2011-12-23

Bush Tax Cuts

The current tax rates are what they are. Why is changing the current rates referred to as removing the Bush tax cuts rather than calling them the Obama tax rate increases?

2011-12-03

Climategate 2.0

James Taylor looks at the some of the shenanigans in the AGW story.
Three themes are emerging from the newly released emails: (1) prominent scientists central to the global warming debate are taking measures to conceal rather than disseminate underlying data and discussions; (2) these scientists view global warming as a political “cause” rather than a balanced scientific inquiry and (3) many of these scientists frankly admit to each other that much of the science is weak and dependent on deliberate manipulation of facts and data.
So the science is not exactly settled.  But it is settling.  
“I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run,” Thorne adds. 
“Mike, The Figure you sent is very deceptive … there have been a number of dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC,” Wigley acknowledges.
Not sure why the NYT and others aren't crowd sourcing this to get to the bottom of the settling science.

2011-12-02

Unemployment Woes

I am not sure that a GOP campaign ad writer could have come up with a better way to communicate the left's idea of Keynesian intervention in the economy. The Onion may have been able to come close.But U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis did it better than any of them could have.
Failing to extend the length of time that unemployment workers are eligible to receive federal unemployment payments “will mean an increase in the unemployment rate.”
Before you do damage to your scalp trying to figure out if this makes sense, rest assured it is true. Just as no longer borrowing or printing money to pay people's grocery bill increases hunger, and no longer borrowing or printing money to pay people's car loans increases immobility, and no longer borrowing or printing money to pay people's house loans increases homelessness.

A finer example of a tautology you will not find.

The argument rests on unilateral demand side thinking. If the demand is not maintained by giving people money that is either borrowed or printed, the businesses who sell goods and services will go out of business. If this works so well, why not just print money and send a pallet to each and every person in the US? Wouldn't this sort of stimulus expand the economy and create tremendous demand?

Ugh. Yes, an increase in borrowing can be a stimulus to demand. But at what cost? Is there a limit to how much borrowing can occur before the debt is overwhelming? Is this wise

2011-12-01

Down With Capitalism

Chris Carrado has a great article that examines some of the motivations behind the Occupy Wall Street movement:  the left hates inequity in results more than it loves liberty, they hate profit more than they love freedom in markets.

If a company earns millions in profit because it develops a revolutionary medical device that saves thousands of lives, has it not paid its fair share? If a company produces a chemical that kills 99.5% of bacteria in farms, has it paid its fair share? If Ford creates a car so safe that it prevents 80% of otherwise fatal auto accidents, has Ford not done enough? If a grocery chain brings us a bounty of diverse, healthy foods we can purchase without the cost and effort of growing them ourselves, do we think we're also entitled to the profits it brings that chain?

2011-11-28

What Everybody Owns, Nobody Owns

Collective ownership didn't work at Plymouth Rock. John Aman shares the collectivist failure that occurred under a charter which imposed a seven-year period of joint ownership on the original settlers at Plymouth Rock.

Governor Bradford wrote that common ownership "was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment which would have been to the general benefit and comfort."
After much debate, Governor Bradford
allowed each man to plant corn for his own particular [for his own household] and to trust themselves for that ... so every family was assigned a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number ... this was very successful. It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the governor or any other could devise.
When the incentive for personal gain is removed by collectivist economies, stewardship of the property does not occur as readily when one directly benefits from his/her own labor. It flies in the face of human nature to believe that a person will work as hard for the benefit of a stranger as he will for himself or his family.

The Pilgrims were much more successful when the political economy aligned with human nature and acknowledged that incentives do matter.

Mike Rosen often uses an analogy to demonstrate the differences in stewardship between collective ownership and individual ownership. He notes that public restrooms are often dirty and have graffiti on the walls. But have you ever seen graffiti on the walls of a private home?

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators inadvertently confirmed this idea with their stewardship of the public spaces they occupied. The destruction and fouling of many of the occupied areas is positive proof that when everybody owns it, nobody owns it. They are able to just walk away from the problem rather than deal with it.

Capitalism recognizes this tendency of human nature.

2011-11-27

Right Wing Hate

Chris Matthews has figured out what animates the right. He's not pioneering any new ground however, since it is SOP for many on the left to demonize rather than be thoughtful about the many legitimate differences between the left and the right.

The utter confusion in the Republican presidential nominating process results from two discernible facts. One: they hate. That's the simplest explanation of the disastrous course of this selection process. They hate so much they are not in the mood to fall in love with a candidate or even fall in behind someone. Their brains racked as they are by hatred, they lack the like mode. They are in no mood looking around for a politician they like. The hating is so much more satisfying. Second factor: They aren't respecting experience. Each candidate has his or her time in the limelight yet out there in the audition stage, one after another, has showed they don't have the stuff.
Video at Real Clear Politics

This sums up how many on the left feel about thier ideological competition on the right. The right can't just have differing opinions. They can't just have a different view of how the world works. Nevermind the childishness of such analysis that pretends to not understand what a nominating process is all about. Is he suggesting that even before the primaries that only one favored candidate should remain? Normally Matthews' comments are mean and über-partisan. This is downright embarassing.

It is a characteristic of the left to not deal with substance or nuance and jump directly to dismissal via name calling. Matthews' screed is just that.

The right must be demonized and reduced to the following list of odious sub-humans:
  • stupid
  • ignorant
  • mean spirited
  • war-mongering
  • selfish
  • greedy
  • hateful
  • nativist
  • racist
  • sexist
  • homophobic
  • xenophobic
  • Islamophobic
  • bigoted
  • intolerant
  • fascist
  • misogynistic
  • hypocritical
Other references in this blog to the list here, and here.

And now, if Matthews has his way, we must add inexperience to the list. Did he have this same concern for lack of experience for the candidate that gave him a thrill up his leg?

2011-11-26

GOP Naiveté

During an interview with Dennis Prager on 23 Nov 2011, Sen. Jon Kyl – who was described in a Dana Milbank column as "cold and ruthless", "destructive", "walking napalm" and a tool of Grover Norquist – seemed naïve and unaware.

While discussing the committee, Kyl was asked if he thought the committee was doomed from the outset. He responded:

In retrospect it might have been. We didn't look at it that way in the beginning. But as I look back on it the two sides approached this with totally different goals in mind. We thought that this was the second half of the ballgame – you know, the debt ceiling extension of 2.4 trillion was predicated on saving that much money. And so, we passed the budget deal in August that saved just about a trillion, not quite. And then the other trillion and a half was supposed to come from the supercommittee, and we thought, on the mandatory side of the budget where 2/3 of the spending is – and that's the out of control spending, the unsustainable spending on Medicare, Medicaid, the food stamps, ag subsidies, all those so-called mandatory programs. So we thought this was an opportunity to get a handle on those. The Democrats approached it totally differently.
...
I thought we would succeed. I knew it would be very hard.

Our view of this was to try to reform the mandatory side of the budget and reduce the spending there. From the very beginning the Democrats had a different view. Their view was this is the place to raise a trillion – usually about 1.3 trillion, sometimes they said 1.2 trillion in new taxes. And so the two parties started from very different goals and I didn't realize that that's what they were going to try to do. And I don't know if they realized that we would try to push the mandatory spending reductions, but in any event, that gap made it very difficult. When the two sides don’t agree on the goal to begin with it's hard to reach consensus.
How is it that Kyl has a view of Democrats that only a person who has lived in a cave or is hopelessly naïve could have? As Ann Coulter recently reminded us in her column on how the GOP was hoodwinked during Reagan and Bush the elder, "As long as no one knows the history of these "deals," the media can carry on, blithely portraying Republicans as obstructionist nuts for refusing the third kick of a mule."

It is clear what the Dems are up to. This is not to say that what the left is up to is evil. John Edwards was right when he said there are two Americas. The left and right have irreconcilable differences. It is not that they have similar goals but different ways to get there. They have different goals.

But how is it that a key member of the GOP is unable to see or understand the conflict of visions that is so vital to understanding the path forward for our country? How could he have missed over the last three years of the Obama presidency that the left are Keynesians through and through? Is this irrepressible optimism or naiveté on stilts?

Paul Krugman understands what is going on. In his 17 Nov 2011 article he stated:

Why was the supercommittee doomed to fail? Mainly because the gulf between our two major political parties is so wide. Republicans and Democrats don’t just have different priorities; they live in different intellectual and moral universes.
...
So the supercommittee brought together legislators who disagree completely both about how the world works and about the proper role of government. Why did anyone think this would work?
...
But don’t we eventually have to match spending and revenue? Yes, we do. But the decision about how to do that isn’t about accounting. It’s about fundamental values — and it’s a decision that should be made by voters, not by some committee that allegedly transcends the partisan divide.
About this Krugman is right. There is a battle between competing visions in America today. And Krugman is clear about his vision.

