6.30.2010

Spies and Counter-Spies

Nearly a dozen agents of the Russian government were recently arrested on espionage related charges. They've supposedly been engaged in collecting intel for the Russkies for nearly a decade now.

The question arises, then, why were they arrested just now? They must have been either suspected or known for some time. And you rarely arrest a known spy. You use a known spy. You feed him info so he can pass it on to his boss and steer his boss in a dfferent direction. There are only two reasons to arrest a known spy. Either he's gotten hold of some real information that, if passed along, could be harmful; or his bosses no longer trust him and his usefulness to both you and his handlers is over.

Are these spies no longer useful that we arrested them now? Or are those relationships with financiers and Democrat Party fund-raisers about to get really informative to the public? I don't know. I might even be way off track here. I'm just wondering.

Why arrest them and publicize the case now?

Not Everything Is Political

I think it started when some whiney guy wrote a piece on how terrible it is that Americans don't pay much attention to soccer. I forget whether the guy was liberal or conservative, but somehow this disaffection for soccer was tied to some inherent defect in his political opponents.

Must everything be political? Do we have to politicize taste or interest? I find soccer boring. Frankly, I find golf and baseball boring sports to watch, too. I can't say that NASCAR or Indy racing is all that exciting anymore, either - they've both gotten much safer and accidents don't happen quite as often. (Admit it. Almost everyone watches auto racing for the accidents - there's just not much else to see in a bunch of cars driving in circles.)

I'm told that Basketball can be OK, but the last time I watched it, I was bored out of my gourd in about 2 minutes. As far as I could see, the game consisted of 10 guys running to one side of the court and throwing the ball through a hoop, after which they'd run back to the other side and do the same - repeat this for a couple hours (interrupted by commercials, of course). Once in a while a whistle would blow and they'd all line up at one end of the court or the other and watch a guy shoot baskets from behind a line. The victors simply happened to have the ball and make their basket with too little time on the clock for the ten of them to run back and watch the other guys make theirs.

All of these may be great fun to play, but watching them ain't much as far as I'm concerned.

American football, however, has plenty of action to watch. People going here or there, tackles, runs, passes, sacks, kicks, offense and defense - there's stuff going on. About the only thing that would be even more interesting is if they added martial arts to it.

Others disagree and think baseball is great fun for the spectators and would love to be courtside every basketball game. There are even grown men who get excited about putting. More power to 'em.

But all of this has absolutely nothing, and I mean NOTHING to do with politics.

6.29.2010

Dangerous Pablum

You know, this just makes me tired all over:
In a keynote presentation at a meeting of the newly formed World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), four panelists—including a Christian Reformed World Missions missionary—urged delegates, observers, and visitors to walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to the issues of unity, diversity, social justice, and peace.
In the first place, somebody needs to come up with a different phrase than this jejune "walk the talk walktalkbalktwalkschmalk" stuff.

In the second place, let's look at these things a bit. "unity, diversity, social justice, and peace." Guess what? There is a diversity of opinion as to what constitutes social justice. These people talk as if we all know and agree on what these things are, but we don't. Some would say it is a matter of social justice to have government ration care rather than let the market determine how health care is distributed, but what makes the government so inherently better at making that determination justly? Are not governments around the world graft-breeding cess pools of self-interested megalomaniacs, plagued by sclerotic bureaucrats, corrupt judges and glad-handing politicians? Why are they to be trusted more than insurance companies and hospitals?

One could go down the line. If we can't even agree on what these words actually mean, how, exactly, is unity to be achieved? By force?

"Diversity" in these contexts, by the way, usually means a uniformity of opinion across the full spectrum of pigmentation. No doubt, whoever said this is preaching to just such a forum of near-thoughtless unanimity. But hey, they're pretty colors.

In short, this is juvenile pablum dispensed in an academic vocabulary. I could find any number of sophomore girls at any high school in America to present this same content with all the earnestness ignorance can muster, and quite a few additional "likes" thrown in.

It is not harmless. Policies and practices are put in place in the name of social justice, diversity, unity, and peace that ignore any hierarchy of morals, that even equate life and death, freedom and slavery. These, then, go on to utterly destroy societies and individual lives. In the name of "social justice" and "civil rights" the U.S. federal government has all but destroyed the Black family in America. In the name of "diversity", incompetence is promoted and excellence is left to wither until that incompetence runs into reality and is itself destroyed, along with the lives of others who believed the incompetent. In the name of "unity" excellence is sneered at and our children are sentenced to a damnable mediocrity in our schools.


Sure, it sounds all flowery and biblical and right and true as someone reads a bit of Luke or Isaiah and challenges like-minded delegates to pursue the utopia we've been chasing since we were kicked out of Eden. The spiritual, moral, economic, and physical wreckage of that chase is spread out in a puddle of blood over the last century and a half. It is long past time to surrender this cosmic vision to God and accept a less grandiose position in the universe. It is time to remember that we aren't God. We just work for him.

Party of No? Party of Sanity

The Republican Party has been lambasted as "the Party of 'No'." Well, what of it?

Democrats say, "We are going to take away your freedom to obtain health care and ration it through the government." The Republicans say, "No." Sounds reasonable to me.

Democrats say, "You don't know how best to spend your money, so we are going to tax it away and spend it on things we like." The Republicans - some of them - say, "No." Way to go, Republicans.

There are some things that ought to receive a firm, unyielding negative and Republicans should not be at all remiss about delivering it. Nor should they be ashamed of having to say it. When my kid wanted to stick his fingers in an electrical outlet, I shouted, "NO!" Good thing, too.

What the President and the Democrat Party want will kill this country. I'm glad there are at least some people willing to shout, "NO!"

Kagan Will Be Confirmed

We know Kagan is a leftist. We know she, along with the man who nominated her to the US Supreme Court, believes the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are an impediment to their statist project. So we know that she will rule through whatever twisted, post-modern logic (if such a word isn't too patriarchal for her post-modernist mind) she needs in order to achieve the desired ruling. She is no more a literalist than I am a Muslim.

We also know that, barring some startling revelation such as having an affair with the chair (not the chairman - that would be too mundane for a Democrat - I mean the actual chair) of the Senate Judiciary Committee, she will be confirmed, because the Republicans in the Senate believe there is something fundamentally wrong with the way the Democrats have treated people like Robert Bork. Some conservatives will complain about this. I will not. There is something wrong with treating people the way Ted Kennedy and the Democrats in the Senate at that time treated Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. If we need to stoop to that level in order to preserve Constitutional liberties, then we deserve to lose those liberties. Tyranny, lies, abuse, demagoguery, and deceit are not the solution to tyranny, lies, abuse, demagoguery, and deceit.

Principles matter more than power, and if we sacrifice the former to achieve the latter, we are no different than the Democrats and every bit as much a threat to liberty.

What I don't know is why we're bothering with this song-and-dance routine, unless it's just giving various senators an opportunity to run for re-election on somebody else's dime.

6.28.2010

Byrd Flies Coop

Senator Robert Byrd is dead. The former grand wizard of the KKK was superb at shoveling pork into West Virginia and housed himself in the Senate for over half a century. There are a number of federal buildings, highways, bridges, courthouses and what not named for him as a result. He was far more respected than he deserved, but you could say that about pretty much all of those currently serving in the Senate - if "serving" is the proper word. The damage he has done to this country has been great. May he rest in peace, and may we start work on cleaning up the mess he left behind.

6.27.2010

Vice President Not a Smart Ass...

Apparently the Vice President didn't like a business owner pointing out to him the best way to actually jump start the economy. When a manager offered him his desert gratis if the VP could lower taxes, the Vice President referred to him as a smart-ass.

