primaries should eliminate those problems while still providing a sufficient proving ground to allow us to evaluate the candidates.

What do you think? And what, if anything, would you change about the primary system?

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why Can't We Be More Like the Europeans?

That is George Soros rubbing his hands in glee (if glee is possible with that old Nazi collaborator) as the Euro begins to collapse and his currency manipulation of non-American money is put into high gear. He's already contemplating the billions he'll make as he exploits the recession in the West.

Rabid egalitarianism at the bottom combined with social elitism at the top has produced an unnatural federation of states relying on a currency called the Euro. The social welfare engineers truly believed that they could produce a political entity in which there were no Germans, no French, no Italians, no Brits, no Greeks, Irish or Portuguese. They would all become Euroweenies using an artificially state-supported currency that would make Europe the economic engine of the world. It was such a phony unity that the pictures on the Euro paper money are grand illustrations of exotic European locations which have never existed.

While the American left, supported by full-throated "amens" from the mainstream media, has declared European social welfare, social democracy, and social currency to be the perfection that the barbarian laissez-faire Americans could never dream of, Europe itself is having serious second thoughts. There is the strong possibility that as the Euro falls, the old war of competing national currencies could be restored. The likely continental victor in the currency war would be Germany, with France playing second fiddle.

The Germans were major fans of the Euro, and will be the major beneficiary of a Euro collapse. Remember the fabulous alliance of Chrysler Corporation and Daimler-Benz. At the time of the divorce, Daimler-Chrysler had two kinds of products--the big losers and the perpetual winners. As the Germans bade Detroit a fond farewell, they took all the good products and profitable investments with them, and left the American company broke, run by hopeless incompetents, and manned by union members waiting to retire on salaries higher than most state governors. The Germans figure that if they can do that all the way across the Atlantic, what are a few borders? So having done what it could to convince the schlubs of Europe to go with the Euro, Germany is likely to return to the strongest currency in Europe--the Deutsche Mark (or what we Americans call the Deutschmark).

You see, Germany needed a way to pay for all that destitute territory they took back after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and what better way to do it than to get all the other Euroweenies to join in a common currency that would pay for the revitalization of the old East Germany? Now, as with Chrysler, Germany can bid farewell to the countries they allied with, take the best of whatever they had to offer, and leave them dangling over the cliff.

Poor Ireland is an excellent example. After long being the poor orphan of Europe, Ireland decided to follow the Reagan-American model by freeing up enterprise, cutting government expenditures and lowering taxes, and allowing entrepeneurs to succeed without government bureaucrats telling them they were doing it wrong. The emergence of Ireland as a wealthy, healthy state was nothing short of an economic miracle.

But the elites listened to the siren call of a United Europe. They joined the European Union, surrendered many of their inherent powers, and by a narrow margin adopted the Euro. And then the Euroweenie Elite informed Ireland that they weren't getting with the Euro social welfare plan properly, devalued the Irish currency forcing those who still held it to switch to Euros, and threatened to expel the Emerald Isle if it didn't raise its taxes, increase its social welfare spending, enlarge the bureaucracy to run the government, and get tight control of private enterprise. Today, after that brief and astonishing renaissance, Ireland has gotten the Euroshaft, and is heading the same direction as Greece.

Spain will likely be the next on the Eurocollapse Highway. Meanwhile, the two big winners of the Eurosweepstakes, Germany and France, are eliminating or cutting back the very programs they imposed on the other Eurosuckers. France is having its own problems trying to do so, causing riots in Paris and other large cities by daring to raise retirement ages, increase the hours of a work week, and eliminate jobs-for-life guarantees. Germany is doing the same, including lowering taxes and having the government encourage businesses rather than run them, but the reaction has been much milder than in France.

While all of this goes on, George Soros smacks his lips at the prospect of manipulating any currency that increases his personal wealth and power. The American left, including their Chicago Stooge Barack Obama, continue to praise the wonderful European social welfare system while pushing hard and using parliamentary tricks to put us in the same bankruptcy barrel as most of Eurotopia. And sitting back, cackling like a character out of a B horror movie, is George Soros, pulling the strings and deciding what is best for us. Soros tells us to Move On, when in fact he really means "give up."
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Congressional Reform

With Congress getting set to start again, now is a good time to talk about some of the changes we need to make Congress work better. Or, said differently, these are reforms we should make to rein in Congress.

1. You First: Number one on any list should be that any law that Congress passes must apply to Congress, their minions and aides, and all government workers. Thus, if they pass ObamaCare, then they need to have their healthcare taken away and replaced with the basic ObamaCare being foisted on the rest of us. Government pensions should be scrapped and replaced with social security. Any new workplace rules must be applied to Congress, as must every other law.

2. Four Weeks A Year: There is no reason Congress should become a full time occupation. Most state legislatures only meet a couple days a session. Boards of directors only meet one day a month, if that. Congress should be limited to meeting four weeks a year, one week in each quarter.

3. No Pay For Public Service: Since we’re cutting the Congressional term and we’re picking up their expenses, and public service is its own reward, it’s time we stopped paying Congresscritters. This should not be a profession, but a noble pursuit done in conjunction with gainful employment in some other profession.

4. Strip The Perks: There is no reason Congress needs a barbershop, a post office, a cafeteria, a mini-rail system, massive offices, a housing allowance, massive staffs, a gymnasium or any of the other perks they get. Take it all away. Give them a dormitory, two aides, and coach airplane tickets to and from each Congressional session.

5. Lobbying Moratorium: Lobbying rules need to be changed to make it less profitable for K Street to hire ex-Critters. Thus, it should be prohibited for lobbying firms to pay any money to a Congresscritter OR THEIR FAMILIES for a period of two years after they leave office. Similarly, Congressional aides should need to wait two years to work as or for a lobbyist as well.

6. Criminalize Self-Dealing: It should be made a felony for a Critter to vote on any bill that sends money to any person to whom they are related or to any firm that employees any person to whom they are related.

