Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Coming Soon To A Neighborhood Near You

California has led the way to both tremendous wealth, and more recently, bankruptcy. Now, with the assistance of a United States Supreme Court ruling, California will lead the way with the largest number of state convicted felons released in history. Speaking for the majority in a 5-4 decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy said: "California prisons have fallen short of minimum constitutional requirements" because of overcrowding.

Of course it was the then-majority liberal Justices, led by former Court Guru William Brennan, which made several decisions which determined what kind of treatment was constitutional in the first place. Overcrowding and "insufficient" medical treatment were the great bete noir for the prior Justices, basing their decisions on conditions that they had never experienced or observed. They got their information from leftist ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center lawyers who wanted prison cells to look like their homes, and medical treatment to be better than civilian private insurance could provide.

Dissenting, Justice Antonin Scalia was very pointed, calling the ruling "staggering and absurd." He added that the ruling will result in the release of "46,000 happy-go-lucky felons," even though the High Court had overruled several very similar decisions from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the recent past. Justice Clarence Thomas joined in Scalia's dissent. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito wrote a joint separate dissent arguing that the ruling was inconsistent with their own prior rulings limiting federal interference in state incarceration matters based on recent federal legislation.

This will be a brief summary of how California will be affected, but there are already cases pending in several other jurisdictions, and you can make book on the fact that this decision will result in similar litigation in nearly every state of the union. Justice Scalia based his "happy go lucky felons" number on a slightly out-of-date California prison population. California had already begun reducing its prison population high of 160,000 by modifying its parole laws, farming prisoners out to other state corrections facilities and local halfway houses, and building new facilities while adding medical staff. That action had slowed as a result of California's huge budget deficit, but the action was already in the works long before the Supreme Court ruled. The actual number of felons to be released is currently more like 42,000 than 46,000, but that's close enough.

It has been estimated that the number of felons to be placed in programs other than full release was close to 35,000 over a two-year period. This program had the support of former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, current Governor Jerry Brown, the State Department of Corrections, and the state legislature. The out-of-state incarceration program was to be ended because it was costing too much, but the state will now have to re-evaluate that decision, even though it has no money to pay for the program. None of this was good enough for Justice Kennedy and the four liberal bleeding-hearts on the High Court. They were unclear on whether the 35,000 prisoners in the California plans overlapped with the 42,000 they have ordered released.

Prison is a very unpleasant experience. Is it intended to be otherwise? It is, in the minds of insulated Justices living in mansions in Georgetown, Arlington and other D.C. locations. "Cruel and unusual" punishment is in the eye of the beholder, in this case the Supreme Court. You wouldn't allow your children to live in conditions like this, but then maybe you've taught them not to be criminals. As for overcrowding, they never saw my frat house in Berkeley. Medical care in the state prisons is on a par with the British National Health Service, without the death panels. It's not very good, but it's not medieval either. And the Brits don't even think it's cruel. Naturally, there have been gross violations of standard care from time to time, but no worse than in the general civilian population.

When the prisoners get back into the civilian population, they will be enjoying the benefits of reduced police, law enforcement personnel, and parole supervisors to greet them as a result of budget cuts. No problem, say the liberals. Serious crime is down, after all. They fail to see the connection between strict law enforcement, imprisonment, and three-strikes laws as the major cause of reduction in crime. They are likely to see a concomitant increase in serious crime statewide as a result of the Supreme Court ordered prisoner releases.

The left has been attacking the California three-strikes laws as if bicycle thieves and drug-users are the ones filling the state's prison facilities. Nonsense. There are multiple escape valves available to the courts, prosecutors and law enforcement officials for minor, non-violent criminals to avoid lifetime incarceration. Those filling the prisons are recidivists, and the vast majority are repeat violent offenders.

Which brings me to another topic. From liberals to conservatives, polls and studies show that somewhere between 29% and 31% of California's prisoners are illegal immigrants. If you take the lowest estimate of the state prison population (+ 130,00) and multiply it by the lowest percentage of estimated illegals in those prisons, you get approximately 37,700. You could get pretty close to solving the Supreme Court's problems with California prison populations by releasing all the illegals, putting them on flotillas of jumbo jets, giving them parachutes, and dropping them over Mexico City. But I digress.

Even genuine conservative writers have taken on the topic and concluded that the prisons are overcrowded and medical care inadequate. At TownHall.com, Steve Chapman penned an article entitled: "When Punishment is a Crime." But he makes the mistake of the liberals. He sees nasty conditions in California prisons as being equal to Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago. That's over-the-top and fails to recognize the actions which were already being taken by two California administrations. And like too many decent, hard-working, law-abiding citizens, he fails to recognize that prison conditions will never be anything like what he considers minimal civilian standards. He simply doesn't have the experience to know that most of these violent felons are living a better, even safer life than they ever lived on the outside.

Living the thug life on the mean streets of Oakland and South Central Los Angeles is far more dangerous than being in a state prison. Notice I didn't say it was "safe." I said it was safer. Likewise, prison medical care is at least as good as what the imprisoned felon would have gotten as a free man using Med-Cal/MedicAid. It is simply ridiculous to compare prison conditions to life on the outside and decide that the conditions on the inside are unnecessarily cruel and unusual. If prison conditions are at all unusual, it is because those who chose to commit violent crimes are likewise unusual. If the treatment seems cruel, it's largely because "please" and "thank you" don't work very well when you want a hardened criminal do do something, or more likely, to stop doing something.
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Has The Supreme Court Solved The Immigration Problem?

America changed last Thursday. While everyone was dreaming of hotdogs and television marathons, the Supreme Court quietly issued a decision that may end up solving the illegal alien problem. In a 5-3 vote, the Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law from 2007 that penalizes businesses that hire workers who are in the United States illegally. Democrats and big business should be very afraid.

The law in question is the Legal Arizona Workers Act. This law provides that Arizona employers who knowingly or intentionally hire illegal aliens will have their business licenses suspended or revoked. The loss of a business license in most states means that a company cannot transact business, cannot bring lawsuits or defend itself in court, and cannot do things like participate in workers compensation schemes (i.e. have employees). It is essentially, a death sentence for a business. But, you ask, what keeps employers from just turning a blind eye to avoid the “knowingly” requirement? The law further requires that employers must use the federal “E-Verify” system to confirm the eligibility of workers for employment.

This law, signed by Gov. Janet “The Village Idiot” Napolitano in 2007, was challenged by the Chamber of Commerce (a theoretically conservative organization), with backing from the ACLU (a known America-hating outfit). They argued that the law was illegal because immigration law is exclusively within the power of the federal government. Thus, Arizona has no right to pass any laws involving immigration.

Writing for the majority, Justice John Roberts shot this down. He wrote that Arizona’s employer sanctions “fall well within the confines of the authority Congress chose to leave to the states.” In other words, Congress controls the nation’s immigration laws, but it has allowed the states some powers and the power to punish employers who hire illegals is one such power. Each of the leftist judges voted against this except Kagan, who recused herself because she had challenged the law on behalf of the Obama administration.

So why is this important?

Well, let us be honest about illegal immigration for a moment. To convince you that they are tough on illegal immigration, many conservative politicians pound the table and loudly proclaim that if only we (1) built a wall and (2) deported all the illegals, we could solve the immigration problem. This is pandering.

The truth is that a majority of illegal aliens do not cross illegally over the border. Most overstay visas. Thus, putting up a wall will do nothing to stop them. Moreover, as long as they can climb over the wall, dig under it, go around it by boat or plane, or get passes to visit the US even on day trips, no wall will ever be effective. It’s a fantasy to think otherwise.

Deporting them is an equally false solution. There are 12 million illegal aliens in this country with more coming every single day. Last year, we deported 380,000 people. That is 1/31 of those who are here. It took 21,000 officers to do that. Imagine how many officers it will take to get the other 30/31 and tell me if paying for those officers is politically sustainable? Moreover, finding these people is not easy and will breed massive resentment as it would require neighborhood sweeps and a police state that rivals East Germany. And even if we can ultimately find them all, there is nothing stopping them from simply turning around and coming back. You would if you were dumped in Mexico overnight, so why would anyone think they won't?

