Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Scott's Links February 2012

For those who don't know, Scott roams the internet far and wide. Because of this, he supplies interesting links to Big Hollywood every day. I've asked Scott to give us a list of the best links he finds each month and a quick synopsis of what's behind each one. Check these out. . . share your thoughts!

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms [+]

Liberalism Kills

Rather than talk about last night (though you’re free to discuss that in the comments), let’s talk about another real life example of the dangers of liberalism. Liberalism kills because it eliminates personal responsibility. This was highlighted with tragic results in Britain last March when Mr. Simon Burgess, 41, experienced a seizure while feeding the ducks at a “model boat pond” at Walpole Park in Gosport, Hampshire. Mr. Burgess fell face first into the pond. Then this happened. . .

A 53 year old woman saw Burgess have the seizure and fall into the water. She called the emergency response people and the police arrived within two minutes. But as one officer began removing his shoes to wade into the pond, he was ordered to wait for “trained” specialists. This had been declared a water rescue and the police are not equipped for that.

Then a paramedic arrived. He was told he could not enter the water because he lacked the right “protective” clothing. If he tried to enter the water, he would violate workplace regulations and presumably could lose his job.

Then the fire department arrived, but they lacked the “proper training” for a water rescue. Specifically, they cited a regulation which prevents them from wading into water that is more than ankle-deep without special training. Thus, they called for additional specialists. They also decided that Burgess had to be dead as he had been in the water for 10 minutes, even though people who have been submerged up to 60 minutes have been saved.

At that point, a police officer decided to go into the water. But he was told he would be criminally prosecuted if he proceeded. He was told that the fire department was on scene and engaged in a “body retrieval situation” and that he was not to interfere. The fire department also refused to loan him a lifejacket.

Thirty minutes later, the specialists arrive. By this point, twenty-five rescue personnel were on scene. They finally retrieved the body forty minutes after Burgess first fell into the pond. Mr. Burgess was dead.

Here’s a critical fact: the pond is only 2-3 feet deep. Indeed, the image above shows a Daily Mail reporter who has waded out into the pond.

Think about this entire shameful event and ask yourself where things went wrong? The answer is: generations of liberalism.

Liberalism formalizes human relationships by law and regulation. This is the very nature of liberalism, that the government will protect you from all dangers by establishing rules and regulations which tell everyone precisely how they should act. In so doing, it absolves people of their sense of personal responsibility by replacing the duties we all owe each other as human beings with specific regulations which dictate acceptable and unacceptable. That was what was on display in Gosport.
● The 53 year old woman did exactly what liberals tell you to do when faced with criminals, bullies or emergencies: call the authorities and make no attempt to solve the problem yourself. She made no attempt to pull this man from the water or turn him over even though she saw him pass out and knew the water was shallow.

● The first police officer decided specialists were needed to wade out 25 feet in knee-deep water because that is what he was told.

● The paramedic chose his job over saving a man’s life and he hid behind the excuse that he lacked the protective clothing needed to wade into a pond.

● The fire department was worse. They let a bogus regulation stop them from saving a man in an obviously harmless situation. Then they declared him dead even though others have been saved who were submerged for up to six times longer and even though they didn’t really know if he had been face down for ten minutes. They did this because it soothed their consciences for choosing to follow the regulations rather than their moral obligations as human beings. Interestingly, they have been criticized because it turns out the regulation only applies to floods. But that misses the point of what went wrong here. The problem wasn’t that the regulation was wrong, the problem was the reliance on regulations over human judgement in the first place.

● Finally, consider the officer who wanted to save the man when he saw the shameful conduct of the others but stopped when he was threatened with criminal prosecution. Would that have stopped you?
Twenty-five trained “rescue personnel” stood around threatening each other with regulations and criminal prosecution while they let a man die because they were unwilling to wade out into a knee-deep pond. That’s shameful.

It’s also the same behavior you see when a DMV clerk won’t correct a typo, when an IRS agent won’t admit a mistake, when social workers won’t save an abused child because they don’t have all the right forms filled out, etc. This is the result of liberalism: bureaucratic form over human substance.

Now compare this with Ben Patrick, a former tight end for the Arizona Cardinals. He was driving along in Arizona when he came upon a van that had flipped onto its side. The van apparently was leaking gasoline. Yet, a GROUP of people, including Patrick, stopped and helped pull people out of the van even though it could have exploded. Said Patrick:
“My first thought was just to help the people on the inside.”
Patrick did what, in my experience, most Americans would do. He saw people in an emergency situation and he went to help. He did this at great personal risk as the van could have exploded or caught fire. He didn’t wait for the trained professionals or worry about protective clothing or consulting regulations. He did what humans are meant to do.

The comparison here is truly apt. When people live in a nanny (i.e. liberal/socialist) state, they lose their sense of right and wrong and their sense of personal responsibility. It happens in small and large ways. And in Gosport you see it writ large. These people let this man die because none of them felt it was their obligation to save him. They felt their obligations were to the system and the rules it put into place. Patrick, on the other hand, showed what happens when people are accountable to themselves and cannot hide behind the excuse, “I was just following orders.”

This is not hyperbole: America is the greatest nation on Earth precisely because its people are free to make their own choices and bear the economic, reputational, and moral consequences of their own actions.

Kudos to Mr. Patrick, you are an honorable and decent human being. Shame on Gosport. And shame on anyone who wants to make America more like Gosport.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

T-Rav's Sockpuppet Votatorium Presents: Primarily Border States

It's time we hired good union labor to build a wall to stop those darn Moosers from sneaking across the border and stealing our healthcare! Wait, is Moosers racists or just rude? Also, who cares if they get our healthcare so long as they pay for it. . . and so long as they let us shop at their pharmacies? And why would we hire union guys when we can hire hardworking freshly-minted Arizonans? Let's start this over because I think we got off on the wrong foot. They're voting in Michigan and Arizona and we got you covered. Leave your thoughts... your hopes... your dreams in the comment section below.

And while we wait, riddle me this: What's your favorite car of all time? And for bonus points, what was your first car?

Don't forget: It's Star Trek Tuesday at the film site!

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Pelosi Praises Phony Witness

The House Committee which was investigating the Obamacare mandate in relation to religious freedom completed its taking of testimony last week. Nine experts in two sessions (including two invisible women) stated their case. But one flaky witness was excluded. Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a special session to listen to what this visible woman had to say.

The Congressional hearings on mandating religious organization participation in birth control and abortifacient insurance wasn't intended to be a discussion of medical procedures. Therefore, the majority voted to exclude testimony about experiences with birth control in order to concentrate on the religious issue. That meant that Pelosi's primary sob-story witness didn't get to pluck the harp strings and derail the actual purpose of the hearings. But San Fran Nan isn't anything if not annoyingly persistent. So Pelosi put on the dog and pony show at the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee instead.

Pelosi trotted out Georgetown Law School student Sandra Fluke. She hasn't apparently taken the evidence course yet, because Fluke's first sob story was: "Just last week, a married female student told me that she had to stop using contraception because she and her husband just couldn't fit it into their budget anymore." Objection, hearsay! But it's not only hearsay, it's utter nonsense. Then this future Democratic operative testified that "poor women employed in low-wage jobs without contraceptive coverage face the same choice as her anonymous fellow student."

She and her fellow student can afford Georgetown Law School, and probably a pretty good bottle of wine to go with dinner. But even if they couldn't, how much truth is there to her boo-hoo testimony? Next to none. There are three federally funded Planned Parenthood clinics near the Georgetown campus, none farther than 3.2 miles from the law school. Checking with Planned Parenthood's website, you find that condoms cost about $1.00 each, and if you can't afford that, you can get them for free.

Says Fluke: "Some might respond that contraception is accessible in lots of other ways. Unfortunately, that's just not true." Well, the ones who respond that way are those armed with facts instead of sob-stories. In fact, it is true. Planned Parenthood is just one of multiple organizations which run free clinics, particularly in urban centers. Whether federally-funded, funded by private charity, or a combination of both, birth control is readily and cheaply available to the poor as well as to affluent law students who can't get their priorities straight.

Not only did Fluke's testimony entirely sidestep the religious issue, but it was lacking in facts, logic and supporting evidence. But it was a really good story. I've gone through an entire box of Kleenex over it.

I'll be out of town on business for most of the day. But I'd love to see what you think about this reprehensible attempt to replace good government with low drama and the First Amendment with secular mandates. I promise I'll respond to your comments as soon as I get home.
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Who Will Regulate The Regulators?

Some of the signs in the economy are hopeful. The stock market is slowly inching upwards, though it’s two steps up and one step back. New home sales have finally ceased to be stagnant, though this follows the same pattern as the stock market. But at least one bad economic indicator remains stubbornly bad.

