Friday, May 30, 2008

Is the "War on Terror" Working?

Thane Rosenbaum thinks it is. And he didn't vote for Bush twice as many times as I didn't vote for him. (I voted for him the second time around. And yes, when I did it was because of his proactive stance.)

Yes, there are those who maintain that our promiscuous misadventures in Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel have rendered America even less safe. That the president has further radicalized our enemies and alienated our nation. That the animosity for America now, improbably, runs even deeper. Whatever resentments and aspirations gave rise to 9/11 have grown and will not be easily dissipated. For this reason, no one should draw comfort in the relative safety of our shores.

Maybe so. But when a professed enemy succeeds as wildly as al Qaeda did on 9/11, and seven years pass without an incident, there are two reasonable conclusions: Either, despite all the trash-talking videos, they have been taking a long, leisurely breather; or, something serious has been done to thwart and disable their operations. Whatever combination of psychology and insanity motivates a terrorist to blow himself up is not within my range of experience, but I'm betting the aggressive measures the president took, and the unequivocal message he sent, might have had something to do with it.
Of course, almost without exception the Bush Derangement Syndrome afflicted will come back with "Well, that just proves the threat was exagerated in the first place."

Was it?
Other cities around the world became targets: Madrid, Glasgow, London and Bali; the entire nation of Denmark; and, of course, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Here in America, however, the focus moved from concerns over counterterrorism measures and the abuse of presidential authority to the war in Iraq, the subprime mortgage crisis, the failing economy, the public meltdown of Britney Spears, and now, the presidential elections.
Good points, all.

Talking Heads and Food Fights

Michael Cricthton came up with an apt description of the electronic news media:

Cable TV news is mostly "talking heads and food fights" and newspaper reporting mostly "rewritten press releases"
Having worked in a couple of radio news-rooms in college, I can say that the "rewritten press releases" part is both accurate and generous. I mean with the word "rewritten".

This underscores one of the main reasons the media is so easily manipulated -- the press-release bit. We're lazy by nature. Someone else has done my work for me and delivered it to my desk. Sounds good. Let's run with it. So a PeTA front group (such as Physicians Comittee for Responsible Medicine, among others) sends out a press release (propaganda) and it passes practically unfiltered into your daily news report as "news". This happens every day from deceptively named front groups for various causes all over the world.

Government press releases, I can easily imagine, are typically scrutinized only if the release conflicts with the press agents' world views.

Then he gets even more insightful:
"Look at how many stories are unsourced or have unnamed sources. Look at how many stories are about what 'may' or 'might' or 'could' happen," he says. "Might and could means the story is speculation. Framing as I described means the story is opinion. And opinion is not factual content."

"The biggest change is that contemporary media has shifted from fact to opinion and speculation. You can watch cable news all day and never hear anything except questions like, 'How much will the Rev. Wright hurt Obama's chances?' 'Is Hillary now looking toward 2012?' 'How will McCain overcome the age argument?' These are questions for which there are endless answers. Contentious hosts on cable shows keep the arguments rolling."
I noticed this years ago and it's why I don't watch cable news, or any news at all outside of sports and weather very often.

This is how they shape public discourse. And I suspect that most of them are at least peripherally aware that they are doing it since most people who go in to journalism say they do it to make a difference. Oh, and 85% of them profess themselves to be liberal. So guess which way the discourse gets shaped?

They manufacture issues to underscore their own biases, for example this latest flap with Hillary using the word "assasination" being a subtle threat to Obama. What the hell? Like Bush talking about Chamberlain and Hitler somehow being "unfair" to Obama (funny how quickly they realized who fell into the Chamberlain category, though, eh?). Like "Hillary's not winning because she's a woman." Based on what facts? That she's not winning. And she's a woman. Same goes for Obama not winning absolutely everbody over because he's black. (Well hey, he's half white, too ... but I digress.) Not winning everbody over. Black. QED.

This is why most journalists didn't go in to science. They can't be bothered with logic.

And, of course, there's AGW. The theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming. The stories, and indeed unfortunatley most of the "scientific" articles out there are long on speculation (might, may, could, possible) and short on fact (is, will, can be shown to be, and here's how).

It's the perfect liberal cause. It's anti-capitalistic, it's "environmental", it's anti-American. It's anti-human. If you want to replace liberty and capitalism with totalitarianism and socialism (which ALWAYS go hand in hand) -- the first thing you have to do is turn the people against liberty and capitalism. That's proven to be no small task, but neither was the carving of the Grand Canyon. Erosion, given enough time, can overcome seemingly enduring objects.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ok, Ann's Back

Forgiven, back in my good graces.

