Monday, June 28, 2010


Well, of course I can't let the day go by without a little shout-out to another landmark and potentially far-reaching upholding of the 2nd Amendment.

Say what you want about him, but you can thank G.W. Bush and his Supreme Court appointments for that, plain and simple.

Had those been Gore or Kerry appointees ...

Elections have consequences.   This last one did, too, and they're not good.  But it looks like we dodged a bullet on this particular case, thanks to the fact that the progressives on the bench are a minority.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Out of the Doldrums

One of my favorite books from my childhood was Norton Juster's "The Phantom Tollbooth".   I've read it many times, and it had a significant impact on my imagination & sense of humor -- and the way I think.  In other words, who I am. 

Early on in the story, Milo isn't paying attention to where he is going, and ends up in a dreadfully grey, dull place called The Doldrums  -- which the more I think about it, the more I think it would reflect life in the ultimate Nanny State.   It is populated by the Lethargarians, who have a very rigorous schedule for doing nothing that is strictly enforced. 

When he first meets the Lethargarians, the following conversation takes place:
"I'm very pleased to meet you", said Milo, not sure whether or not he was pleased at all. "I think I'm lost. Can you help me, please?"

"Don't say 'think'", said one sitting on his shoe, for the one sitting on his shoulder had fallen asleep. "It's against the law." And he yawned and fell off to sleep, too.

"No one's allowed to think in the Doldrums", continued a third, beginning to doze off. And as each one spoke, he fell off to sleep and another picked up the conversation with hardly any interruption.

"Don't you have a rule book? It's local ordinance 175389-J."

Milo quickly pulled the rule book from his pocket, opened to the page, and read, "Ordinance 175389-J: It shall be unlawful, illegal, and unethical to think, think of thinking, surmise, presume, reason, meditate, or speculate while in the Doldrums. Anyone breaking this law shall be severely punished!"
Eventually Milo meets the "dreaded" Watch Dog, Tock -- and Tock helps him out.
"I was on my way to Dictionopolis when I got stuck here", explained Milo. "Can you help me?"

"Help you! You must help yourself", the dog replied, carefully winding himself with his left hind leg. "I suppose you know why you got stuck."

"I guess I just wasn't thinking", said Milo.

"PRECISELY!", shouted the dog as his alarm went off again. "Now you know what you must do."

"I'm afraid I don't", admitted Milo, feeling quite stupid.

"Well," continued the watchdog impatiently, "since you got here by not thinking, it seems reasonable to expect that, in order to get out, you must start thinking", and with that he hopped in the car.

"Do you mind if I get in? I love automobile rides."
And of course Milo starts thinking and the car starts moving and before you know it, he and Tock are out of the Doldrums.

And what brought this to mind was this bit in an excellent editorial by Janet Daley in the Telegraph. 
But we must be clear that we have not got to where we are by accident. It is the basic premise of Big State thinking that has produced the monstrous edifice that we know as the benefits trap: the idea that “the poor” are a fixed and immutable section of society who must be “protected”. Sadly, what “protecting the poor” generally amounts to in practice is “protecting poverty” – which is to say, preserving it. Welfare dependency creates huge disincentives to entering employment because few jobs at entry level can offer a competitive package of payments and support equivalent to the benefits system.

At this point the Big State camp will shriek: “Why should people be forced into demeaning, low-paid jobs?” Answer: because most of them will not stay on such low pay for long. All the statistical evidence from the US welfare-reform programmes shows that people who are “forced” into minimum wage jobs initially, move up the earnings ladder quite quickly into better-paid employment, with their places at the bottom being filled by newer recruits to the workforce. Getting a job at almost any rate of pay is, indeed, the best and most lasting route out of poverty.
How'd we get here? Now how do we get out?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I'm sure this one's Bush's fault, too

There's an oil spill in Nigeria?   That's spilled more oil than the BP Gulf disaster (and yes, it is a disaster, I 'm not belittling it ...)

but ... why the chirping crickets on this one?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Leveling the Scoreboard - 2081

I ordered the short film 2081 from Amazon.  Worth every penny.

See the trailer here.

It's only about a 25 minute film.  But it was very, very well done.

I was doing some reflecting on the whole progressive/communist/fascist call to "level the playing field".

It occured to me this morning, and especially when punctuated by the "expert" opinion that keeping score is bad for kids, that it is not the playing field they want to level.  The Constitution did that.

They want to level the scoreboard.

