Wednesday, December 26, 2012

People Not Responsible For Wrong Doing Not Punished For Wrong Doing!

Shocking, I know, but people are breathlessly reporting that the four "State Department officials" who resigned over the Benghazi scandal didn't actually resign, and likely won't receive any real punishment.

Here's the thing: they didn't do it.  I know that at least half of the outrage is along the lines of "Hey, the Administration said these people are responsible, so why aren't they being held responsible."  I get it.  I also think it's silly and wrong-headed.

We know they aren't responsible.  They had no authority to be responsible.  The fact the Administration tried to tell us they were responsible in the first place is simply another crime and another part of the coverup.

When I went through the Benghazi Files, I pointed out that the minimum security standards were not met.  I pointed out that Ambassador Stevens repeatedly asked for additional security.  I pointed out that only one person, the Secretary of State, had the authority to waive those minimum standards, and therefore the authority to deny the requests for additional security.

That's it.  Hillary Clinton is the only person with the authority have done what was done- leave the Benghazi mission woefully unprotected.

Insofar as an investigation is called for, it is only called for to the extent that we should verify if Mrs. Clinton was acting under pressure from the President, or if she made those choices on her own recognizance.  Personally, I believe it taxes credulity to say that the President was not at least aware of, and therefore in a position to overrule, the decisions made regarding the Libyan missions' security.  This is why I think the President is directly responsible, and should be impeached.  But even if you don't believe that, it is even harder to believe that four mid-level staffers would make the decision not to provide adequate security all on their own.  That decision had to be made, and a signature given, by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

So I don't care that these four staffers are not being punished.  They didn't do anything wrong, so far as we know.  All of the decisions which lead to the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans were made by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  They are the only ones who even had the authority to make them.

Why "Gun Control" Doesn't Work

Okay, since we're still apparently "having the discussion" about gun control- a "discussion" which mostly involves responsible gun owners being harangued for the actions of a criminal- I think it's time we point out why Gun Control laws have never worked, and will never work.

Take this case, for instance.

See, the perpetrator in that instance was already a violent felon.  He'd killed his grandmother with a hammer.  Without looking, I'm guessing that the manslaughter charge was from a plea bargain, but that's a rant for another time.  Legally, he already wasn't allowed to have guns of any variety.  Not a hand gun, not a rifle, not a shotgun- none of it.

It's almost as if someone who is intent on committing one crime doesn't care about the fact he may be committing more than one.  It's almost as if no amount of laws will convince criminals to obey them.

On the other hand, stricter gun control laws do disarm responsible citizens who could otherwise defend themselves.  As the fine folks at PJ Media point out, the Newtown, CT shooting was stopped by a show of force.  That is, the police showed up with guns, and the shooter didn't even wait to confront them; he just shot himself.

William Spengler was shot by emergency responders.

Neither of them was stopped by an unarmed populace wagging their fingers.

It may be a cliche to say "if you outlaw guns, then only outlaws will have guns," but it is also true.  I can point to Europe, where they have a significantly higher instance of violent crime, even with their very strict gun control laws, than the United States.  I can point to Mexico, which has virtually banned private ownership of firearms.  How's that working out for them?

Rather than be reactionary and try to ban the icky, scary gun, maybe we could look at these things the way we do other crimes.  Do we ban computers because the hacking group 'Anonymous' exists?  Do we ban hedge funds and mutual funds because people like Bernie Madoff exist?  Do we ban cars because their are crashes and because criminals use them?

No.  We don't.  We don't do those things because that would be a terrible infringement on innocent people's liberty in response to specific crimes.  Yet every time a gun is used in a crime, especially a high profile crime, "guns" are blamed rather than the perpetrators.  Do we blame money for Bernie Madoff?  It can be argued that he ruined more people's lives than the shooter in Newtown, CT, and certainly more than William Spengler in Webster, NY.

We already have laws against murder.  Ponzi schemes were illegal before Bernie Madoff started his.  People who have decided to break the law don't care what the law is. 

My defense against the Bernie Madoff's of the world is a combination of common sense (don't believe unbelievable promises) and finding a financial manager I can trust.  What defense should I be allowed against someone who wants to kill me?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ban Human Nature

This piece, from Ace, sums up why I think most "gun control" advocates are either naive or dishonest. 

As Ace points out, the only realistic way to stop gun violence is to prevent anyone anywhere from having a gun.  That means police and the military, too.  As long as guns exist, there is the possibility bad people will get them and do bad things with them.  So the only plausible "gun control" that could prevent mass gun violence is an absolute ban on guns. 

Now, Ace's point is primarily the dishonesty with which gun control advocates routinely act.  He points out that they claim not to want to "ban guns," and yet, logically, that is the only policy they can pursue.  I have a different point.

The only way to stop tragedies like what happened in Newtown, CT is to ban human nature.  That's it.  The only thing that could have stopped this particular tragedy, or any of the others before, is to lobotomize the entire population.  Sure, it's the "nuke the site from orbit" form of deterring violence, but there's a reason that quote ends with "it's the only way to be sure."

Do gun control advocates believe that murder didn't exist until the 1364?  Do they believe that people have not been wreaking violence against each other since before recorded history?

Here, they will often fall back on the dishonest line of argument that "guns make murder easier."  That is, as far as it goes, a true statement.  It is much easier to shoot someone with a handgun than it is to stab them with a knife.  What it misses is the amount of effort these mass killers go to.

They often purchase semi-specialized equipment.  They usually purchase special magazines and a fair number of them.  They purchase ammunition, sometimes for weeks or months before the actual atrocity.  Many of them map out exactly what they're going to do, and even have a plan for how to deal with the police (it usually involves shooting themselves, but it's still a plan).

Yet, for all this effort, we're supposed to think they would be deterred just because they could "only" use a bow or crossbow?  Or are gun control advocates actually seeking to ban all projectile weapons?  Well, I guess no one could possibly use an axe or a hammer to kill someone.

The fact is that people have been killing each other for as long as there have been people.  You're never going to stop it, either.  Indeed, what makes it so easy to commit these kinds of acts is not the existence of guns, but human nature.

See, everyone wants to feel safe.  Weapons, by definition, are not safe (there is no such thing as an unloaded gun).  Therefore, people tend to want to avoid weapons.  In most cases, if you got people to sit down and think through it, they probably wouldn't be afraid of the weapons.  They wouldn't even be afraid of some unknown assailant having a weapon.  Their problem would be, I believe, that weapons make them realize how dangerous the world is in general, and they don't want those reminders.  No one wants to be forced to realize, every single minute of every single day, how fragile life is.

So most people avoid weapons.  My mother grew up on a farm in Western Texas.  Her daddy required that she and her sister be familiar with how to shoot.  Nevertheless, she's not particularly comfortable around guns.  She doesn't particularly like them.  In a life where guns were just a fact of life, and were used to save lives both human and animal on more than one occasion, she still would rather avoid them.

The problem with "most people" avoiding weapons, and wanting others to avoid weapons, is that it means the bad guys are more likely than the average person to have a weapon.

Imagine if this young man had walked into that school with an axe, or a sword.  With the possible exception of the specific body count, do we really think the outcome would have been much different?  No one there could defend themselves.  To the extent they could, it would have been because they could have met him on some kind of equal footing; say, by grabbing a baseball bat from the P.E. closet.

You're never going to stop this kind of violence.  It has been with us since the first caveman realized it was easier to kill Grog and take his stuff than to barter with Grog for Grog's stuff.  It will continue until the race of Man is gone.

It's simply human nature.

Let's Be Honest

There's a problem in our country.  It's a deep sickness that affects everything we do, or see.  It's called "politics," and I don't believe it has a cure.

On Friday, the the town of Newtown, CT was the scene of a terrible act of evil.  A young man, apparently mentally ill, took a veritable arsenal to a school, after having already killed his mother, and killed over two dozen people.  He then took his own life.  This is a senseless act of mindless violence.

"Senseless": It has no sense.  No amount of rational thinking will ever allow us to understand what was going through that young man's head.

"Mindless": He wasn't using his mind.  Perhaps he was incapable of using his mind.  Someone thinking clearly doesn't target innocent children in some random act of violence.

As a nation, we all feel wounded by the events that unfolded.  Some of those wounds will close quickly.  Some of those wounds will never close.  The only thing we should be worrying about is how provide some measure of comfort and compassion to the survivors of Friday's attack.

Yet, for some reason, people believe politics must be brought into the discussion.

One professional political pundit, I can't even remember which one, remarked that 2nd Amendment advocates would probably be calling for "arming kindergartners," before we even knew all the victims.  See, it was important to get it on record immediately that more people having guns wouldn't have stopped this attack.  Never mind that he's wrong.

In what was supposed to be a prayer service for the victims and their families, the President decided to make a call for increased gun control.  On the other side of things, 2nd Amendment advocates were pre-politicising the event, since history says that exactly what did happen (increased call for gun control) would happen.