You know, McCain wasn't my first choice either. He was nigh on to last, truth be told, on the "R" side of the field.

But I thought Ann Coulter went a bit berserk when Johnny Mac wrapped up the nomination. Bit of a tantrum, and not really selling me on it.

I have once again been reminded about what I like about Ann, though.

She's good. Very good.

Point that blonde weapon in the right direction, and she's devastating.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wimp Culture

We were watching something on the SciFi Channel the other night... something about a mummy. In the end, the mummy comes to life, and he's buck naked. They fuzzed out his derriere so we wouldn't be offended by any obscenity. Thought it was a little odd, considering all the grotesque stuff they did show. But not out of the ordinary, I suppose.

But the next movie that came on had a scene with three guys smoking cigarettes. Each time the cigarette went up to someone's mouth, the censoring blur spot went over the mouth. The character would take the cigarette (presumably from his mouth - we can't be sure, of course -- we can't figure out just what he did with that cigarette near his face) and then the character would blow smoke out of his mouth -- unfettered once again by blurriness.

Just. Freakin'. Bizzare.

Police with walkie-talkies in the re-release of E.T. Greedo fires a wildly off-target shot at Hans in the re-release of Star Wars.

Hans shot first!!!!

We have become a culture of wimps.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Great Quote from an Old Democrat

Brought to us by yet another Old Democrat. One of the very few, if not the only one -- left.

A great Democratic secretary of state, Dean Acheson, once warned "no people in history have ever survived, who thought they could protect their freedom by making themselves inoffensive to their enemies."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It's Like Rain, on Your Wedding Day

Ok, it's nothing like rain on your wedding day because there's nothing ironic about that. Which is kind of ironic that a song called "isn't it ironic" is about a whole bunch of things which aren't ironic at all, but rather mostly just bad luck.

But here we are in the Dem primary at a point where Barack is likely to win the delegate count (quite a bit like an "electoral" vote), while Hillary is likely to win the popular vote. This in the party of the people who blithely state as fact that Bush "Stole" the 2000 election because the otherwise infallible Supreme Court "gave" it to him -- obviously under his direction ... and that's all obvious because, well, his brother was governor of the state where the controversy was.

It is true that Gore won the overall popular U.S. Vote in 2000. It is also true that Bush won the electoral vote count. It's additionally true that Bush won the popular vote in the disputed Florida vote -- even Pravda The New York Times took its head out of Gore's lap long enough to go do their own re-count, and even they concluded that Bush won Florida. But you can't convince the Tantrum-Throwing Wing of the Democrat Party (TTWDP?) of that. You know, the Supreme Court and New York Times are infallible -- except for when they say something the TTWDP disagrees with. Then they're controlled by Bush and his evil capitalistic war-mongering cronies.

But here we are with "disenfranchised" voters ... though this time they're really literally disenfranchised rather than allegedly disenfranchised because of some obviously Jed Bush-induced traffic jam in a district that the TTWDP thought should go Blue -- this time we have a bunch of Democrats in two states whose votes just "don't count" by fiat of the "Democratic" Party. On top of that, we have a candidate, who, by the rules, will win the majority of delegates and therefore the nomination. And another candidate, in the same party, that will likely have more actual real people voting for her. Plus we have two candidates who can claim the mantle of two different identity-politics-sanctioned victim groups.

All of the tantrums the TTWDP have thrown over the past 7 years are coming home to roost in their own party. And there's some reconciliation to be done. Give the nomination to Barack and you've "stolen" the primary because the majority of voters actually voted for the other candidate. Plus it proves America is sexist -- not ready for a female president. Give the nomination to Hillary and America is obviously racist -- and not ready for a black president. Plus you've "stolen" the election because you changed the rules in the middle of the game (which many in the TTWDP argued for in the 2000 POTUS election).

It's like a bunch of four-year-olds who don't like the way the game turned out so they want to change the rules during the game so they get the outcome they want. Which pretty much sums up how it appears to me much of the Democrat constituency wants to run things. Like a bunch of four-year olds who just wanna win.

Monday, May 19, 2008

It's About the Word

California's Supreme Court says it's unconstitutional for California voters to decide what they call "Marriage" ... or so it's been interpreted. Actually I do think I recall seeing some language mentioned that left the door open to the only sensible solution (using a different term for state purposes for both of them). At least it's a concession to the 75-80% of American voters who are against calling a gay union "Marriage". But that was buried in the story. The emphasis was on declaring voter referendums banning gay "marriage" had been declared unconstitutional.