Raising taxes increases revenue, and cutting spending while the economy is still depressed reduces employment.
...
Slashing spending while the economy is depressed destroys jobs, and it’s probably even counterproductive in terms of deficit reduction, since it leads to lower revenue both now and in the future.
He is against spending reductions. Only Keynesian spending splurges will do. All Kyl had to do was open the New York Times to discover what the left is thinking and how they were going to behave in the supercommittee.

Furthermore, Krugman is able to recollect GOP welshing on deals:

For one thing, history tells us that the Republican Party would renege on its side of any deal as soon as it got the chance. Remember, the U.S. fiscal outlook was pretty good in 2000, but, as soon as Republicans gained control of the White House, they squandered the surplus on tax cuts and unfunded wars.
Apparently the GOP had made promises to not allow terrorist attacks and subsequent military endeavors in exchange for something unnamed. This bogus recollection, in contradistinction to the real Democratic promises to reduce spending that never materialized, is used by Krugman to warn against making any deals with Republicans. Who's the do nothing party now?

Republicans are often dismissed as RINOs or Democrat Light because of a softening of their views and actions once in office. Sen. Kyl seems to have conservative bona fides, so if he does not prevail against liberal ideas, it apparently is not because he is a RINO. But his comments to Prager reveal a soft Pollyanna underbelly and/or naiveté that is anything but cold and ruthless and may produce similar results as a RINO. If he is unaware of the positions, values and vision of his intellectual opponents, whether RINO or orthodox conservative, he will lose to their ideologically driven agenda.

2011-11-23

Affirmative Action Obama

In this article by Matt Patterson, he looks at President Obama's unimpressive resume.  Patterson quotes Norman Podhoretz:

To be sure, no white candidate who had close associations with an outspoken hater of America like Jeremiah Wright and an unrepentant terrorist like Bill Ayers would have lasted a single day. But because Mr. Obama was black, and therefore entitled in the eyes of liberaldom to have hung out with protesters against various American injustices, even if they were a bit extreme, he was given a pass.

Patterson then notes, "Let that sink in: Obama was given a pass -- held to a lower standard -- because of the color of his skin. Podhoretz continues:"

And in any case, what did such ancient history matter when he was also articulate and elegant and (as he himself had said) "non-threatening," all of which gave him a fighting chance to become the first black president and thereby to lay the curse of racism to rest?

2011-11-11

Manufacturing

There is a lot of concern about sending jobs overseas. And not keeping manufacturing jobs here at home.

Why is oil production not considered manufacturing that could keep jobs here in the US? Canada seems to keep a lot of people empoloyed manufacturing petroleum products. Couldn't we bring those jobs home?

2011-11-10

Notable Quotable

The left lives like the Tea Party people, but they preach like the Occupy Wall Street people. 
~Dennis Prager

2011-11-08

Cain, Infidelity and the Right

It has been pretty difficult to get the slumbering media masses to do in-depth reporting on sexual indiscretions of Democrats such as President Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Barney Frank, Alcee Hastings, John Edwards and others. Digging up licentiousness on liberals can be tough. A guy pretty much has to sext nude photos of himself before the media will take notice. But even then it takes a bit of coaxing.

And maybe the women who target Democrats are gold diggers and don't deserve to have their stories heard. Maybe this is what you get when you "drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park." (Why the leaders of the party of compassion and nuance are dragging hundred-dollar bills through trailer parks is another question for another day.)

Although, when you have allegations against a Republican, you need to run with the story - no matter how vague it is. Even if you don't feel you are on firm ground. As James Taranto noted:
Anonymous sources told Politico that unnamed women alleged that Cain said unspecified things and made unspecified gestures to them sometime before the turn of the century. The only available fact is that the complaints led to a legal settlement, which included a confidentiality agreement, so its details are unknown.
Of course the media is biased. Only unquestioning zealots and manipulators feign shock at the idea. But, the media would not make a big deal out of these allegations if there wasn't an audience. And the audience they are playing to is the religious right.

When those on the right ask questions like "If a man cannot keep his marital vow, then how can we be sure he'll keep his oath of office?", the left leaning media knows it has lethiferous gold in a story like Cain's.

The question posed above presumes that infidelity is indicative of governing. It is a silly notion, but many on the right believe that dalliance is the litmus test that precludes any good or decent governing. The trouble is, reality just doesn't comport with this test.

It would be hard to argue that all the good that was done by Martin Luther King, Jr. should be dismissed because he had extramarital affairs. To dismiss all of his goodness because he was - shock of all shocks - human, is stupid. As noted at thegrio:
A great man is not defined by his weaknesses, but by his strengths. Regardless of what Dr. King may have done during the course of his marriage, those actions are almost completely disconnected from the manner through which he inspired billions with his courage and led people of color to the life we share today. It is our fault, not his, that Dr. King has been placed on a pedestal so high that we've forgotten that he was human.
(Of course, this is a generalized statement and there are "weaknesses" that are so significant as to overwhelm any "strengths" a person may have. A man who kidnaps, rapes and kills a 9 year-old girl and buries neighbors alive can spend as much time as he wishes at the soup kitchen. His actions are so reprehensible that they cannot be undone by random acts of kindness. These are all matters of degree. A serial philanderer is quite different than a person who is flirtatious or who had a one night stand.)

Clearly, philandering did not affect MLK's moral compass on matters of racism. Can we be happy that in spite of his own humanity he lifted the rest of mankind on his shoulders and carried them to a better place?

Similarly, did Rudy Giuliani handle the tragedy of 9/11 expertly in spite of his wolfishness? Should Jews have refused Oskar Schindler's help because he moonlighted?

The idea is preposterous and those on the right do a disservice by using this as a litmus test. All adultery tells us is that these men were sinners and far from perfect. However, they did some pretty good things in spite of their fallen nature. Even God allowed King David to continue after his Bathsheba episode where he even went so far as to send her husband off to war to be killed.

It fails in the other direction as well. By all accounts, President Carter was a sterling husband. However, his leadership and policy decisions were about as far removed from the religious right's values as one can imagine. And his post-Presidential behavior has been boorish at best and borders on racist.

And where does this stop? Should a candidate be eliminated because he didn't honor the Sabbath or his mother and father? How about coveting the neighbor's house? If a Jew should eat bacon, does that render him an economic imbecile and therefore unfit to be President? Clearly smoking marijuana no longer precludes presidential aspirations. (Again, a matter of degree. A nightly doobie roast is rightly judged differently than a college foray. And whether marijuana is a gateway drug or not, it is not heroine or meth. Nobody worries whether their airline pilot smoked pot in college. Irresponsible behavior in the past does not necessarily prevent critical thinking, decision making or responsible behavior when one is older.)

The religious right needs to realize that they are not voting for pastor, rabbi, monk, priest or pope. They should be voting for a man or woman to govern the nation in accordance with its Constitution, certain values and with a particular economic vision.

Of course we all expect decent and honorable behavior and nobody is asking to throw out all expectations. But there is no reason to demand that a presidential candidate be as pure as the wind driven snow. Many good and decent people have stumbled or engaged in youthful or imprudent pursuits. And this moral myopia will only prevent many good people from seeking the nation's highest office and will result in a far worse nation for all.

2011-11-02

FOIA Feint

One of the most disappointing attributes of the Obama administration has been its proclivity for secrecy.
This was how the LA Times described the Obama administration. They continued:
The president who committed himself to "an unprecedented level of openness in government" has followed the example of his predecessor by invoking the "state secrets" privilege to derail litigation about government misdeeds in the war on terror. He has refused to release the administration's secret interpretation of the Patriot Act, which two senators have described as alarming. He has blocked the dissemination of photographs documenting the abuse of prisoners by U.S. service members.
The double standard of the left should be clear to all. Where is WikiLeaks now? Where are the howls of outrage? The protests? The OWS crowd could move to 1600 Pensylvania Avenue. They could retain their acronym but they need a slight adjustment in the focus of their protest: Obama Withholds Secrets.

Given the collateral damage that has occurred with all of the drone strikes and the administration's desire to, as the LA Times put it, provide "a license for the government to lie to its own people," couldn't it truly be said if this rule is implemented that Obama lied, people died?
Obama should reread his pronouncements about transparent government.
He might be shocked by what he reads.