Now, those are things that can certainly be discussed.  It is in our nature to want to avoid this kind of pain and monstrosity.  When something like this happens, we rightly review to see what, if anything, could be done to prevent future recurrence.  So I don't have a problem that it's being discussed.  I do have two problems with the discussion, however.

The first, and most important, is the timing.  The political discussion was occurring, on both sides of the aisle, by around 1 PM CST, if not earlier.  The President politicized a prayer service.  It seems little or no consideration was given to the grief of those affected.

The second reason, however, is that the discussion is not honest.  As Ace so correctly pointed out on Friday, whenever Liberals say they want to have a "discussion" about guns, what they really mean is they want to demonize them and push for more gun control.  They're just smart enough that they know they can't say that out loud.  For the gun rights advocates' part, they seldom mention the shear danger involved with a totally armed populace.

Today there will be more posts from me.  I've been out since last week with a bad back, and today is the first I can even really use my laptop while laid out on the couch.  I hope to avoid some of the dishonesty in this discussion.  Most of all, I hope that we can all be honest about our goals, and see the facts for what they really are.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Shocker!: Democrats Negotiating in Bad Faith

So, for weeks, if not months, we've heard nothing from Democrats on the "Fiscal Cliff" except for the need to "raise revenue" by which they mean tax rates.  This is such a thoroughly silly idea, that it doesn't even bear the most basic of scrutiny.  For one thing, we don't have a "revenue" problem, we have a spending problem.  For another, raising tax rates does not actually increase government revenue.  If anything, it has a depressive effect by also slowing growth.

Now, however, we finally have some movement on the Democrat side.  They've shifted positions!  Wait, no, that was the goal-posts they just moved.  See, now, it's not enough that we merely raise tax rates on actual job and wealth creators.  No, now we also have to further extend Unemployment Benefits past 99 weeks.  As though nearly 2 years of unemployment was not absurd enough, now it needs to be longer.

Let's assume that Democrats were negotiating, in the beginning, in good faith.  Let's say they really wanted to reduce the deficits and (eventually) start paying down the debt.  Let's further grant that they really believe that increasing tax rates will increase revenues this time, despite its utter failure every time it's been tried in the 40+ years.  Even assuming those things (which aren't true, but go with me here), does it make sense then to further increase spending?

Even if we did have a revenue problem, and not a spending problem, in what world does it make sense to increase spending further when our deficits are already about 10% of GDP, we're already spending nearly 150% of tax receipts, and our debt is over 100% of GDP? 

The short answer: none.  It doesn't make sense.  Increasing spending is the absolute wrong thing to do to close the deficits, even if you grant that increasing tax rates would increase revenue.

If that is the case; it if it is true that increasing spending is absolutely and obviously counter-productive, then it follows that the Democrats were never negotiating in good faith.  They want the Fiscal Cliff.  They want higher taxes on everyone.  They simply assume that the spending will continue.  Since we haven't had a budget in 4 years, but we've been spending anyway, I don't see how they're wrong, either.

Republicans must not budge on this.  Let's go over the fiscal cliff together.  And then, when it's time for another "continuing resolution" to keep spending money we don't have?  Don't do that either.  When it's time to increase the debt ceiling again?  Don't do that, either.

The American People voted for the Fiscal Cliff.  They also voted for deadlock, since they didn't see fit to give the Democrats the house back, or even a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.  Give them what they asked for.

Let it burn.

GOP Communication Classes?

On the CBS morning show "This Morning" Dick Armey suggested that much of the Republican plight in the November election stemmed from candidates who "said some dumb things."  He believes the Republican Party needs to educate candidates on how to avoid saying such dumb things.  With due respect to former Leader Armey, this is hogwash.  No one should need to be "educated" so that they don't say that the body has rape-sensing hormones that prevent pregnancy, or that rape is "a blessing."  In fact, no one did say the latter, and the former was at least based on a scientific hypothesis.  The hypothesis has been soundly debunked, but it was an actually proffered hypothesis once.

No, the Republican Party needs to figure out that the Tea Party isn't going anywhere, and join forces.  If the Republican party would partner with local tea party groups to help vet candidates, and put forward candidates who are both acceptable to grass-roots conservatives and unlikely to say "dumb things" in the first place, then we'd be in a better position.  The problem with that is that the Tea Party represents opposition to much of what is wrong with the Republican Party, and the Republican Party doesn't like to admit that it has things wrong with it.

Until the local Tea Parties are accepted as legitimate partners with the Republicans, the two will work to cross purposes and Democrats will continue to be elected.  In those instances when Republicans have embraced the Tea Party, they have experience success.  Take a look at the Texas Congressional Delegation, for instance.  Scott Brown was elected on Tea Party sentiment.  He was not re-elected because he tried to out-Democrat the Democrat.

Communication is, indeed, an issue.  It probably did cost us a couple of otherwise safe seats.  But rather than focus on the window-dressing, the Republican Party needs to partner with grass-roots groups to help select men and women who are already able purveyors of the Conservative Message.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Michael Moore: "Go Union!" History: "That's New."

Michael Moore is on twitter spewing against Michigan's Right To Work law, just passed by their legislature.  According to him it's some kind of travesty.  Never mind that every right to work state in the nation is doing better, economically, than Michigan right now.

So, on twitter, he claimed that anyone working on his next movie would have to be part of the union.  Well, that's his choice, really, but it would be a departure.  See, as recently as 2009 (the last time he made a movie), Michael Moore was avoiding using union labor wherever he could.

It's always so strange to me that these limousine liberals are all pro-union- right up until they see what union labor costs.

Yet More BLS BS

So the November Unemployment numbers came out today.  The BLS claims 146K jobs created (just under what's needed to keep up with population growth) and yet somehow unemployment dropped from 7.9% to 7.7%.  Quietly released also were downward revisions in the numbers for both September and October.

Now, beyond the obvious question of how the UE Rate could go down when we're not even employing people at the replacement rate is the question of why the BLS would produce such obviously faulty numbers.  The answer to the first is easy enough.  Part of it is legitimate; yet more people are no longer counted as "unemployed" even though they are, in fact, "unemployed."  Part of it is not.  This number is fairly obviously false, and will be quietly revised downward next month or the month after. 

So the question that remains is "why?"  Why produce these numbers that are, to anyone paying attention, obviously incorrect if not outright fraudulent? 

On this, I have a theory.  It's not exactly a secret that the Bureau of Labor Statistics works for the President.  Prior to the election, they were padding the numbers (thus the quiet downward revisions for September and October's numbers) to help Obama get re-elected.  The Media helped with this, too, by absolutely refusing to analyze the unemployment numbers at all.  But what incentive does the Administration have to lie now?

My answer: the Fiscal Cliff negotiations.  Right now, just over half the country says they would blame Republicans more than Democrats if we re-entered a recession due to the fiscal cliff.  It is my belief that people would blame Democrats more if they knew how bad the economy really was.  If people saw 8%+ unemployment rates, they'd realize that we aren't in some "weak recovery" but still in a recession which has been extended by the disastrous policies of this President.  If people understood that, they would realize that the people who actually want to help them and help grow the economy are the Republicans. 

Any support for increased taxation would evaporate.  The calls for "the rich" to pay "their fair share," would be nonexistent.  People would begin to understand that we do not have a "revenue" problem.  And then the Republicans would have much more power in Congress.  They would have more power because even the Democrat controlled Senate would start feeling the pressure to reduce spending, rather than attempt to raise taxes.  The Democrats would start feeling constituent pressure to reduce regulation, and start loosening the Government's strangle-hold on the economy.

So we get the same "sunny days are here again" news we got prior to the election.  Once we've gone over the fiscal cliff, as Democrats want, we might start seeing real numbers again.  See, then, it will be because those Evil Republicans were just too hyper-partisan and wouldn't just give Obama everything he wanted.  Instead, those Evil, Intractable Republicans wanted Obama actually to negotiate!  In good faith!  How dare they!?

#CultureWar: Madison Rising

Welcome to the first in a new post category for Dedicated Tenther.  #CultureWar will focus on Conservatives in the trenches in the Culture War.  Mostly this will focus on music, because that's where we're best represented.

If you have tips about any #CultureWar soldiers (that would be: entertainers who are conservative, and not shy about it) please send them my way.


Madison Rising is a Conservative Rock (yes, apparently this is a genre) band.  You've probably heard or seen their version of the Star Spangled Banner.  That's only the tip of their rock and roll iceberg.  You can buy their music (please do) via the iTunes store or CD Baby, or you can just donate to the band via Pay-Pal (but why, when they're music is so good?).

I've listened to some of their music, and I have to say it's good.  This is not a case of a band receiving praise because they're trying to fill a niche I see needs to be filled, but because they fill it well.  Just as conservatives can listen to liberal weenies like (insert band here) and just enjoy the music, anyone can just listen to Madison Rising for some good hard rock and roll.

