Saturday, August 08, 2009

Deforming Health Care

Belligerence is the currency of the intellectually bankrupt.
 — Charles Blow

What you're seeing at these meetings is not the brutish behavior of people too dumb to convince others with reason. On the contrary, this is the natural reaction of people when their attempts at reason have fallen on deaf ears and they realize the brutes are planning a feast with them on the menu. These people aren't "[b]linded by fear and passion" but passionately fearful of the dangers to their freedoms that the apathetic masses are blind to--in no small part due to the work of those like Charles Blow or Gail Collins, who argues for Obama's Health Care Deform, because it's something "those people pounding on the doors of a town meeting in Tampa and screaming at the fire marshals don’t want." (Yes, making the people you don't like mad is always a strong ethical argument for massive spending and regulation.)

Just listening to the arrogant office holders in recent weeks, I expected angry reactions and wondered how long it would be until fists were swung. The surprise reaction of proponents, and the lame attempts to dismiss and ridicule genuine anger only demonstrates how out of touch they are.

This inability to appreciate why people are shouting is a bad sign. As Beck points out, once again: "All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Health Care Deform"

Said by Herman Cain, substitute for Neal Boortz on Monday.

It's so hot in Texas that

From e-mail:
  • I saw a coyote chasing a rabbit and they were both walking.
  • The corn growing in the field is already popped.
  • Farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying hard-boiled eggs.
  • A sad West River cowboy once prayed, "I wish it would rain - not so much for me cuz I've seen it-but for my 7-year-old."
  • You can make instant sun tea.
  • The temperature drops below 95, you feel a bit chilly.
  • Hot water now comes out of both taps.
  • You break a sweat the instant you step outside at 7:30 a.m. before work.
  • You realize that asphalt has a liquid state.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Al Gore likens fight against climate change to battle with Nazis

Eventually, it may come to that. But Al Gore has it upside down and backwards. The fascists are the ones nationalizing industries and stealing the efforts of the most productive, to spend as they see fit. The Reds Greens are the ones depriving individuals of the freedom to make their own choices, putting arbitrary restrictions on what you can build or drive.

Sometime down the road, when historians look back, they will wonder how people allowed politicians to artificially inflate the prices of energy, construction, and transportation. Once you see $8/gal. gas and $700 utility bills, or when it costs you $10,000 to retrofit your house before you're allowed to sell it, and the economy takes the predictable nose dive in response, people are going to be eying their pitchforks when the likes of Al Gore speak. I think he's just getting a head start on this, hoping that enough idiots will buy his "anti-environmentalists are Nazis" bullshit to balance the rest of us who see the alarmists as the architects of our economic ruination, in need of tar and feathers.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Nomination for "Whip of the Week"

Beck ought to consider this one:

He should have just called the police. I’m sure they would have been happy to shoot his dogs for him. Then we don’t even need to waste time with a trial; the P.D. can just release a statement that the officer acted with courage and professionalism and that’s the end of it.
  —comment at Balko's place

Another contender: Via Politico:

As Friday’s debate dragged on, Republicans asked the House to observe a moment of silence for Americans who would lose their jobs as a result of the bill. Democrats objected.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Letterman vs. Palin

Sarah Palin is milking this thing for all it's worth, continuing to pretend that Letterman intentionally made the joke about her 14-year old. In a segment I saw on FNC America's Newsroom, they ran with that presumption. Brent Bozell pontificated about statutory rape and whatnot. Bullshit. I don't believe for a second he realized that Palin had her younger daughter with her. It's obvious he intended to make the joke about Bristol, the 18-year old. I wish those people would stop lying about this. They're throwing away any moral high ground they might have had.

Letterman's shtick, from way back in the 80s when I first started watching him after Carson, is being an asshole. It can be funny when the butt of the joke is a grownup celebrity, for example. Going after Bristol was going too far. She doesn't deserve to be ridiculed on national television, just because her mother's a joke. And, when he did explain his intention and apologize, he poisoned the apology with more low blows, which made him look insincere. If he'd resisted doing that, I think the statutory rape lies would get far less traction.

Part of the problem is that Letterman has become more politically partisan in recent years. His Great Moments in Presidential Speeches was funny. Unfortunately, I have yet to see him showing Obama having a no teleprompter moment, or doing something else stupid. I realize that Obama's popularity amongst entertainers and the media makes him untouchable as the butt of a joke. But Letterman has previously had the guts to disregard popularity. Not this time. Instead, he's taken sides against Republicans pretty much all the time now, effectively eliminating half of the source material for political jokes. That's just lame.

As part and parcel of this, his show has had some climate change chicken littles, guys who predict massive catastrophe not supported by any real data. He doesn't challenge them, but gives them free reign to spread their hysteria on his show. Meh.

I miss Johnny.

Addendum: Someone remind New York State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb that Republicans are supposed to be the ones who keep government out of the board room.

Minor edits for clarification.

Friday, June 05, 2009

More Reasons to Taze You

Correction added

As if cowards with badges didn't already have enough reasons to indulge their sadistic side, Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sperrazza ruled that it is constitutional to use DNA from taser probes.

Wanna bet this portends an uptick in the number of unnecessary taser incidents? Wanna bet police departments will start systematically cataloging DNA samples from all taser incidents, from here on out?

Correction: The DNA wasn't taken from the taser probes. Rather, the suspect was tasered to force him to provide a court-ordered DNA sample. I still say it's a bad ruling, because it gives police yet another excuse to use tasers.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Tank vs. Citizen

What kind of government runs over innocent people with tanks?

From comment section at Balko's place.