Unemployment continues to hover above 8% despite the “jobs president’s” promises. The National Federation of Independent Businesses cites over-regulation as a major cause. The business organization asked small business owners nationwide to name what they thought was the biggest contributor to their inability to hire new people. Number one, as always, was “poor sales” at 20%. But even that is a fairly generic description of poor business conditions. Coming in at number two was government regulation and red tape at 19%. That’s a far more specific complaint, and certainly could be a major factor in the number one choice, generic poor sales. If you can’t hire people to make your product and people to sell it, you’re probably going to suffer from poor sales.

When the socialist-leaning Economist of London agrees with American small business owners, you know you’re in trouble. In its cover story entitled “Over-regulated America,” the Economist says that “the home of laissez-faire is being suffocated by excessive and badly written regulation.” Coming from a publication that thrives in the nation that almost single-handedly created the nanny state, this should be taken as a serious warning.

The Great Economist Barack Obama also claims to see the problem. In a major speech, Obama said: “The rules have gotten out of balance, resulting in a chilling effect on growth and jobs.” Having recognized the problem, the Obama administration promptly instituted dozens of new regulations to regulate the regulations in less than six months. The states aren’t much better, and seem to pile regulations of their own on top of the federal regulations.

The sign in the photo is a perfect example of the states exceeding the federal government in stupid regulations. If you see a vending machine in Florida that doesn’t have that sign, you should immediately call that phone number, even if you have no idea what alleged violation is involved or what heinous crime is being committed. Of course if the sign isn’t there, you won’t know to call. Let me help you out. It’s the phone number of the Tallahassee Office of the State of Florida Taxpayer Service Center. They’re asking you to be a tax snitch. And it’s a bit like saying, “if you see this sign, ignore it.”

A study conducted by the Small Business Administration determined that regulation alone accounted for about $10,585 in costs to business per employee, per year. With the economy already going into its fourth crummy year, it’s not hard to figure out why the biggest producers of new jobs are hesitating to hire. That is why many economists are calling the current state of the economy a “jobless recovery.”

John Stossel recently did a Fox News special entitled “Everything’s Illegal.” One of his interviewees stated flatly that every single business owner is in violation of at least five obscure or self-contradictory regulations. You think the power to tax is the power to destroy? Try the power to regulate. From kids selling home-made lemonade which has not been tested and approved by the FDA to private individuals selling an occasional goat or sheep to a friend, the regulators are there to punish.

The Economist points out that the federal government has nine codes regulating the keeping of parrots and regulating injury which might conceivably be caused by or to parrots. There are three regulations regarding the proper treatment of burn injuries caused by flaming water-skis. In 2011, the feds instituted some major new rules. Emission standards for commercial boilers were raised to prevent pollution and global warming. The cost to the industry could go as high as $20 billion in one year. The SBA said the new regulation would likely cost 40,000 to 60,000 lost jobs.

Power plants in twenty-seven states have also been required under another new regulation to reduce emissions. That cost per year is expected to be about $845 million, and the loss of a few thousand jobs. Consumers and independent owner-operators of combination trucks, heavy-duty pickups, vans and vocational vehicles (like mobile libraries) are getting hit with new fuel-efficiency standards that will raise the costs of the vehicles by as much as $6,000 per vehicle and an annual total cost to the industry of $607 million. That’s both a job-killer and a business-killer.

At the same time, the regulators at the State Department in concert with the Environmental Protection Agency and under the marching orders of President Obama have turned down the Keystone XL pipeline which might, maybe, sorta damage some hills in Nebraska. The 20,000 “shovel-ready” jobs instantly lost are irrelevant as far as this administration is concerned. Regulations is regulations, and that’s that. And don’t get me started on the regulation of water in California’s Central Valley that has crippled California agriculture in order to save one useless fish species.

As always, Barack Obama is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He claims to understand the problem of over-regulation, then institutes more. The number of regulations is a matter of official and mandated public record. They are produced and managed by the Office of the Federal Register. New regulations must be published in the Register. In 2009, the number was 68,598 pages. In 2010, it was 81,405 pages.

In 2011, the number of pages went up faster than the Dow to 82,415. And now you know why the expert on the Stossel show said what he said about how many regulations every single business is violating on a daily basis. It would require every business to make its first new hire a “regulation reader.” Before hiring anyone else, a company would need to hire an employee just to read the rules and regulations and advise the company if it is in compliance with every one of them. And even at that, the reader would probably have to advise the company that if it complies with every rule and regulation affecting it, the company would be unable to conduct business anyway. Close the doors.
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I'm Calling Out Rush

Today, I’m calling out Rush. Rush has used innuendo to suggest that Ron Paul and Mitt Romney have cut some sort of dirty deal. That’s shameful. But my complaint goes even beyond that.

After last Wednesday’s debate, Team Santorum immediately suggested that Romney and Paul had cut a dirty deal to work together in the debates. Hence, we should ignore Santorum’s belly flop because the others cheated. Of course, Santorum has ZERO proof of this.

The following morning, Rush, who feigns neutrality in this race, ran with Santorum’s talking point. Only, Rush didn’t present it as a Santorum talking point, he claimed it as his own “epiphany.” Here’s what he said:
What I had detected, like an epiphany, all these debates I had never seen Ron Paul attack Romney, nor had I seen Romney attack Ron Paul. I saw Ron Paul attacking everybody else. . . .

The point is that there is an alliance between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. This is what I have been remiss in not mentioning. So last night after the debate, I start doing show prep and I see all this stuff in the British press about Romney may be offering Rand Paul the vice presidency and I'm saying to myself, "I know I mentioned this in an e-mail to some of my friends.". . .

I'm not being critical here. I'm just pointing out something that is obvious. Romney is never criticized by Paul but Paul has criticized everybody else that has become the most popular not-Mitt of the moment. . . And, by the way, if you are a Romney guy and a supporter, you're thinking, "This is brilliant, a brilliant campaign tactic."

Whether it's true or not that there has been an actual meeting of the minds in conversations and strategy developed between the two guys, it is clear that there's a hands-off policy between Paul to Romney and vice-versa. Paul does not attack Romney. Ron Paul attacks every one of Romney's opponents; Romney doesn't attack Paul.

And so last night, we start seeing these stories in the British press. One of them, Toby Harnden, was that Ron Paul would be offered the veep slot. Then another one followed that and said maybe Rand Paul, and then Rand Paul put out a statement saying he would be honored to be Romney's VP. And that's when I said, "Damn it! Damn it, I wrote that e-mail on the 13th of January. I saw this, I knew what was happening, and I didn't say anything about it."
Let’s break this down.

First, it’s not true. Ron Paul has attacked all the other candidates when he has attacked. By and large, however, he has not attacked anyone. Paul is an issues candidate who is there to talk about his issues. He mostly ignores the others. And when he has attacked, he has attacked each of the others as having a fundamentally flawed view of government. He has not omitted Romney from that. And his attacks on Santorum have been in response to Santorum attacking him as not a conservative.

Secondly, what Rush is doing is a standard smear tactic:

1. He argues in the conspiratorial. Indeed, the crux of his argument is this statement: “Whether it's true or not that there has been an actual meeting of the minds. . . it is clear that there's a hands-off policy between Paul to Romney.” Translate this logically: “whether it is true or not that there is a deal, there is a deal.” This is meant to mislead you by making it sound like Rush is only floating the possibility of a deal, when he is actually telling you the deal is a fact.

2. Then he suggests that this is more than mere speculation by telling you how it is being reported by others (i.e. the British Press). Except, the British Press were repeating what Santorum’s strategist said right after the debate. Basically, just like the MSM did with the Herman Cain smear, Rush is using the fact that an allegation has been reported as evidence of its being true. Then he doubles down by saying Rand Paul hasn’t rejected a VP slot, thereby implying Paul has affirmatively confirmed the deal.

Then he tries to confirm it himself by claiming that he told his brother about this back on January 13. This is the Herman Cain smear to the letter: (1) multiple people are repeating the same allegation so it must be true, and (2) I told my family before it hit the press, so it must be true. This is shameful reasoning.

3. Rush then misleads you further by suggesting that he’s not actually criticizing Paul or Romney for this deal, even though that’s exactly what he’s doing. Again this is meant to make Rush sound disinterested. But Rush isn’t disinterested. He supports Santorum, which is why he said this (which is now being used in Santorum mailers before a key primary): “Rick Santorum is ‘the last conservative standing’.”

And why he would say this about Romney:
“Something else I’m confident about saying: As hard-hitting and go-for-the-throat and take-no-prisoners as Romney’s going after Newt, he will not do this going after Obama. If you like Romney’s toughness in the way he’s taken out Newt, I’ve got a thing for you: He isn’t going to do that against Obama.”
Even though Romney is the only candidate primarily targeting Obama, and even though Rush said this in 2008 about the man he now treats as a RINO:
“There probably is a candidate on our side who does embody all three legs of the conservative stool, and that’s Romney. The three legs of the stool are national security/foreign policy, the social conservatives and the fiscal conservatives.”
What changed?