I used to have an enlisted guy who worked for me and he could cut up sometimes, too. And I would call him a smart-ass. He always answered the same way, with a big grin on his face.

"Better a smart ass than a dumb shit."

6.26.2010

They Won't Do What I Want!

Over at National Review's Corner, Anna Halpine and Greg Pfundstein post a bit about women and children's health. I don't know if the headline is theirs or someone else's but "politicizing aid at the G8 summit" - as if that's a surprisingly new wrinkle in G8 summits - is a dumb complaint.

A summit, whether international like the G8 or like Obama's meeting with Congressional leaders, is always politicized about everything. Their complaint isn't that something is politicized at the G8 summit, but that somebody is blocking their preferred policy.

I agree that Hilary Clinton's insistence on abortion as part of "reproductive health" is both immoral and illogical (if you're killing the baby, it's not healthy or reproductive). I'm not sure that aid in any sense is genuinely productive. These despotic and corrupt governments don't need more hand-outs. Their societies need investment and these despots need to be answerable to their people rather than to foreign money.

I'm not even sure what "promoting maternal and infant health" has to do with the G8 meetings anyway. It's turning the thing into a parallel, though periodic, UN beast. All sorts of NGOs with their pet causes pestering governments over some sob stories here or there, tossing out statistics with wild abandon whether they have any bearing on reality or not - it's idiotic. Look, you and your charity want to do something about maternal health? Go do it. There is no need to pick the pockets of taxpayers in any country to make that happen. You want to save the trees? Go buy some land and plant trees on it. Stop acting like the only way anything can happen is if some stupid UN/G8/NATO/SEATO/ACRONYM group takes up the banner of your personal cause. It's nothing more than trying to be noble and charitable with somebody else's money.

In a perfect world, I'd sever all ties with these NGOs and ban them from all summits.

6.25.2010

Head of Immigration Enforcement Doesn't Think Law Should Be Enforced

Signalling the administration's determination to cooperate with drug runners, human traffickers, various businesses that depend on cheap, illegal immigrants, and the Mexican government's desire to send its riff-raff north, the Obama administration has hired Harold Hurrt of Houston as "director for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Office of State and Local Coordination. Starting July 6, Hurtt will supervise outreach and communication between ICE, local law enforcement agencies, tribal leaders and representatives from non-governmental organizations."

Hurrt apparently does not think immigration laws should be enforced. It's kind of like appointing
Andrew Stuttaford as head of the DEA. Although, in fairness to Mr. Stuttaford, he doesn't think existing law should be ignored so much as he thinks it should be changed.

More Junk Science from UK Medicos

Doctors in the United Kingdom are claiming unborn children cannot feel pain prior to 24 weeks. Hogwash. The nervous system is in place by 24 weeks. The child has a brain by 24 weeks. It responds to pain stimuli at 24 weeks. But they say nerve connections in the brain are not sufficiently developed yet.

Hogwash. Just because a child has never said "Ouch" at 24 weeks while it is being dismembered in the womb doesn't mean the child can't feel the pain of being ripped apart. Organisms that never attain the brain development that a human child has at 24 weeks gestation can feel pain. This is not science. It is self justification.

And even if the child could not feel pain, does that somehow make its murder acceptable? If I sever the human spinal cord at a certain point, the individual will not feel pain as he or she dies, regardless of age. Is murder OK as long as the victim doesn't feel pain? My Dad had MS and by the time he died he could not feel his feet. Would it have bee OK to just chop them off - after all, he wouldn't have felt it.

The issue is not whether the child feels pain as it is killed. The issue is that the child is a defenseless human being whose only "crime" is that his or her existence is inconvenient to the mother.

6.24.2010

Silly Slogans

I use *gasp* Yahoo! Mail. I have for several years now. Now when you go to their mail log-in site, you get various pictures and sayings culminating in "Make Yahoo! your home." It's intended to make me think all the "cool" people are doing this, but the "cool" people they show in their images are, well, odd. One has tattoos over her arms that pretty much covers them. It's conceivable that the whole tattoo is photoshopped, but I'm fairly certain the little smiley icon along with the facebook and twitter emblems are. I mean, are you going to spend boocoo bucks for a tattoo like this?
I think not.

I also got to thinking - yeah, I know they mean "home page" by that slogan, but the idea that everything I want can be found a Yahoo! is just ridiculous. Clean socks? Those are in my dresser drawer. How about a steak? It's in the freezer. A toilet - very important, that, and there's no way I'm going to even try to relieve myself at Yahoo!

It might, however, make a great premise for a fantasy type book - and you could make it either really creepy or really silly - to have somebody who actually lived in the amorphous, pixelated confines of a web search engine. One might even make it a metaphor for our times, which are both creepy and silly, in a way.

No, I'm not going to write it, but I think it would be a fine exercise for a creative writing class.

Serious Silliness

I see a news article like this, and I think... (about 2:40 into the clip)



I tried to find the earlier version with Hermione Gingold in the role of Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn (Shirley Jones & Robert Preston in the lead roles), which captures it much better, but this will have to do.

Suing Away Our Freedom

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (only the first word in their title is actually true - they are a "Center") is threatening to sue McDonald's over toys in "Happy Meals". They think that including toys with the meals is a way of getting children to force their parents to spend money and, apparently, that there is something wrong with "Happy Meals" as far as nutrition goes.

In the first place, parents can say "no" to their children. One of the things my wife did, for instance, was make sure that whatever the kid was fussing over he absolutely would not get. There were times when she had to apologize to the stocker in the grocery store, but as one of our children was throwing a fit she was going to take him home. The kid didn't get the candy or whatever it was he was throwing a fit over. He didn't get to play in his car seat. He didn't get to play when he got home. The lesson became clear very quickly - throwing fits was a guaranteed way to not get what you want.

More importantly, the CSPI people are in the business of abrogating adult responsibility. They repeatedly file lawsuits against various businesses because adults are apparently not able to make decisions for themselves or accept responsibility for those decisions. Numerous people participate in such lawsuits because they see dollar signs and instant wealth, but they should be very careful. If one is not responsible for the decision, in short order one will not be permitted to make the decision. The Center for Science in the Public Interest is not really attacking McDonald's. They are attacking liberty.

This is the same thing going on in Obama's dictatorial order to BP regarding this $20 billion slush fund. Process matters and a president is (supposedly) as bound by the law as any other citizen. We have courts and laws to help us determine the extent of BP's liability and they are trying to comply with that law. But the President simply bypassed that entire process and ordered a private company to fork over $20 billion to his hand-picked crony for distribution as he sees fit. I couldn't care less how much money BP eventually has to pay to fix their screw-up. I do care whether or not we cede dictatorial powers to the president. Who will be the next unpopular victim of his insatiable demands? Don't think it can't be you - it very well could be.

We used to say - and in New Hampshire their license plates anyway still say - "Live free or die." It seems many of us would rather be slaves than take the chance or the responsibility. Not me. I would rather be fat and free. I would rather have my kid throw a fit and be at liberty to deal with it in my own way. I would rather see our coasts covered in tar from Maine to Texas than cede one iota of my liberty to the Federal government.

Some Economic News

Rather lost in the whole BP mess and Gen. McChrystal's relief from command, we note that sales of new homes are down 33% from April, that, by the way, is their lowest level since 1963. This is the same thing we saw with the "cash for clunkers" nonsense. By offering an $8,000 tax credit, people who were inclined to buy a home rushed to get it done before that tax credit expired. In other words, it did not increase demand over time so much as it compacted that demand into the months when the tax credit was available. As a result, instead of steady but less-than-desired demand, we got a few months of high demand followed by a few months of almost no demand. They basically created a mini-housing bubble.

