Friday, December 30, 2011

Flamethrowers, Street Skiing and Tree Fishing

Colorado is one of the healthiest states in the nation.  We love the outdoors.

Sanders, my long-haired former-hippie neighbor turned libertarian, is one of those people who could look 50, or 25, depending on how you turned your head and what frame of mind you were in when you were looking at him. He acts like he’s 15 and sometimes wears funny hats or severe-looking heavy framed tortoise shell eyeglasses, which produces in me an odd combination of fear and amusement.

“Dude, you gotta get one of these!” he shouted as he cranked up the flamethrower he was wielding.

We were standing on his deck imbibing 471 Small Batch Double IPA's from Breckenridge Brewery, and when the blast hit his Weber kettle grill, I had to admit it did an admirable job catching the coals on fire. I also noted the singed branches overhanging the deck, and I made a mental note of the blackened portion of his guttering and soffits. He caught my casting glances and chuckled in spite of himself.

Of course I ignored his advice. I’ve got a gas grill anyway. The guy just ain’t all there. He’s got a medical marijuana prescription due to an injury he sustained when he hit a parked car while skiing. How did that happen? It wasn’t up at Monarch, where if you got really, really wild coming down Gunbarrel it could be technically feasible; it happened (appropriately) on Race Street here in town. His girlfriend (or ‘old lady’ as he refers to her), got him a nice pair or Rossignols for Christmas and he just couldn’t wait to try them out so he strapped on and headed down the street, in boxers, a ski jacket and WW II pilot aviators goggles an uncle had given him.  

I can’t really knock him for it. I’ve done some dumb stuff myself. Every spring I test out my fishing rods by casting down the street with a one ounce weight attached. Almost put out a mail truck’s windshield once, and I accidentally tore a birdhouse out of a neighbor’s tree with my Eagle Claw open-face. I use the extra heavies to get the bale to completely unwind, but it can have negative and far reaching consequences.

My friends and I did some street skiing back when I lived in Denver. We were supposed to take a day trip up to Keystone, but ironically, a blizzard hit and all the snow closed I-70. I don’t remember anyone wracking themselves up like Sanders did, but I do remember us falling down laughing when Dave did a nice kick turn off of Jamaica Street onto Colfax and passed a snow plow that was diligently chugging along. Jim from next door came out with one of those huge bottles of Jack Daniels. After some generous chugging, one of us, can’t remember who, slid into a neighbor’s house, causing her to poke her head out the front door and threaten to call the police. That’s when we decided to go back inside.

If we weren't suppose to eat animals, how come they're made of meat?

Anyway, I started out wanting to post on grilling, and I guess I got sidetracked. If you enjoy grilling, smoking or BBQing, The Ugly Brothers have some pretty good tips on their web site. Their Grillosophy Page is a treasure trove of outdoor cooking wisdom. Whether you’re new to the grill or an old hand, you’ll find some worthwhile stuff there.

I’m grilling beer butt chicken and smoking ribs for New Years, how about you?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Gentle Answer Turneth Away Wrath

The most interesting and intelligent thread of the Year

I have read threads that are more interesting, usually in a weird or twisted way; and there are threads that contain conversation more intelligent than this one. But this thread over at Z's excellent blog, GeeeeeZ!, is an effective combination of the two, and it is a testament to Z’s always excellent topic selection and commentary as well as her patience.

What is it about Ron Paul that makes the crazy train go off the rails?

It started out on the subject of Ron Paul, and slowly degenerated into an angry, snarky shouting match, with Z having to step in to bank the fiery passions. She’s quite a moderator as well as a gracious host, proving true the passage from Proverbs about a gentle answer turning away wrath.

I could see that the thread was causing our beloved Z much anguish, but I’ve got to congratulate her for stimulating such a conversation. Beamish can be insulting, but he’s also very logical and he brings the supporting info for his arguments (which I suspect is what steams his rivals more than the insults.) I tangled with him once, but I’ve got to give the man credit. He knows how to argue his point, and other than the barbed ad-hominem, I was with him all the way on his anti-Ron Paul comments. 

Anyway, Beamish ended up insulting everyone, to the point of driving some commenters away. After some behind the scenes e-mailing between Z and some commenters, Z elicited an apology from him for turning the thread into a barroom brawl, which is no small feat. He sincerely apologized to Z without conceding the point of his argument.

A rare conversation on race that makes sense

The best part of the thread came at the end, when a liberal black man named Net Observer stepped in. I apologize for the labels. I use them only to provide a frame of reference. Mere shorthand tags do not do justice to this wise man, and although a Democrat, he says he is personally conservative, and I believe him. Go read his comments and it will all make sense. 

He said some pretty profound things about race in this country. I had heard the different pieces of his comments from various different people, but he synthesized them and stated them quite eloquently, readily offering that the thoughts were not wholly his own. He displayed a rare quality of being able to put oneself outside the debate, dispassionately analyze it, and then honestly put it back together. He is the rare person who can really see both sides, and articulate it. Go down towards the end of the thread and check out the dialog between him and Kid (a wise man himself). They are decidedly not the cowards that Eric Holder referred to.

Net Observer points out that it is not damning to incidentally share some non-racist views with people who are racist:
Whenever I talk about conservatives sharing common ground with white racialists on various race-based issues, you and other decent conservatives take strong offense. For the record, I don't blame you for taking offense. Frankly, I like the fact that you DO, because it so underlines your seriousness about the ugliness of racial prejudice.
To whites who ask why President Obama, or responsible black men like himself do not straighten out the gangbanger black youth, Net Observer says…
What if said to you, "Z, what are YOU and the other good conservatives doing about those white racialists you share common ground with? Why don't you guys speak out against it more?"
If I did that, ultimately, I think I would be placing an unfair burden on you. Because pragmatically, there's not a whole lot you can do about some independent white racialists having a few conservative opinions. Bottom line, despite the similarities, you have no real connection to those guys.
And like most blacks, I don't have any real connection to those lawless, prison-bound idiots whose skin looks like mine.
He nails the issue here, but does not damn white people with his comments; he is just describing what he sees and hears. It is an excellent explanation...
But the conflicts between blacks and conservatives are mostly based around not the basic facts, but a lack of trust. African-Americans are solid Democrats; which means they lean left. Conservatives don't trust the left.
Conversely, conservatives, unfortunately, share common ground with racialists and racists on issues like immigration, profiling, etc. So, from the point of view of a left-leaning black guy, conservatives look kinda racist.
There are some lessons in all of this... 

First, Z did not respond in kind, but kept her head and calmed things down without resorting to wielding a censorious meat ax. Beamish, although enjoying an extraordinary gift for debating and being in possession of the facts, turns people off with his pin-prickish manner. Finally, a black, liberal Obama voter shows up and displays a cultural insight, eloquence and understanding that are so rare nowadays, and conservatives warm to him.

It was an excellent dialog between Net Observer and Kid, full of Socratic intelligence, candor and goodwill, and Z is to be congratulated for hosting such a forum, even if it does at times cause her to become distraught.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Is Christopher Hitchens Roasting in Hell?

A distasteful subject...