The only realistic solution to this problem is one that prevents illegal aliens from wanting to come to the United States. There is considerable evidence that they do not come when and will not stay here if there are no economic opportunities for them. Indeed, during the last recession, nearly two million went home.

In light of that, consider what the Supreme Court has done. It has given states the power to take away the economic opportunities that attract illegal aliens. As Republican states one by one make it dangerous for employers to hire illegals, employers will stop hiring them. Liberal states will need to follow suit or get flooded by illegal aliens. As the economic opportunities in the US dry up, illegal aliens will stop coming to the US and those that are here will start to leave. It won't get rid of all, but it will make this problem infinitely more manageable.

Thus, while the federal government pretends to act and offers placebos in the hope of distracting the public from its complicity in working to bring in substitute labor and votes, the states can now fix this problem all on their own.

Even better, as far as Republicans should be concerned, this avoids the political damage of being seen to be the party of mass deportations. Better yet, while everyone is focused on the flashy new law Arizona passed in 2010, this one will silently go about its job of fixing this issue with little fanfare.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Although we will not be posting a regular article today while we observe Memorial Day, we do wish to acknowledge and honor the sacrifice that our fighting men and women in uniform have made for liberty, home, family and country. Please join us in wishing our living military a safe return home, and wishing the families of those struck down in battle the thanks of a grateful nation. [+] Read More...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Film Site Grand Opening!!!

Woo hoo! The film site is officially open!! Look for new articles Wednesdays and Fridays and eventually Sunday mornings. In the meantime, I put up an article that will blow your mind. It could possibly be the single most significant article of all time. So rush to the film site, hit the "follow" button, leave mucho comments, and tell all your friends! Click Me.... [+] Read More...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day Schedule & Open Thread

Unlike Obama, we won't flee our country when it comes time to celebrate the men and women who sacrificed for this country. But we are taking a couple days off. We'll put up a Memorial Day post on Monday and resume regular posting on Tuesday. In the meantime, post your thoughts here.

Also, drop by Sunday as I'll officially open the film site with the most consequential article OF ALL TIME. . . TIME. . . TIME. . .! Tell your friends, hit the follow button, leave a comment and stare in awe at the knowledge you will gain puny mortals!!

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Film Friday: Predators (2010)

I’ve been debating whether Predators deserves a full review. I try to review films only when I have some point to make about them, and I wasn’t sure I did with Predators. But the more I thought about it, the more I saw something worth discussing: Predators is a great action flick because it goes back to the old-school way action films were made, which is something we haven’t seen in years.

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

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Weakly News Round Up

I know a lot of you aren’t paying attention to the news right now, as you’re starting to think about the weekend. So let’s do a quick and easy article tonight: let’s just sum up the news of the last few days.

1. Traveling Man: Obama is in Europe. Nothing of note happened there. Nothing at all. And if you heard that he tried to date his checks "2008" or that he botched his toast to Queen, then you are listening to evil right-wing news. And if you heard that he’s really there to hide so he doesn’t have to honor America’s soldiers. . . then you’re listening to accurate right-wing news. Oh and any suggestion that they went to Europe to get Michelle a plastic surgery technique called a "grinch tuck" is patently untrue.

2. Retiring to Obscurity: Oprah retired after decades of ruining America by endorsing “true stories” that turned out to be fake, handing out gifts that got people into tax trouble, endorsing Kenyans for the American Presidency, ruining Tom Cruise’s career and generally giving the hopelessly weepy a platform to annoy the rest of us. In a surprise move, Oprah revealed that she’s actually a middle-aged white man named Dale Nawtreal. Nawtreal’s been wearing a Hollywood fat suit that periodically deflates (accounting for her bouts with weight loss) and black face paint because he knew he needed a gimmick to compete against Phil Donahue and Jerry Springer, both of whom have been arrested for crimes against integrity.

3. New York Continues To Disappoint: Republicans suffered a “surprise” defeat in upstate New York in a three-way election the other night. Democrats are trying to blame this on opposition to Paul Ryan’s Medicare reforms. Republicans are blaming it on the fake Tea Party candidate. The real cause is either (1) New York is hopelessly leftist and even New York’s version of “right wing fanatics” would be considered bleeding heart morons in other states or (2) New York was built on an ancient Indian burial ground belonging to an extinct tribe called the “Gimmeestufs” and is cursed.

4. Peter “Snider Daddy” Fonda: This isn’t made up, though you may think it is. Peter Fonda of Easy Rider fame has said something that may surprise you. Here’s the quote:
“I’m training my grandchildren to use long-range rifles. For what purpose? Well, I’m not going to say the words ‘Barack Obama’, but . . . I prefer to not to use the words, ‘let’s stop something’. I prefer to say, ‘let’s start something, let’s start the world’.

It’s more of a thought process than an actuality, but we are heading for a major conflict between the haves and the have nots. I came here many years ago with a biker movie and we stopped a war. Now, it’s about starting the world.”
Hmmm. So Peter stopped Vietnam with a biker movie? And now Peter wants his grandkids to shoot someone called “Barack Obama” to “start the world.” Cuckoo.

Yah know, if Peter wasn’t a big leftist, I’m thinking leftists would be outraged over this, as in “MSNBC anchors encouraging street violence” outraged. But he is a leftist, so they’re not upset. Indeed, they’ll just add him to the list of murderers and rapists that they celebrate because they have the right politics. Maybe the left is even sicker than we suspected?

You may now return to your weekend planning.

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Thou Shalt Not Lecture The Lecturer

Barack Obama, Lecturer-in-Chief, does not like being corrected by someone who also lectures, but actually knows what he's talking about. The Messiah Clan have faithfully taken up his cause, damning Benjamin Netanyahu for being "rude" and "disrespecful" to the greatest president ever. How dare Netanyahu publicly disagree with The One, both at the White House and later in Congress?

Just one day before the leader of Israel was set to arrive at the White House for a state visit, Hannibal Lecturer Obama announced that Israel must return to its prewar 1967 borders and accept a Palestinian state of Obama's defining. After a contentious private meeting the next day, the two appeared for a joint press conference. Obama blathered, but he was followed by a very firm, very direct, and very important head of state who was not going to allow his country to be treated like a third world backwater or himself as a child to be lectured by the all-wise president. Obama was simply incapable of seeing the rudeness in the ambush he had set for Netanyahu, and looked like he had swallowed battery acid as Netanyahu set the record straight.

On Tuesday, while Obama was away drinking Guinness in Ireland and talking over "God Save the Queen" in England, Netanyahu addressed Congress. He spoke in measured and concilatory tones, but firmly reiterated that the 1967 borders are indefensible, that Jerusalem is indivisible from Israel, that his country would be generous in giving up land to help create a Palestinian state, and that he would not negotiate with terrorist organizations running the current Palestine who are openly dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

The Democrats and mainstream media cheered when Mexican President Felipe Calderon stood in the well of Congress and told them and the American people that free and independent American states must give up their sovereignty and let the illegals in by the droves. Now, suddenly they march in lockstep about proper guest behavior. The same people who cheered Moammar Qaddafi's litany of insults at the UN in New York City hurled against George W. Bush are suddenly all about what they think is decorum. Ditto for Chomsky aficianado Hugo Chavez who called President Bush "a devil, and a Yankee terrorist." How dare a visiting head of state publicly disagree with the American head of state? In the White House and in Congress, no less. How rude. But for liberals, the rules of politeness only apply when courteously disagreeing on principle with Barack Hussein Obama.

Calderon, Qaddafi and Chavez all directly and vociferously insulted the American people and their president while guests on American soil. The liberals merely shrugged and even encouraged those guests. But now they're in high dudgeon over a head of state who merely stated and defended his own country's stance, without telling the president or Americans how they ought to run their government. At least Netanyahu didn't tell the president that America should give up California and the Southwest because the "right of return" demands that Mexico should have its old territories back.

An Atlantic Magazine writer headlined his article with: "Dear Mr. Netanyahu, please don't speak to my president that way." He then called Netanyahu's statement "a hissy fit." To quote the great political philosopher and analyst Julia Roberts: "He's not my president." But I digress. On NBC, Andrea Mitchell said she heard that "even some Israeli officials were uncomfortable with what they acknowledge was a lecturing tone by the prime minister." Objection, Andrea, hearsay. But even if Mitchell is right, so what? Don't sneak up on a tiger, grab it by the tail and expect not to get clawed.

