Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stephen King: Idea Consolidator

I’ve said before that I no longer have any respect for Stephen King. When he was young, he wrote a couple great horror stories. But then he got lazy or lost that creative spark or just became full of himself. And for the past couple decades, all he's done is steal ideas. He’s more like an idea consolidator now than an author, and I’ve never once heard him credit anything he’s stolen.

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

Politicized Justice

The United States is free and stable because we depoliticized the most dangerous parts of our government: the power to tax, the power to police and make war, and the legal system. The power to tax is the power to destroy. The power to police and make war is the power to kill. And the legal system controls every other aspect of our lives. If you control the legal system, then there are no rights, only privileges given at the whim of our masters. The Democrats are trying to undo this, as shown by the Gibson Guitar case.

It took our country a long time to depoliticize much of our government. Until the 1930s, both the army and the federal bureaucracy were considered spoils to be exploited by the political victors, and they would appoint their supporters to government jobs or give them military commissions. Changing this was a monumental achievement. Unfortunately, in the past 20 years, the Democrats have worked hard to re-politicize these government functions.

Clinton took the first big steps in this regard, when he sent the IRS after churches because they were seen as supporters of Republicans -- the Republicans never counter-attacked, despite the fact that so many leftist groups are hiding behind non-profit labels, which cannot by law be partisan. Clinton’s Justice Department's Civil Rights Division spent its time doing the bidding of feminists, while its Antitrust Division went after the competitors of campaign donors and ignored F.O.Bs (Friends of Bill) like the nation’s colleges, which conspire to fix prices. At the same time, Justice struggled mightily to blind itself to all of Clinton’s illegal Chinese donors, some of whom apparently had ties to Chinese Intelligence, e.g. John Huang, Charlie Trie, Johnny Chung and Maria Hsia.

Under Holder, the Civil Right Division has become an agent of black racism. This was shown by testimony from Justice Department employees, who confirmed that Justice only sees the nation’s civil rights laws as protecting blacks from whites and not the reverse. Of course, you could also have seen this from the way Justice subverted any investigation into voter intimidation by blacks, e.g. the Black Panther case. Justice couldn’t even be bothered to examine ACORN, which was caught red-handed, and it continues to attack any attempt to require minorities to show voter identification.

Holder also sued Arizona, on behalf of Obama’s illegal alien friends, to stop Arizona from enforcing the very laws the Justice Department is sworn to uphold. And we understand INS has all but stopped deporting illegal aliens.

Holder also stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act, as a sop to Obama’s gay supporters.

In Operation Fast and Furious, we see the Justice Department’s ATF allowing the sale of guns to criminals in the hopes of generating political data to be used to support gun control advocates.

Meanwhile, Holder has been pursuing peaceful pro-lifers who march outside clinics, while refusing to investigate union thugs beating people up at townhall meetings or intimidating employers or acting like racketeers against private companies or making death threats to Republican legislators in Wisconsin.

And now we have the Gibson Guitar case.

To make its guitars, Gibson imports rosewood from India and Madagascar. The wood it imports is certified for export by both countries as being from sustainable sources. That makes it legal for import into the United States.

But the Justice Department just swooped in and seized over a million dollars in wood and equipment from Gibson. What was Justice’s reasoning? No one knows. They won’t tell Gibson. This is a complete violation of our Constitution, which requires that you be informed of the charges against you and that you be given an opportunity to defend yourself. It is also an obscenity because if Justice won’t tell Gibson why it has done this, then the only reasonable answer is intimidation. People need to be fired for this!

And it gets worse. It turns out that Gibson is a well-known Republican contributor. Its primary competitor, C.F. Martin & Company, is a well-known Democratic contributor. Martin gets its wood from the exact same sources as Gibson. Yet, Holder’s Justice Department has not raided Martin. . . it only hassles Gibson. It would be stupid to think this wasn’t politically motivated. The message is clear: this is an attempt to intimidate Republican business to keep them out of politics.

So what do we do about Obama/Holder deeply politicizing the Justice Department? The usual Republican response would be to swear that we will put a stop to this. Then we act scared as soon as the Democrats accuse us of interfering with Justice. Let me suggest a smarter way to handle this: fight fire with fire.

Appoint a seasoned political operative to lead the Justice Department. This person’s job will be to focus the Justice Department on unions, race lobbyists, and fake non-profits that are really hidden Democratic support organizations. Start investigating George Soros for any number of his crimes, real or suggested. Target groups like the New York Times, in retaliation for Holder’s political attacks on News Corp. Use the full resources of the United States to tie up and pursue these organizations.

This may make Republicans queasy, but this is the only way the Democrats will ever stop politicizing parts of the government. So long as they can keep doing this and the only Republican response is to promise not to do it themselves, they will keep doing this. Only by teaching the Democrats that there are consequences, i.e. that we can take the weapons they create and use them to much greater effect will the Democrats begin to respect the non-partisan nature of government. There must be consequences. And if some Democrats end up in jail in the meantime. . . that's just too bad for them.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

GOP Establishment Keeps On Disappointing

There are three problems with the GOP establishment class. First, they mistake K Street for the public and they mistake K Street’s crony-capitalism for genuine capitalism. Secondly, they are technocrats who don’t understand the fundamentals of politics. And third, they are cowards who would rather lose than upset anyone. In the past week, we’ve received some classic examples of this.
Example One: Peggy Noonan
The first example relates to Rick Perry and comes from Peggy Noonan. Noonan is a former Bush I speech writer who wrote the obnoxious, backhanded attack on Reaganism: “a kinder, gentler nation.” She also wrote the ultimately foolish “read my lips: no new taxes.” She spent the 2008 election attacking Sarah Palin. Now she’s after Rick Perry.

There are good reasons to be concerned about Rick Perry. He seems to be a champion of crony capitalism, and I am concerned he will wrap Big Business socialism in the mantle of conservatism, just as Bush and Obama have done. And I am hearing similar concerns from other conservatives and Tea Party people everywhere. But that’s not Noonan’s concern. Nope, she unquestioningly takes him as a “natural conservative.” What troubles her is his style:
His primary flaw appears to be a chesty, quick-draw machismo that might be right for an angry base but wrong for an antsy country. Americans want a president who feels their anger without himself walking around enraged.
Really? So she doesn’t even see or care about the danger that he might be a Big Business Trojan Horse, but she’s worried that mushy centrists might not like him speaking confidently about his beliefs? Indeed, she equates having strong beliefs with being angry. This is a clear example of what is wrong with the establishment: they don’t see any conflict between conservatism and cronyism, yet they worry when the crony doesn't appear meek enough. Pathetic.
Example Two: Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush’s supporters tell us that he’s not like the rest of his family. “He’s a genuine conservative,” they say. His record doesn’t reflect that, and sure, he supports teachers unions and open borders and RINO candidates and his son is now a Jon Huntsman supporter, but "trust us," they say. Well, I’m not buying it. The Bush family are RINOs to the core and I will not support another one. I will vote for Satan before I vote for Bush.

So what did Bush do now? On Fox Business News, Bush warned the 2012 GOP contenders that they should not attack Obama. According to Bush, they can talk about his policies, but they need to steer clear of attacking Obama himself and “ascribing bad motives to the guy." Why? Because "that’s wrong” and it "risks alienating voters."

This is so fundamentally wrong. Elections that involve incumbent Presidents are referendums on the President. They are not contests of equals. In other words, with a few exceptions, it doesn’t matter who we pick as a candidate, the public will be voting based on whether or not they want to retain Barack Obama. . . that's it. And the only way to win an election against an incumbent is to turn the public against the incumbent. That means pointing out their failures, their flaws, the things they’ve done and said that the public has not liked. It means pointing out why their motivations are bad, i.e. “ascribing bad motives to the guy.” And it means attacking them personally over all the little things the public doesn’t like about them. That is how you beat an incumbent.

What Bush is proposing is for losers. It is the rules for some country club debating society, not a political campaign to lead the country. And the fact he would try to disarm his own side, once again shows why no one should ever trust another Bush anywhere near the White House.
Example Three: Stop Praising The Bad Guys!
Finally, we come to a series of Republicans going out of their way to give aid and comfort to the Democrats:
● Chris Christie tells us that global warming is real.

● Jon Huntsman called Republicans who reject the false science behind global warming “anti-science.”

● Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says that we shouldn’t repeal ObamaCare because 70% of it is good.

● Massive RINO Tom Davis, former Congressman from Virginia who supports DC statehood, can’t bring himself to point out the Obama Justice Department’s sudden investigation of S&P is retaliation for making Obama look bad. The best he can suggest is that “it almost looks retaliatory.” Right, and World War II was kinda, sorta a shooting thingy.

