Sunday, October 31, 2010

Washington D.C. Halloween Trick or Treating Guide

Halloween is upon us, and that means trick or treating. You might think Washington, D.C. would be a great place to trick or treat, right? Well, that depends on whether or not you know who's paying out and who will waste your time. So by way of a public service, here's a “voters” guide to places you should go and places you should avoid when trick or treating.

The Obamas: Avoid. The wife will be dressed like Marie Antoinette and the husband will be wearing different masks of famous Presidents all night. But don't be fooled by the great masks, he's an empty suit: he will pretend to hand out candy, but the wrappers are empty.

Nancy Pelosi: Avoid. She will be dressed like a witch, but it's no costume, it's just her bathrobe. She does not give candy, she takes it and will reach right into your bag for it. And whatever you do, don't go inside her house or try to take a bite out of her gingerbread-appearing shingles, and don't touch the private plane in the driveway.

John Boehner: Definitely. Boehner will dress as a donkey and will give you exactly one half of what he thinks Nancy Pelosi gave you. . . so lie to him about how much you scored from Pelosi.

Joe Biden: Probably Avoid. He will be dressed as Neil Kinnock or the most interesting man in the world. Biden hands out decent candy, but he will insult you in the process and then he'll lie about how much he gave you.

Eric Cantor: Avoid. He will not be wearing a costume as they confuse him. Gives out apples.

The Pentagon: Absolutely. Lots of candy and many doors, so they won’t know if you’ve already come. This place is a bonanza! (Important: Muslim costumes are a bad idea.)

Al Gore: Forget it. You’ll never make it past the huge electric fence and the stadium lights will blind you. And if you somehow make it to the door, the heat emanating from that huge, cavernous mansion will melt your costume. Plus, he only hands out candy from the company he owns: GummyGorebears Unlimited.

John McCain: Probably avoid. He will be dressed in a Republican costume, complete with elephant mask. He’ll waste an hour of your time telling you about the big treats he’s going to give you, but he has no follow through, expect a stick of unflavored gum.

Congress: Avoid. They expect you to pay them before they give you anything.

State Department: Avoid. They only give candy to corrupt foreign politicians.

Clinton, Bill: Depends. He will be dressed as a pimp or himself. If you are female (or dressed like one. . . or he hasn’t seen one in a while) expect to be groped. He hands out cigars.

Clinton, Hillary: N/A. She's hiding out the election overseas.

Secret Service HQ: Avoid. They will be wearing cheap suits and sunglasses, and they have no candy and no sense of humor.

The Schwarzeneggers: Depends. The wife will be dressed like a drunken zombie that looks a lot like Teddy Kennedy. Do not accept any rides over bridges from her. The husband is your better bet here. He will be dressed as a Barbarian, and he hands out stygian, the best. . . this is not haga.

Christine O’Donnell: Sure. Will not be dressed as a witch. Will hand out candy as long as campaign funds last.

The Palins: Avoid. Will be dressed as hunters and surrounded by camera crews. They hand out moose jerky.

Barney Frank: Avoid. Dressed as Glinda the Good Witch, but this is not a costume. Hands out candy to boys only, and you don’t want his candy.

Harry Reid: Maybe. You’ll find him at the Ritz, dressed like Hitler and surrounded by union thugs. He hands out LOTS of candy, but only if you promise to vote for him.

There you have it, a guide on where to go trick or treating in Washington D.C. Good luck and good hunting. Have a happy Halloween. . . for Tuesday is Christmas!

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

New York State of Mind

Okay, I needed a break and, well, every once in while there is an event in NYC that is just so wonderfully imaginative, that it makes me glad I live here and jealous that I wasn't in that moment. The following was filmed on October 8th on a B train while crossing the Manhattan Bridge. Using only Iphone applications and a speaker, the Brooklyn group Atomic Tom entertained a subway car full of commuters with their soon-to-be hit "Take Me Out" -

They wanted something to happen, so they made it happen. It only cost the price of Iphones, the apps, subway fare, and a month's worth of practice to get it just right. Then 3.5 million hits on YouTube later, they are on their way. Totally cool...
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It Can't All Be Our Imagination

Yesterday (Friday, October 29), security authorities were scrambling worldwide in response to a flurry of terrorist activity. Many international flights were quarantined at airports while security personnel and the FBI investigated packages aboard any plane on which cargo of Yemeni origin had been loaded. At least two of the packages were determined to have explosive materials in them, but at the time of this writing, neither had made it to the United States.

We may never know the full extent of the actual danger. But it was bad enough to warrant the President of the United States briefly addressing the American people about the matter. Al Qaeda has loosened its grip on terror camps in Afghanistan and has been concentrating on the Gulf nation of Yemen. This is the same nation which harbored the suicide bombers who attacked the USS Cole during the Clinton administration, killing eighteen American sailors, and nearly sinking the Navy destroyer. The anniversary of the attempted sinking is drawing near as is the American election day. Al Qaeda is big on anniversaries and symbolic terror attacks to celebrate those anniversaries. The scramble yesterday may be part of that pattern.

Over the next few days, you will get far more news and facts about the security scramble from other sources, so I just briefly want to comment on two recent events that indirectly demonstrate that we are not yet ready to face the underlying reality full on. That reality is that this is not a "war on terror," despite the protestations of two administrations, one Republican, the other Democratic. This is a war of Islam on the West. Yet both administrations have spent a hundred times as much effort in defending "moderate Islam" and labeling the Muslim terrorists as "extremists" than they have rooting out the terrorists and their supporters/enablers, and destroying the beast. With the assistance of the mainstream media, political correctness has time after time defeated common sense and clear thinking.

You are expected to wear sackcloth and heap ashes on your head each time you even consider "profiling" people wielding Korans and wearing Middle Eastern garb ("Muslim clothing") in places where it is entirely inappropriate or solely for the purpose of establishing visually the wearer's primary allegiance. Even though the very many terror attacks and attempted terror attacks in the past ten years have been almost exclusively conducted by Muslims, we are supposed to believe that it's a sin to have certain suspicions about those who go out of their way to show you that they are primarily Muslim and that they intend to be "in your face" about it.

The two incidents to which I refer are the National Public Radio (NPR) firing of liberal journalist Juan Williams, and a recent complaint against Delta Airlines for "religious profiling" of Muslim passengers filed by the Council on American/Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Juan Williams was the victim of rigid political correctness. You all know the story by now. He dared to state than when he sees airline passengers dressed in clothing that indicates they identify first and foremost as Muslim, he "gets nervous." The NPR liberal fascists conveniently failed to review the rest of his statement in which, as a good liberal, he issued all the standard disclaimers, and then some. He was furious that racists and bigots drew generalizations about Muslims. He repeated the [irrelevant] truism that "not all Muslims are terrorists." Gee, not all Nazis were murderers, but enough of them were to draw valid conclusions about Nazism. Williams is far more generous toward Islam than I am. But his disclaimers simply weren't enough. He had deviated from the pure liberal line, and he was finished at NPR.

Williams had merely expressed his personal, logical, and very real visceral reaction to "Muslim garb," particularly on an airline. If you don't think that clothing or accessories don't have any genuine significance, consider how many innocent victims have been murdered in South Central and East Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and New York City for simply wearing the wrong color tee-shirt. Wearing "Muslim garb" says "I am a Muslim, and I believe in Islam." Many adherents of Islam, even if not a majority, believe that killing infidels and forcing the living ones into submission is a major tenet of the religion. It's not ignorance, stupidity or religious hostility that would compel a non-Muslim to get a little nervous around those wearing that Muslim garb.

Not all snakes are poisonous, but unless you are a trained herpetologist or naturalist, it's probably a good idea to be leery of any snake that suddenly shows up in your space. In fact, until you're sure it's not a venomous snake, you should probably get out of the area. Is that some sort of ignorant speciesism? Or is it just good sense? Does it mean you're a bigoted snake-hater, or simply someone wise enough not to put yourself in harm's way?

The more immediate issue that concerns me is the proximity in time of the Friday explosives discovery and package alert for all airlines entering US airspace, and the CAIR complaint against Delta Airlines. Obviously, there's no direct connection between "Muslim garb" and mysterious packages containing explosives. I am talking about the liberal and Muslim convergence of opinion that it is more important to be sensitive about all things Islamic and emanating from Islamic strongholds than it is to be sensitive about getting blown up--along with a couple hundred of your fellow citizens.

CAIR supports all things Islamic, and is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation prosecution for funding and promoting Islamic terrorism. This administration particularly has a liaison officer who consults with CAIR before issuing any statement relating directly or indirectly to Muslims and/or Islam. CAIR is a major broadcaster of misinformation about the Ground Zero mosque, its adherents, and it funders. But since they are an Islamic organization, we are not to question their good faith, their facts, or their loyalties. Aw, phooey. I question them all.