P.S. Regardless of whether you believe the Davidians started the fire, the fact is that the FBI tanks crushed women and children. They were quick to pull down the Davidian flag and raise the ATF flag, while people were still dying. That's not the act of crime fighters seeking to rescue children from alleged abuse. It's the act of military conquest.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Obsession with Foreign Opinion

The American "mainstream" press wants you to be obsessed with what foreigners think about you and your government. Endless polls have been taken in Europe, the Middle East, Muslim countries, and across the globe, to tell you what they think of us. This naturally feeds those Americans who are critics of US foreign policy, our crass materialism, our lack of universal health care, our guns, and our bibles, to name a few. But how often does the media ask Americans what they think of foreigners?

I almost had hope when I saw a CNN poll asking Americans what they thought of Muslim countries. But by the fourth paragraph, CNN's Paul Steinhauser was already changing gears: "The poll also suggests that most Americans suspect people in Muslim countries don't think highly of the United States." Besides, it's not like this poll was undertaken by Al Jazeera, which might indicate that, for once, they wonder what we think of them. Same old same old.

I really do not give a shit for the opinions of some random asshole on the street, who is often the product of a pre-Enlightenment culture in a country controlled by theocratic despots, or a snooty European whose ancestors never experienced anything like the individualism of the American Revolution. Who the hell are those people to inform Americans how to conduct our affairs? (By the same token, the US has no business deciding how Iraqis or Afghans set up governments.) It's bad enough that ignorant American voters have been given the power to decide how to dispose of the productive efforts of their neighbors. Enough, already.

Monday, June 01, 2009

McCain vs. Obama

In a comment at Balko's place, I wonder just how The Agitator, who purports to defend individual liberty, could possibly say such things:

Finally, Obama has disappointed. But he’s also been better...than McCain would have been on a number of issues. ...I merely said I preferred him to McCain, for a number of reasons. I still do.

I'm struggling really hard here to think of any significant particulars you might have in mind. I'm looking at the multi-trillion dollar boondoggles, which amounts to the government--based upon a panicked frenzy which precluded even a few days of review before signing into law--imposing tens of thousands of dollars in liens on you, your children, your grandchildren, and so on. Imagine the implications of those debts alone on the ability of people to live free lives.

But that's just the opening scene to this horror show. There's the government takeover of banking and auto manufacturing. The Red Green "reforms" (autos, utilities, construction, manufacturing), when put into full force will be tantamount to carpet bombing American industry. Health care "reform" will balloon the cost of medical care, just as in every other situation in which the government promised to cut costs by taking over industries. More liens on your life. More nanny-state regulations of everything you do.

Please, Mr. Balko, could you give some specific examples of your "number of issues" and "number of reasons" to still consider McCain worse than Obama? I have a few ideas of what you might say, but I just can't imagine how those could make even 0.01% of the difference on the lives of multiple generations that Obama's fast strikes at the American economy will make.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dystopia Now

From David Codrea comes this BBC article:
Thousands of Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras are already operating on Britain's roads.

Police forces across England, Wales and Scotland will soon be able to share the information on one central computer.

...Kent's Chief Constable, Michael Fuller, commented: "We've seen an increase of some 40% of arrests since we've been using this technology.

"I'm very confident that we're using it properly and responsibly, and that innocent people have nothing to fear from the way we use it."

Don't believe him? Well, just read this testimonial by an innocent person who had nothing to fear:

John Catt found himself on the wrong side of the ANPR system. He regularly attends anti-war demonstrations outside a factory in Brighton, his home town.

It was at one of these protests that Sussex police put a "marker" on his car. That meant he was added to a "hotlist".

This is a system meant for criminals but John Catt has not been convicted of anything and on a trip to London, the pensioner found himself pulled over by an anti-terror unit.

"I was threatened under the Terrorist Act. I had to answer every question they put to me, and if there were any questions I would refuse to answer, I would be arrested. I thought to myself, what kind of world are we living in?"
You're living in the country which gave the world George Orwell. That country looks a lot like the USA should be about ten years from now.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Full Colin Powell

Colin Powell, the man who endorsed Barack Obama for president, claims, "I am still a Republican."

As a committed non-voter, an atheist, an opponent of the War on Drugs, etc., I don't support the GOP's goals--except their goal of thwarting the increasingly socialist Democrats. And, I have a whole graveyard of bones to pick with Powell's loudest Republican critics. But in this particular case, they are right on the money.

Colin Powell is the Benedict Arnold of the Republican party. He sold his fellow party members down the river, I suspect because he didn't like being called a "house slave." Maybe if the Democrat he endorsed was Joe Lieberman, instead of a radical socialist, I might be persuaded that he broke ranks on principle. Obviously, he did so for racial reasons, thus demonstrating a lack of character.

Republicans who continue to behave like cowardly semi-Democrats deserve to keep losing elections. The shame of it is that their failure means the socialist goals of Democrats are advanced even faster. That being said, anyone who takes advice from Powell should stock up on toilet paper, because they're going to get what you'd expect from a full colon.

Even though I oppose putting moral questions to a popularity contest, I can appreciate when a politician like Ron Paul gives voters a stark choice. The Rockefeller/Powell Republicans give voters a choice between slightly different shades of socialism.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Obama Motors

Underdog Allen

Carlos Santana was my favorite performer of the night, followed by Dr. Brian May. But the show is about singing, so I digress.

I was surprised when Kris won. Many people, including Simon, expected Adam to easily cruise into first place. But considering all the elements, Kris' win should not have been a "shocker" as some are portraying it. Kris is a damned good singer. His talents lend themselves to songs with more mainstream appeal. He comes across as cool and genuine, like the boy next door who worked hard to break into show business. I thought he distinguished himself on the Top 3 show, showing viewers that he was consistently good, often great.