● John McCain and Lindsey Graham are giving the President aid and comfort on Libya, saying that the United States should be “proud of the role our country played.” McCain had previously stated that Obama made “a strong case” for the use of the military in Libya. . . even as everyone else was calling the war illegal.
This is exactly what angers average Republicans with the establishment. These are issues on which the Democrats blew it. Yet, this group of weak-kneed, "can't we all just get along" Republicans cannot stop themselves from offering aid and comfort to the struggling Democrats. This must stop. They need to learn from the Democrats that you never praise the other side and you never bail them out of their messes. And you certainly NEVER attack your own side. Until the establishment learns these lessons, they are no better than Democratic collaborators.

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New Tactics For The Ground Zero Mosque

If you're getting dizzy looking at the illustration to the left, wondering if it's an eye-deceiver, let me enlighten you. It is in fact the artist's rendering of the proposed Abbey Mills megamosque in London, close to the site of the London Olympics. Don't get mad at me, I'll tie it to the Ground Zero mosque below.

The controversial mosque/Islamic Center which is to be built within sight of Ground Zero doesn't look anything like the proposed London megamosque, and most of the stated reasons for their respective construction are quite different from each other. Those stated reasons are rarely in conformity with the true underlying purposes, but in each case, they share the lie that the purpose is to promote interfaith understanding with Muslim worship as a secondary purpose. Both style themselves as first and foremost educational centers. In London, the public has been far more successful in thwarting the construction than in New York City.

The proposed London megamosque is designed to accommodate 12,000 worshipers. The Ground Zero mosque is designed to accommodate 2,000 plus. The sheer size of the London megamosque was one reason why Londoners were more successful in blocking construction. Traffic problems, setbacks, height and footprint restrictions all made the job of the opponents easier. Meanwhile, in New York City, where the politically-correct idiots in City Hall keep raising the phony issue of the First Amendment, the mosque organizers have decided to avoid the confrontational issues that brought them so much negative publicity a year ago.

Whether it's called the Ground Zero mosque, the Cordoba Center, or the current Park51, the mosque has garnered immense opposition among even the most tolerant of New Yorkers. Few object to a mosque, and few are basically anti-Islam. The objection is to both the size and location-appropriateness of the building. Many have compared it to building a huge German WW II memorial adjacent to the Arc de Triomphe even now that France and Germany and been at peace with each other for over sixty-five years.

The Ground Zero developers have decided to try an entirely different approach. They now invite "community input" into the final design to fool the locals by feigning interest in what New Yorkers actually think. If you can get enough fools to "assist in the design," you might draw their attention away from the basic fact that most New Yorkers and most Americans don't want that mosque in that location, in any form.

The developers have also taken the radical imams behind the building of the mosque out of the public picture entirely. Instead, they have launched a website devoted entirely to praise of the "healing potential" of the edifice, requesting suggestions, and preaching tolerance. They likewise have linked to an allegedly independent website called PrayerSpace, that calls for input from Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Both sites claim Park51 will be a community center open to all, including a large interfaith space, library and public meeting rooms. The mosque, if they are to be believed, is a minor part of the proposed building.

The developers have now convinced themselves that they have been so successful in deflecting the anger and dismay of a gullible public that they have applied for a five million dollar federal grant designed to rebuild lower Manhattan in accordance with the intent of "community and cultural advancement" grants administered by the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Project. In other words, they are asking for public funds to pay for development which would have been unnecessary if their friends and allies hadn't flown jumbo jets into the World Trade Center buildings. At the same time, the city authorities have denied building permits and grants for rebuilding the nearby Greek Orthodox church which was devastated from the fires and collapse of the Trade Center buildings.

Now for the similarities in true intent of the two large mosques. The "small prayer space" at Ground Zero which will be entirely Islamic and which comprises the main portion of the mosque itself is designed for over two thousand Muslim worshipers at a time. That makes the "prayer space" alone equal in size or larger than the worship areas of St. Patrick's cathedral, the largest religious building in New York City. St. Patrick's is also the largest gothic-style Catholic cathedral in the United States.

It goes without saying that the London megamosque which is designed to hold 12,000 worshipers would be the largest mosque in Europe, and would dwarf not only all the other religious buildings in London, but is so large it would compete with the buildings of Parliament. And that is the very point. The largest religious building that Olympics visitors would see on their way to the stadiums would be a Muslim mosque.

The largest religious building that visitors to New York City would see when visiting Ground Zero (and later the Freedom Tower) would be the Park51 "Islamic Center." It's pure in-your-face "my religion is superior to yours, and our grand mosques prove it." As with real estate developers generally, for Islamic zealots it's "location, location, location."

Succeeding in putting this Islamic Center 350 feet away from where 9-11 human remains were found is an intentional poke in the eye to Christians, Jews, secularists, the citizens of New York and the entire American nation. No matter how they try to dress up this pig, they are never going to convince most Americans (including me) that it's a cuddly puppy.
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Monday, August 29, 2011

How Did I Miss His Call?

We all know that Barack Obama, head of the Obama family in America, is always concerned about the welfare of his extended family. He is also very much sympathetic to the plight of illegal immigrants. So he must have been wondering why he never received a call from Onyango Obama, aka "Uncle Omar."

You see, last Wednesday Uncle Omar nearly rammed his SUV into a Framingham, Massachusetts police vehicle. Subsequently, Uncle Omar was charged with several violations of the law, including driving while intoxicated. I guess that dispels the rumor that the Obamas are all Muslims, since the Prophet forbids the use of intoxicating liquors. Either that or Uncle Omar is a lapsed Muslim.

There must have been a glitch somewhere. When the Framingham police asked Uncle Omar if he wanted to make his phone call, he replied "I think I will call the White House." He was led off to a phone bank to make the call, but procedure allows the arrestee to make the call in private. We may never know for sure whether he did indeed try to make that call to the White House.

Assuming he did, and somehow failed, that's too bad for Uncle Omar. After all, the Obama pater familias is the most powerful man in the western world, and also retains the most powerful law firm in America, the Department of Justice. Surely if he had been able to get through, the entire matter would have been dismissed, while at the same time a lawsuit would have been filed by the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department against Framingham for violating the rights of a black man who is also an illegal immigrant. Another example of racial/ethnic/immigrant profiling.

The thread of discovery of Uncle Omar's entry into the United States has been a bit tortuous. During the 2008 campaign, an investigative reporter for a British newspaper did some digging and found the future President's "Aunt Zeituni" living illegally in Boston. That led to a search for other possible Obama relatives living in the US illegally. One tip came from Barack's own book Dreams From My Father. Describing his visitation with his relatives in Kenya, the future President notes that they told him stories of family members who had emigrated to the West and were never heard from again, "like our Uncle Omar, in Boston. They've been lost, you see."

Although Uncle Omar was not found to be living with Aunt Zeituni, there was a relationship and correspondence. It eventually led to the discovery of Uncle Omar in the Boston area. He was living there under the name O. Onyango Obama, though he has come to use the name Obama Onyango. If that's an attempt at subterfuge, it's a pretty poor one. When informed of all this, candidate Barack replied "Oh, really?" Not "I already knew that," or "As President, I'll enforce immigration law regardless of whom it may affect." Just a simple non sequitur. Barack's recent executive order skirting Congress and the Constitution stalling 300,000 deportation cases explains the lack of clarity in his earlier response to questions about his relatives living in the US illegally.

Uncle Omar is a lucky man. If this were a country run by the rule of law instead of Presidential whim, Uncle Omar would be tried, possibly convicted, then turned over to immigration authorities for deportation. But the Mayor of Boston and the Governor of Massachusetts have formally declared that they will ignore federal law and report illegal immigrants to the feds only if they are convicted of serious felonies. It wouldn't matter if they did comply, since Barack has now ordered exactly the same thing, and he controls the immigration services.

I suppose if Uncle Omar had managed to kill an officer in the patrol car he almost hit, somebody might have reported him to ICE, but nothing much would be done anyway, so it would be an exercise in futility.

It appears that Uncle Omar has been living most of his life in America on the dole. But illegal longevity in the US is now a plus for immigrants who have managed to avoid killing anyone while they are here. I think it's time for Barack to use his power appropriately, and find Uncle Omar a job. He'd have to consult with Attorney General Holder, but I think there are openings for poll watchers in Philadelphia.
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Obama Vacation Abuse (re-re-re-re-redux)

As we've noted before, the Obamas have been vacation abusers, draining the Treasury dry with their desire to live like royalty. Now we have an interesting report that tells us exactly what Madame Obama’s expensive tastes have cost us simple taxpayers, and it ain’t pretty: $10 million of public money has been spent to let Madame O indulge her privileged tastes.

