Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Great (film) Debates vol. 55

Wow, that stunk. I really thought it would be better. . . so much better.

What film disappointed you most?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Now Introducing....

Let's see. What can we talk about this afternoon? Well, we can ponder how over 70 students were caught cheating at the elite Stuyvesant High School in NYC and how the students justify it. Or we could talk about how the the Speaker of the NY State Assembly Sheldon Silver (D/Manhattan) used tax payer dollars to pay off a victim of our own serial sex offender slash State Legislator Vito Lopez (D/[expletive]). Naah, I think I'd rather talk about my new puppy.

I would like to introduce you to Hugo Chi-vez, my new 5-month old Chihuahua. So far he has not lied, cheated, or wasted one penny of taxpayer money, though he has had his way with a roll of toilet paper...

Here is his new bed...[note the "Dallas Cowboy" t-shirt in the corner. Yes, he has a t-shirt. Don't judge me...]
Many of you are long-time dog owners, so any advice you can give me on how to raise a healthy and happy dog will be much appreciated. Okay, cat owners can participate if you want because we do not discriminate here at Commentarama and cats are people too [and because Miss Kitty Kelly may be reading over LawHawk's shoulder]

FYI - I am currently in Texas picking up my new puppy and spending the afternoon eating Fletcher's Corny Dogs at the State Fair of Texas. I will be responding sporadically, but please feel free to change the subject Commentarama-style!
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Man Bites Dog--Sort Of

We've all heard about the joking headline concerning the role reversal where man bites dog. Here's a role reversal you might actually like. It's more like “woman pummels man.” It caught my attention, and I laughed with ironic laughter all the way through it. I just hope it has a happy ending. I suspect this is a story you won't be reading on the front page of the New York Times.

But it might show up in the fashion section. It is common practice in both Saudi Arabia and Iran (and parts of Afghanistan) for the “moral police” to lecture women who appear on the street in less-than acceptable head-to-toe coverings. In the city of Shamirzad, Iran, one woman had just apparently had enough. When the local busybody cleric told her that she was not sufficiently covered, she looked him in the eye (not a good idea) and told him if he didn't like the way she was dressed, he should close his eyes.

The cleric, one Hojetoeslam Ali Beheshti, later reported to the government-supported newspaper Mehr that he continued to admonish the woman (as yet unidentified in the press). She wasn't having any of it. The more he lectured, the more she clenched her fists. “ Not only didn’t she cover herself up, but she started shouting and threatening me.” But being a good protector of the public morals, the cleric kept it up. At that point, she hauled off and clocked him.

Down he went, as the cleric describes: “She pushed me and I fell to the ground on my back. From that point on, I don’t know what happened. I was just feeling the kicks of the woman who was beating me up and insulting me.” By now this is becoming a juicy story, but it doesn't say much for the manliness of Iranian morality enforcers. He ticked her off so badly that he spent three days in the hospital. Who says violence doesn't solve anything?

The story was picked up by a correspondent from Radio Free Europe named Golnaz Esfandiari. After the obligatory “we don't condone violence” nonsense, Esfandiari, herself an Iranian woman, confirmed at least the general details of the story. She also told of how she had experienced similar treatment on numerous occasions while living in Iran. She even came close to sympathizing with the pent-up rage that a large number of Iranian women feel over being required to cover every part of their bodies except their eyes (in some regions, even the eye-slit must be semi-opaque).

Esfandiari went on to elaborate: “As a woman who grew up in Iran and was harassed many times for appearing in public in a way that was deemed un-Islamic, I understand the frustration that that woman in Semnan Province must have felt and why she lashed out at the cleric. For the past 30 years, Iranian women have been harassed by the morality police, security forces, and zealots over their appearance.” Prior to the Islamic Revolution, sophisticated Iranian women were noted for their Parisian sense of fashion. The older women remember, and the younger ones yearn for the freedom to look that way themselves.

Clashes between Iranian women (dressed very conservatively by Western standards) and the no-skin-showing police are becoming relatively common, according to Esfandiari, who still visits Iran frequently. The most common mode of dress that brings the morality police to a state of excitation is western-style jeans, combined with three-quarter length blouse sleeves,topped with a head scarf. Somewhat more conservative than the average twenty-something church-goer in America. Most of the young women insist that the Koran commands “modesty,” not head-to-toe coverings. But the easily-aroused clerics aren't buying it. The sight of a woman's wrist or ankle (let alone her lips) is just simply too much for a good Islamist to bear without turning into a raving sexual beast. The hijab, after all, is a rape-preventative, not an insult to or clothing slavery for women.

The reason I say I had to laugh ironically is that this story is very unlikely to end here. The cleric himself says it was “one of the worst days of his life,” but is willing to forgive and forget. Not so for the local police who are investigating the woman for religious violations as well as a charge similar to assault and battery. The chief prosecutor for the province calls the incident a “public beating.” I guess by a strict legal definition, it is. But if the cleric had done the beating, and the woman put in the hospital for dressing in a “provocative” manner, it would have been business as usual.

Note: I will be "babysitting" for six of my grandkids in Bakersfield on Saturday and most of Sunday while my daughter is attending a conference in Sacramento. I'll try to sneak in a few computer sessions, but if I don't respond as quickly as usual to your comments, please bear with me.
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Friday, September 28, 2012

Film Friday: Real Steel (2011)

Sports films tend to be very formulaic, and Real Steel is no exception. This film has all the usual moments as the heroes make their way to the final-act fight against the all-power enemy controlled by the vilest of bad guys. Total cliché. But you know what? The formula works, and Real Steel handles it quite nicely. This was a fun movie.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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All Holy Men Are Equal

But some are more equal than others. Three of the four figures in the illustration may be freely mocked, vilified, insulted, and disparaged without repercussions. If the same is done to the fourth figure, there will be death threats, massive and deadly riots, and tearful and angst-ridden apologies from the US government. Can you identify which of the holy men will bring on the latter reaction? Bonus points if you can write the name in Arabic.

At the United Nations General Assembly opener this week, we were treated to a speech from Mahmoud Imadinnerjacket, leader of Iran, who repeated that Israel must be wiped off the face of the map. Also appearing was Barack Hussein Obama, Apologist-in-Chief for the Western world. Making his first appearance before the Assembly was the new leader of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi. Morsi declared that Egypt doesn't much like violence, but understood the anger of the people who attacked the American embassy in Cairo.

Of course the big flap is about that fourth character in the illustration. Morsi said the following: “I condemn insults hurled on the Prophet of Islam, You-Know-Who,” and demanded that the UN immediately do something about those who do hurl those insults. He went on to say: “We reject this, we cannot accept this. And we will be the opponents of those who do this. We will not allow anyone to do this by word or deed.” The word “anyone” appears in the official UN translation of Morsi's speech, though it was not contained in the written version of the prepared speech handed out in advance.

Morsi announced that there is "an organized campaign against Islamic sanctities." He went on to say that the U.N. has a "main responsibility" in addressing Islamophobia, which "is starting to have implications that clearly affect international peace and security." He pleaded with the Assembly to pass resolutions which would punish “blasphemy” against all religions and religious figures. Wink, wink.

Says Morsi: "Egypt respects freedom of expression -- freedom of expression that is not used to incite hatred against anyone, not a freedom of expression that targets a specific religion or a specific culture; a freedom of expression that tackles extremism and violence, not the freedom of expression that deepens ignorance and disregards others.” In other words, a “freedom” which sounds very much like Barack Obama's liberal version of “hate speech.” Obama also opined from the UN pulpit that nobody should hurl insults at the Prophet Mohammed (OK, I let the cat out of the bag about the identity of the fourth figure).” This time he used the expression “the Prophet of Islam,” but more often he simply uses “the Prophet Mohammed.” He has called the Muslim call to prayer the most beautiful thing he has ever heard.