Sex Offender & Church

There was much hand-wringing this morning over whether or not a "sex offender" should be allowed to attend church.

First of all, let me say that "sex offender" is a much more broad term than most probably think.  If you flashed someone.  If you were 19 and had sex with your 17-year-old girl or boyfriend.

This guy, as it turned out, had some child porn on his computer.  Disgusting, yes.   But this guy has decided, presumably, that he wants to find God and a minister from the Church would be with him at all times while he was there.

But all the morning show hosts were appalled (and they are entitled to their opinions) ... but what really stuck out at me was Gretchen Carleson's (and I love ya, Gretchen, but seriously) she asked why the church would want to take on this responsibility?

Are we that disconnected with what religion, especially Christianity teaches about fallen man and redemption?  Why would a Church want to take on the responsibility of helping someone redeem his soul?   If you have to ask that question ... you're either not thinking clearly or you're no Christian.  With Gretchen, I'm sure it's the first. 

Child pornography is understandably a big bugaboo.  But it shouldn't prevent you from thinking clearly through things.   I mean, either lock the guy up forever or execute him if you really feel that way.  Outside of that, what do you propose we do with them?   In this guy's case, he apparently was a consumer and not a producer.   He was convicted, he did time, he's on probation -- and people want the State to enforce keeping him from going to Church under the constant watch and supervision of a Church chaperon?

Ultimately, it's up to the Church.  Nobody's forcing the Church to take him, and nobody's forcing anyone to go to that Church if they disagree with the decision. Maybe he should have private meetings with the minister and be kept away from the general congregation for the duration of his probation. It's a matter best left to the Church and the Congregation.  Not the State.

On McChrystal

I agree with Glenn Beck, et. al.  You don't do that.  If you're going to publicly criticize the Commander in Chief, you resign first, then criticize.

The only justification for it is if something is direly wrong -- so wrong you're willing to point it out -- and willing to suffer the consequences.

I suppose that could be the case here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

It all depends on how you look at it II

Also via dyspepsiageneration

Democrats Kill Free Checking Accounts

Now ... see Democrats would say they did not outlaw free checking accounts, and they would be correct.  But they would be wrong to say they didn't kill them.  They will probably also point to the "evil" banks (Alinsky) and get everybody gnashing their teeth about how greedy they are. 

But really it boils down to this.  No consequences for the irresponsible.  They will now be bailed out by the responsible.  We're rewarding irresponsible behavior, just like we did with the housing market with the community reinvestment act, and with the bank bailouts, and the Chrysler and GM bailouts ...

It all depends on how you look at it

I don’t know which is worse. The government telling fathers how to be fathers, or the fact that somebody actually got paid to come up with the idea to “cheer for your favorite team" and "chat about the plays” with your kids while watching a game and to mute commercials and use the time to talk.

No, really.  Read it and weep.

ht: dyspepsiageneration

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sunshine From Cucumbers

Krauthammer nails it.  Again.

Absolutely Safe

Just a couple of weeks before the BP disaster, Obama "opened up" offshore drilling (well, in the Gulf and off the southeastern seaboard, but not California) in a big PR move designed to show that he was for development of domestic sources.  To quiet the "drill baby drill" crowd (of which I am a part, incidentally).

So the leak in the gulf was highly embarassing.

In his speech the other night, he apparently said he had been assured that drilling was "absolutely safe".

Byron York analyzes this, and ends it thus:
Of course, there's a third possibility. Since the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Obama has taken a lot of heat from liberals who never liked his pro-drilling decision in the first place. Maybe he used the words "absolutely safe" to deflect blame and make himself look a little better in retrospect.
Gee, ya think?    Maybe bears relieve themselves in the woods, too.He reminds me of the kid who is never at fault for anything that ever happens around him, no matter what.

Of Independence Day, Dirty Jobs, and Best Friends

The wife was watching "Independence Day" the other day. Nice human race comes together to thwart extinction, underdog beats the technologically superior parasite race that has come to feast on us sort of escapist movie.

I've gone over my favorite part before many times with people, and that's when in under 24 hours the down-and-out genius with the cute ex-wife figures out enough about an alien civilization's computer system and languages to write a virus that will take it down, and on top of that figures out how to dial up and connect to that system and upload it 20 minutes after taking off toward the alien mothership in an alien fighter craft they know just about zilch about.