7. Budget Reform: The budget process must be reformed. (1) No budget may exceed the prior year’s budget by more than the prior year’s percentage change in GNP. (2) All budgets must balance, based on the prior year’s actual revenue received. (3) Every line item of spending must be voted on individually (and its sponsor(s) identified), and must be approved by both houses. There will be no committee negotiation to reconcile the two bills and no final all or nothing vote -- any item not passed by both chambers dies. (4) Nothing can remain “off budget”: not wars, not a “doctor fix,” and not social security. (5) Budgets may only be made on a year-to-year basis, no more 10 year phony budgets.

I think these would be a great start toward refocusing Congress on its proper role and duties. These would also loosen the grip of lobbyists and wipe out the excuse that the process makes it impossible for individual Congresscritters to do the right thing.

What you would add? Or take away?

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Choosing A Candidate -- The Fundamentals

At a Christmas party the other day, the conversation turned to politics, as so often happens these days. No one there supported Obama, or any other Democrat, although several were convinced that Hillary would challenge him. More interestingly, there was a distinct concern about the lack of quality Republican candidates to challenge Obama. And this brought up the question of what should one look for in a political candidate?

As a conservative, I certainly want my candidate to be a conservative. But that’s just part of the equation. In a general sense, there are four qualities I want to see in my political candidates even before I examine their conservative beliefs.

The first quality I want to see is that the candidate is well informed. Without a basic knowledge of facts, e.g. people, places, conflicts, and issues, I find it very difficult to support anyone for political office. I’m not saying that you need to know the current president of Kerpsplatistan off the top of your head, but any candidate who doesn’t have a passing familiarity with current events, budgeting, our history and form of government, and who our friends are in the world and what our interests are, just isn’t someone we should be electing. Not only is the learning curve too steep to pick up this kind of knowledge in office, but anyone who has made it to adulthood without this knowledge lacks the intellectual curiosity to make an effective political leader -- it’s like choosing a doctor who never cared about anatomy and thinks they can look it up as needed. That’s not someone we can trust to make good decisions. Indeed, that's the kind of person who either plans to fake their way through the job or will quickly become a puppet of their advisors/donors.

And even worse, anyone who would try to become a political leader despite this lack of knowledge either doesn’t grasp how ill-equipped they are, and s thus a fool, or doesn’t care, and is thus an opportunist. Indeed, such people represent the “something for nothing” or “reward without work” school of “thought,’ which is anathema to conservative thinking. So why would we accept them as a candidate?

The second quality I want to see in a candidate is that they have the ability to use logic and reasoning. One of the problems I have with most Democrats (and many Republicans) is that they lack the ability to reason. These people are incapable of grasping concepts like cause and effect and they are constantly proposing “solutions” to problems that cannot possibly solve the problem. A classic example of such a failure is John McCain. During the last Presidential campaign, McCain was asked what he would do about the $400 billion deficit. His response was that he would end the $40 billion practice of earmarking, and it was clear that he simply did not grasp that $40 billion in cuts would not solve a $400 billion problem. This lack of ability to use even simple logic is sadly all-too-common in our political class.

The third quality I want to see in a candidate is someone who has principles, but also is willing to change their minds when they are proven wrong. Too many politicians (people in general, actually) can never admit that they are wrong. This is a bad sign. All the greats in history, all the best CEOs, all the smartest scientists, and so on, have had the ability to evaluate the results of their actions, to see when they are mistaken, and to change course accordingly. To stick with a bad answer merely because you are unwilling to admit a mistake is a much greater failure than being wrong in the first place and is not something we should tolerate in our candidates.

But it is equally wrong to flip or flop merely because you run into opposition. It is a candidate’s principles that make us decide whether or not they are worthy of occupying an office. If they have no true principles, then we should not support them as we have no idea what they stand for or will do.

Finally, the fourth quality I’d like to see is a track record of conservative achievement, i.e. actual experience in putting conservative ideas into practice. It drives me crazy when a politician gives one good speech and suddenly everyone wants to see them in the White House. Never forget that speeches are meaningless because they don’t require politicians to commit, and almost all speeches are written for our trained-monkey politicians by their handlers. When candidate Obama read those supposedly pretty speeches, you didn’t learn anything about him except that he was a competent reader. All you really knew was what his speechwriters thought you wanted to hear. That’s why political records are so vital. Political records not only tell us how a particular politician has made up their mind in the past, which gives us insight into how they will act in the future, but they show how successful the candidate has been at implementing conservative ideas. A candidate can say all the right things, but if their history is one without achieving a single goal, then what are the odds they will suddenly become successful if we promote them? Would you promote a failed fry cook to CEO just because he uses the right buzzwords?

At the same time, we should be leery of candidates who demonstrate behaviors that are inconsistent with what they are saying. Candidates who talk about budget cuts, but spend like drunken Congressmen; candidates who speak of traditional values but then live like libertines; candidates who promise to end corruption and corporate influence, but then rely on corporate influence. . . hypocrisy is a huge warning sign of someone who is not what they claim to be, and who will abandon their promises once they no longer need you to get what they want.

To me, these are the fundamental requirements for any candidate before we even look at what kind of conservative they are. These are like minimum requirements. Fail these and I’m not interested.


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Left Coast Longer Than You Thought

Most of you who live east of the Pacific states tend to think of the "left coast" as being San Francisco. But in fact, the left coast extends from just south of Los Angeles north to the Canadian border. And in that vast coastline, San Francisco does have a rival for Lefty Loonyville. That city is Seattle, Washington.

Don't let that McDonald's ad on the side of the King County (largely Seattle) transit authority bus fool you. For a short time, the ads running on the side of a number of the buses during the Christmas-Hanukkah season were pro-Palestinian, anti-western, anti-Israel "holiday" messages. With pictures showing wounded and dead Palestinians, the ads were nearly identical to other Hamas propaganda, and included the words: "Palestinian War Crimes--Your Tax Dollars At Work." Nice, hun?