How in the world does one rack up this kind of bill, you ask? Well, let’s start with this. In the past year alone, Michelle has taken 42 days of vacation. That’s six full weeks of vacation for those of you playing along at home, who probably get two weeks a year if that.

And when she goes, she goes in style. For example, she loves celebrity-laden areas like Vail, Colorado and hobnobbing with elitists at Martha’s Vineyard while the Kennedys rape-rape the locals. And when she wants to get away from it all, she takes the kids to see Spanish royalty or the Queen of England, or an African safari, or she goes on a shopping binge in Paris or London.

The trip to Spain cost us taxpayers $375,000 just to house her security contingent -- her total entourage consisted of 40 friends and 68 security personnel. Louis XIV didn't have that many people in his whole court! Air Force Two cost us $149,000 round trip. The property in Martha’s Vineyard costs $50,000 per week to rent, and that doesn’t count the Coast Guard patrolling the waters or the helicopter they keep on standby. The hotel in Vail was $2,000 per night per room. . . clearly not the Motel 6. The rent on the Kailua property in Hawaii was $38,000, but that was a pittance compared to the total $1.5 million the Obamas' Christmas trip to Hawaii cost the taxpayers.

And this doesn’t even count all the days her lazy husband spends golfing or the nights they spend wining and dining Hollywood and Wall Street royalty at the White House.

Moreover, it’s not just the luxury suites and the MC Hammer-like entourages that are the problem. There is a real lack of judgment and a serious disdain for the taxpayers going on here. When they decided to go to Martha’s Vineyard to get away from the riff-raff for a few days, they ended up taking separate jets because they wanted to leave two hours apart!!! That cost the taxpayers $50,000 because Madame O couldn't wait two hours for Lord O to finish napping.

This is all despicable.

Using the median wage, her vacation expenses are the equivalent of taxing 100% of the salaries of 250 people!! At a 20% tax rate, that means she squandered all the taxes collected from 1250 people. . . a small city. Don't you think that money could have been better used by the taxpayers or even the rest of the government?

And yet liberals see no problem with this. In fact, liberals believe the Obamas, the rapey Kennedys, and the mega-rich Pelosis when they pretend to speak for the little guy. Is that the little guy whose benefits are being cut because the government is short of money or the little guy who is being crushed to pay taxes so the Obamas can party like it’s 1699 France?

How stupid do you need to be, to be a liberal and not see the rip off here? These are the same people who complain about the ultra-rich spending their money on lavish houses, yachts, private planes and vacations. But at least they are using their own money. How can you possibly justify the Obamas doing the same thing with taxpayer money?

Then you add in things like the two new tour buses we paid for. At one million dollars each, we got ripped off. What’s more, they were made in Canada -- not even the US of A. And get this. They don’t actually drive the dang things to events. What they are doing is flying the things to the airport nearest the event and then driving Obama to the event in them. When the event is over, they return to the airport and fly the bus to the next stop. Why even have the bus in the first place? What’s wrong with the limo?

I’m going to stop now before this raises my blood pressure too much. But any way you slice it, the Obamas are an obscenity. And the liberals who voted for them are suckers.

Maybe that’s why the unions are talking about abandoning the Democrats?

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Great (film) Debates vol. 4

Let's continue our Great (Film) Debates series with a little visceral dislike. Today's issue:

What famous actor/actress can you not stand?

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

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Disaster Preparedness

Hurricane Irene
In the run-up to the storm of the century, I have been running around collecting supplies:

1. Fresh batteries - check
2. Water - check
3. Friction powered radio - check
4. Friction powered flashlight - check
5. Cash - check
6. Shelf staples - check
And most importantly:
7. Vodka - check and double-checked!

I have to say, New York does a great run up to a disaster. Mayor Bloomberg is trying to make up for the complete screw up of the blizzard in December, by taking control early and actually staying in town to do it! I guess since he couldn't get to Bermuda anyway, he might as well do his job! Okay that was mean, but...

Anyway, I have to say everyone is in a very jolly mood. Even the people in the long lines at the grocery stores who otherwise would be harrumphing and moaning have been good sports about it all. I guess impending doom will do that - bring out the best in people. Since there is a very good possibility that I will lose my internet service and I may have to leave you Commentaramians to fend for yourself, I thought I'd open the floor to anyone who has any survival tips for me. But let's start the ball rolling or the waves rolling (ha!) with this burning question:

What kind of wine does one serve during a hurricane? White or red?
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Requiem For Heroic Culture Warrior

Philadelphia has gotten a lot of press in the past few days, largely because of flash mobs, high levels of violence, and a black mayor who spoke out honestly about individual responsibility and black on white crime. Amidst all the excitement, the passing of a brave and colorful local Philly character took back seat to the other events.

Philadelphia businessman and English-only advocate Joey Vento died of a heart attack at age 71. Vento owned and operated Geno's Steaks, a restaurant that is legendary and which gained Vento the unofficial title of "The Cheese-Steak King." Vento was the grandson of Italian immigrants who believed that one of the factors that allowed the great American melting-pot to work was a common language for all Americans--English. Vento believed the same thing, and in the midst of multiculturalism and multilingualism in a city which encourages immigrants to continue to speak their native tongues, he took a stand.

Nearly five years back, Vento decided that he and his business had no need or obligation to pander to those who refuse to learn and use the language that his grandparents adopted. He placed a large sign in his restaurant's front window that said: "This is America. When ordering, speak English." Vento encouraged those who could not do so to eat elsewhere, although he never had to turn a potential patron away. He explained: "If you can't tell me what you want, I can't serve you. It's up to you. If you can't read, if you can't say the word 'cheese,' how can I communicate with you--and why should I have to bend? I got a business to run."

Within what seemed like mere seconds, the mainstream press, local and later national TV, and government diversity pimps were all over him. Enter the ACLU, the Philadelphia City Council and the Philadelphia Human Rights Commission. The stake and pyre were set up outside City Hall, and all that was left was for the politicians and the bureaucrats to conduct the Great Inquisition, and Geno's business license would be revoked and his cheese-steak sandwiches would be toast.

The threats and "investigations" went on for years. The official inquisition took twenty-one months, including a daylong hearing in which pinky-finger multiculturalists compared Vento's sign to Jim Crow signs in the South in the 60s, and during which much weepy testimony was taken from locals who expressed the horror they would have felt if they had seen the sign and/or been able to read it. At the end, largely because of Vento's steadfast refusal to cave in to pressure to give up his First Amendment rights, all discrimination charges against him were dismissed.

During the inquisition, the Philadelphia Human Rights Commmission handed out pamphlets printed at public expense asking Philadelphians if they were victims of discrimination as a result of Vento's sign and English-only policy. The pamphlet was printed in seven languages other than English (coincidentally, the same number of languages as are used on a San Francisco ballot). The Commission naturally received dozens of complaints, but unfortunately for the cause, none could be directly related to Vento's sign.

Vento's business could have been seriously damaged by the language witch-hunters, but in fact continued to thrive. The most obvious conclusion (though unsupported statistically) is that for every easily-offended non-English speaker there was at least one patron who went out of the way to eat at a restaurant so boldly patriotic. Vento himself summed it up by saying: "I say what everybody's thinking, but is afraid to say."

His passing is a sad event. Vento proved that one man, unwilling to sell out his beliefs under the threat of ruin, can make a difference. He stood for the First Amendment and unity by defending the language that built America. He risked his very livelihood to stand against powerful and insidious forces which want to see America divided into competing ethnic and linguistic "victim" groups. I salute Joey Vento--American hero.
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Film Friday: The Golden Compass (2007)

The left politicizes children’s stories. They’ve discovered that once kids learn ideas like personal responsibility, the value of families and cause and effect, it becomes rather difficult to brainwash them to believe leftist dogma. Thus, they attack centuries old fairy tales as sexist, racist and evil, and they churn out propaganda to replace them. The Golden Compass is propaganda. Indeed, Compass, the first book in Philip Pullman “His Dark Materials” trilogy, is anti-Catholic and anti-religion. “Ridiculous” screamed the left. But it's true. What's more, it's a bad film.

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

Is Warren Buffett A Hypocrite?

Warren Buffett (left) is living proof that amassing great wealth does not automatically imply that the gazillionaire understands how government works. And sitting next to fellow gazillionaire Bill Gates, one can also infer that great wealth does not confer good taste in clothing, either. Where did he get that hideous chartreuse monstrosity? OK, back to the topic.