Another commentator said: "And if you look at that picture [Obama and Netanyahu at the press conference], it was a stone-faced Barack Obama and Netanyahu basically treating him like a schoolboy." Well speaking of appropriateness, I think that comment was accurate, since Obama behaved like an ignorant schoolboy who thinks you invite guests to your home in order to threaten them and tell them how to run their own homes.

Jamie Gorelick, Bill Clinton spokesman and Democratic hack, said on CBS that it was "unfortunate for everyone that Obama isn't as popular in Israel as George Bush was." Gee, I wonder why the Israelis don't particularly care for Obama as he panders to Islamofascists, "Palestinians," and bows low to the Saudi King. It may be unfortunate for Obama, but it sure as hell isn't unfortunate for anyone with an IQ above that of a peanut butter sandwich. Gorelick and Katie Couric had made multiple favorable comments about local "patriots" who threw shoes at visiting guest George W. Bush in Iraq. But that's different, because it was Bush.

Netanyahu merely spoke his mind about what he wants for his own tiny nation of Israel. He is the representative of the only democratic ally America has in the Middle East. If such a simple and civil thing can cause outrage throughout the liberal world and the MSM, imagine what they're going to say when a Republican presidential candidate criticizes the infallible Barack Obama.
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Commentarama Dating Advice Goes Scientific

You laughed when we gave dating advice, but we knew what we were doing! Indeed, science has now proven what Commentarama already knew: successful dating is all about ideology.

The study in question took a look at married couples and tried to determine what factor or factors were most likely to predict a successful marriage. And what did these scientists find? Well, it turns out that political affiliation is by far the single most important factor. Yep. It’s more important than looks or personality or anything else. In other words, matching up with someone with the same political views is your best shot of finding someone to marry and staying married after you do the deed.

Said researcher John Alford:
"It turns out that people place more emphasis on finding a mate who is a kindred spirit with regard to politics, religion and social activity than they do on finding someone of like physique or personality. It suggests that, perhaps, if you're looking for a long-term romantic relationship, skip 'What's your sign?' and go straight to 'Obama or Palin?' And if you get the wrong answer, just walk away."
Yes, walk away. Don’t even waste your time trying to sway over that stupid liberal/conservative/libertarian/communist/fascist/socialist/anarchist/Ron Pauler/independent, it will only end in a messy divorce with shots fired and a heartbreaking division of the commemorative Elvis plates.

Now that you know this, you should feel happier. Do you know why? Because we’ve narrowed your choices and that makes you happier. . . I’ll bet you didn’t know that? It’s true though. Another recent study found that the more choices a person is given in terms of choosing partners for dates, the less happy the person was and the less successful they ultimately were at dating. They aren't really sure why this is true, but it seems to be.

Personally I would say it's "choice paralysis" caused by a combination of having too many inputs to make a rational decision combined with an increased fear that you made the wrong choice. . . like when you see more than 12 donuts you want.

In any event, this makes me wonder. People are marrying later and having fewer kids all over the globe. Many explanations are offered for this, but none of them actually work consistently across countries. In other words, if something like economic success were the cause, then we would be seeing a consistent fall in each country as they get richer. . . but we’re not, the falling rates are not consistent. The same problem is true with other explanations like availability of birth control, employment of women outside the home, culture, religion or lack of religion. I wonder if the problem isn’t staring us in the face in this study?

In the past, people tended to live in the towns they grew up in and they really only got to know a small circle of people, i.e. they had limited opportunities to marry. Thus, this study says they should have been more successful at finding mates and happier with their choices. Today, by comparison, people live in different cities at various points throughout their lives and careers. They're also more likely to run into possible mates at college or at their jobs than in the past, and then there is the internet. Perhaps all this extra choice is causing "choice paralysis" and ruining it for everybody?


Any way, don’t date outside your politics and start ruling out more of your choices before you even start looking. You’ll be a dating monster in no time!

You're welcome.

Thoughts on any of these theories?

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2012 Contender: Tim Pawlenty

Let’s continue our 2012 Contenders series with Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty’s people want to sell him based on his blue collar background, but that’s rather irrelevant as we’re voting for a leader of our party and our country, not the next guest on Oprah. So let’s ignore that and look at his record, which is surprisingly conservative. . . though it’s not unblemished.

1. Social Conservatism: There is no doubt that Pawlenty, a recent convert from Catholicism to evangelical Christianity, is a social conservative:
Gays: Pawlenty opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions. He wants to reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” And he attacked Obama for failing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in the courts.

Abortion: Pawlenty opposed abortion except in cases of rape, incest and to save the mother’s life. He wants Rove v. Wade overturned, and he appointed four judges to the Minnesota Supreme Court who openly disagreed with Roe. As governor, he signed a law in 2003 that required doctors to provide women with information about alternatives to abortion at least 24 hours before the procedure, as well as a detailed list of risks associated with the procedure. In 2005, Pawlenty signed a law requiring that women considering an abortion be given information about “fetal pain.” Sixteen states are now trying to pass similar laws.

Immigration: On immigration, Pawlenty was cracking down on illegals before cracking down was cool. In January 2008, he ordered state law enforcement to work with federal agents to enforce immigration laws. This is what Arizona did later. He also required the Department of Public Safety to review photos in the state’s driver’s license database to look for fraud. And he required new state employees and contractors to verify their citizenship.

Guns: Pawlenty supports the second amendment, though he favors statewide standardized training and background checks before law-abiding citizens can carry firearms.
2. Economics: As you would expect for any governor, Pawlenty’s economic credentials aren’t perfect, but he has achieved some surprisingly conservative things and he’s put up quite a fight to get them.
Deficits: Pawlenty closed a $4.5 billion deficit left behind by the former governor by cutting spending and without increasing taxes. During his second term, he faced a deficit of $2.7 billion, which he eliminated with further spending cuts, shifting payments and $2 billion in stimulus money. The state currently faces a $4.4 billion projected deficit for the next two years. To achieve these deficit cuts, Pawlenty vetoed dozens of Democratic tax hikes and he even forced a nine day shutdown to get his way on the budget.

Taxes: Pawlenty kept his promise not to raise taxes. In fact, he cut taxes by $800 million. The one exception was a hike in cigarette taxes that was part of the deal he reached to end the government shutdown.

Public Sector Unions: Pawlenty took on the unions before that was cool too. In 2005, he took on Minnesota’s mass-transit workers union to cut pension benefits. After a 44 day strike, he won.

Moreover, he seems to “get it.” For example, he notes that public sector unions “contribute mightily to the campaigns of liberal politicians ($91 million in the midterm elections alone) who vote to increase government pay and workers.” This is a good sign. His plan for federal employees is good too. He wants to bring compensation back in line with the private sector, reduce the overall civilian work force, start using private sector accounting practices for pension costs to stop hiding the real cost, and end defined-benefit plans. All excellent ideas.

TARP: Pawlenty spoke favorably of the TARP in 2008, but in 2010 he said that he was speaking as a surrogate for John McCain only at the time and he never actually supported the idea himself.
3. ObamaCare: Pawlenty wants ObamaCare replaced and he issued an executive order forbidding state agencies from applying for new grants under the plan:
“ObamaCare is an intrusion by the federal government into personal health care matters and it’s an explosion of federal spending that does nothing to make health care more affordable. To the fullest extent possible, we need to keep ObamaCare out of Minnesota. This executive order will stop Minnesota’s participation in projects that are laying the groundwork for a federally-controlled healthcare system.”
He also proposes the following healthcare reforms: (1) incentives for patients to be smart consumers by having patients pay less if they choose more cost-efficient health-care providers; (2) pay doctors for performance rather than number of procedures performed (reward quality rather than quantity); (3) liability reform; (4) allow insurance across state lines; (5) make insurance portable; (6) prohibit discrimination against pre-existing conditions; and (7) expand health savings accounts.

This is less than it seems, but these are better than other candidates have suggested and Pawlenty has put in place some test programs along some of these lines in Minnesota.