Like I've mentioned previously, I thought Adam overdid the wailing and did so in songs where it didn't really fit. He didn't seem to me to be as sincere as Kris, but that could just be the way his face naturally looks. Early in the contest, my wife and I thought he looked a bit like Elvis. The Elvis part probably helped, but I'm sure young girls would have been more likely to wear out their redial buttons if they saw him as available.

Adam has some great vocal abilities. Hell, the guy outsang Kiss when he was on stage with them. When he makes an album, I hope he doesn't water down his strengths by putting his spin on more popular songs. He should stick to what he's great at.

After winning, I thought Kris redeemed himself by singing No Boundaries in a better key. He seemed quite shocked at winning, almost embarrassingly so. I noticed Simon didn't stand up with everyone else, which just made him look childish. Yes, he's the best judge, but he was wrong on this one.

I look forward to seeing what kind of album Kris makes. As much as I enjoy the TV show, I haven't yet bought any contestant's album for myself. (My daughter has albums by Carrie Underwood and Jordin Sparks, which aren't my kind of music.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Child's Medical Care

Balko writes:

Here’s a tough one for you: Do parental rights extend to denying potentially lifesaving chemo for your kid? What probability of success does the treatment have to carry for a parent to be allowed to decline it on behalf of his kid? I don’t have an answer. I don’t think Christian Science parents should be permitted to let their kid die of an ear infection. But if chemo is going to make your kid’s last 3 years unlivable, and only has a 25 percent chance of success, I think parents should be able to say no. I just don’t know where or how you draw the line.

I've been kicking this one around in my head since I read about it. What galls me the most here is that this involves government functionaries making decisions, when they lack the incentives to appreciate the values of those involved. I would be far more comfortable with a grandparent, uncle, or sibling who took a child away from a parents who were neglecting to get their child medical treatment, in order to have the child treated. I don't buy the rule of thumb that an outside party is a better judge, when those closest to the conflict have the most to lose or gain and thus have intimate reasons to make their choices.

As an atheist, I don't care for making irrational choices based upon faith. Nor do I care for inculcating children with anti-reason. But I completely part ways with Richard Dawkins, for example, when he argues that outsiders should take away children from religious parents, on the grounds that brainwashing them with fundamentalist religion is abuse. The outsiders to which he would defer are likely to be completely irrational when it comes to politics, economics, and diet--to name some obvious examples. They would be government functionaries, who are not motivated to do their best, who often have incentives which run contrary to the interests of the children. If our culture hadn't been corrupted with dependence on government to solve social problems, to the point of near helplessness, perhaps private individuals close to the scene would be more inclined to do the right thing.

Obviously, if a parent is burning a child with a cigarette, sexually molesting the child, or doing other similarly monstrous things, I think outsiders have a right to step in. I agree that choosing not to go through with chemo isn't child abuse--especially when the teenager at issue doesn't want it, since he or she is old enough that his or her opinion should hold some weight, even if it isn't the final word.

I Strip Away the Old Debris

The Obama administration's push to increase gas mileage means more expensive, smaller, less powerful cars. Your preferences for performance, utility, and safety will not be allowed to properly dictate the supply and demand.

Off the top of my head, about all the freedom that's breaking out under the benevolent hand of Obama:

What will happen is that to the extent that they can -- before, that is, the government finds ways to tamp it -- what's left of The American Man will keep real cars running as long as they can into The Cripples' Era. There are enough of them left that it will be a while before there are only Eloi remaining to pedal Social Motors toys around this great continent.


The title of this post, like the title of this blog, comes from the song Red Barchetta.

Addendum: I noticed on the wikipedia entry for the song Red Barchetta that Geddy Lee mispronounces "Barchetta" with a "ch" sound instead of a hard "k" sound.

Distraction Suffocation

David Codrea wonders if police will call this a "distraction suffocation."

The famous "Only Ones" paradox: The only charge is "resisting arrest." I wasn't aware that a hand over the mouth while the forearm is wrapped around the throat was a standard technique.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Idol Finale a Tossup

It seems to me that, as the number of contestants get fewer, the chance of having a great performance diminishes. Most of the top ten singers are so talented that having only two in the finale is disappointing to me. Yes, I know that's part of the game. I also think the original songs written for the finale are always a bit lame. This year's No Boundaries was no exception.

I've watched Idol since season 5 (Taylor Hicks), and the best finale had to be last year (David Cook). All the others, including tonight's, have been a bit of a letdown, for the aforementioned reasons.

  • Adam Lambert · Mad World · Adam's haunting rendition is closer to Gary Jules' arrangement than the original Tears for Fears. I prefer Jules to Tears, and Adam is almost as good as Jules. This performance was a bit smoother than when he previously sang it, without the wild riffs, which are usually a bit incongruous, and often frantic. He leaves that off this song, which was good. Grade: B+
  • Kris Allen · Ain't No Sunshine · One of my favorite songs. Kris makes it his own, making great use of his piano skills. I still prefer Bill Withers, but he puts a lot of energy into it. I wish it could have been twice as long. Grade: A
  • Adam Lambert · Change is Gonna Come · Paula's probably right about this being Adam's best performance to date. The last few measures were too loud which, like I said, made them a bit incongruous with the rest of the song. But it didn't go on and on, or get too screechy, so I'd call that a minor complaint in this case. Grade: A-
  • Kris Allen · What's Goin' On · Another great Motown song. Kris did a good job, but unfortunately it was too laid back. So he wasn't able to distinguish himself from Adam this round. Grade: B
  • Adam Lambert · No Boundaries · Another rather lame Idol Finale song--not Adam's fault. The performance was competent. Grade: B
  • Kris Allen · No Boundaries · Yes, the key was too high for his voice. He was really pushing to outdo Adam, but that made him sound at times like he was shouting, instead of singing. I wish he could come back and try it again. Even better, I wish they would have thrown out No Boundaries and let them sing another old hit. Grade: C+

I'm not going to bother voting on this, because I'd call it a tossup. I expect Adam to win the vote, but I don't think it would be much of an upset if Kris pulls ahead.