All of which brings me to the point of my mini-rant. What's with this “Prophet Mohammed” stuff? The president of the United States uses it, his administration uses it, and the mainstream media use it. When they speak of Jesus, do they add “Son of God, Savior?” When they speak of the traditional Western “God,” do they say “Yaweh, King of the Universe?” When they quote Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, do they say “the divine apostles of Jesus Christ?” When Jesus is put on the cross and dipped in urine, or the Virgin Mary is depicted covered in elephant dung, do they demand that the UN do something about it or else? And how about that Smithsonian Institution display showing Christ on the cross covered in ants? We don't behead people over these “works of art” or burn down buildings. Instead, we us public funds to support them. We can't say the same of depictions of the “Prophet Mohammed.”

Whatever else Mohammed may have been, he is only a prophet to those who follow the “religion of peace.” Ignoring the current violence and the Islamist view of jihad, do any of these “Prophet Mohammed” non-Muslim people find it blasphemous that the Koran denies the divinity of Jesus Christ? Those who conflate “God, Jehovah, Yaweh, and Allah” as different manifestations of the same god know nothing about theology, history or the derivation of the very basis of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim god.

We who believe in persuasion and the Constitution may criticize angry and violence-inducing attacks on any figure a world religion holds sacred, but we don't demand respect for our religion only, nor do we expect non-Christians or non-Jews to have the same view of and respect for our holy figures that we hold. So why do our elected officials and mainstream media find it necessary to honor the man Mohammed as “the Prophet” while not paying the same courtesies to our holy men and women? Why is it “free speech” and “art” when a work is entitled “Piss Christ,” but dangerous speech which should be suppressed if it merely refers to a criticism of Mohammed, or worse, actually does a physical depiction of him?

I certainly have an opinion on each of those questions. How about you?
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

More Than One Kind Of Freedom

We tend to think in terms of our essential liberties as those set out in the Bill of Rights. And that's a good thing. But there are many ways in which our freedoms can be diminished by big government. Currently, the Romney/Ryan ticket is addressing those issues, such as over-regulation and choosing winners and losers. These items and many more fit into the broad category of “economic freedom.”

America used to be the magnet for businesses, most importantly start-ups and middle-sized businesses. That has changed radically since 2002. During the Bush II administration, things began to decline with more government interference in private enterprise. Up until that time, the United States had always been in the top five of economically-free nations. By the time Barack Obama, the Democrats, and the social engineers got control, the decline was serious.

And then it dropped like a stone.

Since 2009, the economic freedom index for America in the world has dropped from twelfth place to eighteenth place. The most recent drop was when the last two industrialized nations dropped their integrated capital gains/corporate tax rates to a level below America's, which are now the developed world's highest rates. A recently published joint report from the Canadian Fraser Institute and the American Cato Institute is rather damning. Before anyone jumps on me, I am fully aware that both institutes are conservative/libertarian. But that affects their political side. When they crunch numbers and prepare correlations, their statistics are as good as anyone's.

Here is how they define economic freedom for purposes of the study: “Individuals have economic freedom when property they acquire without the use of force, fraud, or theft is protected from physical invasions by others and they are free to use, exchange, or give their property as long as their actions do not violate the identical rights of others. An index of economic freedom should measure the extent to which rightly acquired property is protected and individuals are engaged in voluntary transactions.”

The size of American government has grown by leaps and bounds, mostly to regulate or “assist” business and protect the environment. The legal structure, particularly during the Obama years, attacks private property and contract rights from every direction. Sound monetary policy which protects the nation's solvency and predictability has gone down the drain. Regulatory agencies (such as the Environmental Protection Agency) are having far too much influence on business and personal decisions. For instance, a landowner ought to be able to build a house on his own property without worrying that the EPA will suddenly decide it's a wetland which must be left in its pristine state.

The government has accelerated its statist march with bailouts, funded by already-burdened taxpayers and designed to favor businesses which are cozy with the government and the government's agendas. The use of eminent domain to determine economic outcomes rather than the traditional need for public spaces makes for over-cautious investment decisions. Even the so-called “war on terror” has had its effect. Not so much because the increased need for security requires increased money, but more because the government wants to retain much of the machinery for itself (the Transportation Security Administration, for example).

Unions play a part in this as well. They were a major cause for the collapse of General Motors and Chrysler Corporation. Rather than allow GM to go into bankruptcy, and either emerge better than ever or lose out because it didn't fix its business practices, the government took over the decisions for one of America's major industries. The “too big to fail” nonsense has now been translated into “GM is alive and bin Laden is dead.” That's only because the federal government didn't throw bad money after worse to rescue bin Laden. Considering its debts, its financial policies, its support with taxpayer money, and the federal subsidies of cars nobody wants, GM's day of reckoning is still to come. The walking dead, as it were. The big banks are in a similar situation, though unions do not play as large a part.

Not that long ago, a young, determined, fiscally-sound entrepeneur could form a basic business plan, put the money together, find a location, and open his new business within a matter of months, or even just weeks. Today, he deals with multiple layers of government, each wanting a piece of his business decision-making. An environmental impact report alone can take months to years, and there's no guarantee that the regulatory agency won't change the rules even after the business owner has complied with the original rules. Food and safety rules have gone from “be reasonable” to “you have to provide entrances and facilities for companion mini-horses." Elaborate and “dignified” handicapped facilities must be provided rather than simple entrances which will accommodate a person in a wheelchair or on crutches.

Complicated payroll taxes and the minimum wage must be considered. With today's volatile economic conditions, many potential employers are simply not hiring, are terminating employees, or moving full time employees to part-time status because they simply can't determine in a fiscally-sound manner what the future holds. Ditto for business investors. Obamacare alone has turned a bad economic situation into a potential massive disaster. About the only people benefiting from this are lawyers, accountants, and big corporation cronies of the administration. The middle class that the Democrats claim to love is being eviscerated. The government simply needs to back off and let the free market and the involved individuals make the decisions.

So who are those countries with more economic freedom than America? Glad you asked. The top ten that both institutes agree on are (from best to least): Hong Kong (still technically part of mainland China), Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Bahrain, Mauritius, Finland, Chile and Denmark. There was a time, well within my lifetime, when America was so far out in front that the others were almost irrelevant. Several of the top ten are nations which only recently Americans would have laughed at because of their huge social welfare obligations. As they move toward economic freedom, America moves the other direction. At least until January, 2013, I hope.

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Ve Vant To Ask You Some Qvestions!

Politico has come up with a list of ten debate questions, five for Obama and five for Romney. Meh. Anyway, I figure I would discuss these and maybe suggest better ones. You should suggest your own in the comments.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaPolitics
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Scott's Links September 2012

Scott roams the internet far and wide to ply his trade as a link dealer. Fortunately, Scott provides links free to us. Check these out. . . share your thoughts! And away we go. . .

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Somebody Think Of The Children!

I’m going to agree with Michelle Obama. How strange. But like I’ve said, when someone is right, they are right and I don’t care what side they are on. The issue is school lunches and there has been a lot of brouhaha about her attempt to make them more healthy. The things is, she’s right. Surprised?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaPolitics
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

More Campaign News

There has been a lot of interesting talk about the Romney campaign lately. From the manufactured claim the campaign is imploding to Paul Ryan slamming all the right-wing pundits who won’t stop smearing the campaign to more polling data. Let’s discuss.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaPolitics
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I Can View The White House From Here

President Barack Obama's latest excuse for not meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is that it would be improper while he is a candidate for the presidency. It also relieves him from the tentative meeting with Egypt's new president Mohamed Morsi. Like most things coming from the White House, it's baloney.

An incumbent president may be a candidate for reelection, but he remains the president. The only thing which would have been purely political is if Obama had actually conducted the private meeting with Morsi while continuing to ignore Netanyahu. Rather than be presidential and meet with both leaders, Obama took the coward's way out, and will meet with neither. Obama's official mouthpiece Carney Barker Jay Carney responded to questions about Obama's refusal to meet with any foreign dignitary by saying: “President Obama’s decision not to meet visiting leaders alongside this week’s U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) gathering in New York is in line with past re-election campaigns.”