Their Star Spangled Banner is below the fold.  Go check 'em out and send them some of your coin.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Politics of Conflict

Going back to 1972, at least, a good rule of thumb is that Republicans will lose low turnout elections.  High turnout elections have tended towards Republicans, but the reason for the high turnout matters.  For instance, Clinton's election in 1992 was a very high turnout, but the semi-spoiler of Ross Perot gave it to the Democrat.  Barack Obama's election in 2008 was very high turnout, as people turned out to vote for the First Black President.  However, both the 96 and 2012 elections had many fewer votes, relative to the prior cycle.

So it seems that the Republicans' best chance to win elections is to encourage high turnout.  High turnout gives Republicans a much better chance of winning than low turnout.  So the question becomes, "how do we encourage high turn out?"

Here, I have a suggestion.  I do not remember the 1980 and 1984 elections at all.  I do recall the 1988 election some (c'mon, I was 8), and I remember 92 and on pretty well.  Basing this guess on what I've heard about the Reagan elections, I feel fairly safe in making the suggestion.  Conflict wins elections for Republicans.

Reagan did not just run against Carter in 1980, he ran against the idea of Carter as well.  That is, he clearly defined two teams, and then asked American voters to join one.  People voted in droves, and mostly chose Reagan's team.  When Bush 41 ran in 1988, he drew similar team lines.  "Read my lips, no new taxes."  Contrariwise, Bush 41 lost to Clinton in 92 because he'd reneged on that "no new taxes" pledge, and people could see no difference between the two.  The guy who tried to draw clear team lines was Ross Perot, who didn't have the needed infrastructure to win.  Bush 44 barely won over Al Gore.  The reason that election was so close was, once again, the lines between the two "teams" were blurred.

Of note here is that I'm using the term "team" on purpose.  This isn't about parties.  One thing Ross Perot's runs in 92 and 96 prove is that there are certain partisans who will always vote for their party.  Those aren't the ones who are choosing a team in each election.  The teams are for those who are less partisan.  Maybe they normally vote R or D, but they can be persuaded.  Maybe they don't normally vote at all.

So how do we draw those team lines?  We use conflict.  Reagan was good at doing this affably, but the conflict needs to exist.  Let's take a couple of looks at popular culture to make the point.

American wrestling, currently existing as the WWE, used to be a very minor niche of entertainment, and just didn't have a following.  That all changed decades ago, when someone- I'm not sure any but those who were following then even remembers who- decided to make the show more exciting.  How was that done?  He took the persona of the bad guy.  Now, audiences had someone to root against (him) and, by extension, someone to root for.  To this day, the WWE uses this formula, and experiences great commercial success.  Professional boxing is trying to do the same thing through building up and promoting rivalries.

American Idol burst onto the scene 11 years ago.  From the beginning it was wildly popular.  However, the 2011 season was weak, and the 2012 season was weaker.  The show is flailing trying to maintain its power.  What changed?  Simon Cowell left.  Simon Cowell, the acerbic Brit and primary judge, was the primary draw for the show.  Why?  Because he created conflict.  While everyone else was heaping praise on contestants, Simon would make up some off-the-wall simile to say "that sucked."  It drove conflict on the judging panel, and it drove conflict with the contestants.  You could root for or against Simon, and therefore for or against specific contestants or the other judges.  With him gone, there is no conflict.  Randy has tried to fill his shoes by being a little more honest with the contestants, but he doesn't drive conflict.  He's too conciliatory when he's telling someone they suck.  So Idol is in decline.

It is this last part that I think is important.  No one who was paying attention could seriously believe that Mitt Romney and the SCOAMT had any positions really in common.  There was disagreement.  However, Mitt Romney seemed to run from conflict.  Mere disagreement will not suffice; a clear conflict, a rivalry is necessary.  It gets people excited and encourages them to pick a side.  Instead, people didn't see that there were sides to pick, and so people stayed home.

If Republicans want to win the White House in 2016 (assuming The Great Collapse has not already occurred), they must embrace conflict.  When the Democrat says, "We need to raise revenue," the Republican needs to respond "No, we don't."  Direct contradiction is the most basic form of conflict.  It gets people's attention.  Imagine if, during the debates, SCOAMT had said, "...and so I'm proposing to raise revenue by blah, blah..." and Romney had immediately rejoined, "Raise revenue?  Don't you mean raise taxes?  Please, Mr. President, be honest with the American people.  And while we're being honest; we don't have a problem with revenue, we have a problem with spending."

That's a clear line.  That creates Team Raise Taxes and Team Cut Spending.  On item after item Romney could have chosen to engage in conflict, and therefore give the American People some one to root for and someone to root against.  Had he done so, maybe we'd be talking about President Elect Romney today.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

We Do Not Have A Revenue Problem

As the deadline to stop the automatic tax increases and budget cuts collectively known as the "Fiscal Cliff" looms ever larger, we here a lot about "increased revenue."  This is simply 1984 Newspeak for "tax rate hikes."  The only question, it seems, is whether they should be called tax hikes, in which case actual marginal rates would go up, or whether it should be called "closing loopholes," and use the obfuscation of keeping marginal rates the same but removing deductions to increase taxes.  Based on both the Republicans' and Democrats' talking points, you'd think that the United States Government was the orphan Oliver asking, "Please sir, I'd like some more."

This is ludicrous.  The United States does not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. 

According to, the United States Government took in 2.486 trillion dollars in 2012.  According to Economy Watch, the projected US GDP for 2012 is 15.880 trillion dollars.  This means that the US Government will take in around 15.6% of GDP in direct revenue.  This a little on the low side, but well within statistical averages for the last several decades.

Taking in roughly 1/7th of the GDP as revenue should be more than sufficient.  The problem is not revenue.  The problem is spending.  For 2012, the US Deficit is projected to be over 1.3 trillion dollars.  That means the United States is spending more than 150% of the revenue it takes in.  Total Debt is projected to be over 16 trillion dollars, or roughly 103% of GDP. 

This is insane.  There is no way, if we confiscated all the wealth from every person living in the United States, that we could pay our bills.  This is like a family making $250,000/yr spending $380,000, and already being over one million dollars in debt.  What has to be cut is spending.  And the biggest drains on the treasury are entitlements, followed by military spending.

Any discussion of the budget that does not include massive cuts to entitlement and (sorry, to say) military spending is simply not serious.  Any discussion of the budget which has as its premise that we need higher revenue is simply not serious.  It is political posturing, and posing for the cameras.  Such discussions are aimed to score political points and harm political opponents.  Anyone engaging in such rhetoric should be immediately dismissed as unserious, at best, and disingenuous at worst.

Speaker Boehner, this means you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Beware Liberals Bearing Newspeak

I normally pay the amount of attention to Cory Booker that one would more readily associate with one's appendix function.  However, when FotB tsrblke sent me this on twitter, I just couldn't help myself.

Time to mock a self-important liberal douche mercilessly.

Let's start where he does:
This morning, I will begin living on a food budget of $30 a week / $4.32 per day.  This is the financial equivalent of the budget provided to people participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, in the State of New Jersey.  I will live only on a SNAP equivalent food budget for the next seven days.

Okay, first off, what part of "supplemental" didn't you understand, Mr. Booker?  The assumption is that SNAP will not be the only way you're paying for your groceries.  The assumption is that you will have some other form of income- a job, disability, or some other form of government assistance.  Proving that you'll have a hard time living on an amount you were never intended to live on proves precisely nothing, you self-important sub-moron.

A Twitter user tweeted me her opinion that "nutrition is not the responsibility of the government".  This comment caused me to reflect on the families and children in my community who benefit from SNAP assistance and deserve deeper consideration.  In my own quest to better understand the outcomes of SNAP assistance, I suggested to this specific Twitter user that we both live on a SNAP equivalent food budget for a week and document our experience.

So are you saying that nutrition is the responsibility of the government?  You do realize, do you not, that anything that is the government's "responsibility" is also theirs to withhold?  Also, I sincerely doubt that anyone in Cory Booker's "community" relies on SNAP for their groceries.  Whether or not they receive it is a different matter, but I sincerely doubt anyone around him relies on $30/week for their food.

My goals for the #SNAPChallenge are to raise awareness and understanding of food insecurity; reduce the stigma of SNAP participation; elevate innovative local and national food justice initiatives and food policy; and, amplify compassion for individuals and communities in need of assistance.

This just might be his most ignorant quote.  And that's saying something.  First off, "food insecurity" is something dreamt up by the loony left.  The idea of 21+ meals a week is due directly to American affluence.  Most cultures in the world still get by on one or two meals a day.  I don't wish that on anyone, but let's not pretend that starvation is some big problem in America.  It's certainly not a big enough problem that Government needs to get involved.

As for reducing "the stigma of SNAP participation?"  Seriously?  We want to reduce the stigma of living off the government teet?  How about we increase the stigma?  How about people who have to rely on forcing their neighbors to provide their meals have a little bit of shame?  Relying on the benevolence of others should be humbling, at least, and "shaming" is not going too far.