I'd probably be more inclined to buy an album by Kris Allen, because I grow weary of Adam's wailing, even if he has masterful control. Then again, if Adam chose to use his vocal range more selectively, more suitably matched with the song as a whole, he could put out some great stuff. I'm also interested to see Danny Gokey's first studio album.

Bad Health Advice

The Agitator notes that Obama has chosen a food nanny to run the CDC. I'm just waiting for the day when the food dictators not only crack down on trans-fats and sugary sodas, but try to force people to eat more grain and vegetable oil, eschewing animal fat and eggs. Nearly all nutritionists are completely wrong about the impact of these foods on your health. Their advice for decades has, in all likelihood, lead to more obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer (the "diseases of civilization"). In the name of "public health", the food nannies may soon punish those of us who ignore official recommendations and try to improve our health based upon evolutionary principles. The so-called experts do not objectively analyze all medical research. They cherry-pick studies which conform to the current recommendations. Over and over scientists and doctor misinterpret findings, ignoring how insulin, not saturated fats, is the real killer.

Montreal Nannies

The Agitator links to an article about a brave Montreal officer who protected Canadian citizens from a dangerous criminal:

Not unnoticed in the article was the fact that this scofflaw was an immigrant from the USSR. Living in Canada should have been an escape from this sort of bullying by police.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Training and Policy

The Times reported Dieter Dammeier said the officer acted within his training and department policy when he delivered the kick at the end of a televised high-speed pursuit Wednesday afternoon. [emphasis added]
I have absolutely no doubt that is true.
"Unfortunately these things never look good on video...," said Dammeier.
Ya think?
The suspects were allegedly throwing gang signs during the chase, El Monte Lt. Chuck Carlson told
Oh noes! Good thing no one was hit.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Do You Have a Mouse in Your Pocket, Mr. Balko?

Radley Balko writes:
Obama: Still bad on the issues where we thought he’d be bad, and still bad on the issues where we expected better from him. Oh, and he’s also still breaking campaign promises.

Radley, what's this "we" nonsense? Some of us knew better, tried to tell you, and were kicked around by you for our trouble.

Addendum: To be clear, I don’t for one second expect that McCain would have made improvements in the way of individual rights (i.e., getting the government to stop squashing them so much). He voted for TARP. He co-authored McCain-Feingold. I long ago decided that McCain voted with Democrats when he should have voted with the GOP on principle, but voted with Republicans when he should have broken ranks on principle. Basically, the man has no principles.

Still, I doubt he would be chewing up $9.3 trillion in debts, with a hungry eye on medical insurance, and all the rest. He would suck, but he wouldn’t be on a hard push for more socialism, more socialism, more socialism.

Got Metaphor?

Bloomberg carries this article:

President Barack Obama, calling current deficit spending “unsustainable,” warned of skyrocketing interest rates for consumers if the U.S. continues to finance government by borrowing from other countries.
“We can’t keep on just borrowing from China,” Obama said at a town-hall meeting in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, outside Albuquerque. “We have to pay interest on that debt, and that means we are mortgaging our children’s future with more and more debt.”
Holders of U.S. debt will eventually “get tired” of buying it, causing interest rates on everything from auto loans to home mortgages to increase, Obama said. “It will have a dampening effect on our economy.”

I'm struggling to think of an apt metaphor here. Like a wife beater giving a lecture on the importance of mutual respect, an unrepentant junky burglar leading a DARE brainwashing session, an embezzler harping on accuracy in accounting. Is this a case of Dr. Strangelove Syndrome? Does this man not remember signing away $9.3 trillion for the next decade in his gotta do it right away can't stop to debate pass it right now fervor?

These reporters are going to share in the catastrophe of this spending. It eludes me why they still have shoes on their feet, when, as the last disaster to fill the Oval Office discovered, shoes make such a great method of instantly expressing disapproval during a president's speech. In a sane, rational, honest world, Barack couldn't stand up there without being pelted by every available loose object at hand.

The president pledged to work with Congress to shore up entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare and said he was confident that the House and Senate would pass health-care overhaul bills by August.

Exactly how are they going to "shore up" these programs? Exactly how are they going to fund the "health-care overhaul bills"? More deficit spending!

Wow. Just, wow.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Idol Top 3

I didn't have time to watch anything but the performances, so my thoughts are untainted by the judges' reactions. That's probably not a bad thing. Before tonight, my favorite was Danny Gokey. But he disappointed me in the Top 3 show, as did Adam. Kris Allen was the star of the night. But compared to previous weeks, all of the contestants have done better before.

  1. Kris Allen · Apologize · Kris has emerged as the dark horse. This was the best song of the night. It wasn't great, but consistently good from start to finish. Nice piano work, too.
  2. Kris Allen · Heartless · It had a good driving rhythm, and I wish it could have lasted longer. I realize they have time limits, of course, so that wasn't his fault. Nice choice of song.
  3. Danny Gokey · You Are So Beautiful · Decent. Not a great choice, but safe.
  4. Adam Lambert · Cryin' · As one of Aerosmith's repetitive songs, this was a poor choice. It was a bit loud and pointless, without giving Adam a chance to showcase his vocal range.
  5. Adam Lambert · One · Boring and uninspired in the soft parts. The rest seemed forced and a bit frantic, nearly coming unhinged.
  6. Danny Gokey · Dance Little Sister · Awful. Paula did Danny a disservice picking this song.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

New Star Trek

I saw the new Star Trek last night. I think The Wrath of Khan (1982) is still the best, but this comes in a very close second. The battles in the new film were some of the best, nearly on par with Khan. The modern CGI was used to great effect, without overshadowing the story or characters.