Well, no it isn't. Of the past four American presidents who attended the UNGA’s fall event while campaigning for re-election, only one held no bilateral meetings on the event sidelines. George H. W. Bush did not meet with foreign leaders during the UN fall event, largely because he was being criticized for his economic policies and decided that if he held meetings with foreign dignitaries at the UN, it would look as if he were more concerned with foreign policy than domestic policy. But it wasn't an act of avoidance of foreign policy.

George W. Bush met with the leaders of India, Japan, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq at the 2004 UNGA event. In 1996, Bill Clinton met with the Japanese prime minister, and even signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In 1984, President Reagan met with the prime minister of Argentina, the exiled king of Cambodia, and held a confab with Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko – Reagan’s first meeting since taking office with a leader of the country he had just recently called the “evil empire.”

All of the presidents, including Obama, did (or will) meet with the UN Secretary-General, including Bush I. For Obama's predecessors, the meeting was pro forma, since the UN is the S-G's “home.” They would be rude guests if they did not at least press the flesh with the titular head of the UN. Obama will do so for that reason, plus his own personal belief that one-world leaders are worth more time than quarrelsome, self-interested heads of individual nations. Like Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, Obama is largely a worthless figurehead who believes that speeches are more important than actions. Kindred spirits.

Maybe it's just all a matter of Obama wanting to be present at the UN to hear the speech by Iranian thug Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, on Yom Kippur of all days. Obama has responded to questions about Israel and Iran by calling it "noise" to which he doesn't pay much attention. Well, let's move on.

In order to prove his bona fides as a non-partisan, strictly ethical world leader, Obama will take the time he could have spent with Morsi and Netanyahu and instead saunter on over to the TV studio to confer with the ladies at The View, along with Michelle. They will discuss such topics as their relationship and family life inside the White House. Oh, and they might touch on the subject of the election since they are not in the hallowed confines of the UN.

Whoopi Goldberg will abandon her discussions of rape-rape, and lob softballs at Michelle. Barbara Walters might even conclude with “be good to us, Mr. President.” Since there will be no actual reporters present to ask hard questions, Obama might use this face time to 'fess up that he knows that the vast majority of the current violence in the Middle East was orchestrated in advance and had little or nothing to do with the obscure amateur videotape which "defamed Mohammed." This will be Obama's fifth appearance on The View, about equal to how often he has met with his own security council and economic advisers.

And finally, we have former Obama mouthpiece Robert Gibbs. Saving Carney's bacon as much as Obama's, Gibbs appeared on several TV shows on Sunday to reinforce the avoidance agenda. “They have telephones in the White House. Last week, he talked to the president of Egypt, he talked to the leader in Libya. We don’t need a meeting in Washington just to confer with leaders. This isn’t just about one meeting on one particular day in New York. The president is actively involved in engaging the most dangerous places in the world, every single day of the week.”

I'm glad to hear that Gibbs is aware of telephones. But his only experience with a president and meetings with foreign leaders is what he was fed for pre-staged press conferences. There is no substitute for face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball contact with the other guy in a private room, unattended by anybody but the two parties to the conversation. Winning poker players can tell you that watching every move and twitch of your opponent is as important as a good hand.

By the time you read this, the Obamas' View appearance will already have happened. Let me know what you think, including how close I got to what would happen at the meeting of the deficient minds.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Death In Very Small Doses

The tide in favor of repealing the death penalty has risen over the past few years in many states. California is, of course, one of them. This November, Proposition 34 on the California ballot would repeal the death penalty. It is called the SAFE Act (savings, accountability and full enforcement). It would replace the death penalty with life sentences without possibility of parole. In many ways, the proposition has resulted from exhaustion in actual implementation of the penalty.

The proposition has many supporters, some of whom were earlier involved in reinstating the California death penalty in 1978, and even the author of an amendment which added additional crimes to the list of capital offenses. Though many supporters of the proposition are simply anti-death penalty, the number of those who still believe in the death penalty but are supporting the proposition is surprising. Unless you consider their reasoning.

To start with, there are 725 offenders on death row who have been convicted since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978. But in all that time, only thirteen have actually been executed. Nature, circumstances and the assistance of other states have been more effective than the penalty itself. Fifty-seven have died of natural causes. Six have died from other causes or at the hands of fellow inmates. Twenty have died from suicide. One was executed in Missouri (that's one way of solving California's prison overcrowding problem). Currently, the executions have been on hold since one judge decided in 2006 that lethal injection might cause discomfort before it caused death.

So for thirteen actual executions, the special death row facilities have cost the people of the state of California $2 billion since 1978, according to the nonpartisan California Commission on the Fair Adminsitration of Justice. The Commission also concludes that multiple, repeat, and redundant, but often successful appeals have cost the taxpayers another $2 billion. Meanwhile, the families and friends of the victims get little closure as the remaining 700 or so death row inmates await appeals. Most experts calculate the chances of any more executions occurring in California at near zero. So instead of seeing the law carried out, the families and friends cringe at the thought of reduced sentences or even release of the murderers of their loved ones.

Justice delayed is justice denied. Yeah, we have to give convicted murderers their day in court, but does it have to take twenty or thirty years? Over such lengthy periods of time, justice is denied to the families and to the people of the state of California. Art imitates life. A very popular TV show called The Closer starred Kyra Sedgwick as an oddball deputy Los Angeles police chief who regularly solved murders resulting in the death penalty. This season, Sedgwick is gone, the series renamed Major Crimes and Sedgwick's replacement, Mary McDonnell as the head of the unit seeks to get convictions resulting in life without parole. Why? Because it's cheaper, more likely to be accepted by a jury, and the appellate process is far less convoluted and less subject to creative lawyering.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra J. Saunders recently wrote a column opposing Prop 34. On the Chronicle pages, Mark Klaas, father of kidnapped, tortured and murdered daughter Polly Klaas, says that the death penalty ultimately stops the nefarious activities of death row inmates. Polly's killer, Richard Allen Davis, has his own website. He has correspondence with young girls who don't understand what Davis did to Polly, and think of him as some sort of Justin Bieber of death row. Davis also shows his arts and crafts and personal photos on the website, hoping that enough people will see them to create a groundswell for getting him off death row.

Klaas and Saunders also argue that the death penalty results in plea deals for life without parole that would no longer be incentivized if the death penalty were repealed. Currently, life without parole is the backdown bargaining position of prosecutors in capital cases. Without the death penalty, the bargaining position would be backing down to a lesser charge which allows for parole.

I believe in the death penalty. But I also live in the real world, and have been an insider in the wonderful world of legal trickery. Though I have not yet made up my mind on Prop 34, I simply can no longer dismiss such legislation as being foolish heart-over-head liberal pap. Better a clear, and essentially final sentence of life without parole than a death sentence which will cost time, money, sorrow, and yet have little chance of ever being carried out.

So help me out here. What do you think? What are the death penalty statutes in your states, and how often are they actually applied? Each state is different, and California is not alone. In Pennsylvania, vile cop-killer Mumi Abu-Jamal finally wore the system down after thirty years of frivolous, lengthy and unsuccessful appeals. The state finally decided in December of 2011 simply to commute his sentence to life without parole to spare the wife and kids of the murdered police officer any further agony and the state any further expense of appeals.
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97 Days To Taxmageddon!

You’ve probably heard the name Taxmageddon, but you may not know exactly what that means. Taxmageddon is the name given to the largest tax hike in American history and it’s due to happen on January 1, 2013. It is the result of poor thinking in the legislative process as well as Obama’s policies, and it should pretty much dinosaur our economy with extreme prejudice. Here’s what’s coming.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaPolitics

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

March Of The Solyndra Clones

Just when you thought it was safe to turn your coal/oil/hydroelectric-fueled lights on, the government is at it again. While we were all fretting over Romney's 47% comments, Obama's favorability ratings, and murder and mayhem in the Middle East, the House slipped another one past us. The legislation had the support of Democrats, and Republicans who should have known better. Solyndra may be dead, but the green weenies aren't.

It's one of those classic examples of "it looked good on paper." To make the public feel good about action in the House, and probably to zap the administration, the authors gleefully nicknamed the legislation "The No More Solyndras Act." Sounds good, huh? Come January 1, 2013, there will no longer be a federal program to buoy up shaky and insolvent renewable/green energy schemes like Solyndra.