"Food justice initiative?"  Seriously, now he's just throwing random words together.  What the heck is "food justice?"  Is everyone now entitled to a pound of Swish Shard per week?  Is having a rib eye the new desegregation?

As for compassion, hows this?  Give to food banks.  Give to local charities.  Cory Booker is not a poor man.  The Tarrant County Food Bank can feed three people for a dollar.  How about, instead of this stupid "#SNAPChallenge," he uses that $30/week to feed 10 people per week?  How does that sound?  But, of course, it's not about charity and compassion, it's about an ever-growing government, and the need that Liberals have for Government to "take care" of people 24/7/365 from cradle to grave.  Nevermind the resulting loss of Liberty.

We'll end here:
We have much work to do at the local level to address a legacy of structural inequities in the American food system.  As more and more working people and families - many holding down more than one job - face greater and greater challenges to juggle housing, medical, and transportation costs, meeting nutritional needs becomes a serious problem and a social justice issue.

What "legacy of structural inequities?"  Unless he really does mean that everyone should be entitled to their weekly rib eye, I have no idea what he's talking about.  As for those "working people and families" that are "holding down more than one job," don't they, by definition, have more income than just $30/wk to buy groceries?  And before I cry about their challenges to juggle "housing, medical, and transportation costs," I think I want an accounting of where their money goes.  Do they have ipads?  Iphones?  Is Mr. Booker perhaps unaware that health insurance premiums have gone up $2,500 per year for families since the very beginnings of Obamacare, and that they'll be going up any more?  I wonder about Mr. Booker's take on repealing ObamaCare so that those "working people and families" might be able to keep that $2,500/yr for themselves?

Let. It. Burn.

House Republicans are already preparing to capitulate to Barack Obama on tax increases.  When he rejects that offer, then they'll come back with tax increases and another increase to the debt ceiling, providing him everything he wants.  In addition, John Boener and GOP leaders are removing fiscal conservatives from their places on House committees.  This is all just more evidence that the GOP is dead as a conservative party.  So let it burn.

But what does "let it burn" mean?  Well, I think it means different things to different people, so I'll explain what I mean, and you can chime in in the comments (hint, hint).

First, "let it burn" does not mean a complete disengagement.  If it looks like things really can be turned around, we have to be willing to rush to the point of conflict to turn things around.  However, it does mean not spending one more minute defending the Republican party.  Not one more dime sent to the RNC or any Republican incumbent. 

It also means disengaging, as much as possible, from the coming economic collapse.  Taxes are going to go up.  Growth is already anemic, and higher taxes will just cripple the economy further.  This means a collapse is very seriously nigh, and we must be prepared.

We must be prepared for the collapse itself.  This means making as sure as possible that you have the means to take care of your family during the collapse.  Form informal groups and cooperatives with others, banding together to see your families through the tough times ahead.  I have a family farm I hope to have operational before the collapse, if it holds off long enough.  Food, shelter, and clothing are the most important things you can secure.  If you can do that through a job that pays well enough, that's fine.  If you can't, then you need to find a way to provide those things.

We must be prepared for the possible societal collapse.  That sounds alarmist, but it is an entirely possible consequence.  Over 51% of the voting public in the United States voted for Barack Obama, who promised them no end to their free stuff.  Once the economic collapse comes, their free stuff goes away anyway.  With luck, enough progress will be made politically that "the masses" will be willing to wait for economic relief.  If there isn't, then our Society, with 60+ years of class warfare rhetoric, 40+ years of racial warfare rhetoric, and an especially divisive President is ripe for societal unrest.  Part of being prepared for that unrest is the same as being prepared for the economic collapse.  Food, water, shelter.  Add physical safety and you're okay.  Another part, though, is being ready to lead.  Which leads us to the third thing we have to prepare for.

We must be prepared to rebuild.  Whether "just" an economic collapse, or a complete societal collapse, those who have prepared are most likely to come out of the trouble in a better situation.  Their preparations will give them advantages over their unprepared neighbors.  This means those unprepared neighbors will look to them for relief.  Those neighbors will either look to the prepared as leaders, or as targets.  If properly prepared, we can be seen as leaders and guide the rebuilding.

Let it burn is as much a path and strategy as anything.  It requires preparation and commitment.  It is not simple resignation and a complete disengagement from the economy, society, and culture.  It is an acknowledgement that "it" is going to burn anyway, and a prioritization of limited resourced based on that realization.

Boehner Preparing to Sell Out

Hint to Congressional Republicans: if you let Speaker Boehner remain as speaker and continue his "leadership," you will succeed in doing something Democrats have been trying to accomplish for at least 30 years.  The complete destruction of the Republican party.

Breitbart is reporting that John Boehner and the House Republicans are considering a "Doomsday" plan to avoid the so-called "Fiscal Cliff."  Basically, they plan to roll over and give Barack Obama exactly what he wants- higher taxes on job and wealth creators, and nothing much else.  Yes, Obama is also calling to increase the debt limit, but we probably won't hit that until after the new congress is sworn in anyway, he knows that Boehner has plenty of time to capitulate on that, too.

Let us be very, very clear, here.  The United States Government does not have a revenue problem.  The US Government took in nearly $2.5 trillion dollars in 2012.  That is more than enough revenue to do everything the Federal Government should be doing, with some (a lot) left over.  To put it in perspective, 2.5 Trillion seconds ago was around 74,000 BC.  What the United States Government has is a spending problem.  Spending, especially on entitlements, must be cut.

Of course, spending cuts are politically difficult, and tax rate increases, especially on the "very wealthy" are politically easy.  Class warfare sells, after all.  Unfortunately for "politically easy" tax rate increases, of any variety, are not the answer.  This is true for a variety of reasons.  For one thing, even if we confiscated all the wealth from every person living in the United States, we couldn't pay our bills.  For another, tax rate increases traditionally reduce GDP, and therefore reduce revenue.  On the other hand, lowering tax rates increases GDP, growing the tax base, and increasing revenues.

Now, I understand we are not going to get tax rate cuts out of any deal.  We have, as the weenies in Congress are so fond of pointing out, "One half of one third of the Government."  So there is no way we "win" this fight.  However, perhaps we should be looking for a "lateral win."  That is, maybe we should change the goal we're pursuing.  We're not going to get tax rate cuts.  We can't even prevent tax hikes (if nothing happens, the old Clinton Rates go back into effect, and the Democrats in the Senate won't even consider something that doesn't allow the top marginal rate to go up).  So let's redefine "victory."

Obama and the Democrats are fond of pointing out to the balanced budgets and surpluses of the Clinton years.  Few realize that the US Government had virtually nothing to do with that.  The Clinton years were the rise of the Internet.  They were the "dot com" bubble which burst just before Clinton left office (people usually forget that part, too).  So, yes, the Federal Government was doing quite well in those years, but that was despite Clinton's economic policies, not because of them.  However, we should embrace their idea.  The Clinton economy was so good, let's go back to all of those tax rates.  All of them.  And, since we're now expecting a return to "Clinton's" (really Newt Gringrich's) balance budgets and even surpluses, we don't need to raise the debt ceiling, either.

In this case, the correct answer is to embrace the reversal of the Bush tax rates.  Don't merely "allow" the Bush rates to expire.  Push a bill fully embracing the return of the Clinton rates.  Push a bill explicitly refusing to raise the debt limit for, say, one year.  Let's really test the Democrat's economic theory.  If they're right, and raising tax rates will increase revenue and decrease the deficit, then it is every American's Patriotic duty to do their part to help, by working even more for the Government than they do already.

Give it one year, and then go back to the table.  One year of Clinton rates, and I'm guessing most of America will support Republican calls for reduced taxation and reduced spending.  And, if not-  Let it burn.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Racist Eugenicist Margaret Sanger to Rachel Carson: "Well Done."

Update: This is what happens when I don't get enough caffeine.  Yes, Rachel Carson, not Corrie.  Corrected below.  *sigh*

From the Competitive Enterprise Institute comes this piece, detailing how Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was basically completely wrong.  Check out their piece (video and PDF).

I want to make a different point though, going back to the "perfectibility of man" premise so many Liberals accept.  Rachel Carson wrote a book which basically called anyone who used DDT mass murderers.  She claimed there were side effects of DDT which were harmful to humans (beyond those in any chemical- including natural ones- there aren't), and then said they made bird eggs super-duper fragile, so that birds weren't hatching.  Now, there has never actually been any scientifically rigorous proof of that, either, but let's grant it for the moment.

Is she saying that birds are more important than people?  I'm sure she would tell you otherwise.  See, she believes in the perfectibility of man.  One consequence of the concept of the perfectibility of man is the resulting concept of the perfectibility of man's designs.  See, if man is perfectible, so is anything to which he sets his hand.  So any negative consequences of anything humans do are completely unacceptable.  Anything which has any negative side effects at all must be banned.  Those who use it anyway must be shunned.