I should also briefly mention the recent assaults on the Pentagon and Marine recruiting centers. Multiple shots fired, at some distance, over a period of several weeks. I'm not sure whether it's Muslims or not, but I know I can be pretty sure it isn't Swedish Lutherans trying to root out Italian Catholics. There are two likelihoods: Muslim terrorists or anti-war extremists. The latter are frequently the ignorant dupes of the former. Both are willing to commit murder in the name of tolerance. Now in all fairness, the attacks have been on buildings, not people, which is unlike the Islamoterrorists, so it may simply be someone who has a beef with the military and doesn't want to kill anyone. It's simply that events since 9-11 make my thoughts turn almost immediately to one source.

I'm tired of the pussyfooting and walking on eggs whenever the words "Muslim" or "Islam" enter into any public discussion. This isn't about "guilty until proven innocent." If it walks like a terrorist, looks like a terrorist, and is known to frequent the company of terrorists, it's probably a terrorist. As I've said before, in multiple articles, until I see a massive, visible and vocal nationwide movement against Islamic terrorism by the elusive "moderate Muslims," I'm going to continue to join Juan Williams in his nervousness. If those allegedly large majority moderate Muslims can show me they are with us in the defense of America and Western Civilization, I will apologize and mend my ways. Until then I'm going to continue to cling to my Bible, my gun, and my prejudices.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Voter Intimidation Was Just A Difference of Opinion

I feel completely chastised. Here I have been opining that the Obama/Holder Justice Department dismissed the Philadelphia New Black Panther voter intimidation judgments on racist and spurious legal grounds. There was even testimony before Congress, with evidence, that established the same mindset as mine. But now it turns out that I was wrong. It was all just a big misunderstanding.

I have it on the best authority that the dismissal of successful lawsuits against the Panthers pursuant to the Voting Rights Act was completely justified, and that the legal pleadings behind the cases were very weak at best. We really were just taking the word of some crazy, fearful white people and a DOJ professional lawyer with a private agenda aimed at rising in the department ranks. Alas, I feel so used.

Oh, you say you're wondering who that authority is? Well, it's no less than the head of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division, Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez. Now how much more authoritative could that authority be? And we all know that all the political attorneys in the Holder Justice Department are post-racial and as honest as the day is long. We do know that, don't we?

The photo accompanying this post shows a gentle young black protector of the sacred right to vote innocently standing outside a polling place in Philadelphia preparing for another peaceful and interracial game of stickball. It is not a Black Panther wielding a billy club at white voters coming to the polls. Now which of us are you going to believe? Tom Perez and me, or your lying eyes?

You see, it turns out that a bunch of fearful typical white people had merely reacted as white bigots are expected to act--irrationally and with a not-so-secret hatred of black folks. Just look at the young man. Unless you are one of those hysterical white bigots, you too will see that there is absolutely nothing intimidating about him or the perfectly innocent baton he's holding. For all you know, he's simply still wearing his Halloween costume, but because you see everything through the eyes of the dominant white class you're too quick to take the word of white racists over black choir boys. And that's all it is. The word of the white witnesses against the word of the oppressed black man.

You see, because of his reticence to be confrontational, Perez took nearly a month to stew over the testimony of professional DOJ attorney Christopher Coates before reluctantly claiming that everything Coates testified to (and produced physical evidence to support) was nothing more than "he said, she said." Expanding on the theme as it relates to the Black Panthers intimidation falsehood, Perez broadly denied the contention that Obama, Holder and Perez are hostile to race-neutral civil rights and voting rights laws. How dare you draw such a conclusion when one of their favorite confidantes is Mary Frances Berry, former member of the US Commission on Civil Rights who famously said: "Civil rights laws are designed to protect black people, not white people, and we will not investigate matters which involve white complainants."

You see, Perez sees the injustice of pursuing the Black Panthers cases as being so clear as to be worthy of no further discussion. It's time to move on to the misperception that Obama/Holder's entire concept of justice is weighted favorably toward one race and is at best best-described as benign neglect toward the others. One of Perez's deputies at DOJ explained it best: "The Obama administration was only interested in bringing traditional types of cases that would provide equality for racial and language minority voters." Now come on. How can you read anything racist into that?

Coates testified that he believed (as a typical white person) that "prior to the George W. Bush tenure, no administration--Republican or Democrat--had ever filed a voting rights case involving white victims and minority defendants, saying that a focus on minority voters had long been pattern and practice." See? Even the antagonist in this debate admits that Bush was a racist who diverged from the more racially-sensitive DOJs of the past and future by allowing white plaintiffs to have their undeserved day in court.

Another former Civil Rights Division political lawyer backs Perez. Robert Kengle called Coates's testimony "incomplete" and goes on to say: "I believe that a double standard was being applied [during the Bush/Ashcroft ascendancy] under which complaints by minority voters were subjected to excessive and unprecedentedly demanding standards, then dismissed as not being credible, while on the other hand we were being ordered to pursue the [white] Ike Brown complaints as a top priority." See? Kengle believes it, he's a lawyer, so it must be true.

And clearly Perez is right. After all, he did allow the injunction preventing one Black Panther from showing up at a polling place other than his own right through the election this coming Tuesday. But he must be allowed to repeat his performance the next time Obama's name appears on the ballot. After all, that's only fair, and it proves Perez is a zealous, non-racial prosecutor. As he himself says, "there was insufficient evidence to support stronger action against any of the defendants." It's not exactly an explanation for dismissing the cases which had already been won and judgments entered, but nobody's perfect.

And lest you doubt their sincerity, Perez and Holder both have put legal teams together in the Civil Rights Division to investigate themselves. Once again, you have drawn a typical white conclusion that this is self-serving. And besides, it explains why Holder and Perez have refused to respond to subpoenas from the Civil Rights Commission. After all, they're busy investigating themselves and don't need any outside interference.

Finally, the big boss, Eric Holder has put the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on the whole matter. Holder announced earlier this month that "the notion that we are enforcing any civil rights laws--voting or otherwise--on the basis of race, ethnicity, or gender is simply false. Some people (he means you) want to go back to older days and want to have a Civil Rights Division that is not nearly as effective as it is now or has traditionally been. I am not going to allow that to happen." That, as we attorneys say, is dispositive. There is nothing left to discuss. They're right, you're wrong.

By the way, Holder would have expanded his remarks, but he had to rush back to the office to prepare some more Miranda warnings and advice on civilian procedure for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
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What's Wrong With Slasher Flicks?

As you know, I’m a big fan of horror movies (see the Top 25 Horror Film list for proof). But I don’t like slasher flicks. In fact, slasher films have really begun to offend me on many levels. Not only have these films become utterly pointless and uncreative in the extreme, but they’ve sunken to incredible depths of depravity. It’s time this tired genre got the chop.

The reason I like horror films is the strong emotions they can evoke. A great horror movie can provide both a physical and a mental experience. These films stick with you; their themes and ideas play themselves out over and over in your mind until they achieve a level of paranoia or terror normally reserved for life threatening situations. That can be exciting. And with that terror comes a series of physical reactions. For example, it can make your heart race. It can also heighten your senses, letting you hear every little noise, see things you normally don’t notice, and even turn your skin into a sensor for the world around you as it reacts to even the slight breezes. There is something satisfyingly primitive in this.

But slasher flicks are a different beast entirely; they don’t seek to generate terror, they seek to shock you. Thus, whereas horror movies try to find the one thing that terrifies you deeply and bring it to life on screen, slasher films simply toss disgusting and shocking images at you until you can no longer bear to look. At best, they cause a nervous reaction that passes the moment the stimulus is removed.

Moreover, slasher films are some of the least creative films ever made. Every one of them follows this pattern: young female hottie is going about her business. Meanwhile, the psycho killer appears, be he an older male psychopath, alien or supernatural being. The psycho killer stalks the young hottie, usually killing her friends in the process, often in sexually suggestive ways. In the end, the hottie escapes, the killer appears to die, and we wait for the hint of the sequel. There is no variation. Sure, you can add a subplot about a conspiracy or an evil-being hunter, but that’s just window dressing. The story always remains the same.

There’s no writing skill required either. You set the story somewhere isolated, though anywhere will do. You introduce the characters, and have one of them tell the rest about the legend of old ____. After that, it’s just screams and blood. In fact, a typical script probably looks a little like this: “Hey, let’s go skinny dipping. You mean at haunted killer lake? Yeah. Ok. . . ahhhhhhhhhhh ahhhhhhhhhh ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Roll credits.”