4. Global Warming: In 2007, Pawlenty declared global warming “one of the most important issues of our time.” He then signed bills to promote clean energy and to impose a cap and trade system. In 2008, he urged Congress to “cap greenhouse-gas pollution now.” In May of this year, Pawlenty said this “was a mistake, and I’m sorry.” His basis for changing his mind is that the human impact on climate change is unproven.

5. Ethanol: Pawlenty stated the other day that we should end ethanol subsidies. This was good. It’s about time conservatives stopped pandering to different interest groups, i.e. Iowa farmers, and instead stood on principle. But in 2005, Pawlenty signed a bill raising the mandated minimum mixture of ethanol in Minnesota gas from 10% to 20% by 2013 and he has lobbied for higher nationwide mandates.

6. Electability: Two issue arise on the issue of electability: dullness and past electoral performance.
Dullness: Pawlenty is not an inspiring speaker. He’s too polite and he lacks the gift for verbal sparring of the kind that has become increasingly necessary. Will this hurt him? That’s not clear. This election will be about Obama and his record, so a quiet candidate may be better able to keep the light on Obama. But, his lack of inspiring rhetoric may keep him from being able to land necessary punches or inspire voters. If Obama were not a disliked incumbent, this would be bad. As it is, this may not be a problem. As an interesting side note, several leftist publications have been concerned that Pawlenty “takes the snarl” out of the rhetoric and makes “extreme right wing policies sound acceptable.”

Electability: One of the issues that should be in Pawlenty’s favor is his ability to get elected in a blue state. Theoretically, that means he has cross-party appeal and can guarantee Minnesota’s 10 electoral votes, which would kill Obama’s re-election changes for sure. But Pawlenty never actually got 50% of the vote because he’s always faced multiple opponents. He was last re-elected by less than 1% (47% to 47%).
All in all, it sounds like Pawlenty is a social and fiscal conservative who is willing to put up a fight to implement conservative policies. More importantly, he seems to understand the issues better than the other candidates at this point. The knock on him is that he appears willing to shift in the political winds, particularly on global warming, and he comes across as extremely dull.


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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Angry Feminism Hits A Wall

By the time I went to college, feminism was entering a truly vile period. Gone was the talk about equality, respect and giving women “choices.” In its place was the hateful agenda of identity politics: affirmative action, squeals for equality of outcome, groupthink, suppression of opponents, and nasty misandry. At the time, this seemed to be the future of feminism. But three recent statistics tell me this version of feminism has played out.

I don’t think doctrinaire feminism was ever what it pretended to be. It claimed to want equality of opportunity and respect, but like many such 1960s movements, its leaders had a different agenda. Indeed, under the guise of equality of opportunity feminists soon began pushing for equality of result. This was particularly true in the economic sphere in the 1970s where they pushed things like the ERA, which sought not only to award equal pay within a profession, but identical pay across professions based on leftist notions of labor comparability.

Moreover, the harder-core adherents quickly devolved into man-hating. For example, feminist academics began writing papers claiming that our entire history was nothing more than a male plot to oppress women and that all sex is rape because women, lacking economic power, can never consent -- an identical argument made for why blacks "can't be racist." They also demanded the erection of gender studies departments in colleges, the appointment of women to positions for which they weren’t qualified, and the removal of gender references from the language.

By the late 1980s, this twisted view became feminist doctrine. Thus, sensible ideas like “no means no” were twisted into “no means no, even when it isn't said until after the fact.” Colleges started having rape awareness nights where everyone was supposed to walk around in the dark to protest a rape epidemic that didn’t exist -- we were told for every real rape, ten somehow go unreported and we heard ludicrous statistics like “one in four women will be raped.” College professorettes started doing things like demanding “Herstory” departments to counter “History” departments, they designed re-education programs, and they tried replacing the generic "he" with "she" in textbooks (which is a dead giveaway about their mindset because they claimed the use of "he" was oppressive; in other words, rather than looking for a gender neutral word, they simply wanted to become oppressors). They also took the stance that if there weren't enough women's sports teams, then schools had to eliminate men's sports teams. Meanwhile, extremely unkempt girls started showing up in literature and history classes talking about “male oppression,” claiming that all the female characters were lesbians, and whining that our very language keeps them down boo hoo hoo (fyi, "unkempt" because grooming standards were male attempts to oppress. . . seriously, there's feminist theory on this). And angry girls went to law school, where they would proudly (and unethically) proclaim that they would only represent “womyn.” This is what feminism became.

This version of feminism had three main planks that it pushed: (1) the forcing of women into “power professions,” (2) unchecked abortion, and (3) the destruction of marriage.

The power profession thing was easily the most interesting. Feminists kept talking about giving women “choices,” but that was a lie. What they really wanted was to force women into occupations that feminists believed would let them oppress others. This meant that any woman who chose to stay home and raise a family would be ridiculed by feminists -- even Hillary Clinton stumbled into this when she denigrated cookie making, which was common jargon among feminists at the time as a way to insult stay-at-home mothers. Moreover, women who chose “inferior careers,” i.e. traditional female occupations, were typically branded with the bimbo label. Basically, the only "allowable" choice for women was to go into politics, law or finance.

The abortion thing resulted from the realization by feminists that so long as women cared more about their children, they weren’t going to be as successful as men in the power professions. This meant women had to be kept childless so they could climb the career ladder, which meant breaking the motherhood bond. Thus, in the 1990s, you saw an assault of studies claiming that children actually benefited from being abandoned by their mothers, and you saw a strong push to ensure ideological rigidity on the abortion issue, with feminists uniformly portraying all women as being pro-abortion and portraying abortion opponents as creepy, male religious freaks intent on enslaving women. There was even a study claiming that having an abortion made women healthier.

Finally, the destruction of marriage was key because women who marry tend to drop out of the workforce. Thus, feminists pushed the idea of no-fault divorce, and single motherhood was glorified. But what really became a big issue for feminists in the 1990s was whether or not women should take their mate’s last names if they married. Indeed, if you read any feminist-infused magazine from the period, you will see that it was assumed that all women would (and did) keep their own names and the only question was whether or not to add the husband's name as a hyphenated name. Women who didn’t toe this line were dismissed as hopelessly old-fashioned and usually religious zealots.

Well, now things are falling apart for feminists. Every month I get bar journals from various states. Last month, I came across a very shrill article by one veteran feminist who was horrified that the number of women entering law school has been dropping for several years now. In the 1990s, when the number of women exceeded the number of men, feminists proclaimed that one day women would run the legal profession, and thereby the world. Apparently not. The number of women is now below the male number again and falling fast. The woman who wrote this article bemoaned the failure of young women to go to law school and openly feared that this will result in the oppression of women. . . no, I’m not kidding. The number of women in politics seems to have petered out too. And what’s worse, many are the “wrong kind” of woman, i.e. conservatives.

Then I came upon an article that talked about marriage rates and how marriage rates in the US are on the rise and people are no longer divorcing at nearly the rate they used to. Almost the next day came a study lamenting that the number of women keeping their own name in marriage (in any form) peaked in the 1990s at 23% (far less than the nearly 100% figure portrayed in the media) and has been falling steadily since. It is currently 18%.

Now, we hear from Gallup (which has a consistent left-ward bent) that only 27% of people believe abortion should be legal under “any circumstances,” i.e. the feminist position.

What this tells me is that "feminism" peaked in the 1990s and has been in steady decline ever since. What seems to have stopped it is the emergence of vocal conservative women who demanded that feminism actually be about choices as advertised. When this group of women demanded that feminists stop denigrating stay-at-home mothers, the end was near for modern feminism because that undercut the entire purpose of radical feminism.

Does this mean radical/angry feminism is dead? No. It lives on and it always will. But like Marxism or cults, its appeal is now limited to an ever shrinking fringe. The question now is: how do we use this lesson to take the radical out of other worthwhile movements that have gone astray, e.g. environmentalism?

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Number Two Terrorist In Obama's Crosshairs

Now that macho man Obama has personally rid the world of its top terrorist, it's time to move on to the second most evil man in the world--Ronald McDonald. Bin Laden merely ordered a few thousand deaths. Ronald McDonald is systematically killing off the entire American populace by forcing them to eat high fat, high calorie fast food.