So I'm listening to some callers on a talk show today, and I hear this one guy call up and try to cast it as a "separation of church and state" issue. (I'll only mention for now the fact that the term "separation of church and state" isn't mentioned anywhere in the Constitution or its de-facto extension, the Bill of Rights).

This caller talked about the term "sanctity of marriage" and argued that that showed that it was a religious term, and therefore, I guess, that attempts to define it as a union between a man and a woman was somehow a violation of this "separation of church and state". Which is actually an incoherent argument if you think about it. Not to mention that "sanctity" is used for anything from baseball to bedrooms.

The crux of the matter is marriage isn't a word or even an idea that the state came up with. The State did not, and should not now, "define" marriage. Marriage existed as an arguably religious ceremony signifying a social construct. The state merely recognized it -- a pre-existing, already defined social construct -- as the nucleus of a family unit. There was no other sort of family unit to define in the culture America grew out of, and so the word was adopted. It made sense.

The language I mentioned in the California supreme court decision left the door open to the state to use a different term for Civil Unions for state purposes. As a matter of fact, California already has a civil union law and lots of laws protecting the rights of, shall we say, "non-traditional" families. Yeah, yeah, gay couples.

We're instructed by many to believe that it isn't about the word, it's about equal rights. But as far as that goes, the rights issue has been covered by California. I mean, what "rights" are we talking about? As far as the state goes, tax and mutual property laws should cover it for the most part, and I'm sure in California they have been along with laws covering employee benefits to families and exceptions clauses to privacy laws.

And yet the gay "rights" movement continued the fight ... in California. So it is the word then, despite what those people say. And many others in the movement admit it freely -- claiming a right to be recognized by our culture as equal.

But this would be a state imposition on the culture. It makes as much sense as the state insisting we not refer to men and women, but perhaps "perits" as one old tounge-in-cheek magazine article I read suggested (since person has the word "son" in it, suggesting a deference to males). A same-sex union is different from a two-sex union, in the same way men and women are different. What's the big deal about people calling them different things? Sure, they have a common denominator, but they are not the same thing. Further, forcing us all to call same-sex unions by the term reserved by our cultural heritage has defined as a union between a man and a woman is, in effect, forcing a belief system on all of us.

One might say, "so what if 'they' want to call it 'marriage'? Whom does it hurt?"

Well, for one thing it takes away the ability for, perhaps traditional Christian parents to explain to their children that they believe there is something different, that Uncle Jimmy and Aunt John are not normal, which they have every right to believe. And if you believe they don't, you're probably not familiar with the other part of the so-called "separation of church and state" clause in the first amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
And speaking of that first amendment, usually referred to as the "freedom of speech" amemndment ... I'm not suggesting that gay couples can't refer to their union as a marriage or say they're married. I'm just arguing that the state shouldn't be able to tell everyone else that they have to call it that. Because that would be "abridging the freedom of speech". If you don't think that's what would happen, recall the issue of displaying Piglet in your office in Britain. Just Google Europe "hate speech laws". Have yourself a read or three. That's where this is heading.

And to hit once more on that first amendment, that California Supreme Court decision prohibiting ballot initiatives prohibiting gay marrriage also smacks of abridging [..] the right of the people [...] to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Just a refresher:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
I have no problem with the state calling a same-sex union as well as a marriage both "Civil Unions". And I'd bet that if that's the way the gay marriage lobby went about it, we wouldn't have 75-80% of the people against it. With that many people, it's not a Republican/Democrat issue. It's arguably not even a conservative/liberal issue. It's a big issue with most people. I suspect that its proponets are well aware of this and they're avoiding that issue like the plague. It shows a certain contempt for American culture, especially bucking those numbers today.

Because this is about social engineering. It's about the language. It's about the word.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Doth Obama & the Democrats protest too much?

Mr. Steyn pegged it in his recent article:

"... as the Iranians understand, talks provide a splendid cover for getting on with anything you want to do. If, say, you want to get on with your nuclear program relatively undisturbed, the easiest way to do it is to enter years of endless talks with the Europeans over said nuclear program. That's why that Hamas honcho endorsed Obama: They know he's their best shot at getting a European foreign minister installed as president of the United States."
I know. We could practically queue Obama's statement about it the other day:

"It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran ..."
Never mind that Europe's policy of a combination of talks, sending angry letters and public verbal condemnations is what actually strengthened Iran over the last 8 12 16 years.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


In a speech today, Bush said:
"As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century." ... Some seem to believe we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

To which Sen. Joe Biden responded "This is bullshit! This is malarkey! This is outrageous!"