Let’s face it, there’s no there there. And I find that objectionable. These movies are little more than a series of gross out scenes connected by a plot so thin it could be written on the head of a pin. What’s the point in watching that? Why not just watch actual autopsy videos? Heck, rent Autopsies Gone Wild, it’s a scream.

But my real objection to slasher films is the level of depravity. The modern slasher film’s primary purpose is to find new ways to destroy a human body. Yet, that’s not actually what I consider to be the depraved part. Indeed, while I find no artistic merit in what they are doing, it is difficult to say that showing someone hacked to death is somehow morally worse than seeing them shot on screen. One is certainly more disgusting and arguably more gratuitous to the plot, but substantively, the morality is the same -- both involve the killing of a human being.

So what is the depravity? Well, it’s a combination of two things. The first derives from a complaint made by feminists that I think is somewhat correct. They have long objected to slasher films on the basis that they glorify violence against women. That part I think is bunk. Slasher films are about violence and it doesn’t really matter who the victims are. Moreover, people who have studied the matter have found that males faired much worse in slasher films than females. But there is a related aspect to this that is a valid criticism: slasher films combine sex and violence. Indeed, large parts of the violence in slasher films is of a sexual nature: almost every one of these films involves people killed while they are engaged in sex, people who are killed through some attack on their genitalia, or people who are killed in other sexually suggested ways.

The combination of sex and violence, particularly the suggestion that the two are connected, makes these films little more than simulated snuff films (where real murders were supposedly caught on film -- though there is little evidence this genre actually existed). This is the kind of stuff that motivates serial killers and true psychopaths, and we should not be too quick to dismiss this merely because the depravity is only simulated by the actors. Indeed, ask yourself if you would draw such a distinction if we were talking about kiddy porn versus simulated kiddy porn? The answer is “no” because it is the attraction to the depraved activity that we consider the problem, and it does not matter whether that activity is simulated or real. The same is true with snuff films. It is the attraction to seeing others killed that is problematic, and it does not matter if the killing is merely simulated. And before you say, “wait, there’s nothing wrong with films about murder,” let me point out a key difference. When people see films about murders (or other acts of violence), they are drawn in by the story; indeed, they don’t even need to see the murder to get full satisfaction out of the film. But with snuff films, it is the murder itself that attracts the viewer, just as it is the images of sexually exploited children that attract the pedophile to child porn. Thus, the closer slasher films get to snuff films, the more depraved they become.

Further, let us look at the second reason modern slasher films are depraved: a high level of sadism. Sadism is the desire to inflict pain or injury on another without cause. It is a mental condition that is common in sociopaths, and slasher films now thrive almost exclusively on sadism, with each director trying to outdo those before him.

By sadism, I don’t mean that the killings are more graphic. That’s the issue addressed above about shooting someone versus cutting them up. What I am talking about is the replacement of simple killing (no matter how graphic) with torture killing. In older films, the slasher villain was motivated to kill and they did so, often brutally, but with little doubt that their sole goal was to achieve the death of their target. But that’s no longer the case. These days, it’s not enough that the villain simply kills for revenge or kills because they are mentally ill or kills because they are evil. Instead, today’s slasher villain must kill because they derive a thrill from it, and to express that thrill, they need to prolong the death and find ways to make the victim suffer as much as humanly possible.

This trend really took off with the Saw series, which involved a sadistic killer who arranged ways for his victims to maim themselves before they died. This has since become the norm in the slasher genre. For example, there was a film on television the other night (The Final) where a group of high schoolers captured another group of students and forced them to cut off each other’s body parts or paralyze each other. No doubt the director would claim this was a film about ironic punishments and that the slashers had a motive for their actions -- seeking revenge for mistreatment by bullies -- but that’s not true, their actions were pure sadism. How do we know? Because nothing these characters did could be considered a valid form of punishment or even vengeance under any moral scheme known to man because their behavior was not intended to remedy a problem or to prevent a harm or protect a person, and because the punishment was in no way proportional to the crime, instead, its sole purpose was for these characters to derive a thrill from torturing and killing others. And the justification offered for the characters’ behavior was nothing more than a pretense, a smokescreen meant to hide the fact that this film was the director’s sadism fantasy.

This is the problem with modern slasher flicks. The originals walked a fine line between stories of unusually brutal killers and plotless, quasi-snuff films. The modern version jumped that line and ran miles down the wrong side of the road. They now glorify snuff films and revel in sadism. And that makes these films depraved and without merit. Add in the lack of creativity, and these things need to go.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Voter Fraud: Tally Me Banana Republic

The left is working hard to turn the United States into a banana republic, and this needs to stop. It’s time that law enforcement in every state, county and city, and even at the federal level (cough cough Eric Holder), started taking voter fraud seriously, and putting people in jail. Take a look at what’s been going on recently:

Let’s start with some oldies but goldies from 2008:

• Nationwide: ACORN ran around the country filing fake voter registrations for people like the Dallas Cowboys and cartoon characters. Why does this matter? Because without the requirement that voters show identification, ACORN could then vote these fake ballots. The Democrats not only objected to prosecuting ACORN, they fought the elimination of ACORN's federal funding.

• Ohio: Workers were caught filling out ballots for people in retirement homes in Ohio, often without their knowledge, and were caught voting Democratic when the voter wanted to vote Republican.

• Nationwide: Military ballots were either sent out too late to be counted, or were not returned on time by the Pentagon. The same is happening again this year.

• Nationwide: Voters were shown to have voted twice in Minnesota, Florida and New York.

• Minnesota: Boxes of supposed ballots remained in the trunk of a car belonging to a Democratic election official in Minnesota for several days, and were suddenly "discovered" when the Democrats needed more votes to support Al Franken.

• Philadelphia: Black Panthers turned out to intimidate voters in Philadelphia. This case was ultimately dropped by the Justice Department for black racist reasons. . . something multiple sources have now confirmed. Indeed, a recent investigation uncovered widespread bias against white plaintiffs in the Justice Department’s Civil Right Division and a prevailing attitude that Civil Rights law “were not meant to protect whites.”

Now let’s look at some of this cycle’s problems:

• Nationwide: The Democrats have been caught planting fake Tea Party candidates in several states, including Michigan, California, New Jersey and Nevada. In Michigan, many of the candidates did not even know they were candidates until the media contacted them. The Democratic official responsible resigned, but was not prosecuted. This is a tactic used by all dictators from Zimbabwe to Venezuela.

• Chicago: A Democratic group spent the summer getting people to fill out vote-by-mail requests. This resulted in more than 900,000 requests. Here’s the catch, they had people send the requests to a Democratic Party office, not the state. The Democrats were then supposed to forward those to the state. Why does this matter? For one thing, it let the Democrats collect information on the voters. But more importantly, this let the Democrats canvas the voters to learn their preferences before sending in the ballot requests. And now it looks like thousands of those requests “somehow” have not been filed on time.

• Philadelphia: Voters were sent letters from a non-existent Pennsylvania Voter Assistance Office suggesting that they would not be allowed to vote if they did not request an absentee ballot. They were told to mail these requests to a Democratic Party office -- not the County Board of Elections. The Democrats then gathered the information and supposedly forwarded the ballots. Yet, as in Chicago, many were not sent to the Board of Elections until it became too late to have them processed.

• Nevada: Electronic voting machines were pre-programmed to support Democrat Harry Reid. The voting machine technicians are members of the SEIU Local 1107 (who support Harry Reid). There have also been differences in the number of votes cast on the machines and the paper logs.

• Nevada: The SEIU has been caught giving out Starbucks cards to voters to encourage them to vote for Harry Reid, a violation of Nevada law.

• Daytona Beach, Fla.: Dayton Beach City Commissioner Derrick Henry and his campaign manager Genesis Robinson were arrested and charged with absentee ballot fraud when it was discovered that they obtained absentee ballots for people who never requested ballots. In some instances, the ballots would arrive at the voter’s home only to have campaign workers appear at the home and retrieve the ballot.

• California: Barbara Boxer has sent a letter to teachers asking them to solicit students to volunteer for her campaign, a violation of California law.

• North Carolina: Electronic voting machines are magically turning votes cast for Republicans into Democratic votes. . . funny how it never happens the other way around.

• New Jersey: Wayne Dibofsky, the associate director of the New Jersey Education Association, has been caught on tape describing how voting machines with votes already pre-cast were delivered to a nonexistent voting location in New Jersey in 1997, and how those machines helped carry a Republican district for the Democrat.

And this is just what's been uncovered so far.