2011-11-01

Right is evil

It is not that the left has such great ideas. It is that the right is evil.

The left are nicer, kinder people than those on the right. Or so you would think if you listened to the likes of Karen Finney go on about the Right's love of Herman Cain:
And I think they like him because they think he's a black man who knows his place. I know that's harsh but that's how it sure seems to me.
What exactly is that place? Conservatives want to put him in the White House. They are so racist they want to put a black man in charge of the country.

Where was all this absolution talk when the left was voting for Obama? It was out there but was dismissed as poppycock.

The left must maintain the myth of racism on the right. It is a despicable charge that should only be leveled seriously and carefully. And to throw it around loosely as a lazy argument against those you disagree with only cheapens the word. Just as redefining rape to sex a woman wishes she hadn't had cheapens the term rape, shouting racism when what one really means is "I disagree with your policy" cheapens the term and drains it of all meaning.

But grievance and victimization are necessary for the success of the left. Without it, there is little remaining to sell. On the day that blacks, women, minorities, union members, teachers and trial attorneys wake up and say "Gosh. America is a pretty decent place. Yes, there are some ugly people on both sides of the aisle, but by and large America is a place where you can get ahead and speak your mind and is filled with good people - no matter what their political persuasion.", these fear-mongering Democrats will no longer be elected to office.

It is not that there is a conspiracy or a list of talking points that those on the left follow, but the ideology demands that the right be demonized and be shown to be less than human. It is important to dismiss those on the right as stupid, ignorant, mean spirited, war-mongering, selfish, greedy, hateful, nativist, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, bigoted, intolerant, fascist, misogynistic and hypocritical. There are probably a few more, but that's a good primer.

To be fair, there are those on the right who employ such tactics, although they seem to be more centered on religious violations, or "sinful" behavior. But how is the list above any different from a list of dismissives from the right? Isn't this a list of sins? Moral defects? Breaches of character? Isn't the left seeking to affix a scarlet letter to those on the right?

And another key distinction is that these dismissives are leveled by high-ranking leaders of the left and not just the rank and file. It is quite difficult to see this level of name-calling by Representatives, Senators, Presidents, heads of major political organizations and the like on the right. It is worth noting that opinion writers and commentators often use hyperbole for effect, but some of the stuff that comes out of the mouths of leftist humorists is awful. One struggles to find comedians on the right that are hoping for rape and hate f**king of those on the left.

The left is heavily invested in the righty-is-a-racist meme. The constant drumbeat is if the policy isn't endorsed by the Democratic Party, its racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. However, a compelling argument can be made that the left harbors ill-will for the groups they profess to support. For example, a man can be accused of sexual harassment and can suffer ramifications for telling an off color joke. Would it be appropriate for a man to pursue damages or punitive measures at work if a woman wore clothing that was distracting (in his estimation)? If you answer no, then you must answer why a woman can accuse a man of inappropriate behavior in the workplace if she is made uncomfortable, has her feelings hurt or is offended. If you believe it is appropriate for a woman and not for a man, all other things being equal, then you are sexist because you have lower standards for women than for men; you have higher expectations for men than women. How is it that the left is excused of these sorts of hidden sins?

The demonization platform is paired with hatred of the rich and government handouts. If the left treated the right as fellow sojourners who, while decent, hold different views, stopped the hate speech of class warfare and were not able to promise goodies to everybody who voted for them, what would be left in their platform? Egalitarianism?

The demonization of the right is prolific in the left's speech. Some examples include:
  • Andre Carson saying that fellow Congress members would like to see blacks hanging from trees.
  • Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic Party, saying "Our moral values, in contradistinction to the Republicans', is we don't think kids ought to go to bed hungry at night."
  • Alan Grayson manipulating a video clip to make it appear that Republican Daniel Webster was commanding wives to submit to their husbands (even Mother Jones posted a list of "outrageous" comments from Grayson. He was a one-man smear campaign.)
  • the former NAACP chairman Julian Bond's comments about Attorney General John Ashcroft, saying "He knows something about the Taliban, coming from, as he does, from that wing of American politics." And while speaking at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina saying that "The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side."
  • Patty Murray (Sen, D, WA) said "He's (Osama bin Laden) been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day-care facilities, building health-care facilities, and these people are extremely grateful. We haven't done that." (Really? We haven't done this? And why isn't this an indictment of the left? Dems have been running the major cities for the last 50 years. If this is true, shouldn't this failure fall squarely at the feet of Democrats?)
  • Krugman, Olbermann as well as others blaming the right for the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords
  • left leaning comedians (kudos to NOW for speaking out against it) and commentators suggesting that Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and other conservative women be hate f**ked;
  • Sandra Burnhard pining for a time when Sarah Palin is "gang-raped by my hip black brothers." (Secondarily, why isn't this racist? When Obama asks members of the CBC to remove their slippers to help out, his comments are - lazily and inappropriately - questioned as racist, but suggesting that blacks might be culturally or morally ready to perform such a despicable act of cruelty and horror isn't? Her expectations of the black man are so low as to think he might consider such an act? Does she think more highly of white men that she didn't suggest that they might want to partake?)
  • Jimmy Hoffa calling Tea Partiers "son of a bitches".
  • President Carter cites "racism inclination" as the reason for opposition to Obama. Couldn't just be that they have different visions of the role of government.
  • President Obama (and a large portion of the Democratic left) using the teabagger slur while describing Tea Partiers: "Does anybody think that the teabag, anti-government people are going to support them if they bring down health care?"
  • Jimmy Fallon band playing "Lyin' Ass Bitch" as the walkon song for Michelle Bachmann.
  • Chris Matthews commenting that Republicans are "consumed by hate".
  • CBS using a Bart Stupak phone message as an example of the threats against Democrats during the Tea Party protests of ObamaCare that said, "You and your family are scum....We think you're a devil....I hope you die." but not revealing the threatening phone message was left by liberals upset over the pro-life Democrat still being on the fence over the abortion language in ObamaCare.
  • Frank Rich comparing Tea Party protestations to Kristallnacht.

2011-10-30

Occupy the mailbox

Poet Artie Moffa has devised a way to shake his fist at the big banks. It is painful that this is thought to be "brilliant" (as one commenter opined).



There are many reasons why this is a silly notion. As many of these types of activities go, they are often an impassioned orgy of virulence, but little else. Such a tactic is likely to do nothing more than make those who do it feel clever and self-satisfied.

The current number of YouTube views for this video is 109,168. If everybody who watched the video actually sent in their envelope and it cost the big bank they are targeting $0.25 each, the total cost of postage to the bank would be $27,292. Not exactly a sum that will take down a corporation. And this assumes all 109,168 viewers will send in an envelope. To the same bank.

Although we all share the dislike of bulk mail items arriving in our mail box, and even though many of us have been tempted to mail the materials back to the sender in a moment of protest, the reality is that most people just aren't going to go through the bother of sending the stuff back.

Since everyone who watched will not likely send an envelope and since they are not likely targeting the same bank, the impact to any one organization will be even less. But if the tricky wood shim tactic is used, the price per parcel will rise and the pain to the bank will be greater. Even if it cost the bank a dollar per letter, the cost is not that great when spread across millions of customers. And that is exactly what would happen.

The bank isn't going to dock the pay of the CEO to cover the cost of this. It will pass the costs on to the consumer. Just as would be the case if this YouTuber ran a business and the local ne'er do wells filled his garbage dumpster with their garbage. He wouldn't just pay that amount out of his paycheck. He would add it to the price of his product as a cost of doing business. And that cost would not be significant enough to raise the price of his product so drastically that it would drive him out of business.

And if you think that since you are not a customer and therefore it won't affect you personally, what about all those who are? Isn't one of the points of OWS to speak up for those who are suffering because of the predatory practices of the large Wall Street banks? Isn't this just the sort of selfish, greedy, narcissistic behavior that the OWS crowd eschews? And besides, the merchant from whom you purchase your next car, house, gas, food, utility, clothing, medical care, TV, laptop, or iPhone may use this financial institution and you'll pay the fee as it is passed on to the consumer.

Moffa asks us to "Think of the scene in a mail room at a big bank." Well, it is likely that this type of mail is not handled in the mail room at 111 Wall Street. In fact, this probably takes place in some drearily familiar industrial park mail facility that employs people much like Artie, his mom or dad or other working stiffs who are not part of the 1%. They would like nothing more than to be able to do their jobs without the harassment of wood shims and notes from wise-acres who want them to join a union. They may already be a union member, which only makes the "really heavy, dense and crumbly" interruptions in their work day all the more tedious. Why not add baby powder to the mix? That would really show those greedy bankers. Do you suppose Moffa is appreciative of hecklers when he is on stage doing his job? One wonders whether Moffa would recommend spitting on the server at the local buffet if we disagree with the corporate business practices.