... especially during Christmastime, when we celebrate the birth of our savior.  It is made only slightly more palatable by the though of Hitch decking the Korean pot-bellied pig upon the face to face encounter, while Saint Peter busily checks the rolls in front of the pearly gates.

I do not enjoy such speculation.  I have my own salvation to work out "in fear and trembling," but Bill Bennett started it by going out of his way and off topic during a CBS interview, to say this...

"He was left and I was right.  We had great debates, great drinking bouts...  And I hope that, being the big atheist that he was, he's in for a big surprise."
Pretty ungracious for a man who extols the Socratic virtues of intelligence, candor and goodwill.

Granted, Christians have a duty to rage against the slouching, pablum-powered It's-all-good-universalism that completely ignores The Bible, but that statement was particularly harsh.

Bennett's apparently premeditated outburst sparked Allahpundit to explore three possible fates for our beloved writer:

1) He's damned.
2) He secretly converted, which he pegs as an insult to a man of strong and clear atheistic convictions who made his deathbed and unblinkingly laid down upon it.
3) “well, maybe God will cut him a break.”

Allahpundit marvels at how many Christians who loved Hitch's work fall into the third category.  He concludes...
"... he’ll go down in history as a blasphemer of world-beating vehemence — and yet there are still millions of believers who so love and admire him for his art that, in spite of it all, they’re straining to somehow get him off the hook with God anyway. Now that’s a legacy."  (Allahpundit)
Ross Douthat explores the third possibility in Hitchens and Hell, giving us a thumbnail sketch of theological thought that supports the salvation of Christopher Hitchens, concluding...
Rather, the point is that we just don’t know. As Henry James had it: “Never say you know the last word about any human heart.” Or in the words of Saint Paul: “For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face.” Both the goats and the sheep are surprised by God’s judgment. And even for the most confident believer, the plain words of the New Testament suggest that Christopher Hitchens’ ultimate fate will count among the least of the next life’s many surprises. (Douthat)
Doctoral candidate in theology Kevin Considine asks a provocative question about the eternal fate of Kim Jong Il, a rapist dictator responsible for the death of millions.  It could just as easily be asked about the fate of Christopher Hitchens, or any one of us...
So, we are forced to live in ambiguity. We have no way of knowing. So maybe the better question to ponder is this: should we want there to be salvation for such a brutal man, even if justice is somehow achieved as a prerequisite? And what does it say about me (and us) if I prefer a “pound of bloody flesh” to trump God’s ridiculous love for all human beings? I’m not sure I want to answer that question. (Considine)
If that statement intrigues you, follow the link and read the short article. Also, read the comment threat; it contains some thoughtful responses.

But more importantly, what do you think?

Link:  Considine - Is there salvation for Kim Jong Il?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Save Your Computer

Is it right to harbor hate-filled thoughts of people burning in hell?  

I know it's Christmastime, but I couldn't help it.  One of my computers caught a particularly nasty virus.  It was the one that looks like an antivirus program.  It ended up attaching itself to critical Windows 7 processes, so it could not be removed and it tore up the firewall in the process.

I may have picked it up investigating naked women riding scooters, or it could have been the kids downloading time-wasting games.  Regardless, I got it and couldn't get rid of it.

I went out to some on-line forums looking for a solution, and all I ended up doing was wallowing in the cries of the angry and frustrated.  Here's a few of my favorite comments...
"I'd like to get my hands on the son of a bitch that did this.  I've removed it three times and it keeps coming back."
"Murder is forefront in my mind."
And I agree with them.

Fortunately, I was prepared.  I recommend everyone own a 500 GB to 1 TB external USB drive (They go for around $100) to back up anything you care about.  I do.  That way, worst case scenario happens and you still have your family pictures and important documents.  I own four of them because I have a lot of music and video

A Cheap Insurance Policy

I could not clean my computer, but I did not despair.  Why?  Because I made a complete system image when I first got my computer.  Here is how I do it, and I recommend everyone do something similar.  A little advanced planning can get you back up and running when disaster strikes.

In addition to an external drive, you will also need another hard drive, and a blank DVD.  Here's what I do when I get a new computer:

1.  Decrapify the computer.  Remove all the trial versions, crapware and other useless stuff.
2.  Install good stuff.  Spybot, Windows Defender or AVG Free Edition, and all your other software
3.  Do a Spybot scan, virus scan Disk scan, Defrag
4.  Use Control Panel/Backup and Restore to Create a Rescue Disk
5.  Use Control Panel/Backup and Restore to Create a System Image and put it on your external USB Drive
6.  Take the hard drive out of your computer, label it, and set it aside.  Install the brand new hard drive
7.  Boot your computer using the rescue disk you made, and when prompted select 'restore system image'
8.  Point the restore process to the USB drive where your system image resides
9.  Windows will create a clone on the new hard drive and then boot up to Windows 7.

Once the process completes and Windows starts, you are done.  You now have the exact computer you had before, but on a new drive.  You also now have an emergency hard drive ready to go if disaster strikes.

If you don't want to spring for the second drive, you can still follow these steps to make a system image, and if heaven forbid something goes wrong with your computer, you can boot up using the the rescue disk and restore your system.  Be sure to save off any files and settings first!  This process completely wipes your disk, eradicating any spyware, viruses or other useless stuff junking up your computer.

Doing this faithfully for each of my computers has saved me more than once.

Happy computing!

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Favorite Santa

Ilya Repin: Saint Nicholas 
saves three innocents from 

A two-fisted Santa who was strong enough to take a beating for his faith, and could also dish one out, is my kind of Santa...

Depending on how you roll, theologically speaking, this is either the First Day or the Second Day of Christmas. While Christ is the reason for the season, Santa Claus, or St. Nicholas, has taken a prominent role.

We've all heard various legends surrounding St Nicholas, as well as the different traditions. Professor James Parker of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has written an interesting article that brings out some of the lesser-known information about the Proto-Santa, who most historians agree was a real bishop in what is now modern-day Turkey.
"He's making a list and checking it twice, he's going to find out who's naughty or nice."
We're familiar with the Nicholas who grew up rich and apparently enjoyed giving away his inherited wealth to help those less fortunate.  But as the late Paul Harvey would say:  Now, for the rrrrrest of the story...

He was jailed and beaten by the Romans for worshiping Jesus, emerging from prison bloody and scarred, but unbowed. Legend has it he administered a beatdown to Arius at the council of Nicea for the heresiarch's assertion that Christ was mere creature. Probably apocryphal, but it's entertaining to think about, and as legends do, it most likely reveals a "Santa" that is anything but happy and fluffy, but rather and strong man willing to fight for his faith. 

So let those who care not for Christianity continue with their secularized Santa. Join in on the fun next year without so much as a pang of guilt! We know the truth...

The Real Santa Claus is Worth Remembering

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

* - Hector Garrido's "Jesus, Light of the World"

I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year! 

Snoopy's Christmas

One for the children, big and small...

Now put away the computer and go celebrate Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Season's Greetings!

What do "The Holidays" Mean to You?
"Tenderness for the past, vapid generalities for the present, evasive abstractions for the future," (Mark Steyn - Merry Christmas from Satan Claus)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Zuzu's Story

I love the movie, It's a Wonderful Life. We watch it every year at Rancho Silverfiddle. Grandpappy Silverfiddle is sick of the movie, because once the copyright expired it looped endlessly on public TV because stations didn't have to pay for it

 The Washington Post published an article back in November entitled, For Zuzu of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ it wasn’t such a wonderful life afterward.