This is the kind of fraud that would get the State Department swinging into action if it were happening in some other country. Jimmy Carter would be demanding international monitors. This is the sort of thing you expect in the Third World or some “worker’s paradise” like Cuba. That this is happening in the United States is a true indictment both of our election system, which needs serious reform, and of a Democratic Party that has abandoned democracy for a system where elections are stolen and spoils are awarded.

It is time this came to an end, and people like Harry Reid, Al Franken and dozens (if not hundreds) of other Democrats need to be sent to prison where they belong.

**** Don't forget to pass around the Election Guide to remind people why they need to vote the Democrats out!****

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Brother, Can You Spare A Job?

We all know that the mainstream media spin nearly everything in favorable terms for liberal and Democratic candidates. But they also do something more insidious. They twist or outright lie about matters that sound like neutral news when in fact they're attempting to make things look good for those same liberals and Democrats.

For instance, have you ever noticed that there are no homeless people during Democratic administrations? Ignore those filthy characters you have to step over or bribe to go away and leave you alone. Those are only homeless people during Republican administrations. During Democratic administrations, they are local color, or street theater.

The most serious issue on the minds of the majority of Americans today is the subcategory of the economy, namely unemployment. Currently, according to the mainstream media, unemployment isn't so bad. Why are you worried? It's "only" at about 10% nationwide. Never mind that our dear leader, Barack Obama, promised that if Congress passed his economic stimulus package the unemployment rate wouldn't go over 8%. What's a mere 2% error when things are looking so rosy? Yes, the Media Research Center found that during the current election cycle, 52% of media stories that even mentioned unemployment were positive and upbeat.

It's nice that the media are trying to keep our spirits up, but somehow I don't think that's what they're really aiming at. And here's whey I smell a rat. Way back in the 2006 election cycle (you know, the one where the Democrats took Congress away from the Republicans), the unemployment rate had never exceeded 5% for the previous four years. Yet somehow the media found that to be a horrific blow to America's capacity to employ everyone. 58% of media stories that discussed unemployment were negative to highly negative. Some of the stories were downright panicky.

Despite all their promises, Democrats and their wild schemes have been unable to make a dent in the unemployment figures. And if the media were actually being honest, they would admit the 9.6% rate they are currently touting would be much, much higher if they count those whose unemployment benefits have run out (and have fallen off the official unemployment rolls) and those who have just given up on finding even the most menial of jobs. To put a more visible face on it, 15 million people are out of work. And the reality is that based on the last two weeks of the month that just passed, the report that will come out just after the election will show the rate to be officially over 10% (approaching a real figure of as much as 19% of the able workforce).

On NBC's April 2, 2010, NBC's Steve Liesman called the worst unemployment rate since 1985 "a hopeful sign. It is self-sustaining job growth." Contrast that with CBS's Mark Knoller on December 3, 2005, during the Bush/Republican years, that the recent distinct improvement in employment figures (4.7%) was a freakish occurrence over which nobody had any control or stewardship. Said Knoller: "The president [Bush] insists his economic policies, including his tax cuts, deserve some of the credit." Odd how quickly the same people will look at the unemployment figures today, and finally give Bush the credit--It's Bush's fault the economy is so bad and the unemployment rate is so high. So there!

Although unemployment was still very low in the 2006 election cycle, nearly 50% of all media reports on unemployment were highly negative, and those which were not negative were unusually factual and bloodless, citing numbers without any context or any credit. As the MRC reports, in the 2010 cycle, with an unemployment rate nearly twice that of the Bush years, almost 50% of the stories about unemployment were positive, and of those that were negative, 40% had some version of "it's always darkest before the dawn," or "every cloud has its silver lining."

In April of 2006, the rate went to 4.7% and 211,000 jobs were created (NOT created or saved). And what did the talking heads do with that? First, they argued with the figures, claiming that the same agency they now accept as gospel were inflating the figures. Then they turned the positives into negatives. Brian Williams on NBC: "President Bush used the jobs numbers as a starting point for a new push to try to convince Americans that the economy is in fact on a roll." Then he trotted out a second-hand, unidentified poll which showed that 59% of Americans disapprove of the president's handling of the economy. Self-fulfilling prophecy, Brian? On CBS, Bob Schieffer said "the economy was only able to crank out about 113,000 new jobs." He cut the actual number in half, and then said "only."

Over at ABC (recently a full-time resident of the White House) they had Charles Gibson saying "The government says the economy added just 128,000 jobs last month. A relatively small amount, but fresh evidence of a slowdown (emphasis added). More negativity, but at least his figures were closer to the truth. This kind of relentless negativity and phony numbers continued throughout the entire 2006 election cycle. Within a period of a mere few months, Williams actually used the original figure, the figure of 193,000, and almost got it right when he stated 215,000 (almost right).

So how are they reporting the 2010 election cycle? Well, after two years of job losses, Betsy Stark at ABC chirped: "It was the 23rd consecutive month the country has lost jobs. But even so (emphasis added), today's report was the best jobs report the nation has seen in two years." Well, I guess everything's relative, Betsy. Said CBS's Katy Couric: "The unemployment rate is not likely to fall much until we begin to get significant job growth." Thank you, Ms. Obvious. And where would our country be without this great nation of ours? But she closes with: "But at least there's a glimmer of hope tonight." Glow little glow worm glimmer, glimmer.

Diane Sawyer over at World News with Diane Sawyer said: "We tell you the clues in the brand new jobs report (yes, the 9.6% rate), about the spring and the signs of hope." Hopey change again. Do these people have to get hit in the head with a baseball bat to come to their senses? And in order to hammer home her point (?), she concludes with "But today, we learned in December, once again, thousands of workers lost jobs--85,000 of them. For a perspective, look at this, we are much better off than the worst job loss a year ago." That's some perspective, I'll tell ya.

Is it any wonder that the commercial broadcast stations are bleeding viewers faster that a sliced carotid artery, and that people trust them at about the same level as they trust Congress? And while I'm at it, what the hell's with this "created or saved" crap anyway?
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Death Comes For The Cocker Spaniel

When it comes to defining intelligent life, one of the points people often make is that intelligent life is aware of its own mortality. That seems a little inadequate as definitions go, but it got me thinking: do dogs understand mortality?

Let’s start with some facts. There is plenty of evidence for dogs to consider that they are mortal. For example, they were puppies and they grew up, and throughout their lives they encounter older dogs and puppies. This is evidence of a life cycle of some sort. Can they put that together and, more importantly, do they realize that death waits at the end of the cycle? I don’t know. But they do seem to understand that they are to respect the old ones and humor the young ones, courtesies they normally do not extend to middle-age dogs. So maybe they realize there is some meaning in this cycle?

We had a dog once who became deeply depressed when his buddy died. But that doesn’t mean he put together that the other guy died, he may just have been reacting to him being gone.

They do display instincts that make them run from danger, but fear does not equate to knowledge of mortality. . . it could just be unknowing instinct or fear of harm? Yet, dogs aren’t without reasoning skills. They are much smarter than most people realize, and indeed, smarter than a lot of people. Researchers claim that average dogs can understand a vocabulary of about 165 works, with the Einsteins of the dog world understanding as many as 250 words. . . 113 more than your average rapper. Researchers also have shown that dogs can draw inferences based on that vocabulary. They also have basic computational skills and will notice errors in simple math, all of which puts them well ahead of rappers again. So they have some reasoning skills. . . the dogs, not the rappers.

Moreover, researchers have shown that dogs are actually capable of deceiving other dogs and humans to obtain treats. Now that is an interesting skill because it means that dogs are capable of thinking outside of themselves, i.e. they can contemplate the existence of others and assess how those others think and will react in the future. That would seem to imply a high degree of self-awareness, and much more than simple re-active instincts. It also shows an ability to think in the abstract, which is the kind of thinking you would need to realize that the life cycle ends in death.

So can dogs figure out that they are mortal? I honestly don’t know. I think it’s obvious that they aren’t reacting purely on instinct. Indeed, they appear to be self-aware and they have considerable reasoning abilities. They seem to appear to understand there is a life cycle, but do they understand that it applies to them? And do they grasp how it ends? Good question. Maybe we should just ask. . . are you mortal? One bark for yes, two for no.

What do you think?

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The Last Days of Harry Reid

Harry Reid appears finished. Wishful thinking? Not really. Harry has become deeply unpopular in Nevada. His approval numbers hover around 41%, and 76% think his policies either will not help the state or will actively hurt it. What’s more, early voting has been much heavier in Republican areas than Democratic areas, something unusual. Even his campaign people admit (off the record) that Harry has “maxed out” at 47% in the polls, whereas Angle keeps crossing the 50% line. It’s possible Harry can still turn this around, but it’s looking less and less likely. How did Harry come to this?