If we use Moffa's estimate of "a few roofing shingles, a few hundred wood shims and a few thousand empty envelopes," we might be verging on a couple thousand bucks of financial punishment to an institution while causing untold headaches for the rank and file who will have to deal with the real world implications of his proposed stunt.

And then Moffa gets to what he thinks is the point of such a protest. He admits that sending shingles to bankers "isn't really about running up the postage bill at the big banks, although that's a nice side effect." It is about creating meetings. Meetings to discuss the hundreds and thousands of weird credit card applications received by their fulfillment agent. He doesn't reason that these meetings will probably be held at the time clock in a noisy mail sorting facility and not range much beyond the topic of how to properly dispose of the debris sent in by disgruntled housewives, elderly retirees, and now, OWS protesters, and the fear induced in these times by opening envelopes containing foreign substances.

Moffa has much higher visions of grandeur.
Every hour the banks spend reacting to us is an hour they won't spend lobbying Congress on how to screw us.
Really? The banks will call the lobbyists back from DC to help sort mail? Does the SEIU stop lobbying just because a letter-writing campaign is waged against them?
Its an hour banks don't spend foreclosing on our houses.
Really? The bank will be so jolted that they will forget that Joe Blow hasn't made a payment in six months?

In large part, this is a masturbatory exercise. Maybe banking practices do need a thoroughgoing examination. Maybe government shouldn't have pressured banks to do Congress's social engineering so that we didn't find ourselves in this current situation. But this tactic gets us no closer to these ends.

What at first glance seems like a nifty idea, upon reflection devolves into an emotional fit. And the smugness dripping from such statements as "being immoral doesn't mean you're infertile," speaks only to fellow devotees who probably also had a Hans Landa "Ooooh, that's a bingo" response to shoving construction debris into an envelope.

Moffa would do well to understand that one's ideological opponents do not have to be evil or immoral simply because they have different thoughts and ideas. But this concept has yet to be learned by some of good will and is of little interest to those who would rather attack and destroy the messenger than engage in thoughtful conversation about competing ideas. This sort of dismissive rich/poor, black/white, young/old, red/blue, on/off mentality lacks nuance and is only helpful to those who are not confident in their own ideas. It is much easier to dismiss your opponents as evil, immoral, stupid, ignorant, mean spirited, war-mongering, selfish, greedy, hateful, nativist, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, bigoted, intolerant, fascist, misogynistic and hypocritical than to converse about the intricacies of different ideas.

And what about the environmental waste caused by such a protest? All the added driving and decreased fuel economy because of hauling roofing materials around. And does it create or save jobs for postal handlers? Well, yes. In the same way that splitting supertankers over coral reefs create jobs for the cleanup industry.

So as is often the case, protestations such as these may make the protester feel good, but won't do much beyond that. But who doesn't want a little self-induced pleasure? And Moffa seems to feel good about his self-stimulatory feel good exercise. So thanks to him for turning the camera on while preening in his digital masterbatorium.

ADDENDA:

From a poster at reddit:
The communications part is pointless; fill the envelope and send it back, but don't waste your time with the communications bit: the only people who will ever see it are minimum-wage (or near-minimum-wage) mail handlers who simply discard this sort of response.

I have (unfortunately) worked for institutions like this in the actual mail room, and this sort of thing is pretty standard (where I worked, we received 15000-20000 pieces of mail a day, and we had 6 people sorting all of it; each of us got several dozen of these trash-filled envelopes daily). We had boxes specifically for these sorts of envelopes, and the only thing we had to do was add a single comment to the person's file (if we could determine who it was from). That comment? ERE, which stands for Envelope Returned Empty.

Most of the time, we didn't even bother adding the comment (which is actually a good thing for the intended recipient, as it kept the address in an unknown state of use; sending the mail back like this shows it is a legit address; additional contact, including phone contact, was often then tried with these accounts). The envelope and its trash contents would simply be tossed in that bin, and we'd move along to the next piece of mail.

So don't bother wasting time (or money) creating fliers or inviting communication: the people who see it will toss it in the trash and, truth be told, are probably already on our side (but unable to do anything from their "expendable" position). Just send back the envelope with its original contents and move on.

Edit :: For what it's worth, this is also the reason why sending threats, powders or other sort of "illusion to cause harm" items is not only pointless, but is counter-productive: most company mail rooms are isolated to reduce the damage caused by an actual attack, and the only people who are going to be affected by it are the ones who the company considers to be some of the most expendable people in the company (where I worked, only the [Mexican-born] janitorial staff were considered more expendable).
Comment by davidwbrown66:
No!!! DO NOT PUT THE SHIMS IN THERE!!! I fix the fucking machines those envelopes go through and you fuck up all the machines if you stick shims in there. Those kinds of letters get sent through machines that require the letters to be slightly flexible as they get carried by belts around bullwheels.

Just stuff them with the paper like he originally said.

Don't fuck up the machines, that just messes with a postal machine operator and, worse, some poor technician.
Comment by b0blee:
If you make the envelope rigid with wood, it's a hazard to the postal machinery. It won't go through as Business Reply Mail (because it obviously isn't), and all you've done is annoy some poor postal workers.
Comment by moclips1:
your ideas have been tried before, and they don't work.  mass mailings from big companies are cheap to produce, cost only a few cents to mail per piece, and make money even if a lot of blank envelopes are returned. . those return envelopes are bar-coded, and any mailing that is too heavy gets thrown out, which costs the USPS money and not the company, good ideals, though. my sources: USPS employees, who hate mass mailings, and my 20+ years in marketing at a big heartless corporation.
Comment by Kelliwilliams2:
I can try to answer this helpfully. I used to work at a bank in my youth. Any rigid object that breaks machinery used for sorting material ill result in people staying late and sorting it by hand. Any mysterious object like rubble or dirt or an angry letter in mail will be considered a possible terrorist threat and result in a trip to loss prevention and the employee being questioned about their involvement and knowledge.

If you feel like doing this use clean paper not the stuff he suggests at the end or the crazy stuff people are suggesting like dog poop and cat litter. Any inconvenience experienced by the person opening these letters will not matter at all to anyone higher up and neither will any messages. Anything you put in these envelopes is going to end up on the hands,clothes and unfinished work of the employee. You break their machines? They work wo them.

2011-10-29

What shall we protest?

They're protesting the fact that they've never been hungry; never been cold; never been without TV, air conditioning and a car. They've always had a video game console and a laptop and a smart phone. And they never, ever had to do any long, hard, real work for any of it.
There are groups of people who are willing to pump and purify your water. Provide endless and affordable electrical power so that you can be 72° all the time. That there are people who will kill, clean, cook, package and deliver foods so that you don't have to see the blood or the dirt." "And that these groups of people who provide these things are called corporations... who do these ugly, difficult and unpleasant things for you.
You should be grateful. You should thank them.


Against equality and change. And fear of what the government is constantly putting on us. And staying focused.


Against the Jews.

The Jews commit more white collar crime than any other ethnic group on the earth, and they go unprosecuted because they can buy their way out of it.
Whenever there's a billion dollar fraud, there's a Jew involved.





For taking down the system. Abolishing debt and the banking system. The capitalist monster. Capitalism. Profit.



For socialism and the fair wages in North Korea.



2011-10-27

Michael Moore is a 99%'er

Michael Moore denied that he is in the 1%. His proof? Because he says he's not. Amazing.

Apparently he can say anything and not be held to account. Does he really think that just doing a Jedi hand wave will convince the nation that he makes less than $344k/yr? (2009 AGI) Or because he doesn't think of himself in that way, he isn't? His thoughts notwithstanding, I think the IRS considers him to be a one percenter.

Will Moore extend the same wealth exemption to conservatives?




And Russel Simmons isn't in the 1% either. He's in the 100%.



UPDATE: Look for Moore to become more shrill. After making a statement as foolish as this, he will now go all in for socialism.

Civility on the Left

Matt Taibbi's Rolling Stone article is an example of the unbiased, level-headed, policy centric analysis of intelligent people who disagree. Or not.