However high-minded this philosophy may think it is, it fails to apply its own test to itself.  For, if man is perfectible, and therefore anything man does should be perfect, then any negative consequences are unacceptable, and the enterprise must be abandoned.  When we apply that rubric to the idea of the perfectibility of man, however, we find the concept of the perfectibility of man also has negative consequences, and so must be abandoned. 

The concept of the perfectibility of man required that Rachel Carson and her compatriots oppose DDT and other pesticides.  As a result, more millions of African babies have died than those ever aborted by noted Racist Eugenicist Margaret Sanger's Planned Parenthood ever has.  Those deaths are negative consequences, so, by their own rules, the opposition to DDT must be abandoned.

Of course, there's one other option.  Maybe Rachel Carson just hates black people.

The Imperfectibility of Man

I've already posted this morning on Bob Costas's ignorant (at best) comments on Sunday Night Football last night.  I've also posted about San Bernardino going all "Thunderdome."  AoSHQ Moronette AlexTheChick posted over at Double Plus Undead an open letter to Costas and Whitlock which I highly recommend you read.

But I want to get a little more into this mentality that says "Guns bad."  It's the same nanny-state mentality that says that more Government is always the answer, and any failure of Government is not due to the fact that Government is incapable of doing certain things, but due to the fact that the Government needs absolute unchecked power.  This idea is based on a fallacy to which it seems both Whitlock and Costas fall prey.

There is an idea, ascribed to by teenagers and leftists, known as the perfectibility of man.  According to this idea, if people would just "be nice" to each other, and if the right rules were in place, all the evils in the world would go away.  This is the core premise behind such failed ideologies as Marxism and other collectivist systems.  It ignores the facts of human behavior.  People are not perfect, and no rules or enforcement thereof will make them so.

Case in point: perhaps my favorite quote directed to Messrs. Costas and Whitlock is this, "What caliber did OJ use?"  Human beings are violent, jealous, lazy, evil beings.  People don't like to acknowledge this, but it's true.  All that cursing you use?  It's a form of violence.  It's a very minor way to vent your aggression so that you don't actually become physically violent.  Human nature is evil. 

Now, this is a hard concept for two reasons.  One, if you accept it, you have to accept your own evil.  In the case of Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock, I'm sure they would vociferously deny that charge.  Second is that it means you must accept that evil will occur in the world, often for no good reason. 

It is the concept of the perfectibility of man that caused people to look for someone, other than Al Qaida and Osama Bin Laden, to blame for 9/11.  It is the concept of the perfectibility of man that causes bleeding hearts across the globe to try to "understand" murderers and rapists.  It is the concept of the perfectibility of man that says if we'd just take all the weapons away, no one would ever be violent again.

However, man is not perfectible.  Indeed, a central truth you must accept if you wish to actually address the balance of evil in the world is man's imperfectibility.  If man is not perfectible, then Government cannot be the solution, since it is run by imperfect men.  If man is not perfectible, then a better armed society is safer than a less armed society, since such a society would give the (relatively) innocent the means by which to protect themselves.  If man is not perfectible, then we do not have to wonder "why" atrocities occur; we can blame the perpetrator for their actions and treat them accordingly.

San Bernardino: A Leftist's Dream Made Reality

Somehow, I don't think Mad Max is going to come save the day.

San Bernardino, CA, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.  Despite what should be protection from their various debt obligations, at least temporarily, the city finds its fiscal situation continuing to deteriorate.  Indeed, their situation seems to be so bad, that the City Attorney, Jim Penman suggested that citizens arm themselves and lock their doors because they simply don't have enough police to protect the citizenry.

The New Mayor of San Bernardino, CA

With respect to the people of California, you asked for this.  Government is only supposed to do a very few things.  Providing police protection is one of those things, but your insistence on forcing your government to provide all kinds of other services, in addition to your love of the abomination that is Public Employee Unions, has led to this. 

Money that does not exist cannot be spent, and what cannot continue will not.  If what you are willing to cut is your police force, then you will be the ones who must supply that protection.  So while your government pays outrageous salaries to its officials, you are the ones on the hook.  Perhaps your children will learn the lessons you obviously have not, and might possibly correct the situation.

Until then, I recommend stocking up on the leather and spikes.  It looks like that's what the fashion-conscious will be wearing after the apocalypse.

Bob Costas: Idiot

So, during his spot in last night's Sunday Night Football game between the Dallas Cowboys, who should still fire their GM, and the Philadelphia Eagles, Bob Costas decided to wax eloquent on Gun Control.  In a spot in which he quoted heavily from noted intellectual light-weight Jason Whitlock, Mr. Costas essentially blamed the existence of guns for the deaths of Kansas City Chiefs Line Backer Javon Belcher (suicide) and his live-in girlfriend (and mother of their child) Kasandra Perkins.

If they hadn't owned a gun, Costas opined with Whitlock's words, they might still be alive.  Yes, Mssrs-Highly-Paid-Media-Personalities-Who-Live-In-Very-Safe neighborhoods, because there is no way on earth a six foot tall, or taller, man weighing well north of 200 pounds (and probably not far south of 300) could possibly have killed his girlfriend with, say, a knife.  Nicole Brown Simpson was unavailable for comment.  Failing a knife, he could have used his hands and feet- a means by which you are much more likely to die than any firearm. 

Whatever happened that night, Javon Belcher attacked and murdered his girlfriend.  He then drove to his team's offices, where he shot himself in front of whitnesses.  A man so out of his mind is not suddenly going to reach clarity just because he has to grab a knife, a pipe, a rope, or use his bare hands instead of a gun.

You want to talk about "gun culture?"  Let's look at Virginia, where high fire-arms sales correspond (just coincidentally, I'm sure) with dropping violent crime rates.  Let's look at Texas, Oklahoma, and Arizona, where a "gun culture" of routine ownership has not, somehow, lead to mass murders and the streets running with blood.  Let's look at Michigan, with it's own open-carry law where, excepting the cesspools of Flint and Detroit, you don't exactly have to be afraid to walk to your car at night.

Guns do not cause violence.  Guns do not cause us to "escalate confrontation."  Whatever your beliefs about the Wild West, it wasn't like the movies.  A well armed populace actually decreases violence.  This is especially true when the nature of those weapons is that of the gun- the great equalizer.  As written by Robert E. Howard "Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing."

So spare me your holier-than-thou pontifications about the state of our "gun culture."  Don't try to tell me that violence and murder never existed before the firearm.  Don't try to lay the blame of young Mr. Belcher's actions on the tool he used in their commission.  The blame lies solely with Mr. Belcher, who, for whatever reason, killed the mother of his child, and then himself.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Obama: "We Have To Stop The Fiscal Cliff" Reality: Hasn't Met Congressional Leaders in 13+ Days

Above the Post Update
Apparently, these fiscal cliff negotiations are so urgent, they're forcing Barack Obama to change his vacation plans so he can be in Washington, DC, just in case he needs to sign anything.

Just kidding.  He'll be in Hawaii from December 17 through at least January 2- meaning he won't be available to sign any legislation crafted to avoid the fiscal cliff, if any even exists then.

Original Post: 

Q: How do you know Barack Obama is lying?  A: His mouth is moving.
Q: How do you know Barack Obama is about to go play golf?  A: He just called something an urgent priority.

Immediately after winning re-election back on the 6th, Barack Obama immediately returned to form.  That is: he demogogued against the Republicans and then beat feet to avoid any actual work.

Specifically, he claimed that the "Hard work" of averting the "Fiscal Cliff" would have to begin immediately.  He claimed that Republicans were responsible for the fiscal cliff, despite the fact that the vast majority of the deficit spending, both current and future, is due directly to policies he and his complete control of Congress had implemented before the Republicans took over the House in 2011.

Now, via Twitchy, comes word that he has not met with Congressional Leaders in 13 days.

Frankly, I think the American people voted for the fiscal cliff, and I think they should get it good and hard.  Me and mine can trim sails and survive.  It'll suck, but the American people re-elected everyone who devised this lack-of-a-plan in the first place. 

That said, Barack Obama claimed this was a priority.  He claimed that going over the fiscal cliff would be completely unacceptable.  He then insinuated that the only reason we would go over the fiscal cliff is if Republicans were unwilling to compromise.  Now he's not even meeting with them?  If this were such a priority, wouldn't he be meeting with them every day?

Of course, as with everything he says, this is more demagoguery and lies from Barack Obama.  He doesn't want to stop the fiscal cliff.  Why would he, because of John Boehner's incompetence, he gets everything he wants.  He gets to increase taxes on everyone, and not just a little.  He gets to gut defense spending, and Medicare spending.  More importantly he gets to blame it all on Republicans.  You see, they were the ones who didn't "compromise."  They were the ones who "let" it happen.  If they'd just completely capitulated, then... well, he won't explain what would happen, because that's not politically expedient.