But when it comes to entertainment I have an amazing knack for willful suspension of disbelief, and therefore I can enjoy movies lots of other people can't even when things like that bug the heck out of me. (Don't even get me started on "The Day After Tomorrow" or "Twister". But they're still fun.) On the Independence Day issue, though, a co-worker noted that it's all explained by the JGIAG -- Jeff Goldblum Is A Genius -- plot element that he says pops up in Jeff Goldblum movies.

However, this time through "Independence Day", our tortured widower president who is Hawkeye Pierce and apparently Tom Cruise's "Maverick" character rolled up into one ... gives a rousing, unifying speech about how the world will come together and defeat this menace..

It's a great sentiment, and I'm all for bottom-up world unity.

But this bit stuck out at me as a Progressive wet dream:

"But should we win the day, the fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice ..." (blah blah blah)
So America is no place special and it would be best if we would forego celebrating our founding, our independence.  (But by all means keep celebrating Cinco de Mayo.)

And a few other things happened over the last few days. One of them was the "no best friends" meme that has been recently yammered to death in the conservative media. Of course, it's not "fair" to have anyone stand out above the rest, these "experts" want everyone to be the same, presumably to eliminate envy. Plus there's the whole Marxist idea of breaking down the family, replacing allegience to family with allegience to state and making the children as unlike their fathers as possible. Very Orwellian Marxist (Yeah, people forget that 1984 was an anti-socialist work. "Ingsoc" was newspeak for "English Socialism".) And I suppose this is a logical extension of that idea. There shouldn't be anyone you're closer to that you might trust an opinion from over that of the state.

It brings to mind a bunch of children living their lives in drab uniforms with the same haircuts and eyes always on the chalkboard/overhead/TV monitor of state instruction.

Indeed, all of the great statist movements from the pure socialist to the national socialist flavors have been offshoots of progressivism.  Fascists were progressives, and admired by progressives here in the United States.

And then last night we were watching Mike Rowe ... a compilation episode, where he was talking about lessons learned. And he brought up "experts". Beware of "experts", he pointed to a Mike Rowe motivational poster which underscored his statement.

I don't know if you've ever seen this excellent motivational type talk he gave a few years ago -- but you should if you haven't -- and in it he talks about the sheep castrating incident. Before taping the episode, he had gone to the "experts" on what the most humane way to castrate sheep would be, and they said the rubber band method.

But when he got to the sheep ranch to do the deed, they cut them off (actually bit them off) and he said "woah, woah, wait"... aren't you supposed to do it this way? The ranchers explained why they don't, and even illustrated it by doing one that way.

The one they did that way went over and laid down near its mother in extreme discomfort, probably for the next several days -- while the ones who had been done the, uh.. "surgical" way were off frolicking again in minutes.

Which brings us around to this. The progressivist worldview is based on the idea that "experts" will run society from the top down. It is justified as "democratic" by saying that that's what everybody wants whether they know it or not.  By progressive "logic" it's really bottom-up, it's just that too many people are too stupid to realize that that's what they would vote for if they were smart.  So they are constantly trying to deceive people into voting more for top-down government, which they happily supply when they succeed, citing that 50.1% of the people voted for it and the other 49.9% are just to stupid to know they actually like it. You know, we'll just pass the bill so everyone can see what's in it, and all.

But of course, the classical liberal (now called Libertarian and in America typically classified as "conservative") would say that people should make their own decisions, including the decision involving whether or not to consult an expert in the first place, and if they want to, which expert(s) they will consult.

Because the fact of the matter is, "expert" in today's society is more likely to be an academic designation than one reflecting experience actually doing the thing at which they're supposed to be expert.

And so we have a "Constitutional Scholar" for a president, and he's surrounded himself with academics who have spent their lives theorizing a society where outcomes are equal and everybody's happy because of it, and the people who actually make stuff and design stuff and fix stuff or want stuff made or designed or fixed don't have any say over how much they can charge or pay, or are restricted from doing things or hiring people to do things at their own discretion because it might violate the governing monopoly's idea of "fairness".

So we have state-imposed collectivist rules that inhibit us from accepting help with the Gulf oil disaster from other countries, and a myriad of state agencies with various regulations all with veto power over any emergency plan the people trying to cope with the problem especially on the oil damage prevention side because they might squash an egg or spoil the spawning habitat of a fish (that's going to be killed anyway by the oil they let come ashore -- but hey, rules are well-meaning rules, and they must be followed) -- and the administration's response is to talk to academic experts and give speeches about how it's been on the case since "day 1", busily talking about it and putting boots to necks and trying to figure out whose ass to kick. Meanwhile, the oil continues to spew and the containment effort is less than what it could be.