By far the best part of the movie was the cast. Two major roles, McCoy and Spock, were aptly filled by Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto. Urban channels DeForest Kelley without even trying. Quinto, in addition to looking like Nimoy, brought a fierceness to Spock I liked. Zoë Saldana was adorable as Uhura. Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead gives comic relief as Scotty (though I didn't care for his assistant, which was too reminiscent of the ridiculous Ewoks). Of course, no actor could reprise the original role better than Leonard Nimoy.

Chris Pine makes a completely different Kirk than William Shatner's, which is good in this case. I realize a lot of people don't like Shatner, but I appreciate that he's so quick to make fun of himself...and you just have to love a guy who'll do this.

My only disappointment was with the villain, Nero. Eric Bana had very little screen time--especially compared to Ricardo Montalbán, who was such a commanding presence for much of the second Star Trek movie. And, while the audience could feel the pain of Khan, and to understand what drove him, Nero is quiet and brooding, and his excuse for doing what he does is absurd.

The commercials say, "This is not your father's Star Trek." That's a bit of a backhanded slap at us geeky dads, but it's true. More specifically, it's not campy like the original series, nor is it covered in the increasingly silly politically correct utopian nonsense of later series. This future world is technologically advanced, but not sanitized. There is visible chaos when Star Fleet is mobilized, which strikes me as being more realistic than the more simplistic situations in previous movies and episodes, where the extras are more like stage props than real people. Being such a character-driven story, the chaos works quite well to make this an enjoyable film.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Poseidon Confounds Reds Greens

From the BBC (via Beck):

An expedition team which set sail from Plymouth on a 5,000-mile carbon emission-free trip to Greenland have been rescued by an oil tanker.

Calling Intelligent Use of Tools Pathetic

I previously commented about a good use of deadly violence by a victim of a home invasion. In the comments at Balko's place, I toss in a response to a commenter who seems intent on shaming rational people:

wallster: You are not ‘tough’ because you own a gun. By owning a gun, you prove that you are the one who is pathetic and scared. Get over yourself

By owning a car, does that prove you are weak and slow? Do you carry everything you need on foot, to make sure no one thinks any less of you?

There is nothing pathetic about being afraid of people who are willing to break into your home, rape, and murder you. A person who takes charge of her security by owning the most efficient means of protection is not pathetic or cowardly, but rationally intent on keeping her life (not allowing herself to be murdered), liberty (not allowing herself to be raped or prevented from coming and going as she sees fit), and property (not allowing thieves to take her things). The same for a man.

Expecting a 911 call to protect you isn't brave. Considering the number of examples of victims whose call to 911 didn't save them, why would you try to shame people into being that stupid?

No one has any obligation to give up anything which is theirs to murderers, rapists, and thieves. Furthermore, one is not obligated to rely on one's body, foregoing the use of efficient tools (guns, door locks, guard dogs) because some simpleton might consider that "pathetic" or cowardly.

Energy Policy Election Expectations

My comment in response to a QandO article on Energy Policy:
arch: I predict that cap and trade, if passed by this pack of thieves, will result in a political backlash that will reverse the majority in the House in 2010. The narrative that only the rich will pay more taxes will collapse when people realize that cap & trade is a tax on everyone and everything.

My money is on the Democrats' ability to successfully persuade a sufficient percentage of voters to blame the inevitable economic disaster on Big Oil, Big Coal, and Big GOP. Sub-prime mortgages, Social Security and Medicare are Democrat constructions, but how many voters blame them?

Even if Democrats miscalculate their moves on this, why would you expect the voters who lined up to vote for an Obama nation, to see gutless, unprincipled Republicans as a fix?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Huge Waste of Time and Expense to Recover $8,500 Stolen by Police

CNN reports that it only took 18 months and a lawsuit to get Tenaha, TX police to return $8,500 they stole from Roderick Daniels of Tennessee in October, 2007.

"I just feel blessed," Daniels said. "I am happy everything is going good right now. ... I just want to celebrate."

I'm happy that Mr. Daniels got his money, but just how blessed can he be to be deprived of his money for 18 months, and to have to give up his time and expense to pursue a lawsuit 800 miles from his home? If the civilians did this, they would be charged with armed robbery, extortion, and if Daniels refused, with kidnapping.

It gets worse. In a previous article, CNN reports:

Jennifer Boatright and Ron Henderson said they agreed to forfeit their property after Russell threatened to have their children taken away.

Not only did the thugs with badges steal these people's money, they actually threatened to kidnap their children. Again, if a civilian did the same thing, he'd likely be facing life in prison. The fact that they are not held accountable, like we are, makes civilians de facto second-class subjects. Instead of being expected to follow the same laws we do, these thugs and their masters try to justify their looting as a tool to fight drugs. Even worse, the mayor doesn't even make that excuse. According to pistolero:

Kevin's post yesterday reminded me of this story that I saw a few weeks back in the Houston Chronicle...
Tenaha Mayor George Bowers, 80, defended the seizures, saying they allowed a cash-poor city the means to add a second police car in a two-policeman town and help pay for a new police station. "It's always helpful to have any kind of income to expand your police force," Bowers said.
Now, you'll note that neither Mr. Bowers nor any of his colleagues had any comment on whether innocent people were in effect having their possessions stolen from them; in fact, he seems to be saying that the ends justify the means. Any kind of income, eh, even stolen goods and cash, apparently. I wonder what the Founding Fathers would say, or what they would do. Something tells me it would involve tar and feathers, or perhaps even a rope and the tallest tree in the county...