Some Republicans and Conservatives have suggested giving Barack Obama everything he wants.  I submit that it will not work.  For once in his miserable life, Harry Reid will actually open up the bill for debate on the Senate floor, and will oppose any attempt at cloture.  He'll claim that the bill is so important, unlike, say ObamaCare, that it must be fully debated and understood.  And then, by the time he finally allows a vote, the bill will be approved too late.  There are all kinds of things the Democrats can do to delay passage of a bill averting the fiscal cliff.  Thanks to their allies in the Mainstream Media, most people will still believe that those evil, intractable Republicans are to blame.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Benghazi Files: The "Talking Points" Were Never The Issue

So, showing their usual complete absence of feck, Senate Republicans seem to have missed the point of the Benghazi scandal.  That, or they've actively decided to assist Barack Obama in covering up his treasonous behavior.

Because of the Senate investigation, all of the news around the Benghazi attack has been over the talking points.  Even I fell for it to some extent yesterday.  "Who changed the talking points?"  "Who is responsible for the talking points?"  "Why was Rice sent in front of cameras?"  People keep asking these questions, and the real question has gotten lost.

Here are the important questions: What did Barack Obama know about the substandard security for the Benghazi mission, and when did he know it?  What did Barack Obama know about the terrorist attack against the Benghazi mission, and when did he know it?  What did Barack Obama know about the orders not to send support during the attack, when did he know it, and why didn't he countermand them?

The talking points are tangential.  The talking points are about the lies after the fact.  Even investigating the "talking points" makes it seem like the problem was the lie, not the fact that 4 Americans were left to die.

Now, you know, and I know, and everyone paying any attention at all knows that the responsibility for all of this lies with Barack Obama.  Anyone with any moral character whatsoever knows that Barack Obama should resign in disgrace or be impeached for the Benghazi attack.  But I want it official.  I want Congressional Republicans to get it on the record that Barack Obama holds ultimate responsibility.  Then I want him impeached by the House. 

Yes, I know that Democrats, who control the Senate, won't vote to impeach him.  But I want that on record, too.  I want them to go on record explaining why it's not an impeachable offense to approve substandard security for a mission in an area where terrorist organizations were known to be.  I want them to go on the record explaining why it's not an impeachable offense not to have insured that the security at said mission was increased on the anniversary of 9/11 when Al Qaida and Al Qaida linked groups were known to a) want to attack us and b) be operating in the area.  I want them to go on the record explaining why it's not an impeachable offense to have authorized, whether at the time or through prior orders, two stand-down orders to the CIA on the scene, and to have prohibited help from Signolla Air Base.

I want that on the record.  And I want Conservative Media to scream about it so much that the Mainstream Media has no choice but to cover it.

The Avengers: Even With The Praise, Still Under-Rated

I know I'm late to this party, but I was re-watching The Avengers last night, and I'd just like the opportunity to point out that Joss Whedon may be one of the best writer/directors in Hollywood right now.  Every time I re-watch the movie (and that's fairly frequently), I'm once again blown away by everything from the visuals, to the effects, to the characters themselves.

This isn't going to be a review, since the movie is already out on Blu-Ray and DVD, but rather a look into why I think the movie was so good. 

First, I have to give great respect to the team at Marvel for coming up with the plan for the Avengers and sticking to it.  Would I have preferred the "real" Avengers team of Iron Man, Ant Man, Wasp, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America?  Yes.  For various reasons that particular line up was not in the cards however, and the inclusion of Hawkeye and Black Widow was both well done and satisfying.  The patience and planning required to build this movie is just staggering.  Five lead up movies from five different writing/directing teams were used to build the foundation for what may be the first successful Superhero Epic.

Second, I have to pay respect to the technical team.  The visuals were, if not "stunning," completely evocative of what they were going for.  You could believe in the SHEILD Helicarrier.  The sets were magnificent from the beginning all the way to the end.  The visual effects were mostly not noticeable- and that's high praise.  Oh, certainly, if you don't let yourself get pulled into the story you can say "Oh, Iron Man in flight is CGI," or "Oh, the Hulk is a CG creation."  But in the moment, you don't notice them.  They just feel right.  They're not done to say, "hey, look what we can do," but to tell the story.

That said, none of this works without Joss Whedon.  He is, hands down, the best ensemble director currently in Hollywood.  I first fell in love with Joss Whedon's work with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.  No, not that one, this one.  But that wasn't exactly an ensemble.  The TV Show, however, was.  Indeed, it had to be.  If it had simply been Buffy the whole time, it would quickly have gotten stale and boring.  As he did it, however, we came to love all the characters.  Everyone in my circle of friends saw ourselves as Xander, if perhaps a little more with the learning.  We were all "the Zeppo."

Then came Firefly, which died too early a death.  Again, while Mal Reynolds may have been the headline character, the show was not just about him.  We all loved the whole crew.  I think my personal favorite, after Mal, was Reverend Book.  More so even than Buffy, which was "about" the monsters, Firefly was about the crew.  Yes, it was cowboys in space.  It was also, for lack of a better term, a man's soap opera.  At least, it was a soap opera that wouldn't cost you man-points for watching.  Yes, I am still bitter at Fox for mishandling the show.

So when I heard that Joss Whedon was going to direct The Avengers, I was over the moon.  When I heard that he was re-writing portions of the script, I was even happier.  His dialogue can say more in a quick quip than some writers can say in a full on soliloquy.  And there were plenty of those quips.

Indeed, I believe Joss Whedon is as responsible, if not more, for how well the characters played together. 

Let's look at the introduction (in this movie) of Black Widow.  She's sitting, tied to a chair, in some arms dealer's warehouse.  As she describes it, she is "in the middle of an interrogation, and this moron is giving [her] everything."  Then, when Agent Coleson mentions that Hawkeye "has been compromised," her eyes narrow and you know violence is about to ensue.  Now, in other movies, the hot chick tied to the chair might say something like "I'm going to use this chair to kick all your asses," or something that boils down to that.  Indeed, had this been a sceen in Buffy, we'd probably get some quip about getting this situation "tied up" as quickly as possible.  Not so with Widow.  She just proceeds to kick all their asses in athletic fashion.  All the while, Coulson is simply waiting on the other end, as though he knows exactly what's happening, and just wishes she would hurry up.

I could write a book about moments like this.  The fight between Thor and Iron Man was classic "Super Hero Duel" material.  Unlike many, I even really enjoyed Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner.

Perhaps the best part, however, is the complete characterization each of the heroes gets to show.  Nothing could have stopped Robert Downey, Jr. from portraying Tony Stark as the "genius billionaire philanthropist play-boy," but it could have been made to seem out of place, or overwhelming.  In this cast, with this direction, it was spot on.  More telling, however, are the other characters. 

Captain America was the guy every boy grew up hoping he'd be.  You could just spout the Boy Scout Oath, and that's Captain America.  But Whedon wasn't content to let that be.  He had to highlight those things in the Captain.  From lines like "There's only one God, ma'am, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that," to stopping in the middle of a fight with an alien army to help direct the emergency response, the Captain's Character and Responsibility shone through. 

Thor was also spot on.  You could see his balancing of responsibility to the people of Earth and his desire, even his need, to be reconciled with his brother.  He wasn't the cocky bully he'd been in the Thor movie, but you could still see that kid in there.  It was an organic kind of growth that made sense.  Even at the end of the movie, when Loki has opened the portal for the alien bad guys, Thor wants to be reconciled and "stop this... together."

It's easy to think that Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner was "just kind of there," but I disagree.  Much of his performance was done non-verbally, however.  He did have some good lines, don't get me wrong, but so much of his performance was one of physical manner.  From the purely deflated look he gets when he realizes that the girl he was going to help in Calcutta was just a lure, to the "don't think about the guns, don't think about the guns" body language when he first arrives on the helicarrier, his performance was actually spot on, to me.

In all of these cases, none of this works without the right actors.  Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, and Mark Ruffalo brought their heroes to life.  Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, and Clark Gregg slipped right back into their roles as if they'd never left.  But through it all, the thing that gave each of these heroes a chance to shine, and a chance to be heroes, was Joss Whedon.

If you've been living under some rock somewhere and haven't seen this movie, go see it.  If you have seen it, you already know what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Treason: Rice Admits White House Lied About Benghazi Attack

Via Ace

Here was Ms. Rice's Statement after speaking to a Senate Panel about Benghazi, and her roll in lying to the American People (Emphasis mine):
In the course of the meeting, we explained that the talking points provided by the intelligence community, and the initial assessment upon which they were based, were incorrect in a key respect: there was no protest or demonstration in Benghazi. While we certainly wish that we had had perfect information just days after the terrorist attack, as is often the case, the intelligence assessment has evolved. We stressed that neither I nor anyone else in the Administration intended to mislead the American people at any stage in this process, and the Administration updated Congress and the American people as our assessments evolved.

Get that, "neither I nor anyone else in the Administration intended to mislead."  But we already know the facts are that terrorist action, and not some YouTube Video, was already known to be the cause of the Benghazi attack.  We know that the CIA submitted talking points that addressed the terrorist attack.  So if they never "intended to mislead," did they instead believe that the CIA was lying to them?

No.  They didn't believe that, but they're hoping you'll believe that they believe that.