And of course the speechified solution to all of this is to grow government, pass cap and trade, add more regulations (was this a problem of not enough regulations or regulations not being followed?  Time will tell) and more and more "experts" making more and more rules and siphoning more and more money from the private sector to use to selectively enforce more and more state control over everything, stimying growth, innovation, or pretty much any movement at all not directed by "experts" while we wait for Unicorns to show us the way to efficient wind and solar energy.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Helen Thomas

She "retired".

Well, you know, she is like 900 years old.  And as I heard a union member say over the weekend about self-checkout lanes in stores "taking jobs" from someone else ... as a good progressive shouldn't she have retired back during the Wilson Administration to make room for someone else?  How many jobs has she taken from other people over the years?  Just askin'.

She had "apologized" over the weekend thus:
"I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians."
Yeah, I'll bet you do!  Much the same way as you might regret breaking into a house after the rottweiller inside clamps your throat in its jaws.  Not really quite the same as an apology, per se.

By her logic, America is being occupied by … hell, everybody but “American Indians”. So we should all go back to Europe. And in her case, Lebanon. Or in the case of some of my co-workers, China, Ukraine, India, Iran, Iraq, Romania. And what do I do, Helen? I mean, I’m part Portuguese, German, Italian, and maybe even a little Irish and(*gasp!*) French in there.

Where do I go, Helen? Gonna chop me up into pieces?

They're All Heart

Iran Offers to Escort Next Flotilla

Sunday, June 06, 2010


So we're watching The History Channel last night and they had a thing on 1968 which looked relatively balanced to me, hosted by Tom Brokaw.  It seemed more sympathetic to the counter-culture movement but did have some people from the other side giving a rational look from that point of view and was even mildly critical of some of the elements in that counter-culture.

Then they had a couple of hours on the KKK. You know, I knew enough about the Klan from what I'd heard when I was little and from the occasional mention of their pathetic rallies as an adult. I grew up Catholic and had been told the targets of their vileness extended to Catholics and Jews ... and my young mind was terrified of being tarred and feathered and/or killed. I knew what they were, and a lot of the terrible things they had done, but I'd never been exposed to so much detail before last night. One could argue that I already knew enough about them, and I'd agree with that. But more knowledge can be useful. I got a look at the periodic waxing and waning of it's popularity and size and "got" to hear some actual rhetoric from historic and modern Klansmen ... and it still sandblasted my sensibilities to see actual apparent human beings saying these things. And seeing kids at these events being indoctrinated ... that was heart-wrenching.

One thing stuck out like a sore thumb in the presentation - and this is partially because I did know some things about the Klan that most people today don't know explicitly. When they talked about its initial founding and growth, they talked about it being "prominent community leaders" and talked of acts of racial violence and murder by whites being acquitted by "all-white" juries. No mention of Democrats in this program, but they were the prominent party in the south, and they were the ones interested in keeping blacks from voting -- which was eventually a stated goal of the Klan.  Democrats started the Klan and used the Klan and were mostly responsible for the institutional racism in the south that took 100 years to finally break.

Only when the second wave of Klan popularity in the 1920's especially in Indiana by one David Curtis Stevenson (and boy is that one sick story!) was party ever mentioned, and it was repeatedly mentioned "Republican". But events and power structure in the south -- no party is mentioned. People at all familiar with the history of the South, slavery, and civil rights know, but more and more people do not (the younger, the less likely they know).

So the word association one comes out with after watching this is "Klan", "Prominent Leaders" (ie, rich and powerful), "All White", "Republican".  And I should add "Christian" -- because apparently they used churches and cloaked themselves in terms of Christian morality to get into communities.  But that collection of words comes off as an associative set, and that reflects the worldview of today's Left.

So of course it's not an out and out lie -- but it betrays the kind of bias Bernard Goldberg talked about in BIAS. Is it intentional? Perhaps not overtly. But one tends to color stories so that those sympathetic to one's worldview look better. And of course I'm never shocked to find out it is overt when it is.

Still, it was worth watching. Just never trust that you're getting the whole picture when you watch one of these things.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

In my daily email from TIA Daily today there was a great discussion of a poem I was unfamiliar with (RTWT ... the poem's intent is not immediately clear.  By the light of the prevailing progressive worldview, one might initially get the wrong impression- but keep in mind TIA is a Randian organization), but that I am now happy to have made its acquaintance.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings
Rudyard Kipling

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!