4. Third, note that nowhere does Rush mention that this is the same talking point Santorum’s people are spreading that very morning. Yet, this is the same man who often attacks the MSM for repeating Democratic talking points without pointing that out.

5. Nor does he mention that Romney and Paul both denied this. Nor does he give the more likely reasons for his (wrong) observations. Ganging up on the frontrunner has been the pattern throughout. Moreover, Paul strongly opposes Santorum’s brand of “conservatism,” (i.e. big government economic liberalism + neocon foreign adventuring + federal government intrusion in the bedroom). Also, it has been widely reported that Santorum has been entirely disrespectful of Paul. Those are all the likely reasons he attacked Santorum, not some dirty deal. But those don’t let Santorum claim he’s a victim of cheating.

But this issue goes beyond Romney/Santorum for me. For years, Rush excelled at rising above the smoke and mirrors and explaining genuine conservatism in a way that won people over. He did it with good will and good faith. But all that changed during the Bush administration when Rush began vehemently knee-jerk attacking anyone who dared to point out that Bush was not a conservative.

Since that time he’s been nothing but knee-jerk. He, like most of talk radio, jumped on every bandwagon he could find. He refused to vet people like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, whose loss may be THE loss that keeps us from getting a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. He’s attacked everything the Republicans have tried to do, squandering every single long term opportunity just so he could scream loudest that he’s more conservative than those RINOs in Washington. Now he’s about to repeat the same mistake with the candidates because he won’t examine them with his mind rather than his ratings detector.

Conservatism needs better.

We are in the current problem precisely because people like Rush failed to vet candidates before the primary began. They went into this thing blind and without a plan, and have gone wherever the soundbites have taken them. They are stirring up the mob for no reason except ratings and he's no longer willing to take correct but unpopular stands. And that has brought us to this point, which should be the crowning moment of a new conservative age and instead has turned into a cluster-fudge of epic proportions.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Welfare Drug Testing Gains Ground

“Ending welfare as we know it” was a great idea, partially-implemented. But many of the excesses have crept back into the body politic. The economic mess we are currently experiencing has driven up the number of families receiving food stamps and other government services and benefits. Some programs will indeed be temporary for many of the recipients until they can get back to work in a better economy.

But that doesn’t mean we should simply abandon all attempts to control government benefits. Among conservatives, there is a growing movement to make at least one small dent in the welfare rolls by requiring that all government assistance recipients submit to drug and alcohol testing prior to receiving assistance. Twenty-three states have passed testing legislaton, have legislation in progress, or are taking up the issue in upcoming sessions. On the far right, the thought is that all welfare recipients are cheats and most are drug or alcohol addicted. On the far left, welfare and unemployment compensation are considered some sort of constitutional right that can’t be interfered with by invading the recipient’s personal privacy.

Many people assume that the number of drug and alcohol abusers is much higher among welfare recipients than among the general public. Studies from the left, right and center have tended to prove this assumption false. In most studies, the general public is substance addicted at approximately the same rate as welfare recipients. The liberal argument, then, is that since the general public and welfare recipients are addicted at about the same rate, it would be “unfair” to test only welfare and unemployment compensation recipients.

That thinking fails the simple common sense test. If members of the general public can hold jobs, pay their bills, pay their taxes, and function normally, it’s nobody’s business but their own. But the same does not apply to welfare recipients. They are consuming taxpayer dollars in a miserable economy which the general public is not doing. In fact, that general public is paying its own way and paying for the welfare recipients as well. Even substance addicted members of the general public have the right to require that those who are taking money from the public treasury are truly needy and ready to take work as soon as it is available.

Every taxpayer has the right to demand that his tax dollars are being spent for programs that are necessary rather than merely convenient. Wyoming is the most recent state to take up drug testing for welfare recipients. Wyoming Republican House Speaker Ed Buchanan said: “The idea, from Joe Taxpayer is, ‘I don’t mind helping you out, but you need to show that you’re looking for work, or better yet that you’re employed, and that you’re drug and alcohol free.’” When a substance abuser in the work force loses his job because of the drugs or booze, that’s his problem. When a welfare recipient can’t get a job or hold one because of his substance abuse, that’s the taxpayers’ business.

Legal challenges in the past have resulted in the modification or abandonment of mandatory drug testing in the dozen or so states which had such legislation in place. But times have changed. We have a different Supreme Court. We have a terrible economy in which every penny counts. And we have a lot of people who are ready, willing and able to work but are out of work through no fault of their own. Of those, a large percentage of them must use up all their savings, investments and creditworthiness before seeking public assistance. This latter group is particularly angry that those who have never worked a day in their lives didn’t have to give up a thing to start collecting public benefits.

Michigan was the last state to have such a requirement, but after five weeks in 1999, it was suspended, and ultimately declared unconstitutional by an appellate court decision. Since that time, and as an explanation of why all these states are trying again, the courts have upheld mandatory drug testing, even for private companies screening their employees (that’s the simple version, there are other requirements for any legislation to be valid). Schools are allowed to require drug testing for students who wish to participate in athletics. Proponents of welfare (and unemployment) drug and alcohol testing are convinced that taking public funds is a far better justification for testing than those which have been allowed.

The ever-vigilant ACLU has hopped into the debate, crowing about its defeat of earlier measures in both Michigan and Florida. Its spokeswoman in Wyoming, Linda Burt, said it would challenge Wyoming’s law if it passes (which seems highly likely). But those were different times, different laws, and the ACLU argued very different facts. The main problem with past legislation is that it addressed a broad problem without citing why it was a problem. The ACLU argued that drug testing was found to be unconstitutional with absolutely no cause.

The current round of legislation cites non-welfare cases where drug testing has been allowed, and almost all tie the requirement to economic hard times, cutbacks in every area, and the estimated amount of money which would be saved by disallowing government benefits for people who are not ready, willing and able to obtain or retain a job. Most of the proposed legislation requires that a public official has first found that there is reasonable cause to believe the recipient is abusing drugs or alcohol. Previously (in the states where the earlier legislation has been stricken), all welfare recipient were required to be tested.

The proposal in California never got out of committee, and in Colorado, the Democrat-controlled legislature has pronounced the proposal dead on arrival, but at least the Republicans were able to get the debate started. Republican presidential candidates Romney, Santorum and Gingrich have all stated support for some version of testing of welfare recipients. Paul has not, largely because he doesn’t much like welfare but he doesn’t think drug use is an issue the government should be involved in.

The momentum for such testing is growing. States are beginning to flex their muscles and challenge federal beneficence and pro-welfare court decisions. You can bet the debate will be heating up, and may even play a small part in the general election. Considering his admitted past use of marijuana and cocaine, and the fact that almost all Democrats in Congress seem to be permanently stoned, it’s very likely that President Obama will oppose testing as a violation of the right of privacy (yeah, that nonsense again) and Attorney General Holder will probably be filing briefs opposing the laws because they’re racist.

So what do you think? Should there be mandatory drug testing for recipients of unemployment and welfare benefits, and if so, under what circumstances? Do you think the majority of Americans will support this kind of legislation? We can talk about what the courts might do after we’ve gotten past the hurdle of passing the legislation in the first place.
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The Great (film) Debates vol. 27

Wait a minute, wasn't that guy wearing a red shirt a moment ago? And where did the bullet hole go? Oh, there it is. Wait! It's gone again! Ahhhh!

What one error (continuity, out-of-character moment, etc.) just kills you every time you see it?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms [+]

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Question: If The World does end on December 23, 2012...

Tick, tick, tick...
As we all know, the world is scheduled to end on December 23, 2012. Well, that's according the people who think that the Mayans knew something that we do not know. Personally, I think the stone carver just got tired of carving in a circle, so he decided to just stop. The Mayans probably had it on their "to-do" list, but the Spanish Conquistadors got in the way and they just never got back to it. Or not. [Cue: scary, foreboding music...]

So, just for fun, and on the off chance that the Mayans might be right and the world will be ending on December 23, 2012 at precisely 4:44am, are you making plans?

For me, I am still on the fence about sending out Christmas cards. I mean, what would be the point really?

FYI: Broadway calls to me this afternoon, so I will be late in responding. Have fun!
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Film Friday: Black Swan (2010)

Academy Awards are not a measure of greatness. To the contrary, they’re often better at marking films you should avoid. Black Swan received five nominations and won for Best Actress. Bad sign. Add in that this was billed as a snotty, behind-the-scenes, “insider” look at the world of ballet, plus my displeasure with Darren Aronofsky over The Wrestler, The Fountain and Below, and this looked like a loser. Imagine my surprise when I watched this and found it to be one of the best films in years. Seriously.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms [+]

More Apologies To The Barbarians

Barack Obama was beginning to get light-headed after going days without something to apologize for. But thank the Good Lord, someone in Afghanistan made a big mistake in disposing of some Islamic literature, including Korans, and the Apologizer-in-Chief stepped right up to apologize to the adherents of the religion of peace. Where is Brenda Lee when we need her? “I’m sorry. So sorry. That I was such a fool.”