Buffett, often referred to as the Sage of Oamaha, recently came out in favor of the Obama plan to save the economy by increasing the tax rate on the rich. As we know, that idea is both wrong-headed and not viable either from the viewpoint of economics or simple accounting. If the "rich" were taxed next year at 100%, it would barely make a dent in the annual budget deficit. Yes, the rich can afford to pay more, but that doesn't mean they should be required to do so. Every dollar spent on taxes is a dollar less available for hiring employees and investing in new ventures.

The tax codes allow for anyone who chooses to do so to simply write a check to the U.S. Treasury to help the government to help us. Since Buffett has chosen not to do exactly that, he has been called a hypocrite. The loose change in the crevices of Buffet's couches could probably fund the food stamp programs for Nebraska for a year. Writing a check to the government for 1/1000 of his wealth could provide 52" wide-screen high-def TVs for all the "poor" in the United States east of the Rockies (and probably west of the Rockies as well).

Does this make Buffett a hypocrite? I'm not sure that the term actually applies to him. I think "misguided" and perhaps a little senile are more apt. In his tax-the-rich-until-it-hurts comments, Buffett said that he paid "only" 17.4% of his taxable income while the twenty employees in his home office paid from 33% to 41%. Either those employees have never heard of TurboTax, or they need to hire new accountants. The Congressional Budget Office says that the top fifth of wage earners paid an average rate of 25.1% with the highest end paying 29.5% in 2009.

Despite the provision in the tax codes, the gazillionaires last year contributed a total figure of somewhere between $2 million and $3 million voluntarily toward reducing the government's debt burden. Warren Buffett carries that much every day in his wallet. You never know when he might have to take the President to lunch. Buffett doesn't suggest that his overburdened employees' taxes should be cut, but rather that his own taxes should be increased.

But here's where I think the "hypocrisy" label may go off-track. Buffett (and his associate, Gates) have both set up trusts and other legal vehicles that will ultimately dispose of 99% of their personal wealth to charity. He talks about not being required by tax law to "share the sacrifice" that those who are not mega-rich are saddled with. Yet he gives away almost his entire estate to charity. How many of us plan on doing that?

That is the reason I consider Buffett to be more misguided than hypocritical. The question becomes "why would he prefer giving to charity over simply writing a ginormous check to the feds?" Simple. By his (and Gates's) own admission, he knows the money at the charities will "do far more good and be used more effectively than it would if the government were the disbursement agent." Yet by his own logic, every dollar paid in higher taxes to the government would be used inefficiently and will be a dollar less given to charity which would use it for good. It seems to me his heart is in the right place, it's just his head that's off-kilter.

Buffet simply doesn't understand the clear distinction between coercion ("progressive" income taxes) and volunteerism (giving that money to charity and working for free instead). Sure, many of the mega-rich won't do what Buffett and Gates have done, but so what? It's their money, not the government's. Buffett also doesn't seem to understand that his friend Obama's plan is not to "help people who need it," but to redistribute income from the working "rich" to the idle "poor."

He also doesn't comprehend the Founding Fathers' warning that when the majority can vote themselves largess from the public treasury, they will. He may be paying only 17.4% of his income, but that's a big help to that near-50% who pay no taxes at all. It's a parasitic relationship that eventually sucks all the blood out of the wealth-creators, leaving everyone equally poor. Only the political elite are left with big bucks, and in case Buffett doesn't know it, that's the exact history of every rigid socialist economy which has ever existed.

Buffett knows how to accumulate wealth, and his charitable donations show that he knows how to distribute it. So his suggestion in the New York Times that Americans should "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich" and raise their taxes demonstrates less hypocrisy than plain fuzzy-thinking. Meanwhile, Warren, why don't you just write that big check to the government to prove that you put your money where your addled brain is?
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Equal Justice For Some

Our oh-so-civilized British friends are allowing sharia law to creep into their daily jurisprudence. Recent United States Supreme Court decisions have cited foreign law, and several states have already taken action to prevent foreign law, including sharia law, from being cited in the state courts. The State of Michigan is now considering such legislation, following in the footsteps in twenty other states.

This action should turn out to be the most interesting so far, since Michigan has the largest Muslim community of any state. The movement has loosely been called "American Laws for American Courts," and the legislation in each state follows that concept, though there are minor differences in the wording of the statutes from state to state. The Michigan bill, so far stuck in committee, was proposed by state Representative Dave Agema (R-Grandville). The cries of racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia began even before the bill was introduced.

Agema insists that the proposed law is designed to fend off local imposition of foreign law in general, and is not specifically designed to prevent the imposition of sharia law. I will take him at his word, but I also have to think that he is not seriously worried about the imposition of French food purity laws or German highway standards on the citizens of Michigan. Regardless of his motives, he is clearly taking the stand that Michigan law must be equally enforced upon all citizens of Michigan, and that any other law is in conflict with the fundamental rights and obligations of the sovereign State of Michigan. That concept of uniform and equal treatment under the law is as old as the Republic itself.

But don't count on Michigan Republicans to rally behind Agema. Republican Victor Begg, who is coincidentally a senior adviser to the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, says the proposed legislation is hogwash and that its sole agenda is to thwart sharia law. He calls it a witch hunt with Muslim-Americans as the real target. I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but there are no witches, and the targets are those who would harm the fundamental American concept of equal justice under law.

Joining Begg in his hysterical attempt to prevent "victimization" of minorities who wish to live under law different from that of their fellow citizens are the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR, unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terrorist funding), the NAACP and the ACLU. As Claude Rains would say, "all the usual suspects." Supporters of the bill have listed court decisions in several other states which applied international, foreign or sharia law in cases which should have been decided solely on state, federal and constitutional law.

The Center for Security Policy, a Washington DC think tank, has looked at fifty appellate cases from twenty-three states and determined that sharia law had been applied or recognized as precedent in each of the cases. The legal arena called "conflict of laws" has until very recently been concerned solely with reconciling conflicting state statutes and law, or state law which conflicts with federal law. Only in the last few years has any consideration whatsoever been given to reconciling foreign or sharia law, other than those laws implementing treaty obligations.

Proponents of the legislation argue rightfully that the statute is designed to protect constitutional liberties, not designed to go after anyone's religious practices. That doesn't mean that occasionally religious practices may not violate state or federal law directly. So long as there is no "impermissible meddling in the practice of religion," the Supreme Court has consistently held that even direct prohibition of certain religious practices which are impermissible for those not of that faith are valid. Mormons gave up polygamy in order to have Utah become a member of the community of States. Muslims apparently expect different treatment.

Saced Khan, a university lecturer on Islamic history, has pulled out all the traditional "victim" tropes. "While Hispanics, blacks and gays have gained a certain amount of political and social capital over the years, the relatively small Muslim community is an easy target." This from a man who has on other occasions pointed out how a "substantial Muslim minority" has been ignored by Michigan society in a nation which has a President who has declared America to be one of the largest Muslim nations on earth. The Muslims are either a small oppressed minority, or a large important minority, depending on the day of the week and the audience being addressed.

In addition, Khan says: "The [Muslim] community has thought that because of its longevity in Michigan, the fact that it has been such a productive and integrated part of the greater society, that for this attack to occur, for it to be targeted in such a particularly (sic) way, it's a false issue in that none of the community members have ever tried to assert the codification of sharia within the legal system. The community recognizes that many of the principles of sharia are already addressed or accommodated in state and federal law (emphasis added)."

Aside from being a tad incoherent, that statement needs to be vetted for its inconsistencies. First, "longevity" implies "legitimacy" only in the minds of sharia proponents and illegal immigrant amnesty boosters. Then contrast "none have ever tried to assert sharia" with "already addressed in state and federal law." You can't have it both ways. And of course this is all a smokescreen to cover up the fact that the legislation is designed to address precisely the early stage imposition of sharia law in the courts.

I can envision cases in which Muslim beliefs would be the final determining factor in a legal matter without violating the proposed statute. For instance, take a child custody dispute between two Muslims. After the state law has been satisfied in all its particulars determining custody, including the overriding rule of the "best interests of the child," the next stage could be determined entirely using Muslim principles without offending state or federal law. Suppose that all things being equal, a Muslim religious organization to which both parties had submitted determined that sharia law requires that the father get the child.

The state law already having determined that either parent would be acceptable, and that there is no danger to the child based on which parent is granted custody. then the agreement of the parties to accept the decision of the religious body becomes the determining factor. In other words, the custody is granted based on state law, the agreement of the parties, and only incidentally on Muslim belief and sharia. Had the Muslim belief violated state law, or sharia law been cited as the sole reason for the custody decision, then the proposed law would indeed have been violated.