Another consideration with this kind of thing is the value of the asset. I was first alerted to this over at National Review Online, but I forget who said it - might have been Stephen Spruill. Anyway, the tax credit, though framed as a give-away to buyers, actually helped sellers by keeping the value of their asset artificially high. Because it did not come out of the buyer's pocket, the total price the buyer was willing to pay was about $8,000 more than it otherwise would be. Say I could afford $175,000 for a house. The tax credit means I can afford $183,000. The increased demand, however, means I won't get any more house for that money, and might even get less, than I would have been able to afford without the tax break. Now that I've bought the house and the tax credit has ended, the market value of that house has dropped back to the $175,000 or, since demand was compacted and will be all but non-existent for a couple months, even less. In terms of the value of my asset, I gained nothing. But the seller got $8,000 more than the house was worth.

Durable goods orders were also down - 1.1% - which was (surprisingly) expected. Mostly this was in reduced demand for aircraft.

FoxNews is relaying an AP story indicating there were 19,000 fewer new claims for unemployment benefits last week than the week before. That doesn't mean people got jobs, only that not as many were laid off. We have to wait until July 2 to find out what the monthly jobs report for June actually is. There are still something on the order of 10 million people getting unemployment benefits funded either through state programs or federal extensions (some of which have gone out to 73 weeks - nearly 18 months!). There are, of course, some for whom the benefits have expired and they still don't have work.

As Congress balks at yet another bail-out for the states and their unionized bureaucrats, we can expect to see unemployment increase. Don't be surprised if you start seeing news stories about disgruntled government employees grousing about the cuts to their unsustainable pensions. Wouldn't we all like to be able to retire at 50 with nearly full pay? I sure would.

But, hey, prosperity is just around the corner.

6.23.2010

McChrystal Out, Petraeus In Again

General McChrystal's resignation was accepted by the President and General Petraeus will relieve him. I think this is the necessary decision.

I note that Michael Yon saw some serious lapses in Gen. McChrystal's leadership some time ago. That these lapses were manifest in cancelling his embed is not an indication that Michael Yon was just grousing about his own personal problems. McChrystal has not effectively implemented the strategy he was sent to Afghanistan to oversee. To be sure, he has not been properly supported by his superiors and the President is obviously ambivalent to the whole enterprise. McChrystal, however, has vascillated between standing up to his superiors in public, while meekly carrying out foolish directives that cost lives in private. The Rules of Engagement (RoE) in Afghanistan are not particularly robust and the result has been to increase dramatically the dangers to our forces, but the General has mustered nary a peep in objection. There are other signs - small signs - that McChrystal is not the military warrior general some make him out to be. I get the impression he would make a great brigade commander, but that he is a bit out of his depth in theater command.

And, as I said earlier, I seriously question the judgment of any flag officer who seriously thought Barack Hussein Obama would pass muster as a Commander-in-Chief. McChrystal claims he voted for the man.

McChrystal's departure now frees us up to look at the real problem with the Afghan campaign, and it isn't really McChrystal. It's the various egg-heads in the Obama administration who have no real-world experience, just book-learning. Petraeus will be in a position to make demands of the Obama administration. Americans love successful generals, and he is one. Obama does not want to face the prospect of Petraeus resigning in disgust, particularly if he subsequently chooses to run for office himself. General Petraeus may not have a lot of political experience, but he most certainly has executive experience. Obama does not want his fingerprints on defeat.

Getting the (Hi)story Straight

I'm listening to the radio this morning on my way into the office - the Greg Belfrage Show. This show is an opportunity for people to call in and express their (often) uninformed opinions. In fact, the host himself is at times only marginally informed. He is a conservative, and his callers almost uniformly so, but they are emotional/visceral conservatives - it is a matter of temperament rather than clear thought.

Anyway, today the topic was Gen. McChrystal. In the short time I was listening, one caller expressed conflicting opinions - that McChrystal should be retained, and that he should go - and saw no inconsistency in this. He also mentioned MacArthur's disagreement with Roosevelt that got him fired. I winced at this.

A bit of history, guys. MacArthur was fired by Truman some six years after Roosevelt's death. Let's get that part straight. He was fired not because he expressed opinions to the press that were contrary to the administration's policy - he had done so several other times previously. But after those previous statements, he was ordered to clear any public remarks with higher headquarters. He disobeyed this order. That's not just disagreement. That's insubordination - and that's why he was fired.

The very next caller mentioned that Patton wasn't fired even though he was reduced in rank because of his mouth. This caller claimed to be prior military.

Don't they teach history any more? Patton was never reduced in rank because of his mouth. He was very nearly cashiered and sent home after the slapping incidents in Sicily, but Eisenhower retained him. Even before those incidents, however, (at least according to D'Este and Ambrose) it seems Eisenhower was already thinking Patton would not command anything larger than an Army. These incidents confirmed him in that opinion and subsequently Omar Bradley (who commanded a corps under Patton's 7th Army in Sicily) was given command of 12th Army Group and Patton was later given command of 3rd Army subordinate to Bradley. Just before he died, he was given his fourth star, almost as a kind of farewell gift. He was killed in a car accident shortly after the end of the war. Bradley, who already had his 4th star, was later given a 5th and became the last general officer in the U.S. Army to wear that rank. In other words, Patton was never demoted. His promotion was slowed so that others more trusted by Eisenhower could be promoted over him, he was denied command at higher echelons, and at the end of the war he was relieved of command of the 3rd Army without follow-on orders (forced retirement, in other words), but never reduced.

For those of you unfamiliar with WW2 US Army organization in Europe, it went from soldier-squad-platoon-company-batallion-regiment-division-corps-army-army group-SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force). It was not quite that rigid, but that was the basic chain of higher organization.

If one is going to make arguments based on history, one should at least try to get that history correct.

The issue with Gen. McChrystal is not insubordination. He did not disobey any orders or otherwise reject his seniors in the chain of command. Nevertheless, he made quite public his dissatisfaction with that leadership and its policies. That means the President cannot be sure his commander will whole-heartedly pursue the policy he is charged with implementing. It's now up to the Commander-in-Chief to decide whether he will trust Gen. McChrystal or not.

Given that the General has publicly stated that he voted for Obama, I don't think his judgment is all that sound in the first place, but that's just me.

6.22.2010

Gen. McChrystal Must Go

Gen. McChrystal, the Commanding Officer in the Afghan campaign, made some disparaging remarks about the Obama administration, particularly the Vice President and the ambassador to Afghanistan. He has the wit to apologize. Let's see if he has the integrity to resign.

This is the military, not GE or the White House. You don't criticize your boss in public. The military takes its orders from civilians and that's the way it should be - it's one of the reasons I oppose the idea of conflict-specific conscientious objection. I may agree with Gen. McChrystal's assessment of the Vice President. I may agree with his policy views. It doesn't matter. The President cannot retain someone he cannot trust in such a position, and it is evident that he cannot trust Gen. McChrystal. He's got to go.

UPDATE: It seems the remarks made were by members of McChrystal's staff rather than by the General himself. That changes things. I am still far less enamored of Gen. McChrystal and his staff than I am of Gen. Petraeus, and I seriously doubt McChrystal's ability to do the job. But you fire people for their own sins, and what some staff members lubricated by the local tavern's libations say to Rolling Stone magazine should not be held against the General.

Nevertheless, CNN is reporting that McChrystal has offered to resign. We shall see if Obama accepts it or not.

BP: Threatening the Coast. Obama: Threatening Freedom

Folks seem to be upset that BP CEO Hayward was attending a yacht race.

What was he supposed to be doing? He was taken off the oil spill beat and it was given to a different guy, so he's got no particular reason to hang out in Louisiana. And if he were somehow not on that yacht, would one drop of oil be cleaned out of the Gulf of Mexico as a result? No.

