Monday, April 30, 2012

Naked Tyranny

Is the 4th Amendment defunct?

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that jails may strip search detainees being put into the general prison population.

Progressive screamers, horrified at Obamacare's poor performance before the court a week earlier, seized upon the ruling to impugn the court that they anticipate will knock down Obamacare as well.

It's an interesting tactic, sure to win over those who don't think too hard, but in reality the two cases are unrelated, each decided on its merits.  The one common factor in both cases is government power, but progressives don't want to go there.

Noah Feldman examines the Supreme Court ruling:
As a result, instead of arguing about dignity, the justices disagreed about the practical question of whether invasive strip-searches are reasonably necessary to serve the interests of the jails and prisons. Kennedy’s majority opinion said that they were.
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the strip-searches, however well-intentioned when first instituted, now function to humiliate people being put behind bars, sending the message that they are now essentially nonpersons, under the full control of the state.
Yet, it’s worth noting, not even Breyer argued that all strip-searches of people entering jail should be unconstitutional. There is a reason: Privacy, as we know it, is dying. The death is slow and gradual. But it is starting to look inevitable. Supreme Court justices, in general, and Kennedy in particular, rarely fight the trend of history. (Noah Feldman)
The linchpin to the Supreme Court decision was that law enforcement officers have a right to protect themselves and a duty to protect other detainees, and that trumps the rights of people introduced into a detention facility. That makes sense, but it doesn't get to the heart of the issue.

The Real Outrage

People are missing the true outrage here. A non-violent suspect was incarcerated for failure to pay a fine. With all the technology at our fingertips, we suffer under a medieval government. Proliferating policies and ever-expanding laws and police powers are making outlaws of us all, and we are increasingly being treated like hardened criminals by an arrogant, burgeoning police state. We are guilty until proven innocent.

Progressive fans of Big Government take note:

A government that can make you purchase health insurance can also strip you naked and make you squat and cough.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Sun Also Rises



Reading Hemingway in my youth gave me a lust for adventure and travel. I'm settled with a family now, but I can still dip into Papa's stories on a cool spring night with a thunderstorm building in the background.

Reading The Sun Also Rises for the hundredth time gave me an urge to return to Spain. I noticed for the first time that he mentioned Ronda, a town I had visited . And his Spanish fiesta scenes are so well painted. You fall in with a crowd of happy Spaniards and time and cares fall away. I woke up in a nice couple's house one time, embarrassed and startled on their couch. Perhaps past dirty deeds gave me an attack of conscience, but on this occasion I had done nothing wrong. They and their children laughed at the hung-over American visitor they had sheltered, as if they could see into my soul, and then they served me breakfast.

Good literature can be read and re-read, always providing new insights laid upon your accreted experiences. Hemingway is like that. I read The Sun Also Rises first as a callow teenager, the book pressed into my hands by a wonderful teacher who I hated at the time but have since grown to love. I devoured the book, taking it in superficially as one long party scene from France to Spain. Dining, drinking and carousing on every page. I escaped and did my best to emulate, from Bogota to Sevilla, San Juan to Panama, with some European scenery thrown in as well.

I wonder if Hemingway named the latecomer to the story Edna for Edna St Vincent Millay, a fellow member of the Lost Generation? Even in high school, I enjoyed and appreciated the Lost Generation writers as they transported me back to a strange time long ago. The Sun Also Rises captures the meaninglessness of life many felt in post-war Europe.

Later in life, upon rereadings, I picked up the subtleties, the unstated parallel between Barnes and the steers, etc. It took non-stop carousing of my own to realize just how worn-out, hollow and broke it can make you. Promiscuity and excess always take their toll. I had to live some life first to grasp the deeper meanings. Constant partying and socializing (or shopping, eating, watching TV, whatever) in a vain attempt to make yourself happy can have destructive consequences.

Hemingway, without ever directly commenting on it, captures the moral libertinism that World War I left in its bloody, horrible wake. The old order was gone, with nothing yet taking its place.  Hemingway's novel is about friendships that sting, jealously and selfishness, and loves that cannot be sincerely consummated. It's about people whose souls have been seared by life, finding out too late that seeking the wrong refuge only makes it worse. It's about life.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fajitas on the Grill



Summer is on the way.  Time to grill!

Actually, I grill all year 'round, but I thought I would share a complete grill meal with you.





Fajitas is a fun backyard meal.  You'll need:

- Package of tortillas
- Fresh onions and bell peppers, sliced in big fajita-sized strips
- 2 cans of beans, drained and rinsed
- Chicken breasts
- Cheap cut of beef
- Spices and or marinades of your choosing

It's really hard to mess this recipe up.  Any kind of tortilla will do, even if you mistakenly get the little corn tortillas that look like drink coasters.  A common thing at parties hosted by Mexicans is to have the fixin's out in bowls and the tortillas warming, and invite guests to help themselves throughout the night.  When you take a tortilla off the warmer to eat, you throw a cold one on.

Anyway, in the upper left, I have a vegetable basket that I put the chopped up peppers and onions in.  Before cooking, I add my own seasoning mix to them and shake them up in a bag.  I also take one of those tenderizer hammers with the spiked head and pound the beef and the chicken breasts.  They take the spices or marinate better that way and they cook quicker.

You can marinate or spice up the meat.  For prepackaged marinates, I like those Weber packets.  One "Mexican" or "southwest" flavored one and one chile lime packet makes a good combo.  You can also look for spice recipes at Spices Inc, or other cooking websites and come up with your own concoction.

For the beans, I rinse them and then do them my way, which usually involves my own spices mix, some roasted chiles, onions, a can of beer and Stubb's bbq sauce (the official favorite of the Silverfiddle household.)  I've never met Mr. Stubbs, but he has my undying admiration.

Put the beans on first, since they take the longest to get the liquid to cook off.  Throw on the basket of onions and peppers next, along with the chicken, and lastly, the beef, since it takes the least amount of time to cook.

When everything is done, chop up the meat and wrap it in tinfoil, and put each of the ingredients in a separate bowl, grab the tortillas and invite everyone to dig in!

Tortilla chips and salsa or guacamole makes a nice accompaniment.

You can wash 'em down with homemade Lynchburg Lemonade (Jack Daniels and lemonade), Margaritas, or your favorite beer (a Ranger IPA from New Belgium Brewery goes nicely).

What do you like cooking on the grill?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How to Win the Student Loan War


The Democrats laid a student loan trap five years ago, and it's set to snap shut on the Republicans.  Speaker Pelosi set it up so the interest rate would double right before the 2012 election (increasing from 3.4% to 6.8%), unless congress stepped in to stop it.  A great pre-planned election year trick.

It's a win-win for Obama:  If the GOP votes to save students from this democrat-manufactured crisis, Obama and the Pelosicrats are victorious heroes, just in time for the 2012 campaign season.  If the GOP prevails in stopping this free money handout to the already morbidly engorged higher education industry, they will be painted as cruel ogres, and the yapping chorus of howling leftwing demagogues will provide background music for the Obama "Are You Insane 2012" campaign.

So what can the GOP do?  If they had any strategery, they would put Big Education on trial for extortion and indict Big Government as a chiseling co-conspirator.

Put Big Ed on Trial

House Republicans can call a hearing on the state of education in this country.  They should subpoena college presidents and put them on trial, demanding to know why Big Ed is gouging the American consumer.