Small problem, there is still $34 billion dollars in approved green energy authorizations sitting at the Department of Energy, and any company which applied or will apply before January 1 will be eligible for the money. The parallels to Solyndra are downright frightening, especially since the Obama administration simply will not nix a project it considers “good for the environment” regardless of the likelihood of success and/or the actual environmental results.

The first and best example is an approved $2 billion application for a loan to build a uranium enrichment program. The company is United States Enrichment Company, which has already frittered away a previous $100 million loan (chump change by today's standards). Just like Solyndra, there are multiple indications that USEC is near insolvency, and has received a de-listing notice from the New York Stock Exchange.

Other questionable approvals include fifteen solar projects, at least ten wind projects, $8.3 billion for a nuclear reactor project in Georgia, $2 billion for a liquid coal project in Wyoming, and $1.7 billion for a coal gasification project in Indiana. In all, there are approximately fifty pre-approved projects waiting for the money to be distributed. Instead of concentrating on available fuel projects awaiting approval with no federal subsidies, the administration is approving applications for untried and unproven methods of producing “green energy/renewable energy” projects managed by companies of dubious fiscal reputation.

The simple rule here is that if there is money set aside, the government will spend it. Moreover, the Obama administration has proven it is very generous with the taxpayers money so long as the project fits the pie-in-the-sky green energy agenda, and the companies involved have been major contributors to Obama's election campaigns. At least some of the proposals include wording that favors private preferred management/investors over the taxpayers in the event of a company failure. Where have we heard that before?

If you remember, I've written before about Rep. Tom McClintock, my former Representative in Simi Valley/Ventura County who is now the Republican Representative in Congress from California's Fourth Congressional District (hundreds of miles north of Simi Valley). McClintock is one of the few remaining true movement conservative members of the California Republican Party. He attempted to warn his fellow Republicans about the new legislation, but his entreaties fell on deaf ears.

McClintock offered an amendment to the legislation which would have terminated the loan program entirely and immediately. He wasn't even allowed a debate on the amendment. Using his wry sense of humor in the face of defeat, McClintock entitled the final version of the legislation “The 50 More Solyndras and Then We'll Stop Wasting Your Money--Really--We Promise Act.”

What the Senate will do with the bill remains to be seen. But Harry (the Abominable No-Man) Reid may just be disposed to allow the legislation to go forward. After all, it would [foolishly] be a bill that appears to terminate silly green programs with little or no chance of success and make the Democrats look fiscally responsible. In addition, it would have the advantage of making the obstructionist Democrats in the Senate look like reasonable negotiators who are willing to pass a bill sent over from the Republican House. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose .

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The Great (film) Debates vol. 54

There are films and there are films, and then there are EPIC films. You know the ones, they are eighty hours long and have lots of scenery. . .

What is your favorite EPIC film?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Quotes of the Week

What would you think tax returns, cheerleaders, and the Three Stooges have in common? Well, I'll tell ya'.... Here are a few quotes from this week that just have to make you laugh:

On Taxes -

Censured reprobate US Rep. Charles Rangel thought he would put his 2-cents in about Romney's May 2012 statement that 47% of our citizens do not pay taxes with his own official statement on his website. I have linked to the entire statement, but here are two quotes that are just laughable knowing the source:
"Before he judges other people about paying federal income taxes, Gov. Romney should come clean about the tax returns he's hiding from voters."
Oh, and this -
"[Mr. Romney] has absolutely no moral authority to accuse nearly half of the American people of being irresponsible and freeloaders".
He actually used the term "moral authority". This from the man who was censured by the House in December 2010 for among other thing, failing to pay his income taxes. Well, okay, in all fairness to Rep. Rangel, he did not say that Romney said that 47% of our citizens FAIL to pay taxes like he does. He just said that Romney was wrong to say that 47% DON'T pay taxes.

On cheerleaders -

Current Vice President Joseph Biden landed safely (no pedestrians maimed or killed) at Newport High School in New Hampshire this week to talk (inexplicably) to some high school atheletes about who knows what. Good Ol' Joe scanned the crowd and asked which sports were represented. After all the regular team sports were accounted for, a group of cheerleader shouted out their participation too. And this is how the man who is a breath away from being leader of the free world responded:
“Guess what, the cheerleaders in college are the best athletes in college. You think, I’m joking, they’re almost all gymnasts, the stuff they do on hard wood, it blows my mind.” [emphasis added]
As always, this was one of Joe's unscripted and a just plain WTH moment. Oh, I know, that's just Joe being the creepy Uncle Joe with whom young girls are scared to be alone.

And finally On The Three Stooges -
Here is a quote from a Three Stooges classic (Slippery Silk 1937) that I saw this morning that just seemed appropriate. [Yes, I watch the Three Stooges!]:
Man: "Is this work in competent hands?"
Curly: "Soitainly, we're all incompetent!"
It is almost as if they knew there would one day be an Obama Administration...
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Friday, September 21, 2012

Film Friday: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

When you remake a movie, there will always be a certain amount of predictability. A remake of Planet of the Apes, for example, will not involve the humans winning or killer sharks. It will essentially follow the apocalyptic storyline. But that doesn’t excuse a film being so utterly predictable that only an idiot wouldn’t know what is about to happen in each scene.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Con Law Scholar Russell Simmons Says It All

I rarely defer to anyone in my opinions on the First Amendment, but when a great intellectual such as Russell Simmons states a different opinion, I have to listen and consider. Earlier this week, hip-hop mogul Simmons tweeted to his millions of adoring acolytes that it should be illegal to make a “hate movie.” The tweet was timed to bolster the Obama administration's claim that an anti-Muslim video is the cause of all the Middle East violence.

Said the rap fashionista: “It would be illegal to yell fire in a movie theater and it could be illegal to make [a] hate film which was obviously designed to cause alarm.” Here's an example of speech which should be illegal: “In America you'll never be free; Middle fingers up! F—k the police; Damn, can't a n----r just breathe?” Oh, wait. Wrong example. That one came from Simmons' new superstar rapper Nas. Nas is listed as one of President Obama's favorite performers and is on his I-pod.

Simmons has curried many rap stars, all of whom seem to have the same thoughts and the same foul vocabulary. Def Jam has made him the third richest rap music multi-millionaire. Def Comedy Jam on cable was the longest-running speed-swearing, cop-threatening, misogynistic “comedy” show in history. With the obscenities removed, the show was about three and a half minutes long. He and his recent ex-wife developed clothing lines called Baby Phat and Phat Farm (why the latter isn't Phat Pharm is beyond me). I think the lines were developed to teach young people how to spell.

But killing cops and raping women is nothing compared to an amateur video put together by a nutcase when it causes “alarm” for Muslims. In fact, it's so alarming that half the Middle East has gone up in flames over it, though it's unlikely that very many people ever saw it. But it was enough to stir Simmons up and call for the criminalization of “alarming” videos. Simmons didn't even attempt to define what comprises an alarming hate film, nor did he have any idea who would do the enforcing, and where they would get the legal authority to prosecute.

Obviously, Simmons is blissfully unaware that the only reason he and his “stars” aren't sitting in jail right now is the First Amendment. His recording collections include calls to urban rioting, killing public authorities, and raping and/or killing women. I don't know about you, but I find that alarming. Also, without the history of obscenity rulings that go back to the Earl Warren Court, the every-third-word f-bombs alone would put him and his stars in durance vile. Hate and violence are the core of gangsta rap, but we are required to consider that “art.”

Following his mentor's lead, Def Jam rap group The Roots' drummer, Quest Love, tweeted: “i was thinkin WE should not makin propaganda films that would endanger our country.” He was referring to the silly and obnoxious video attacking Mohammed. Perhaps some day Quest Love will inform us who “we” is. I didn't make it. You didn't make it. The government didn't make it. Nobody with an ounce of talent or common sense made it. But “we” shouldn't be doing it.