The same logic could be applied to a Catholic divorce. All things being equal, and the parties having agreed in advance to have custody be determined by an ecclesiastical court after compliance with all state statutes and rules, the Church body would be the final determiner of custody. But if you want to talk about state interference in religion, don't the Catholics actually have a better argument than the Muslims? Catholic doctrine forbids divorce in the first place, yet Catholics recognize that despite their religious beliefs, divorce is a matter for state legislation, and they know they must accept it.

And finally to counter Khan's false "victim" comparisons, there is no black law, there is no gay law, and there is no Hispanic law which can ever be cited to alter or contradict the rules of state law. Once a state has taken valid and constitutional authority over a given area of law, it applies to every citizen of that state, regardless of religious belief. That is the legal/constitutional balancing act which must be done when religious belief becomes religious excess. The government may not excessively interfere with religious practice, but that door swings both ways.

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I'm Not Second Guessing Your Repugnance!

Slow Joe is at it again. Last time he was calling Tea Party supporters terrorists. Before that he was calling women lacrosse players “gazelles” and complaining that “the wrong people end up collecting the women” in the financial crisis. Now he's praising China’s “repugnant” forced abortion policy.

Starting in the 1970s, China introduced a policy that limits families to one child per couple. This includes criminal sentences and forced abortions for parents who violate the policy. Ostensibly, this was done because China was facing an over population problem -- although China’s population was actually declining at the time the policy was put into place.

As an interesting consequence of this policy, China is now facing two of the world’s most extreme demographic problems. First, the elimination of several generations of young has left China with the world’s worst retirement problem, as China’s elderly population far outweighs its productive population (4 retirees per worker) -- this is much worse than in the United States (3 workers per retiree). Secondly, because the Chinese prefer boys over girls, this meant that mostly girls were aborted or killed as infants. Thus, China is about to face the problem that there are 40 million more eligible bachelors than there are wives. To get a sense of how large this problem is, consider that this is the same number of marrying age males in Britain, France and Germany combined. It is also the entire population of California.

China’s single-child policy is largely responsible for both of these problems and there is serious pressure to end the policy. Even China’s official press is questioning the policy, which is highly unusual. Moreover, last month, one entire province demanded a waiver of the policy. It seems that the policy will soon end.

So what does this have to do with us?

American liberals were initially big fans of China’s one-child policy. Why? Well, the 1970s was the age of the next Global Ice Age, the Population Bomb, and fantasies of global famine. We were all going to starve by 1992. And let’s face it, liberals have always loved Eugenics.

But at some point, most liberals realized that forced abortion was not a very defensible thing. So they decided that China’s policy was not something they could publicly praise, even though many continue to support it in private. Indeed, even now, you will occasionally find liberals who openly defend the policy. For example, there was a laughable AP article last month that claimed that girls had it better under the one-child policy than they did before. Of course, that’s only the girls who aren’t killed as children or fetuses and aren’t imprisoned or forced to abort their own children. Moreover, the article failed to grasp that economically, the whole premise of its argument was crap. But hey, these are liberals, what do you expect?

Enter Slow Joe Biden.

Biden is in China for reasons unknown, possibly to get him out of town until the election or maybe as collateral for our bonds or maybe he just got lost on his way to see Santa? And let me tell you, the Chinese are not pleased. They have already had to cut off one of his speeches because it was too idiotic to be translated. Then they asked him what he thought about China’s one-child policy. Here is what Joe said:
“The Obama administration strongly opposes all aspects of China's coercive birth limitation policies, including forced abortion and sterilization. The vice president believes such practices are repugnant. He also pointed out, in China, that the policy is, as a practical matter, unsustainable. He was arguing against the one child policy to a Chinese audience.”
Oops, sorry, that’s what Biden’s spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said (and no, I did not make that name up). Here’s what Biden actually said:
“Your policy has been one which I fully understand--I'm not second-guessing--of one child per family.”
Feel free to compare the quotes, you may find a slight discrepancy. Either Barkoff is lying or Biden is “not second-guessing” China’s “repugnant” policy. . . or both. Who keeps letting this idiot out of his rubber room? Seriously, if I were Obama, I would have Biden shot to the moon and then get Huntsman to run as my VP.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Does Disney Hate Parents?

A while back, I read an article that asked why Disney hates parents. The premise of the article was that Disney films almost always involve a main character who has lost one or both parents and this struck the author as anti-parent. It’s an interesting observation, especially as I think this goes well beyond Disney into most other children’s stories as well. But I don’t think it’s anti-parent.

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

2012 (non)Contender: Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan is not running for President, and I’m not happy about it. Not at all. Ryan is the kind of guy we need in the White House right now to set the agenda this country will follow for the next 20-50 years. But he’s not running. Still, T-Rav has requested that I profile him, so here goes.

1. Economics: Ryan is a fiscal conservative who generates a lot of respect among conservatives. He got his start as a speechwriter for Jack Kemp’s 1996 presidential bid and became an economic analyst for Empower America, a group set up by solid conservatives Kemp, Bill Bennett, Jeane Kirkpatrick and Vin Weber. He got elected to the House in 1998 and currently serves as the chairman of the House Budget Committee.
● He favors privatizing Social Security to let people invest their own retirement.

● He proposes a two-tiered flat tax, with a 10% tax on income up to $100,000 and 25% thereafter, with no deductions.

● He proposes eliminating the capital gains tax, abolishing corporate income taxes and replacing them with an 8.5% consumption tax, abolishing the alternative minimum tax and eliminating the estate tax.

● He proposes freezing spending now, not in the future. In April 2009, Ryan proposed a budget that would have (1) eliminated the Stimulus Bill, (2) imposed a five-year freeze on discretionary spending, and (3) changed Medicare so that it pays for private insurance rather than providing government insurance. The government’s Medicare actuary endorsed Ryan’s plan as the best way to save Medicare from bankruptcy.

● He voted against the first $825 billion stimulus (Jan 2009) and the third $60 billion stimulus (Sept. 2009), but voted for the second $192 billion stimulus (July 2009).

● He favors a Balanced Budget Amendment and the line item veto.

● He voted to require partial debt repayment in bankruptcy.

● He voted for the Bush tax cuts, voted to eliminate the marriage penalty and the estate tax.

● He voted to terminate federal mortgage programs.

● He favors free trade.

● Ryan did vote for TARP in 2008 and the GM bailout, but he actually has good explanations for this. He voted for the TARP to stop what he (probably correctly) believes would have been a depression. Here is his explanation:

TARP. I’ll take one at a time. I believe we were on the cusp of a deflationary spiral which would have created a Depression. I think that’s probably pretty likely. If we would have allowed that to happen, I think we would have had a big government agenda sweeping through this country so fast that we wouldn’t have recovered from it. So in order to prevent a Depression and a complete evisceration of the free market system we have, I think it was necessary. It wasn’t a fun vote. You don’t get to choose the kind of votes you want. But I just think as far as the long term objectives that I have — which are restoring the principles of this country — I think it was necessary to prevent those principles from being really kind of wiped out for a generation.

And he voted for the GM bailout so Congress could put restrictions on the bailout, because Obama stated he would otherwise hand GM a blank check from the TARP:

Auto. Really clear. The president’s chief of staff made it extremely clear to me before the vote, which is either the auto companies get the money that was put in the Energy Department for them already — a bill that I voted against because I didn’t want to give them that money, which was only within the $25 billion, money that was already expended but not obligated — or the president was going to give them TARP, with no limit. That’s what they told me. That’s what the president’s chief of staff explained to me. I said, ‘Well, I don’t want them to get TARP. We want to keep TARP on a [inaudible]. We don’t want to expand it. So give them that Energy Department money that at least puts them out of TARP, and is limited.’ Well, where are we now? What I feared would happen did happen. The bill failed, and now they’ve got $87 billion from TARP, money we’re not going to get back. And now TARP, as a precedent established by the Bush administration, whereby the Obama administration now has turned this thing into its latest slush fund. And so I voted for that to prevent precisely what has happened, which I feared would happen.
2. Social Conservative: Ryan, a Catholic with three children, is a social conservative.
Abortion: Ryan has a 100% pro-life record according to the National Right to Life Committee:
● He voted to ban federal health coverage that includes abortion.
● He voted to ban federal funds from being used for abortion overseas.
● He voted to defund Planned Parenthood.
● He voted to criminalize taking a minor across state lines to get an abortion.
● He voted to criminalize injuring a fetus during a crime.
● He voted to ban partial-birth abortion.
● He voted to extend the 14th Amendment to fetuses.
● He voted to forbid human cloning.
● He voted against embryonic stem cell research.
Gays: He gets a 0% rating by gay groups:
● He voted to prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation, but opposes hate crimes laws.
● He voted for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. . . or a donkey and a walrus.
● He voted to prohibit gay adoptions in Washington, D.C.
Cultural Issues: Ryan voted to allow school prayer, to protect the Pledge of Allegiance, and he supports an anti-flag desecration amendment.
3. Environmentalism: I haven’t found a specific statement on global warming, but Ryan gets near zero marks from environmental groups:
● He wants to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.
● He favors offshore drilling, drilling in ANWR, and building new refineries.
● He opposes tax incentives and subsidies for alternative energy and conservation, but has supported subsidies for the oil and gas industry -- though he did oppose Bush’s national energy policy.
● He opposes CAFE standards.
4. Guns: An avid bow hunter, Ryan gets an A rating from the NRA.