Congressmen could indignantly ask why universities are using taxpayer money to build gold-plated facilities and line their own pockets, even as their prices rise four times faster than the overall rate of inflation?

How is it that we spend more and more on higher education, yet fall further and further behind in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math performance?

They should ask these academics and their big-government enablers what right students and their parents have to dip into the pockets of others to pay their bills.

Government Money is Stupid Money

Government money is stupid money.  And in the case of higher education, it has fueled outrageous price increases.  Here's a thought experiment.  Imagine the federal government ended all college financial aid programs.  Would colleges just dry up and go away?  Or would they adjust their prices to compete for customers?

The federal subsidy of student loans artificially lowers the price presented to the consumer, but picks her pocket all the same because it is funded with everybody's tax money.  It is a peanut butter spread of money to all colleges, allowing them to all race to see who can blow it the fastest offering amenities to attract more students, whose parents complain to congress that the price of college is too high, giving Democrats another chance to blow more money to "fix" a self-created problem.  This is what is known as a self-licking ice cream cone.

As a bonus, Republicans can highlight the phony baloney accounting tricks the Obama administration is employing to fool taxpayers into thinking the Treasury made a profit on the bailouts.  It is an election year ploy based upon creative circular accounting between the Fed and Treasury and pie-in-the-sky projections that have no historical precedent.  It is progressivism in a nutshell.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Great Divide

Conservative are from Mars, Liberals are from Venus...

Reason magazine has an interesting article on the increasing political divide in this country. It's no surprise to anyone that moderation is decreasing and battle lines are hardening. Jonathan Haidt explores the reasons for this and has developed a pretty good theory. Even though I think there's some anti-conservative bias in there, it rings pretty true to me. What do you think?

Here he give a thumbnail sketch of the Moral Foundations Theory he has constructed for analyzing ideology:
Moral Foundations Theory, which outlines six clusters of moral concerns—care/harm, fairness/cheating, liberty/oppression, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation—upon which all political cultures and movements base their moral appeals. 
Political liberals tend to rely primarily on the moral foundation of care/harm, followed by fairness/cheating and liberty/oppression. 
Social conservatives, in contrast, use all six foundations. They are less concerned than liberals about harm to innocent victims, but they are much more concerned about the moral foundations that bind groups and nations together, i.e., loyalty (patriotism), authority (law and order, traditional families), and sanctity (the Bible, God, the flag as a sacred object).
Libertarians, true to their name, value liberty more than anyone else, and they value it far more than any other foundation. (You can read our complete research findings, including our report on libertarians, at www.MoralFoundations.org.) 
The Liberal Narrative
“Once upon a time, the vast majority of human persons suffered in societies and social institutions that were unjust, unhealthy, repressive, and oppressive. These traditional societies were reprehensible because of their deep-rooted inequality, exploitation, and irrational traditionalism.…
But the noble human aspiration for autonomy, equality, and prosperity struggled mightily against the forces of misery and oppression, and eventually succeeded in establishing modern, liberal, democratic, capitalist, welfare societies.
While modern social conditions hold the potential to maximize the individual freedom and pleasure of all, there is much work to be done to dismantle the powerful vestiges of inequality, exploitation, and repression.
This struggle for the good society in which individuals are equal and free to pursue their self-defined happiness is the one mission truly worth dedicating one’s life to achieving.”
The Conservative Narrative
The Reagan narrative goes like this:
“Once upon a time, America was a shining beacon. Then liberals came along and erected an enormous federal bureaucracy that handcuffed the invisible hand of the free market. They subverted our traditional American values and opposed God and faith at every step of the way.
…Instead of requiring that people work for a living, they siphoned money from hardworking Americans and gave it to Cadillac-driving drug addicts and welfare queens. Instead of punishing criminals, they tried to ‘understand’ them. Instead of worrying about the victims of crime, they worried about the rights of criminals.
…Instead of adhering to traditional American values of family, fidelity, and personal responsibility, they preached promiscuity, premarital sex, and the gay lifestyle…and they encouraged a feminist agenda that undermined traditional family roles.
…Instead of projecting strength to those who would do evil around the world, they cut military budgets, disrespected our soldiers in uniform, burned our flag, and chose negotiation and multilateralism.…Then Americans decided to take their country back from those who sought to undermine it.”
Reagan campaign rhetoric doesn't quite paint an equivalent narrative to the reasoned liberal one he uses, but that's a minor quibble.  He doesn't do it to denigrate those of us on the right; he does it to show how conservatives, unlike liberals, use all six foundations.

Go take the Moral Foundations Questionnaire and see how you stack up against liberals and conservatives.  Once you register, go to the "Explore your Morals" tab and scroll down past the first box of surveys where you will find the Moral Foundations Questionnaire.  

Like any survey it has it's flaws related to how respondents interpret the meaning of words, but I found it interesting.  Here are my results.  Blue is the liberal average, Red is the conservative average, and Green is my score.



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

When Caliban Met Ariel: Tales of the Ugly Gringo


"Latin America:  Where single men come back married, and married men come back single"  -- Kurt Silverfiddle quote

Latin America is a sexy, exotic place, from Mexico all the way to the southern tip.

In a drunken stretch of the imagination (or a Picasso-esque one), Latin America even looks like a sexy woman, twisting perhaps to a samba or merengue beat. From busty Mexico down through her slender waist of Central America, where moving south her hips blossom and enclose the steamy, verdant tropicalia before tapering down to a sexy pair of legs terminating at the tip of the Southern Cone.

I've seen many a man dash himself upon the rocks of lust in Latin America. It's never a pretty site. You have the best of intentions, but the devil lurks around every corner. The young woman cheated by the dumb and cheap Secret Service agent (never a good combination, especially in a strange place) is a saucy little firecracker. I've known a few like her, and it always ended badly...

Every now and then, something will hit the news and it will transport me back to another time and place. It's part of the curse of having lived many lives.

Mark Sanford's Argentinian Adventure

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's slow, sad human car wreck over his Argentinian lover was gut-wrenching. Some held out hope he would snap out of it, but I knew he was a goner. Done. I had been there, mentally and physically, and I thank God I came back to reality and didn't wreck my marriage.  Prior training as a young bachelor living for years in Central America is probably all that steeled me against falling into a snare.

Sanford had been transported half a world away, in a swirl of exotic mystery and romance. He may have been standing in the harsh reality of South Carolina, complete with the blinding TV lights, clicking cameras and shouting reporters, but his heart and mind were captured and held prisoner at the other end of the world, a completely different world of sultry, sexy exotica.

A famous actress, can't remember who, talked about filming in Brazil, I think, and how the tropical atmosphere amped up your libido. She made some reference about it going straight to your groin, or something like that. All of Latin America is not tropical--in the crisp Andean air of Quito or La Paz, women wearing luxuriously feminine capes and tall leather boots is also very sexy--so it's not just the hot, moist climate.

Not So Secret Service

I've never been to Cartagena, but I was a young single man temporarily assigned just up the coast in Maracaibo, Venezuela, back before the Chavez regime.  I imagine it's about the same, complete with the humidity sinking into your loins and clouding your brain...

... A steamy tropical beach, stripped down to swimwear, sweatily dancing to salsa and merengue, afternoon "naps" when the rain comes, dancing and dining, air conditioned rooms and crisp cold sheets a luxuriant night refuge from the heat of the day, until the unforgiving sun starts it all over again...