They tell the story of Karolyn Grimes, the child actress who played Zuzu. She had more than her share of tragedy in her life, and she never saw the famous movie she acted in until well into adulthood:
“I never saw movies I was in because my mom told me that would be prideful, being stuck on yourself,” said Grimes. [...]
Working full time and raising seven children, the 39-year-old Grimes had no time to spare, much less to sit around watching television. But something tugged at her as she saw snatches of snow-clogged streets of small-town America and people she thought she knew.
"Then it hit me,” said Grimes. “I was in that movie. I was Zuzu.” (WaPo)
George Bailey is a Capitalist

Liberals claim a monopoly on George Bailey, and cast all of the sins of capitalism upon Mr. Potter, but it's not quite so simple. George Bailey is a capitalist, bravely fighting the well-connected crony crapitalist who uses his DC connections in his campaign to shut down market competition and lock up the town as his own personal fiefdom.

Jon Corzine is a modern-day Mr. Potter

In the movie, George Bailey is driven to the brink of suicide by the prospect of his savings and load going bust because a few thousand dollars cannot be accounted for. Meanwhile, here in real life, we have actual Mr. Potters who are democrats. Uber lib democrat contribution bundler Jon Corzine lost billions, and you can bet he's never entertained the thought of jumping off a bridge into an icy river. And he shouldn't. It's all good! He's rich and well-connected, just the opposite of Jimmy Stewart's humble character.

Politics aside, it really is a wonderful movie. The courtship and honeymoon scenes are beautiful, and the underlying messages are timeless and non-political.  The actress who played Zuzu observed...
“Oh, it was fresh and dark, about as relevant today as it was when it was made,” said Grimes, quieting a moment. “Think of all the people out of work, losing their homes, hungry kids worried about their parents. What’s so different about today and 60 years ago?” (WaPo)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No Magic Bullets, Only Trade-offs

Recently, when conversation here turned to the bounty of fossil fuels North America enjoys, Ducky asked some excellent questions...

How much of these presumed reserves are tar sands and what are the costs of extraction?
Are we certain that fracking isn't going to have negative effects on the water supply?
Is there any reason we shouldn't hedge our bets and invest in renewable energy rather than assuming we can just go on burning coal?
Nothing in Life is Certain

Solar panel and battery manufacturing requires mining for rare earth and common minerals, damaging the environment. Also the manufacturing process for these products produces trace chemical runoff and other toxic byproducts. Nothing against them; nothing is perfect.

Even forsaking all modern technology and returning to the land like Grizzly Adams or the Engels family would end up destroying our environment. Burning wood and building log cabins would cause extreme deforestation, and 200 million outhouses could not be good for our groundwater. As we all returned to growing our own food, sewing our own clothes, with global transportation grinding to a crawl, we would lose the synergistic efficiencies brought to us by free market specialization.
"...the following logic does not work: something bad happens when frakking is done therefore we must halt frakking. The reason this logic does not work is that whenever anything is done something bad happens: and there’s not much point in our all being around if we’re therefore to ban absolutely everything." (Worstall)
Poisoned groundwater is not a cheery prospect. We need to ask more questions like Ducky. What are the chances of contamination? To what extent? Are some formations more vulnerable than others?  Can we use technology to mitigate the effects or decrease the chances of contamination?

Tim Worstall walks us through these complex issues in Fracking Contaminates Groundwater. He says drill anyway, but he gives a fair treatment to the argument. We pollute our air everyday using automobiles and generating electricity for our homes and workplaces, and we are living with it. Could a similar happy medium be found for fossil fuel extraction?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Redneck Christmas

Redneck Santa and Mrs. Silverfiddle.  
Now that the North Korea Pot Bellied Pig has been banished to the land of wind and pointy-tailed demons, we can all relax and enjoy our Christmas.

I am a redneck.  I hunt and fish and drive a pickup.  I have guns and pocket knives passed down from grandpas through my dad to me.

More importantly, I love redneck jokes, greatly enjoyed Blue Collar TV, and I have the complete DVD collection of Blue Collar Comedy Tour.  

I got this in an e-mail from a fellow redneck named Redneck Ron...

We have enjoyed the redneck jokes for years. It's time to take a reflective look at the core beliefs of a culture that values home, family, country and God.

You might be a redneck if: It never occurred to you to be offended by the phrase, 'One nation, under God..' 

You might be a redneck if: You've never protested about seeing the 10 Commandments posted in public places.

You might be a redneck if: You still say ' Christmas' instead of 'Winter Festival.'

You might be a redneck if: You bow your head when someone prays.

You might be a redneck if: You stand and place your hand over your heart when they play the National Anthem

You might be a redneck if: You've never burned an American flag, nor intend to.

You might be a redneck if: You know what you believe and you aren't afraid to say so, no matter who is listening.

You might be a redneck if: You respect your elders and raised your kids to do the same.

You might be a redneck if: You'd give your last dollar to a friend.

You might be a redneck if: You believe in God & Jesus and believe that others have the right to believe in whatever God they want, or no God at all, so long as they don't make themselves a pain in the ass about it!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Be of Good Cheer!

We spend our time blogging about how horrible things are, and they are. We get all wound up and going on an anti-Obama thread, and then some realist goes and blows it by asking, "what can we do about it? How can we fix it?" And that's when the dark pessimism sets in. How do you get the powerful to relinquish their power and return it the people, the rightful owners?

Fausty, a UK libertarian blogger, wrote a nice blog post awhile back entitled simply, Truth. In it, he puts the impending great global collapse in an optimistic light, rejoicing that the rotten edifice of lies will groan under it's own weight and eventually come tumbling down.
"The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is."  -- Winston Churchill
Fausty celebrates truth, the increasing lack of which is discrediting the official commentariate and the lying liars in the political and business class that they report upon. We proles have educated ourselves, he notes, and we've learned much over these past few years, so much so that we smell their stinking lies as soon as they are unpacked, we no longer uncritically accept the propaganda.

Even as we get smarter, the mouthpieces have gotten more brazen with their tenuous twaddle, straining credulity to the point of breaking...
In 2008, for instance, the authors of most of the top-rated comments in national newspapers like the Telegraph would have been dismissed as "swivel-eyed loonies", had they expressed then what they express now, with such passion.
He's right.  We're caught in a slow-rolling avalanche of debt and despair, but they continue spinning fairy tales with a determined seriousness that sometimes has me thinking that maybe they really believe what they're saying.  Man's capacity for self-delusion is stunning.

Real Hope and Change:  Progressivism's End

The global progressive money-manipulating, freedom-stealing scheme is at its end, yet the practitioners continue spinning tarradiddle-stuffed fantasies to buy themselves more time. But like a losing gambler with a cocaine jones, they can only stave off the inevitable for so long. The jig will be up.

This is the part of Fausty's post that completely flipped my thinking around, wiped away my pessimism and gave me hope:
The funny thing about truth is that once it's out, there's no way of stuffing it back into its box. Once born, it lives and nourishes.