In fact, it was a veritable orgy of apologies. General John Allen apologized to Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan where the incident occurred. As penance, he has ordered all the troops remaining in Afghanistan into sensitivity training, concentrating on the proper handling of religious materials. White House mouthpiece Jay Carney said that the incident does not reflect the deep respect our military has for the religious practices of the Afghan people. Not to be outdone, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called it deeply unfortunate and apologized for the inappropriate treatment of the material.

Obama sent US Ambassador Ryan Crocker, General Allen, and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter to meet personally with Karzai to weep and wail, don sackcloth, and heap ashes on their heads. Others who have joined in the sorry-fest include State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, who opined that the event was horrific, adding “desecration of religious articles is not in keeping with the standards of American tolerance, human rights practices, and freedom of religion (somebody forgot to tell her about the Obamacare mandates).” I’m still waiting for someone to cry “Oh, the humanity!”

So why did the Crusader troops burn the Korans so publicly and so insultingly? Well, they didn’t. The worst they can be accused of is sheer stupidity in making a spectacle of the destruction of dangerous materials. Am I saying the Koran is dangerous? Well, actually I would, but that’s a whole different debate. Assume that the Koran is actually a love poem to the rest of the world. It would make no difference in these circumstances. There was a lot more in that funeral pyre than Korans.

Reliable sources in Afghanistan report anonymously or “not for attribution” that the materials being burned were communications between terrorists, manuals and instructions for killing American troops, and generally all-around seriously dangerous materials. It’s understandable that the sources would remain anonymous, considering the pathological need of the Obama administration to take the blame on America's behalf for everything evil in the world, then apologizing for it.

It quickly becomes obvious that the few Korans actually burned were not the target of the burning. The target was what terrorists and Islamic plotters had written inside the Korans, attempting to get America to ignore troop welfare for the sake of religious sensitivity. At least General Allen was realistic enough to announce that “It was not a decision that was made with respect to the faith of Islam. It was a mistake. It was an error. The moment we found out about it we immediately stopped and we intervened.” OK, General Allen, there’s your statement and there’s your apology. Now stop, goddamit!

But my advice goes unheeded. The general and his minions are stupid enough to dispose of materials so publicly and so visibly that the locals know about it immediately. I can’t burn anything on my property without my neighbors knowing about it. I’m no military or CIA genius, and yet I can guarantee you that if I don’t want them to know what I’m burning, they won’t. I also don’t invite the neighbors to come over for a weenie and marshmallow roast every time I burn leaves and materials implicating me in terrorist activities (with the proper permit, of course). But it seems that the entire Afghan community is invited to witness the burning of terrorist materials. That’s stupid. That’s a mistake. We apologize. Are we done yet?

No, we’re not. In what seemed like mere minutes after the abject and humiliating apologies began to pour over the country like an oil slick, over 2000 Afghans showed up outside Bagram Air Force Base to accept the apologies and shout “die, die, foreigners, die!” The US embassy had to go on lockdown for the angry crowds outside. The scene is being repeated throughout Afghanistan and now other Islamic nations. TWINE (Taliban Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything) is fomenting unrest and violence wherever they have a serious presence.

Somehow, the ridiculous apologies and mea culpas are having zero effect on people who kill other people for publishing cartoons of Mohammed. Imagine that! President Karzai is a big help. His statement, made shortly after the American ambassadors got finished groveling, was aimed at hastening the exit of Americans from Afghanistan in any capacity whatsoever. Even the Emperor of Japan and the Nazi hierarchy didn’t have that kind of chutzpah at the end of World War II. Karzai spoke of the burnings, which occurred at the Parwan Detention Facility: “The sooner you do the transfer of the prison, the fewer problems and unfortunate incidents you will have.” He demanded that General Allen conduct a swift investigation, and called the burning of the terrorists documents (uh, Korans) a “desecration.”

The result of the weakness of the American position, highlighted by the pathetic apologies, was as predictable as night following day. Dozens of deaths and serious injuries have already been reported. Property destruction is pandemic. And now it appears that at least two American personnel have died as a direct result of the “protests.” Given all that, here is my suggestion for all official apologies in the future: “Oops.”

So some unthinking troops burned terrorist materials, incidentally including a few annotated Korans. Big freaking deal. Islamists burn Christian churches, preferably with the congregants still inside. I'm waiting for their apologies.

For you whippersnappers who are too young to know who Brenda Lee is, here’s a link to the song from 1960: I'm Sorry.
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hollywood Meets DC On Racism

One of the big arguments for Barack Obama in 2008 was that he would be the first post-racial president. His election, we were told, would put an end to racial discord and bring the races together. Unfortunately, the hope and change lasted about five minutes after the inauguration in January of 2009. Racial division began almost immediately to become a hallmark of the Obama administration.

There was the arrest for disorderly conduct of black Harvard professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, an Obama chum. Without any investigation into the matter, Obama called the police action stupid and inferred that the arrest was racist. He later had to apologize and have a “beer summit” with Gates and the arresting officer. Around the same time, he referred to the grandmother who raised and pampered him as “a typical white woman.” Then his Attorney General dismissed voter intimidation cases against the New Black Panthers in Philadelphia, even though the cases had already been won. Eric Holder called the American people "cowards" for not talking enough about race.

But the atmosphere in DC isn’t enough to satisfy the race-baiters. Those who most loudly proclaimed that Obama was the man who would usher in the post-racial era and make America into a wonderful interracial movie have changed their tune. That’s the Hollywood crowd. And loudest of all are the voices of black movie stars who claimed that race was irrelevant in politics and only whites suffer from racial identification.

Two movie stars have made the news and the blogs after making statements that completely negate all their previous statements about the need to vote for Obama, the post-racial president. It’s not his economics which draw them. It’s not his foreign policy. It’s not his religious devotion which draws them. In fact, it’s not any of those things which ordinarily make people choose a particular candidate. It’s race. Pure and simple. And in no uncertain terms. If you don’t believe me, read on.

Samuel L. Jackson made his reasons abundantly clear in an interview published in Ebony magazine. “I voted for Barack because he was black. ‘Cuz that’s why other folks vote for other people—because they look like them. That’s American politics. Obama’s message didn’t mean s**t to me.” I guess he forgot just how many white people voted for “Barack.” I guess he also forgot that Obama himself injected a little racism into the campaign by pointing out that he didn’t look like the other presidents.

Echoing DC denizen Rep. Shirley Jackson Lee, another fine actor decided it was time to drop the mask. Morgan Freeman, much beloved by almost everyone, let loose with a screed against the Tea Party. Said Freeman: “Their stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Barack Obama only serves one term. What underlies that? Screw the country. ‘We’re going to do whatever we can to get this black man outta here.’” Freeman is so wrought up in racial identity that he has no idea that the Tea Party wants Obama out because of his color, all right. He’s a red.

Obama has broken almost every promise he has made. Unemployment stubbornly remains officially above 8%. The economy is showing a very feeble recovery despite all the government tinkering and bailouts. We have become a laughingstock overseas as a result of Obama’s foreign policy (or lack thereof). The government has grown by leaps and bounds, and executive orders and bureaucratic agency mandates have replaced Congressional action. American freedoms are being snatched from our hands at an alarming rate. Our energy-dependence on the whim of foreign dictators has grown by quantum leaps as the administration adds new prohibitive regulations and nixes “shovel-ready” projects to wean us off Middle East oil.

Yet Freeman and Jackson can only find one reason that the Tea Party and the vast majority of conservatives oppose Obama. He’s black and conservatives are racists. Having damned white people for having only one reason for opposing Obama, they promptly produce only one reason why black’s should support him. The same reason. He’s black (sort of). Jackson carried Freeman’s thoughts a bit farther: “It’s pretty obvious what they [the Tea Party] are. The division of the country is not about the government having too much power. It’s not politics. It’s not economics. It all boils down pretty much to race.”

The left used to accuse Ronald Reagan of thinking that his movies were real. Jackson seems to embody that thinking, channeling his tough, angry black man roles into his view of what Obama ought to be doing in the upcoming election cycle. Obama only picked up white votes because he wasn’t angry enough or black enough But Jackson suggests the remedy:

“When it comes down to it, they wouldn’t have elected a n****r. Because what’ a n****r? A n****r is scary. Obama ain’t scary at all. N****r don’t have beers at the White House [with white cops]. N****r don’t let some white dude, while you in the middle of a speech, call him a liar. A n****r would have stopped the meeting right there and said, ‘who the f**k said that?’ I hope Obama gets scary in the next four years, ‘cuz he ain’t gotta worry about getting re-elected.” I’m not sure if Jackson is suggesting that Obama should turn black and angry before or after the election. But at least he has told Obama what he must do, sooner or later.