I wasn't there, but I can describe that morning in Cartagena, when the Secret Service sex party came to a crashing end. It was dead still as only a Caribbean party town can be at that early hour of breaking dawn. An indignant female voice pierced the silence, echoing down the cool marble hall scrubbed pristine with that peculiarly-scented cleaning agent you only smell in northern South America. The crowd in the hallway grows, curious faces, hotel staff, later policia. The other gringo partiers, still dreamily in the arms of their paramours, feel their guts drop.  One guy just blew it for everybody, and the jig is up. A sharp descent from heaven to hell. Bad stuff happens fast down there.

Ugly Americans

So I wasn't really surprised by any of the news, but I was struck by the stupid, stunning arrogance of the agents. If just one of them had understood the culture and displayed more than a passing facility with the local language, it would not have blown up in their faces. If you're going to be venal and break the rules, at least be smart about it. Some prearrangements with the bar and with the hotel staff, some exchanged cash, so nothing shows up on the bill you have to submit with your travel voucher, and none of that gringo arrogance, inflated to pompous proportions by official diplomatic credentials and badges.

This did not do any damage to our country or our image. It just reinforced the stereotype. Everyone down there is laughing their asses off at us, and some marriages here in the states are probably in peril.

End Note:
* - Caliban and Ariel are two metaphorical characters in Jose Enrique Rodo's classic essay, Ariel.  If a Latin American "expert" hasn't heard of it, then beware, he is not an expert and probably got his Latin American Studies degree at the University of Taco Bell.

George Zimmerman Not Guilty

I posted a headline a few weeks ago declaring Zimmerman guilty.  I'm retracting it

I do so based upon the opinion of Alan Dershowitz as well as a discussion with a lawyer friend.

When the Florida Attorney General said politics had nothing to do with the decision to press charges, she was lying.  Political cowardice had everything to do with it.  The actions of the Sanford Police Department did call the case into question, but informed and educated critics say the affidavit is a joke, and an investigator admitted on the stand that there was no evidence to contradict Zimmerman's statement that Martin jumped him after he had turned around and headed back to his vehicle.

Prosecutor Angela Corey purposely charged him with second degree murder so they could have a show trial where Zimmerman will be found not guilty by a jury of his peers, as opposed to the DA having to announce they cannot press charges due to a lack of evidence.  This takes the heat off of the Florida political establishment while also ultimately serving justice, in a twisted way.

The prosecutors have no hard evidence, and Zimmerman is the only witness left standing.  The second degree murder standard is too high. The official medical evidence will come out showing he did suffer injuries, and the rest is based upon what he told police and his testimony on the stand.  He'll walk.

Once exonerated, Zimmerman will be sued for wrongful death, dragging this racial carnival of the grotesque out for years.

This doesn't mean he acted prudently.  He did not.  This is also not the fault of the stand your ground law, and the race shouters will continue shouting, even thought there is no evidence Zimmerman is a racist or that his actions that night were racially-motivated, let alone a "hate crime."

A Tragic Chain of Events

As in most accidents and tragedies, it took a string of bad decisions to produce the sad outcome.

1) Zimmerman got out of his vehicle.

2) Had he not been carrying a gun, would he have pursued a "suspicious" stranger in the dark?  Forgoing either one of those actions would have prevented Martin's death.

3) Zimmerman's statement, and the testimony he is prepared to present, says that he was returning to his vehicle when Martin attacked him.  Had Martin simply made haste back to his father's house, he would still be alive.

They can't convict George Zimmerman with no evidence, so I predict not guilty or a hung jury.  That doesn't mean racism doesn't exist, it doesn't mean young black men are not racially profiled, and it doesn't mean police department don't treat white adults differently than they do black adolescents.

Race hustlers, social provocateurs and even reasoned thinkers are trying to hang the sins of the world upon George Zimmerman.  Injustice cannot give birth to justice.

Mediaite - Alan Dershowitz

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Why Romney Could Beat Obama

When conservatives march out old, stale issues like Obama and his family sitting in Reverend Wright’s Church of God Damn America for two decades, the liberal cognoscenti in the press quickly bat them down as trafficking in stale, trifling irrelevancies.

But when Obama’s Ploofian Axlerods dust off old stories about Mitt Romney strapping the family pooch to the top of the old station wagon, the left treats it as pure gold.

Here’s the Chicago way...
In January Obama adviser David Axelrod--not to be confused with Axelrod, the Flying A Dog--blew a dog whistle. He tweeted a photo of the president with Bo, the White House canine, in what appears to be the back seat of a limousine. Axelrod's comment: "How loving owners transport their dogs." (WSJ)
Just as the anti-Mitt meme was gaining steam for the 2012 campaign season, alert conservative pundit Jim Treacher pointed out that a young Barry Obama had eaten dog meat (Obama mentions it in his book). Well, the Romney Death Star swooped down and cast a giant shadow over the shaken Obamunists, firing this photon shot over the bow…
Romney aide Erich Fehrnstrom got into the act last night, retweeting Axelrod's Obama-Bo snapshot from January with the comment: "In retrospect, a chilling photo." (WSJ)
Even better, Obama’s mutt munching has spawned some funny jokes (all from WSJ)

#ObamaDogRecipes: Yorkshire terrier pudding, mutt chop, Pekingese duck, bichon frisee salad, beagle with cream cheese, pure bread.
"So, Mr. President, where shall we go to eat?" "I know a great Spot."
If you want a friend in Washington, don't eat him (credit to Jim Geraghty).
Happiness is a warm puppy, with a side of fries.
The Chicago gang brought a gun to the fight, and the Romney brigade shot them in the face with a cannon. Tee hee hee…

This comes on the heels of the left shooting themselves in the face fighting the phony “War on Women.” Vinegar-laced harridan Hilary Rosen declared that Ann Romney, a mother of five, had never worked a day in her life, touching off a very unwelcomed War on Mommies.” Obama’s minions quickly threw her under the campaign bus, giving Romney another notch in his gunbelt.

A charitable reading of Rosen’s comments mostly exonerates her of intentional malice, but the left never cuts such slack to the hated rightwingers, so what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The Romney campaign has stuffed the Obama-bots twice in the past two weeks, and the main event hasn’t even kicked off yet.

I’m looking forward to Campaign 2012.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Thoughts for the Weekend


Some random thoughts on a Friday...

Question of the Week

Who posed a greater danger to the President this past week? Ted Nugent or The Secret Service?

Every now and then, a politician slips up and tells the truth…
“A fewer and fewer number of people do very well, and everybody else is running faster and faster just to keep pace”
“The choice in this election,” said Axelrod, “is between an economy that produces a growing middle class and that gives people a chance to get ahead and their kids a chance to get ahead and an economy that continues down the road we are on.” (NY Post)
I agree with David Axelrod. Only a fool would vote to reelect President Obama and continue on the economic road to hell he's taking us down.