Bye Allison

Cry Baby the best swan song I've ever seen from a contestant. Good show, Allison. You'll go far.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Good Violence

An armed college student killed a would-be murderer and rapist and chased away the bad guy's partner. Anyone who would prohibit the good guys from carrying an effective use of self defense would rather have the 11 good people raped and murdered, in the foolish belief that the two bad guys who were willing to commit mass murder would somehow have been afraid to break the gun prohibition law.

This is a case where there was a good use of deadly violence. The violence was in reaction to an attack. The violence saved the lives of 11 innocent people.

Contrast that with the bad use of violence that the invaders were threatening to do on these people. That violence was aggressive, an initiation of force.

Why can't gun control fascists discriminate between good and bad uses of violence? Why do they want people to be unthinking drones, incapable of using their minds to tell the difference?

(via Balko)

Plane Dumber

I'll have to rethink what I said about the Manhattan Air Force One photo op. Looks like they're flip-flopping.

If Republicans were smart....


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Idol Top Four

Adam Lambert kicked ass. Whole Lotta Love is his best performance to date. I appreciated the absence of Broadway-type gimmickry and the lack of any need to force his vocal wailings into a weak song. This song demanded it.

Allison Iraheta gave a solid performance doing Joplin.

Their duet was definitely the better of the night. They filled out the singers' roles like pros. I think they'll be the top two.

Danny Gokey crashed and burned on the final notes. The song has some good parts, but the chorus is annoyingly repetitive (not as bad as Levon). He should have done something else.

Kris Allen gave one of his best performances with Come Together. Danny is more talented and has been consistently good (except tonight), so I'm hoping he'll fare better in the votes. But the group is small and the competition tight, so I also think Kris could beat him out for third.

Plane Dumb

Obama announced his staff would not release "the $328,835 snapshots of an Air Force One backup plane buzzing lower Manhattan last week."

The administration would like to toss the whole episode down the memory hole. Even if they chafe at being denied access to the pictures, the MSM will no doubt help to fellatiate facilitate Obama's attempted amnesia.

Given that there are already videos of the plane buzzing around, can you imagine if the photographs taken from the chase plane turned out to be crappy, or just mediocre? Most Americans have a short attention span for political news, but pictures are harder to forget. The more pictures, the longer people remember. Clearly, this decision to prohibit access to the images are all about protecting Obama's image.

Their audacity in spending $328,835 to take a photograph was bad enough. But tossing the overpriced pictures in the garbage is much worse.

(Yeah, I know one can obviously offer up the usual hypothetical of how the MSM, et al. would react to Bush doing the same thing. If anyone isn't convinced by the last 500 hypotheticals, one more won't matter. Willful ignorance is impervious to evidence and reason.)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Persuasion is Unnecessary

In a recent comment debate, I've been chastised for alienating others, thus limiting my ability to persuade them to act for political common ground. That doesn't matter to me, and here's why: I do not write those comments or this blog primarily to persuade or convince others.

I do it for me.

It's not that I can't take criticism. For most of my life, I haven't been nearly as close to perfect as I am now, so I've had to eat my share of humble pie when people convince me (or I independently figure out) that I'm wrong. Most of my critics need no encouragement. So, if you have a substantive objection to something I write, don't hold back.

Just know that if you object on the grounds that I'm ruining the chance to make political converts, you're wasting your time. Whether I'm right or wrong has nothing to do with how many people agree with me. I outright reject using any measure of popularity to settle a matter of truth or moral probity, whether it's polls, votes, consensus ("sustainability NOW!"), or common wisdom. If I must be more genteel and diplomatic to convince you of the truth, if you would like me to be more moderate, and less "extreme," to avoid being marginalized, you might as well save yourself the trouble and close this window without delay. Nobody is forcing you to read this.

Before I get back to the debate over religion and torture, I'm going to relate a bit of background to my position. Anyone familiar with Billy Beck (cited above for his substantive exposition on the use of the word "extremist") will no doubt recognize a significant number of his arguments and phrases in what I write, including his attitude towards consensus, politeness, and persuasion. I could spend years cataloging the number of incidents in which someone attempted to disregard his argument, not for its merits, but because they regarded him as a foul-mouthed, arrogant jerk. Bearing in mind that he focuses his ire at selected targets (regardless of whether his critics understand why), he is unrepentant in eschewing such niceties. Read the comments for this article and search for his name. Here's a sample:

"I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen, but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch - and I will be heard. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.

It is pretended that I am retarding the cause of emancipation by the coarseness of my invective and the precipitancy of my measures. The charge is not true. On this question my influence - humble as it is - is felt at this moment to a considerable extent, and shall be felt in coming years - not perniciously, but as a blessing; and posterity will bear testimony that I was right."
(William Lloyd Garrison, "An Immediate End To Slavery", editorial in The Liberator, January 1, 1831, emphases original)


"This ain’t no disco."

I added quite a few comments there, too. Search for those, too. For example:

But what keeps a predator from just pretending not to be persuaded? What about an idiot who lacks the mental capacity to grasp the reasoning? What then?

Billy Beck and Radley Balko are goldmines to me, for different reasons. Balko is an invaluable source of frequent articles highlighting corruption and injustice. His efforts have influenced criminal trials and played no small part in Steven Hayne being fired. But Balko still balks at being smug or "extreme." Also, I felt that during the last campaign he too often focused his criticisms against Republicans, ignoring the horrible consequences to freedom inevitable under Democrats. He spiked a few of my comments and then posted this defense, which I took to be in no small part a reaction to my criticisms. I realize that during an election campaign, people cast a jaundiced eye at their critics, often assuming that the motivation is to influence the election outcome (which is pretty funny considering the fact that I don't vote). But to his credit, he has started to see the consequences of the election outcome. He generally focuses on civil liberties, but perhaps he'll find good reasons to object to a new class of government abuses once the filibuster-proof Democrats start passing laws and regulations. When they ram through carbon cap and trade systems, increased gun control, and universal health care, that will trigger waves of citations, shutdowns, and takings, along with the inevitable arrests and prison sentences for people who resist these additional restrictions on their freedom. (Dare I dream that he might even realize that a McCain administration would likely have made most of the same positive changes, with much fewer negative ones, considering The Maverick's voting record?) I know Beck will be on top of things, as he has been since the Clinton years, without apology for his brusque tone.