Lies and spin, on the other hand, must be constantly tended and patched up. To achieve that aim requires an enormous expenditure of effort and resources. The greater the lie, the greater the stakes and the harder the fall for its proponents. The web of lies eventually destroys itself via its own mass of contradictions; it ceases to make sense. Once born, the big lie ensures its own destruction.
That's where we are now - truth gaining on the lie. People are waking up in ever greater numbers.
Yes. The truth will out. Humankind has survived for millennia, and Americans in particular have a gift for reinventing ourselves. To quote a song from the wonderful musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, "Up from the ashes grow the roses of success."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

No One Gets Out Alive

Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011
Christopher Hitchens has died, and it saddens me.  I loved his work, with the exception of his atheistic screeds, but even those served a purpose in making us Christians reexamine the fundamentals of our faith.

The 21st century is sorely lacking bold thinkers, loud polemicists and skilled communicators like Mr. Hitchens.  His prose was beautiful artistry in written word.  I will miss his mordant wit and always interesting take on anything and everything.  He was an Orwell for our time, giving hell to "Bastards HQ" daily.  Liberty lovers everywhere should follow his example.  The bell has tolled, and his death indeed diminishes us all...

Suffering and Dying in Luxury

One of the many paradoxes of modern life: Medical care has advanced to the point where everyone, regardless of station, can now outlive their money.

In one of his last essays, Christopher Hitchens, himself enduring a long and very public death watch, reflected wryly upon the demise of atheist philosopher Sidney Hook:
Toward the end of his long life he became seriously ill and began to reflect on the paradox that—based as he was in the medical mecca of Stanford, California—he was able to avail himself of a historically unprecedented level of care, while at the same time being exposed to a degree of suffering that previous generations might not have been able to afford.
Hitchens concludes:
So we are left with something quite unusual in the annals of unsentimental approaches to extinction: not the wish to die with dignity but the desire to have died.
He describes not his fear of dying, but his fear of losing that which makes his life worthwhile:
I am typing this having just had an injection to try to reduce the pain in my arms, hands, and fingers. The chief side effect of this pain is numbness in the extremities, filling me with the not irrational fear that I shall lose the ability to write. Without that ability, I feel sure in advance, my “will to live” would be hugely attenuated. I often grandly say that writing is not just my living and my livelihood but my very life, and it’s true.
Tyranny Lives Forever

Today, we receive word that Eastern Europe's champion of freedom Vaclav Havel has died.  With each light of liberty snuffed, the world grows a little darker.

Young or old, we all must become dissidents and contrarians if we want to save our nation.  Final words from Christopher Hitchens...
Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.  (Christopher Hitchens -- Letters to a Young Contrarian, p. 140)
Further Reading:
Christopher Hitchens:  Most Memorable Bon Mots
Vanity Fair – Christopher Hitchens Tribute
Slate – Christopher Hitchens
Matt Labash – A Hitchless World
American Spectator – Hitch-62
Christopher Hitchens: A Thank-You, of Sorts
Johah Goldberg Remembers Christopher Hitchens

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dude, Where's My Drone?

Our babe in the woods president is really playing hardball with the Iranians, who managed to get their grimy mitts on one of our high tech drones.  His statement:
"Let me be clear.  Bla bla bla..."
The Iranian response demonstrates that The Wages of Appeasement is humiliation...
On Tuesday, with Putin-like contempt, Iran demanded that Obama apologize instead. “Obama begs Iran to give him back his toy plane,” reveled the semiofficial Fars News Agency.
How did Iran get our drone?

I don't believe an America-hating mole in the CIA did this, as some of the more conspiratorial-minded have suggested.  It is possible that Iran Hijacked Our Drone, as a chest-thumping Iranian is now claiming.  They are not backwards people and they have help from China and Russia.

Add in our complacency (remember learning that Al Qaeda in Iraq had tapped into our unencrypted Predator drone feeds?), and it is a real possibility.  We are just about stupid enough to fly such advanced technology naked, believing no one is smart enough to take our toys away from us.  I don't know anything about our drone programs, but what the Iranian in the CS Monitor said sounds feasible if the aircraft's networks were not encrypted or if we failed to equip it with safeguards against GPS meaconing.

When will we start punishing complacency and incompetence?

Will anyone in our government or congress investigate this?  Does anyone get fired anymore?  General McChrystal is the only person I can recall getting fired for anything, and that was because he was stupid enough to invite a Rolling Stone reporter in on his staff's bull sessions where they trash talked the president (who the general voted for).

Another Plausible Scenario...

There could be a simpler, low tech answer.  A perfidious Pastun in the Afghan Army or some other group who is ostensibly "on our side" more than likely recovered the craft inside Afghanistan and trucked it over to Iran.
The CIA’s RQ-170 “Sentinel” drone captured by the Iranians last week may have gone down in Afghanistan and then transported to Iran by friendly forces on the ground, a former officer in the elite Quds Force branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards told The Daily Caller. [...]
However, photographs and video footage released by the Iranians on Dec. 8, several days after they announced the drone’s capture, clearly show that both wings had been neatly severed and then reattached.

“This suggests that the drone landed safely and that its wings were cut off so it could be transported by truck,” the former Quds Force officer said. “I believe it was captured by the Taliban inside Afghanistan and transferred to the Iranians, who then reattached the wings,” he added. (Daily Caller)
I don't know what happened, but that seems the most likely scenario. We have no friends over there. The Afghan soldiers we train end up shooting at our soldiers, and the billions in cash we lavish on that hopeless land is split between Karzai's gang of bandits and the Taliban...
Truth be known, neither the Karzai regime, nor the Taliban warlords, want the Americans out of Afghanistan. The treasure we pour into that country sustains the ruling cabal and the Taliban alike. We are the straight man at the bazaar, the stranger fleeced by the locals. (Fouad Ajami)
We are suckers.  We're being played for fools.  We are throwing our technological pearls before swine, and we are shedding American blood for people who hate us. Obama needs to wrap up Afghanistan in the same manner he did Iraq.  We'll take our drones away and let them get back to shooting down kites.
What do you think?

UPDATE:  Here's a story from Aviation Week with lots of technical details:  Iran UAV Will Not Expose Latest Technology

Thursday, December 15, 2011

We are the New Saudi Arabia

No, we're not going to start caning people (although I could think of a few public figures who richly deserve it).  We won't be punishing women for leaving the kitchen and driving, or charging them with sorcery.  We certainly won't follow Saudi Arabia's footsteps by killing homosexuals or funding Islamic terrorists.

We are the new Saudi Arabia, only with blessedly liberated women, loud and proud gay people, and pork BBQ.  We are sitting on top of a bountiful cornucopia of energy:
How vast are these resources? Here are some numbers:

Coal Resources
  • The United States has 486 billion short tons of recoverable coal. This is enough coal to provide 464 years of electricity at today's current rate of coal consumption.
  • While this is an incredible amount of coal, it is actually a very conservative estimate. This is because the estimate does not include Alaska's coal resources and Alaska holds more coal than then entire lower 48 combined.
 Oil Resources
  • North America has nearly 1.8 trillion barrels of recoverable oil. That is twice as much as the combined reserves of all OPEC nations.  
  • In oil shale resources alone, the United States has 1 trillion barrels of oil. This is nearly four times as large as Saudi Arabia's proven oil reserves. But due to regulations, these resources are essentially locked up.
Natural Gas Resources
  • North America holds 4.2 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas. That is enough natural gas to satisfy the United State's current natural gas demand for 575 years.
  • This is more natural gas than the combined proved natural gas reserves of the next five nations (more than Russia, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkmenistan combined). (Debunking the Myth)  
Imagine you've been driving a little crapbox of a car that gets poor gas mileage, is expensive and only works half the time.  If that's all you had, you'd just have to live with it and be thankful for what you've got.