Humanity-Hating Left

Hardcore green warmists exhibit a malthusian angst and eugenics-tinged desire for population control. The honest global warming advocates will tell you mankind is a blight on the planet as they cheer for our extinction:
“Humans have the unfortunate distinction of being the most destructive and harmful species on earth,” he writes. “The amount of suffering in the world could be radically reduced if there were no more” of us. (Professor David Benatar, quoted in New Yorker Magazine)
I would like to point out that if man went extinct, alligators would still gobble ducks and swans, fish would still eat one another, raptors would continue to swoop down and kill cute little birdies and furry rodents, weasels and snakes would not stop feasting on eggs, monkeys would still battle one another with sticks and stones, male animals would keep on forcibly copulating with females, elk and deer would still die of starvation in winter, black widows would continue to bite the heads off of their mates once the fun was over, animals would continue polluting the atmosphere by emitting methane gas, and lightning would still start forest fires.

For a further Warmest Alarmist reality check, see The Limits of The Limits of Growth. It features 40-year-old predictions by the egghead worry warts of the early 70's, armed with statistical models from MIT, (MIT! The science is settled!). Every indicator they predicted would get worse has gotten better.

Have a happy and blessed weekend!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Mosque or a Church?


Spain is home to Cathedrals that were once mosques, and European Muslims are asking for their houses of worship back. I'm sympathetic to their cause. After all, the Christians aren't using them, except as musty museums that attract tourist dollars.
American Christians are un­usual in that their churches rarely occupy sites sacred to other faiths. But throughout history new religions often appropriated older sacred places for their own purposes. London's St. Paul's Cath­edral stands over the re­mains of a pagan temple, and the Metro­politan Cathedral in Mexico City is within the sacred pre­cinct of Aztec Tenoch­titl├ín. Invaders normally as­sumed that dominant religions should by right occupy the greatest buildings, and they grabbed sites ac­cord­ingly.
Such displacements are much in evidence across Europe and the Middle East, where Christians and Muslims often battled each other and where frontiers shifted frequently. (Whose Holy Ground)
The non-practicing Europeans who won't cede ground to Muslim worshipers remind me of an older child stubbornly clinging to a toy even though he has outgrown it. Here's an idea. Hold a contest to see who can get more people to show up to the building, Catholics or Muslims. Whoever produces the bigger crowd wins the property.

The author of the article just wants to let sleeping dogs lie, and ends with a question...
And what would happen if Christians tried to recover the many former churches in the Middle East that are now Islamicized?
What would happen? The Islamists would cut their heads off.

And that’s the difference between us and them. It is telling that while Christians cower in fear all over the Muslim world, prey to burnings, bombings and murder, Muslims in the west freely exercise their religion and bring their cultural and religious practices to the public square without fear of violence.

Meanwhile, here's a cool story about a brave Muslim Voice for European Christianity.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Government-Sponsored Inequality



Envy and Equality are recurring themes in Left Blogistan...

Shaw Kenawe is the latest to address it, and she does it in her usual expert way.  We rarely agree, but I respect her.

She opens her post by asking:
"Do We Really Want to Become a Third World Country?
Incredibly, we're on our way to that sorry situation because of our income inequality--the highest since before the Great Depression"
There are two sides to every story.  Of course we have income and wealth inequality.  What society in the entire history of the planet does not?  Are the rich making their gains at the expense of the poor? Studies have not shown that.

Inequality in Perspective

Matt Zwolinski at Bleeding Heart Libertarians does a good job putting it all in perspective. He goes point by point, and I won't reprint them here, but there is context behind the raw numbers that includes changing factors like household size, education, and immigration.

We are also an economically mobile society, with people moving both up and down. We commoners also enjoy a cornucopia of luxuries that were only available to the rich back in the 50's. Most measures of inequality also fail to take into account the direct government transfer payments to the poor in the form of food, housing and cash assistance.

Income inequality is a natural result of a free market where people of various skills participate and bring products of various values into it. The services of a doctor or plumber are more valuable than those of a janitor, so doctors and plumbers enjoy greater remuneration than janitors.

A Tale of Two Liberals

Inequality?  Try this on for size:  OWS protesters were swept up and jailed in cities all over America for the misdemeanor of stinking up the place and refusing to pack up their tents. Meanwhile, well-connected liberal Democrat Jon Corzine walks free and easy after "misplacing" billions of investor dollars. You can bet he's not nervously looking over his shoulder--Washington's got his back.

The real inequality problem we have is caused by government. Rich people, big biz, big education, big pharma and wealthy financiers now own the US government. Having bought and paid for it, these rent-seekers are enjoying the best government money can buy, while the rest of us are subject to Big Sis Brigades wanding our crotches and confiscating our possessions.

The Silverfiddle Solution

In good times and bad, high taxation and low, federal government revenue collection averages about 17% of GDP per year. We need to design the federal government around that number. Collapsing useless departments like Education, HUD, Labor and selling the buildings would be a good start.  Shrinking and combining the remaining gargantuan tangle of departments and agencies would be a good next step.  Budget to that 17% target every year and cut what don't fit. It's what responsible states do.

Set a flat tax. Wipe out all exemptions, incentives and special favors for everybody, across the board, and call off the regulatory hounds that only the rich can afford to keep at bay. Burn down the Code of Federal Regulations and restore the rule of law so that the law is understandable by all and applicable to all.

Cut away the comfy taxpayer-provided safety nets protecting the phony captains of industry. A system that welds the escape hatches shut, forcing them to pay for their irresponsibility and malfeasance, will do more to tame the gamblers and pirates than the libraries full of regulations we now have.

Get the government out of health care and education. These are the two markets most penetrated by government, and not coincidentally, the two most inefficient markets with the greatest rates of inflation.

We need economic liberty and an education system that is not gouging us at every turn. As Hayek reminded us, it is a fatal conceit to believe that since we can't imagine our economic future, the government must plan it. There lies failure. Entrepreneurship is the way out.

Walter Russel Mead explains the way out of this mess much more intelligently than I do. Please go read Post-Blue Jobs pt 2.

Holman Jenkins has a handy rebuttal to the Income Inequality charge as well:  The Inequality Obsession

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Boomer Bust



I have often thought that ten years of war would get us past the baby boomer mindset and forge a new generation of leaders: Non-ideological, with the ability to face problems head on and to do what works. That is what troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan had to do. Military experience in a war zone (even for support guys like me) involves seeing the situation as it really is, and then doing whatever needs to be done to overcome. Nobody in Washington knows how to do that.

Here's a voice from America's next Greatest Generation:
"I have fully lost faith in the leadership of my parents’ generation."
They have had their time to lead. Time’s up. I’m tired of waiting for them to live up to obligations. (War vet Thomas Day, Quoted by WRM - Listen Up Boomers)
The baby boomers burst onto the leadership scene in 1992 with the election of Bill Clinton. George W. Bush did his part to further besmirch that generation, and Obama is it's narcissistic, useless apotheosis.

Not every baby boomer is blameworthy. In fact, most of them never protested a war, smoked pot or indulged in any of the other tie-dyed, patchouli-tinged hippy-dippy hoopla that generation is infamous for. Like their parents before them, they went to work, raised families and contributed to their communities, so all of our problems cannot be laid at the feet of the boomers.

Some of our ills stem from the WW II-era's unquestioning respect for authority and hero-worship. "The Greatest Generation" can also be blamed for pampering and swaddling it's boomer progeny, shielding them from every hardship, ill and trial that shaped the rock-hard depression-era and WW II generation into such an impressive cohort of Americans.

Unfortunately for the majority, a small minority has defined the Baby Boomer Generation

The movie The Big Chill foisted the boomers upon our consciousness, with it's whiney navel-gazing, self-indulgent introspection and narcissistic cultural chauvinism, and the cultural boomers have been wearing out their welcome ever since.