What, precisely, about it, is bullshit? Where is the malarkey? And absent said bullshit and malarkey, just what is outrageous about it? Yet another in the reliable flow of examples of the left's primary tactic. Don't argue, dismiss.

Obama changed the subject.
"It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally Israel. Instead of tough talk and no action, we need to do what Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan did and use all elements of American power -- including tough, principled and direct diplomacy -- to pressure countries like Iran and Syria."

Of course, Kennedy, Nixon, and Reagan had the credible threat of force on their side, as well as no 9/11 behind them ... no example of what will happen with this type of enemy if you don't take them at their words. If you don't take their threats seriously. Obama and the defeatocrats have campaigned on disengaging in action and going back to talking.

Many of our enemies have found our weakness. Our desire to talk, our desire to see the good come out in others -- even our enemies. They know if they can get us talking in the parlor, they can work in the kitchen, the basement, and the shed to gain an edge when they feel they have bought the time they needed to do it. Then they call the talks off, and proceed with their unchanged plans. Worked in Vietnam. Worked in Iraq until Bush said "enough" and went in over the screeches of those who have been throwing a temper tantrum since November, 2000.

Hi, Sweetie

It's this kind of thing that I'd like to see the Right NOT get caught up in. I cringe when I see us getting all worked up over trivia the way the Left does. It doesn't help advance our position. We ought to be above it.

I saw the video clip on the news this morning. Nappy-headed hoes. Sweetie. Whatever. Was it condescending? Perhaps, if you want to take it that way. But there are so many other bigger legitimate f-issues to fry with this man.

The only really worthwile angle is the double-standard. The hypocrisy. Political correctness is brought to us by the Left, which is why it's been so amusing to watch the identity politics melt-down in the Dem primary. But when the right gets caught up in the triviality by pointing the same stupid fingers the Left does ... it doesn't help our own cause.

That being said.... I also saw a poll that showed most of the Dems polled wanted Obama to pick Edwards as his veep. Oh-please-oh-please-oh-please-oh-please!

I can hear the phone call now. "Hi, sweetie! How'd you like to be my running mate?"

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Two Astute Ramirez Cartoons

So today I hear, and I'm not surprised that it's a little, I'm must surprised it's that little... "Big Oil" makes about 8 cents a gallon on gas right now. Who's making a buck or more a gallon? Where are all the profits going? To the dictators that own the oil fields. Ahmadinejad. Chavez. Putin, even.

(update: I forgot to add that federal and most state governments make around twice that... each ... per gallon. I'm not saying we don't need those taxes for roads. I like roads. I kinda take them for granted. But when government is making 3.5 times what the oil companies make per gallon... it should at least make you step back and re-evaluate.)

Well it turns out we have our own oil fields.

For those of you who think Bush and "Big Oil" are responsible for high gas prices, consider the following:

Monday, May 05, 2008

Right To Bear Arms in National Parks

If you have not done so, may I encourage you to go fill out a comment form in support of the right to bear arms in our national parks?

I did it.

Here's a link for more information on this.

Here's a link directly to the web form.

Here's what I had to say:

I am a law-abiding U.S. Citizen who has a deep love for our national parks. This idea to set aside land that cannot be developed for the enjoyment of all is one of the greatest ideas our culture has come up with.

I also love this country and my life, and as such I believe my right to keep AND BEAR arms should not be infringed.

Practically by reflexive definition, a criminal is willing to break the law. Outlawing firearms in national parks only serves to keep law-biding citizens like myself from being able to protect ourselves in dangerous situations, be they the rare dangerous wildlife encounter or worse, an encounter with a criminal human being who already plans to ignore laws against assault, robbery, kidnapping or rape and has no qualms about extending that list to carrying a firearm in a national park.

Our national parks are often some of the most remote places in the country -- part of the reason I love to visit them and enjoy nature away from crowds, away from buildings, wires, roads and the other worthwhile but sometimes overbearingly pervasive trappings of modern life. These places are, by their nature, also the farthest away from help.

I am not there to hunt or to damage wildlife or cause a nussiance by firing a firearm. I'd just like the ability to carry a little insurance with me on the odd chance that something might go dreadfully wrong and life or limb is endangered.