So, to be clear one more time:

The Secretary of State had to sign off on leaving the Benghazi compound under-defended.  Since Obama was routinely pointing to Libya as a foreign policy success, it is unreasonable to believe that he was unaware of that decision, and could have over-ruled his Secretary of State. 

When the attack occurred, the White House had immediate visual intelligence via drone and the compound's own security cameras.  They knew the nature of the attack.  Nevertheless, someone made the decision not to send help.  Remember, that was an active order: "stand down."  Barack Obama could have over-ridden that order.  He was either not available (and therefore derelict in his duty as President and Commander in Chief) or actively chose not to override that order, thus sentencing our people to death.

After the attack occurred, the White House approved a set of talking points to be delivered by Ambassador Susan Rice which explicitly excluded any reference to a terror attack, and instead referenced a "spontaneous demonstration" which they already knew had never existed.

Barack Obama consigned those men to death, and then lied to the American People about it.

He must be immediately impeached.

 Update: Commenter 'Jane D'oh' at the AoSHQ points out that Susan Rice is also partially responsible for Bill Clinton's decision not to take Bin Laden when Sudan offered him to us on a silver platter.

Charity that Works: Give a Goat

The first in a new occasional series, I'm going to highlight a charity that actually works.  I'm not sure if this is the same organization, specifically, that my church uses, but it does the same thing. 

My congregation, the Mansfield Church of Christ in Mansfield, TX, supports a missionary, Salvidor Cariaga, in the Philippines.  His focus is on empowering the people of the Philippines to lift themselves out of poverty.  Among the tools he uses is "Give a Goat."

There are a few groups that do this.  The idea is this: to an impoverished family, a goat is a gift that keeps on giving.  A goat's wool (well: fleece) provides a source of income.  A goat's milk provides nourishment.  There are more than a few successful families now in the Philippines that have graduated from Cariaga's program.

See, families are not just given a goat and told, "go and prosper."  Families are selected based on criteria (specific selection criteria vary from group to group), and are then helped in preparing for becoming, in essence, small business owners.  They're educated about how to raise the goat, how to market the fleece milk products.  Many of them use the proceeds from the goat products to buy additional goats, and start farming them.  In this way, they not only expand their own wealth, they then begin hiring others to tend their flocks, thus helping others out of poverty as well.

This is the way charity should work.  Government is not involved any more than is absolutely necessary.  The people helped are not merely given a gift which they will, by human nature, not particularly value.  Recipients are not merely the people who are "the most needy" but those most likely to succeed and, in their success, bring others out of poverty as well.

This is charity done correctly.  Charity should not be a government endeavor.  The nature of government is such that it can never be done correctly.  Charity should not make life easy.  Charity should require work on the part of the recipient.  And one gift should have the opportunity to assist more than just the initial recipient.

One of These is Not Like the Others

Here, check out these links:
* 401(k) Plans on the Chopping Block
* Home Mortgage Interest Deduction on the Chopping Block
* Rand Paul: Why must we raise taxes to reform entitlements?

Hmm... one of those is not like the others. 

In fact, Rand Paul is one of the few voices of fiscal sanity remaining.  As friend Vic over at the AoSHQ would point out, our budgetary problems are not revenue problems.  They're spending problems.  Yet, because the assumption is that all money comes from the Government, it is a very short step from there to believing that any budget problems are because the government gives away too much "revenue" by having tax breaks.  It's an equally short step from the government being the source of money to the Government then being morally obligated to take care of everyone's needs.

And that's exactly where our national discourse is at the present time.  At least 52% of voters believe that it is the job of Government to ensure that everyone is cared for.  In short, they believe in redistribution of wealth.  This is what must be addressed.  We must get people to see that the ever expanding roll of government, that is: spending, is the problem.

These are two completely different visions.  If wealth comes from the people, then the government is morally obligated to confiscate as little as possible, but the people are morally obligated to provide for themselves; the government cannot rob Peter to pay Paul.  On the other hand, if wealth comes from the government, the government is morally obligated to take care of the people, and the people are morally obligated to work for the good of the State.

So the question we must put to people, then, is where they believe wealth comes from, and why.  If someone believes that wealth comes from the government, why do they believe that?  If they believe wealth comes from the people, then why do they believe that?  Similarly, we have to seek out people who believe the inherently contradictory ideas that wealth comes from the government, but the government is not then obligated to care for the people (I know of none of these sort), or people (a surprisingly large number) who (at least claim to) believe that wealth comes from the people, but that the government has an obligation to provide for the people's needs.  Then we must ask them why they believe those ideas.

I do not know their answers, and could not even begin to speculate.  Those notions are so foreign to me that I can't understand them at all.  Nevertheless, it is our duty, as Conservatives, to find such people and educate them on the reality.  Either money comes from government, and we have no defense against the government taking everything for which we labor, or money comes from the people, and the government has no obligation to directly provide for the needs of the people.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Denis Kucinich- Good Riddance

Among the wise decisions made in Redistricting in 2010 was the decision of the Ohio Legislature to redistrict Denis Kucinich out of a seat in the House.  As if he's determined to prove that, Mr. Kucinich seems to be doubling down on some typical Democrat idiocy.

Today, Politifact, which should really have its own laugh-track, has a piece out trying to paper over some stupid statements by Mr. Kucinich.  Despite their desperate flailing, however, they miss some important things.  Now, I really recommend you go read the whole thing.  Everyone needs a laugh once in a while.  But I'd like to focus on one particular piece of stupidity from Mr. Kucinich:

"The way the federal funding system works," Kucinich said, "is that if we give a tax break in one place, we need to replace that lost income from somewhere else, like with higher taxes from the rest of us. In other words, this tax break is a massive subsidy for the junk food and fast food industry."

This is typical Liberal ignorance.  It has, as its premise, the same idea that has been opposed here and other places many times- that the Government is the right and proper owner of all the wealth of the nation, and that it merely deigns to let us keep part of what we earn.  This is a dangerous idea, besides being inherently tyrannical.  It's tyrannical, because it views the citizenry as slaves of the State.  It's dangerous for two reasons.  First, if the State succeeds in making that the basic premise of all tax, and therefore all government, policy, then it will drive wealth producers away, meaning there's less wealth in the first place.  Second, the only logical conclusion from that premise is that Government must confiscate all wealth, and dole it out "fairly" to the citizenry.  Besides a quick collapse, this is likely to lead to a real, bullets flying, people dying revolution.

The Government does not own any wealth.  It must take what is uses from the produce of its citizenry, seizing some portion of their wealth.  While taxation in some form is necessary, it should not be confused with being right, or good.  Giving tax breaks for certain activity does not deprive the government of money, it abstains from appropriating that wealth from the private sector.

Whatever else Kucinich said- and it was all stupid- it all breaks down because of this one fatally flawed premise.

I Know! Let's focus on "Fundamentals!"

Okay, Cowboys fans, it's time for a serious talk.  It's over.  It was nice while it lasted- in the early 90's- but the Cowboys as a winning franchise has been over since at least 2000, and probably before that.  You see, we have one "fundamental" flaw with our franchise, and it hasn't been addressed in working on 20 years.  Our GM sucks.

We've tried new coaches, new schemes, and new players.  We have a fancy new stadium (the City of Arlington is grateful for that, by the way).  We have as much talent on the current Cowboys roster as was on the early 90's teams, but nothing to show for it.  As Bob Costas pointed out several weeks ago, the only thing that hasn't changed is Jerry Jones.

Now, I understand this will be hard.  Jerry Jones did such a bang-up job in the early 90's.  Three Superbowl championships in four years is impressive.  Wait, you mean Jerry wasn't the GM during those Superbowl runs?  You mean that Jimmy Johnson was the one making those calls until he was fired, and then Jones just left the same pieces in place?  The deuce you say!  And you mean that now, Jerry Jones is an even worse GM than he was in the late 90's because he's so busy being a celebrity and selling Pizzas and Buffalo Wings?

Well I don't believe it.  No one could be so egotistical that they would ruin good men's careers as sacrifices for their own self-image.  No one could possibly be such an idiot that they'd refuse to hire someone competent for a position simply because they didn't want to be shown up.  It simply isn't possible that anyone would be so blind that they would allow an icon of success to turn into a laughing-stock, and themselves with it.

Nevertheless, however hard this decision may be, it is necessary.  If the Cowboys are ever going to be a winning franchise, then the Owner must fire the General Manager, and hire someone competent to handle those duties.

Before the back office becomes even more of a laughing-stock.

Peace from the tip of a Sword

It has been said that there is a certain kind of peace that only comes out the other side of a war.  George W. Bush famously stated that "peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the presence of justice."  When the European Powers of the 1930s would make moves of appeasement toward Hitler's Germany, they would secure peace for a year or two, or sometimes just months.  It was not until Germany was opposed and defeated that the threat of Nazi Germany was completely removed.