This is the generation that brought us Viagra commercials on TV during family hours, introducing our youngsters to new and interesting phrases for physiological phenomena that last for more that four hours. This is the generation that mainstreamed porn, marketed slutwear to our daughters and encouraged our boys to be pimps. They taught us to feel, not think, and to put self-esteem above actual achievement.

I know, boomers are not the authors of our current social dysfunctions, but they were the libertines who stormed Bastille, unleashing the corrosive social forces that made these dysfunctions possible. Then as grownups they agnostically market this trash to the masses in worship of the almighty dollar.

We are now suffering the ill effects of the "anything goes, if it feels good do it" culture this adolescent, incontinent generation has foisted upon us. Our political, social and religious institutions are crumbling. The level of vulgarity in everyday life is unprecedented and our inflated sense of egotistical self-entitlement knows no bounds. Instead of building upon the foundation of the Greatest Generation, boomers took a bulldozer to it and left a giant Woodstock-like mud pit in its place.

Baby Boomer Richard Berry blames them for the economic crash as well...
The current market turmoil is a product of every bad trait the Boomer Elite has long exhibited in other social and political contexts: unbridled greed and hubris, exorbitant self-regard, breathtaking recklessness, insatiable appetite for immediate gratification, and a rollicking sense of entitlement.Our efforts to be responsible citizens in this crisis are ridiculed and shouted down: exclude from the bail-out the pork and the payoffs to interest groups? How dare we! Include measures that might actually spur badly needed growth in the tough times now surely coming, like cuts in capital gains and corporate taxes? Leave the room!
This is all merely typical of the smug, cocksure Boomer Elite. This is a group that breaks things. It has set the wrecking ball to institutions that are the essential glue of our society (marriage and the family), the basis of our political system (federalism and the separation of powers), the engine of our prosperity (the free market), the guarantor of our freedom (the military), and the glory of our history (the Constitution, participatory democracy). (The Great Boomer Comeuppance)
We haven't heard the last of the Boomers, even as they shuffle off to hippie Valhalla retirements planned by their parents and funded by the greatest transfer of wealth from young to old in the history of the world.

My hope is that subsequent generations give them their due for the good they have done while learning from their mistakes.

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's Not Fair!

Equality of Outcomes is Un-American.  It would require enforced unfairness and a violation of our personal liberties...
Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different, but are in conflict with one another; and we can achieve one or the other, but not both at the same time. (F.A Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, pg 150)
We are all different people, with different goals and behaviors.  Enforcing an equality of outcomes would require a tyrannical government imposing its vision on us all and treating each of us very unequally under the law.

Thomas Sowell echoes Friedrich Hayek as he punctures the chimerical argument of forced equality:
The latest example of this hoax is the joint crusade of the Department of Education and the Department of Justice against schools that discipline black males more often than other students. According to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, this disparity in punishment violates the "promise" of "equity."
Just who made this promise remains unclear, and why equity should mean equal outcomes despite differences in behavior is even more unclear. (Sowell – The Big Hoax)
Sowell goes on to explain that it would be wrong to unfairly single out a particular group, but there is no evidence of that in the case of school punishment.  But why let facts get in the way of a feel good crusade?

Inequality really bugs some people:
It is not fair that LeBron James has a 40-inch vertical leap, and we have a 4-inch vertical leap (combined). It is not fair that some have high IQs, and others are below average. It is not fair that Christie Brinkley is beautiful, that some people are born with photographic memories, that one person gets cancer and the next one doesn't.

We Americans were born in a land of opportunity and wealth, while billions around the world are born into poverty and squalor. We won the ultimate lottery of life just by being born in this great and rich country. Where is the justice in that? (The Poverty of Equality)
What is the definition of "Fair Share?"
As for fairness, the wealthy already pay more than a fair share (the top 1 percent of income earners make 16 percent of income but pay nearly 40 percent of federal income taxes) ... (Let's hope that Obama doesn't start getting technical about "fairness," because the plutocrats would be in for a huge tax break.) (Harsanyi - Obama's "Fairness" Fiction)
Misguided do-gooders among us claim that if we could just make the "haves" of this world pay their "fair share," we could achieve "social justice." The OWS agitators claim that everyone should receive a wage regardless of whether they work or not, and it would presumably be funded by doubling the tax on "the rich."

 They talk of "equitably distributing the wealth," as if it were in a big community pot that belonged to all of us, or the government, depending on the propaganda narrative.
"THIS IS WHY it is wrong to even speak of the "distribution" of income and wealth. Income and wealth are not distributed. Income and wealth are created, and in a fair society they come into the world attached to the rightful owner that produced them." (The Poverty of Equality)
A quick lesson from the real world:
During the era of communism in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, when all land was cultivated for the "common good" and food was evenly distributed to all, regardless of how much one worked, China produced way too little food, and many millions of people, including children, starved to death.
But then, starting in the 1980s, agricultural reforms began to emerge that allowed farmers to take a small plot of land and keep the food they grew. An amazing thing happened. Production of food on these very small tracts surged multiples higher than the output on the communal lands. The Chinese farmers saw output double and even triple from the previous arrangement where all food was put in a communal pot. Private ownership of the farms led to a green revolution, and China quickly became a food exporter. (The Poverty of Equality)
It's axiomatic. Free-market meritocracies work; spread-the-wealth autocracies do not. Capitalism has lifted over a half-billion Chinese out of poverty since 1981. But like water and electricity, human beings will take the path of least resistance. Envy, "that most anti-social and odious of all passions," is now easier to traffic in here in America than legitimate economic free-enterprise that has proven time and again to elevate one's station and to enrich societies.

What we're wanting in America is not some nebulous "fairness," "fair shares," "social justice," or, heaven forbid, equality of outcomes.  We are wanting economic liberty, equality before the law, and a permanent wall of separation between government and the rent-seekers of all stripes, corporate or otherwise.  Given a level playing field, mom and pop could compete with Walmart.

For a short and surprisingly snarky take on economic equality in America, read former FDIC chairman Shiela Bair's modest proposal to fix income inequality.

See also Winning the Fight on Fairness

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Nietzsche is Dead, Jesus Lives

A common mistake I hear people make is to say Jesus was not judgmental...

He stopped the stoning of the woman caught in adultery, he blessed the woman at the well who had so many husbands, and he ate and and drank with tax collectors and sinners.

Yes, he did all those things, and he did them out of love and mercy in order to get people to repent and change their ways.  The New Testament is full of stories of him forgiving; outraging the Pharisaically-minded by giving away forgiveness.  Giving it away!  But such episodes invariably end with some command of repentance such as "go and sin no more."  So he was judgmental, but he preached repentance, a sorrow for past sins and a firm resolve to not return to them.

A philosopher names Jesus...

Religious liberals have been raving for decades about conservative Christians who think they have the market cornered, and I can understand their anger.  To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, God is not on anybody's "side."  We mortals hope and pray that we are on his side.  A smaller subset of religious progressives take it even further:
“The ‘death of God’ is a metaphor. We needed to redefine Christianity as a possibility without the presence of God.” The “possibility” here is a moral, not a transcendent one. (Death of a Theologian)
There are some who would strip Jesus of his divinity and make him a wisdom guru as they perform a Jeffersonian excision of his miracles from the gospel narratives.  What that leaves them with is a stern, crusading progressive-era morality of social justice with which to beat conservatives over the heads in a nice turn of vengeful religious zealotry devoid of all the superstition.