It just so happens, President Obama was out on the golf course about the same time. Some folks want to make hay out of that, too. But again, would one drop of oil be cleaned up if he had not gone golfing? Hardly.

So let's skip the cheap imagery that is being used to mislead people and get to the facts.

BP screwed up, big time. They cut corners on safety and this disaster is the predictable result. Since the disaster, they have owned up to their responsibilities and have made every effort to stop the gusher and clean the oil.

BP was only out there drilling in water a mile deep because of foolish regulations and laws that prevent them from drilling in shallower waters where it is both less likely for such a disaster to occur and easier to fix if it does, or better yet, on land (ANWR, for instance). Thank you, environmentalist nut jobs.

The world runs on oil and anybody who tells you we can somehow get off oil with windmills or solar power or even ethanol will lie to you about other things, too. Either that, or he's recently been released from a psychiatric hospital and still suffers from delusions.

Obama's administration has done more to interfere with, impede, and prevent a sane response to the oil spill, to our oil needs, and to BP's culpability. They have responded not with leadership oriented towards fixing the leak, but with leadership aimed at maximizing their own political gain while maximizing GOP and corporate culpability (though, here again, facts don't matter - BP and Wall Street corporations give far more to Democrats than to Republicans, but Republicans get blamed for corporate malfeasance). In fact, it seems Obama wants this problem to stretch out as long as possible in order to use it to blame Republicans.

Obama's demand that BP pony up $20 billion may be emotionally satisfying, but it amounts to a complete abrogation of Constitutional limits on the executive branch, a violation of the 5th Amendment to that Constitution, and is merely a thuggish "protection racket" ploy. I don't care how much money BP eventually pays in lawsuits, clean-up costs, and so on. I do care about the President ignoring the Constitution. So he nails BP. What happens if you are the next unpopular person in the neighborhood and he invites you to the Oval Office for a lecture and rip-off? Do we not have courts? Do we not have laws? BP is only threatening our southern coast, and they're trying to unthreaten it. Obama is threatening our liberty, and he won't be satisfied until it's gone.

6.18.2010

Feds to Sue Arizona for Enforcing Federal Law

I see in various news stories that the federal government is going to sue Arizona over a law they've passed requiring local law enforcement officials to enforce federal law.

That's right. The federal government is upset that somebody is enforcing federal law, and they're going to sue.

I'd love to see that cross-examination of the plaintiff.

Defense: "Is this, or is this not the law of the land?"

Plaintiff: "It is."

Defense: "And is it, or is it not the duty of the police to enforce the law of the land?"

Plaintiff: "Well, sort of, except, you see, when certain liberal special interest groups don't like the law that Congress passed, I mean, it's not like Congress is really serious about immigration law or anything - they just did that to ward off right-wing nut jobs. Heh. Heh. He... Well, I thought it was funny. Anyway, as the chief executive, the President gets to decide what laws are actually enforced or not, you know, and we kind of need those (making air-quote movements with index and middle finger of both hands) 'undocumented persons' to vote for Democrat candidates..."

Defense: "So the President didn't really mean it when he took the oath of office?"

Plaintiff (Blank look): "Oath of office?"

Let the Thief Continue to Steal, and Good Christians Should Help Them Do So - As Long as They Speak Spanish

They call it "migration of workers". What they mean is "illegal immigrants". Hispanics accused some folks of cultural insensitivity because they wondered about accepting the membership of an illegal alien. What about the cultural insensitivity of coming here in violation of our laws?

A little later they refer to them as "undocumented persons". Folks. Call it what it is. They are illegal immigrants. Get that through your pea brains! They're breaking the law and the law is both good and necessary. I know all sorts of churches have to deal with "undocumented persons" - that's because there's been a flood of illegal immigrants over the last few decades and it is destroying our infrastructure, closing our emergency rooms, bankrupting our states, and in some instances literally killing our fellow citizens. It is reducing the availability of jobs for our young people and marginal citizens and draining our capital.

Illegal immigration is theft. Just like downloading books or music without paying for them is theft. Just like copying software instead of buying it is theft. That well-meaning folks from nice families who only want to have a better life steal in these ways doesn't change the fact. They're still stealing.

Yeah yeah yeah. We're all aliens in this world. We aren't all thieves, though.

As a pastor, I've had people confess sins to me that are also crimes. Uniformly, I encourage them to stop sinning (i.e., breaking the law) and in some instances I encourage them to face the law and confess. I have never reported them to the law myself, however. I'm comfortable with churches taking in people who are known law-breakers and helping them stop breaking the law without reporting it to the police. But that's not what this is about. Instead, it seems that what we are supposed to do now - according to these nice, well-meaning people at Synod - is help illegal immigrants continue to steal from our fellow citizens. I've got a serious, serious problem with that.

What Will They Think?!?!?

Synod asked for a report on developing leadership diversity (scroll down) and it wasn't ready for this year's Synod. This prompted inane, even stupid comments like:
Rev. Paul De Vries, a delegate from Classis Thornapple Valley, said he was disheartened that the report was not completed on time. "What are people of color supposed to think. Impressions and appearances matter," he said. "Not having the report shows a lack of concern. We need clear steps in writing how this is going to get done."
Um, calm down Rev. De Vries. Sheesh. You'd think the whole future of the Christian Church, spread out over hundreds of denominations and all continents, is somehow waiting with baited breath for the CRC to make a decision. First, let's tackle that "people of color" locution. White is a color. So is pink. So is beige. There are some colorless, humorless people among us (I begin to fear Rev. Paul De Vries may be one of them), but "people of color" is a monstrous, ugly phrase that all English speakers would do well to be quit of.

As for the substance of your little query, I think "people of color" will be able to make up their own minds with or without a report on diversity in the pigmentation of our leaders. Maybe they're not all as hyper-sensitive as the grievance mongers Rev. DeVries seems to hang around. Maybe instead of wondering, we should just ask 'em what they in fact DO think instead of being worried about what they are SUPPOSED to think.

Let's ask Rev. Roger Ryu, a delegate from Classis Pacific Hanmi and one of those colorful people Rev. De Vries is so concerned about. He
...said synod should have patience. Expanding diversity has been a goal for many years for the CRC and it is moving slowly but steadily in that direction.

"We feel that the CRC is trying very hard to develop a minority agenda," he said. "These things take time. Little by little, step by step, we are going in the right direction."
For all this, I thought the objective was to get beyond the color of one's skin. I thought we were to make character and fidelity to Jesus Christ the deciding factors irrespective of pigmentation. Silly me.

Democrats Try to Get Rid of Poor Black Man

I don't think Alvin Greene should be in the U.S. Senate. I don't think Vic Rawl should be, either. I also don't think the people of South Carolina would prefer either candidate over Jim DeMint, their current senator and, barring some catastrophe of the first order, DeMint will win re-election handily regardless of which guy ends up on the final ballot.

I do think, however, that the Democrat Party, both nationally and in South Carolina, has been quite unfair to Mr. Greene. They have questioned his sanity, his honesty, his integrity, his intelligence, and his honor - publicly and repeatedly. Again and again they have insulted him. They have insulted the integrity and honesty of the system used to record elections, too.

The fact is, Vic Rawl spent $250,000 and got 40% of the Democrat primary vote. Alvin Greene spent $10,400 and got 60% of that vote. I couldn't care less that Rawl used to be a judge or that Greene is unemployed. It doesn't matter a whit that Rawl was hand-picked by the party establishment and Greene just paid the filing fee and crossed his fingers. The Democrat voters of South Carolina have chosen their candidate. And now the party bosses want to force a different result. This is no different than the attempts to steal Florida in 2000 or the successful theft of the election in Minnesota in 2008 that put Al Franken in the Senate. In truth, were I a Democrat I would be more embarrassed by Al Franken's success in getting to the Senate than I would be by Alvin Greene's success. Instead of a boorish, idiotic, and ageing hipster, Alvin Greene is genuinely one of the little people the Democrats claim they champion.