The ads were paid for by The Seattle Mideast Awareness Group, and were updated versions of anti-Israeli propaganda put out by Hamas and its sister organization, the Islamic Resistance Movement to celebrate the Intifada. The SMAG was in high dudgeon this year over the second anniversary of Israel's retaliation against Hamas during the 2008 Gaza War. The ads didn't stay up long, and were banned by the transit authorities shortly after the public first became aware of them. If you're thinking that Seattle decided that this was pure hateful propaganda and decided to pull the ads, you would be completely wrong.

The King County Codes include a section that works as a catchall for banning free speech on public transit if the commercial ad might cause pubic disruption or endanger transit riders. Now work with me on this. The authorities had no trouble accepting the blatant lies of Hamas via the SMAG. But they ran into a problem. The Freedom Center, run by my old schoolmate David Horowitz, took the very sensible and peaceable step of purchasing counter-ads exposing the lies. The ads were designed to have titles like "Hamas Terror" and pictures of Israeli homes and lives destroyed by missiles sent into Jewish areas in the Gaza by the murderous Palestinians. The King County transit authorities knew that they were in for one helluva lawsuit if they refused to run the Freedom Center ads after accepting the SMAG ads.

OK, now let's follow that thought a little farther. The Big Lie, propagandized on buses would produce no violence or disruption, since Jews and Christians tend to shrug their shoulders over such distortions of reality as SMAG produced. That the counter-ads could result in lawsuits if not accepted was bad enough. But the disruption and violence that resulted in the ads from both sides being accepted would come from one side only--the religion of peace, aka Islam. Run an anti-Israel ad, get a few nasty letters. Run an anti-Palestinian ad, get a few nasty bombs.

What this all really comes down to is that the transit authorities should have rejected the Hamas propaganda in the first place. Free speech is not an issue when the speech is commercial and in the form of an advertisement paid for, even though on a public conveyance. I would be tempted to argue that this would be a very fine legal distinction that might not survive a First Amendment test, but so what? If you want to accept payment for advertising lies, be prepared to accept money for equal time for rebuttal of the lies. It's sad when a public authority invokes "public order" to clear up its own mistake, and at the same time imputes the same violent tendencies to Jews and Christians as it does to radical Muslim groups.

It should also be noted that Hamas (an Arabic acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement) is listed by the US State Department as being largely funded by Iran, a nation on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. A quick check connects the Seattle Mideast Awareness Group to Hamas and several other terrorist organizations, not to mention unindicted co-conspirator CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations). I wonder if the Seattle/King County transit lawyers checked to see if the same could be said of Horowitz's Freedom Center.

Lest you think Seattle leftist anti-American, antisemitic organizations stick to the Seattle-Tacoma area, I thought I'd bring you one more "it isn't only in San Francisco" tidbit. Another Seattle group, Seattle Atheists, put up a non-Christmas tree at the Washington state capitol plaza at Olympia. It was pure coincidence that the tree was of the same kind traditionally thought of as a Christmas tree, and that it was put up at that awful pagan festival of Christmas. And that instead of angels, Santas, miniature toys and lights, it was decorated with pictures of famous scientists.

The Seattle Atheists insist that it was just a message to the general citizenry during winter with no offense intended. In fact, the sign on the non-Christmas tree read: "At this winter Solstice, as people embrace light and hope (they forgot 'change'), Seattle Atheists celebrate human knowledge." The tree celebrates no religious event (which is hard to explain when you capitalize "Solstice"). The groups that wished to erect an actual Christmas tree nearby are still waiting for an answer from the gummint.
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas From The Lawhawk Household

Behold, the Christmas puppy--Niko the Bold, Herder of Sheep, Chaser of Wolves and Lions, and Destroyer of Carpets.

Niko, Kitty Kelly, Beegee, all the kids and grandkids, and I want to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

We'll see all of you back here on Monday, the 27th. [+] Read More...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

We're taking a couple days off to be with friends and family. We'll be back Monday morning. In the meantime, consider this an open thread. Tell us what Santa brought you . . . or didn't! Share your thoughts on news or events! Or just fill this thread with comments about whatever crosses your mind! [+] Read More...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Question: Christmas Memories

Memories are a funny things. Not only can they be manipulated, but they change over time. But that’s not what interests me today. What interests me today are Christmas memories.

When I look back on the things I remember about Christmas past, it always amazes me what memories come up first. It’s never the “big” things. I don’t recall Christmas dinners, the gifts or the trees. I don’t think about Christmas parties or school plays or concerts that I’ve attended. Instead, I think of little things, and often things that have nothing to do with the holiday itself.

I remember being in Germany one Christmas when I was young. And what I remember from that was walking around town as it began to snow one evening. I remember the location, the sights, the smells (lots of diesel in Germany), the sounds and even where we were going. I don’t recall much before or after that on that particular night, and I can’t think of what I got for Christmas that year, but I recall that particular insignificant moment. I wonder why?

I recall one Christmas, when we were leaving for a party, my dad “forgot” something and had to run back inside. When we came back from the party, a whole bunch of presents had magically appeared under the tree. Some say it was Santa, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't.

Surprisingly, the most recent Christmases are the least memorable. Was there even a Christmas two years ago? Hmmm.

In terms of gifts, I recall a bike and a Lego pirate ship (greatest. . . gift. . . ever. . .), but not much else.

I wonder how the brain chooses what to remember? It doesn’t seem to remember the things you would expect. Big events, big gifts, and other "memorable" events all seem lost in the fog, but a quick walk, a Santa-able moment, a few sights, smells and sounds seem to be what the brain latches onto? Strange.

So what are your favorite Christmas/Holiday memories?

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Taxpayer Funded ObamaCare Lies

With Christmas vacation just around the corner (we’re starting tomorrow), and little going on in the news, it wasn’t too easy to find a topic to write about this morning.

On the one hand, we’ve got the FCC trying to seize control over the internet, ostensibly to keep it free but more truthfully doing the bidding of certain companies. On the other, we’ve got Rahm Emanuel’s desperate prayers that Santa bring him a Chicago residence. Or you’ve got START probably passing the Senate, giving Obama another victory that the Democrats will trumpet and the public will ignore. Or you’ve got redistricting. Redistricting is kind of fun, as it looks like the Republicans are likely to add at least six permanent votes in the House and the Electoral College. . . I guess people really don’t like high taxes and run-amok liberalism after all?