5. Immigration: Ryan gets a 0% rating from pro-illegal groups:
● He voted to build the fence between the US and Mexico to prevent all unlawful U.S. entries, including entries by terrorists, unlawful aliens, narcotics, and contraband.
● Ryan favors worker verification systems for employers and deportation of illegal immigrants.
● He has stated an opposition to anchor babies, but has not specifically addressed the issue.
● He opposes giving illegal aliens in-state tuition and welfare, but has voted against requiring hospitals to report illegal aliens who receive treatment.
6. Other: He has voted to curtail frivolous lawsuits, to limit attorneys fees in class action suits, to stop lawsuits against gun makers and food providers. He favors whistleblower protection for employees. He voted to require voters to show identification. He tried to stop earmarks in 2005. He wants all laws to cite their Constitutional authorization. He favors reforming the UN by restricting its funding. He has a mixed record on campaign finance reform (voting for some restrictions and not others). He voted against Congressional oversight of CIA interrogations. He voted to deploy SDI. And he voted to allow commercial airline pilots to carry guns.

One of the early endorsers of Marco Rubio, he also challenged the Bush administration on their lack of fiscal conservatism (though he did vote for the Medicare prescription drug benefit). In 2009, he wrote an interesting essay in Forbes entitled “Down With Big Business” in which he attacks lobbyists and crony capitalism.
I don't agree with all his views, but all told, Ryan is the kind of solid, serious, smart conservative we need. He understands conservatism and knows how to explain it. He's got unmatched fiscal conservatism in the mold of Jack Kemp. Though he is a social conservative, he doesn't seem obsessed by those issues. He's got Pawlenty's nice, but without the meek. He has a wonk's attention to detail and yet he is surprisingly gripping as a speaker. He has made mistakes, but he's not a guy who will rely on others to tell him what to believe or how to implement it, nor is he half a package pretending to be the full serving. Too bad he's not running.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fans Join The Gladiators

I'm considering writing a mini-memoir entitled 100 Reasons Why I Left San Francisco. I just added another one to the list. A few months after a Giants baseball fan was beaten half to death at Los Angeles Dodger Stadium, Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers fans turned fandom into a bloodsport. By the time the fans were leaving Candlestick Park, two people had been shot and another beaten senseless in a stadium bathroom.

My first thought was "it's only a game." My second thought was "and it's a meaningless exhibition game at that." My first trip to Candlestick Park was back in 1962 when the Giants played the Houston Colt 45s (later, the Astros). The most violent thing I saw that day was a tipsy fan berating a hot dog vendor for getting his order wrong. I attended many baseball and football games over the years at The Stick (and its various other names), and though I noticed an increase in hostility and a decrease in civility, it never seemed like a dangerous thing to do. The rivalry between the Raiders and the 49ers was always intense, particularly when they were (and now again are) cross-Bay opponents.

The communities which support the two teams are very different. As Ed Driscoll at describes it: "Niners fans were known for enjoying sushi, brie and white wine, while Raiders fans have long had a blue collar, Budweiser sort of ethic." But that assessment ignores the smaller group of San Francisco fans who come from gang territory, and gang activity may or may not have played a part in the crazed behavior that took place this past Sunday. At the risk of taking a cheap shot, O. J. Simpson was born and raised on lower Potrero Hill in San Francisco--gang territory even then.

As an avid 49ers fan, I occasionally made the trek to Oakland for games. But I always took public transportation, since I didn't want to be caught in the parking lot at night at the Oakland Coliseum (or its predecessor, a glorified high school-college stadium just off the Cypress freeway overpass). The Raiders were always known as a rough-and-tumble team, and their fans weren't a lot different. Candlestick's parking lots are divided into home and visitor sections, and when the Raiders played there, it was wise not to park a car with San Francisco license frames in the Oakland section. But even then, the worst you could expect was minor vandalism.

Over the past few decades, team rivalries among sports fans have gone from friendly jibing and occasional shoving matches to outright violent hostility. The games seem almost incidental to the tribal behavior taking place in the stands and the parking lots. The gladiators are no longer just on the field--they're everywhere inside and outside the stadium. The cruding-down of society and its tolerance of aberrant behavior in public seems to have become the order of the day at sports events. Trash talk has now moved into physical attacks. Fan enthusiasm has gone from wild displays of fandom (cheesehead hats, rainbow wigs, Darth Vader helmets) to violent criminal behavior. This latest incident is just another example of the breakdown of law and order and common civility.

The old baseball song goes: "Root, root, root for the home team, if they don't win it's a shame." Today, it's "Root, root, root for the home team, and win or lose it's time to rough somebody up." The old occasional fistfight has degenerated into beat-downs, serious bodily injury, and shootings. And I haven't even mentioned the practice of celebrating a victory by going downtown, smashing windows, vandalizing cars, and burning buildings down. I now live about as far from an urban sports center as is possible while still living in California. And that's a good thing.

Oh, and the 49ers won the game 17 to 3. I'm not sure how many of the fans duking it out in the stands noticed.
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Liberal Hypocrisy On Libya

I find the liberal response to Libya rather fascinating and I can draw only one conclusion: liberals are the ultimate unprincipled hypocrites. There is no other way to put it. Observe:

Point One: Winning a war does not make an illegal war legal. Nor have liberals ever accepted such an argument. . . until now. When Obama started this war, liberals rushed out to declare it illegal. Not only did Obama not have a legitimate reason (using liberal principles) for attacking Libya, but he didn’t even bother to inform Congress, as required by the Constitution. Had this been Bush, the left would have screamed bloody murder and would be demanding Bush be tried for war crimes. As it is, they just grumbled about the illegality, but took no action against O Duce.

Apparently, liberals don’t believe war is illegal, they just say that when it wasn’t their guy who started the war.

Point Two: All their whining about the invasion of Iraq being “illegal” or “stupid” is total hypocrisy. Bush invaded Iraq because he believed Saddam was involved in terrorism and had weapons of mass destruction. This belief was based on (1) statements by Saddam that he had such weapons, (2) sales by German companies of the necessary materials, and (3) a history of using weapons of mass destruction (like gas) on his own population. Saddam also was linked to terrorist groups, just not al Qaeda, constantly killed his own civilians, and even was behind an assassination attempt on Bush Sr. during the Clinton years. Yet liberals whined that Bush had no justification for “waging an aggressive war against Iraq.”

So what justification did Obama give for attacking Libya? Qaddafi was killing civilians, i.e. rebels, who were trying to overthrow him. That’s it. Bush gave that as a justification for Iraq and was still called a criminal. So what makes this better?

What’s more, The Economist, which always reliably toes the Democratic line, explains that Obama’s war policy is justifiable because:
“The West does indeed have a dog in this fight: if Colonel Qaddafi can be replaced by a decent regime, the forces of modernity and reform across the Arab world will get a huge fillip, which in turn will benefit the West in a host of economic and political ways.”
The exact same thing could be said about Iraq. . . or Iran, or Syria, or Venezuela, or Russia, or virtually any other country on the planet. This is a doctrine of limitless war.

Point Three: Liberals love to whine that Republicans politicize wars. Yet, they were the first to complain that Republicans caused 9/11 and that Republicans ruined the global Kumbaya-spirit after 9/11. They were the first to politicize Iraq, trying to declare the war lost and illegal the moment the bullets started flying. They also couldn’t run to microphones fast enough to play up Obama’s killing Osama bin Laden. Heck, they even made a film about it they want to release right before the election.

And now Libya? Check out this quote: “The president will achieve a tremendous military and political victory with Qaddafi’s ouster.” Really? So liberals intend to exploit this politically? Who could have guessed? And since when has sending a few planes to support rebels as they take six months to beat a third rate dictator who hasn’t been able to buy military hardware since the 1980s been considered a “tremendous military victory”? What's next, is Obama going to take on the Wyoming Highway Patrol?