They don't, though. They just claim that they do. Actual little people - people like Alvin Greene - are an embarrassment and an impediment to the Democrat Party. Take note, liberals. Take note, Black Americans. This is what the Democrat Party is really like. A brother won a nomination fair and square, and because he's a poor Black man, they want to take it away from him.

UPDATE: The South Carolina Democrat Party has decided to accept the results of their primary and support Alvin Greene. Sorry, Vic. Better luck next time.

Ignorant Scholars & Partisan Hacks

He may be Catholic, and he may be a scholar, but that doesn't mean he knows what he's talking about.

Let's start with his claim that the Arizona law is a "partisan law". Last poll I checked, some 72% of Arizona's citizens approved the legislation. Arizona has a roughly 40-30-30 split (Republican-Democrat-Indepent/Other). That means a significant majority of Democrats also support it. Similar legislation is being considered in numerous other states, many of them with Democrat majorities in their legislatures. It is hardly "partisan" under the circumstances.

Then come the mandatory comparisons to Nazis and the assertion that enforcing U.S. immigration laws will lead to lynchings and baby-stealing. Such over-the-top fear-mongering is hardly indicative of scholarship and amounts to bearing false witness against the people, the government, and the law-enforcement officials of Arizona. Last I checked, this, too, was a violation of Catholic moral teaching.

In any event, all this law does is require, in highly specific circumstances, local law enforcement to enforce federal law. That's it. It's not a new law that says "Spics go home" or "No Latinos need apply". It doesn't establish seperate drinking fountains or lunch counters for hispanics or relegate them to the top of the bus. All it does is require local law enforcement officials to enforce federal law.

In this context, we should note that an 80 mile stretch of Arizona's border has been declared off-limits to Americans because of violence from Mexican gangs crossing our border. This is not a racial issue on par with the holocaust or kristalnacht. It is a safety issue for American citizens living near our southern border.

From this rather dicey, even dishonest portrayal of a racism that is not part of Arizona's motivation or practice in this matter, our "Catholic scholar" goes on to suggest that Catholic bishops should withhold communion from officials that seek to enforce federal immigration law, even though he says he opposes using the sacrament as a political tool. This displays a deplorable lack of knowledge on what constitutes acceptable grounds for withholding communion in Catholic doctrine and historical practice, particularly since the author claims to be both Catholic and a religious scholar (I'm neither, but I've read the Catechism of the Catholic Church). He also does not seem to grasp the difference between clear, immutable moral principles and unclear, contextualized applications of those principles. Opposition to abortion is based on the fact that killing innocent human beings is always and everywhere contrary to God's law. Opposition to specific immigration control measures is based on a belief that it might not be the best way to go about it.

Maybe Catholic Scholar Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo should go back to class.

6.17.2010

A Nation of Laws, or Bullies?

I think Representative Barton of Texas is correct. I've got no problem with holding BP accountable for the damage caused by the Deep Water Horizon accident. I don't think they're the only company (or individual) liable in the case, either. But presidential thuggery is not the way that's done in a free republic. We have courts and laws and various contracts that are supposed to determine liability, compensation, and so on. This entire "we don't need no law" kind of self-righteous bullying is unseemly, illegal, and unconstitutional. What is more, it is unnecessary as BP has made no attempt to shirk its responsibilities in the matter.

For those of you who might disagree, because BP is wrong and Obama is your guy, let's posit a different scenario. Some equipment malfunctions in a Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream plant. Between rancid milk being dumped in local waterways and others sickened by contaminated ice cream, it becomes a big news item. President Sarah Palin summons the CEO to the White House where she makes a big show of lecturing them like one would a child and then, under thinly veiled threats, insists they set up an endowment fund managed by Jeb Bush. They cave and pony up the $200 million she demands just before they head over to the Congress where several Republicans rip them new ones on television while grandstanding for votes back home.

Is that how justice is to be done in this country?

I don't think so. And if it is, how is it different from the way Putin is running Russia?

We're Important! Really. We Are. People Are Watching!

The Synod of the Christian Reformed Church instructed the Board of Trustees to form a committee - a "Task Force" - to develop a biblical, Reformed statement on stewardship of the environment. This is, as you might know, the same Board of Trustees that unanimously adopted that pusillanimous, socialist, and downright deceitful document known as the "Micah Statement on Climate Change." We can pretty much figure what this task force is going to come up with, and it won't be good.

Anyway, in arguing for it, Rev. Tom Niehof of Northcentral Iowa said, “People are watching us. There are those who think evangelical Christians don’t care about God’s creation."


My first reaction to this is, who? Who is watching us? I mean, outside of our own sorry selves? There are over 300 million people in the United States of America and I daresay that 298 million of them have never even heard of the Christian Reformed Church. Of the remaining couple million, you could probably find 750,000 who would be mildly interested in the fact the CRC has said this or that - not influenced, just mildly interested. Indeed, you would be hard pressed to find 150,000 members of the CRC who think Synod's statements on the latest political craze are of any significance. Maybe six of them will change their opinion based on Synod's decision in this matter.

Sorry, Tom, but we're just not that important, and Synod is less important still. Try a little humility on for size.

But let's take him at face value, okay? There are those who think evangelical Christians want to burn homosexuals at the stake, have police regulate the way heterosexuals engage in intercourse, force teenage girls into early marriages where they'll be barefoot and pregnant until their 50, burn books on a regular basis, and a whole host of other nonsensical, untrue, and harmful things. They don't think this because they are watching us or because they care what we actually think or teach. They believe this because they want an excuse to keep the Gospel at arm's length. Or, more often, they want a Gospel that responds to them instead of calling them to respond to it. Telling them, however sincerely and frequently, that they're wrong about us will not change this fundamental motivation. All it will do is shift the excuse to a different area of thought and practice. If we convince them we're good people on the environment, they'll still criticize us because we oppose abortion. "Fix" that one, and they'll criticize us because we're mostly rich, or too white, or too suburban, or too whatever. I am sick and tired of dancing to their tune on these political issues.

6.16.2010

Statistical Perils

Scott Vander Ploeg goes over several of these "Shift Happens" videos from You-Tube and compiles the statistics thrown at us in them.

People like numbers. Numbers make people think they have solid information and "facts" that they can then use to make a point. But statistics are just statistics, and the way they are presented can be quite misleading because it just glosses over some key definitions. Take this one, for instance:

The top 25% of people with the highest IQ in China is greater than total population in North America. Translation: China has more honor students than we have students.
Is that translation really valid? Well, what is the highest IQ in China? What is the average of the top 25% of IQ scores in China as opposed to the U.S.? Are the tests really even comparable - culturally and linguistically, these are vastly different places with very different understandings of what constitutes "intelligence." Does the fact that any such statistics from China are filtered through a tyrannical Communist dictatorship have any bearing on the believability of their IQ test results anyway? Is an IQ score even a reliable measure of intelligence as such, regardless of culture?

You see, I throw out that statistics - the top 25% of people with the highest IQ in China is greater than the total population of North America - and you think, "Wow, we're really behind!" But the top 25% of anything in China will be greater than the population of North America, because the population of North America is a little less than 1/4 that of China. I could have said that the top 25% of people who eat rice in China is greater than the total population of North America.