Now imagine that a much better vehicle had been available all along, for a cheaper price, better gas mileage and ironclad reliability.  Imagine that the government had been keeping this vehicle a secret from you. You'd be pretty upset, wouldn't you?

Well, that's what government is trying to do to us with energy.  We are spilling over with oil, natural gas, and coal, yet the green corporatists insist on cramming down our throats wind, solar and battery powered toy cars that catch fire.  Worse, these immature technologies are unreliable and much more expensive than their time-tested rivals.  Forcing them upon a free and prosperous people requires government intervention!

That's what the green agenda is all about:  Tax and restrict and regulate and harry the fossil fuels industry until it is just as expensive as the green dreams.  If you can't gain the pinnacle on your own merits, just drag everybody else down to your debased level.

That is the difference between capitalism and socialism.  Capitalism raises a society up through competition.  The "Robber Barons" lowered the cost of lighting our homes and traveling as they competed for our business.  Socialism levels everybody flat in the name of equality.

We need to kick Obama and the Pelosicrats to the curb before they destroy the nation.  We have cheap and abundant energy; we'd be crazy not to use it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stabbing Westward

Europe is Between Decline and Fall, the World is Flowing East to West...

In a rare Obama administration success, we pulled off a major diplomatic offensive a few weeks back in Asia, setting China back on its heels, diplomatically speaking. We’re standing up a new beachhead in Northern Australia, Opening up Burma (Myanmar) and China’s neighbors are cosying up to us, encouraging our involvement in the region.

Looking across the Atlantic, things ain't so great...
“The nose of the British Bulldog has been slanted backwards so that he can breathe without letting go”  -- Winston Churchill
Meanwhile, Europe is in its death throes, with member states lacerating and devouring one another. First, irresponsible governments loaded up on free money, incurring crushing debt and demanding others pay, and now this …
“BRITAIN last night faced a revenge attack for David Cameron’s EU snub when a senior Brussels bureaucrat promised a new deluge of damaging red tape on UK business.”  (EU Plots Revenge against Britain)
What a slice of reality.  Europeans no longer fight wars.  They now threaten one another with onerous paperwork.  Britain was smart to keep its own currency, and it is now distancing itself further from the imploding EU experiment, incurring the wrath of the unelected Continental Poobahs in Brussels.  The British Bulldog, however, is not backing down…
Conservative MP Douglas Carswell said:  [...]  “If he is such an economic genius, why is the continent that he helps to preside over heading down a debt vortex? He should be worrying about his own maths, not ours.”
Stephen Booth, of the Euro-sceptic think tank Open Europe, said: “The threat of EU regulation on the City of London remains.
“The British Government must continue to push to prevent any further unnecessary and unwanted regulation from Brussels.”  (EU Plots Revenge against Britain
Britons are tough, but it worries me that we have a Great Britain hater in the White House.  Our closest and most trusted ally may need some backup if it is to survive the continental collapse...

Meanwhile, wild-eyed practitioners of the Religion of Peace bombed and shot up the city center of Liege, Belgium, killing or wounding almost 100 people.  It was all a matter of "honor" with links back to *Surprise!* Pakistan.

It’s the Decline and Fall of Rome on a continental scale...

Lest anyone on this side of the Atlantic give vent to a schadenfreude-induced chortle, let us recall that we ourselves teeter on the brink.

So the Olde Continent is in economic collapse, and its once brave societies have turned “weak and effeminate*.”  The barbaric invaders have overwhelmed the decadent hosts; the 7th century obscurantists who Europe invited in will finish the job, just as the Vandals and the Goths finished off Rome, picking through the ruins and hauling off the marble.  A darkness of ignorance will fall upon the continent, as it does anywhere civilization cedes ground to Islam.

So the US is right to turn our attentions away from the Middle East and Europe. They deserve one another. The Western Hemisphere has enough gas, oil and coal, there’s no further need to spill our blood and treasure on ungrateful bastards. Vietnam (yes, that Vietnam) and it’s neighbors are welcoming us because China is an imperial bully.

China's Hu tells all the Hu's in Huville to prepare for war
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday urged the navy to prepare for military combat, amid growing regional tensions over maritime disputes and a US campaign to assert itself as a Pacific power.
War with China is not inevitable.  Neither is the fall of Europe.  Our destiny is in our hands.  Do we have the wisdom, strength and courage to grasp it?

* - Gibbons’ observation on Rome’s decline

London’s Bankers Tell EU to Get Bent

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

From Jekyll Island to Hyde Park

The Federal Reserve cartelizes the banking industry, allowing individual banks to inflate together, earning them and the government enormous profits, while making sure that they are never held accountable for their fraudulent practices. (Origins of the Fed – Ron Paul)
We elect politicians who don’t know what they are doing. They are naifs in the financial arena, and so they are easily fooled, hoodwinked and cowed into sitting down, shutting up and doing the bidding of the bankers. Just as Satan will use someone’s strengths against himself, Wall Street swindlers especially love ensnaring intelligent politicians who have an overinflated self-esteem and dragooning them into the latest banker bunko scheme. Who’s smarter than Barney Frank? And who knows more about finance than the former Democrat Senator from Countrywide, Chris Dodd?

At least George Bush just read his script with his typical deer in the headlights look and spared us the charade of pretending to understand the economic tsunami engulfing his presidency. Mercifully, he confined his remarks to killing capitalism in order to save it because too many credit stink bombs had clogged the banking toilets, or whatever he said at the time. He should have grabbed a plunger and beat Dirty Hank Paulson and his coven of cronies with it, and kept the treasury shut tight.

Ron Paul is perhaps the only politician alive who knows what he’s talking about when it comes to our money and our banking system.
There is one reason why we have a Federal Reserve System today, and it has nothing to do with what the Fed's publications say. The Federal Reserve exists to give a special privilege to the banking industry. And they have profited greatly from it. But at what expense? The banksters have diluted the value of the 1914 dollar to about eight cents. And its value is still shrinking.
As the Federal Reserve expands the money supply, it reduces the value of all existing dollars. The process happens, though, unevenly because not all prices rise at the same time. The first party to get the new money can spend it at its old purchasing power. Only after filtering through the economy does the money bid up prices for goods. (Origins of the Fed – Ron Paul)
The economic emperors have no clothes, and they have destroyed our currency, which is delayed from a final crash only by the Euro’s even greater peril.