Over the last six decades, Israel has spent much of its time defending itself from Islamic threats.  The so-called "Palestinians" have demanded more and more land, with the express purpose of removing the State of Israel.  They now own the Gaza strip, in another failed land-for-peace deal.  Yet every year more and more rockets of greater efficacy pour into Israel in a rain of indiscriminate death.  Then, when Israel feels it is being forced to respond, they are somehow made to be the bad guys.

The most recent example of this, of course, was Operation Pillar of Defence (in Hebrew, I'm informed this is a reference to the Pillar of Fire/Smoke that God used to lead the Israelites out of Egypt).  So the United States and Egypt stepped in to "negotiate a peace" which was really just Israel agreeing not to demolish Hamas, and Hamas admitting they were completely outclassed, and wanted to rest up before starting another attack.

Until this is allowed to sort itself out through the use of applied violence, there will always be this tension and terror in Israel.  Remember that there is no reason for a "separate Palestinian" state.  It is not illegal to practice Islam in Israel.  I'm not even certain Muslims are barred from serving on the Knesset.  Muslims have no additional burdens on themselves when they live in Israel.  What Muslims hate about Israel isn't that they "kicked out the inhabitants" (they didn't), or that they're "oppressing" Muslims (they aren't), it's the existence of a Jewish State at all that they hate, and they will not stop until it is destroyed, or it has proven that they cannot destroy it.

If we really want peace in the Middle East, we must stop being a weight on the sword-arm of Israel.  We must allow them to complete the mission and force the Palestinians into capitulation.  Only when that occurs will Israel be able to negotiate from a position of strength.  And since Israel is the party there that is not fully invested in the destruction of their opponent, they are the ones we should want negotiating from strength.

Unfortunately, Barack Obama and his State Department, with the help of the now Islamic Tyrannical State of Egypt, imposed a peace which will only result in more war, more destruction, and more death.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why I'm Thankful

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving (and, er, thanksgiving), I thought it appropriate to say what I'm thankful for.  I won't be around tomorrow or Friday because I'll be hanging out with my family, so I figured I'd do it now.

I'm thankful that God the Son chose to descend into his own creation, live a mortal life, and die by vicious torture, all so that my sins, and yours could be forgiven.

I'm thankful that I live in a country of free men, created by free men, and defended by free men.

I'm thankful that I have a somewhat successful career, and can provide for my family.

I'm thankful for two loving parents, married to no one but each other, and the advantages that "accident of birth" gave me.

I'm thankful my mom didn't exercise her "rights" as dictated by the Supreme Court under Roe v Wade (I was an unplanned pregnancy).

I'm thankful for my father, uncle, and brother who all served in the United States Military.

I'm thankful for my mother, who reared me to be the man I am.

I'm thankful for my wife and my children; I would be an empty husk without them.

I'm thankful that, in our worst times, when we could barely make ends meet, that my wife and I are part of the richest nation ever to grace the planet.  I'm thankful that I have the ability to be annoyed when traffic backs up.  I'm thankful that I can be vexed when the coffee pot breaks.

I'm thankful for ace, the cob-loggers, and the rest of the Moron Horde at at the AoSHQ.

Whatever else is true, I know that I am one of the most blessed people ever to walk the face of this earth.  Sometimes I lose sight of that, and complain about things that don't matter.  So sometimes I have to remind myself:

I'm thankful I don't have to worry where my next meal will come from.

I'm thankful I don't have to worry if my children will die from malnutrition or disease.

I'm thankful I don't have to boil my water before I drink it.

I'm thankful I don't have to worry about missing work if I'm sick.

I'm thankful I don't have to work all day, every day, just to survive.

Not everyone has all of these blessings.

What Happened To Thanksgiving?

It seems people say it every year, but Christmas sales, and Christmas promotions, and Christmas decorations seem to come out earlier and earlier every year.  This year, my local stores had Christmas stuff up starting before Halloween.  One of the local radio stations started playing Christmas Music last week.  People are camping out at stores to get "Black Friday Deals" already.

What happened to Thanksgiving, or, for that matter, thanksgiving? 

I get it.  Thanksgiving is not a big retail holiday.  People don't give each other Thanksgiving gifts.  They don't buy each other Thanksgiving Baskets or decorate Thanksgiving Eggs.  They don't buy Thanksgiving costumes.  From a retail standpoint, Thanksgiving is a non-entity.  Sure, the grocery stores like it, but they like Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter, and the Fourth of July just as much.  Best Buy couldn't care any less.

Just because the stores do it, doesn't mean we have to encourage it, though.  Right now, people in general are depressed and disheartened.  All the "news" is bad news.  Families wait on pins and needles to find out if their children in Afghanistan are still safe.  People with family in Israel have similar fears over their loved ones.  Over 23,000,000 people don't have jobs, and are having to rely on charity for food.

In the midst of all of this, we should be thankful.  We should be joyful.  I say this both as a Christian and an American.  As a Christian, I'm commanded to thanksgiving and joy anyway.  I don't always live up to that, but I'm instructed to give thanks even when I'm burdened by troubles.  As an American, I am one of the most wealthy people in the history of the world.  As a somewhat successful computer programmer, I can afford to feed my family just on my income, so my wife can rear our children.

Later, I'll post a list of what I'm thankful for, and why.  For now, why don't you fill the comments with your thanks?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Susan Estrich: I Didn't Vote For Obama's Policies, Just For Obama

Well, then, Ms. Estrich, why did you vote for him?  His stunning success as cutting the deficit in half like he promised?  Did you vote for his stellar record of job creation and unemployment numbers?  Oh, I know, you voted for him because of his amazing facility for quieting our international foes while bolstering our allies.

Oh, that's right.  You voted because somehow no one can do what you explicitly state you were able to do.  To whit:
I voted for Obama. I voted for him because I know how hard it is to buy health insurance for a single person with even a minor pre-existing condition. In the case of my nanny/housekeeper/dear friend, it was gastritis. Thank God for Kaiser, which sold me the insurance that some years later saved her life when she was diagnosed with cancer. So call it what you will, but I did not want to see Obamacare repealed.

Now she's complaining because Obama claims he has a mandate to raise taxes.  Guess what, Ms. Estrich, he believes he does.  Why might he believe that?  How about the fact he ran on tax increases.  His answer to everything for the entire election season was "Tax the Rich."  And now you have the gall to be surprised that he wants to raise taxes?  I mean, it's obvious you're stupid from the paragraph I quoted, but exactly how stupid are you?  Are you only able to "type" because someone gave you Dragon, Naturally Speaking and showed you how to use it?

This kind of thing drives me nuts.  It's absolutely stupid, and I hate stupidity.  Democrats run on competing ideas all the time.  They want to raise taxes "on the rich" but won't raise taxes.  They're all about Amnesty when talking to Hispanic voters, and all about border control when talking to rural Whites.  So many Democrats are single issue voters, and they choose not to notice the Democrats' positions on the other issues.

So, yes, Ms. Estrich, you did vote for Barack Obama to raise your taxes.  He claimed that was his specific intent, and you voted for it.  You also voted for continued drone strikes and involvement in Syria.  You voted to stone-wall the investigations into Fast and Furious and Benghazi.  You voted for a porous border.  You voted to spend billions on "green energy" schemes which are doomed to failure, and continued refusal to drill for oil on Federal land.  You voted for massive spending cuts in Medicare and Defense.  You voted to support Hamas and Al Qaida over Israel.

These are all things that Barack Obama stood for during re-election.  If you voted for him, you voted for all of them.

H/T Ace.  Again.

The Growing Police State: Email Edition

When Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy first introduced his internet surveillance bill, he claimed that it "provides enhanced privacy protections for American consumers by... requiring that the government obtain a search warrant."  That doesn't seem to be true anymore.  After receiving push-back from law enforcement, Mr. Leahy is suggesting a series of amendments which basically mean that law enforcement and other government agencies do not need to prove probable cause to gain access to your electronic information, they merely need to subpoena the information they want.

According to CNET, the bill does the following:
* Grants warrantless access to Americans' Electronic Data to over 22 Federal Agencies.  Only a subpoena would be required.
* Allows State and Local officials warrantless access to Americans' electronic correspondence which is "stored on systems no offered 'to the the public,' including university networks."
* Allows any law enforcement agency warrantless access without judicial review if they invoke an "emergency."
* Requires providers to notify the Government if they are going to warn users that their data has been targeted.
* Increases minimum time for the government to notify users from 3 days to 10 days, and allows for postponement for up to 360 days.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but as I recall, the 4th Amendment allows us to be secure in our "persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures."  Further, that "no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized."

I'm so sorry that it's more difficult to our Feudal Lords to prosecute us when they have to observe the niceties of proving probable cause before a judge, but that's the way the rules work.  This is flagrant disregard of the 4th Amendment, and must be stopped forthwith.

Join me in calling for Republican to Filibuster this legislation.  It is not enough that it be defeated in the House, if it were to be so defeated, our Senators must rise up and protect our Constitutionally preserved rights.

Are you angry yet?