Without defining what "intelligence" is, or what the IQ scores and their range actually are, or the reliability of the data, or the nature of the tests, all I've really said with this statistic is that China has 4 times as many people as North America. The presentation actually misdirects, making you think you know something when you really don't.

Take another one of their statistics. "Today's 21 year olds have watched 20,000 hours of TV..." Really? Do you mean U.S. 21 year olds, German 21 year olds, Bangladeshi 21 year olds, or average worldwide? Let's assume - though it is an assumption - that he means just U.S. 21 year olds. Why put it as hours? By comparison, if a 21 year old has spent an average of 8 hours per day sleeping, he has slept for 61,320 hours. If you figure the total hours a 21 year old has lived, that really amounts to only 10-11% of his total time since birth, about 2.5 hours/day or 15.6% of the time not spent sleeping. That's the Today show while he gets ready for work, a CSI episode and the evening news when he gets back home. Hardly earth shattering.

But by saying he watches TWENTY THOUSAND hours by the time he's 21 instead of "two news shows and one drama every day" or "about 15.6% of his waking hours", I get you thinking that this is a phenomenal amount of TV to be watching and we are DOOMED! DOOMED I TELL YOU!!! Again, it pushes you to a conclusion that may very well not be warranted.

Take a chill pill. Calm down. We have our vices, but people are still people and one thing people most decidedly are not is statistics.

Obama's Latest Blame Bush Speech

Here's the text of the President's speech. He starts out by saying we've got a lot of problems and then uses that to launch into a militaristic/war metaphor concerning the Gulf oil spill. It's a "battle" we are "waging" against this spill that is "assaulting" our shores.

See. It's just like 9-11, isn't it?

He then goes on to describe the initial event, point out the technical difficulties, and then assert that they've been directing, ordering, assembling, managing, and so on. He "assembled a team of experts" and "directed BP" to do this or that. Then comes the sword of justice:
But make no mistake: We will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long as it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever's necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy.
I've got no problem asking BP to pay to clean up the mess they made. Thing is, BP doesn't have a problem with that, either. But this whole b.s. about criminal charges, civil lawsuits, and so on is just over the top. The administration is intentionally forcing BP into an adversarial role even though BP doesn't seem to want that and is cooperating with the feds across the board.

One of the things tyrants do when their popularity starts to slip and it looks like they might lose office - particularly in places where the only way a tyrant can lose office is to lose his life - is they declare war. War, at least temporarily, unifies people behind the leader as they face a common, external enemy. Obama wants to make BP that enemy. And now he lays out his "battle plan" for going after them, er, the oil spill.

He's going to send 17,000 National Guard troops to the area to clean up and process claims. Oh. Yeah. That's really the Army National Guard's mission, isn't it? They're just little bureaucrats in uniform, helping us process claims. Insulting.

Now they've finally approved (some) barrier islands off shore and he claims they're separating the oil. Folks on the scene say different, but what do they know? I mean, yeah, there are problems in any operation (note the militarist word there - "operation").

Lots of people are affected, so today he is going to simply "inform" BP that they have to put aside several billions that will not be controlled by BP in order to pay off these folks. It will be run by an "independent third party". That is, an Obama crony. There are problems with this. First, normally we have a legal process for determining liability. Second, will this fund be used to offset that liability or will BP be facing a double indemnity - they get sued by people who are also tapping this fund to cover their losses? The president simply does not have the legal authority to "inform" BP that they will do this. He is not Caesar. He's the President.

Then comes the "It's George Bush's fault" part of the speech - the regulatory offices were full of cronies and regulations were viewed with hostility and they were all suck-ups to the oil/halliburton/cheney/evil oil execs. He's going to clean that up, too. How? By getting rid of the relationships between regulators and regulated. Great. If we're going to have people who know what they're talking about serve as regulators, we're going to have people with a connection to the industry they regulate. This is true of any regulatory agency. We normally tout as a good thing an ag secretary, for instance, who managed a farm, but now we are going to elevate ignorance to a virtue.

He then goes into the usual spiel - we use 20% of the world's oil and blah blah blah. So we need cap & tax. We can't drill for oil here. We can't drill in ANWR. We can't drill in the Gulf. We can't drill closer in shore. And windmills can't fuel cars. So we just have to cut back - meaning you just have to cut back, because there's no friggin' way Obama's giving up his SUVs, Air Force One, motorcades, campaign trips, and so on. He'll still get the Mercedes. You have to buy a Chevy (must support the unions), but you can't actually drive it (need to cut carbon emissions).


In other words - It's not my fault. I'm really in charge, even though it doesn't look like it. BP is evil. Republicans are evil. We are doing something, even though it doesn't look like it. And we need cap & tax. And it's not my fault.

What's Another $50 Billion Among Friends?

Pretty much sums it up when it comes to the so-called $50 billion "stimulus" bill the president is pushing.

My only quibble is that, when you're already $1,700 billion in the red for a 12-month period and nearly $5,000 billion in debt overall, the fact that $50 billion isn't that much more is irrelevant. Try telling your banker that another $500 loan isn't that big a deal, even though your net cash flow is a negative $17,000 this year and you already owe them $50,000.

It may be a cliche, but it's true. If you're in a hole, the first thing you need to do to get out of it is to stop digging. President Obama and the Democrats in Congress seem to think we can dig our way out. I don't care if you've got degrees from Princeton, Harvard or Yale, that's still pretty dumb.

(NB - yes, I know the author of the referenced article is talking about $23 billion, but that's just the portion of the "stimulus" that would go to prop up teachers' unions. There's another $27 billion for other state jobs in the bill, too.)

6.15.2010

Man-Caused-Disaster and War

On the one hand, John Podhoretz is quite correct in asserting that the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 are a completely different category of event from the destruction of BP's Deep Water Horizon and the subsequent release of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

But he's not looking at it the way Obama and his ilk look at things. Remember, Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security decided to call terrorist acts "man-caused disasters." Given what we know of the lax maintenance and inspection procedures prior to the explosion on board Deep Water Horizon, we could also label this a "man-caused disaster." To this administration, terrorist acts are also mere accidents, not acts of war by non-state organizations directed primarily at the civilian populace.

I'm sure Obama wants sympathy from us peasants and wishes he could garner the kind of popular support President Bush received after the September 2001 attacks and that this is one of the reasons he compares almost every unpleasant happenstance to 9-11-01. But their own moral and categorical confusion also underlies these silly, tendentious kinds of claims. They simply cannot believe their "we-are-the-world/kum-bay-ya" vision is based on a rather flimsy foundation of whimsy, nonsense, and outright stupidity. Terrorists wanting to kill us must, therefore, be either an accident, or caused by those who do not believe their one-world, can't-we-all-get-along bovine excrement - and obviously, that's what caused the explosion and sinking of the Deep Water Horizon, too.

What's the Right Thing to Do?

Here's an interesting story. Frankly, in 1951, I would have preferred to see him hang. He was given a ride by a guy trying to do the right thing, kicked him out of his car, and then shot him six times in the back.

It was a heinous murder. But they decided to give him life in prison instead. A few years later, since "life in prison" doesn't really mean "life in prison", he was out on parole, left the area and changed his name. He started a business in Arizona, married, fathered children, and generally lived a stable, productive life until one of his victim's grandkids decided to find out about grandpa's murder. That led him to a guy going by the name Victor Houston, now 79, who was then re-arrested, sent back to Montana, and put back in prison.

He has obeyed the law, established a business, been reasonably faithful as a husband and father. But in 1951 he murdered a man in cold blood after that man tried to help him out.

There is, of course, no way to "repay" the family of the man he murdered. Hanging him, keeping him in jail, or anything like that won't do it. There is also an appropriate time for mercy and forgiveness. I find the fact that the family testified against him at his parole hearing in a manner that suggests after almost 60 years they still hold a grudge against this man more than a little unsettling. Do we not all, with the Psalmist, ask God to forget the sins of our youth?