The Houston Chronicle teases out the name-calling and invective.
Rick Perry: The Best Little Whore In Texas

If you’re still not sure, get a gander at the subhead:

The Texas governor has one driving passion: selling off government to the highest bidder

In the loooooooooooooooong article in the magazine’s November 10th issue, veteran political writer Matt Taibbi compares the Republican presidential candidate to an undertaker, a prostitute, a male underwear model, a serial killer AND Adolf Hitler. Bet you’ve never seen all those things in one article before.

In case you don’t have time to read the entire piece, we have some highlights for you.

On Perry’s personal characteristics:

“Exceedingly well-groomed, but also ashen and exhausted, like a funeral director with a hangover.”
“Tall, perma-tanned, Bible-clutching Southerner with front-runner hair and the build of a retired underwear model.”
“On the human level he is a nonpersonality, an almost perfect cipher – a man whose only discernible passion is his extreme willingness to be whatever someone will pay him to be, or vote for him to be.”
“Rick Perry brings shallow to a new level. He is very gifted in that regard. He could be the Adolf Hitler of shallow.”

On Perry’s ethics:

“The candidate who is exponentially more willing than we’ve ever seen before to whore himself out for that money.”
“A human price tag.”
“Rick Perry has managed to set a scary new low in the annals of opportunism, turning Texas into a swamp of political incest and backroom dealing on a scale not often seen this side of the Congo or Sierra Leone.”

On Perry’s ups and downs in the presidential campaign:

“The governor went from presumptive front-runner to stammering talk-show punch line seemingly in the speed of a single tweet.”
“Perry has mainly distinguished himself with a kind of bipolar wildness in the debates: sullen and reserved one moment, strident and inarticulate the next. He sweats profusely. He can’t stand still. When he does manage to get off a zinger, he cracks a smug grin, looking like he’s just sewn up the blue ribbon in a frat-house dong-measuring contest.”
“One of the all-time great marketing scams, a breathtaking high-wire act by a man who if nothing else certainly has the gigantic balls required for the most powerful job in the world.”

On Perry’s rise to power:

“The descriptions of Perry’s early political career all sound like the early chapters of true-crime books about serial killers, where nobody notices anything special about the protagonist until the bodies start piling up along the local riverbank.”
“Favors are the one consistent thread running through Perry’s political career. Throughout his time as governor, whenever his ideology or his religion comes into conflict with the need to give a handout to a major campaign donor, ideology and religion lose every single time.”

It seems safe to assume Rick Perry won’t be getting the Rolling Stone vote.

2011-10-25

Nuance on the Left

This presidential election has not lacked for clowns, and in a circus Barack Obama fits right in. But as the Black clown, Obama’s foot-in-mouth moments mostly involve insulting the Black community. This could be to establish his independence from the community in order to earn his bona fides with the moderate electorate or a way of appeasing the white liberals he’s courting. Or it could be that his foot and his mouth are magnetized. Whatever the reason, as a Black person, the Obamanator experience has been as distasteful as rancid, spoiled, stinky, curdled milk.
This was written, not about Barack Obama, but about Herman Cain. Touré at Time Magazine let loose with this torrent of sophomoric angst in his October 21st article. His screed is just one more example of a group that isn't interested in civility, but rather tearing down their opponent at all costs. And they usually do it by attacking the person, not policy.

The left is particularly adept at lacking self-awareness. Their ability to self-reflect is almost non-existent. In the third paragraph of his Cain chew-out - after having called Cain a Black clown, the Herminator, Cain't and the Black Sarah Palin - Mr. Touré asks, "Now we’re doing teenage-level disses?" [Insert long Jon Stewart-esque pause for effect.]

Maybe Mr. Touré doesn't read his own work. The evidence may be that he squeezed in some more teenage name calling before he reached the end of the article: Hermy, Big Daddy Cain, Cain is a clown, buffoon and another Hermanator round out his 690 words of "serious intellect, realistic solutions and admirable character," three charicteristics Mr. Touré said that Herman Cain did not posses.

As if the name calling wasn't enough to convince the reader of Mr. Touré's superior intellectual argument, he marginalizes and dismisses everything that he disagrees with. It is not that Cain has different ideas about the economy, it is that he is courting and appeasing the white conservatives. It is not that Cain has a different opinion than Mr. Touré, it is that his foot and his mouth are magnetized. It is not that Mr. Touré and Cain don't see eye to eye, it is that Cain is as distasteful as rancid, spoiled, stinky, curdled milk.

So when you get past all the name calling and invective, what is left? Essentially Mr. Touré makes three points. 1) He doesn't think blacks have been brainwashed. 2) Obama has been a part of the black experience. 3) Racism is alive and well.

Mr. Touré doesn't like that Cain said that some blacks were brainwashed. He noted that:

Brainwashing is a highly offensive charge that suggests the Black mind is defective or has gone to sleep. In a world where Black intelligence is constantly maligned and denigrated and underestimated, this cuts deeper than the quick. Alleging that we’re not intelligent enough to make rational political decisions would hurt if it weren’t so comical coming from his mouth.
Does Mr. Touré also feel the pain in his quick for poor white people who are often maligned as hillbillies, white trash and rednecks? Let's change the focus of his comments from blacks to the NASCAR crowd and see how it sounds:

Brainwashing is a highly offensive charge that suggests the white mind is defective or has gone to sleep. In a world where southern white intelligence is constantly maligned and denigrated and underestimated, this cuts deeper than the quick. Alleging that NASCAR lovers are not intelligent enough to make rational political decisions would hurt if it weren’t so comical coming from his mouth.
Brainwashing does not suggest that the mind is defective. Everyone is susceptible to a brainwash. I suspect that if a certain cultural or religious group of whites voted in lock step at rates at or above 90 percent for Republicans, Mr. Touré might not bristle so vociferously at the notion of a brainwash.

Mr. Touré then asks, "... has the GOP offered a reasonable alternative?" to the brainwash. Um, yes. The subject of your article Mr. Touré. And the other 6 or 7 people showing up to the Republican debates. The whole point of Cain making the brainwash reference was to jar the black community into considering ideas from him or anyone else from the Republican side of the aisle.

Moving on to Mr. Touré's second objection, he feels that Obama certainly was and is partaking of the "black experience" in America. Well, not exactly. He notes that you can't define black experience too narrowly. And that even if "Obama has lived a life that’s different than most Black people’s", Obama is black. So therefore what he experiences is the black experience. And anyway, Obama is redefining the experience. Where he is, the experience is. "The mountain came to Muhammad." Of course, no mention that Herman Cain's experiences are the black experience or that they may be redefining the black experience in any way.

Number three. With this objection Mr. Touré drifts perilously close to a Jesse Jackson sing-a-long. In citing his own book, Mr. Touré notes that even his extensive research that consisted of asking "about 100 people" to identify the "the most racist thing that’s ever happened to you," he discovered that more than one third couldn't identify such an act. So rather than conclude, as Herman Cain has, that things are improving in America, Mr. Touré provides the answers for this mysterious racism lacuna: these people just weren't aware of the hidden, subtle, unknowable racism that is modern racism. Maybe they were brainwashed. And no level of success within the black community - not his, not Obama's, not Herman Cain's - is going to refute that racism is everywhere.

Oh, and Touré doesn't like Cain's sense of humor. But Cain's a clown. An unfunny clown. So there.

2011-10-24

Tea Party Racists

It is so sad to see the lack of reason and thinking on the left. Morgan Freeman provides just one of a thousand examples.

One wonders whether in every other election where Republicans opposed the Democratic candidate (and I think that is most of them) it was a racist decision. Ostensibly, the vote against the Democrat in those elections was a racist's vote against policies rather than the actual candidate? However, since the Republican's track record is pretty good on issues of race - and arguably better than the Democrats vis-à-vis abolition, ERA, minorities elected and appointed, etc. - this is a hard argument to make.

Also, to believe that those who would vote for a Republican are somehow now racists since they want to make sure that Obama is unseated, one must believe that if Joe Biden were the president, Republicans would not feel similarly. That is, Republicans would not have a publicly stated policy to do whatever it takes to see to it that Biden only serves one term. One is then left to ask, how would the policies pursued by the Obama administration magically become palatable to Republicans if Joe Biden were pursuing them rather than Obama? I suspect this sort of thought exercise is blithely dismissed just as Mr. Freeman dismissed the conservative desire to unseat President Clinton might indicate that it is policy rather than racism driving the Republican vote.

This is shameful. And a mendacious calumny.



Can we get an "amen" from Sean Penn:



Samuel L. Jackson agrees that "It’s not politics. It is not economics. It all boils down to pretty much to race."