Jackson and Freeman join Castro-loving Sidney Poitier and America-hating Harry Belafonte in making race the only criterion for the White House that matters. Less in-your-face black entertainment figures have spoken on the subject without quite the zeal of Jackson, Freeman, Poitier and Belafonte. But Tracy Morgan, ultra-rich rapper Jay-Z, Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, Kerrie Washington, and choreographer Debbie Allen have all made public statements indicating how important retaining a black president is, despite all the other possible negatives.

Too many whites in Hollywood have bought into the racism argument, but at least have many of the same leftist views as Obama to hide behind. Think Matt Damon, Sean Penn and Mark Ruffalo. The same likely applies to the leftist-indoctrinated “youth vote,” and surely to the Occupy movement which Obama praises. So far, actor Wesley Snipes has not weighed in on the subject, but I’m sure as soon as he has completed his probation for tax-evasion he’ll be on board with the rest of the Hollywood crowd.

Meanwhile, if you need clarification, you might want to visit Facebook at the Obama-approved site African-Americans for Obama. Somehow, I don’t think we’ll be seeing a candidate-approved website called White Americans for (Fill in the Blank). There’s a reason for that. Only whites can be racist. Only blacks are entitled to identify with others solely based on their race. Just ask Samuel L. Jackson.

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Debate Wrapup: Some Did Worse Than Others

Rick Santorum (right) didn’t fare so well last night. Commentarama opinion seemed pretty unanimous that Romney de-pantsed him. All of the CNN analysts agreed, though a couple tried to claim Newt actually won the debate. But will it change anything? Ann Coulter’s article yesterday suggests it might not. Here’s what you “missed.”

Romney: Romney gave a solid performance all around. There were no slip-ups. He was solid on economics and foreign policy. He threw some social conservative punches at Obama. He had a great answer to the question of education reform. And he used Rick Santorum like a punching bag. Rather than recapping his performance, however, let me summarize an article Ann Coulter wrote. Here is her truly insightful conclusion:
“Meanwhile, Romney cheerfully campaigns on, the biggest outsider and most conservative candidate we've run for president since Reagan, while being denounced by the Establishment as ‘too Establishment.’”
Here’s her reasoning. First, why Romney is a conservative:
1. He balanced the budget without raising taxes, something even Reagan never managed in California.

2. He became a “deeply pro-life” governor of a liberal state.

3. His approach to illegal immigration in Massachusetts is the same approach Arizona is using.

4. RomneyCare was the conservative alternative to HillaryCare.
She then points out that many of the people attacking Romney (Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Rick Santorum, Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, etc.) not only enthusiastically endorsed Romney as the conservative in 2008, but they are part of the establishment against which they rail. She also points out that these same people refuse to examine the issues because Romney comes up more conservative than the candidates they are pimping. She seems to suggest that their behavior is the result of a desire to have the Republicans lose to Obama. She doesn’t directly say why, but others have suggested that a second Obama term would help each of these people in the ratings department or in intra-party fights.

Essentially, she is saying that for self-interest reasons or tantrum reasons, conservatives have closed their minds and have proven themselves “morons.” If she’s right, then nothing will change conservative minds. Here’s the full article (LINK). I recommend reading it.

Santorum: Rick got taken apart last night, largely by himself. Rick’s record is that of an unprincipled big government liberal. Yet, throughout this campaign, he has freely lied about his record and then attacked others for things he actually did himself. That behavior caught up to him last night as Romney and Paul took turns tearing him apart.
(1) Here’s Rick trying to explain away his votes to fund Planned Parenthood: Rick opposed the funding, even though he voted for it, and he only voted for it because it was in bigger funding bills which included other stuff he wanted. Hence, we should ignore his lack of principles because that’s how Washington works. But don’t worry. Even though he didn’t have the courage of his convictions to vote against these bills, he would veto them as President because he’s courageous when it comes to standing on principle.

(2) Here’s Rick explaining his stance on women in combat. Part One: It’s misleading to say he opposes women in combat because all these “noncombat” military jobs are just as dangerous as combat jobs. Ergo there really is no such thing as a “noncombat” job. And since Rick won’t force women back out of those jobs, it’s wrong to say he opposes women in combat. However, he won’t open “combat jobs” to women just ’cause. Part Two: Rick has made up his mind, but he would let the generals weigh in on the issue if they want to. Although, Rick won’t accept any “social engineering” because this decision needs to be based on what the military says.

(3) On Romney’s foreign policy positions: Romney is right, so vote for Rick because he’s the only one who knows what needs to be done.

(4) On voting for No Child Left Behind: Rick voted for NCLB even though he never supported it because he was told to do that by the Republican Establishment, the same Republican Establishment he “courageously” stood up to repeatedly. Why did he go against his principles? Because that’s what you do when the “team” tells you to do it. But vote for Rick because he won’t do things just because the team wants him to.

(5) On supporting Arlen Specter: Rick supported turncoat Specter over conservative favorite Pat Toomey because Rick got a promise from Specter that he would support every Bush judicial nominee if Rick supported him, and in fact Specter kept his promise (Rick then named judicial nominees from ten years prior to the endorsement, like Reagan appointee Robert Bork). Then he tried to talk over Romney as Romney asked, “are you saying you think Pat Toomey couldn’t be trusted to support George W. Bush’s judicial nominees?” Rick kept talking over Romney until CNN cut them off. CNN also stopped Romney from asking why Santorum endorsed Specter for President.

(6) On earmarks: Rick opposes earmarks, but did them himself because everybody else did them and that’s how government works. And it’s hypocritical for Ron Paul to attack Rick on this issue. In fact, earmarks are a great thing because they let you help people you want to help, but Ron Paul is evil for using earmarks.
Basically, it was a supernova of hypocrisy, circular logic, and contradictions all wrapped up in a nice, smug package. The bleeding only stopped in the second half of the debate when Rick just starting saying, “I agree with the others.”

There was one particularly galling moment when Rick tried to claim he worked to reform entitlements, “unlike Paul Ryan’s budget.” Not only is it false that Ryan’s budget didn’t reform entitlements, but don’t forget that Rick created a $550 billion medicare drug entitlement.

By the way, here’s an interesting quote which surfaced yesterday by Santorum about the Tea Party he now claims to represent: “I’ve got some real concerns about this movement within the Republican Party and the tea party movement to sort of refashion conservatism, and I will vocally and publicly oppose it.”

Newt: Good Newt showed up and he stank. He was dull and forgettable, and he’s making South Carolina look like a total fluke. A couple of the pro-Newt analysts (notably Eric Erickson) tried to declare him the winner, but no one’s going to buy that.

Oddly, this may ultimately work for him.

On the one hand, Newt should have torn into Santorum to show that he’s the only legitimate Anybody-But-Romney candidate. But on the other hand, Newt’s popularity in polls has crashed since South Carolina, i.e. ever since he went negative. So I think he was banking on Paul and Romney taking Santorum out, and then having Good Newt win people back. I guess we’ll see if that works. The problem is that Good Newt just isn’t very interesting. Also, his grand ideas are starting to sound very confused and jumbled.

Paul: Paul ripped Santorum apart with wit and facts. In particular, he kept on attacking Santorum about his Washington ways, and Santorum had no idea how to handle it. Beyond that, Paul had a foreign policy problem last night in that every single answer eventually went back to surrendering in the Middle East. Even his answer on illegal immigration came down to Pakistan.

What does this mean for the next round of primaries? You tell me.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

T-Rav's Sockpuppet Theater Presents: Desperation In The Desert

Somebody scheduled a debate tonight in Arizona on CNN (8:00 EST). Will Mitt Romney declare himself "extensively conservatived"? How far will Newt go to make himself relevant? Will he chew off the moderator's leg? Will Ricky be raptured by the man from Mars or will Satan get him first? Come witness the end of the conservative movement!

While we wait for the debate, riddle me this: what's your favorite song from the 1960s?

Also, while we wait, check out today's Politics of Trek article! Romulans! (LINK)

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Kris Kardashian's Butt: Capitalism In Motion

In honor of the pending death of capitalism, thanks to American conservatives deciding that Rick Santorum somehow should represent conservatism, I figured I would explain why capitalism served us well. . . before we kill it. To aid me in this, I’m going to use the Kardashians, the NFL and the reasoning techniques of the famed Greek philosopher Rambloniclese. Onward!

There is nothing redeeming about the Kardashians as far as I can tell. They’re like a combination of the Manson Family, the Addams Family, and a porno. But I do like one thing about them. See, I never would have made them famous, but somebody else did. And that’s what makes capitalism great. Stick with me here.

The Addams Family Porno
Capitalism works because it allows 310 million Americans to look around themselves every single day and make their own decisions. If they see something they think the rest of us would like, they have the right to try to sell it to us. And we have the right to buy it or not. And nothing proves the value in this system more clearly than the fact that I never would have looked at Kim Kardashian’s butt as a money-maker, but somebody else did.