Like Pharaoh and Herod the Great before him, McDonald is perpetuating the slaughter of the innocents on a grand scale. Unlike bin Laden, Ronald McDonald is an American citizen, so we can add the charge of treason to his rap sheet. Hang the clown at high noon. Recently, a Michelle Obama-inspired claque took out full page ads in several metropolitan newspapers with the caption "McDonald's--Stop marketing junk food to kids." The signers included left wing members of the Physicians for Responsible Medicine (PRM) and alternative/holistic quack Andrew Weil. The AMA describes PRM as a group which perverts medical science in pursuit of a vegan agenda.

Why are they going after McDonald's? That's easy. It's a capitalistic success story. Produce meals that are nutritious, palatable and relatively cheap, then encourage people to come to your restaurant to eat. How dare they? Instead of blaming parents who simply refuse to control their children, they blame childhood obesity (and adult obesity, for that matter) on a highly-successful capitalistic fast food corporation.

The food fascists are launching attacks on Ronald McDonald that have the same fury previously reserved for icon Joe Camel. Poor innocent children are being lured into a dangerous activity by a lovable cartoonish character. The Joe Camel character was arguably misleading, and the attack was hysterical. But we all know that smoking is bad for you, and Joe Camel might have convinced some kids to take up the noxious habit. Children should not be enticed into smoking. Children who take up the habit tend to become adults who continue the habit, with all the attendant health problems created by smoking.

Ronald McDonald is a whole different thing. He is encouraging something that does absolutely no harm whatsoever, and produces a product absolutely essential to human existence--food. The food fascists ignore the real problem. Excess anything is bad for you. If you don't have enough iodine in your diet, you will develop goiters, and even fatal health problems. That doesn't mean you should rush to the medicine cabinet and down a bottle of iodine. McDonald's produces a decent food product, acceptably nutritious and affordable. A Big Mac and a Coke will fill a kid's belly, give him a meal that is quite wholesome, and if it's a Happy Meal, the kid will even get a toy. Good marketing, and harmless.

So is Ronald McDonald the charming villain who is causing childhood obesity? Well, if you count the number of Big Macs, Quarter Pounders, Super-size Cokes and other things consumed by kids at the restaurants, he might be indirectly responsible. But only for producing the food and the marketing. This clown does not force children to eat his wares at the point of a gun. He doesn't advocate buying as many Big Macs as your distended stomach can handle. His advertising is fun for kids, and successful, but it is not deceptive. So who's the real culprit?

Preteen obese kids are not Ronald's fault. The same kids getting obese at McDonald's would get obese at The Four Seasons or at the Ritz-Carlton, if those restaurants were kid-friendly and affordable. Preteens aren't welcome at either of those places without parents. And they are unlikely to be spending a lot of time or money at McDonald's without adults either. Most of those obese kids go to McDonald's accompanied by obese parents who can't say "no" to themselves or their kids. If you could buy a big Porterhouse Steak and a bottle of Chateau Lafitte Rothschild for the same price as a Big Mac and a Coke, they'd probably order that.

If McDonald's changed its per-person prices to match those of the fancy-schmantzy restaurants and promised kids that in lieu of toys they'd be treated to chamber quartet music, they'd be out of business in twenty-four hours. But the food fascists see low-priced fast food as a threat to their agenda of replacing parents with government bureaucrats. For people who are almost entirely "pro-choice," they sure seem to think that choices of restaurants and menus should be the sole province of the government.

The daily menu at the Friends School for Rich People that the Obama children attend may be somewhat better fare than that at McDonald's, but certainly not enough better to justify the price that most Americans could never afford on a daily basis. A McDonald's salad may not be as fancy as the one served at the Friends School, but a vegetable is a vegetable, and until recently "eat your vegetables" was a universal parental demand.

The food fascists have a very poor understanding of economics and the market. McDonald's doesn't produce good, inexpensive meals in a family-friendly environment because they have a secret strategy for killing Americans by creating obesity. They are successful because a huge majority of Americans want what McDonald's offers. It's not like Americans who want to use heroin, or Americans who want to smoke. It's Americans who want to eat (a vital human need), and do so quickly in a fast-moving society at an affordable price. But even ignorant peasants like me who patronize McDonald's from time to time know that four or five Big Macs at a sitting, washed down by a gallon of soft drinks, is not good for their kids. Apparently, a whole lot of today's parents either don't know that, or don't care. That's not Ronald's fault.

I raised three kids and am actively involved in the lives of my eight grandkids. All have eaten with a certain regularity at McDonald's, and the younger ones really want those toys in the Happy Meals. But neither I nor my adult children allow the grandkids to get four toys by eating four Happy Meals at a sitting. All my grandkids are slim, active and healthy. I'll put my two oldest granddaughters up against the Obama girls any day in the week. Ronald McDonald is not standing behind anyone demanding that the young'uns eat more, more, more. It isn't either the food or Ronald McDonald that causes obesity in children. It's quite simply overeating encouraged or ignored by negligent parents.

If Ronald and the McDonald's restaurants disappeared tomorrow, unsupervised and undisciplined children would still find their big quantities of affordable food somewhere else. Not the Four Seasons, of course, but at Burger King, Wendy's, Carl's Junior, and a host of others. The food fascists need to pick them off one at a time, and they've simply chosen the most successful capitalistic food enterprise of them all to start with.

And so, I have one remaining question. Does anyone have a handy comparison of the funds raised, the children helped and the families comforted by the Michelle Obama Proper Food for Kids Fund versus the Ronald McDonald House?
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Monday, May 23, 2011

Secretary of State Clinton Backs El Jefe

We were recently treated to a jokey Barack Obama in Texas, telling us our borders are secure, he's the immigration president, and dumb Republicans want to install unnecessary border moats filled with alligators. In all the glow of the words coming from the mouth of The Anointed One, perhaps you missed Hillary Clinton's follow-up speech at the forty-first Washington Conference on the Americas.

Clinton luxuriated in the wonderful interdependence between Latin America and the United States. Particularly when it comes to immigration. She loves it. She also forgot to mention any distinction between legal and illegal immigration. She said that immigration from Mexico particularly "makes some people nervous." Uh, not really. Massive illegal immigration makes a lot of us considerably more than nervous. She further exulted that "the United States is blessed to have one of the largest Spanish-speaking populations in the world." I'd rather we had the largest Hispanic population that speaks fluent English.

She explained how she is a huge fan of Mexican President Calderon (you know, the guy who addressed Congress and denounced immigration-related legislation in several border states). She mused over Calderon's honesty about the unfortunate need for Mexican citizens to swim or hike across the American border. After all, Calderon has said "emigration from my country will continue as long as Mexico cannot offer its people the job opportunities they deserve." And who's fault is that, you two? Now get your hand out of my wallet, Senor Presidente.

She further spoke of our "joint problem of narcoterrorism." Well, how does that justify erasing the American border? We have the junkie problem. They have the narcoterrorists. The real problem is that the Obama administration is willing to allow the narcoterrorists to form up on our side of the border. Then we'll have both problems. The Mexican police have done next-to-nothing to halt the murder and mayhem in Mexico, and are often directly involved in those activities themselves. Calderon can't even control his own law enforcement agencies. American undercover narcotics agents, supposedly working in cooperation with the Mexican police, are frequently outed or attacked by the very Mexican authorities they are working with.

Let's move on. We also share the problem of climate change, says Hillary. But it's so impressive that Mexico has taken such a strong position on the issue. She becomes rhapsodic, in fact. Says the Secretary: "We are building bilateral and multilateral (she almost forgot the other Latin Americans) partnerships to help us address the strategic challenges we face."

"Pathways to Prosperity and the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas are promoting inclusive growth and sustainable energy security." I have no idea what that means, but if it's "security," it must be good. Undaunted, she went on to say: "It was a Mexican proposal for the Green Fund that will serve as the vehicle for assisting developing countries in meeting their climate needs." Yep--their needs, our green. When Hillary says "green initiative," she means greenbacks being spent on other countries who are also crazy enough to think that "climate change" has nothing to do with the sun or terrestrial internal thermodynamics. If you believe in anthropogenic global warming and Mexico's contribution to stop it, you might want to take a look at a Mexican delivery truck spewing out more noxious greenhouse gas fumes in a day than your entire family will produce in a year.