At a gathering of the Congressional Black Caucus some thought the Tea Party should "Go to hell." and that they are racist. Black Tea Partiers are said to have an identity crisis and are "Oreos" - black on the outside and white on the inside. And one attendee repeatedly called Tea Partiers "tea-baggers".



Apparently the left can't just disagree. Questioning the character of those you disagree with is easier.

2011-10-22

Don't Like It? Don't Do It.

Don't like gay marriage? Don't get one.
Don't like abortion? Don't get one.
Don't like drugs? Don't do them.
Don't like sex? Don't have it.
Don't like your rights taken away? Don't take them away from anyone else.

These statements dismiss very difficult issues with very simple expressions. Those who would like to curtail some of these issues typically find them sociologically problematic or immoral. It is oversimplification to simply ask that those that disagree merely opt out. Opting out is not the only method a society can, or should, use to limit behaviors. If this were the case, there would be little need for laws.

Although it may feel morally advantageous to dismiss the complicated issues with admonitions to opt out, are those who recommend opting out as the sole means of relief prepared to accept this advice for their societal concerns? Would they also agree that opting out is appropriate for the following items?

Don't like cigarettes? Don't smoke them.
Don't like incandescent light bulbs? Don't use them.
Don't like corporations? Stop buying their products.
Don't like guns? Don't buy one.
Don't like plastic grocery bags? Don't use them.
Don't like fossil fuels? Don't use them.
Don't like drunk driving? Don't drink and drive.
Don't like profit? Don't pursue it.
Don't like high tax rates? Don't pay them.
Don't like pictures of Muhammad? Don't look at them.
Don't like melamine in your food? Don't eat it.
Don't like slavery? Don't own slaves.
Don't like rape? Don't do it.

It may not be sufficient or appropriate to merely opt out of some or all of these issues. There may be a societal need to restrict or prevent many of the listed behaviors. It hasn't always been apparent to societies that slavery shouldn't merely be an opt out issue. When the liberties of another person are curtailed, as is the case with slavery, there are moral and ethical reasons to not invoke the opt out argument and to have laws that restrict that behavior.

But infringement of individual liberty is not the only area where the opt out argument is unpersuasive. Laws also establish the ideals for a society. Some argue that there is a societal harm if drugs are legalized because it sanctions an objectionable behavior. Feminists make a similar argument for how society is harmed by sexism:
If the vast majority of portrayals of women in the media are of skinny, white, vapid, boy-crazy sex objects with fake breasts, this contributes to a social environment in which women’s worth is determined by their attractiveness to men. It influences young girls looking for role models, it affects how older women feel about themselves, and it justifies pretty rancid behavior towards real, non-fictional women. I am totally into empowerment and whatnot, but it’s hard to buck a trend that’s pervasive, constant, and rewarded. Because I think these portrayals are socially damaging, I think it is my responsibility to call out sexist images when I see them, and ask for them to be changed, whether or not I am consuming the media in which they appear.
Obviously that feminist does not think it is sufficient to merely opt out. She is hoping to influence, guide and affect societal norms. And to the degree she can control the behavior of others, she will. Many university campuses impose speech codes to combat issues such as these. It is not far fetched to imagine the codification of such controls in law.

Society is continually asking "What is it that constitutes the moral?" Immoral behaviors and actions and their social implications concern many people. Certainly the previously quoted feminist is concerned with sexist imagery and its social implications. Many who oppose abortion, same sex marriage and drug legalization are also concerned about the social implications of these activities. Likewise, those who combat the unauthorized copying and distribution of music are concerned about the implications of an entire generation who does not regard this activity as illegal. The industry is fighting a perception as much as a legal battle. But, should music industry lawyers be told "If you don't like peer-to-peer sharing of copyrighted material, don't use peer-to-peer sites."?

Many issues cannot be reduced to the libertarian impulse of "I won't interfere with your life; please don't interfere with mine." It may be justified to restrict behaviors when those behaviors are thought to damage societal fabric or infringe the rights of others. One must ask whether a particular behavior should be sanctioned by government and the society. Nobody is forced to use drugs if they are legalized, but societal ideals are established by such laws.

It should be clear that there are activities that people of all political stripes would like to see curtailed or eliminated. As one SCOTUS nominee noted, it is pure mythology to believe that only one side is interested in imposing their morality on a society. All participants in politics want to impose on others as much of their morality as possible. To the degree they have their way in America, it will be through democratic processes. And one or the other's morality will prevail and be imposed.

2011-10-18

Classless

Politico wonders about the President's campaign tactics:
Allegations that Republicans want sick people to die and hate homosexuals are caricatures you might expect of an extreme House member or a raving partisan running for local office. That a president would say — or even believe — such things is deeply disturbing.
But in these same remarks, Obama also subtly suggested something far worse — that his opponents are racially biased.
Democracy presupposes that both sides accept that the other speaks with goodness from the heart — if sometimes in error.

But if the other side is not just wrong but ill-intentioned, the rationale for sharing power evaporates.

Class warfare is a dangerous game, unjustly turning a small segment of society into villains. But cultural warfare is poisonous, threatening to sicken and cripple the entire society.
Not only that, but GOP'ers want "dirtier air, dirtier water, less people with health insurance."
My plan says we’re going to put teachers back in the classroom, construction workers back to work rebuilding America, rebuilding our schools, tax cuts for small businesses, tax cuts for hiring veterans, tax cuts if you give your worker a raise,” said Obama. “That’s my plan. Then you’ve got their plan, which is, let’s have dirtier air, dirtier water, less people with health insurance. So far at least, I feel better about my plan.
Krauthammer also notes Obama's campaign rhetoric:
It’s crude. It’s Manichaean. And the left loves it. As a matter of math and logic, however, it’s ridiculous. Obama’s most coveted tax hike — an extra 3 to 4.6 percent for millionaires and billionaires (weirdly defined as individuals making more than $200,000) — would have reduced last year’s deficit (at the very most) from $1.29 trillion to $1.21 trillion. Nearly a rounding error. The oil-drilling breaks cover less than half a day’s federal spending. You could collect Obama’s favorite tax loophole — depreciation for corporate jets — for 100 years and it wouldn’t cover one month of Medicare, whose insolvency is a function of increased longevity, expensive new technology and wasteful defensive medicine caused by an insane malpractice system.

2011-10-16

Occupy Wall Street Cleanliness

The Daily Show examines how the protesters are treating the local businesses.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Wall Street Occupied
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The New York Times discusses this too.
Zuccotti Park is privately owned but open to the public. Melissa Coley, a spokeswoman for Brookfield Office Properties, which owns the park, said in a statement that sanitation conditions had reached “unacceptable levels.”
In a widely distributed pamphlet, “Welcome to Liberty Plaza: Home of Occupy Wall Street,” participants were instructed where to find relief. “After you’ve dined,” it reads, “feel free to refresh yourself in the restrooms of neighboring businesses like Burger King and McDonald’s without feeling obligated to buy anything.”

2011-10-12

Headline Bias?

Isn't it odd that the NYTimes would focus on the religious divide rather than the shared values of Evangelicals and Romney in this article?

Somewhere deep in the penetralia of the NYTimes, somebody decided - whether consciously or not - to give this bit of news a unfavorable twist. A more convivial headline editor may have suggested "Evangelical supports Romney" to better reflect the overall message of the story.

Here is an metaphor for the intrinsic bias that may be at work.  Think of the story as a top. The top can either be spun clockwise or counterclockwise to initiate its pirouette. The top is the same collection of molecules that predictably spins about the center pivot whether spun one way or the other - that is, the facts of the story are the same no matter which way it is spun. But the top's path and disposition is affected by its direction of rotation.

The decision about which way to twist the spintop may not be a function of some directional intent. It may just be the result of whether one is left-handed or right-handed. Although not necessarily a conscious decision to impart a particular spin direction, this physical bias certainly imposes a spin direction whether intended or not.

If you read to the end of the article, you discover that in spite of his theological disagreements, the Pastor said “I’m going to instruct, I’m going to advise people that it is much better to vote for a non-Christian who embraces biblical values than to vote for a professing Christian like Barack Obama who embraces un-biblical values.” A 'right-handed' editor might have headlined the article "Republican Big Tent Has Room For All Faiths."

But the NYTimes editor chose to highlight the theological quarrels that an Evangelical Pastor has with a Mormon candidate. The editor might just as well have reminded us that Rabbis do not acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah and that Protestants think the Pope is a heretic. Not exactly press-stopping scoops.