The Death of God Theology
They all agreed that the traditional God of the Biblical tradition was no longer credible. Hamilton believed that Christians should forget about the hope of heaven, instead concentrate on understanding this world and doing good in it, thus presumably following the moral teachings of Jesus.

He understood the death of God as a cosmic process of God’s emptying himself into the world he created; an ancient Christian term for this has been the kenosis of God, his voluntary humiliation in order to redeem the fallen world. Altizer saw the culminating of the kenosisin the crucifixion of Jesus—at which point God merges with the natural world and no longer confronts it as a transcendent being. (Death of a Theologian)
"Their god is God" -- Pharoah, The Ten Commandments
Andrew Sullivan longs for a simpler, more spiritual Christianity in this age of corrupt hierarchies and the politicization of everything. I can sympathize, but Father Robert Barron provides a rebuttal to Sullivan's sighing for a gauzy, more nebulous Christianity. 

Barron zoomed in on Sullivan's favorable mention of Thomas Jefferson's Gospel edits that removed all mention of the supernatural:
Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle, to give just two examples among many, present Jesus, not as the God-man risen from the dead, but rather as a New Age guru.
The first problem with this type of theorizing is that it has little to do with the New Testament. As Jefferson's Bible makes clear, the excision of references to the miraculous, to the resurrection, and to the divinity of Jesus delivers to us mere fragments of the Gospels.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were massively interested in the miracles and exorcisms of Jesus and they were positively obsessed with his dying and rising. The Gospels have been accurately characterized as "passion narratives with long introductions."
Further, the earliest Christian texts that we have are the epistles of St. Paul, and in those letters that St. Paul wrote to the communities he founded, there are but a tiny handful of references to the teaching of Jesus. What clearly preoccupied Paul was not the moral doctrine of Jesus, but the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. (Andrew Sullivan's Non-Threatening Jesus)
I Believe

Jack Camwell mocked my belief in Satan, but yes, I really believe he is "The God of this World." Both the Old Testament and New Testament contain too many accounts of him, including him speaking, to just discount it as a silly superstition or mental illness.  It's a complete package.  Good and Evil.  Divine and Mortal.  Practical and Mysterious.

Strip it of the evil, the divine, and the mysterious, and all you have left is a sterile, didactic set of ambiguous rules that men use to torment one another with.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Road Trippin'




There's something calming about a long stretch of road heading west...

Leaving Albuquerque for Arizona on I40 you see some cool, stereotypical southwest scenery, complete with painted mesas backstopped by blue sky and snow capped mountains mixed in with a whole lotta nothin.'  Country oldies and The Grateful Dead provide a great musical backdrop.

I'd spent the night before jamming with some old friends at a dusty VFW outside of Bernalillo.  The crowd was big and rowdy and my old friend's band was wound up tight. Charlie had a little too much too drink and kept turning his bass up too loud, but he was hitting all the notes and it was all good.

They called me up for one song and I ended up doing three sets with them. Hootin' and hollerin' Honky Tonk, 70's and 80's rock, cry in your beer country classics and anything else that struck our fancy. The bar was hot and almost suffocating. I sweated through my stetson in under an hour, making me wish I had brought my straw. It was only a little smoky. Don't know if people were smoking because technically it was a private establishment, or because it was New Mexico and nobody gives a damn.

I left hoarse, beer-soaked and bourbon buzzed, fingertips sore and high on life. I hadn't performed on stage in front of a big crowd in years. It was awesome. Moreso because I didn't have to break down the equipment and haul it home at the end of the night.

I love the southwest; scorpions, snakes, cowboys and indians and all.  And I've been over a good piece of it.  Some of my favorite traveling music includes The Doors, especially LA Woman and Morrison Hotel, The Last Waltz, and Neil Young.  The Dead is also an excellent road companion.

My favorite drives include I-70 heading East from Green River Utah, up and over the Rockies to Denver; Boulder Canyon to Nederland and on up to Estes Park via highway 7; I-40 from Albuquerque through Arizona, and I-10 going up the mountains, through Palm Springs and down into LA.  Driving across Wyoming can also be a peaceful relaxing ride, with perhaps some Lyle Lovett, Jayhawks, or Neil Young keeping you company.

What are your favorite drives and what do you listen to when you're on the road?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Porn Nation: Raquel Welch Edition

por·nog·ra·phy n

1. Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal.

2. The presentation or production of this material.

3. Lurid or sensational material: "Recent novels about the Holocaust have kept Hitler well offstage [so as] to avoid the ... pornography of the era" (Morris Dickstein).

[French pornographie, from pornographe, pornographer, from Late Greek pornographos, writing about prostitutes : porn, prostitute; see per-5 in Indo-European roots + graphein, to write; see -graphy.]

Timeless beauty Raquel Welch granted an interview to Men's Health. In it, the sex symbol lamented the pornification of our culture.  Here are some interesting excerpts...
I think we’ve gotten to the point in our culture where we’re all sex addicts, literally. We have equated happiness in life with as many orgasms as you can possibly pack in, regardless of where it is that you deposit your love interest.
It’s just dehumanizing. And I have to honestly say, I think this era of porn is at least partially responsible for it. Where is the anticipation and the personalization? It’s all pre-fab now. You have these images coming at you unannounced and unsolicited. It just gets to be so plastic and phony to me. Maybe men respond to that. But is it really better than an experience with a real life girl that he cares about?
And it makes for laziness and a not very good sex partner. Do they know how to negotiate something that isn’t pre-fab and injected directly into their brain?
I don’t care if I’m becoming one of those old fogies who says, “Back in my day we didn’t have to hear about sex all the time.” Can you imagine? My fantasies were all made up on my own. 
They’re ruining us with all the explanations and the graphicness. Nobody remembers what it’s like to be left to form your own ideas about what’s erotic and sexual. We’re not allowed any individuality. I thought that was the fun of the whole thing. It’s my fantasy. I didn’t pick it off the Internet somewhere. It’s my fantasy. (Men's Health)
Porn takes a beautiful gift from God and cheapens it. That is what Satan does. He can’t invent anything, he creates nothing, he can’t read our minds. All The Croucher can do is watch and wait for the chance to corrupt God's work and pervert our pathetic human efforts.

Porn:  It's not just about sex!

In my lexicon, porn is anything taken to a perverted extreme.

Frankenfood and fast food have replaced real food. Obesity and diabetes are almost epidemic as manufactured comestibles that never spoil make fresh perishable food so passe'. High fructose corn syrup and a thousand other chemical inventions crowd out the sustenance and tasty viands that filled our ancestors' larders.

Facebook and online virtual worlds takes the place of face to face interaction in the real world. We bowl alone. Video games have us sitting on our asses instead of going out and playing real games

New feel-good Christianity, grounded in monetary success and perpetual happiness tries to erase all that scary talk about hell, the devil, suffering, sacrifice and following Jesus Christ.

Government paychecks replace a hard-earned one. The government family supplants the real ones, housing, clothing and feeding us. They even teach us how to sneeze and admonish us to eat our veggies!

Rightwing porn and leftwing porn replace real dialog, reasoned analysis and intellectually-honest debate.