Harry began the election season hovering around 41% in the polls against whoever the Republican challenger would be. Then the Republicans chose a wild-card, Sharon Angle, a woman who often said things that were easily characterized to a half-awake electorate as bizarre or crazy. Harry played this up by running a vile smear campaign against Angle, in which he described her as “crazy,” “nuts,” and “an extremist.” He also encouraged the media to dig into everything about her that they could, which they happily did -- fixating on her every word, on her political background, and even on her hair.

While this was going on, Harry’s campaign smartly kept Harry out of sight. That let his approval rating rise and Angle’s fall to the point that they were even around 47%. Harry’s party even set up a fake Tea Party candidate to siphon off Angle’s vote.

But Harry was stuck at 47%, and that meant he needed to campaign. In other words, waiting for Angle to destruct was not going to work, Harry had to make a case for why people should vote for him. That’s when things started to go wrong; indeed, according to a Democratic insider, Harry “underwhelmed.”

First, Harry came across as gray and lawyerly, a deadly combination in politics. Secondly, he was gaffe prone, almost in Biden’s league:
• On tourists: “you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol.”

• Describing Barack Obama as being “a light-skinned African-American with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

• Calling Delaware Senate Candidate Chris Coons “my pet.”

• On Hispanics: “I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican.”

• Describing town-hall participants who were opposed to health care reform as “evil-mongers who use lies, innuendo and rumors.”

• On the economy: “Only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good.”

• On the effects of Ted Kennedy’s death on health care reform: “I think it’s going to help us.”

• On the Iraq war (in 2007): “This war is lost.”

• To the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “I hope you go out of business.”

• Describing the recently deceased Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd as the greatest living Americans he could name.
Harry also claimed that he has been running the government, before he backtracked and admitted that he was only helping. He also informed us that he saved the world from a depression:
“People have been hurting. And I understand that. And it doesn't give them comfort or solace for me to tell them, you know, but for me, we'd be in a worldwide depression.”
Third, everything he did started to haunt him. For example, Harry suddenly found himself defending his decision to stay at the Ritz Carlton on the campaign’s dime when his home was only a short distance away. It didn’t help that the Ritz was a campaign contributor. Harry is now trying to explain why one of his aides tried to cover up an illegal seven-year sham marriage to a Lebanese national who was the subject of an Oklahoma City Joint Terror Task Force investigation. Harry has spent days defending his manhood in response to Angle’s suggestion that he “man up” on the issue of Social Security:
"People in Nevada know me from the street to the ring to the Senate chambers. I've never had to prove my manhood to anyone."
That’s sad. Harry even looked foolish when he held a rally with President Obama at a Las Vegas middle school, because all of Obama’s other rallies had been at colleges. . . the implication being that Harry couldn’t fill any venue larger than a middle school auditorium.

But what really killed Harry was his debate with Angle. Harry worked so hard for months to make Angle sound like a lunatic that people expected her to completely bomb in the debate. In fact, he raised her failure expectations so high that anything short of a total meltdown would probably have seemed like a win. Sadly for Harry, she sounded calm, reasonable, and knowledgeable, and that made Harry’s entire campaign up to that point sound like the slur it was.

And like that, she added 3% to her support. . . and growing.

So when Harry returns to whence he came, probably K Street, he should consider that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to paint Angle as a violent, drooling lunatic. But that’s just the tip of this iceberg. Maybe Harry should ask himself how he lost touch with the public? Maybe, living in a lobbyist-fueled cash bubble for so long made him forget that real people don’t like having the government run their health care, don’t like making 15 million illegals into voters to help Democrats, don’t like thuggish unions, don’t like cowards and defeatists running America’s wars, don’t like politicians bribing different parts of the electorate, and don’t like politicians spending this country into bankruptcy to save their banker friends from their own mistakes.

Maybe in his forced-retirement, Harry will finally see the light? Step into the light Harry.

**** Don't forget to pass around the Election Guide to remind people why they need to vote the Democrats out!****

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pelosi: Betrayed By "Secret Money" (updated)

You know the game is lost when the coach starts making excuses before the end of the third quarter. The same holds true in politics. The election isn’t until next week, and yet, the Democrats are already whining about how "secret" special interest money “defeated” them. This is interesting not only because it shows just how demoralized they are, but also because the claim is false.

For a couple weeks now, the Democrats have claimed that special interests have bought this election for the Republicans. Obama said it, and implied that this money was secret foreign money (and odd claim for a boy from Kenya to make). Even the MSM called him on that one. Pelosi said it and proved just how delusional she is:
“Everything was going great and all of a sudden secret money from God knows where — because they won't disclose it — is pouring in.”
Of course, that’s true if you define “great” as “planning to lose 60 seats.” And think about how insulting this claim is: people are too stupid to think for themselves and only vote for whoever spends the most money. Biden said it, but got his numbers wrong, claiming these groups spent “$200 billion.” (Being off by a factor of 1000 is actually pretty good for Joe.)

And behind the scenes, the Democrats are positively shrill about this money:
• “They’re widening the field, it’s just a stunning thing,” said a senior White House official.

• “Special interests bought the Congress they wanted. Corporations bought the new Republicans,” said a House aide.

• “The reality is that were it not for outside money there would be a lot less uncertainty in House, gubernatorial and Senate races around the country,” said a senior House official.
But is there any truth to these allegations? Nope.
• First, there is the hypocrisy problem: the Democrats benefitted from a similar phenomenon in 2006, when George Soros and friends spent lavishly to help them.

• Secondly, in election after election, the evidence has shown that no matter how much money a candidates spends, a bad candidate simply cannot win. Indeed, in 2006 and 2008, when the tide turned against the Republicans, the Democrats won numerous races where they were massively outspent.

• Third, the claim of massive secret money is just not true. Campaign experts estimate that only 10% of the money being spent in this election cycle is from these sources, the rest comes from traditional sources like the parties themselves.

• Further, the Democrats have their own identical sources of funding in groups like Soros’s group and union slush funds. In fact, AFSCME, a public employee union, is spending the most of any outside group this election cycle -- $87.5 million. . . all to help Democrats. When you look at the parties themselves, the DNC and its related committees have outspent the GOP by significant amounts.

• And finally, don’t forget the millions of dollars in should-be-illegal campaign ads being run by government agencies touting ObamaCare. . . that’s right, you’re paying to have Andy Griffith lie to you. And don’t forget all that free press the Democrats get from their fellow travelers in the MSM and Hollywood.
Despite these facts, the Democrats are running with this claim to justify their loss. Of course, this shouldn’t surprise us as the Democrats now specialize in unreality. And let’s not forget that this is the same party that’s been waging such a dirty campaign that even the New York Times had to take note of the Democrats’ dirty tricks, e.g. planting and funding fake Tea Party candidates to siphon off votes from Republicans. Thus, blaming their pending loss on a lie is hardly beyond the pale for Democrats.

Ultimately, I doubt this issue has legs. It may excite the Democratic base, who are too stupid to grasp that they’re being lied to, but it doesn’t resonate with anyone else because the Democrats are equally guilty. And even among Democrats, there is no constituency to clean up campaign funding, their constituencies are solely worried about getting their own vendettas put into law. . . and they rely on dirty money.

Thus, in the end, I think this issue will merely give people like Pelosi a way to sleep at night without having to ask herself the hard questions.

Update: Here is an update from Politico tonight. Apparently, the Democrats have outspent the Republicans by $270 million during this election. Making this claim about being outspent not just a lie, but a ridiculous lie.

**** Don't forget to pass around the Election Guide to remind people why they need to vote the Democrats out!****

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Let 'Em All Vote

Immigration rights advocates, Democratic hacks, and amnesty now folks, along with their leftist, progressive legislators are working furiously to get illegal and legal immigrants into the voting booths. I'm waiting for PETA and the animal rights cuckoos to start demanding voting rights for disenfranchised beasties.

The City of Portland, Maine now has a ballot measure before the voters which would allow non-citizens to vote on city measures and school matters. San Francisco is preparing to allow non-citizens with children in the public schools to vote on school issues, while Chicago and six cities in Maryland already allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections. New York City came to its senses in 2003 and took away the citizen's right to vote from non-citizens in school elections, and several Massachusetts cities have approved non-citizen voting but can't implement those votes until they receive approval from the state legislature.