Ditto with the NFL. The NFL combine begins on Thursday as a large group of male sportswriters and NFL types get together to take nice long looks at a bunch of male athletes and judge them on how they look in their underwear. And no, I’m not kidding. Sounds kind of gay, doesn’t it? But more importantly, it sounds kind of dull. But get this, people watch it. Not only that, they talk about it, they write about it, and somebody even included it in a videogame. Just like Kris Kardashian’s butt, somebody guessed right.

The point is simple: if it were up to me to run the world, there would be no Kardashians and I never would have thought to put the NFL draft on television. It’s only because our system doesn’t rely on me that we have these things. Now imagine what else the world wouldn’t have if it were up to me to decide what people could watch, read, buy or believe?

Now let’s consider a man named Gary Lineker. He’s an a-hole from Britain who announces soccer games. I’m told soccer is some sort of sport. Old Gary, who hosts a program on the BBC, says that soccer players earn too much. Indeed, he thinks they shouldn’t be paid more than nurses or teachers. Gary’s a flaming hypocrite because he gets paid £2m a year for basically flapping his lips. But let’s not worry about that because hypocrisy is the new black in fall fashions. Instead, let me ask a series of questions to see if I can enunciate the problem with Gary’s line of “reasoning.”

What happens to the rest of the money soccer earns if it doesn’t go to salaries? It would go to club owners. So really Gary has decided that some people shouldn’t be made millionaires because that’s unfair to billionaires. But how can all these billionaires be so stupid as to pay this amount of money to the players if they aren’t worth it? And what gives Gary the right to decide that he knows better than the billionaires how much to pay the millionaires?

In truth, Gary doesn’t care about the billionaires. He’s just a spiteful little turd who doesn’t like some people earning more than others. But why pick teachers? Why not convenience store clerks? Why even pay soccer players at all? They should be like government employees should be and they should play for room and board. . . and live on a plantation. In fact, now that I think about it, why do teachers earn so much? Teachers should earn $1 an hour. And my opinion is as valid as Gary’s so why don’t we go with my opinion?

Also, while we’re readjusting the world to our own prejudices, I don’t like really soccer and people shouldn’t be allowed to watch it because I don’t like it. And before you try to tell me that people want it, let me just cut you off and say that I don’t care what people want, because I know what’s best.

Get the point?

Here’s the thing. Capitalism works because it lets millions of people try to sell their ideas to millions of other people in the form of products and services. When a want or need appears, somebody fills it, they don’t have to wait for me to decide if it should be filled. And through the trillions of decisions made each day by every single one of us, the human race goes about making each other happy.

It’s only when the *ssholes get involved and decide they want to control what people get paid or what products can get made or what ideas can be brought to life or which companies should be winners and which losers that things fail. That’s when there are no Kardashians or NFL draft or new cars or butter or health care. . . just lots of lousy GM cars nobody wants. And every dollar the government sucks away from us and every regulation they impose to help some crony is a decision the government deprives us from making. Government is the enemy of freedom.

So let’s all raise a toast to Kris Kardashian’s butt, to rap music, to overpaid athletes and a million other things we don’t like but which somebody else does, and let us thank God that for a brief moment our country was bright enough to adopt capitalism. It shall be missed.

P.S. There’s a Politics of Trek article up today at the film site.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Y'All Come! Si Se Puede!

At the end of the Bush administration and for the first few months of the Obama administration, illegal immigration from Mexico was on a downward spiral. It was a combination of better border enforcement and the calamitous downturn in the American economy. Those illegals who came here for work began to realize jobs were few and far between. Fewer illegals came, many returned home.

Yet with little change in the economy, the numbers are creeping back up. If jobs aren’t the reason for the increases, something else must be. The biggest reason is the illegal-friendly Obama administration and the Democratic Party’s pandering to Hispanic voters. The administration has dodged or reinterpreted Congressional action to set up a lengthy series of rules which make crossing the border illegally easier and staying less uncomfortable. What it couldn’t get in Congress with the proposed comprehensive immigration reform (aka “amnesty”) and the Dream Act it is accomplishing administratively and bureaucratically.

The administration talks about its achievements in deporting illegals, but the record hardly supports the claim. While talking deportation numbers with one side of his mouth, President Obama talks “prosecutorial discretion” out of the other side. Under current law, deported illegal immigrants must remain outside of the United States for a minimum of three years before returning under some legal plan. The administration has acted to change that rule using a “hardship” exception. If the illegal already has legal relatives living in the United States, he can claim his absence would pose a hardship for the family. It’s an Alice in Wonderland kind of reasoning, but you can bet that immigration authorities will find the exception nearly every time as long as this administration remains in power.

Another new rule imposed is that once caught, a large majority of illegals who have not run up a criminal record will go to the end of the deportation line. And while remaining in the country they can build up “longevity credits” putting them closer to the magic legalization goal. In major cities, where most illegals end up, this will mean a large number of very dangerous people being allowed to stay. Most of America’s big city immigration magnets are “sanctuary cities,” or cities so overwhelmed by crime that they simply can’t keep up. In sanctuary cities, criminal activity is not reported to the federal authorities unless there has been a conviction. In San Francisco, youthful offenders are rarely reported at all, and adults are reported only after being convicted of major violent felonies.

And then there’s the simple issue that if you can’t get in through the door, sneak in through the window. The Government Accountability Office reported that in 2011 only 15% of the border with Mexico was under full Border Patrol control. Another 44% is not under full control, but is counted as being under “operational” control. That means that 41% of the border is under minimal or no control. That’s about 800 miles of unprotected border. That would be bad enough. But when individual states have attempted to assist the federal government in enforcing border control, the feds have either ignored their efforts or sued the states for interfering in a federal prerogative.

Arizona has been a primary target of administration ire. While the state is losing $2.7 billion in enforcement and public services losses during the period from 2009 to the present, it has been the whipping boy for the Obama administration for simply passing legislation which is designed to do the job the feds either can’t or won’t do. Yet the Arizona statutes take no power from nor do they create parallel immigration power with the federal government. They simply create the mechanism by which the state can turn illegal immigrants over to the federal authorities.

Still, the Obama administration felt it wasn’t doing enough to support illegal immigration and fast-track legalization. It remedied that lack by appointing immigration enthusiast Andrew Lorenz-Strait to the post of public advocate for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). Another czar. And it’s the first time ever that an administration of either party has created a position which essentially advocates for illegals. The very agency charged with the enforcement of immigration law will effectively have a man who will act as a taxpayer-funded lobbyist for illegals.

Lorenz-Strait previously advocated for cuts to the ICE budget of the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program which helps states cover the cost of jailing illegal immigrants. The President’s crazed budget announced just after his State of the Union address includes this cut—to the tune of $170 million. Lorenz-Strait is off to a good start.

The pandering appears to be paying off. Obama won about 67% of the Hispanic vote in 2008, and his reelection campaign committee is predicting that number could increase to 73% in 2012. I think that’s an exercise in radical optimism, but surely the pandering isn’t hurting his popularity among Hispanic voters.

Immigration will not be the big issue of the 2012 campaign, but it can’t be ignored. Any Republican presidential candidate is going to need good answers to questions about immigration. A “get ‘em out now” approach may appeal to many nativists, but it could be utter disaster in the general election. Comprehensive immigration reform is an important issue, but the Obama administration will try to paint anything short of amnesty as racism and jingoism. It must be addressed, but in realistic and humane terms. It is quite possible to reassure Hispanic voters without caving in to the open borders crowd.
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The Economist Believes In Magic

As I’ve said before, The Economist is a wonderful magazine if you want to see the insanity of liberalism presented in pure form. This time, they go all out to demonstrate how insanely stupid liberal foreign policy is in an article ludicrously titled “How To Set Syria Free.” Watch as they demand that we enter an unjustified war, and then they come up with a plan of action which relies on magic.

The Economist starts by trying to overwhelm your logic with emotion by talking about victims, butchery, dead being buried under cover of darkness, mourners, makeshift clinics, and floors slick with blood. They are trying to paint a picture so emotionally horrible that you put aside your reasoning and just accept that something must be done. Then they say the Syrian people have the “fire of conviction” that they will win, but “the outside world, to its shame, has shown no such resolve.” In other words, victory is inevitable and you are shameful to oppose intervention. These are peer pressure arguments.

Having set you up emotionally, they now give the “logical” case for intervening:
Argument No. 1: Almost 7,000 people have died and “the people of Syria deserve better. . . the world has a responsibility to act.” Uh. For starters, the number is actually half that. And if world-intervention is justified just because people are being killed, then why not invade Brazil? Don’t the 55,000 people killed there each year “deserve better” too? Why isn’t The Economist demanding the world invade Mexico where 30,000 people have been killed in the past few years in a drug war?

Argument No. 2: “[The world] also has an interest. Syria occupies a vital position in the Middle East, jammed between Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Israel and Lebanon.” Holy cow! That’s the argument? The mere fact that Syria has neighbors is now considered an interest which justifies an attack? What country doesn’t have neighbors? Using this logic, there is literally nowhere on Earth that doesn’t have some vital world interest. And yet these people said we had no interest in Iraq and have no interest in Iran?
That’s it for the justification, by the way. Clearly, the case for intervention is unassailable, so let’s talk about what the world should do.