Economic pornography leads to demographic death. Work and self-worship leave no room for children.  Europe is facing it, and Asia is firmly in the grip, most sadly for Confucian cultures who revere their elders. The number of unmarried Japanese men who will have no progeny to revere them continues to climb, with 20% of 50 year-olds having no spouse or children.
I remember Jimmy Coburn once said to me, “You know what’s the sexiest thing of all? A little mystery.”  -- Raquel Welch

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Foot (in mouth) Race

Good Reads
Obama’s Preacher is foaming at the mouth again, and we are cursed with an overabundance of people gleefully fanning the flames of racial strife. Black panthers and white supremacists are racing down to Florida (may God grant them a clear field free of innocent citizens where they can slaughter one another). I understand why so many ordinary blacks are upset at the perceived special treatment police gave George Zimmerman, but the rest of it is a circus.

Amidst the racial turmoil, conservative writer John Derbyshire, since fired from National Review, wrote a racist article advising young people to treat black people differently and to look upon them more critically than white people.

"An out-of-tune racist marching band"

Mark Adomanis, writing in Forbes Magazine, hit the nail on the head:
No, what made Derbyshire’s piece so unusual, and what resulted in his summary dismissal, was not the fact that it dealt with race but that it did so in a uniquely bullheaded and crass way: it wasn’t a racist dog whistle so much as it was an out-of-tune racist marching band. (Mark Adomanis – Forbes)
Lefty publications just called it racist and left it at that. Adomanis explains why it is racist:
Derbyshire is literally suggesting that people use one, exacting and demanding, standard when judging the acceptability of black politicians and that they use another, far less exacting, standard when judging white politicians.
That is we should use different, and racially-determined, standards to judge the behavior of blacks and whites. That is, basically, the dictionary definition of racism or as least close to it as you’re ever likely to see in print.
Pot, Kettle...

After handily blasting Derbyshire for broadbrusing an entire group of people, the liberal author immediately broad brushes us unwashed conservatives out in the hinterlands clinging to our guns and bibles, imagining that we are all steaming mad at Derbyshire's firing and just one trigger pull away from teaching the "RINOs" a lesson...
These people are angry beyond belief that fearless writers like Derbyshire are being unfairly marginalized by “wimps” like Rich Lowry (one of the most constant insults you will see hurled at establishment conservatives is “girly man”) and regard any attempts to police conservative discourse as revolting attempts to “appease” liberals.
I guess I don't get out enough, because the fellow rednecks I encounter don't fit his profile. Derbyshire's article was spilling over with links to statistics and anecdotal data to bolster his point, but I still agree with the liberal that it was crass and racist.  

World Nut Daily published something similar.  It was not so much blatantly racist as merely intellectually sloppy and casually bigoted:
The melting pot concept was always nine-tenths myth, and the historical pattern clearly shows that distinct groups of immigrants generally do not assimilate over several generations, but rather form tribal factions that work to further the interests of the group at the expense of other tribal factions in the state.
Yeah, we've got all these German, Italian, Russian and hundreds of other polyglot tribes carving their own enclaves here in America, driving around Mad Max-like and creating havoc...

This is nonsense. Look around you. Look in a phone book. How many people do we have in this country with Dutch, Scandinavian, Spanish, Italian, Russian, etc surnames who speak not one word of their ancestors' language, and who know very little of the old country's culture? If he has particular people in mind he should mention them instead of smearing everyone but his own stupid white ass.

For those about to mention Mexican gang members, we have thousands of law-abiding, assimilated Hispanics for each criminal, and if we had no white or indigenous gang bangers, you might have a point.  But we do, so you don't.

This part is racist:
... even after 150 years, despite the intentional destruction of their languages, religions and tribal identities that they suffered at the hands of those who enslaved them, African-Americans have still not collectively assimilated into the greater American culture.
While many blacks and whites alike would prefer to believe this is solely the result of white racism, racism has only been one factor contributing to the development that the historical pattern clearly indicates; over the course of seven or eight generations, African-Americans have managed to create, largely ex nihilo, their own distinct cultural identity in preference to the adoption of the European civilization that forcibly imported their ancestors.
Borders, Language, Culture

This is a clumsy, chauvinistic anti-immigrant, anti-black bash, nothing more. I agree with Michael Savage that Borders, Language and Culture are critical. We need to preserve them, but simplistic articles like this are not helpful.  Not only that, they are not even accurate and they fail to identify the root of whatever problem it is they are ranting against.

Which immigrants was he talking about? I agree that those whose culture is incompatible with Western Civilization should not be allowed in, but using the generic “immigrant” stupidly impugns them all, including presumably my Eastern European mom, aunts and uncles and grandparents. And  treating black Americans as a homogeneous underclass group is a bald-faced, bigoted insult, not to mention factually incorrect. 

I’m again reminded why I avoid World Nut Daily. Such sensationalist founts of stupidity do more harm than good to the conservative cause.  We have isolated instances of unassimilated immigrants (blessedly rare), and if someone wants to address the topic, specific facts would advance the dialog.  

We also have a criminal underclass in this country, but it is a diverse, multi-color population, and it needs to be addressed as such.  Not only out of respect for the facts, but most of all out of respect for the overwhelming majority of black Americans who love this country and go to work everyday to take care of their families and pay the bills.

There are ways to talk about America's problems, and I've just featured two examples of how not to do it, and it has nothing to do with political correctness, and everything to do with intellectual honesty and respect for others.

As a bonus, here is how you humorously and frankly address politically incorrect topics without descending into chauvinistic bigotry :  Ten HateFacts

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Liberalism is Abnormal

Walter Kronkite Impersonator


Edmund Burke, Thomas Sowell, William F. Buckly and millions of others be damned, liberal researchers claim liberalism requires more though than conservatism.  They may be right...

Insecure prigs on the left enjoy confirming their own biases against conservatives. We're low-brow neanderthals, unthinking dullards, and news like this really cheeses them off:
PRINCETON, NJ -- Political ideology in the U.S. held steady in 2011, with 40% of Americans continuing to describe their views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal. This marks the third straight year that conservatives have outnumbered moderates, after more than a decade in which moderates mainly tied or outnumbered conservatives.. (Gallup)
Conservatives outnumber liberals 2-1.  That can't be possible!  There must be some explanation! Academe is full of social scientists who are eager to keep their liberal confreres firmly ensconced in their comfy intellectual lazy-boy recliners:
New research provides evidence that, when under time pressure or otherwise cognitively impaired, people are more likely to express conservative views.  (Is Conservatism our Default Ideology?)
To get people to answer questions presumably without thinking, researchers had people respond while "cognitively impaired." In one case, they had respondents perform tasks that distracted them during the Q & A period.  Another part of the study involved asking drunk New Englanders questions as they exited a drinking establishment.  All quotes are from the article Is Conservatism our Default Ideology?...
“Bar patrons reported more conservative attitudes as their level of alcohol intoxication increased,” the researchers report.
Yeah, we all know that drinking turns people into conservative, risk-averse, ration decision-makers... (eye roll)
“The bad news for liberals is we’re saying that conservatism has a certain psychological advantage,” Eidelman said. “The bad news for conservatives is that someone who has a knee-jerk conservative reaction may change their mind about an issue after giving it more thought.”
Or not. Could it be that conservative thought just instinctively makes more sense? Pay people to sit on their asses and mooch off of the government, and you will produce more moochers. Building ponzi schemes that pay out more money than they bring in will produce deficits. You can't rack up debt forever... Are these the crazy, knee-jerk conservative ideas the researchers have in mind?
Of course, it’s an open question as to what percentage of the population genuinely ponders political issues, rather than simply going with their initial instincts. This suggests liberals face a significant challenge in converting people to their cause.
As Eidelman puts it: “It might take a little extra effort to convince yourself (to support a liberal position), and a little extra work to convince others.”
Yes!  Reality-defying Rube Goldberg schemes are hard to explain!  More so when they fly in the face of human nature and historical empirical data, as liberal fantasies dressed-up as "policy" so often do.