But none of these things have caught my interest as much as the commercials intended to brainwash the public into thinking that ObamaCare isn’t such a bad thing. Grrrrr.

I’m sure you remember the first ad: that one involved the ghost of Andy Griffith’s zombie corpse as he sure does tell us how this new health care law is a gosh darn good thing. It won’t cost anything and it will make us all young again. . . because it’s magic, and golly, let’s all vote Democratic because they passed it. Grrrrr.

These ads ran only in September and October (just in time to help the Democrats re-election campaign) and they cost taxpayers $3,184,000. And, frankly, they should be illegal. Federal law prohibits the use of government money to lobby. This is lobbying. Agencies are allowed to use various means to spread the word about new programs or changes in the law, but this is not that. These ads cross the line into advocating, like when Griffith (who worked for free -- another violation of Federal law) tells us that he thinks this here health care law is a mighty fine thing. That’s an opinion, not a fact.

Moreover, the ad is misleading. Both Judicial Watch and (which is associated with the University of Pennsylvania) have concluded as much. Said FactCheck:
“Would the sheriff of Mayberry mislead you about Medicare? Alas, yes. In a new TV spot from the Obama administration, actor Andy Griffith, famous for his 1960s portrayal of the top law enforcement official in the fictional town of Mayberry, N.C., touts benefits of the new health care law. Griffith tells his fellow senior citizens, ‘like always, we’ll have our guaranteed [Medicare] benefits.’ But the truth is that the new [Obamacare] law is guaranteed to result in benefit cuts for one class of Medicare beneficiaries -- those in private Medicare Advantage plans.”
If this had been a company making these kinds of false claims, the FTC would have made them issue a retraction, which I’m thinking is a good idea. . . right before the next election.

Further, these ads were produced by Obama insider Catherine “Kiki” McLean, which reeks of both politics and crony politics, just as Hillary’s pollster “coincidentally” got contracts under the Stimulus Plan that matched the debt Hillary owed him. Grrrr.

Now they’re at it again with a new ad. This time they have two black women sitting around a table as one tells the other about all the great things they're going to get from ObamaCare. Grrrr. The government is not Santa. It’s job is not to give you things, and to encourage that attitude is infuriating, especially when the point of these ads is so clearly to shore up Obama supporters rather than advise people on specific, factual benefits.

(Apparently, they are also buying ads on google now, including paying to have search results lead you to their webpages.)

These are the sorts of things the Justice Department needs to look at, but we don’t have a Justice Department at the moment. So this will fall on Congress in the next session. Congress needs to look into this and take appropriate steps to end this practice. And if that takes retaliating by authorizing ads that will make the Democrats scream bloody murder so they will agree to stop the government from doing this, then so be it. I’m thinking a retraction of the lies told in the 2010 ads would be nice. . . to air, say, in October 2012.

Come on Santa, how about a little rule of law this year?!

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Film Friday: Avatar (2009)

Avatar, a.k.a. Dances With Smurfs, is a crappy movie. There is no other way to say it. If someone tells you they liked this film, punch them in the face. Not only is this the most politically correct film ever, but it’s poorly acted, poorly written and deathly dull. I feel like I’ve lost a portion of my life watching it.

** I would insert a spoiler warning here, but you can’t spoil this film. **
The "Plot"
Oh where do I begin. An evil corporation has invaded some planet (the unoriginally named “Pandora”) so they can mine something called “unobtainium” -- a word stolen form the infinitely better yet still crappy movie The Core. This unobtainium does something. We don’t know what exactly because James Cameron wasn’t smart enough to come up with anything, but just take it on faith that it’s important.

The main character, Jake Sully (we’ll call him “Lifeless” in honor of the acting non-talent of Sam Worthington), is a former Marine who lost the use of his legs. . . probably from sitting through this film. He takes a job on planet PandaOdor where he will be an avatar operator. What's an avatar you ask? Basically, Ripley from Alien came up with the idea that if you want to exploit a native people, you gotta look like the native people, then you can trick them into trading their land for your beads. So she invented these body-suit things that look like the locals. We aren’t really sure how the suits work or how they’re made because Cameron didn’t care about this aspect of the film. But don’t worry about it, you won’t care either because your mind will be numb by this point in the film. . . ten minutes in.

Lifeless’s job is to operate his avatar in such a way that he endears himself to the locals, a tall blue race called the Na’vi, who look an awful lot like Smurfs who’ve spent time on a Medieval torture rack. After a boring, boring, boring 20 minutes of watching animators try to make Lifeless emote as he runs through the forest of this standard videogame world, Lifeless comes up with a plan. He decides to get himself attacked by wild animals in the hopes that some borderline-retarded princess of the Na’vi happens by and saves him. Of course this works because you can’t swing a dead panda on PandaOdor without hitting a Na’vi princess and because chicks can’t resist a dude who is helpless, rude and stupid.

After a few more minutes of scenery and some pidgin English, these two fall in love and the Smurfs make Lifeless a trusted member of their tribe. Retarded-Princess then mates with Lifeless’s avatar. . . somehow. . . before we are “treated” to another thirty minute scene where Lifeless runs through trees and learns to fly on the backs of creatures on Smurfback Mountain as the other Smurfs learn to accept him and see him as the chosen one.

Suddenly, it’s back to the plot. For reasons Cameron never bothers to explain, the evil US Military decides that since they can now succeed with their plan of gaining the Na’vi’s trust, now would be the perfect time to ditch that plan and instead start killing them for fun. What?! Those aren’t the US military, you say? Well, you could have fooled me. Then the “plot” stops, a fight ensues, a lot of people die, as do many Smurfs, and forty minutes later the evil military loses and Lifeless becomes the leader of the Na’vi. Roll credits.
The Characters
Now that you know the plot, let’s talk about the characters. The characters are awful.