Hunting in our national parks is typically illegal. So is murder, rape, and robery. These don't become any less illegal by allowing citizens to bear arms while enjoying these places. Law-abiding citizens understand this and won't do it. Those who will do it will not be deterred by these laws pertaining to firearms. Please repeal laws that prevent law-abiding citizens from carrying any firearm in a National Parks and and other public lands.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Art of Politics

Mark Steyn on Obama (during a Hugh Hewitt interview):

And the thing about Obama is he has this, he’s a very articulate guy when it comes to saying nothing. [...] it’s like seeing a movie that seems terrific at the time, but by the time you get to the restaurant twenty minutes later, you can’t remember a thing about it.

Yup. That about sums it up.

Energy, It's a Gas

We in the US produce 18% of our electricity from nuclear power.

France, 80%.

We've got people jumping up and down, screaming about CO2 emmissions and something they call "global warming". Most of those same people are jumping up and down screaming about nuclear power plants being evil, while pointing out how "green" France is.

That same lobby demands all kinds of "cleaner" gasoline mixes in various places which tax the effective capacity of our oil refineries. And that same lobby holds a significant portion of the responsibility for the reason we don't have enough oil refineries. And that they are, by and large, all perilously located down in hurricane country.

Most of the same lobby argues for "renewable" bio-fuels, which so far have managed to drive grain prices up, affecting the world's poorest (and what happens in a year of massive crop failure?)

And that same lobby blames George Bush and the Eeeeevil oil companies for the high cost of gasoline. Supply and Demand? Just smoke-and-mirrors corporate-corporate Republican double-speak, of course. Economists are clearly full of shit unless they say Bush is Evil™. He has Oil Buddies™, after all.

That same lobby has also been arguing for years for higher gas prices to force us to conserve and move to other energy sources. But since, according to them, prices have gone up because of EvilBushHalliburton-Corp instead of a massive tax increase to help fund their pet socialist projects, they're whining as loud as or louder than anyone about high prices since they've found a way to pin it on their favorite boogeyman.

The same lobby is responsible for us not drilling for oil where we have it and it is accessible for a reasonable cost. ANWR. Within 100 miles of the Texas coast. I haven't heard any stamping about yet about the large reserve under the Dakotas ... but I expect it will come. It does appear as if drilling has started there.

Here's the deal. If we approved a new nuclear plant today, I'm told it would take 18 years before it would come on line with it's first delivered electron. The retiring president of Shell corporation said 15 years between saying "Yes" to responsible ANWR drilling to the time that product reaches the gas station. They've started drilling in the Dakotas, but the infrastructure to get it to the refineries and out to the gas stations will take a while. 15 years sounds like a long time, but even if it's 3 or 5 years -- we'd better be doing something about that right now.

And what are our candidates talking about? A "gas tax holiday". (I find myself in agreement with Obama on this one...WTF???) Let's see, it's an election year. What happens when the holiday ends and prices shoot back up by 18 cents a gallon? It won't matter then, the election will be over and the real reason, the real mission for the gas tax holiday ... will have been accomplished.

Oil prices are high because of high world demand (and the devaluation of the dollar). High demand means, basically, that there's less of it to go around for each person demanding it, ergo, you get yours if you are willing to pay more than the next guy. Econ 101.

What happens when we lower the price of a comodity? If you paid attention in Econ 101 (or simply to your average person's shopping habits), you know that people will buy more of it. Yes, Demand will take up the slack in a tight market, making less of it available to each potential customer, causing the effective price to rebound to where it was before the tax was temporarily repealed. So it goes down by 18 cents a gallon for a little while, only to go back up in price by that amount due to increased demand, and then -- and then at the end of the "holiday", the Feds tack the tax back on! Unintended consequences? Well, the intention is to get elected. I'm disappointed that McCain is in favor of this idea.

In the end, Government isn't going to solve our energy problems. Private industry will. Oil companies are starting to re-define themselves as energy companies. As a Saudi prince once said, "The stone age didn't end because we ran out of stones." They are putting money into hydrogen cell development and other technologies far more realistic than wind and solar for the amount of energy we use. See, they want to continue making money when the wells run dry, and they don't want to be late to the party with oil's replacement. Realistically, they have the money and are best positioned to do this.

But it's going to take a while. In the mean time, we need to be looking here at home if only to reduce our energy costs ... say get prices back down around the $2/gal range while driving world prices down for the jihadi-supporting Saudis and Mr. Chavez.

Congress needs to get crackin' repealing some of the overbearing legislation that essentially prohibits our oil companies from responding to the problem. We can drill responsibly.

"If we can put a man on the moon..."™ we can certainly drill for oil without significantly disturbing the habitat on the surface.