Point Four: And what’s this crap about Libya vindicating Obama’s “lead from behind” policy? The US provided almost all the supplies, did all the reconnaissance, provided the ammo, did the refueling, provided all the logistical support and the headquarters, and flew the largest portion of the combat missions. The only thing we didn’t do was send our generals to the press conferences. If this was “lead from behind,” then it involved a serious reach around.

I’m sorry my cowardly liberal friends, but you are idiots. It is impossible to win a war without fighting it. And using the locals as your cannon fodder while you drop bombs from 35,000 feet is neither new nor noble. It also only works in certain very narrow circumstances, which all happened to exist in Libya -- small population, unpopular government with limited resources, flat terrain with no trees. When you tried this in Vietnam and Yugoslavia and Pakistan, you lost. I also can’t help but notice that Obama isn’t trying this anywhere else.

And another thing, I seem to recall the same liberals who are currently dancing in the streets at this great political victory whining that Bush “lost” Iraq because the country didn’t immediately turn into a full-fledged modern democracy because Bush never sent enough American ground troops to control the situation on the ground. They made the same complaint in Afghanistan. Yet, in Libya, it’s suddenly ok send to no American ground troops whatsoever and to declare victory before anyone has any idea how this will turn out? "Mission accomplished" O Duce!

Point Five: Make up your minds on drones, jerks. Liberals whine that drones are evil. Some even call their use a war crime. Yet, when Obama uses them, the whining stops? Hypocrites. And what’s wrong with drones anyway? This more than anything proves what’s wrong with the left: they don’t care that people get killed, they just want American pilots to put themselves at risk to do the killing.

Point Six: Finally, how is this supposed to work exactly? One of the big liberal complaints about taking out Saddam or the Taliban or any other dictator was that it’s pointless “because someone worse will take their place.” Indeed, when Bush talked about installing a democracy in Iraq, liberals scoffed, claiming that Arabs weren’t prepared for democracy and Bush should not be nation-building. Yet, now we’re told these Arabs will create a perfect democracy and this was a worthwhile goal to start a war. Why is this exactly?

Considering all of this, I am left with one thought: liberals are hypocrites and nothing they say can ever be trusted or taken seriously.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

The Senate: Why Winning Isn't Enough

Senate Democrats have some serious problems in November. Not only will they be weighed down by a deeply unpopular Obama and their own vile actions over the past couple years, but they are facing a significant enthusiasm gap. Also, they are defending many more seats. What’s more, their people are choosing to retire rather than fight. So I think winning the Senate is all but assured. But we need more than just winning, and we aren't going to get it.

The key fight in this next election cycle will be the Senate. The Senate is important because it can block most reforms. President GenericRepublican (R) can do a lot of reforming from inside the Executive Branch, but anything like repealing laws, reforming entitlements, or amending the tax code will need to overcome a Senate filibuster. And filibusters aplenty you should expect. . . by the plethora. Indeed, expect the Democrats to filibuster everything because they have no incentive whatsoever to cooperate. So we need 60 seats.

Actually, we need 64 or 65 seats because the Republicans have a RINO problem. But what are the chances of that happening? Frankly, zero. So let's go with 60.

The Republicans currently hold 47 seats. The Democrats hold 53. In 2012, 23 Democratic seats and 10 Republican seats will be up for grabs. Most pollsters say it’s unlikely the Republicans will lose any seats, though I personally predict a surprise loss for Scott Brown in Massachusetts as most of his base in the last election will refuse to turn out. Hence, the Republicans need to win either 13 or 14 out of 23 seats to get to 60.

The problem is, there’s no “roadmap” to get them there, i.e. there just aren’t enough competitive seats. Consider:

Helping the Republicans, six Democrats have decided to quit rather than face re-election. This includes: Joe Lieberman (Conn.), Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Jeff Bingaman (New Mexico), Kent Conrad (North Dakota), James Webb (Virginia), and Herb Kohl (Wisconsin). Unfortunately, Lieberman’s seat and Akaka’s seat are all but assured to remain Democratic. The other four are considered up for grabs.

Also, depending on who you ask, Democratic seats in Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Michigan, Florida, Ohio and West Virginia are all up for grabs.

So do the math. Eleven total seats are considered up for grabs. That is not enough. Even if we win each seat, we will still be two seats short of 60. What’s more, I don’t think each of these is legitimately up for grabs. Every election we hear about seats in liberal bastions (e.g. Washington state, California, New Jersey) being up for grabs, and every election cycle these turn out to be mirages. This election is no different. I know, for example, from personal experience in the state that Joe Manchin simply cannot be beaten in West Virginia. History tells me that Ben Nelson also will win Nebraska quite easily despite his role in ObamaCare. I also have my doubts about Wisconsin and New Mexico. So I’m thinking that only seven Democratic seats are actually up for grabs. That works out to 54 total seats if we win them all.

Unfortunately, winning only 54 seats would be a disaster. Not only does that mean we can’t stop filibusters, but it also means that our 3-5 seat RINO contingent will hold a lot of power should the Republicans try to achieve anything through reconciliation. That means most (if not all) reform will need to come from the White House. Unfortunately, that all but excludes entitlement and tax reform.

Now, there are some factors that may affect this. For example, Obama’s incredibly low poll numbers suggest a landslide against him, which could mean inverse coattails will drag down the Democratic candidates. There is also some evidence for this in a 6% enthusiasm gap found by the Democratic PPP pollsters. That too could be serious trouble for these Democratic candidates (the 2010 election showed an 8% enthusiasm gap). But I think it’s unlikely this will do anything more than improve our chances of winning the toss up seats.

That’s a little depressing, but it’s better to know the truth and adjust accordingly. Indeed, this tells me that we need to focus much more carefully on what our Presidential candidate has to say about reforming government. . . because the Congress isn’t going to be a lot of help.

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Gun Hysteria On The Right

At the risk of offending my fellow conservatives and fellow gun-owners, I feel compelled to point out that Second Amendment absolutism is as naive as First Amendment absolutism. Yes, the left has long sought to get our guns out of our hands on multiple pretenses and factual inaccuracies. The old NRA slogan "when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" remains as true today as when it was first coined.

But some pro-gun advocates need to lighten up and recognize that the government occasionally comes up with a reasonable idea. The FBI recently told military-surplus stores to keep records of bulk purchases of the following items: Weatherproof ammunition or match containers, meals ready-to-eat, night vision devices, high-power flashlights, gas masks, high capacity magazines, and bi-pods or tripods for rifles. The handout to storeowners also advised them to require valid ID from all customers not personally known to them, talk to customers, ask questions, and listen to and observe their responses, watch for people and actions that are "out of place," make note of suspicious statements, people, and/or vehicles, and if something seems wrong, notify law enforcement offices.

As a Second Amendment near-purist, were I a military-surplus/gun store owner, I would be doing exactly those things, with or without instructions from the FBI. But several gun ownership advocates have gone ballistic (pun intended) over the handout. There seems to be a consensus among them that the government has no business advising private businesses to be watchful for potential terrorists or just plain violent criminals. Oath Keepers, a group of former and current military and police members, have sworn not to enforce unconstitutional government orders, and they include this handout as one of those unconstitutional orders. They are advising storeowners not to comply with the FBI handout.

Now I'm as suspicious of the federal government as the next gun-toting, Constitution-loving, Bible-clinging guy. But even I can recognize FBI instructions which are nothing more than plain common sense. Store owners are not being required to become unpaid FBI and anti-terrorism agents. Rather, they are being asked to do what a good citizen in dangerous times ought to do--assist law enforcement in identifying potential danger. Most of the potentially disastrous attacks planned in America since 9-11 have been thwarted first and foremost by alert citizens who reported suspicious activity to law enforcement.

The handout is part of an FBI program to garner public participation in stopping terrorist attacks and criminal violence. It is called "Communities Against Terrorism." The handout includes the following statement: "Preventing terrorism is a community effort. By learning what to look for, you can make a positive contribution in the fight against terrorism. The partnership between the community and law enforcement is essential to the success of anti-terrorism efforts." Again, a common sense statement backed by proof that community awareness is essential to the efforts to prevent terrorist and violent criminal activity.

Could there be an ulterior motive for the handout? You bet there could. The gun-grabbers in the Obama administration want to identify their "enemies" in the gun-owning community. Furthermore, there is a hint of this mentality in the handout, which says: "Consider as suspicious anyone who demands identity privacy or anyone who expresses extreme religious statements, and those who make suspicious comments regarding anti-US or radical theology." Even a good idea can be perverted, but that doesn't make the idea any less good.