First, you have Lifeless. He’s a pointless character with little to add to the movie despite being the main character. His role is clearly a copy of Kevin Costner’s role from Dances With Wolves, but Worthington comes across more like a mental patient whose thorazine wears off every once in a while. Indeed, he seems incapable of displaying any emotions, despite suffering wild mood swings -- “I hate this place,” “no, I love this place, it’s paradise,” etc. etc. His character also is prone to saying really stupid things, but that’s ok because the other characters aren’t listening. In fact, one of the first things you’ll notice about this film is that none of the characters speak to each other, they deliver speeches to the audience. If it weren’t for the fact they do touch each other once in a while, you’d almost swear they filmed their parts separately and never met. Even simple lines, like "good morning fellow capitalist oppressor," seem to be spoken past the other characters.

The main bad guy is Colonel Cliché, who has a severe disability which prevents him from saying any line you haven’t heard in another film. He loves to kill. Sigourney Weaver plays a woman who occasionally uses scientific terms and then dies. She likes to be rude to people. And there are a whole bunch of other actors too, who presumably do something plot-wise, though it’s not really clear what. Finally, there are the Smurfs, whose main job is to speak like cliché American Indians, while pretending they aren’t American Indians. Not much more to say about them.
The “Writing”
The writing is awful. In fact, there wasn’t really a single line in the film that didn’t make me cringe. Every sentence was cliché-ridden and predictable. The word choice was around a fifth grade level. There was nothing subtle in the writing either. If they want you to know a particular character can’t be trusted, they will literally have multiple characters come on screen and say, “You cannot trust Character X.” And the only memorable line in the film was “The End,” words for which I was truly thankful.

The Political Correctness
Now that we’re done talking about the good parts of the film, let’s talk about the most serious problem with this sucker: this film is pure leftist propaganda. Every single line delivered in this film is crawling with politically correct bullsh~t. Seriously, these people can’t say good morning without making some leftist crack. These characters don’t speak, they make speeches. And here’s what they say: corporations are evil. The military is evil. Scientists who do the bidding of evil corporations or the military are evil. The American Indians are noble creatures who lived in an ideal world where no one died and their gods literally existed and everyone was a vegetarian and loved each other until whitey came along and killed them all and herded them into casinos. Save the environment from capitalist whitey and the military. The war on terror is evil. The American military are terrorists, shock and awe is evil. Shave the whales! Down with whitey!

The anti-white message in this film was particularly obnoxious. All the bad guys were white. In fact, the only minorities on staff (the Indian dude and the Hispanic chick) quickly changed sides and betrayed whitey to aid the Smurfs, as did all the women and the handicapped guy (what, no gays?). Whitey Colonel Cliché even asks Lifeless how it feels to betray his race, which may have meant “human” in this instance, but sure sounded like "white."

But before James Cameron goes patting himself on the back for being a full-blown worshiper of oppression theology, let me point out one irony. Why is it, James, that the only person who can save the backwards Na’vi is the white dude? And why would these peaceful people make him their leader, as they apparently do at the end of the film, when his only qualifications are being a solider and being a white dude? Are you saying that a moronic white dude is the best and brightest on their planet? That seems kind of racist. Seriously James, it’s amazing how easily your screed against white oppression seamlessly morphs into the noble savage fantasy that was so popular among empire builders in the late 1800s. I guess you see yourself as the man who would be king?

The anti-military message was obnoxious as well. All the soldiers are drawn entirely from the paranoid Hollywood clichés of soldiers. They are bloodthirsty and irrational and long for nothing more than subjugating the scientists and businessmen who run the show, just so they can kill the Na’vi because. . . well, just because. Sounds to me like James Cameron must have had a bad experience with a solider at one time. . . in a mensroom.

Unfortunately, these messages permeate everything you see and hear in this crap-fest. Indeed, there wasn't a line of dialog that didn't push these ideas. And that was a big enough turn off to anger me, whenever I awoke from my periodic movie-induced comas.
To sum up this film, all I can really say is that it swings wildly between boring and offensive, with a pretty lame videogame thrown in between. I am glad this turkey will be forgotten in a couple years, but saddened that James Cameron made any money. Maybe he’ll get robbed. . . now that is a happy thought!

Check out the new film site -- CommentaramaFilms!

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Journalists Get Creative About Illegal Aliens

Years ago, the anti-American domestic left began a campaign to throw our borders open (meaning our southern border) and make martyrs out of border-jumpers who are automatically criminals by virtue of their entry into the United States. No longer could we call them "illegal aliens." Presto change-o, they became "undocumented workers." Sort of like "ministers without portfolios," or perhaps "drivers without licenses."

Over the years, as states began to issue drivers licenses willy nilly to anyone who asked (and not necessarily in English), they became less undocumented, and a large number of them had no jobs that didn't involve standing on a streecorner or joining a gang, so "undocumented worker" was universally recognized as a misnomer. In order to avoid confusing them with Martians, "aliens" wouldn't work, so by some osmosis advocates on both sides of the issue settled on "illegal immigrants" as common parlance to describe the incoming criminals.

A skunk by any other name would stink as badly, but the left is very big on word-play in an attempt to de-demonize the "others." The "immigrants" part was OK with the left, but God forbid we should call them "illegal." A "Diversity Council" of the Society of Professional Journalists recently harrumphed, argued, debated, and agonized over how to turn that skunk into a rose. Once decided upon, the lockstep press is expected to abide by the outcome. And another euphemism is born: The Unauthorized Immigrant.

Oh, brother! They decided that these darlings are indeed immigrants, and immigrants are automatically good. So they had to get rid of any taint of criminality by removing the word "illegal." Undocumented still sounded a bit too much like an illegal act. But "unauthorized" sounds about as illegal as chewing gum in church. So they settled on it. Prepare to see the MSM using that phrase from here on out. It will take a while for all the media zombies to get the word. But they will.