What Simmons and the Def Jam posse are telling us is that “alarming films” should be criminalized, and those connected with them jailed. Naturally, he or someone like him would be the unofficial arbiter of what is and is not alarming. Like the Obama administration, he believes that the Constitution, law and precedent are stumbling blocks inhibiting going after bad guys. Or at least what he defines as bad guys. Talk about putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wishing Will Make It So

America today is “globally more respected, more engaged and more secure” than it was when President Obama came to office in early 2009. That was the conclusion drawn by Assistant UN Secretary Esther Brimmer. Brimmer became America's representative on the UN Human Human Rights Council in 2009. America had become a member of the council for the first time, along with such other enlightened nations as Sudan and Libya.

This is what Brimmer had to say about the advent of the Obama era of peace and love. “At that time [January 2009], the United States faced serious questions about the future of our global engagement. We were deeply committed to two long and expensive wars, which hurt our ability to achieve other national goals and strained the fabric of global cooperation.” But now, everything is hunky-dory, and it's all because of the liberal agenda being run by the administration.

You can see the difference. Reagan generously offered the Soviet Union the technology for the Star Wars defense, just as long as they were willing to pay for it. He also met with Gorbachev and cheerfully told him that we had no intention of caving in to communist pressure. Against the advice of his staff and facing the enmity of foreign leaders, he installed cruise missiles in Europe. He told Gorbachev in Berlin to tear down the wall. Just after the end of his second administration, the evil empire collapsed.

On the other hand, Obama signed an agreement with Russia to reduce nuclear stockpiles without any verification procedures. He met with Medvedev (with Putin lurking in the background), and pleaded for Russia to be kind to him until after the next election so he could have four more years to kowtow to the Russian bear. Reagan bombed Libya. Obama led from behind, and managed to piss off just about all the Libyans without any corresponding demonstration of the power and will to prevent anti-American attacks. Reagan and Bush I both encouraged Polish independence from the Soviet Union prior to their presidencies, and both supported Poland as an ally. Obama sold out Poland and other Eastern European allies by canceling the plans for an Eastern European missile defense shield.

Reagan exercised America's power and determination worldwide, and though many nations resented and even hated him, they respected and feared him. They don't like Obama much better, but they neither fear nor respect him. At a meeting of world leaders a couple years ago to discuss world security and dangers, Obama wasn't even invited to attend, even though he was in the same hotel. He forced himself into the meeting, and was snubbed for the duration.

Reagan strengthened our alliances with the free world nations, becoming a personal friend of Britain's PM Margaret Thatcher. Obama has in one way or another insulted or betrayed our allies while bowing to the Saudi King and accommodating Islamists throughout the Middle East. Everyone knew where Reagan stood. Nobody, including Obama himself, knows where he'll be standing in the next five minutes.

Brimmer's tenure on the Human Rights Council advises her entire view of the strengthening of both the US and the UN. She truly believes that by joining the Council, America has made things better. Says Brimmer: “Since the U.S. joined, its leadership and collaboration with others has helped transform that body, into one that now regularly responds to pressing human rights situations with timely, concrete action.” Name one. She elaborates: “The Obama administration has succeeded in greatly reducing the HRC’s unfair bias against Israel, although more remains to be done.” No kidding.

All past presidents have announced our serious commitment to the continued existence of Israel, the only true liberal democracy in the Middle East. With the exception of Carter's lukewarm attitude and Obama's obeisance to Islamists, that is. Every President since Nixon has confirmed that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Obama says, “whoa, not so fast,” but backs down after a major brouhaha at the Democratic convention.

Obama certainly isn't the first president to be “engaged” in the Middle East and Jihadistan. All his immediate successors were to one extent or another. Some diplomatically, some militarily, but in either event Obama apologizes for our past actions. Even early president Thomas Jefferson sent Marines to the shores of Tripoli. Obama sent an ambassador to Benghazi amid 9-11 Muslim demonstrations, and nobody made sure the ambassador had an armed security guard. We all know the result.

Brimmer was woefully short on genuine examples of her thesis. So help her (and me) out here. Please give us some examples of how America is “more respected, more engaged, and more secure that it was prior to the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama.

I will be out of town for appointments from early morning to late afternoon. Please make your comments and have your debate in my absence. I'll respond as soon as I return.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Is Science Fiction A Genre?

Let’s play the semantics game. Should science fiction really be considered a genre? Or is it just a setting? I know science fiction fans are probably gasping right now or grabbing their pitch-lasers, but hear me out. I think this is important.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Why The Fake Polls?

The polling game continues. The MSM keeps putting out polls showing Obama ahead nationally and in the key battleground states. Yet, as soon as you scratch the surface on these polls, it becomes obvious right away that they are skewed to result in pro-Obama outcomes. Let’s take a look at the latest and then I’ll tell you why they’re doing this.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaPolitics
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Naked Royal Flush

The biggest story this week, if the British Press is to be believe, is that Italian and French gossip magazines are running naked pictures of Kate Middleton, who is apparently married to some dude with a famous mother. While I’m indifferent to celebrities/royalties, this does raise an interesting question. Should the press be allowed to print naked pictures of famous people?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaPolitics

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Libya/Egypt: An Opportunity

As with all international incidents, it takes time to understand what is really going on across the Middle East. There are a lot of conflicting reports and some obviously false ideas being batted about. With several days to observe, here are my thoughts, and what I think needs to be done next.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaPolitics

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Will The Test Of Faith Come Early?

Just about a year ago, the Pentagon issued a directive making military chapels available for same sex marriages and performance of same sex marriages by military chaplains. Catholic and evangelical pastors immediately asked for clarification. Did the directive require chaplains to perform gay marriages, or merely permit it? The Department of Defense dithered, and the result was open protest.

Rather than wait until a chaplain was disciplined for refusing to perform a same sex marriage, a group comprised largely of the Catholic Diocese for Military Service and the evangelical Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty sent a joint letter to the Department of Defense declaring that their priests and pastors will not perform these marriages. All Catholic chaplains are now forbidden to perform gay marriages, and 2,000 evangelical pastors have likewise declared their unalterable position against performing the ceremonies as chaplains.

So far, this has not become a true confrontation, since no chaplain has yet been ordered to perform a gay marriage, meaning that none have yet had to refuse. But as Bob Dylan said, “it doesn't take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” Don't ask, don't tell (DADT) has been ended by executive order. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta first instituted a series of directives removing any traces of discrimination against homosexuals in the military. He followed up with encouraging military participation in gay pride celebrations.

So far, this has all meant that gay rights advocates are celebrating, gay rights opponents are upset, and people like me who don't much care either way are waiting for the other shoe to drop. That other shoe is the growing sentiment within the Obama administration to go beyond tolerance and equality and move on to direct interference with religious freedom. The first indication of pressure from the Obama White House came with the president's threat in May to veto a defense appropriations bill (HR 4310) which included a provision prohibiting the military from using military facilities for same sex marriage or marriage-like ceremonies. It would also have allowed chaplains to refuse to perform such ceremonies. The “offending” provisions were removed.

The next indication of how the Obama administration intends to push his gay agenda came with the official response to the Catholic/evangelical letter. It ordered that chaplains not read the entire letter as written to their congregants, and ordered that if the letter were to be read, it must be redacted so as to remove all references to chaplains refusing to perform same sex marriages. In other words, the letter would become meaningless.

Republicans in the Senate led by Jim Imhofe (Oklahoma) are now ready to propose legislation designed to protect military chaplains from being forced to act against their faith or face a military court martial. It's a preemptive strike, since we haven't gotten to that point yet. But even though I can't predict the outcome of the legislation, I support it. It doesn't try to reinstate DADT, nor does it attempt to ban gay marriage. It simply protects chaplains whose deep religious beliefs won't permit performing such marriages. It is not a solution without a problem. Foreseeing immediate or soon-to-be consequences are part of a conscientious legislator's job description.

The biggest flaw in the legislation is that it ties itself closely to the Defense of Marriage Act, which is itself under recent attacks from the White House and the Department of Justice. But whatever form such legislation might finally take, it is important that it be done. Gay marriage is busting out all over in the civilian arena, but the very first genuine test of religious freedom and conscience-driven opposition to the government may occur within the military.