But if "Imam Calls Obama's Pastor An Infidel" headlined an article that ultimately acknowledged that the Imam encouraged Muslims to vote for Obama based on shared values in spite of their theological differences, one would rightly wonder why such a divisive headline was necessary. Similarly, the selection of "Prominent Pastor Calls Romney’s Church a Cult" as the headline for this article is unnecessarily provocative.

In these times when many lament the "narrow visions" and "deep political divides," and some pine for the days when "we can all just get along," one might imagine the Times would be interested in giving the reader a literary warm hug by highlighting the 'let's-get-along' attitude demonstrated by this preacher who was willing to set aside some major doctrinal differences.

However, maybe this headline was not intended to mislead the casual reader by suggesting that Romney has been excommunicated from the Evangelical ballot. Maybe that is too negative a read of what was intended. The writer may have been providing context so that the reader could fully appreciate the magnitude of compromise that the Pastor was willing to make.

Or maybe the devil made him do it.

2011-10-07

Occupy Wall Street

Finally the lid has blown off the pressure cooker. The left has needed a protest cause du jour for some time now.

The left just can't find it within themselves to protest the continuation of the (so called) incompetent Bush/Darth Vader Cheney policies under Obama. Their tongues have been tied over Guantanamo, rendition, drone attacks, collateral damage, increased troops, blood for oil, colonialism, imperialism, globalization, no-bid contracts, habeas corpus, civilian court/tribunals and the Patriot Act. There are no movies, personal interest stories or news stories on the horrors of war, families left behind, increased alcoholism and homicide rates, post-traumatic stress disorder or casket cavalcades.

Protesting is hobby for many on the left. And having their guy in office greatly curtails the amount of hobby horse riding they can engage in; they have to ride less, with less whooping and hollering and they can't kick up as much dust.

Since the left places the majority of the blame for the ills of the world on external circumstances, they are predisposed to marches and fist-shaking at those forces that muck up the world. Grievance politics is a natural outcome of this vision. Capitalism, greed, racism, sexism and any number of other external evils are the boot on the neck of the proletariat and if not for that impediment, the land of milk and honey would spring forth.

Those on the right more readily look inward which in part explains why they don't need to march nearly so much as those on the left. And personal responsibility marches against oneself lack the telegenic appeal of "taking the bridge", likely explaining why even if these personal accountability marches are occurring, we don't see much of them on the nightly news.

But "Wall Street" is an evergreen villain that they can circle the wagons around and around which they can kick up as much dust as they like. Since President Obama has gerrymandered the issue by championing nonsense like the Buffet brocard and increased tax rates for $200,000 millionaires, this is safe territory for dust raising and other "highest form of patriotism" activities. (I am sure Jefferson – or whoever actually said that since he didn't – would be proud. Unless, of course, Tea Partiers are kicking up a little dust, then it is unpatriotic rabble-rousing.)

It is surprising that it took so long for the left to find something to shout about. Apparently WTO hasn't been to town recently. But clearly, with their man at the tiller, they had to be careful to make sure that what they grouse about did not bring harm to their man or cause.

Enter the practiced complainant Barack Obama. He crafted a complaint against the wealthy Wall Street elites (from whom he derives a lot of financial support) while avoiding the disdain of those he attacked. It is as though he accused his spouse of infidelity, proposed to imprison her for the offense, and did it with such conviction and enough magician's patter that the spouse took up his cause and marched on behalf of her own incarceration. Skillful indeed.

But this slight of hand created the opening the protesters needed. It was now safe to rally against jack-bootery while wearing jack-boots. Even Michael Moore was probably tiring of the blame Bush mantra and was anxious for a more current event to wag his finger - and tongue - at, especially given the strange documentary topic drought that has devastated his industry as of late.

But finally, the gnawing angst that the left should be marching against the continuation of Bush-era policies overseas has been blown away by the patchouli scented breeze of protest and bridge taking. A villain has been found. Fingers can be pointed. Blame can be assigned. Everything is comfortable once again.

And they lived happily ever after.

2011-10-06

Papal Infallibility

When a person says that the science has been settled, why isn't this considered to be as silly as Papal infallibility? 

2011-10-05

Notable Quotable

I would prefer to live in communities where there are people who believe there is a God and are trying to live up to a standard that is higher than a legal standard.
~ Lee Habeeb

2011-09-27

Notable Quotable

In response to the San Francisco nude in:
Most things that people do that are stupid and destructive and disgusting, I have some impulse to do those things. But taking off my clothes in public; this is nothing I've ever wanted to do.
~ Michael Medved

2011-09-21

Notable Quotable

Lord, Make me chaste, but not yet.
St. Augustine
Sounds like those who are against reducing spending and marching further down the road of Keynesian indebtedness.

2011-09-16

The Left No Longer Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks

Where are Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, Al Sharpton, Martin Sheen, Code Pink, Whoopi Goldberg, the novels about assassinating the president , the movies about the assassinating the president and MoveOn.org? (more)

We are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. We had another war in Libya. Renditions, preventive detention and tribunals still continue. Guantanamo is still open. Predator assassinations are quintupled over what the evil George W. Bush and Darth Vader Cheney had done. Troops have increased in Afghanastan. Foreign policy is very similar as when Bush was in office. And none of this was undone, overturned or rejected – as was advocated during the election – when the Democrats controlled Congress and the White House from 2009-2011.

And yet, no protests. No name calling. No hand wringing about the moral condition of our leaders.

Where are the howls of protest against an indecent and immoral war that is trading blood for oil?

Where are the anti-war protest marches in Hollywood, San Francisco and other less ideologically myopic and insular cloisters?

Where are the accusations of foreign adventurism, racism, imperialism, colonialism, corporatism and globalization?

Where are the movies depicting our soldiers and intelligence officers as rapists, murderers and torturers? (You can be sure there will be a patriotic, glowing, military love-fest of a flicker show depicting the bin Laden assassination released, oh, somewhere around October of 2012. Curious timing, that.)

Where are the accusations of crony politics and paybacks for no-bid contracts to continue this bully war?

Where are the fist-pumping, rule-of-law types demanding constitutional and moral justification for circumventing habeas corpus, civilian court trials, tribunals, appeals, or any other protection that might be offered to an enemy combatant? Where is the outrage for just brazenly acting as judge, jury and executioner by killing suspects with Predator drones? Or for being judge, jury and executioner for bin Laden when so much to-do was made over giving KSM a civilian trial?

Where is the outrage about the collateral damage that results from a 'more rubble, less trouble' brand of warfare that indiscriminately launches hellfire missiles into a compound to execute suspected terrorists, incinerating innumerable innocents in the process? Where is the criticism for this blood-lust?

Where is the ruckus from the civil liberties crowd in opposition to the Patriot Act?

Where are the daily body counts and stirring videos of the caskets coming home?

Where are the moving personal interest stories about the wives left behind and the heightened alcoholism, suicides and murders committed by returning soldiers resulting from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

Why are these things now considered excessively divisive? Were these concerns ever sincerely held? Is the opposition dropped because it does not suit the protesters politically? Were these sycophants merely creating a partisan atmosphere of "Bush lied, people died" for the purpose of getting their guy elected? Why aren't those on the political right using these items as targets of opportunity, criticizing the policies and demonizing members of the administration beyond caricature (think Cheney)?

Can this be chalked up to cynicism? Hypocrisy?

Are we to believe that just repackaging the Bush policies as "overseas contingency operations" and "man-caused disasters" and banning the use of the words jihadist, terrorist and Islamacist somehow transforms the policies? Are those protesters on the left so easily tricked that they don't recognize the renamed policies? Is their ability to tease out nuance completely disarmed by the hope and change mantra?

Is this a case of "behind every apparent double standard is an unconfessed single standard"? That is, if somebody is in office and is a conservative or Republican, then assume that the motives are all evil, nefarious and inhumane and attack every action, but when the officeholder is a liberal or Democrat then pas d'ennemis à gauche?

Has it all been a political ruse similar to previous political posturing on a different issue that has been acknowledged by President Obama and Harry Reid?

Victor Davis Hanson's observation seems to suggest that maybe all of the pre-election hoopla was just that:
In his first year in the White House, Barack Obama, a war critic and foe of the Bush-Cheney protocols, embraced or expanded almost all of the measures that he and the liberal wing of the Democratic Party had long derided—apparently because what had seemed superfluous to a candidate proved essential to a president with responsibility for the safety of 300 million people.
This analysis is strikingly similar to Obama's own admission about how he handled the debt crisis prior to the 2008 election:
I think that it's important to understand the vantage point of a Senator versus the vantage point of a...President.