Spontaneously jumping into the water to rescue a drowning child is "unauthorized," but it sure ain't illegal and it neuters the sting of being called an "illegal or undocumented rescuer." A spokesman for the journalists said that the label "illegal" remains offensive to Latinos, and especially Mexicans, and to the fundamentals of American jurisprudence. Only an idiot journalist could say the former, and only an ACLU lawyer could say the latter with a straight face. Given the activity we've seen at recent unrestricted immigration rallies, the only ones who would be offended are limousine liberals, leftists, and of course, illegals.

Considering that most Latinos (or Hispanics, or Chicanos, whatever the current correct appellation is) are not illegals, what would they have to be offended about? during World War II we were much more adamant about illegal aliens being specifically ethnic (Germans and Japanese). Today, most thinking Americans are concerned about the wave of immigrants who are overwhelming the system, and Mexicans are certainly among them, but the ease of crossing the border illegally, and occasionally violently, has not escaped our friends in Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah.

The spokesman for the journalists said further that "only a judge, not a journalist, can say that someone is illegal." That is nonsense on stilts. First of all, the First Amendment allows us to say anything we want so long as it isn't genuinely libelous or slanderous (in other words, the truth). We have seen that kind of timidity for other criminal activities with the advent of the perpetual use of the word "alleged criminal" to describe the perpetrator of a crime witnessed by hundreds of people and recorded on tape, digital devices and cell phones. But fear of lawsuits caused that. When describing the hordes of people entering the United States without permission, what word describes them better than "illegal?"

The spokesman also added that "some believe the phrase 'illegal alien' originated with fiery, anti-immigration groups along the U.s.-Mexico border, such as the Minutemen." Apparently this clown doesn't know any history older than last week. The first time I heard the expression "illegal alien," it came out of the mouth of my best friend's father in 1957. Incidentally, his father was a legal immigrant from Mexico with a good job. In other words, he was a "documented worker" having both papers and employment. He passed away a few years back, but he would have laughed sardonically at the current phrase du jour.

The representative from the Miami Herald joined in the complaint that "illegal" implied tried and convicted, and should therefore be shunned entirely. Well, sir, the Miami Herald headline from the day before read "Miami police cracking down on drunk drivers." Shouldn't all drivers be offended by being called drunks? After all, drunk drivers are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, aren't they?

Alan Goodman of the Culture and Media Institute finds the whole thing ludicrous. He went a bit farther with the "illegal" analogy by pointing out that any class called criminal would be highly offended. For instance, the Associated Press recently headlined "Newport News police want to reduce car thefts and put the thieves in jail." That defames an entire class. If AP doesn't want to call the undocumented border-crossers a criminal class, shouldn't it be at least as solicitous of the "car thief community?" Surely it isn't illegal to steal a car until it has been proven in a court of law that the car was, in fact and at law, stolen. AP has approved the new "unauthorized immigrants" mantra, naturally. But it's not about to accept the obfuscation of a community of "alleged car thieves" or "suspected car thieves." But they might go for "unauthorized drivers."

What it really amounts to is that the Society of Professional Journalist (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) no longer reports on illegal immigration. It is instead advocating illegal immigration, and not wanting to be a co-conspirator in a massive crime, it chooses to call the skunk a rose.
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Obama Reads The Great Works To Kids

A few days back, Barack Obama showed his human side. Now that surprises me, because I didn't know he had one. Be that as it may, he decided it would be good for his image to be seen reading from some of the great works designed for children to an elementary school audience. His two major selections were The Night Before Christmas, and selections from that other great author, Barack Hussein Obama. Yes, he read to them from Of Thee I Sing..

The Night Before Christmas was an original poem written by an Englishman to comfort a sick child. Of Thee I Sing was written by a sick American in order to rip off the also-ghost written John Kennedy book Profiles In Courage. This wasn't exactly the family barbecue that showed what a great family the Obamas are, but at least it did show that Barack doesn't eat small children. He just confuses them with old poems and bad history.

His excuse for the photo-op was that his daughters are getting older and won't let him read to them much anymore. Yeah, I'm sure he has that top priority need to read to his daughters. Said Obama, "So I wanted to borrow you guys and read to you. I was writing a letter to [my daughters] about how wonderful they are and it made me think about all the other wonderful people who are like them. So far, I've managed to suppress my gag reflex. It got harder as he told them he is just plain folks, and has to clean up the dog poop just like their parents.

He then proved that he really is the post-racial President by reading selections from the chapters of his book devoted to Jackie Robinson and Abraham Lincoln. Of Robinson, he said: "A lot of people didn't want black people to play baseball and so they were being mean to him and booing him and throwing things at him, but he was brave and willing to go ahead and play anyway and he became a beloved figure . . . ." OK, we get it. You don't look like the other presidents on our currency.

As for Lincoln, he threw the discussion open to the kids. "What were the most important things that he did?" he asked them. The inevitable response: "He ended slavery." Obama didn't ask "what else?" Like saving the Union and delivering the Gettysburg Address or the Second Inaugural Address asking for "malice for none and charity for all." They wouldn't have known anyway from the three line section on Lincoln in their textbooks.

He also side-commented that the scenes from The Night Before Christmas looked just like D.C. with "snow on the ground like it's supposed to look during the Christmas." I'm sure the murder rate in that little English town was exactly the same as that of Washington. And of course the snow would be the same filthy color. And just like that home in England, the workers took the day off because of the bad weather--just like D.C. DC Comics, maybe. He ended that thought with "And I'm surprised you guys are in school. A lot of times in Washington people don't go to school when there's even an inch of snow." Or when the sky is blue and the sun is warm, and everything in-between, Mr. President. Have you looked at the miserable state of the schools in our nation's capital lately?

The visit ended with one little boy asking if he could have the President's autograph. Says His Majesty: "If I sign autographs, then I'd have to sign for everybody." "Yay!" shout the students. They misunderstood his meaning. Says his Lofty Messiahness: "I signed the book for the whole school and it's in the library." The school is located in Arlington, Virginia, a safe suburb just outside D.C. If the school had been located in D.C. proper, the next question from the kids would have been "what's a library?"