In Portland, Claude Rwaganje says he pays taxes on his income and taxes on his cars. His children are in the Portland public schools. He is a refugee from the murderous political strife in Congo, and (take note) runs a nonprofit organization that offers financial and social advice to immigrants. Therefore, he contends, it is unfair for him not to be allowed to vote. Fair, schmair. The right to vote is the major index of the constitutional republic of the United States. Unlike the Old World, America's most unifying principle is the commonality of citizenship under a Constitution rather than ethnic or historic identity. If Rwaganje knows his homeland is a deadly cesspool, and he has gained a measure of freedom undreamed of in Africa, let him start the process for citizenship.

The traditional concept of coming to America, following the rules, becoming a responsible member of the community, and applying for citizenship to obtain that one last invaluable right is rapidly disappearing. The left has been trying to destroy anything that smacks of American exceptionalism for decades, and this is one way of accomplishing that. The dubious American President Barack Obama stood before the people of Germany and declared himself a citizen of the world. Aw, nuts! American citizenship is the most valuable thing any human in the world can have, and diluting it by allowing non-citizens to vote makes us nothing more than additional fodder on the road to serfdom.

Although Rwaganje is from Congo, Portland has somewhere between 5,000 and 7,500 immigrants, and half of them have never applied for citizenship and hail almost exclusively from Somalia and Latin America. Few of the immigrants have learned to speak English, and the Somali community has been stubbornly non-assimilative. But Somali immigrant and non-citizen Abdirizak Daud says: "I like the Democrats. I want to vote for Democrats, but I don't have citizenship."

Like we hadn't guessed which party he favors without him telling us. At least he didn't announce it on Christmas on a flight over Detroit. You don't have citizenship, Mr. Abdirizak? Whose fault is that? Learn English, assimilate, start the process, learn about the true greatness of America (which isn't about freebies and special favors), and get your citizenship. Then, even if you haven't learned how destructive Democrats are, you can vote for them. But not one damned minute before that. Oh, and while you're at it, swear allegiance to the United States and leave that dungheap of a country you came from behind.

To these whining immigrants who claim it isn't "fair" not to let them vote, I say the same things my parents said to me when I as a child whined about not getting what I wanted: "Life isn't fair." To my kids, I added "The souls in hell want ice water." And besides, what's unfair about requiring citizenship in order to vote? The founding patriots fought and died to gain that right. Those who survived earned the right to frame a Constitution that establishes the rule of law, not of men. Messrs. Daud and Rwaganje, your are not the issue, and fairness isn't the issue. The rule of law and the value of citizenship is the issue. If you don't value your adopted town, state and country enough to go through the process of obtaining citizenship, then to hell with you.

The ballot issues before the voters in Portland and mostly throughout the nation involve non-citizens who are here legally. This is just the camel's nose under the tent. If legal non-citizens who have children in school gain the right to vote, why not illegal immigrants? That wouldn't be "fair." This is nothing short of death of the meaning of American citizenship in small, incremental doses. And if it's done, we can deal with the Animal Farm issue later.

While this tragicomedy is going on, five Democrat-controlled states have yet to make even minimal efforts to comply with the Overseas Voting Act which provides ballots for our armed services men and women putting their lives on the line in far-flung and dangerous places. I'm afraid I can't feel any sympathy for non-citizens who want to vote when those who are risking death or maiming to protect our right to vote are denied their ballots. It's clear that the Democrats prefer non-citizens to those who have earned their citizenship in the most difficult manner possible.
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Monday, October 25, 2010

The Pelosicrats Are At It Again

California Democrats were ticked off enough when two years ago the voters of the State of California approved an initiative which took mandatory redistricting out of the hands of self-serving politicians and put it in the hands of a civilian panel comprised of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four unaffiliated voters. But the law applied only to State districts. This year, the same thing was put together for Congressional elections.

For the Democrats (and a few "safe" Republicans) that was going a bridge too far. So we now have dueling Propositions on the November 2 ballot. Prop. 20 was done by initiative. In the initiative process, private citizens outside the government put together a proposed law, get enough signatures, and it is placed on the ballot. Prop. 27 was put together by the Democrat-controlled legislature with the assistance of the Congressional delegation led by Nancy Pelosi (largely because they want California to remain a "blue" state). In order for it not to look like a pure political ploy, the legislators used the initiative process by getting non-elected consultants and "concerned citizens" to put it on the ballot. Prop. 20 expands the citizen redistricting panel to Congressional elections. Prop. 27 not only keeps that from happening, but eliminates the citizens panel entirely and returns both state and federal redistricting to the hands of the pols.

Having two Propositions on the ballot which conflict with each other is the intent of the Democrats. They want confusion to reign on the distinct chance that voters will vote more heavily for Prop. 27 than for Prop. 20. It wasn't enough that the Democrats wanted to continue to control federal redistricting, but they figured while they were at it, they might as well get rid of any popular type of redistricting. Quite simply put, when two Propositions conflict, the one with the most votes becomes the law.

I've mentioned to you before that California is not nearly as blue as the MSM would have it, nor as blue as the district maps show. The heavy Democrat control of the legislature is largely the result of gerrymandered districts. In the wake of the 2000 Census, the Democrats controlled both the legislature and the governorship and thus had complete control over redistricting under the old system. They gerrymandered the districts so well that in the ten years since, only 5 of the 692 state and federal legislative seats have changed political hands. In the current election, even with the tremendous surge in Republican and Independent ire, it is likely that only 13 California Assembly and Senate seats (out of a total of 100) could even conceivably change party hands. As for Congress, only 4 out of 53 Congressional seats are up for grabs.

But that is under the old plan. If Prop. 20 passes, this would all change by the time of the 2012 general elections. Both state and federal districts would be more evenly drawn, disparities between size, shape and population of districts would be more evenly and compactly distributed. California has never been under any consent decrees resulting from the Voting Rights Act, so racial demographics would play a much smaller part. If any ethnic groups are affected directly by that, it would most likely mean an increase in Hispanic representation and a decrease in African-American representation, but even that is not a sure thing. In other words, to the extent humans are capable of reason, the districts would be drawn reasonably.

The concept of the people having any control over their voting districts is anathema to Democrats. A few Republicans are lukewarmly supporting Prop. 27 because they are in safe Republican districts. That lack of principle is disgusting. However, in most cases, a redistricting along fair and impartial lines would be far more damaging to Democrats and far more advantageous to Republicans. Democrat donors, and particularly the unions, have poured considerable resources into defeating Prop. 20 and passing Prop. 27.

It is estimated by several respectable authorities of both political parties that passage of Prop. 20 would add at least 10 more Congressional seats and 10 to 12 state seats into competition above the few that are already competitive. In no way does that guarantee Republican victories or even Republican control, but at least it somewhat levels the playing field.

Here's how the execrable Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez describes how desirable a return to the old system is: "Paying $20,000 is nothing to keep your seat. I spend $2 million campaigning every year. If my colleagues are smart, they'll pay their $20,000 and Democratic Consultant Michael Berman will draw the district they can win in. Those who refuse to pay? God help them."

Nancy Pelosi played a major part in drafting and foisting Prop.27 on the California voters. Her district is safe, no matter what. But since she will undoubtedly lose her position as Speaker of the House in November, she would at least like to have as many California Democrats as possible there with her in the minority party House caucus.
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Stuxnet: The Future of War Is Here

This may sound like science fiction, but it's not. It’s Monday morning. You’re sitting at work, in your firm’s cafeteria drinking coffee, when suddenly you spot a computer memory stick lying on the floor next to your table. You take it to the IT people, so they can return it to the rightful owner. They pop it into a USB port. . . it’s empty. A month later, your plant explodes. Think I’m exaggerating? I’m not.

With the rush to computerize everything, it was inevitable that the peculiar weaknesses of computers would be exploited for military purposes. For years now, the Chinese have been firing “cyber missiles” at American companies to steal their business secrets. In 2008, we saw Russia take down the internet across Estonia and Georgia with denial of service attacks from millions of infected Western computers; this disrupted government and military communications and spread panic. It is rumored that predator videofeeds can be (or have been) hacked. And we repeatedly hear of attempts to hack the Pentagon.

But those attacks were nothing.

Meet Stuxnet, an incredibly sophisticated computer worm that many are speculating was created by American or Israeli military cyber warriors. This is the future of war, and the first shot has already been fired.

Stuxnet was designed to get onto a computer system from a USB memory stick. . . the one you found in your cafeteria or next to your car or which was dropped into your coat pocket on the subway. Why use this method of transmission? Because most of the control systems that run industrial plants are intentionally isolated from the internet so they can’t be reached by hackers. The USB solution gets around that problem.