Briefly, I have to re-state my position (which we have covered on this blog multiple times). I oppose gay marriage on religious grounds. But I also subscribe to the Constitution and secular government, and if the state wants to allow the trappings of marriage for same sex couples, so be it. It is not the joining of two people of the same sex by legal means that I oppose (though it does make me a bit queasy). It is strictly the religious aspect which troubles me deply. In the civilian arena, once gay marriage has become the order of the day, it will take years of litigation to reach the point that will be reached at a much earlier stage in the military. Allowing gay marriage is one thing, mandating that all chaplains perform them is quite another.

You see, each State will make its own determination of what a marriage is. The Supreme Court might even find that gay marriage is a federal civil rights issue and allow it without defining it. But when it comes to the military, enforcement would quickly be universal because of the nature of the military which expects orders to be followed. For good reasons, open dissent and free speech, so necessary in the civilian arena, are not particularly desirable in the military. For the time being anyway, it appears that the Obama administration would be more than willing to go from accepting gay marriage to celebrating gay marriage, to ordering the performance of such marriages by all military chaplains.

The substitution of the words of the First Amendment concerning religious freedom with vague “human rights” language leaves pastors, priests, rabbis and imams wide-open to the charge that by refusing to perform gay marriages, they are violating basic human rights. That problem will be attacked fifty different ways in fifty different states. But when it comes to the military, the rules and the objections will be the same throughout the various military branches. Each state sets its own rules, and the litigation would be multitudinous and complicated. But when it comes to the military, the rules are essentially monolithic. The Navy can't decide to require chaplains to perform gay marriages while the Army goes the other direction. They must all abide by the same rules and take their orders.

In the civilian arena, it is likely that many governments which institute gay marriage will do so in a way which starts out meaning, or is later amended to mean, that gay marriages have the same civil meaning, force and legal effect as traditional marriages, leaving individuals free to decide for themselves whether it is a valid religious ceremony. It will be lawyers and the courts that screw up that sensible solution by going into the “human rights” area, making a pastor's refusal to perform a gay marriage a human rights violation. It has already happened in Canada, and don't think it couldn't happen here.

In the military, policy and top-down orders stemming from changes in the Uniform Code of Military Justice would be a much different and much more immediate thing. Maintaining good order and discipline would be much less likely to cause so many different kinds of civil rights/human rights litigation, since good order and discipline are not major factors in civil litigation. For those reasons, I believe that Congressional action immediately following the defeat of Barack Obama in November could stave off further demoralization of our military. Gay marriage, OK. Forcing chaplains to perform them, not OK.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Four Dead? Party On!

When the going gets tough, the tough get going—to Las Vegas. After a pathetic, bloodless Rose Garden speech about the four murdered Americans in Benghazi, our commander-in-chief felt it necessary to leave the White House to consult with his foreign policy advisers Jay Z and Beyonce and stir up his base in Las Vegas.

I just had a thought. There's already a Vegas version of the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and the Luxor pyramid. Why not a White House casino and entertainment center? It could include Obama animatrons making speeches, apologizing to Islamists, bowing to Arab royalty, and holding beer summits. Well, back to the topic.

Where better to mourn the death of four Americans and plan foreign policy than at a fundraising hip-hop event in Las Vegas? According to another stellar performer, Michelle Obama, the president doesn't need to be at the White House for major world events. She knows that The One dwarfs Thomas Jefferson in intellect and ability to absorb huge amounts of written material without any assistance. So having an encyclopedic knowledge of everything, including national security issues, can be done just as easily in Las Vegas as in Washington DC.

At the rally in Vegas, Barack Obama, foreign-policy-master-in-chief, said a few kind and dour words about the crisis in the Middle East, then joined the crowd in mutual chanting: “We love you.” “I love you.” “No, WE love You.” “No, I love YOU!” I haven't seen that much professed love since I accidentally wandered into the middle of a love-in in San Francisco in the 60s. Much finger-pointing at each other, and big grins and cheers. Apparently the crowd decided the crisis in the Middle East was already over. So did the Big Guy.

President Obama has attended fewer White House daily briefings than any former president in a comparable period of time. But he doesn't need to. The White House staff says that The One doesn't need to waste his time meeting with his national security advisers for the Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) because “he is one of the most sophisticated consumers of intelligence on the planet.” They took their lead from statements Obama himself made earlier: “I think that I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters," Mr. Obama told Patrick Gaspard, his political director, at the start of the 2008 campaign, according to The New Yorker. "I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm going to think I'm a better political director than my political director.” Advisers? I don't need no stinking advisers!

That's one of the things I like most about Barack Obama. His modesty. As president, he doesn't need to participate in security briefings because he's so damned smart. Just like he didn't have to participate in any learned treatises while he was the editor of the Harvard Law Review. He doesn't need to communicate with others. He just knows. As the First Lady aptly pointed out, “he doesn't need to meet with the advisers because he reads every word, every memo, so he is better-prepared than the people briefing him.” Then she added “This man doesn't take a day off.” She forgot to add “except when he's golfing, loafing on Martha's Vineyard, surfing in Hawaii, or rapping in Las Vegas.”

Obama and his gang still seem to think that the Middle East riots are being caused by a half-assed video re-released on the internet in Jihadistan just before 9-11 (2012, not 2001). Maybe the daily briefs and memos were accidentally left behind at the White House (along with his advisers), so he hasn't read them all. It's hard to totally absorb a security brief that you haven't seen yet.

President John F. Kennedy once addressed a White House dinner honoring Nobel Prize laureates by saying that the dining room was filled with the greatest collection of human knowledge and talent in history, except for when Thomas Jefferson dined there alone. Well, move over JFK, you never got a load of Barack Obama.

Obama will return briefly to the White House (probably to devour all those national security briefings and ready his plans to save the world), and will then move on to the UN in New York for the latest gathering of cutthroats, dictators, international bureaucrats, and Islamist women's rights advocates. He has such a busy schedule that he simply won't be able to squeeze in a meeting with our only democratic ally in the Middle East, Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel. After all, as soon as he's done with the UN gang, he has to rush to the CBS studios to meet with his other national security adviser, David Letterman.
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The Great (film) Debates vol. 53

I will follow the Commentarama Rules. I will follow the Commentarama Rules. I will follow the Commentarama Rules. I will follow the Commentarama Rules.

What is your favorite Simpsons moment?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

New York State of Mind[less] - Soda Wars Edition

So it finally happened this week. Mayor has gotten his way once again. Yes, this week, the New York City Board of Health voted to approve a ban on sugary drinks. Dubbed the "Soda War", it not only includes sugary sodas, but also tea and lemonade and pretty much any bottled soft drink containing more than 25 calories.

So here is how is supposed to work -
"Beginning March 12, [New York City] will prohibit restaurants, mobile food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums or arenas from selling sugary drinks in cups or containers larger than 16 ounces."

Here is what it won't do -
The ban does not include the following: sales in grocery stores, sugary fruit juices, dairy drinks, diet soda, unsweetened teas, multiple sales of 16oz sodas, or free refills in all the venues in which there is a ban. So, we will be able to go to McDonalds and Yankee Stadium and buy four 16oz Lemonades or get unlimited free refills, or to the organically-grown Whole Foods for a case of 64oz bottles of Coca-Cola or Pepsi. And included in the term "grocery stores" are the growing number of 7-Eleven stores, inventors of the Big Gulp and Super Big Gulp [see photo], opening all over the city.

Frankly, I do not have a problem with the City Health Department using taxpayer resources to warn the population on the dangers of too much sugar in sodas. We have a long and successful history of using public service announcements to inform and indoctrinate us to the evils of smoking, forest fires, littering, and to encourage the use of seat belts. But I really have a problem with this continued encroachment into our private choices. And if you think the Mayor Bloomberg will cease his campaign to fix us once his reign of terror ends, here is a quote from Bloomberg that should leave no doubt:
"I just spent roughly $600 million of my own money to try and stop the scourge of tobacco, and I'm looking for another cause"

I can't wait to find out what his next target will be. I'm thinking it will probably be mandatory daily calisthenics for all city dwellers, or a ban on sharp pointy objects or elevators. Using the stairs is so much healthier...
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Friday, September 14, 2012

TV Review: Face Off (2011-????)