And yet, in 1951 he murdered a man in cold blood after that man tried to help him out.

What is the right thing to do?

Top Ten Things the President Will Tell Us Tonight

The president is going to speak to us from the Oval Office this evening concerning the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. No doubt he will say the following:

1. It's not my fault.

2. We need to pass cap & tax as soon as possible, even though it has nothing to do with this.

3. It's George Bush's fault.

4. I've been on it since Day One and I'm in charge and I'm going to kick some ass.

5. My EPA is working hard to help clean tar balls from the Gulf Coast and assist with cleaning it up. It had nothing to do with preventing this "berm" project or slowing down the oil/water separators - the requests for those permits must have gotten lost in the mail.

6. We need lots more regulations and you need to pay more in taxes because of this oil spill.

7. Don't go to Las Vegas. You should go to one of the sunny beaches of Florida or Alabama instead.

8. It's all the evil oil companies' fault, not mine. I had nothing to do with it. I was just kind of strolling through the park and BAM, this thing, like, happened and I, uh, didn't see anything and, uh, I, uh, I have no idea how I got this thing in my hand, Officer. What? It's a buck? Well, I should just pass it along, shouldn't I.

9. I am a leader! Yes, I am! I am leading all this stuff.

10. Did I tell you it's not my fault? Well, it isn't.

Obama's Job Protection Proposal

Obama, seeking to trim the budget, reduce the deficit, and get federal spending under control, has asked for Congress to spend another $50 billion to "support economic recovery and avoid widespread layoffs of public workers."

Oh. Right. It's not really about economic recovery. It's about paying off the public sector unions whose money and votes have put the Democrats in office. We are truly in a situation where the government is setting itself in opposition to the populace as a whole, and it is ominous, to say the least.

I know full well that not all members of these unions are as hell-bent on soaking the taxpayers as the union leadership seems to be. Some of them are in fact dedicated public servants, and see themselves as servants of the public. Too many, however, see themselves as our masters. To them, we are too stupid, too messy, too violent, too whatever to be able to know our own best interests and require these our betters to make decisions for us. We should continue quietly on the treadmill in order to support their "well-earned" luxuries. Hogwash and other comments.

They don't need this $50 billion. Already the public sector is bloated, inefficient, and expensive. We can't afford half of what the governments at all levels are foisting upon us. These people need to be laid off.

The problem for Obama, however, is that most of his so-called "economic recovery" to date has been generated by government hiring. If that goes, and the state of the public work environment starts to more realistically mirror the private work environment, unemployment could easily go above 10% towards 12% or even higher. How would that look in October?


The real job Obama is trying to protect is his own.

6.11.2010

Unexpected Sentiment

Cool. People aren't buying stuff, but they feel good about it. I guess that means prosperity is just around the corner, right?

These people are really scraping the bottom of the barrel for some way to present the economic facts in a way that looks good for the Obama administration, aren't they? Oh, yeah. The drop in retail sales was "unexpected". Really?

Obama's Yoda Moment

I used to give advice to folks who were getting promoted, whether to Petty Officer First Class or Chief Petty Officer or Lieutenant Commander. One of the things I told them is, when you are in command you must act as if you are in command. If I have to tell you that I'm in charge, it's a fairly safe bet that I'm not. Authority starts to break down when neither of us expects my orders to be carried out.

President Community Organizer seems to be spending a lot of time telling us he's in charge. Whether it's the gluteous maximus kicking statement and other recent attempts to insert profanity into his assertions (plug the damn hole, anyone?), his myriad "will not rest" and "from Day One" claims, or his "I'm the president" statements, he seems compelled to constantly remind us that he's suposedly in charge. Of course, that doesn't change the fact that none of this is his fault. It's either recalcitrant underlings, evil businesses, stupid Republicans, the horrors of democracy, or - most often - his predecessor.

Let me make it perfectly clear. We do not want a president who hasn't slept since Day One. You're only human. Get some sleep.

Then think a little. Logic is helpful - Aristotelian logic rather than the dialectical reasoning you're used to from your idiotic Ivy League profs. You cannot both be in charge and yet not be responsible. It's one or the other. A fawning bevy of what used to be reporters scooping up every excretion from your smallest pore as if it were a holy relic will not change this basic truth. You are in charge, and therefore responsible; or you are not responsible and not in charge.

I realize you were brought up as a community organizer and legislator where you got pretty much zero experience in actual leadership and command. Still, you're it for the next couple years. You're the Commander-in-Chief and you'd best learn some of that stuff real quick, because right now you're headed towards a catastrophic failure that will make Jimmy Carter's ignominious presidency look like child's play. No more playing God or pretending to be President. This is for real, and lives depend on you measuring up to the responsibilities of your office. Pony up, guy. Make it happen. No more excuses - this is a Yoda moment. "Either do, or do not. There is no 'try'."

6.10.2010

Shilling for Terrorists in the UK Telegraph

The UK Telegraph wants to counter Israel's contention that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza - people are not starving and there are even some very nice restaurants, according to the Israelis. The intrepid reporter tells us of the same nice restaurant Netanyahu pointed out, a well-stocked grocery store, and quotes an official from Hamas

"There is no starvation in Gaza," said Khalil Hamada, a senior official at Hamas's ministry of justice. "No-one has died of hunger.

Even so, People have been forced to subsist rather than to live. There is no development.

"It is an inhumane siege by any standards, even a brutal one, for it imposes collective punishment on an entire people, whether they support Hamas or not."
So, nobody's starving and they've got access to nice restaurants and grocery stores, but the blockade is inhuman and brutal. Way to make your case there, Telegraph operators.

It's also rather odd of Khalil Hamada to complain of "collective punishment", given that they were rather indiscriminate in their bombing of school buses, pizza parlors, and private homes up until the Israelis built a wall to keep the terrorists out and imposed a blockade. Even with the blockade, they still manage to fire an awful lot of rockets at non-military targets. Don't forget that, for Hamas's ministry of justice, justice entails killing all the Jews within reach. Oh, and what about the "collective punishment" Hamas imposes on their own people? It can be very dangerous to be the son of someone who does not support Hamas or who actively opposes them.

Sorry, fellas. You're not starving. It's not inhumane, much less "brutal". Hamas and the Palestinians can have peace any time they want it. All they have to do is agree to let the Israelis live in peace, too. This they refuse to do, and this is why there is a blockade.

South Carolina's Anonymous Senate Candidate

This is great. A guy walks into the Democrat State Party headquarters in South Carolina and plops down the $10,400 filing fee to become a candidate for U.S. Senate in the Democrat primary.

And that's all the campaigning he does. He doesn't have a web site or a staff or road signs or anything else. He does no events or grip & grins. He just sits at home and waits for the election. He won. So now he's the Democrat Party candidate for U.S. Senate against Jim DeMint of South Carolina.

He was a specialist in the Army, which is an E-4 - equivalent to a 3rd Class Petty Officer in the Navy or a Corporal in the Marine Corps. On the basis of that experience, he wants to address the issue of a divided Korea. Who knows? Maybe he's on to something. It's certainly more foreign policy experience than the president had when he was elected.

He was arrested last November and charged with "disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity" for apparently showing some rather graphic porn to a college student and then trying to follow her to her room. He has not been indicted, which is to say, the D.A. has not formally pressed those charges and there has been no trial.


The Democrat Party of South Carolina is evidently quite embarrassed by all this. The state legislature who was his primary opponent must have been quite bad - reminds me of the woman in Tennessee who lost a mayoral race to a guy who died some weeks before the election. They're trying to get him to withdraw from the race, but he's refusing and is instead looking to debate Jim DeMint. National party bigwigs are also trying to pretend this didn't happen, but it did.