Once the memory stick is connected to a computer, Stuxnet exploits one of four separate, previously-unknown holes found in Microsoft Windows to load itself onto any computer into which the USB memory stick is placed (it is unheard of for ordinary hackers to reveal their knowledge of so many holes in one attempt). To achieve this, Stuxnet uses two compromised security certificates stolen from firms in Taiwan. Once it's on the computer, it first tries to find an internet connection. If it finds one, then it contacts a server in Denmark or Malaysia for instructions. If it can’t, then it spreads itself across the network looking for a backdoor to allow remote access.

This level of effort is highly unusual for a normal bit of malware. But what truly makes Stuxnet stand apart is that it was programmed with extensive knowledge of plant control systems manufactured by Siemens, as well as the blueprints of a particular target. What target? It’s not entirely clear (or if it is, no one is saying), but all indications are that Stuxnet was aimed at Iran (60% of the 45,000 infected computers are in Iran), with the Bushehr nuclear reactor and the Natanz enrichment facilities being the likely targets. Iran denies that any damage was done, though when this worm struck last year, the number of working centrifuges at Natanz mysteriously dropped.

So what can be done using such a worm?

Almost everything now runs on some sort of computer system, everything from the stock market to the electrical grid to air traffic control to traffic lights. Stuxnet reveals the potential for cyber attacks to be aimed at specific targets, like a particular electrical plant. Moreover, these attacks can be done without any trace or hint of where they came from. Thus, you could shut down the electrical grid in a country right before an invasion rather than bombing, or you could stop a pesky nuclear enrichment facility, or cut off a fuel supply. . . and it can all be done without anyone know who did it. There are few limits.

And how life-threatening can the damage be?

Well, for example, by tinkering at a nuclear power plant, you could recreate Chernobyl if you had the expertise. Or by shutting down the right valves, you could generate enough pressure to cause a natural gas pipeline to blow itself up. In fact, in 2004, it was claimed that a C.I.A. campaign of computer sabotage in Siberia in the 1980s caused a gas pipeline to explode when “the pipeline software that was to run the pumps, turbines and valves was programmed to go haywire, to reset pump speeds and valve settings to produce pressures far beyond those acceptable to the pipeline joints and welds.” This resulted in a three kiloton explosion, so large it could be seen from space.

Now consider this. So many of the computer chips, the processors, the routers and everything else that we use in every single home, business, and military application today are made in China, often by companies that are owned or controlled by the Chinese military. Who needs to plant a USB stick when your enemy will buy infected gear right out of your hand? Indeed, in a fascinating report some months ago, it was revealed that the Pentagon has turned to chip scroungers to save money when they need old chips, rather than paying to have new ones made. These scroungers typically get the chips from Chinese sources who take them out of old computer gear. In several instances, these chips have been linked to crashes of jet fighters and, in one instance, an aircraft carrier lost its radar system for several hours when some of these chips failed. That’s not very comforting, especially for a military and a country that rely so heavily on technology.

Fortunately, under a new policy, the Defense Department is quietly moving into the business of defending critical US infrastructure from cyber attacks. Specifically, DOD will provide cyber expertise to other government agencies, including Homeland Security, and to certain private companies.

Let’s hope that for once, the government is up to the task.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

New York State of Mind

Okay, let's just get this out of the way now... THE RANGERS HAVE WON THE PENNANT! THE TEXAS RANGERS HAVE WON THE PENNANT!!!! And it's doubly sweet because they beat the Yankees doin' it and triply sweet because the last out of the game was on A-Rod (Alex"$125million Baby" Rodriguez), former Texas Ranger!! And to think the Rangers were fighting for their life in the bankruptcy courts this summer. The new owners including Nolan Ryan just finalized the paperwork in August. The ink's not even dry yet, and THE TEXAS RANGERS ARE PLAYING IN THE WORLD SERIES!!

Okay now that I've gotten that out of my system...

State - Okay, so we had our one and only debate with all of our Gubernatorial candidates which was described alternately as "a circus" and a long lost episode of "the Gong Show". The seven participants not in any particular order:

Andrew Cuomo, the Attorney General and scion of the Cuomo/Kennedy Democrat Dynasty;

Carl Paladino, the colorful Buffalo Republican and self-annointed Tea Party candidate. He has made many inflammatory (but honest)statements and even sent out garbage-scented fliers to play up the "stink in Albany";

Jimmy McMillan, from "The Rent is Too Damn High" Party. On Gay marriage - 'If you want to marry a shoe, I'll marry you'. Oddly, he was the candidate who has been picked on the most by the press because his monthly rent (a paltry $800) is well below the norm for the NYC area...;

Howie Hawkins, of the Green Party who inexplicable sported a Southern accent even though he was born in California and grew up in Vermont;

Charles Barron, the Freedom Party candidate, former Black Panther, and current New York City Councilman from Brooklyn. The less said about him, the better;

Warren Redlich, the low-key Libertarian candidate who described himself in his opening remarks - "I'm not your typical New York politician. I've never been caught with a prostitute. My dad wasn't governor and I've never been convicted of a crime.";

AND, last but certainly not least, and also voted the most at ease -

Kristin Davis, the Anti-Prohibition Party candidate and former Manhattan Madam to Client #9 Eliot Spitzer. Her best comments - "...the career politicians in Albany are the biggest whores in this state. I might be the only person sitting on this podium qualified to deal with them." and "The key difference between me and the MTA is I operated one set of books and I offered on-time and reliable service."

A wonderful cast of characters right out of Broadway slapstick comedy, but, well, let's just cut to the chase. John Podhoretz of the NY Post summed it up pretty well in his post-debate analysis - "The..person who seemed in his element, Andrew Cuomo,...will be the next governor of this state unless a comet strikes the Earth and renders us all extinct before Nov. 2."

[UPDATE] A new Rasmussen poll published today has the Cuomo/Paladino race tightening up slightly - 51%-37%.

Other races of note -Unfortunately the Republican Party is not doing any better in other state-wide races either. They are all good candidates, but they just are not well funded or exposed:

House -
Charles Rangel (D/NY15) against Michel Faulkner (R) , a Harlem-based minister and former New York Jets player among a long list of accomplishments and degrees - there has been absolutely no reporting on this race, no polls, no articles, no nothing. The last poll I saw from August had Rangel leading in the 65-70% category.

[UPDATE] Rangel has apparently stopped campaigning and is now holding a fundraiser on Monday to solicit donations for the defense fund for his upcoming ethics trial. Wouldn't it be cheaper for people to just vote him out?

Senate -
Charles "Chuck" Schumer against Jay Townsend (R) - Schumer has all but disappeared from the state. He has made himself actively unavailable for townhall meetings or debates with his opponent, so he does not have to stand on his record or have to defend President Obama. Since, Rasmussen has him leading 59% to 31%, I guess the strategy is working. So unless that Podhoretz comet hits, Schumer is in. And furthermore, if Harry Reid loses in Nevada and the Democrats retain the majority in the Senate, it is rumored that Schumer will be first in line to take over as Senate Majority Leader.

Kirsten Gillibrand (D/NY) against Joe DioGuardi (R) - This race is a little tighter, but not by much. Rasmussen has her leading by 54% to 33%. And since the only issue that has been reported on in the last week is Sen. Gillibrand's weight loss and "hotness", I doubt DioGuardi has much of a chance either. Comet anyone?

My predictions for the November 2, 2010 Elections, but I leave you with this video in anticipation of the coming Tuesday, November 2, 2010 election. If you need any more proof as to why you need to vote on Tuesday, November 2, 2010, please watch this, hopefully before Tuesday, November 2, 2010:

Did they shoot this in a Capital Mall video booth?

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Sometimes The Obvious Escapes Us

When an opportunity to secure victory is at hand, those who ultimately win know what to do and when to do it. Still, sometimes defeat occurs, and later the loser slaps himself in the forehead and says something resembling "Wow--I could have had a V-8." It's the "I shoulda said" feeling you have after losing an argument that you could have won if only you hadn't forgotten one of your best arguments.

Such a defeat could be in the making in the California gubernatorial and senatorial elections. Although the races are close (Meg Whitman is within striking distance for governor, and Carly Fiorina is slightly ahead in her senatorial race, though within the margin of error). I kept scratching my head trying to figure what issue would energize five percent or more of the California electorate in favor of the Republican candidate, thus closing the gap and securing victory. I had that "aha!" moment during an interview highlighting Carly Fiorina and her campaign.

Whitman and Fiorina have both hammered at the most important issue of the day--the economy. Democrat responses in both races are utterly ridiculous. Brown and Boxer both have that advantage of inertia and the foolish idea that "you go with what you know." But nobody believes that liberal Democrats have the economic answers except their hardcore enthusiasts and fellow arrogant loonies. The traditional Democrats are going to vote a little less Democratic this time, and the traditional Republicans are going to vote a little more Republican this time. The inertia helps the Democrats with the independents, but the unemployment rate helps the Republicans. That's why the races are so close.