I despise “Reality TV.” Why? Because not only is “Reality TV” not real, it is highly manipulated and sometimes even scripted, but it demonstrates the worst elements of our culture. It shows a group of contestants as they engage in cat fights and backstabbing all in the name of trying to grab a few moments of celebrity. So I hate Face Off, right? Actually, no. I’m truly enjoying this show.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms

(P.S. I've added a Mission Statement at CommentaramaPolitics.)
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Even Godless Communists Love God

Just when I thought I had heard it all, the Democrats come out with something new. In the wake of the initial removal of God and Jerusalem from the Democratic platform, we now have the tender explanations and clarifications from, of all people, former Obama green jobs czar Van Jones. Jones' money quote is “the Democratic Party is becoming the party where you can be spiritual, but not religious.”

Jones seems to have had some sort of epiphany somewhere along the line. Said he: “My advice is to the Democratic platform committee: Just pretend that the draft you submitted that didn’t have the word ‘God’ in it was just a draft, and in fact, the real draft was inclusive of people like myself who are people of faith, who are Christians, who go to church, and who are also progressive Democrats.” It's not my place to question Jones' sincerity, but when did he become a Christian? The best I can figure is that it has something to do with black liberation theology, which neatly combines Christ the Good Guy, race, religion and Marxism.

Jones contends that the clearly anti-religious thrice-taken vote on putting God back in the platform was the result of not being clever enough in the wording. It was an “unforced error and really quite foolish,” Jones said, adding that the Democrats “talk about faith all the time.” Well, so do Satanists, so what's his point? Jones is not the first to have the idea of obfuscating his real beliefs. He has a soul-mate in Prince Charles, heir-apparent to the British throne. One of the royal titles for the king of England is “defender of the faith.” Charles declared a couple decades ago (will that old woman ever die?) that he would take his kingly oath as “defender of faith.” Get it? Faith. Any faith, as long as it's faith.

Jones also added: “Dr. King was a Christian minister. Every Democrat loves Dr. King and celebrates him, and yet, somehow, we’re becoming this party where you can be spiritual but not religious. That’s gonna be the banner of the Democratic Party. It’s gonna leave out too many people.” Huh? So is it being Christian or being spiritual which will leave out too many people? But he did get in the obligatory reference to Martin Luther King, Jr. Maybe at the next convention they can have a mass séance instead of a public prayer.

Jones is indeed a man of faith. Except for faith in his own country. Good old Van is a 9-11 Truther. He has faith that our Islamist brethren have entirely clean hands, and that the destruction of the World Trade Center and the damage to the Pentagon was an inside job perpetrated by Bush war hawks and Jews. Since he and Obama are both Christians, but not very publicly so, I wonder if they attend the same mosque church. OK, I don't believe that Obama is a secret Muslim, let alone an Islamist. But he and Jones are both far too quick to cover up Islamist violence with weasel-words like “man-made disasters” and “workplace violence.”

Those were just a few random thoughts for Friday, the day of prayer and protest.
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Thursday, September 13, 2012

I'm Angry. Why Isn't The President Angry?

On the anniversary of the mass murder of Americans in New York City, America was attacked again. The words and diplomatic language which will follow in the next few days are irrelevant, at least to me. American embassies and consulates are American soil. The embassy in Cairo, Egypt was attacked, and the consulate in Benghazi, Libya was also attacked, resulting in the assassination of our ambassador and three of his staff.

The State Department in Cairo responded to its attack by lecturing Americans on “hate speech” contained in an internet video which allegedly triggered the invasion of American soil in Egypt. That statement has since been withdrawn, but I don't care. It should never have been made in the first place. The default position of the Obama administration is to apologize, stuck in the mindset of asking “why do they hate us?” Well, let me answer that. They hate us because we're America. We're free. We respect the right of all religions to believe what they want to believe, and to practice their religion without interference from the state. And we tolerate offensive speech. Regardless of what the video may have said (I haven't seen it), our ambassadors and consular spokespeople should never, repeat never apologize for an American, however loathsome, who is exercising his First Amendment rights.

Better the ambassadorial staff had made no statement at all than to have apologized in a way which gave at least minimal support to the barbarians who invaded our embassy. The State Department didn't condone the attack, of course. But by using the anti-free speech announcement, it essentially said to the mob “you shouldn't have attacked our embassy, but we understand your anger.” That's just wrong, wrong, wrong. If any statement at all had been issued, it should have at least included the words “American territory has been attacked, and though we will do our best to work with the government of Egypt in stemming future attacks and punishing the perpetrators of this attack, we nevertheless are making it perfectly clear that every self-defense measure available to us will be used to prevent future invasions of American soil.”

The largest problem with the Obama administration is that it has been so solicitous of Arab and Islamic street thinking that the locals in Cairo simply didn't believe the Americans would defend their soil or take punitive action immediately. They were right on the former, and may be right on the latter. Mobs are like dogs. If you don't discipline them right after they commit their bad act, they don't make the connection when you discipline them later. In addition, American embassies should have sufficient contingents of Marines and other security personnel on site to protect the embassy and staff. The mob breached the walls of an American compound, and burned the American flag.

The Obama administration lives in a dream world of “democracy” and the “Arab spring.” In America's London embassy, two Marines and a part-time rent-a-cop are probably sufficient for embassy protection. But when our embassy staff is quartered in hostile territory, they need a lot more protection than that. Two things should guide this principle. First, London is not hostile territory, Cairo is. Second, the Brits are pretty damned good at keeping their citizens in proper behavioral mode. In Cairo the Muslim Brotherhood which now controls the government can't even control its own members, let alone fast-forming mobs filled with blood-lust for some real or imagined insult. In fact, in Cairo it's hard to separate the mob from the government (ask the Copts, if you don't believe me).

What provoked the Islamists in Cairo is still not entirely clear, but mounting evidence indicates that the deadly attack in Benghazi was planned, coordinated, and somewhat professionally carried-out. As evidence mounts, it seems the Benghazi attack had little or nothing to do with the offensive internet video which “insulted” Mohammed by offering facts. It is possible that the attack occurred only incidentally with the anniversary of 9-11. There are connections between the mob, revenge for the death of a major al Qaeda leader in June, and even the adherents of the blind cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman who is imprisoned in the US for participating in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Whether the Libyan government was itself involved remains a question to be answered definitively at a later time. There is an unverified story that the ambassador war taken to an emergency treatment area, and that Libyan security forces informed the mob that he was being moved to a hospital where he was subsequently murdered in cold blood. But one thing is clear. The Libyan security forces put on a short pretense of opposing the mob, then simply got out of its way. The result was an invasion and trashing of American soil and the death of four Americans, including the ambassador who had worked very hard to make friends of the Libyans and listen to their causes. It seems a rabid dog doesn't care if you've offered him food and shelter.

Like most people, I have daydreamed of being the President of the United States. But I'm not qualified, for multiple reasons. One of which is temperament. While Mr. Cool Obama issues dry, reasoned, empty words and empty threats which encourage the mob, bad-tempered me would be far too dangerously close to the nuclear trigger. What we need is a leader who can make it clear America will not tolerate attacks on American soil, and make it known to the enemy that we really mean it. We (and they) don't need details. The real pledge that the wrongdoers and all their enablers will be punished must be believable. And you can't defend an embassy or consulate with drones or apologies for being a nation which allows free speech.

The next step will be fussing over who was really behind the attacks. I'm going to go out on a limb here. In each and every case of attacks on America and Americans in the Middle East, there is one enemy—Islamism. I have done this before, but just in case somebody has read this and doesn't know exactly how I distinguish between Islam and Islamists, here it is. Islam is a religion, and like most religions, it has unique laws and rules, and would like to persuade everyone to become a Muslim. Not much different from evangelical Christianity. Islamism is the belief that Islam is the solution for all problems and the model that every society in the world must follow, and that the apparatus of the modern state must be applied to enforce Sharia law on everyone, everywhere.