See also:
Ron Paul – The Case for Gold

Monday, December 12, 2011

Shooting Inconvenient People

The professional left in America and their chattering-class useful idiots have followed a consistent pattern for a century: sympathizing with tyranny in their musings over how to implement policies fueled by jealousy and an undying fear of economic liberty. (Ross Kaminsky – Stern Idiocy)
Never met a dictator he did not like

Add Andy Stern, former SEIU Kommisar, to the list of Communist China admirers

Inside of every good progressive is a very illiberal goose-stepper longing for the strongman. Planning committees and central control send a thrill up the legs of those who disdain the individual liberties enshrined in our moribund constitution. Bold action! Intervention!

Stern waxed poetic about China’s bold central planning:
China's 12th five-year plan. The aims: a 7% annual economic growth rate; a $640 billion investment in renewable energy; construction of six million homes; and expanding next-generation IT, clean-energy vehicles, biotechnology, high-end manufacturing and environmental protection—all while promoting social equity and rural development. (Andy Stern – I Love Communism)
That’s nothing. Tom Friedman’s ardor swells and his breast heaves as he gushes forth his paeans to the burly, bossy, ever so muscular Chinese Communist Politburo. If only the power elites here in America could snatch such willy-nilly decision-making from the ignorant clutches of workaday rubes! Why can’t we do away with all this messy democracy and have a dictator state like China, ask the ChiCom fanboys.

Jonah Goldberg knows how to puncture the balloon:
China had five-year plans before it started getting rich. Under the old five-year plans, China killed tens of millions of its own people and remained mired in poverty.

Oh, and what about labor? There’s one labor union in China, and it’s run by the government. (The Nazis had pretty much the same system.) Stern doesn’t seem to care.

Obviously, the core problem with China envy is not economic but moral. To the extent that China’s economic planning “works,” it does so because China is an authoritarian country. (Japan has been planning its economy within democratic restraints and has been dying on the economic vine for nearly 20 years.) You can hit your building quota a lot more easily when you can shoot inconvenient people and trample property rights at will. The Three Gorges Dam displaced more than a million people who were given three choices: move, jail, death. (Goldberg – China Envy)
Here’s the reality that the progressive toadies don’t want to face…
Now comes the hangover. The public works projects are winding down, unleashing a wave of unemployment and an uptick in social unrest. The banks' nonperforming loans are rising, and local governments are insolvent. The country is littered with luxurious county government offices, ghost cities of empty apartment blocks, unsafe high-speed rail lines and crumbling highways to nowhere. (WSJ – China’s Hard Landing)
This last statement could also describe the US just as well…
A financial sector that allocates credit based on politics rather than price signals led China into this mess. Popular pressure to dismantle crony capitalism is building, and the Communist Party would be wise to get in front of it while it can. (WSJ – China’s Hard Landing)
For an entertaining and excellent and critique of Stern and Friedman’s corporatist mindset, see Matt Welch’s The Simpletons.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Not a Free Marketplace...

...  when government restricts freedom of action

It's not a free marketplace when a union can cry for government to use its coercive powers to tell a company that it can't open that new airplane factory it just built. That is exactly what happened in the Boeing case that was just resolved.

The National Labor Relations Board has dropped its controversial case against airline manufacturer Boeing, which had become a lightning rod for conservatives.

The labor board argued for much of the past year that Boeing decided to locate a new plant to build its new 787 Dreamliner jets in South Carolina, a right-to-work state, in retaliation for strikes by unionized workers at its existing facilities in Washington state. (The Hill - NLRB Withdraws Boeing Case)
"Retaliation" is a natural reaction to market forces

What if Boeing decided to lower all wages by 10 dollars per hour and workers quit because of it, going to a company that pays more? Why isn't that worker retaliation against the company? A better question is, why would government prevent employers or employees from "retaliating?"  Retaliation is just a dirty word for a reaction to a previous market force. If Starbucks jacks up the price of a vento to $10 dollars a cup, I ain't buyin' no more coffee there.

Coercion is the Key to Progressivism 

This also reveals the coercive mindset of progressivism. There are still people in America today insisting that our economic decline is due to the decline of unions, despite the lack of evidence to support their contention. The only way enforced unionism works is if you chain down businesses and take away their free agency.

This is why Detroit, a once-thriving union dynamo, collapsed into a liberal junk heap. Union Labor bid its prices up too high, Big Business foolishly accepted, and government failed to protect them from the free market "retaliation."  Tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs headed south to non-union climes, and foreign imports further impinged upon the Big Labor-Big Business fantasy land of price-setting insulated from market forces.

Progressives would use government power to prevent such free-market reactions, setting up trade barriers that would spark trade wars resulting in higher consumer prices, tying down companies and forcing them to "take it," which is what the big three pretty much did voluntarily, to their ultimate detriment.

Communism, Fascism, Corporatism

Back in the bad old days, raw communism would do this by expropriating the capitalists' property, eventually running the confiscated enterprises into the ground, murdering those who resisted, and miring their societies in misery.

Fascism, communism's little leftist cousin, was more sophisticated, adding some sweeteners in for the bourgeoisie. Fascists were smart enough to leave the means of capital in the hands of the business owners; it was more convenient and efficient to just shake down everybody at the factory door as they left for the day.

The modern-day way of chaining down a corporation is with state-sponsored corporatism. Businesses will stay put so long as they are protected by an archipelago of government regulations, protections, exemptions and other formidable barriers that protect them from competition, giving them free rein to continually jack up prices with government-sanctioned impunity, making consumers a captive audience.  

As an added bonus, they can freely dip into the government coffers to the tune of tens of billions when their unsustainable business model inevitably fails.

Welcome to Corporate America.

Further Reading:
Rothbard - Power & Market, Ch 6

Friday, December 9, 2011

Privatized Gains, Socialized Losses

Serious financial people are "Thinking the Unthinkable," and shocked to find themselves doing so.  They're late to the game.  Many liberty lovers have been thinking our own unthinkable thoughts for quite awhile now...

PIMCO CEO Mohamed A. El-Erian, calls the bank bailouts "Socialism." He rightly observes that the US government...

"privatized massive gains and socialized massive losses." Growing numbers of people throughout the world are beginning to "believe the capitalist system is not fair."

El-Erian identified politicians and policymakers as major barriers for economic growth. He noted that American society has "transferred enormous power to the politicians and policymakers." And unfortunately, "politicians are driving." He said it is like policymakers are driving the car without a map on an "unfamiliar road and all of us are sitting in the back seat." "They haven't told us where we are going" nor have they provided a "vision for the U.S. economy." Instead the politicians are "arguing amongst themselves;" there is "no clarity." (When Economic Unthinkables Become Reality)
Should the FED Save Europe?

Hell no!  They would do this by printing more money and laundering it through the IMF, which means in reality they are assessing a tax on each of us, further destroying our savings and our spending power, and handing our money over to Europeans.  Money is not wealth, it is a measurement of wealth.  Printing more money is like redefining the length of an inch or how much a pound is.  You change the perception, but not the reality.

Feed the Progressive Beast!

Meanwhile, intellectually-dishonest crapweasel Paul Krugman has, Surprise! found more things we can tax.  What this stubborn statist won't mention is that government already blows the dollar equivalent of one-quarter of all US economic output, while collecting only around 17% of GDP.  See the gap?   Libs do, and they want to close it by confiscating an unprecedented amount of personal earnings.  Government hasn't spent this much since WW II, but tax collection has always averaged around 17% of GDP.  It's the spending, stupid!