My favorite part of her speech relates to our shared values. Particularly where it comes to free elections, a republican form of government, the rule of law, and private enterprise. Says the Hill: "Now, Latin America has undergone a stunning transformation over the past few decades." Like Venezuela, I suppose. Never one to allow one lie to go untold or one fact to go undistorted, Clinton spoke specifically about Honduras. "Now, in Honduras, we have seen how effective that kind of common approach can be. And now that the obstacles to former President Zelaya's return to Honduras have been removed, I am confident that we will soon welcome Honduras back as a full member of the inter-American system. That is a step that is long overdue." WTF?

Hillary is still fighting the fight to put a disgraced wannabe dictator back in power in Honduras. The Obama administration has quite literally gotten everything wrong about Zelaya's attempted Hugo Chavez-style takeover of a constitutional republic. The Obamists don't understand our own Constitution, but they're more than willing to tell Hondurans what their constitution means. A year and a half after it became apparent that Zelaya had no intention of following his own nation's laws, the Obama administration is still saying and doing all the wrong things.

They've attempted bribery and threats to get the duly-elected government of Honduras to let Zelaya back in. The "removed obstacles" to Zelaya's return were the result of money and pressure applied by leftist US Ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens. Since Zelaya's ouster, Llorens and the State Department have lavished at least $100 million dollars on Honduras, each "gift" specifically containing a provision that the strictures against Zelaya be relaxed. Meanwhile, Llorens and Clinton have used multiple tricks to isolate Honduras from trade and mutual security agreements with other Latin American nations until the Honduran government caves in and lets Zelaya back into Honduras without legal charges pending against him.

And you thought Obama was the master of sound and fury signifying nothing. Hillary makes him look like an amateur, and she's an even-more facile liar. For fully fleshed-out discussions of the Zelaya/Honduras fiasco, check our Index over on the right side of the cover page, and click on "Honduras."
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2012 Contenders: Recent Winners and Losers

With our Presidential hopefuls dropping like flies, it’s time to recalibrate the field. Who will get whose supporters? Who can step from whose shadow? Enquiring minds want to know. . . which means we should look at winners and losers of recent events. As usual, expect no prisoners to be taken in this contempt-riddled analysis.

1. Newt Implodes:
Loser: Newt Gingrich (candidate). Newt’s ill-advised and unfounded attack on Paul Ryan’s budget plan confirmed everything negative we feared about Newt. And his tar-baby-ish struggles to defend himself alienated the entire conservative base. This has basically sunk his candidacy.

Loser: Newt Gingrich (moronacle). Newt’s role as oracle may be endangered by this debacle. For nearly a decade now, Newt has used his flirtation with running for the Presidency to sell books and get people to come seek his opinion. His implosion has exposed the oracle as perhaps more of a moronacle, and this will likely lessen his influence on the party.

Winner: Sarah Palin (celebrity/moronacle). For every yin there is a yang, and Palin is Gingrich’s yang. She’s been trying very hard to become the female Newt, i.e. a moronacle who uses a flirtation with running to garner fame and fortune. In fact, she and Newt competed for this post throughout the 2010 election primaries by make rival endorsements. Newt’s implosion opens the door for Palin to take his place at Delphi.

Winner: Barack Obama. Obama is the big winner here because Newt’s description of Ryan’s plan as “right-wing social engineering” will be enough to allow Obama to gather leftist and squishy-moderate support to block the plan.

Loser: Medicare. Lack of reform = collapse.

2. The Huckster Drops Out:
Winner: Conservatives. Apparently, God doesn’t want the Huckster as President, which is good because conservatives shouldn't want that either. His version of conservatism, i.e. big government liberalism and leftist social theory masquerading as social conservatism, is a disastrous dead end for conservatism. Now we're spared that. And make no mistake, the Huckster stood an excellent chance of winning because of the evangelical-heavy early primaries.

Winner: Sarah Palin (candidate). Palin and the Huckster had been the prime competitors for evangelical voters. With the Huckster gone, these people will look for a new candidate. Should Palin choose to run, she should be able to pick up most of his support.

Winner: Tim Pawlenty Pawlenty apparently has been working hard to win the backing of the religious right. He’s rather bland and forgettable, but out of those who are left in the race, Pawlenty seems to be the best fit for these voters. So if Palin doesn’t jump into the race (and I think she won’t), then he could win them.

3. Mitch Bails:
Loser: The GOP Establishment. The GOP establishment settled on Daniels some time ago and they’ve been pimping him hard in the MSM as the best candidate. With him gone, they need another candidate. Sadly for them, their favored choice, Jeb Bush, refuses to run in 2012. So now they need to find someone else they can trust to not make any waves.

Winner: Jeb Bush. If Bush wants the nomination, the establishment is ready to give it to him now that Daniels is gone. He just has to say the word. But let me offer a word of caution, I (and many people I know) will NEVER. . . EVER vote for another Bush.

Winner: Chris Christie. Christie is a potential dark horse alternative to Jeb Bush. He sounds conservative and he sounds like he’s a disruptive reformer, but as Commentarama readers know, he’s a safe RINO, which is exactly what the establishment wants. If the misguided "draft Christie" campaigns succeed, expect Bush to stay out and establishment support to shift to Christie. Oh happy day.

Winner: Tim Pawlenty. Yeah, Tim’s bland enough for the establishment. If they can’t get Christie or Bush, expect the establishment to adopt Pawlenty and make him the eventual nominee.

4. Trump Fires Himself:
Winner: My Sanity. nuf said.

Winner: Barack Obama. Obama is the big winner here because Trump was causing Obama fits. Trump constantly raised issues the other Republican candidates were “too polite” to raise and he has a sufficiently large soapbox that people listened. With Trump gone, Obama can now focus on a weak Republican field.

Winner: Small Candidates. Guys like Herman Cain and other “second tier” candidates need to get noticed. The way to get noticed is to say what’s on your mind. . . the more outrageous the better. That was nearly impossible with Trump absorbing all of the media’s attention like some egotistical black hole. Trump’s departure opens the door for guys like Cain and Bolton to get some media attention.

Winner/Loser: Big Candidates. Despite the circus aftertaste found in the "Nutty Trump Bar," our bigger candidates look like duds by comparison. With Trump gone, they no longer need to face the daily comparison. This is technically a win, though it’s also an indictment as it highlights just how pathetic our current field is.
So what we have here is this. Movement conservatives lost with Newt. The religious right lost with the Huckster. The establishment lost with Daniels. And the lunatic fringe lost with Trump. That's got some perfect symmetry if you ask me.


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Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Arabs Spring

To listen to the mainstream media, the Democrats, the left and the general all-around saps, it's springtime in the Rockies. It's a refreshing Irish Spring shower. It's the Prague Spring where genuine democracy overcame oppressive communism. It's the flowers that bloom in the spring, tra la. Etc., etc., ad nauseam. Tell that to the people the Arabs having been springing on.

Perhaps a better title would have been "the long, hot Arab summer." For something that sounds so sweet, innocent and uplifting, the Arab Spring is more the Winter of Their Discontent. It's time to trade bad Muslim dictators in for all-new and improved really bad Muslim dictatorships. At least Iran, which is not Arab, does not have to join in the dance around the maypole. It already has its theocratic dictatorship.

To celebrate the Rites of Spring, Arab Springers in Egypt mobbed the Virgin Mary Church in Cairo, set fire to the church, burned down the homes of two Coptic Christian families, stormed a nearby residential complex, killed thirteen people and wounded at least another two hundred. While springing on autocrat Hasni Mubarak, several Arabs also sprang on CBS correspondent Lara Logan, shouting Allahu Akbar as they raped her. The Egyptians further celebrated their spring by electing an overwhelmingly Islamofascist parliament. The springy Muslim Brotherhood now has a hammerlock on the legislative branch of government, and their leader has announced he will run for president against a very weak Amr Mousa. Meet the new boss, worse than the old boss.

The rumor that the church had attempted to convert an Egyptian Muslim girl to Christianity spurred the spring in the step of the Egyptian Arabs. But in the springtime, a young Arab's thoughts lightly turn to thoughts of murder, and the word got out to Iraqis about the alleged conversion attempt. The same thing had happened at a Syriac Christian Church in Baghdad. As for the alleged Iraqi convert, she completely denied that she had ever considered converting and didn't even know any Christians. No matter. They beat her, and killed fifty-one people at the church. Ah, spring is in the air.