And here's where the obvious escaped Whitman and to a lesser extent, Fiorina (and me, of course). There are two huge groups of people who have been largely ignored, except for a passing remark by Fiorina commenting on what is essentially a footnote in her campaign. It was that remark that caused me my "V-8 moment." How could we have missed this? The two groups are the farm owners and the farm laborers. Normally the former would be voting somewhat Republican and the latter, larger group, would be voting somewhat Democratic.

Unemployment in California is at about 12.5% officially, but those are labor statistics with strict rules. In fact, it's closer to 17% when you count business owners who have lost their businesses and laborers who have lost their unemployment benefits or have simply given up looking for work. A huge percentage of those people live in the California Central Valley where farm bankruptcies set new records each month, and unemployment is closer to 35%. Yes, you read that right--35%.

So what was Fiorina's remark that caused me to kick myself in the rear end and wonder how it has been left out of the debates and the campaign ads? Fiorina said: "I would turn the water on." If you don't know what I'm talking about, go here before reading on: Meet The Fish That Conquered California.

Even in its current abysmal state, California is still the most productive agricultural state in the union, though one more year of drought and it could drop out of the running entirely. There's plenty of rain, snow and water to feed the thirsting farms, but the spigots are turned off to protect a damned fish that a few eco-freaks have decided must be protected at the cost of human lives and economic prosperity. Immense holes in unemployment and state deficits could be filled with the simple act of opening up those spigots, turning on those pumps, ceasing the idiotic act of letting all that water flow back into the ocean, and telling the environmental wackos that they can stick the Delta smelt up their wazoos.

The worst part is that the Delta smelt was dying out naturally. It serves no known purpose in the ecosystem. If it disappeared tomorrow, the environment wouldn't be affected one iota. But a small group of extremists and the state and federal environmental "protection" agencies are protecting the useless fish anyway. Even if that miserable fish had some small effect on the ecosystem, how does that compare with the loss of human jobs, lives and endeavor? This is what happens when green weenie Democrats get into power and turn government, logic and the human factor over to mindless, faceless bureaucrats and headline-grabbing eco-terrorists.

When I wrote the original article concerning the Delta smelt, I still lived in my ivory tower in San Francisco. The whole thing smelled (pardon the pun), and from a purely scientific and political point of view, the crazed reasoning of the ecoweenies made zero sense to me. That was all very unemotional and reasoned on my part. But in June of this year, I moved into the heartland of California--to Kern County (mentioned prominently in the original article). Although I live in the high desert, even we are somewhat affected by this problem. The biggest non-industrial activity in the area is herds of cows and horses, and those activities are down with less water for the animals. But I frequently go into Bakersfield, and on the way I see the dry, deserted fields that used to produce bumper crops for the world. I see empty farmhouses. When I get into Bakersfield, I see foreclosures galore and a depressed city previously thriving largely from agriculture and oil (they killed the oil industry here decades ago). My viewpoint is no longer reserved or abstract. I see the human misery up-close and personal.

Both Republican candidates had (and still have) an opportunity to pick up the votes that would assure victory. But minimal debating points and casual references to this immense problem have not and will not sway those vital voters. Neither candidate has made this a jewel in the crown of her campaign strategy. That was a tragic mistake. Never mind all the socialist nonsense about the forgotten man. The forgotten men (and women) are those farmers and farm workers who are waiting for someone to promise firmly that the water will be turned on, the farms will be fertile once more, and those damned fish will be ground up into fertilizer for the greatest agricultural land on earth.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Film Friday: Bob Roberts (1992)

In the spirit of the upcoming election, I thought I’d do something you never thought I would. . . I’m going to recommend a movie written by, staring, and directed by Tim Robbins. This is another one of those richly ironic films where an über-leftist tries to expose the “evil right wing” and ends up exposing his own side. It’s also a very entertaining film.

** spoiler alert **

Bob Roberts is the fictional story of Bob Roberts, a candidate for the United States Senate in Pennsylvania. It’s told in a documentary style, but remains very film-quality. Roberts (Tim Robbins) and his mysterious campaign manager (Alan Rickman) manipulate the press, slander their opponent, enter into shady deals, encourage cult-like followers, and dodge an obsessed “journalist” (Giancarlo Esposito) who investigates the truth about Roberts’ mysterious dealings. That truth appears to be that Roberts is a Manchurian candidate of military contractors and the C.I.A., who are secretly funding his campaign. And no dirty trick is too low for this campaign.

So why in the world would I recommend this film? Well, for one thing, it really is quite a good film. It’s well shot, well paced, and all around entertaining. For another, the film boomerangs on its leftist intent. Here are some examples:

First, while Roberts is the evil right winger cliché that haunts the dreams of leftists like Robbins, Roberts actually comes across as one of those likeable villains you find yourself cheering on -- just like the generation of kids who wanted to be Gordon Gekko after Wall Street. It's hard not to like Roberts because he's friendly, witty, and is unfairly put upon by the other side. For example, Roberts keeps saying things like: “stay off crack. . . it’s a ghetto drug.” If you understand the anguish the left has regarding the disparity between how cocaine and crack are sentenced, and how they blame that disparity on racism, then you’re supposed to see this statement as evidence of racism and you’re supposed to be appalled. But that's too deep in the pond of leftist paranoia for most people and anyone not steeped in hard-left victimology will simply see this line as funny and/or absurd.

Secondly, the folk music is great. Roberts is a folk singer and he uses his music as part of his campaign. The music is intended to be pure satire, as Roberts sings lines like “be a clean living man with a rope in your hand” (implying you should act like a vigilante). But most people will find themselves having a high degree of sympathy with the lyrics of his songs. In fact, Robbins became so concerned about this that he refused to release the soundtrack for fear that Republican candidates would start using his songs -- just as Ronald Reagan turned Bruce Springsteen’s anti-American rant “Born in the USA” into a pro-American anthem.

Third, this film highlights the nastiest side of liberalism in the most unflattering ways. For example, in one scene, it shows the intolerance of liberals when Roberts appears on a fake Saturday Night Live show (the parody of SNL is actually spot on, with poorly-written unfunny scripts, bad acting, and mindless characters). The actors (including John Cusack) throw tantrums about Roberts showing up, treat him rudely, and finally try to sabotage the show to deny him any publicity. While Robbins no doubt thought the audience would see these characters as noble for standing up to power, they actually come across as mean, petty, and intolerant. . . exactly the kind of vile, intolerant, hateful types we've seen parading through Hollywood for years now. Moreover, their hate is made impotent in the film because nothing they try seems to be able to stop Bob.

Fourth, this film is rich in irony. While Robbins means this film as an indictment of the American right, the things he accuses the right of doing are all out of the playbook of the left. For example, it is hilarious to see Robbins complain about secret military funding of right-wing Bob, when the past 20 years have shown that liberals are the creatures of big business, the military industrial complex, and foreign money. He accuses right-wing Bob of planting a fake sex scandal to embarrass his opponent, something Democrats specialize in (like all the October surprises, e.g. the fake Bush Sr. affair, CBS making up Bush Jr.'s military record, etc.). It’s also hilarious to see a brainwashed cult-like group of followers (including a young Jack Black) begin following Bob around, when the only thing approaching this in real politics has been the legion of Kool-Aid drunk liberals that wept whenever Obama spoke.

In some ways, this film is also quite prescient. For example, it foretells the much nastier style of campaigning that has become a Democratic specialty -- secret dirty money, image over substance, a hard-left flank that tries to suppress its opponents by any means including violence, faked scandals, loads of hate, etc. It also foretells the shift from a mainstream media to a more fringe media. In fact, Bugs Raplin (Esposito), the crazed journalist, is a lot like the paranoid weirdoes who would soon begin to inhabit places like Huffington Post, where they too complain that the MSM won’t cover the "real" truth because they’re beholden to secret corporate interests.

At first blush, this film sounds like something you wouldn’t want to see if you’re not a flaming leftist, but it really is worth watching. Robbins’ attempt to slander the right backfires in almost every scene and his story telling ability is undeniable. The story has clever twists and turns, the acting is perfect, and the characters are likeable. Moreover, unlike most leftist films, this one doesn’t preach because it assumes that you will pick up the meaning from the words and deeds and motivations of the characters, and that you will naturally agree with Robbins. . . hence, no need to preach.

Sadly for Robbins, he never realized that the window he thought was letting him peer down into the dark side of conservatives was actually a mirror. Good for us though.

Check out the new film site -- CommentaramaFilms!

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