A Government of Goldman Sachs,  by Goldman Sachs, and For Goldman Sachs 

Goldman Sachs and the other Wall Street pigs, flush with taxpayer money, are the rosy cheeked picture of health.  Now, the story is out about How "Dirty Hank" Paulson took care of his cronies.  Is anyone surprised?  The Goldman Sachs mole who penetrated the US Treasury did what he was supposed to do.

These Wall Street vermin have infested our government and they are sapping the foundations like the termites and rats that they are.  Worse, they do it shamelessly, in broad daylight.  And they get away with it.  Our banking system is rotten, and the parasites have almost killed the host.

"The World" goes in debt to "The Banks"
The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing.
[...] It dwarfed the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year. (Secret Fed Loans)
Instead of bailing them all out, our government should have let them go bust and then clapped them all in jail for irresponsible lending and concocting financial stinkbombs.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The King's "New Socialism" Speech

President Obama is a pyromaniac in a field of strawmen.*

In Kansas, Obama railed against nefarious forces

“They want to go back to the same policies that stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for way too many years,” Obama said of the GOP. “And their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.”
Just who are the people who believe this? I don’t know any. Playing by your own rules is perfectly ok in your own domain, but it has no place in a free marketplace. Free market capitalism is predicated upon a known set of rules that everyone must follow. You can’t steal from others or murder your opponents, for example. You can’t lie to your business partners or customers. And what specific policies “stack the deck against middle-class Americans?” Give us specifics!

Mickey Kaus (America's smartest liberal) homed in on Obama’s attempt to shame corporations into what Kaus calls patriotic charity: staying here and hiring people even if you have to lose money or forgo greater profits or productivity gains to do it:
A patriotic Charity Economy is a conveyor belt to corporatism!
After all, what happens when the factory of celebrated businessman X who recognizes his patriotic obligation to employ Americans at $20 an hour is faced with competition from uncelebrated, selfish businessman Y who employs Chinese ex-peasants at $2 an hour? Businessman X is going to need a “partnership” with government, sort of a pre-bailout bailout. Obama doesn’t seem to have a problem with this sort of cozy arrangment. (Kaus – Obama’s Charity Capitalism)
An Unfair Presidency

Obama compared capital gains tax apples to personal income tax oranges, excoriating greedy CEOs for paying less taxes than their secretaries (a blatant lie).

He decried a system of laws that does not treat everyone equally, as his administration favors certain companies (Solyndra, GM) over others.

He hectored companies for using modern technology like ATMs, digital phone switches and that newfangled contraption known as the internet, while his armed agents raid workplaces and he shuts down job-creating factories and pipelines.  And then he taunts his pornographic lover Big Biz for not hiring. The man is a walking, talking BS machine.
But by Obama's own measure, the country has gotten more "fair." The richest 1% now pays almost 40% of all federal income taxes, up from 25% two decades ago, while the bottom half pays only 2%, down from 6%. The federal regulatory state has never been as big, and government spending as a share of the economy is at record levels. (IBD)
Here’s the kicker:
the only winners since Obama took office have been corporations (profits are up 68%) and Wall Street investors (the Dow's up more than 45%). The rest of the country has gotten the shaft. (IBD)
I’d like to see him try to get reelected running on that...

As Socrates would say, let’s define our terms

Just what exactly is “fair?” Or a better question, what specifically is unfair here in the US? Wage disparity? Unequal outcomes? Can it be traced back to a root cause?

East coast Massachusetts kids named Kennedy have about a 100% chance of going to an Ivy League school, regardless of how dull they may be. Silverfiddle kids have about zero chance. Is that fair? Who knows? Who cares? It’s all a waste of time. We are individuals, our needs and wants are unique, and our efforts produce disparate and varied outcomes.

Now, if we find that a certain class of people is rounding up other people and kicking them and their progeny down a hole so as to keep them from pursuing their American dream, that would be unfair. I don’t see that happening in this country. We are not all born into identical circumstances, so equalization would be quite a task. Everywhere it’s been tried, those on top were dragged down, rather than those on the low end being elevated.

Rather than all this inflated fascistic rhetoric designed to whip the proles into a revolutionary frenzy, how about restoring the rule of law? Forcing Big Banking and Corporate America off of the government teat? How about getting the federal government’s snout out of every corner of our lives and allowing us to solve our problems at the lowest level?

Even the venerable bastion of corporate statism, The Washington Post, gave Obama’s Robespierre acid trip flashback in Kansas three Pinocchios for its bald-faced dishonesty.

* - William F. Buckley’s description of John Kenneth Galbraith

Further Reading:
Harsanyi – Obama vs Capitalism
NY Times – Obama Tongue Bath
IBD - A Lesson in Fairness for Obama
Obama Urges Fair Play

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Barry Plays Dress Up, Again

We're all laughing at Obama
First, Obama wanted to be Abraham Lincoln when he grew up. Then he laughably compared himself to Ronald Reagan. Now he’s playing dress-up again, this time as the Rough Rider, Teddy Roosevelt.

Teddy Roosevelt was a tough, self-made man who was forever seeking out ways to challenge himself physically and mentally. He was a conservationist, a crime fighter and war veteran. Barack Obama is an effete metrosexual who has had everything handed to him on a silver platter.

A banker grandmother who funded his private schooling, an Ivy League education paid for by others, a political career in the corrupt Chicago sewer, where well-connected crooks took care of the competition for him…

Teddy Roosevelt, born into wealth, went out west to toughen himself up, fought in the Spanish American war, and once sparred with a professional prizefighter, damaging his eyesight in the process. The closest Obama has come to matching TR’s impressive tough guy record is occupying a bank lobby and fighting for more government money for the various agitation groups he was a community organizer for.

Obama’s only accomplishment is hoodwinking enough Americans to vote for him by promising billowy nebulae of Hope and Change and promising transformative leadership. He hasn’t led and he hasn’t been transformative. Those on the disappointed left will tell you he's George Bush without the flight suit.

Obama and the Pelosicrats serve up these absurd and ridiculous comparisons because it’s all they’ve got. No economic freedom, no hope, no change, no jobs; just more of the same with a corrupt Chicago spin. 
Further Reading:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gingrich: That Pig Won’t Fly

While GOP voters are in the irrational grips of Newt-mania (he's the least conservative candidate in the race), good columnists are reminding us about Newt Gingrich. You read them and go, “oh, yeah… I forgot all that…”

On Paul Ryan’s budget plans, Rich Lowry explains that many on the right had questions, but Gingrich had to bombastically dismiss the plan as “rightwing social engineering.”  It took a vigorous scolding from conservative elder statesman Bill Bennett to force a Newt climbdown.
Only Gingrich, though, felt compelled to take a rhetorical flamethrower to the document endorsed by almost every House Republican.
He can’t help himself. Gingrich prefers extravagant lambasting when a mere distancing would do, and the over-arching theoretical construct to a mundane pander. He is drawn irresistibly to operatic overstatement — sometimes brilliant, always interesting, and occasionally downright absurd. (Rich Lowry – Newt the Unreliable)
And there’s also the little matter of Gingrich having a long history of his own social engineering experimentation, from Fannie and Freddie to global warming and health care...
Mr. Gingrich’s ability to reach leaders like Mrs. Clinton was a selling point for the Center. A PowerPoint presentation for prospective members advertised its “contacts at the highest levels” of federal and state government. Paying $200,000 a year for the top-tier membership, it said, “increases your channels of input to decision makers” and grants “access to top transformational leadership across industry and government.” (Commentary - Gingrich was an Influence Peddler)
Gingrich needs to come out singing “I Saw the Light” if he wants to remain credible in the face of his substantially statist record. As a warm up, he also needs to face up to his DC power player past and stop the ridiculous “outsider” pose. His Center for Health Transformation, while perfectly legal, was a classic milk-the-taxpayer beltway bonanza.