Maybe on his next visit he can read to them from his collected works at Columbia and Harvard Law (where he was the editor of the Law Review). Just as soon as somebody can find them, I imagine.
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Ask And Tell, Fine, But Don't Misbehave

The Senate voted 65-31 on Saturday to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. In and of itself, this change in policy doesn’t give me a lot of heartburn. But I do think the timing is atrocious and a real indictment on the Democrats’ willingness to put politics ahead of the safety of American soldiers. I also think the real questions remain to be answered. Here are some things to consider.

1. This policy was put into place 17 years ago by the Clinton Administration to bail themselves out of one of their many huge mistakes at the beginning of Clinton’s presidency. To satisfy his gay supporters, Clinton declared the military open to gays. But he failed to get any support for such a change before announcing it. This blew up on him. Afraid to offend either side, Team Clinton (including now-Justice Elana Kagan) came up with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as a way to pretend they changed things, when they really didn’t.

2. If gays think Democrats are their friends, recall first that Clinton fooled you, then that Obama promised to repeal this but made no effort to do so, and that the Democrats did nothing until a lame duck session after they lost the Congress. With friends like those....

3. Eight Republicans joined the Democrats in repealing this policy. John McCain (who has surprisingly become a conservative firebrand since the election) led the opposition. Joe Manchin (D-WV) skipped the vote, something he’s already showing a penchant for doing with votes that will be unpopular in West Virginia.

4. The timing of this change is horrible. Despite seventeen years of arguing over this issue, there has been almost no honest study of how letting gay soldiers serve openly will affect the military. Instead, the debate has been dominated by half-studies using loaded questions and the personal opinions of general officers. Thus, we honestly don’t know how this policy will affect the military. It is therefore rather asinine to change this policy at the stroke of a pen while the military is in the field fighting a war. Indeed, if there was ever a moment for a roll-out of a policy, this would be it.

5. Whether this change turns out to be effective, ineffective or disastrous, will depend on how it is enforced. To the extent the military simply changes the rules to allow gays to serve openly, and it requires them to follow the identical rules of conduct that heterosexual soldiers currently follow, there probably will be few problems.

But to the extent they start demanding changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) to accommodate conduct of the type that is associated with “the gay lifestyle,” there will be problems. For example, thousands of years of military experience have shown that fraternization is corrosive of military discipline. If rules like the prohibition on fraternization are eliminated or are not enforced when the conduct is between homosexuals, then military discipline will suffer.

Similarly, the military will need to strictly apply anti-sexual harassment rules against gays just as it does between heterosexual soldiers of the opposite sex. In other words, if the military takes a politically correct stance and decides that only heterosexuals can be harassers or that gays need only comply with a lesser standard of harassment, then expect serious problems.

6. Don’t expect the court challenges to stop. Repealing this policy will kill the current court cases challenging the policy. BUT those who have been discharged will probably seek reinstatement and back pay. To solve those cases, the Supreme Court will be asked to rule on the validity of the policy to decide whether the government acted properly in tossing them out under the old policy. It’s unlikely the Court will make such a ruling (it will instead rule on the basis of "sovereign immunity"), but expect the effort nevertheless.

Moreover, expect a slew of challenges to the UCMJ alleging that rules like the prohibition on fraternization and other “conduct unbecoming” rules are unconstitutional.

7. For those gays suggesting this change represents a civil rights victory of some sort, you are wrong. At best, this is an acknowledgment that gays are more accepted in society. But to call this a cornerstone of some change in the civil rights laws is incorrect. Indeed, this vote has no effect at all on the legality of gay rights laws or the classification of homosexuality as a protected class. This is simply a change in military rules that now allow certain conduct, just as if they said soldiers may openly gamble or own Priuses.

8. Finally, the effects of this policy change need to be watched closely and studied intensely. If this policy leads to a decline in military discipline or the endangerment of soldiers (gay or straight), then it must be changed. AND, most importantly, these studies need to be conducted honestly and without pressure to reach the politically correct conclusion desired by the politicians (on either side). American lives are too precious to let Nancy Pelosi play games with them just to satisfy her supporters.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Radical Feminists Have A Blind Spot

At the 1995 World Conference on Women, First Lady Hillary Clinton said: "It is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights. Human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights, once and for all." Not exactly the Gettysburg Address, but not bad. I checked the other day to see if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the same person who said that. The internet tells me they are one and the same.

A quote from writer Caroline Glick seems to describe an entirely different Hillary, a strange form of feminism, and the beam in everyone else's eye. "If being a human rights activist means attacking the only country in the Middle East that defends human rights, then that means that at the very basic level, the term 'human rights activist' is at best an empty term." She was talking, of course, of Israel, a nation in which women have strongly protected equal rights with men and the guarantee of personal independence and freedom of thought that American feminism can only make grand but meaningless statements about.

Clinton and her master, Barack Hussein Obama, are so busy condemning Israel for permitting Jews to build homes in their ancient capital of Jerusalem that they can't be bothered to notice the abominable state of women in the surrounding medieval states of the Middle East and major parts of Africa. They should ask themselves when the last time was that Israel permitted or encouraged honor killings, forced marriage (usually of very young girls), denial of education to women, restrictions of employment (if any is allowed at all) and the frosting on the cake, female genital mutilation.

At least one former radical feminist has taken a step back and asked why Islamic states allow practices that would be considered barbaric if practiced on animals. But this is about human rights which, according to the old Hillary Clinton, are the same as women's rights, now and forever. Maybe she has decided that being publicly humiliated by her husband on numerous occasions was actually the norm, and maybe she wasn't trying hard enough.

The latest example of radical feminist newthink is their reaction to the arrest of WikiLeaks nutcase Julian Assange. In order to avoid the obvious, the feminazis had to find a way to support the self-proclaimed leftist/feminist without mentioning that he was arrested and released under house arrest for charges of rape. Rather than discuss the matter rationally, or even dispute the charges logically, the feminists rallied outside his jail cell to shout "free Julian," and "justice for Julian," and "don't shoot the messenger." You see, rape is not the issue nor should it be given any attention when the alleged perpetrator is "pursuing freedom of speech."