As President, you start realizing, "You know what? We-- we can't play around with this stuff. This is the full faith in credit of the United States." And so that was just a example of a new Senator, you know, making what is a political vote as opposed to doing what was important for the country.
Either the Republican allegations about Sen. Obama's lack of experience were right, Sen. Obama was woefully ignorant or Sen. Obama demagogued the issue for political gain. No matter what the reason, he now admits that his actions were dangerous and irresponsible. How is it that the "Presi-dunce" George W. Bush was able to see and understand what the 'articulate , bright, clean, nice-looking' Obama was unable to see? And is that same slandering-the-policy-before-adopting-the-policy dynamic used by Sen. Obama with regard to raising the debt limit at play with the wars and foreign policy? Is Pres. Obama willing to admit that this demagogic election cycle deny-it-before-you-buy-it tactic just as dangerous and irresponsible in the case of war and foreign policy? Has this voting for something before voting against methodology ever been used before?

Pres. Obama seems to be quite comfortable with perpetuating policies that he previously identified as absurd. Let's call it ex codice absurdum.  Law eminating from absurdity is not new and is not the exclusive province of one party or the other. Normally the practitioner believes the absurdity for which the law is crafted - at least making the policy well intended (SF Happy Meal Ban, SF circumcision ban). Or a new law might be the reaction to some other half-baked absurdity (SF nudity problem). But usually one does not so brazenly rail against a policy in advance of supporting said policy. At least not without an open apology or an admission of a change of heart. This sort of two-faced approach to policy is demagoguery, chutzpah and subterfuge on stilts. A kind of adultery done on a national scale where the populice is cheated on by law makers.  Hypocricy with the addition of intent to deceive.

Ex codice absurdum, where law makers no longer merely rely on absurdity to guide policy, but where they embrace what they previously identified as absurd, immoral or evil policy.

Where is the gatekeeper to call out this level of hypocrisy?

Maybe all this civility toward the sitting president has come about because of a change of heart on the part of the media. Or maybe because Oprah called for more civility to be shown to President Obama when she said "Even if you're not in support of his policies, there needs to be a certain level of respect." Who can know?

But one wonders if the country will drive deep into the character assassination swamp of yesteryear if a Republican is back in the White House.

---
John Stossel, FBN

2011-09-13

Notable Quotable

The right thinks evil is real. The left thinks evil Israel.

Notable Quotable

The question, "What did Ameriaca do to deserve 9/11?" was a big question on the left. "What did we do to make people hate us so much?" There is no difference between that question and "What did the Jews do to make Germans hate them?" or "What did blacks do to make those that lynched them hate them?" Maybe a better question is to ask what did the culture that raised the 19 hijackers do to create such monsters.
~Dennis Prager

2011-09-08

Heated Rhetoric

After the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in January, President Obama encouraged everyone to be nice.
But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.
This came on the heels of many lectures about the consequences of actions such as the use of crosshairs to identify districts targeted by the Tea Party for the elections. This use of crosshairs and statements made by the Palin campaign - as well as the general tone and rhetoric of the Tea party - were, if not directly, implied as the motivating cause of the violence against Ms. Giffords.

A lot of hand wringing occurred because of the potential for violence that might take place as a result of the rhetoric on the right. We were told that it was time to finally engage in a long overdue conversation about the violent rhetoric and imagery polluting national political discourse. Even Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik weighed in with some heated rhetoric about the heated rhetoric. There was a lot of rhetoric back then.
I'd just like to say that when you look at unbalanced people, how they are - how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths, about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous.
Time asked, "Is Violent Rhetoric Behind the Attack on Giffords?"

The Salt Lake Tribune condemned "violent rhetoric that crosses all lines of decency and adds nothing to political debates," and that "The words and deeds of Sarah Palin... are examples of this trend."

Joe Scarborough commented that
Just because the dots between violent rhetoric and violent actions don't connect in this case doesn't mean you can afford to ignore the possibility -- or, as many fear, the inevitability -- that someone else will soon draw the line between them." "Despite what we eventually learned about the shooter in Tucson, should the right have really been so shocked that many feared a political connection between the heated rhetoric of 2010 and the shooting of Giffords?
Rachael Maddow took Scarborough's query to the next level with her twist on the "Have you stopped beating your wife?" line of reasoning:
As several commenters have noted, there's no indication that the alleged shooter was politically motivated. Even if the perpetrator turns out to have been seriously involved in political causes, which again there's no evidence of, his actions will likely remain senseless. What we can say is that today's shooting, whatever its motivation, comes after an election season that was marked by the language of violence...
One expects Maddow to ask her readers to "disregard the statement" after ringing the bell with the statement above. But statements such as this were commonplace across the media landscape at the time.

Only a small child would equate crosshairs on a district map signifying political battlegrounds as a mandate to commit violence against the current office holder. Apparently metaphors are beyond the pale if they include any references to battles, fighting or contentiousness and politics should never escalate further than a pillow fight.

Well, maybe not so fast with that pillow talk. Jimmy Hoffa fomented the "army" of "working people" who "like a good fight" who are "ready to march" because they "got a war" with the Tea Party and that there will "only be one winner" because "we're gonna win that war." And to the cheering approval of the crowd, with his fist raised, he said "And, let's take these son of a bitches out..."

video

SIDEBAR: Why are union members the only people deserving of the moniker "working people"? Do non-union people work? Is everybody else lazily sitting at home on their hands?

Hoffa made these introductory remarks prior to President Obama's Labor Day address. And the response?

Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz couldn't find it in herself to condemn the toxic language.

Press Secretary Jay Carney said "Can we move on?"

CNN's John King couldn't seem to squeeze a question about the heated rhetoric into his six minute interview with Hoffa.

Apparently Rep. Andre Carson and Hoffa are of like mind on matters of civility. And is this the civility we are to embrace?

Or is it as Krauthammer said, "Civil discourse is a one-way street if you’re a Democrat."





Jay Carney also noted:
I understand that there is a ritual in Washington that, you know, somebody says something, and you link the associations, and then everybody who has an association with him or her has to avow or disavow. The President wasn’t there, he wasn’t on the stage, he didn’t speak for another twenty minutes, he didn’t hear it. I really don’t have any comment beyond that.
There is a striking similarity here to the William Ayers distance policy. One of the responses given to distance candidate Obama from his recent associations with Ayers was:
Senator Obama strongly condemns the violent actions of the Weathermen group, as he does all acts of violence. But he was an eight-year-old child when Ayers and the Weathermen were active, and any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost forty years ago is ridiculous.
It may be true that Senator Obama condemns violence and the acts of Bill Ayers. But why argue that because something occurred 40 years ago that it is irrelevant or that therefore no connection is possible? The Holocaust happened some 50+ years ago, but there are still those - even some who may have only been eight years old at the time - who feel it was appropriate to gas Jews. Distance isn't the issue. Condemnation and separation from those who performed and condone the acts is.

In Obama's defense, one cannot be held accountable for the actions of every acquaintance one has. And an idea is not responsible for the people who believe in it. So to make Obama responsible for the foibles of every fellow sojourner on the left is a bit silly. But terrorism and Hoffa's behavior at a presidential speaking engagement - although widely separated by degree - rise above a mere foible.

But it is the time element used to dismiss any association that is disturbing. And the recent kerfuffle over Hoffa's statements re-exposed this oddity. Carney offered the argument that the President wasn't there and that Hoffa's comments occurred twenty minutes prior to his arrival as though it somehow relieves the President of his moral obligation to chastise Hoffa for the offensive comments.

The comments occurred. The President spoke from the stage where the comments were made. However tenuous, that puts him at the scene of the crime. Whether they occurred twenty minutes - or forty years - prior, once he is aware that they were made, should he not forcefully condemn them? Why not simply state
Although I am a supporter of unions, Mr. Hoffa's comments were vulgar and inappropriate. I hope that he will temper his remarks in the future and use language that elevates, rather than debases, even when he has strong disagreements with those on the other side of the aisle. His language, in that setting, not only denigrates those he disagrees with, it sullies and disgraces the gathering, the participants, his office, his movement and the office of the Presidency. We should seek to elevate the participants and the discourse in political debate. Attacking the dignity of those we disagree with is not up to the standard of character that we should all strive for. We should do better than personal attacks. Mr. Hoffa should have done better. And I am confident that in the future he will.
Something similar could have been said regarding the boorish behavior of many during the Wisconsin budget battle. (Examples here, here, and here.)

Or is this a case of pas d'ennemis à gauche?