In a way, it doesn't matter. Jim DeMint would have beaten the other candidate, too. Still, I hope the guy goes through with it. What does he have to lose?

6.08.2010

Truth Is Not Subject to Majority Vote

So, the big confab between these two world Reformed Christian organizations is going down in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Apparently there are some pushing for an affirmation of this thing called the "Accra Confession", which is described as "a sharp denunciation of global capitalism..." The former director of CRC ministries was asked about it.
"Some people believe that it (the Accra Confession) ought to be adopted and/or have confessional status, but I don't believe" that there is strong movement to make that happen right now, says Rev. Peter Borgdorff, president of the REC.
I don't know if he said that it's not true or that he doesn't believe it. I don't know if he in fact disagrees with the consensus and would like to see it adopted. I know the reporter thinks the important point is the lack of agitation for it at the moment.

The Confession itself is pretty standard leftist boilerplate. You can tell all these guys writing it were educated in Western universities and haven't strayed far from them in their thinking. Rich people are evil and they have too much. Poor people are, well, poor and it's all the fault of rich people being rich. The solution to this is having government take stuff that rich people have (i.e., make them poor) and give it to poor people (i.e., make them rich). Then we can do it again and thus balance things out eventually.

The problem with this thinking is that only the first part works. Taking the stuff rich people have will make them poor, or at least make them run away. Somehow very little of what's taken actually gets through the government filter to poor people (over 70% of U.S. welfare spending is absorbed by the administrating bureaucracy). And since one of the reasons a lot of these people are poor is their lack of ability and/or knowledge in handling wealth, what does get through to them doesn't make them rich. So now we have everybody but the government people poor, and the government people are never going to take from the government people to give to the poor. Why would they do that?

I'm no polished economist, but I have read a bit of Adam Smith and quite a bit of Thomas Sowell and a little of Russel Kirk, Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek as well as some Keynes - the generally accessible stuff and not the "in-the-weeds-and-heavy-on-the-mathematical-formulas" stuff. I've also read Dambisa Moyo, Marvin Olasky, and Theodore Dalrymple. It's enough to know that this redistributionist stuff never works. Oh, sure, it redistributes. But it doesn't create wealth. In fact it discourages it. The end result is, everybody's poor and nobody's rich enough to pay for the redistributionist programs. In fact, this is precisely what is happening throughout the West right now.

So it's not just that nobody's agitating for this Accra Confession, it's that it is dangerously wrong about economics, scripture, and human nature. We're not supposed to say that because it was composed by Third World church leaders who are concerned about "social justice," I guess. Well, I'm concerned about the poor, too. We should not sacrifice the truth in order to help them.

Obama Solution: Talk Tough, Meet, Give Speeches, Talk More...

The President says he wants to find out "whose ass to kick" in regards to the oil spill in the Gulf.

Might I suggest his own? Speeches and tough words and law suits and criminal probes won't clean up oil. You've been telling us you're on it since "Day One" but what have you done in the nearly 2 months since then? Nothing but talk, meet, gab, talk more, and just plain get in the way. Then lets move on to the Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA, and a whole alphabet soup of federal agencies and bureaucrats who have also done their best to get in the way of fixing this. If you've still got energy left from kicking those butts, you can go after the inspectors and others who were all buddy-buddy with the oil rig operators and didn't think those safety inspections really mattered. After that, you can kick your political team's posteriors for all those donations taken from British Petroleum and then not seeing how this oil rig explosion had a potential to get out of hand. Frankly, you look stupid, Mr. President. You look like a petulant adolescent who is less concerned with the real problem than you are with your image in the midst of it. Maybe you look that way because, well, it's true?

(Anybody who can still believe socialism works after the demise of communism, the collapse of Central American and African socialism into tyranny again and again and again, and the demise of Europe - anybody who can still believe socialism works is willfully, obstinately stupid. Anybody who thinks the federal government is the answer to all our problems after Katrina, Social Security's impending bankruptcy, the massive, unreadable, incomprehensible, self-contradictory mess that is the tax code, and the whole housing bubble - anybody who can believe that is just an idiot.)

Anyway, after all those federal butts have been properly pained, then maybe you can start in on the enviro-nuts who have forced us into drilling in such conditions when much more easily obtained oil could be had in half a dozen places around the U.S. and Canada, along with less dangerous, shallower, in-shore waters. Finally, you can get to BP and others who have operated on the assumption that nothing bad will really happen.

Or you could at least get your federal agitators and bureaucratic ninnies out of the friggin' way so BP can plug the hole and Louisiana can start cleaning the crap off its coast. That would be worthwhile, I think.

The people don't want kicked butts or speeches or meetings or lawsuits or anything like that. They want the flow of oil from this well head stopped and the oil in the Gulf cleaned up. How about focusing on that instead of butt-kicking for a change?

One Brain-Dead "Reporter" Down, 438,923 to Go

A virulent, nasty piece of work is finally out of the White House Press Corps where she has spread her bile for nearly 50 years. This little report at Yahoo! makes it seem like she used to be an objective reporter just relating the facts, but then she became a columnist and opinionated.

Bulls**t and other comments. She was a nasty, bigoted leftist when I first noticed her work during the Ford administration. She hasn't changed. There are still dozens of stenographers of hate working as "journalists", singing the praises of Obama and misrepresenting conservatives, their views, and their persons. It took a lot to get rid of Helen Thomas. Lord willing, it will be easier to get rid of her clones.

6.06.2010

College - More Expense Than Value

Glenn Reynolds has some thoughts on higher education that are worth pondering (hat tip: Jonah Goldberg at National Review's Corner). Yes, I went to college. Yes, I went on to seminary - a total of 8 years in school after high school, although one of those was spent at a paid internship. It didn't pay very much, but it is better to be paid for one's studies than to pay for them, right?

For all that, college is over-rated. Between my wife's family and my own, there were 8 children. One, my eldest brother, was killed in an accident before he got to high school, much less college. Of the remaining seven, one went to a professional school. She did not go to college, but to a 2-year school that produced nurses - LPNs. One went into the military and then got a college degree after 8 years of active duty. Three (me and my wife among them) went to college before embarking on a working life. Two didn't go to college at all, but have taken occasional courses connected with and/or sponsored by their businesses and trade groups.

Guess which ones are making the most money right now? Yup. The two that didn't go to college at all. They work hard, and have for nearly 30 years now, but both their annual income and their net worth are more than what the rest have.

No, I'm not jealous. I am well provided for. But if you're looking at college as a meal ticket, look again. What makes the difference is a willingness to work hard, a supportive family, and an ability to look at the long-term, big picture instead of the immediate desires. These two have that in spades. What they don't have is patience for book-learning.

So, kids out there: don't assume that you have to go to college. If you do go, don't assume that you need the degree from the big, expensive school. As I've said before, if you want an education, all you need is a good library, an internet connection, and a reading list. College is about a certificate and, after your first job, nobody cares what college or what your GPA was.

6.04.2010

Seven Signs You've Got Chemistry

I saw a headline on Yahoo - "7 Signs You've Got Chemistry". If you're dating, aren't you really looking for biology? Anway, it got me thinking... seven... signs... chemistry....

Cue dream thought bubbles...

#7 - She's wearing a tube dress to test you.

#6 - He bursts into flame when exposed to oxygen.

#5 - Something smells really, really bad.

#4 - You need a microscope.

#3 - A sediment forms at the bottom as she cools.

#2 - Nothing happens without a bunsen burner.

#1 - Every date ends with a lab report.