One radical feminist responded to the Monica Lewinsky scandal by saying that she would service the president sexually if it meant he would keep up the good fight for women's rights. Fellow (fella?) radical feminist Naomi Wolf has followed the same pattern in an even more despicable manner. Says Wolf of Assange: "His only crime was behaving like a narcissistic jerk." Well, I guess a little rape is preferable to genital mutilation. And as Whoopi Goldberg would say, "it wasn't rape rape."

The same people who invented "date" rape (otherwise known as buyer's remorse), thereby cheapening the horrific physical and emotional trauma of the violent crime of rape now think that if there was a rape in the Assange matter, it wasn't so awful because it was committed by a free speech hero. If you can't persuade them with your logic, baffle them with your bullshit. This complete abandonment of principle comes from the same group that applauded radical feminist Andrea Dworkin when she said that all sex with men was rape. How's that for a healthy attitude? But when it comes to real honest-to-God charges of rape, they simply shrug their shoulders and raise their picket signs for freedom of speech. I won't even mention the number of brave men and women in the armed forces and intelligence agencies who will end up dead because of an alleged rapist who is also a supporter of "freedom of information."

Whether Assange is really guilty of rape will be determined in future criminal proceedings. The important issue here is the ongoing ability of radical feminists to condemn every form of sexual contact with men, unless the man is also a crazed leftist. A gang of women and their gelded male fans who see rape around every corner suddenly couldn't care less about the sleazy past and possible violent proclivities of one of their own. Disgusting.
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Friday, December 17, 2010

RINOs and Taxes and Budgets. . . Oh My!!

I had planned to put up an article reviewing Avatar today, because I endured its pain just so I could write a review. But that will have to wait because I get the feeling some of you may have some thoughts about this whole budget thing or the tax bill. . . what a mess! Let’s look at the winners and losers:

Loser: House Democrats The House Democrats look like fools in this whole process. The voters are furious that they blew a trillion dollars on their friends, achieved nothing regarding the economy, and managed to bring the debt to levels that literally endanger our country. So here is their chance to show that they’ve learned something. They didn’t.

First, they threw a hissy-fit and made it clear that they were willing to destroy the economy and raise taxes on everyone by killing the Bush Tax Cuts just to score political spite points. They even spent the week name-calling and swearing at Obama, something which always makes you look childish and stupid. And in the end, after giving Obama a black eye and exposing themselves, they voted for the deal.

Secondly, they passed an obscene budget that not only kept right on with their insane and crooked spending ways, but was crawling with earmarks, set-asides and special projects. . . like those of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) who earmarked $48 BILLION (with a B) for a day care center run by one of his friends out of his house (although he claims he didn't actually make the request, he just put it on his website). Cleaver will be leading the Congressional Black Caucus next year, though he should be in prison.

Loser: Obama Obama cut a deal with the Republicans on the Bush Tax Cuts, which immediately blew up in his face. Liberals depend on all their friends telling the world how great they are (because they have no other accomplishments they can point to), and this wiped that out. No longer the Messiah, Obama became the Pariah, as his historically low approval ratings plummeted.

Winner: George Bush If you want to judge a President on how effective they are, look at how many of their policies get adopted by their successors. Obama got into office promising to close Gitmo, get us out of Iraq, and kill the Bush Tax Cuts. He’s now adopted all three.

Loser: The MSM Not only have they watched as their heroes fell apart into childish bickering, but their efforts to spin the news have fallen flat. For example, many of you probably saw how the “Bush Tax Cuts” recently became the “Bush Era Tax Cuts” and then the “Obama Tax Cuts,” but nobody bought it and we’re right back to the “Bush Tax Cuts.” Moreover, there was nothing they could do to stem the tide on any of these stories, not the budget, not the taxes, not the feuding.

Winner: Mitch McConnell McConnell started out poorly in these matters as he seemed quite content to get a poor deal on the Bush Tax Cuts and he seemed happy with the Budget. But when McConnell started pushing around the RINOs and then reported to the Democrats that the Senate Republicans no longer supported the budget, Harry Reid withdrew the budget in a panic maneuver. McConnell then added insult to injury by proposing a one page budget that basically said, “no changes from last year.”

Winner: The Tea Party There is no doubt that the pressure put on Senators by the Tea Party is what caused the Republican about-face on the budget. And once again, it was Jim DeMint as the first to break ranks.

Loser: The Republican Establishment While many individual Republicans came out as winners in these issues, the establishment continues to look weak and backwards. They have shown again that their instincts are wrong, although they at least changed course when the Tea Party people applied a lot of pressure.

Winner/Loser: Political Contenders These are the candidates for President and other gurus squawking from the sidelines. They are winners in the sense that they made good soundbites and were able to tell us “what they would have done” if they had been in the negotiations on these matters. But they are also losers because this is fake bravado and it’s exploitive. It’s one thing to propose something in advance, which none of them did, it’s another to play armchair quarterback safely away from any responsibility. So this will play well with their supporters, but doesn’t give the rest of us any confidence that they are serious or that we can trust them.

Winner/Loser: Us We got some good things in the Bush Tax Cut deal and some bad things, but that’s what you get with compromises. On the whole we are probably better off. But the budget is another issue. The withdrawal of the budget is nice, but I’ll believe it when it stays withdrawn and a better budget is produced. What’s more, we are losers in that the budget (even as they are talking about changing it) does nothing to trim the fat that’s accumulated in the budget in the past 3-4 years. But we are winners in the sense that our politicians apparently remain afraid of us.

There you have it. Anyone you would add or subtract? Anything you disagree with? Come on folks, vent away.

*** Update *** According to the Washinton Examiner, the number of earmark requests looks like this:
Senate Democrats: 15,133 earmarks for $54.9 billion
House Democrats: 18,189 earmarks for $51.7 billion
Senate Republicans: 5,352 earmarks for $22 billion
House Republicans: 241 earmarks for $1 billion
I guess we can see where the problem(s) lie?

(I’ll put up the Avatar review early next week.)

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