As the MSM springs the news about le sacre du printemps, it somehow becomes "radical Salafists" who are raping, looting, pillaging and murdering Christians and Jews throughout the Middle East and North Africa. I hate to spring this on them, but the Muslim Brotherhood and the "Salafists" are one and the same. And they are well into the realm of control of Egypt with tentacles spreading throughout the Arab world. If you think spring is bad, wait until we get to the Arab Nuclear Winter.
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sunny With A Chance...

So, the forecast for this week has been "Sunny with a chance of the Rapture"! You may have heard the predictions that today at 6pm (ET) the Biblical Rapture is scheduled to begin. And just to be on the safe side, please land that plane, pull over to the side of the road and refrain from operating heavy machinery to help make the upcoming "Hell on Earth" a little easier for those of us who will inevitably be left behind. Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated.

As we wait for the appointed time when many of you will be "raptured upward", let us know how you are spending your last few hours in this Earthly plane before...well...you know. And if it turns out that they got the date wrong (again) or you didn't get to go this round, don't be embarrassed because there's always the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar (12/21/2012)to look forward to.
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Hey, You, Get Outta My Lane!

I think I'm having too much fun writing this piece. It's not seemly to enjoy the discomfort of so many of my fellow Californians. But on the other hand, nah-nah-nah-naaaaah-nah. All the Prius owners have to join the rest of us peasants in the regular freeway lanes. The Department of Motor Vehicles finally pulled the carpool lanes out from under them.

This is irony piled on irony. Back in the seventies, under the leadership of then-governor Jerry Brown, the state government decided that it would create what it called "diamond lanes." Those foolish enough to commute to work with less than two people in the car had to drive in the regular freeway lanes, while those conscientious conservers of energy who carpooled got to move into the less-congested and therefore speedier diamond lanes.

About the only thing it actually accomplished was to increase state revenues because frustrated solo drivers sitting on a freeway that looked like a thirty mile long thin parking lot would pull into the diamond lanes to avoid being late to work. The fine for entering a diamond lane was higher than that for excessive speed, and about the same as those for vehicular manslaughter (well, I did exaggerate a little on that). Some diamond lanes were additions to existing lanes, which was at least somewhat reasonable. But many were simply traditional "all traffic" lanes that were striped and painted with the diamond label. Thus, already-congested freeways were slowed considerably. It was estimated at the time that more gasoline was wasted sitting unmoving on the freeway than was saved by carpooling and the diamond lanes.

Move forward about three decades, and the diamond lanes were opened up for those who were willing to spend big bucks for a low-powered, truly ugly car that doesn't use gasoline exclusively. A single driver in a Prius (and later all its imitators) could get that cute sticker that announced to the world "I'm a rich yuppie who can afford a car solely for commuting, and because I am eco-conscious and you're not, I get to drive past your snail's pace driving at sixty-five miles per hour, unimpeded by fools like you." Percentages of car-poolers haven't increased appreciably in thirty years, but there have been a lot more cars in those diamond lanes.

Jerry Brown is once again governor of California. Among his early-term Moonbeam actions is the termination of the diamond lane privileges for people driving those gas-guzzling Priuses (and other hybrids). The yellow sticker will no longer let you stick out your tongue at the peasants driving traditional vehicles. You must now purchase a car which is entitled to a white sticker. Those will be given out only to those who purchase all-electric or natural gas-powered vehicles. I'm going to rush out and buy a Tesla just so I can put a big, ugly sticker on the overpriced paint job. That way, when it runs out of juice ten miles short of my destination, it will be easy to describe to the Triple-A driver. "It's the bright red sports car with the big ugly white sticker parked five miles the other side of the post office."

Believe it or not, 10,000 of those white stickers have already been issued by DMV. But then, this is California. The sticker says basically the same thing as the yellow one. It should actually say something like "do you know how much coal and oil it took to produce the electricity that charged this car?" Or maybe "the production of this car required enough mercury to guarantee that all your grandchildren will have two heads, at least."

The original yellow sticker was supposed to be good only for the years 2005-2007, but the DMV and CalTrans kept extending the expiration dates. Owners of the vehicles figured their lofty status would go on pretty much forever. They didn't reckon with the all-new and improved Jerry Brown and the Green Weenies he brought into office with him. Now they'll have to turn in their overpriced hybrids and switch to some really overpriced vehicles. But then most of them are the rich yuppies who can afford to switch with no harm to their bank accounts. I just feel sorry for the few who bought the cars simply because they truly are fuel-efficient (at least at the gas pump).

Smug Californians account for about one-quarter of all hybrid sales in America. The numbers went down a bit last year, but the current government-created spike in gas prices have sped the numbers up. I'm guessing that means that people who can easily afford $5.00/gallon gas will lift their eco-friendly chins and buy one-quarter of the total production of all-electric and natural gas-powered vehicles. Their badge of honor will be the white sticker. And they are promised their special diamond lane privileges until 2015 (not counting the likely extensions).

Personally, I'm having some of my engineer friends design a solar-powered car that gets 1,000,000 miles to the gallon. It will hold two passengers for carpool purposes, and will be about the size of two Greyhound buses (if you include the panels). Top speed is expected to be about 30 mph, but that shouldn't prevent me from getting a diamond lane sticker, should it? Our biggest problem right now is dealing with the aerodynamics. Aimed for best effect, the panels tend to turn the car into a helicopter-like vehicle with no controls. We're bogged down right now with the engineering details, and we're still waiting for our federal stimulus funds.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Film Friday: Cube (1997)

I know. . . I know. . . you’ve never heard of Cube. Well, you should have. Cube is a Canadian science fiction/psychological thriller that’s become a cult classic. It's got an interesting story, a very believable atmosphere, and it's surprisingly gripping. It’s also got a fascinating take on the nature of evil. Sadly, it squanders a bit of its potential with political correctness, but overall it’s absolutely worth seeing.

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

Senate Rejects A Loon, er, A Liu

In an historic vote, the Senate has rejected Barack Obama’s nominee for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals bench. Goodwin Liu, leftist law professor at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall was denied the seat based on his lack of genuine judicial qualifications and extremist views on the Constitution. Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) had pushed for cloture so that the Senate could give Liu “the vote he deserves.” Well—he got it.

The vote was 52-43 against cloture. Goodwin Liu is the most doctrinaire, social-engineering, “living constitution” advocate yet put forward by this or any other administration. I have discussed the nomination twice before on this blog, and for a full background on him, go to: A Perfect Nominee and Nomination Drones On. Today I just want to add to and amplify my prior remarks to demonstrate just how far Barack Obama is willing to go to “fundamentally transform America” and its most vital document, the Constitution.

Liu received a rating of “well qualified” from the left-leaning American Bar Association. In doing so, it ignored its own rules. Under the current ABA standards, Liu should have earned a simple “qualified” at best. In order to get a “well qualified" rating, the nominee must have at least twelve years experience in the practice of law and substantial courtroom experience. Though experience as a judge is not required, the highest rating has rarely been given to any nominee who did not have at least some judicial experience. Liu has only been out of law school for twelve years and a member of the State Bar for less than eleven. He practiced law for less than two years and has almost no courtroom experience. He has zero experience as a judge.

Liu has participated in exactly one trial, and his legal practice was otherwise comprised entirely of writing appellate briefs. Since Liu does have some experience in the area of appeals, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals deals with appellate law rather than trial law, that should have gained him a maximum rating of “qualified.” More subtle than that, however, is the fact that trial experience gives a future judge a much better idea of where trial facts separate from legal analysis. Lower courts and juries are the triers of fact, but there are times when facts and law are inextricably intertwined, and sorting them out becomes the role of the appellate court judge. Liu has no discernible record that would indicate that he can make those distinctions.

Another subtle but extremely important part of rating judicial nominees is the vital “judicial temperament” criterion. Liu has demonstrated a complete lack of such temperament. Rather than disagree in a lawyerlike manner with conservative justices Roberts and Alito, he launched personal attacks from a left wing political point of view. He was particularly rabid when he testified against the nomination of Justice Alito saying on the record: “Alito’s vision of America is one where police may shoot and kill an unarmed boy, where federal agents may point guns at ordinary citizens during a raid, where the FBI may install a camera where you sleep, where a black man may be sentenced to death by an all-white jury for killing a white man absent analysis showing discrimination.”