Right out of the gates, The Economist shows that it has no stomach to do anything real: “shifting Mr. Assad from power as fast as possible is essential.” Talk about a mealy euphemism. We’ve gone from defeating and killing to eliminating to regime change to shifting from power. That sounds like retirement. And it’s ominously passive, like they want Assad to agree to quit. In fact, they do. Observe.

First, they claim that it’s too late for Assad to “negotiate an accommodation” to oversee “an increase in democracy.” In other words, they’re sick of talking and he needs to be taken out -- notice how this flies in the face of their positions on Iraq and Iran where they demand never-ending talk. And why must he go? Because he’s lost the will of the people and if he gave them democracy, they would only use it against him violently. Translation: we can’t not-kill him because if we don’t kill him, the people would kill him, and we can’t have them killing him, so we are forced to kill him. Try figuring that one out.

But don’t worry about an actual attempt to kill or dethrone him, because The Economist doesn’t have the cojones for that. Indeed, watch them crumble.

See, Assad’s military is loyal and is willing to kill civilians. That’s a big advantage which we must overcome. So how do we stop them? “The most direct answer is. . . bombing Mr. Assad’s troops.” This would satisfy “outsiders’ urge to do something to show their outrage.” BUT, The Economist notes, Russia and China will stop the UN from doing that. Also, Syria’s terrain isn’t like Libya and there are no front lines, so The Economist says bombing won’t work. Ergo, take bombing off the list.

What about arming the rebels? That might work, EXCEPT the rebels are disorganized and lack unity and “such a policy would not suddenly turn the opposition into a fighting force.” Also, The Economist warns us that “a country awash with weapons would be plagued by the very violence the world was seeking to avoid.” It then argues that giving the rebels guns would create another situation like Afghanistan, where the flood of guns “helped create the chaos that spawned the Taliban.” This is, of course, ludicrous. First, it was a civil war which spawned the Taliban, not the presence of guns. Secondly, the Syrian regime has more than enough guns to cause this to happen if they fall.

So what do we do? Well, The Economist has the answer. It would be “far better to attack Mr. Assad’s regime where it is vulnerable – by peeling away his support.” Specifically, we need to SOMEHOW convince Russia to stop defending Assad in the UN because that would let us do a bombing campaign (which The Economist already said won’t work). We also need to convince all of the minorities in Syria to rise up as one. Yep. There it is: the Kumbaya Plan.

How stupid can you get?! When faced with a dictator killing his own people, the liberal response is to wish that people would stand up to them. Doesn’t The Economist realize that’s what’s happening in Syria right now and it’s not working? And how in the world can they think this will work when they just said the following a couple paragraphs before about Assad’s advantages:
“One is his willingness to do whatever it takes to put down the rebellion. . . Syrian soldiers are steeped in blood [and] Assad commands crack units and a relatively loyal officer corps.”
In other words, Assad doesn’t care how many people stand up to him, he’ll kill them all. Yet, The Economist’s plan is to hope enough people stand up that Assad gives up? Insane.

And The Economist isn’t done yet. See, to make this happen, “Syria’s fractious opposition must unite. . . with a single voice and credible leader.” In other words, they need a Magic Syrian they can all trust. Then this leader can talk to “the Kurds and Christians who back Mr. Assad.” Oh oh. Wait. The Kumbaya Plan relies on everyone rising up and “isolating” Assad, but now we’re hearing that chunks of the population support Assad? Doesn’t that doom the Kumbaya Plan? Oh, that’s right, the Magic Syrian can heal the sick and bring everyone together.

Then The Economist goes into all-out fantasy mode. Once this Magic Syrian appears, “the Russians would also begin to shift ground.” Why? Because Russia would then know that defeat for Assad would be inevitable, and unless Russia wants to lose a naval base it has in Syria and its arms export business to the country, then it would clearly shift sides. As this happened, naturally, the Syrian military will change sides too because the Magic Syrian is just unstoppable. . . somehow.

So let’s put this together. We need to enter a civil war without provocation because people are dying. And to defeat a military that is willing to kill as many of its own people as needed, we need only hope that a Magic Syrian arises who can unite all the people, including those who have a vested economic and social interest in backing Assad, and can convince the Syrian military and Russians to abandon Assad. And like that, the world will have solved the Syria problem.

Nice work Economist, you’ve solved everything.

Finally, for good measure, while we wait for the Magic Syrian, The Economist suggests that we kind of, sort of ask someone to create a safe haven somewhere near Turkey where Syrians can flee. Why? Because “a free patch of Syria would be powerful evidence that Mr. Assad’s brutal days are numbered.” Yes, refuge camps always defeat dictators.


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Monday, February 20, 2012

Question: Greatest and Worst American Moments

In honor of President’s day, let’s do a discussion question. America has been around for quite some time now. Some of our history is good, some has been bad. We’ve shined and we’ve stumbled (** cough cough Carter years **). What do you think were America’s five greatest moments and our five worst moments? And why? Also, be specific, don’t just tell me “the election of Obama.” [+] Read More...

Shark! It's What's For Lunch!

Eco-savvy President Barack Obama signed a bill in January that protects sharks from being captured and sliced and diced for their fins. Then he headed for his favorite left coast city where he had lunch at the Great Eastern restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown. The President took time out from some major fundraising with the limousine liberals to have a bite. The highlight of the restaurant’s menu? Shark fin soup.

Now it all seems a little schizophrenic to me. Michelle Obama hectors us about “eating healthy” while preventing us (and particularly our kids) from eating anything she doesn’t approve of. Barack Obama, on the other hand, takes the family to restaurants which serve lunches that include forbidden products. Maybe Barack signed the bill accidentally, not realizing that shark fins are highly nutritious (are they?). Or maybe it’s just a matter of the rules not applying to the elite.

California banned the sale of shark fin products a year ago. It outraged the Chinese community in San Francisco who asked “what next—are you going to ban rhino horn?” The federal ban has only recently gone into effect. But there might be another reason he chose that restaurant. Where you or I might go to a lunch where they serve really big hamburgers that cost as much as $10, this particular restaurant serves a bowl of braised shark fin soup for $48. What a bargain!

Now the President claims he had no advance knowledge of the shark fin soup on the menu. But then his Attorney General also claims he never heard of Fast & Furious. Besides, he broke no laws. Both the California and federal laws make exceptions for shark fins already harvested, and they can be served in restaurants until July 1 of next year. I have to wonder if there will be a menu item at the Great Eastern called “really old, stale shark fin soup” by that time.

PETA found out about the impromptu lunch arrangements too late to gather their forces and throw blood on the President. But they did make a public statement: “All animals feel fear and pain, and what kind of justification can there be for the hideous cruelty involved in pulling sharks from the water, cutting off their fins, and then throwing them back into the sea to spin to the bottom while they slowly bleed to death?”

The federal Shark Conservation Act prohibits cutting off the fins of most shark species at sea. I guess some sharks just aren’t worth protecting from spinning to the bottom while they slowly bleed to death. Maybe they exempted the Great White, since the species is rather large and doesn’t take well to having its fin cut off. Sort of like, “if you think you can pull it off, go for it.” On the other hand, it may be protected because of its movie star status and ability to raise funds for Obama campaigns. Besides, who wants to watch Shark Week on Animal Planet if the sharks are all finless?

Well, the President didn’t have the shark fin soup anyway. He opted for shrimp dumplings, pork dumplings, steamed pork buns and stuffed mushrooms. I’m not sure where that meal fits on Michelle’s scale of healthy meals, but if it’s anything like I remember, it’s a cholesterol atom bomb. Even if he had ordered the shark fin soup, he wouldn’t have been breaking the law as it currently exists. But aren’t Democrats the ones who are always whining about following “the spirit of the law?”
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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nancy Goes Blind Over Religious Rights

It's Sunday, so I'll be mercifully brief today. On Thursday, the House Committee hearing on religious liberty involved two panels of religious experts, each panel comprised of people discussing why the Obamacare mandate for religious institutions to provide free birth control and abortifacients should be tossed out. Following the lead of committee member Carolyn Maloney (D-New York), San Fran Nan looked at the panels and asked "where are the women?"

At least she didn't sing "where have all the women gone, long time passing." But there is a small problem with the question. It seems Pelosi and Maloney share the same optometrist. Somehow they couldn't see that Dr. Allison Dabbs Garrett of Oklahoma Christian University and Laura Champion MD from Calvin College Health Services were both on the panels and both testified. Yessir, they are both bona fide women--ladies, even.

It's not too difficult to figure out that the Democrats want to make this issue about "women's rights," while the actual subject is religious freedom protected by the First Amendment. And by their measure, it would be mighty convenient to attack the panel as unfriendly to women by the lack of women testifying. Men are by biological imperative unable to understand or properly discuss women's rights.