The thesis, which their study supposedly confirms, is that low-effort thought promotes political conservatism. It's a good laugh line, but it has led liberals into their normal patterns of illogic.

Saying that A (little thought) causes B (political conservatism), does not mean that A exclusively causes B.  A passing car causes a dog to bark. But that is not the only cause.

This also flies in the face of the evidence all around us.  Plenty of liberals and ideological agnostics land themselves in trouble for failing to think through the consequences of their actions, and most conservatives came to their beliefs only after growing up and realizing (by observing and thinking) that liberalism makes no sense.
More disturbing for liberals, the study suggests that conservatism may be the "default" condition.
Yes.  We are hardwired to look before we leap, which is what makes it so dismaying to watch liberal lemmings (and those who think they are conservative) go over the cliff because their latest political hero told them to.

The Study

Monday, April 9, 2012

America's False Messiahs

Barack Obama may command the oceans to recede and inspire unquestioning fanaticism in his disciples, but he is by no means the only politician with a messiah complex. DC spills over with the self-anointed who randomly append their names with D's and R's.



We don't need political messiahs, we need politicians who will conform their actions to the plain reading of the US Constitution and keep their extra-constitutional power lusts and money grabs to themselves.

We need real public servants whose zeal for the founding fathers' house consumes them.

We need brave men and women who will make a whip of cords and drive the moneychangers from the US Capitol, which the contemptible sneaking cowards we elected have turned into a "den of robbers."

We need a truly independent press not afraid to call the politicians, democrats and republicans, what they are: A brood of vipers, hypocrites! They bind up laws to burden good citizens, while they exempt themselves.

These political pharisees strain out a gnat when circumscribing citizens' rights, but swallow the camel for personal and partisan political gain and the money and power that it brings them.

Unfaithful stewards in the Democratic and Republican parties squander our hard earned money and leave us more enslaved than before, and then add to the insult by giving us a dishonest accounting of their nefarious activities

They love grandiose titles and places of honor, and they forget that they work for the citizens, not the other way around. They have neglected "the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness."

They are blind guides, leading us all into a pit.  Hypocrites! Snakes! They have crucified reason, strangled liberty and placed themselves above the laws of nature and of God.

Their cup is clean on the outside, but on the inside it is full of greed and self-indulgence.

Our government institutions are whitewashed sepulchers, "beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean." This leads We The People to view those in power with suspicion: "In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."

We don't need self-anointed messiahs in Washington. We need honest men and women who carry out their enumerated duties and leave the rest to the people.

With sincere apologies to St Matthew, St John, and most of all our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!





Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Saturday

Jesus is in the tomb. We still believe...

WaPo - Palm Sunday Around the World

On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’

Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”

Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard. (Matthew 27)


I long for Thy salvation, 0 Lord, Thy law is my delight
The mind is affrighted at Thy dread and strange burial.
Let me live, that I may praise Thee, and let Thy ordinances help me
The women with spices came early at dawn to anoint Thee.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep, seek Thy servant, for I do not forget Thy commandments (Psalm 119)


OrthodoxNet.com - Lamentations at the Tomb

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday


Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Last Supper

The Last Supper by Jacopo Bassano

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”  27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[b] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26)

The More Things Change...

As is my custom, I'm off the grid 'till next Monday out of respect for the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I'll have posts, but they are short, each commemorating an even of Jesus Christ's passion, and after this one the comments will be turned off.

Meanwhile, here's something to think about.  Pop it out to full screen for maximum effect...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Are You Serious? The Federal Government Can Do Most Anything!


Liberals are just now waking up to the reality that Obamacare is hard to defend, because they haven't deigned to defend it until now.  The liberal argument for Obamacare has been based in "bandwagon/argumentum ad populum" and "appeal to authority," both logical fallacies.

Here's a common illogical example addressing government's power to regulate non-activity and make us eat broccoli:
Until this week, most scholars seemed to think this would be treated by the justices as a distinction without any special significance. “It’s a silly distinction,” Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia law professor, told me this week. Opponents of the law “have gotten an enormous amount of mileage out of ‘inactivity,’ but that really has nothing to do with the regulation of commerce,” he said.
One hundred professors from many of the country’s major law schools signed a statement arguing that those seeking to overturn the law “seek to jettison nearly two centuries of settled constitutional law” and “there can be no serious doubt about the constitutionality” of the insurance mandate. 
One hundred professors! No serious doubt!  Imagine that! This is the kind of argumentation the left's advocacy is shot through with. No reasoning, just intellectually-flaccid statements that include such phrases as "everybody knows" and "experts agree." They won't even rebut serious challenges, imperiously discounting them out of hand.

Yes We Can!  ...Make them eat their broccoli...

When Justice Scalia asked the broccoli question, White House Solicitor Verrilli stumbled and fumbled, disappointing tearful progressives everywhere. Here's what a New York Times writer thought he should have said, and it sums up progressive thought in a nutshell:
But it seems to me that a succinct answer to Justice Scalia’s question is that the commerce clause would not limit Congress’s ability to regulate broccoli — if members of the House and Senate were crazy enough to pass legislation requiring all of us to eat green vegetables and if that were deemed a rational way to regulate commerce. The same could be said of health clubs.  (NY Times)
Progressivism is Fundamentally Un-American

There you go, folks. This is why progressives should never be trusted with power, and their century-old strongman ideology is fundamentally un-American.  In their world, unlike the founding fathers', a crazy congress could force us to eat our arugula, or march the fatties off to government boot camps, and that is the fatal flaw of progressivism: Trusting our overlords to not be crazy, stupid or greedy as they wield absolute power.  Yeah, that's a great plan!  Sarcasm aside, it is antithetical to the bedrock foundation of this republic, it ignores the entire arc of human history, and flies in the face of our understanding of human nature.

Note how the progressive author blithely dismisses individual liberty:
"To Depression-era farmers, it was no doubt an affront to individual freedom that the federal government had the power to tell them what crops not to plant." (NY Times)
Not buying insurance, or Filburn growing wheat for his own consumption in defiance of government quotas, is fair game for progressives because it affects overall commerce. But everything is connected, so what on earth does not affect overall commerce? That is how markets work. Under the progressives' capacious understanding of the commerce clause, there is no human activity under the sun that the federal government could not regulate.

An old or severely disabled person deciding to not die and instead electing an expensive medical procedure would fit into the same category. A progressive government, using its own twisted logic, would regulate that too, regulating the person right out of existence.  I'll spare you the historical precedents...
"the federal government, yes, can do most anything in this country." -- Democrat Congressman Pete Stark
Please go read Ilya Shapiro's excellent article slicing and dicing the hapless left, We were Serious the whole Time