I understand that people can change, and politicians more than most, since they compete for power under constantly shifting ground. Maybe Newt’s changed, who knows? How would we know? His promiscuous mind has produced flamboyant government plans by the wagonload. Grandiose agendas and melodic musings are his imperial domain. Is there anything he hasn’t thought of?

A Lust for Ideas

My problem with him is that he is an egghead, more enamored of shiny new ideas than with governing from a core set of well thought out principles. We don’t need an intellectual thrill seeker in the White House, and Newt has shown himself to be an edge junky looking for the next cerebral high.

He belongs in the lofty forums of Davos and Aspen, not in the White House, where he would morph into an intellectually aroused Anthony Wiener, taking pictures of his tumescent ideas and flashing them, unwanted, into the homes of unsuspecting citizens. We don’t need that.

We don’t need theoretical experimentation and thought titillation from a president; we need principled conservative leadership, and Gingrich has no track record of that.

Further Reading:
George Will - GOP's Front Runners
Ramesh Ponnuru makes a convincing case for why Mitt’s the One.
Charles Krauthammer sizes it up: Krauthammer – Newt vs Mitt
Bill Bennett Schools Newt Gingrich

Monday, December 5, 2011


Obama: I Need another Term to Finish Us Off

Concerned that the damage will prove to be neither lasting nor complete, the president pressed his case…
"I'm going to need another term to finish the job," he said.
Not Even Barack Hussein Obama can destroy a 235 year old country in just four years. Progressives of all parties have been softening us up over the past 100 years, to the point where a critical mass now believes our rights come from government and the states work for the federal government. Are we citizens or subjects?

Biden 2016!

Gaffmaster Joe could make a play in 2016! Maybe he could run on his embarrassing honesty. He’s too dumb to be crooked.

Liberal Logic: Requiring voter ID is “rigging an election.”

Debbie Washerman Schultz (is she married to Ed Schultz? They’d make a perfect couple) says voter ID laws disenfranchise voters

So you need an ID to buy a pack of cigarettes, but not to protect the citizens' greatest exercise of power over government?  Democrats counter that voter fraud is not a problem, but how do they know that? With such lax rules in place, all but the most blatant fraud would be almost impossible to detect.

It takes a village of idiots…

As this fecund human playground reminds us…

"Somebody needs to be held accountable, and they need to pay."

We all pay, whether we want to or not.  Everyone pays but the serial empregnators who score with these stupid women and then leave them with the trophies.  The liberals whose policies have destroyed the American family need to be held accountable.  Create a nanny state and you will end up with a nation of  infants, wards of the state, crying for mommy and daddy to clean up their messes.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Clash of Civilizations

Did Nostradamus predict 9/11?

No, but Samuel P. Huntington did. Dr. Huntington of "Clash of Civilizations" fame, died back in December of 2008, but his work lives on. As Mark Steyn points out, this Harvard professor of Political Science championed the idea that culture trumps all. Steyn gives us an example of his own:
in Bradford, 75 per cent of Pakistani Britons are married to their first cousins. As to the seductive assimilatory charms of time, 30 years ago the percentage was half that. A victory for culture over economics. (Mark Steyn)
The Australian has an interesting article on this great man who foresaw this current age of terrorism back in 1993:
The Clash of Civilizations was a hard-headed look at what political scientists had traditionally dismissed as a soft subject: culture. Originating as a 1993 article in the policy journal Foreign Affairs, and published three years later as a book, it argued that the key sources of post-Cold War conflicts would not be national or ideological but cultural. It was Huntington's riposte to those who thought the fall of communism meant the universal triumph of Western values. The West's arrogance about the universality of its own culture would blind it to the ascent of "challenger civilisations", particularly Islam and China.
Shot through with cautions about Western decline, the book counsels Europe and the US to unite: "The prudent course of the West is not to attempt to stop the shift in power, but to learn to navigate the shallows, to endure the miseries, moderate its ventures, and safeguard its culture." Exporting American pop culture and trainers was easy; exporting values of freedom and democracy far harder.
"Somewhere in the Middle East," Huntington wrote, "a half-dozen young men could well be dressed in jeans, drinking Coke, listening to rap, and between their bows to Mecca, putting together a bomb to blow up an American airliner." (The Australian)

"Brilliant" minds and miscellaneous critics poo-pooed his thesis at the time, but 9/11 and its aftermath brought a sad vindication.

We really are undergoing a clash of civilizations.

To understand Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations, follow these three easy steps. If you care about the future of Western society and culture, it's worth it:

1) Read Huntington's famous essay. It is a scholarly work yet easily readable by ordinary folks. It  puts the current global struggle into focus. Unfortunately, it is locked up tight, inaccessible unless you pay a fee to Foreign Affairs Magazine. They should be ashamed of themselves for sequestering such a seminal work. Some Googling can usually find it clandestinely posted somewhere. Even better, go get the book.

2) Scholars and other thinkers often pitted Huntington's thesis against Francis Fukuyama's "End of History." You can read Stanley Kurtz's commentary on the subject at Policy Review.

3) Finally, Professor Fouad Ajami, himself an imminent scholar and brilliant writer, wrote an insightful piece on Huntinton's essay the January after Huntington's death.
Huntington had the integrity and the foresight to see the falseness of a borderless world, a world without differences. (He is one of two great intellectual figures who peered into the heart of things and were not taken in by globalism’s conceit, Bernard Lewis being the other.)
I still harbor doubts about whether the radical Islamists knocking at the gates of Europe, or assaulting it from within, are the bearers of a whole civilization. They flee the burning grounds of Islam, but carry the fire with them. They are “nowhere men,” children of the frontier between Islam and the West, belonging to neither. If anything, they are a testament to the failure of modern Islam to provide for its own and to hold the fidelities of the young.
More ominously perhaps, there ran through Huntington’s pages an anxiety about the will and the coherence of the West — openly stated at times, made by allusions throughout. The ramparts of the West are not carefully monitored and defended, Huntington feared. Islam will remain Islam, he worried, but it is “dubious” whether the West will remain true to itself and its mission. Clearly, commerce has not delivered us out of history’s passions, the World Wide Web has not cast aside blood and kin and faith. It is no fault of Samuel Huntington’s that we have not heeded his darker, and possibly truer, vision. (Fouad Ajami - The Clash)
I pray we at least pause to contemplate Dr. Huntington's thesis. A self-ashamed society that stands for nothing will fall for anything; and angry fire-bearers from the East really could burn it all down.