The Obama administration is paranoid about "Christian militias" and "Christian extremists" which largely don't exist. But I'd be the first to report an alleged Christian who wants to blow up or shoot people for having different views. Christianity strongly opposes such violence, but like good ideas, religion can also be perverted. So let's face it--the underlying point of the handout is that Muslims attacked the World Trade Center, even if it were true that this was a perversion of Islam. If so, there are a lot of Muslim perverters of Islam. As for Christianity, both Timothy McVeigh and the Oslo terrorist spouted perverted versions of Christianity and both would have been "suspicious" if they had turned up to buy weapons at my gun store.

And as further criticism of the handout, there is the genuine argument and glaring fact that conscientious gun storeowners attempted to report suspicious gun sales to federal authorities who were participating in the disastrous Operation Fast and Furious. They were told by ATF and FBI agents to go ahead and make the sales, move on, nothing to see here. If government agencies choose to ignore reports of suspicious activity, or worse, are actively participating in the suspicious activities, that is a problem quite separate from the purposes of the handout. Congress is already investigating that deadly fiasco.

Can I see that this common sense approach to preventing terrorism could be detoured or perverted by government authorities? Of course I can. But there is a sensible balancing test in the law (and philosophy) which addresses the issue: "Does the utility of the act outweigh the risk of harm?" In this case, I believe it does. And we must remember that the leftist anti-gun Obama administration will not be in power much longer, nor will the prosecution of terrorist activities be in the hands of the highly-politicized Holder Justice Department forever.

The likelihood of innocent civilians being persecuted as a result of complying with the FBI handout is extremely small. I didn't say impossible, just extremely small. Frankly, I'd like to know why a completely upright citizen would need or want multiple semi-automatic weapons and paraphernalia myself. I wouldn't deny him that right, but I'd sure want to do at least a cursory investigation into what his legitimate purposes are and whether they are for purposes of hunting and self-defense or more sinister purposes.

The burden on the government is to prove that the guns are being purchased for unlawful purposes rather than on the citizen to prove he is using them lawfully. That is a legal distinction which does indeed seem to escape the Obama administration. But we must also remember that for now at least, the Supreme Court has upheld the individual right to keep and bear arms pursuant to the Second Amendment. Yet like the exception to the First Amendment that says you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater, it is likely that there will be exceptions to the Second Amendment rule.

Multiple gun ownership will not be forbidden by one of those exceptions, but multiple gun ownership for purposes which are a clear and present danger to the safety of American citizens likely will be. Still, the FBI handout isn't advocating gun confiscation. It is merely asking for citizen participation in identifying suspicious activity and staving off potentially deadly terrorist and criminal use of deadly weapons. I support the theory completely. It remains to be seen whether I will support the way it is practiced.
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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Obama Works Hard On Vacation

And you thought our President was playing hooky at Martha's Vineyard, shirking his executive duties and obligations. Au contraire, mon ami. In between shaking hands, cavorting in the surf with his daughters, and enjoying haute cuisine at the local eateries, he is hard at work. On his very first day of vacation, Obama ordered the EPA to reinterpret the rules on coal-fired power plants.

Certain regulations regarding carbon emissions from coal plants that have been on the books for years have been routinely ignored until "green" technology could advance far enough to economically replace coal power. Even the EPA itself issued a stay on implementation of the regulations as recently as January of this year. But Obama has decided that it's time to enforce those regulations. I guess he thinks green technology has suddenly reached that point. I guess he also thinks the best thing to do during a major recession and high unemployment is to regulate energy providers out of business and put more people out of work.

You probably remember this, but I'll reiterate for those who don't remember Obama's stance on coal plants. During the 2008 presidential campaign, the non-identical twins Obama and Joe Biden made it clear that they would not tolerate coal power. The plan was to make coal usage cost-prohibitive. During the campaign, Obama chose the ultraliberal San Francisco Chronicle to announce the following: "So, if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that is being emitted."

On his first day of vacation on Martha's Vineyard, Obama chose to make that promise a reality. In the midst of a recession which is about to get worse from the president's inaction on economic issues, Obama will now throw fuel on the fire (bad metaphor?). Energy producers will now have to find more expensive ways to replace the energy formerly produced at coal-fired plants. 20% reduction in coal usage is the immediate goal.

The Commerce Department has estimated that immediate implementation of the previously-ignored regulations will result in the loss of 60,000 jobs. The Coal Industry Council estimates that the rules will cost $129 billion. The cost to consumers will rise almost on the first day by 20% to 35%. The EPA's earlier request for a stay cited those facts along with the opinions of 21 state governors, 100 members of Congress, and 5,800 public comments that the study which resulted in the previously-unused regulations was fatally flawed.

At a time when the economic costs of enforcing government regulations nears $1.75 trillion, Obama chooses to add to the burden. That figure comes from the government's own Small Business Administration. But shoring up his "progressive" base and rewarding his rich "green industry" pals is more important to Obama than the effect of his actions on the economy and ordinary, hard-working Americans. If he continues to work this hard during his vacation, we'll be in bankruptcy even sooner than expected. Double-dip recession, anyone?
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The Great (film) Debates vol. 3

Let's continue our Great (Film) Debates series. Today's issue:

What is the most romantic moment in film?

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

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reality Bites Back

The Loud Family was a typical American family. In 1970, they allowed a documentary team to set up cameras in their home to film them as they went about their daily lives. The documentary titled "An American Family" aired in 12 episodes on PBS in 1973. Originally intended to be a chronicle of the daily life of an American family, the documentary ended up proving that people will change their behavior to "play to the camera" and ended up with breaking the Loud Family apart.

That was then, and this is now. Okay, I am about to make a confession that may shock you and quite possibly make you think less of me...

I watch reality shows. No,'s worse. I don't watch the singing and dancing shows. I watch the really hideous, mind numbing ones. Okay, here it goes. I have been known to watch The Real Housewives of [fill in the blank]. It started innocently enough. Just a little Orange County Housewives, no harm done. As the brand expanded, I became a little bit hooked. I looked at them like I would any National Geographic documentary of exotic animals. In this case the animals are extremely rich women with too much botox and time on their hands and egotistical enough to think people are interested in their lives. Well, apparently are. If you've never seen one, the premise revolves around an extremely rich/idol group of "friends" who allow themselves to filmed so the public can get a glimpse of what happens behind those gates in upscale, McMansioned communities. The women who sign up for these shows are caste to "type" - overly botoxed, surgically enhanced, mostly bleached blonds with unlimited credit cards and hours of idle time on their hands. Their children are props and their husbands are dispensable.

The first group of "Real Housewives" was an interesting study of the idle Nouveau Riche. You know, that class of rich that buy exclusive labels, expensive vacations, and high fashion. They don't care much for intellectual pursuits like "education". In the beginning, they were more "natural" and diplomatic in their opinions of each other. After the first table was thrown, all bets were off.

Because of the success of the Orange County show, the producers saw a gold mine and expanded to New York - same idea, just different accents. Then came another expansion to Atlanta which opened up the brand to the idle rich of color. Then came New Jersey, Beverly Hills, DC, and Miami. With each new iteration, the shows developed a marketable formula and a defined cast of characters - the Mean One, the Nice One, the Successful One, the Singer who can't hold a tune, the Fashion Designer who can't design, etc. All the women involved have become a new level of "famous". They make the entertainment gossip pages, and are invited to the "best" parties and openings for no other reason than they allow themselves to be filmed - no talent needed. It sounds great, but there is a darker side.

The reality of reality is that "fame" is not all it's cracked up to be. In the beginning, it must be fun that everyone knows your face and name. But as these women and men found out, the real reality is that the deep, dark secrets of your life are laid bare for ratings. The unflattering, private moments that you thought you could hide like a former life as a prostitute, failing marriages and businesses are now fodder for the masses. The arrests, depleted bank accounts, bankruptcy proceedings and the foreclosure auctions to sell the McMansion and contents including that $16,000 hand-made leather handbag you bought on Episode 10 are all now in the public domain. But the ultimate reality occurred this week when the estranged husband of one of the Beverly Hills "wives" committed suicide. He was so afraid that his failing business and private sexual proclivities would be used as fodder on the show, that he hanged himself with an electrical cord in his McMansion rather than face the ridicule. Now that's reality. At this time, the producers are pondering whether to air the show this season. That's Hollywood in a nutshell and I stress the "nut" part. My question to these now "famous" women is "Has your 15 minutes of fame really been worth it?"

Addendum: Just to ease your minds, I stopped watching the shows after they started with the obvious formulas, and scripted violence and table throwing. What was once and interesting study in human nature became an unwatchable mess. And it really was fascinating to watch someone without an iota of guilt, purchase a $16,000 hand-made leather handbag for no other reason than they wanted it!
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