The vast majority of Liu’s positives are purely academic. He is a brilliant if wrong-headed debater on the Constitution. He’s a Rhodes Scholar graduate of Stanford, with an MA from Oxford University and his JD from Yale. It’s hard to argue with those academic credentials. He’s a good politician as evidenced by his position as associate dean of a top-tier law school at a very young age. But just like reading Mechanics Illustrated doesn’t make you a good mechanic, reading law books doesn’t make you a good lawyer, let alone a good judge. Experience in the real world of law is simply an essential ingredient.

But there is also the simple fact that Liu is so far off the mainstream chart of legal views that he needed to be treated as that “extraordinary circumstance” in which a sitting President is denied his choice for a position on the federal bench. Here’s a short and non-exhaustive laundry list of Liu’s radical views:

He is unalterably opposed to the death penalty (for minorities, at least).

He supports the creation of constitutional fundamental rights to gay marriage, welfare, goods, education, shelter, subsistence and (surprise) health care.

He advocates the active use of foreign law in constitutional decisions and has called Americans "parochial" for believing that our Constitution is superior to the laws of other nations.

He believes in perpetual imposition of racial quotas to obtain “just” results.

He believes that all criminal convictions should be subject to appellate review if the defendant was black and the jury was other than black, even if there is no evidence whatsoever of racial bias.

And then there’s an even more practical reason for rejecting Liu. He is very young. That in itself is not the issue. But seats on appellate federal benches are frequent stepping-stones to the Supreme Court. A judge with his radical views could be influencing decisions for thirty or forty years (he’s only thirty-nine). As a Ninth Circuit Appellate Justice he would bring both his personal leftist judicial views and those of the much-reversed Ninth Circuit to the highest (and final) court in the land.

Even if Barack Obama is rejected by the voters in 2012, a Goodwin Liu on the Supreme Court would have carried the Obama flag into the constitutional arena long after many of us have gone on to our eternal reward. After allowing Obama a number of “iffy” judicial nominees, the Senate has at last said “this far, and no farther.” Democrats, including both Senators from California, are threatening that this vote will come back to haunt those who voted against cloture. After the murderous treatment Bush nominees had to put up with, I would call this chickens coming home to roost. How much worse could Democrats treat future Republican nominees than they already have?

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Big 2.0!

Commentarama starts its third year today! Mozart made his first composition ("Ode to Diapers") when he was just five, so I guess we better get with it?! In any event, from all of us to all of you, thanks for being part of this! You can all have the day off! [+] Read More...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Reality Ain't What It Used To Be

I often wonder about the effects of videogames and films on the human mind. In particular, they seem to be changing the way we perceive reality and I wonder if they aren't making death seem less permanent?

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

2012 Contender: Newt Gingrich

When a circus loses a clown, another steps up to take his place. Hence, Trump bows out and Gingrich butts in. Newt Gingrich has been playing the role of high oracle to the conservative movement for about a decade. But as you are about to see, his policy positions are poorly defined and there is a serious disconnect between his rhetoric and his actions, which more often than not are self-aggrandizing, liberal and highly disloyal.

Lack of Judgment: The biggest issue with Newt is also the hardest to put your finger on definitively: he lacks judgment. This has expressed itself in many ways. For example, he had an affair with a staffer at the same time he was attacking Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He got himself into enough trouble that he paid a $300,000 penalty to end a House ethics investigation. In 2009, Gingrich endorsed obvious RINO Dede Scozzafava. And he doesn’t know when to shut up.

Just this week, in fact, he slammed Paul Ryan’s budget plan. Specifically, he attacked Ryan’s proposal to reform Medicare as “right-wing social engineer” and he said:
“I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.”
Way to undercut the one guy making conservatism work, Newt! As is his pattern, once everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Laura Ingraham to every House Republican blasted him, Gingrich retreated entirely on his criticism, but not before he had given significant aid and comfort to the enemy.

This is actually entirely consistent with my memory of Gingrich’s time as Speaker. Whatever the issue, Gingrich ran to the camera and did his best to frame conservatism in the most extremist, thoughtless, and indefensible way possible. He seemed to revel in being outrageous. Then the inevitable liberal backlash came. Suddenly, without warning, Gingrich rushed back to the camera to cut the legs out from underneath his conservative allies who were still trying to explain his remarks. Then he would agree to leftist policies to try to win the approval of his enemies. His entire political career actually fits this pattern because this is a man who desperately wants to be loved.

Economics: Gingrich’s economic plans can best be described as “conservative sounding but vague”:
● Gingrich wants to cut corporate taxes to 12.5% and eliminate the inheritance tax. Ok, that’s clear, but just wait.
● He wants to “move toward” an “optional 15% flat tax,” whatever that means.
● He wants to “strengthen the dollar” somehow.
● Break up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into something.
● Modernize the FDA in some way.
● “Fundamental reform” of entitlements “with the advice and help of the American people,” i.e. he has no idea how to do this.
● Balance the budget by “controlling spending, implementing money saving reforms, and replacing destructive policies and regulatory agencies with new approaches,” whatever this means.
ObamaCare: Gingrich opposes ObamaCare and wants it repealed. But of course, that’s a mandatory position for candidates. What does he really believe? In 2003, Gingrich supported creating the prescription drug benefit entitlement in Medicare. He still supports it. In 2005, he and Hillary Clinton worked to spend federal money on information technology for health care. In 2007, he became an advocate for increasing spending on old-age care for baby boomers.

In his criticism of Ryan this weekend, Gingrich stated that Republicans should not seek to reform Medicare and he came out clearly in favor of individual health mandates. His spokesman has since tried to “clarify” both positions away. But he has also said before that the problem with our health care system is “freeloaders. . . who are uninsured,” i.e. he wants to force people to buy insurance.

Beyond this his positions on health care are conservative-sounding pabulum: make insurance cheaper, stop Medicare fraud, stop junk lawsuits and get the FDA to allow new treatments faster.

Global Warming: In 2007, Gingrich proclaimed his belief in global warming and he wrote a book called “A Contract With the Earth,” in which he proposes “accelerating the incentive to reduce carbon emissions,” i.e. cap and trade. In other interviews at the time, he favored “mandatory carbon caps combined with a trading system,” i.e. cap and trade. Then, in 2008, he snuggled up next to Nancy Pelosi to do an ad favoring global warming regulation: “we do agree our country must take action to address climate change.”

Now, Gingrich wants to deny his former self. In the past year, he told Human Events: “I don't think we're faced with a crisis of global warming. I think in fact that the scientific data is still very unclear.” But it was apparently clear enough for him to support Pelosi’s drive to regulate? He also now claims that he “never favored cap and trade”. . . despite the quotes above.

Gingrich also heavily favors ethanol subsidies because that wins votes in Iowa, subsidies for “clean energy,” and “flex-fuel mandates for US cars.” At least he claims to favor more drilling.

Abolishing the EPA: Gingrich claims he want to abolish the EPA. But this is pure pandering. For one thing, this is a nonstarter with the public, so picking this issue shows a lack of seriousness. Further, he has no effective plan, i.e. this is just hyper rhetoric. Moreover, before you get excited that he might actually do it, his fine print involves replacing the EPA with a new agency named the “Environmental Solutions Agency.” In other words, while he talks boldly about eliminating the EPA, his actual plan is to just rename it. . . as if that will solve the problems caused by the laws it is enforcing.

Islam: Gingrich is calling for a federal law to stop the “onslaught of Sharia on American jurisprudence,” which he calls a “mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and the world as we know it.” Uh huh. Sharia law has not been recognized by US Courts and indeed recognizing it would violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Gingrich knows this. So rather than address the more serious issues with Islam, Gingrich is pandering to a false fear because it sounds good and it doesn’t require him to do anything.

Gays: On gays, Gingrich says “I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment.” Sounds like a strong position against something, but he takes no stance on gay rights or gay marriage that I can find, including on his website.

Abortion: Gingrich is opposed to federal funding of abortion, but takes no other position that I can find, including on his website.

What he’ll believe next week is anybody’s guess.

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