Back to the article on religion and torture, which triggered me to write this:

#27 ClubMedSux: ...if you want others to support your beliefs then alienating them is probably a poor strategy for winning their support.
#28 Dan: ...your rhetoric makes it much more difficult for us to work together for the things we do agree on, like the liberty movement. The libertarian and constitutional movements, energized by Ron Paul, will achieve little if we are not able to come together where we can.

Since I choose not to vote, I don't care about movements or political parties. (As much as I enjoyed watching Ron Paul make the other candidates look ridiculous by comparison, he isn't consistently on the side of freedom, either.) So if I have to give respect (in special cases) to anti-evidence, anti-logic, and anti-reason (i.e., faith), so that the people exhibiting such anti-thought don't switch sides against freedom, I have to question their commitment to principles. Democracy aside, why should I value having fair-weather allies? Such support seems arbitrary and capricious, not something on which to rely.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Danny Gokey outdid everyone else in style and substance. The way he powered through the ending was impressive. Adam Lambert sang like a musical maniac, but more Broadway than American Idol, as Randy put it. The other three lagged well behind.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

Spoilers below.

My son picked up The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) the other day. When I was younger, I watched the original from 1951. I don't recall thinking much of its message of moral relativism (making no ethical distinctions between the aggressive use of violence versus defensive). I just saw it as an example of a science fiction movie from that era, overshadowed by the uncertainty of the Cold War.

Having seen some reviews, I knew the new movie would have an environmental spin, rather than anti-war. Still, I gave it half a chance. Partly, I wanted to see how it compared to the original, and see if it had any notable special effects. The effects were underwhelming. The CGI of the destruction cloud was the low-quality "crumbly" type, for example.

As a skeptic of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) hysteria, I expected the theme to be over-the-top hammer-you-on-the-head pontification. I got exactly what I expected. Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) even used the phrase "tipping point," so common among the most hysterical AGW chicken littles. The only thing missing was a shot of Henry Waxman aboard an orbiting spaceship, directing everything.

The anti-human hostility of films like War of the Worlds and Independence Day isn't driven by a moral cause. Rather, it's simply a matter of conquest by outsiders. If anything, such films often poke fun of the naive pacifists. But the anti-humanity of this film is one of moral judgment, taken to psychopathic extremes. As the CGI locusts go about destroying human civilization, I can't help but wonder at the hatred for progress and industry expressed by the writers and producers of this film. In the end, Klaatu relents and calls off the swarms, but only after destroying the ability of everything electrical to function. But the movie ends there, without showing planes fall from the sky, infants in PICU beds dying, massive starvation, death on the order of billions as crops rot in fields, or any of the other obvious consequences.

The childishness of such a massive destruction of human success and ingenuity, without addressing the real-life consequences, doesn't quite sink to the level of absurdity present in The Day After Tomorrow, in which tens of thousands of years of climate change are compressed into a couple days, for dramatic effect. But that isn't saying much.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Green is the New Red

Back in 2000 I looked up the platform for the Green Party and forwarded it to a colleague, in response to his offhand remark praising Ralph Nader's principles. From reading articles about the party, I knew they were more socialist than the Democrats, but I didn't realize how hard core they were until I read that platform. Yes, I know that party platforms are often just a token formality, not to be taken too seriously. But the political activity touted as pro-environment has been quite hostile to free markets and individual rights. If you had written fiction 20 years ago describing how the AGW crowd would behave, critics would have panned your writing for being ridiculously unrealistic.

I'm not sure when the phrase "Green is the New Red" occurred to me, but I know it was years ago and I had never heard anyone else use it. Had I thought of it before these moonbats, I might have reserved the domain or suggested to Warren or Anthony to use it.

I still like Richard's pithy summation from last year.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


<rant>Were I a producer of American Idol, I would ban Randy from stupidly booing Simon at the start of every show. I would also ban contestants from responding to criticism by saying they "had a lot of fun." Most importantly, I'd eliminate any contestant who held out their fingers as Ryan gave the number to call for them, as though viewers were too stupid to read the screen.</rant>

Danny Gokey did the best tonight, and I think he has the most commercial potential. Adam Lambert always has fantastic vocal abilities, but his performances seem a bit too formulaic to me each week (soft, emotive voice to open, then a crescendo of wild riffs). I doubt his commercial appeal will be as broad as Danny's. Allison Iraheta and Kris Allen were very good, as usual. The other three paled in comparison to everyone else.

More on Unintended Consequences

As usual, Billy Beck hits the nail squarely on the head. I wish I had that cite from Gibbons when I wrote about repurposed drug warriors.

Or even this one:

In February, 1917, all political prisons, both those used for interrogation and those in which sentences were served, and all hard-labor prisons as well were emptied. It is a wonder that all the jailers managed to get through the year. ... (But from 1918 on, things began to get much better for them, and at Shpalernaya Prison they were still serving the new regime even in 1928, and why not!) ... (This was one particular part of the machinery of state that did not have to be destroyed and rebuilt from its foundations.)
(Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago, p. 459, 1973.)

The Anti-System

Warren Meyer of Coyote Blog writes:
I have heard it said that capitalism is not a system, it is the anti-system. This is the true beauty of capitalism — it is the only way for human beings to interact with each other without compulsion. Every other approach to organizing society involves some group of people using physical force to coerce other people.