Islamism is a zero-tolerance belief system. It won't tolerate other religions, civil/secular government, apostasy, or any “insult to Islam.” The solution to almost everything is to kill or enslave its perceived enemies. For the Islamist, the mere presence of an infidel institution in Muslim lands is an insult to Islam requiring death and/or destruction. That goes for Christian churches and American embassies. Al Qaeda has its roots in hatred of the presence of American troops and legations in Saudi Arabia, the home of the holy sites of Mecca and Medina.

The administration and its mainstream media hacks attacked Mitt Romney for criticizing the State Department's Egyptian “free speech” statement. Too early, they say. Using a serious crisis as a political tool, they say. Aw, hooey. It's never too early to tell politically-correct fools to quit apologizing for America's right of free speech instead of condemning an attack on American soil. It's never too early to say we must not let terrorists have a free rein. Whether they are right or not, it is hugely refreshing to see an American candidate for the presidency get angry about the loss of American lives and destruction of American property. Or call it righteous indignation. Obama has demonstrated neither so far.

Since I'm too hot-tempered to be President, I strongly suggest a vote for Mitt Romney, who at least has the decency to call an Islamist an Islamist and to get angry when Americans are killed and America's flag is burned on American embassy soil. Nobody is suggesting that American forces should go about shooting suspected terrorists willy-nilly (which is the line the mainstream media will take about Romney). But whatever threat Obama may make will fall on deaf ears because our enemies simply don't believe he has the backbone to follow his words with actions other than drone strikes. Romney at least looks and sounds believable.

Given what we know as I write this article, I have said what I think about the new crisis in the Middle East. I invite all our readers to do the same. I don't pretend to have a quick solution, and “nuke 'em” or “send in the troops” hasn't even entered my mind. Obama's response is to evacuate all diplomats and staff from Benghazi and Tripoli. I also recognize that new revelations are likely to emerge even by the time this article publishes. Feel free to point them out and include them in your comments.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Guest Review: Mission to Mars (2000) vs. Red Planet (2000)

By ScottDS
With Mars in the news once again, I thought it might be a good time to take a look back at the two Mars films that graced the silver screen in the year 2000: Brian De Palma’s Mission to Mars and Antony Hoffman’s Red Planet. Neither film is very good but Mission to Mars is the bigger disappointment, having set its sights far higher. One thing is certain: the definitive Mars movie has yet to be made. Let’s start with Mission.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms

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Why Capitalism Has A Bad Reputation

One of our readers forwarded me an article the other day which I think is worth discussing because it raises some very interesting questions. The article was written by Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute and it discusses why capitalism has such a dirty reputation at the moment. He makes some excellent points, but I think he’s missing something crucial.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaPolitics

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Politico: "Obama Falls Flat"

You know things are going poorly for a Democratic president when the MSM turns on them. And the last month has seen a significant number of journalists doing just that. Some have been more obvious than others. The left-leaning Politico in particular has turned on their crush. Observe.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaPolitics

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With Friends Like Obama, Who Needs Enemies?

Most of our readers know that the Gallup Poll tends to lean Democratic, and even we have questioned some of its polling methods. Until recently, Gallup didn't quite realize that leaning Democrat is just not enough for the Chicago Democratic thugocracy. Lukewarm support for Barack Obama, or worse, polls that show Obama behind Romney, are simply not allowed. Back in April, Gallup committed the sin of showing Romney with a considerable lead.

Obama, and particularly his senior adviser, David Axelrod, didn't hesitate to contact Gallup to complain, including veiled threats to publicly discredit the Gallup organization if it didn't change its polling methods (to put Obama back in the lead). Axelrod didn't object to Gallup consistently over-sampling Democrats. His complaint was that Gallup used “out-of-date” methodology in the form of the questions asked to reach the poll results. Axelrod damned Gallup for asking questions in such a way as to produce negative reactions toward Obama. Just for the record, the poll concluded that Romney led Obama 48%-43%, a figure even hardcore Republicans found dubious.

But rather than wait to see if the voters (i.e. Democrats) might come to their senses in the next poll, the pit bulls at the White House went to work, with Axelrod as their point man. Axelrod started out tamely enough, sending e-mails to Gallup indicating his displeasure and pointing out a somewhat negative analysis of Gallup methodology done by a political science professor writing at The National Journal.

The civility didn't last long. When Gallup refused to change its polling methods immediately, Axelrod started threatening. He demanded that a high-level Gallup executive report immediately to the White House to explain Gallup's failure to use the methodology that Axelrod preferred. Gallup refused to comply with the royal summons. Though still indicating that Gallup was willing to discuss possible changes, the pollsters refused to kowtow to the White House gang, and that caused Axelrod to turn implied threats into real threats.

Axelrod let Gallup know in no uncertain terms that the White House would do whatever was necessary to force Gallup into following the straight Chicago-thug line. A little background into what that threat actually meant is required.

Back in 2009, a Gallup employee, relying on the protection of the relatively-new “whistleblower” statute sued Gallup for terminating his services after he publicly accused Gallup of overcharging the government for targeted polling work. That lawsuit has been in the early to mid-litigation stages ever since. The lawsuit was largely unknown to the public, and thus would have had little or no national impact. None, that is, unless the government itself became directly and visibly involved. From the time of the Axelrod-Gallup confrontation, that lawsuit was thereafter a veiled threat.

Axelrod's calculation was that if all other forms of intimidation didn't work to bring Gallup to heel, a government intervention in the lawsuit on the side of the “poor whistleblower” against the miscreant Gallup organization would serve a dual purpose. It would make the White House look like a hero in joining the little guy's battle against a big corporation, and at the same time could be used as “proof” that Gallup was trying to squelch any criticism of its methodology which showed Obama trailing Romney.

In late July, after failing to get Gallup to do what the government told it to do, Axelrod quietly told Attorney General to get his political lawyers to work, and the Department of Justice subsequently joined as a party to the whistleblower's lawsuit, taking it out of the private realm and into the governmental realm. The DOJ joined in the plaintiff's allegations that Gallup had committed violations of the False Claims Act by billing the government for services it did not render, or rendered incompetently. In addition, just in case Gallup didn't get the message, the complaint was amended to include specific charges of bilking the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The lawsuit doesn't mention that the original complainant, Michael Lindley, was an Obama campaign operative in 2008, and had ever since bitched to his bosses at Gallup whenever was heard a discouraging word about The One. Up until the publication of Lindley's original allegations, Gallup had considered him to be more a nuisance than a threat. The whistleblower statute is designed to protect an employee from being fired or disciplined for making damaging facts public after attempting to have the company itself reveal those facts. It was not designed to protect the employee from making his opinions public while collecting a paycheck from the company he is “exposing.”

Lindley was publicly attacking his employer for using methods he didn't like, but within that framework, had stated no facts that would indicate that Gallup had done anything either illegal or far outside the standards within the industry. Gallup reacted accordingly. Axelrod has set in motion the awesome power of the federal government to punish a pro-Democratic company for not being pro-Obama enough. He has bootstrapped a contentious in-house lawsuit into what we all call “a federal case.”

This is the “Chicago Way” that Mayor Rahm Emanuel so strongly supports. Turn every minor family dispute into a national cause celebre. All politically-savvy political watchers and participants know you occasionally have to beat your opponent over the head. But only the Chicago pols think that punishing your friends and family for minor deviations in orthodoxy and group-think deserve a public and expensive thrashing. On the other hand, I can think of several past and present foreign governments which depended on just such actions. They were not and are not democratic governments. As a final note, I offer the old saying: “A fish rots from the head down.”

Note: Today is the anniversary of the terrorist attack on New York City and the Pentagon. I have it in my heart and on my mind at all times. We must never forget. My prayer is that the terrorists do not have plans to celebrate the anniversary with another attack on innocent civilians.

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