Whined Pelosi: "Where are the women women on that panel? Imagine, they are having a panel on women's health and they don't have any women on the panel." That proves that Pelosi is at least partially-blind both literally and metaphorically. She couldn't see the two women panelists, and she couldn't see that the entire committee hearing was about religious freedom, not women's rights.

Never daunted, the botox queen went on to ask the queston: "What is it that men don't understand about women's health, that how central the issue of family planning is to that? Not just if you're having families (well if you're not, you don't need to plan), but if you need those kinds of prescription drugs for your general health, which was the testimony they would have heard this morning if they had allowed a woman on the panel (emphasis added)." Maybe she's deaf, too.

And if you didn't get the message yet, she said: "I think it's really curiouser and curioser that as we get further into this debate the Republican leadership of this Congress thinks it's appropriate to have a hearing on a subject of women's health and purposefully exclude women from the panel." Perhaps she actually did see the women, but has the leftist view that conservative religious women are not really female. Just like black conservatives are not authentically black. So they don't count.

All of the panelists, including the women, were asked if they would risk going to jail for refusing to follow the Obama mandate. Each answered in turn, "I would." But they aren't willing to go to jail over an issue of women's rights. They are willing to go to jail to defend their religious beliefs from government interference. They have a lot of history to go with their bravery, from the Christian martyrs of Rome to the American Founders who considered religious freedom so important that they wrote it into the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Of course it could just be that Pelosi is simply like the theater critic who leaves the show during the intermission and writes a review centering on the finale.
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The Great (film) Debates vol. 26

A couple weeks back we asked about movie detectives, but those guys are one-case wonders. Let's talk about the guys who do it week after week.

Who is your favorite detective on television?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms [+]

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Question: Presidents Day Special

There have been forty-four of them since April 30, 1789. I think you know who I am talking about. That's right, we have had forty-four Presidents of the United States of America. (Okay, we have had 43 Presidents and one Dictator-wannabe. Yes, I went there!) Here are some other fun facts about our Presidents:

1. Fourteen served as Vice-President before taking the top spot. Eight of them were elevated because the President died in office, and five were directly elected to the highest office. Only one, Gerald Ford, became President after a resignation. He is also our only sitting President who was not elected either Vice-President or President.

2. Twenty have been Governors. Though three of them, William Henry Harrison, Andrew Jackson, and William Taft, were not Governors of a State, but of US Territories. Jackson was the Military Governor of the Florida Territory. Harrison was Governor of the Louisiana District, Northwest Territory, and Indiana Territory. Taft was Governor General of the Philipines.

3. Speaking of William Howard Taft. He was our only President to serve in the judicial branch of our government. Taft was appointed by Benjamin Harrison to serve on the US Court of Appeals before he was President and was appointed by Warren G. Harding to the Supreme Court after his term as President. This also makes him our only former President to serve in an official federal position after his Presidential term.

4. Only three had no prior political experience. They were all former Army Generals - Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. (Okay, you can count Obama, but that would be just a cheap shot, right?)

5. William Henry Harrison served the least amount of time. His administration lasted all of 30 days - from March 4, 1841 to April 4, 1841. He died following his other claim to fame - the longest inaugural address in US history. He caught pneumonia while he spoke on his cold and rainy inaugural day because he refused to wear a hat or overcoat.

6. Franklin Roosevelt served the longest with 12 years and three full terms. He died shortly after his inauguration to his fourth term in 1944.

7. There have been dynasties too and not one of them named Kennedy. Two fathers and sons (the Bushes and the Adamses), one grandfather and grandson (the Harrisons), and two sets of cousins (Madison/Jackson and the Roosevelts). However, Franklin Roosevelt has the distinction of being related by either blood or marriage to more US Presidents than any other - eleven in all - John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Ulysses Grant, William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison, James Madison, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Zachary Taylor, Martin Van Buren, and George Washington. Maybe that is why he served so long!

So now that you may know a little more our Presidents, who is your favorite?

My personal favorite will always be William Henry Harrison. With only 30 days in office, he had not time to do anything wrong!
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Friday, February 17, 2012

Film Friday: Paul (2011)

I’m a fan of Simon Pegg’s work. Shawn of the Dead was incredibly witty, clever and funny. It was a brilliant homage to zombie films. Hot Fuzz wasn’t quite up to Shawn’s standards, but was still well done and had great moments. Paul is flat. It also suffers from a giant liberal sucker punch.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms [+]

Left Coast Ecoweenie News

The left hand doesn’t know what the other left hand is doing in California. This past week, leftist multimillionaire Democratic contributor and “philanthropist” Susie Tompkins Buell of San Francisco decided to withhold her largess from the Obama administration since “the president has not been vocal enough on global warming.” Even though Buell is a close friend of Hillary Clinton’s, she didn’t think that the State Department’s current initiative on climate change was “enough.”

Yesterday, the State Department announced an international climate change initiative to reduce short-lived climate pollutants other than carbon dioxide. The initiative will initially cost $15 million. The United States will be joining Bangladesh, Mexico and Ghana in the effort, with moral support from Canada and Sweden. The US will provide $12 million, while the other five will make up the difference. Well, that’s nothing new. China, which is not a party to the initiative, will no doubt be glad to lend the money to the US to pay for the latest climate change fad. From the perspective of the other five, this sounds a lot like “we must do something right away, shouldn’t you?”

“Secretary Clinton today announces a climate and clean air initiative to reduce short-lived climate pollutants” read the State Department announcement. Which was quickly followed by Buell’s announcement that “I would just love to write my big check, or have a high-dollar dinner here on the president’s behalf, but I can’t. Mr. Obama has got to be a leader on the urgency of climate change.” Buell, who could afford to pay the combined share of Bangladesh, Mexico, and Ghana with bucks to spare for Canada and Sweden believes strongly that it is not her job. The money should be paid by the American government and paid for by extorting the taxpayers.

And then there’s that sovereignty thing. Buell doesn’t care who determines how much effort and money is needed to remedy the problem that most people have never heard of, as long as she doesn’t have to pay for it. And she does agree with Clinton about who the proper experts are to make these determinations. In Clinton’s words: “We will look to the United Nations. The UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) lists sixteen major actions that could either be taken on black carbon or methane which could have quite striking effects with respect to global warming.” How can you trust a group that can’t even spell “program?”

The State Department uses all the right obfuscations to avoid demonstrating that its troops don’t have a clue as to what they’re talking about. But it sounds so good. “The Initiative is going to be aimed at action, at attracting high-level public support (Buell excluded, I suppose), mobilizing resources, catalyzing and helping to drive the implementation of national action plans, and broadly raising public awareness about the impact of action in these areas.” How’s that for totally meaningless?

The Obama administration says it expects the initial group of six countries to rapidly expand. I would have chosen “metastasize,” but that’s just me. “We are starting with about $15 million of funding to get this effort up and running.” And in a fit of wishful thinking, the Clinton announcement also said “$12 million of that will come from the US over two years, and Canada, and there will be, I am sure, also some funding coming from Sweden, although they are not at a phase of their budget process that they have been able to put an exact number down, but they certainly will be contributing, as will new partners and others.”

Isn’t it comforting to know that the American budget is in such good shape that we can front the first $12 million without hesitation? In fact, it’s in such good shape that the Democrats insist we don’t even need a budget. Need money for “temporary pollutants?” Just authorize it and it will take care of itself.

On a somewhat related ecoweenie note, we bought our first home near the Altamont Pass, east of San Francisco. At the time, it was a raceway and was used for occasional rock concerts. The most notorious was the Rolling Stones concert at which the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club was used as security and bodyguards, resulting in a murder or two. Today, it is one of the largest wind farms in California. I now live in the Tehachapi Mountains, near a more modest wind farm in the Tehachapi Pass. Both places share something in common. Raptors such as hawks and eagles are being chopped up willy-nilly by the 200 mph spinning blades of the wind turbines.

The Los Angeles Times reports: “The toll makes the Pine Tree site in the Tehachapi Mountains among the deadliest in California's wind farm industry. Activists say birds' behavior should be studied before erecting more sites.” The report goes on to say: “Those deaths give Pine Tree one of the highest avian mortality rates in California's wind farm industry. The death rate per turbine at the $425-million facility is three times higher than at California's Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, where about 67 golden eagles die each year. However, the Altamont Pass facility has 5,000 wind turbines — 55 times as many as Pine Tree.”

The most notable victims are the golden eagles, which are a protected species and one of two symbols of America (the other is the bald eagle). So why aren’t those ecoweenies getting massive federal help under the federal Endangered Species Act? Simple. Eagles don’t deliver votes. Eagles don’t community organize. Eagles don’t own wind farms, or any other federally-subsidized Obama-friendly project. Eagles don’t sit on corporate boards, voting to accept federal funds and tax-breaks while giving large contributions to the perpetual Obama campaign. And if eagles could reason and vote, they might just vote for their own self-preservation over inefficient but deadly green schemes.
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