(Go read the whole thing.)

I couldn't begin to count the number of times in online discussions I have been challenged to come up with a "better system" when I have made ethical objections to government interference in the economy. But that challenge presupposes a system, wherein "some group of people [use] physical force to coerce other people." By accepting this premise, that the free market is a system to rule others by force, you unnecessarily cede the most important quality of your argument.

Once you give that up, the accusations start flying that you want oppressive monopolies and tainted food. And, if you want this, then you're not for freedom, but are secretly for a form of fascism, controlled by corporate fat cats.

Warren's observation that capitalism (free market) is the "anti-system" is right on point. If you're not imposing a system on others, then you (and those who don't fight against freedom), don't have the control necessary to maintain monopolies or to stop people from boycotting stores that sell tainted food. People like choices. They don't like risking their health buying food from a someone with a bad reputation. Why would giving them the freedom to make their own choices result in large numbers of bad choices?

Also embedded in the "better system" challenge is the ambiguity of "better." Better for whom? In a command economy, one can always find those who are better off (at the expense of others). But each individual gets to decide what is better for himself or herself, and in a free society, that individual gets to make choices for the better.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The New "Evil-Doers" Are Capitalists

Balko cites Janet Napolitano on immigration:

What we have to do is target the real evil-doers in this business, the employers who consistently hire illegal labor…

If someone wants to come here to do honest work, they aren't hurting anyone. Furthermore, the people who employ them are doing nothing wrong either. Their arrangement is their business, no one else's.

It's no surprise that this Obama hack is once again digging for any excuse to target their political enemies. (Still no word on whether those who mocked Bush's use of the term "evil-doers" will say anything about one of their own doing likewise.)

Plenty of politicians use illegal immigrants as a scapegoat. Typically, Republicans are caricatured as being intolerant of "brown people" and thus driven to overzealous attacks on illegal immigration. But Democrats, anti-free-market commentators, and even libertarian-leaning politicians and commentators regrettably fail to stand up for freedom on this issue.

I understand the complaints about "freeloaders" who come here to take advantage of welfare. The solution isn't to deny people the freedom to move from one place to another, but to end welfare, which is an infringement on the taxpayers to decide how to spend what they earn. Why deny freedom on one end in reaction to freedom being denied on the other? That's the worst of both worlds.

For example, Ron Paul is concerned with children born in the US whose parents are illegal immigrants getting "full rights" as citizens, despite all his reverence for the principles of the American Revolution. Whatever he calls "rights" which he wants to deny these children aren't actually rights, but privileges doled out by government. Actual rights have no borders, and depend on no constitution.

The more reasonable concern is security, though this is but an artifact of the myriad of actions behind the establishment of governments and their claims of sovereignty.

Smug Atheists Getting De-baptised

Radley Balko links to a story about "De-Baptism Certificates." strikes me as another example of smug atheists trying way too hard to assert their nonbelief.

But if you read the TIME article as well as the certificate itself, the explicit intent of the NSS is to make the church's census count of church members more accurate, in part to limit their proportion of political sway. That doesn't strike me as "smug" or trying "way too hard," but rather a defense against dishonest political tricks.

I left comments here, here, here, and here. The most salient argument I made concerns the importance of baptism to the the believer and non-believer.

UCrawford: …and it’s more likely to just polarize religious opinion against atheists because they’ll see it as us profaning their rituals…which it kind of is.

... But look at the ritual of baptism. Why do it? Because you fear that if you don’t engage in this strange rite, you will actually burn forever, even after you die!! And, you teach children that this is so, cruelly instilling fear in them. (Your friend who died in the car accident was only five years old, but since he wasn’t baptized, he is now being cooked and will be forever! Not only will little Jimmy not be able to play with you, he is right now screaming in agony! But God loves you.) Do you really, really think that such a ritual needs to be ridiculed to be any more profane?


I'm an American and I wasn't raised in any church. I voluntarily was baptized on my 18th birthday, so the particulars of these certificates don't apply to me. Even if they did, I wouldn't do it even if it were free, for the same reason I don't vote: I reject the underlying premise that our rights are subject to the outcome of polls or censuses. If 99% of the population joined a church, that still wouldn't give them the authority over the lives of the other 1%.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Unintended Consequences of Legalizing Drugs

Discussions of drug legalization or drug decriminalization have been appearing more frequently in the "mainstream media." There have even been a few glimmers of hope that the federal raids on California medical marijuana establishments would abate, but I doubt this portends any sea change in the War on Drugs. Most of these recent noises are in reaction to events in Mexico and Afghanistan. Yes, more people are realizing that allowing legal markets for drugs will reduce most of the violence and other problems which are the natural result of "black markets." But most advocates of legalization suggest taxing and controlling the market. Going by the government's track record on other legalized "vices," drugs will be no different. But it occurred to me that there is a more ominous possible consequence.

If the war is called off, what happens to the warriors and their weapons? What happens to the extra prison space?

Should we expect these people, who have grown used to having great power, with scant accountability, to hang up their jack boots and find other work?

I honestly can't predict how they will be used, in this world where satire has become impossible. As ridiculous as it seems to us now, could their new purpose be a War on Global Warming, a War on Sharing, A War on Fat, or a War on Guns?

The Drug Warriors are already quite used to sending in SWAT teams, terrorizing people, and killing pets for non-violent crimes, typically with no remorse for collateral casualties or getting the wrong house entirely. They're used to using dubious snitches, economic deprivations which skirt due process, and prosecutorial overzealousness. When they've already lost any respect for the rights and privacy of civilians, why would any of these new "wars" be any less authoritarian and tragic?