Monday, December 17, 2012

Wisdom from Benjamin Domenech

Ben Domenech's meditations on the massacre in CT, its causes, and what our responses should be.


It is a natural tendency on the part of most human beings, when confronted with great evil, to want to do something about it. We want to stop the horror of death and violence and disease. It speaks to what is good within us that we desire this—it speaks to a recognition on our part, innate and abiding, that there is something terribly broken in this world—a great mistake which has been made along the way, a gear missed in the works, a gaping hole where something should be. The feeling is all the stronger when we face the destruction of innocent life—the life of a child. The Mishnah tells us that the act of murder destroys a whole world—the world as it would’ve been with that person in it. When the worlds wiped out are so young, the shock of it all echoes and rebounds throughout the lives of others for generations. And the only part that can be played by those left behind is one of charity.

This is a frustrating limitation, and so those who are more naturally given to see problems of law or culture as the reason for evil look at the horror of Newtown as something that can be prevented, if only we do this or that thing, pass this or that law. Something must be done, they say. But their somethings all have this in common: none of their proposals, on guns or mental health or any other factor, would have prevented this awful crime. In the real world, there is no law that can make the murderously insane sane, or remove all weapons from their grasp. The tweaks that have been attempted in the past in our nation and others have proven insufficient time and again. And no step which disarms the law-abiding will help.

We are in the midst of an historic and statistically impossible decline in violence in America. The economic downturn, which would be a reasonable reason for a rebound in violent crime, has produced nothing of the sort on a nationwide scale. The experts are flabbergasted as to why, and the assumptions of criminologists are being tested to a great degree.  High imprisonment, high tech tools, more disciplined police forces, and cultural factors are all potential reasons. But it is clear that even as guns are available as ever, this has done nothing to drive up crime rates nationwide. And beyond: Steven Pinker has argued, convincingly, that we are at the most peaceful point in human history.  In the midst of such declines, spikes of mass violence and murder are all the more jarring.

Yet the sad fact is that in Connecticut, where the gun laws are some of the most restrictive in the country, it appears the Brady campaign accomplished as much as it could’ve.  Newtown had one homicide in the past ten years.  The guns used by the madman were purchased legally by his mother and kept safely in her home – as with most guns used in criminal acts, they were stolen. His own attempt to purchase a weapon ran into the legally required waiting period.  There are just only so many steps you can take to prevent evil of this nature and still have a free society. After all, what really happens when you pass gun bans is that effectively, they work as permanent authorizations for police to stop and frisk urban minorities.  Consider the case of Chicago, where Rahm Emanuel is talking about more restrictions in the wake of Newtown.  What does he have in mind? There were 192 shootings in Chicago last month.  On Friday alone there were 10 people shot in his city.  Whatever Emanuel’s new law is, it would not prevent these crimes. In Mexico, there is one legal gun store to serve the entire nation. It is, according to the Washington Post, “not very busy.”  In America, there are roughly 300 million privately owned firearms – and while some may dream of putting these firearms in a pile and melting them down, most Americans understand that the result of giving the government a monopoly on force would be awful for the very innocents such policies are intended to protect.

In Germany, laws were passed and additional gun control steps taken in the wake of a 2002 school shooting which left 16 dead and horrified the nation.  Seven years later, a gunman killed 15 in Stuttgart. These mass murders have a long history, longer than the media has reported—nor are they tied to the advent of modern weapons.  “Guns aren’t even the most lethal mass murder weapon. According to data compiled by Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, guns killed an average of 4.92 victims per mass murder in the United States during the 20th century, just edging out knives, blunt objects, and bare hands, which killed 4.52 people per incident. Fire killed 6.82 people per mass murder, while explosives far outpaced the other options at 20.82. Of the 25 deadliest mass murders in the 20th century, only 52 percent involved guns. The U.S. mass murder rate does not seem to rise or fall with the availability of automatic weapons. It reached its highest level in 1929, when fully automatic firearms were expensive and mostly limited to soldiers and organized criminals.”

Duwe’s research is worth reading in greater detail, considering how much it runs against the reports seen in the media about the historical record of mass murders.  “I suggest that the news media have figured prominently in the social construction of mass murder by heavily influencing which cases claimsmakers have selected as landmark narratives and, more generally, as typifying examples. Because claimsmakers have relied almost exclusively on national news coverage as a source of data, they have made a number of questionable claims about the prevalence and nature of mass murder since the high-profile cases represent the most sensational and least representative mass killings. And the news media have completed the circle of distortion by disseminating the bulk of the claims that have been made, leading to policies that have targeted the rarest aspects about mass murder.” (@seanmdav notes that according to Lexis, exactly 2 articles have referenced Duwe or his research since the Newtown shooting. The phrase "gun control" shows up in thousands.) But you’ll keep seeing reports like this today.

As for the mental health aspect of this case, I doubt anyone would propose a solution to the current problems which would enable parents to lock away people with Asperger’s.  Several of the mass murderers over the past decade or so were already in treatment or being prescribed drugs—but as a practical matter, no one could force them to assent to therapy or to take those pills. Instant checks could help, but again, that only effects legal purchases.  The madman’s mother had even reportedly retired from teaching to take care of her disturbed son.  The facilities we have which offer true hope to people—such as DePaul Psychiatric Hospital in New Orleans—are expensive exceptions. We don’t want to create a Shutter Island solution which results in putting away young disturbed men who refuse to assent to therapy.  Nor do we want to stigmatize those whose conditions are simply not threatening.  That said, we do indeed have mental health challenges in the nation which deserve more consideration. This sort of tale is horrendous to hear about—here’s a particularly sad story—but again, there are few solutions to offer. 

Robert Tracinski writes: “So all of the blather you are already hearing about how this can be blamed on the lack of gun control, or on violent movies, or first-person-shooter video games, or on some kind of general cultural malaise is based on a cheap emotional appeal rather than on evidence. On the basis of the evidence, we can look back over decades in which such killings have occurred at a fairly constant rate and in which the cause has usually been the same. We can conclude that in a nation of 300 million people, there will be a certain number of people who become insane. Of those people, there will always be a small number—usually young men, because young men have a natural tendency toward aggression and a fascination with violence—whose insanity drives them to kill, whether to take revenge on society in general, or because of paranoid delusions, or because the voices in their heads tell them to. This is a basic, predictable fact of life in human society, with no particular political implications and—this is the part that's hard to accept—no particular solution. The least ridiculous reaction to this shooting will start from a recognition that its cause is insanity, and some commentators will suggest improved screening for mental illness and faster intervention. There may be some basis for this. (Seung Hui-Cho, for example, was known to be dangerously unstable, but no one seemed to think they had the authority to do anything about it.) But I also fear that a mania for prevention will cause more damage than it prevents—that we risk unnecessarily committing thousands of disturbed or merely eccentric young men on the basis of a hysterical fear that they will become killers.”

In the end, the options for what the law can do or society can do are largely limited. They will not prevent this sort of evil from happening again. This is infuriating, of course. All we can do, on an individual level, is prepare ourselves to do whatever it takes if we are put in the position of those who stand between the marauder and the innocent.  We can take this time to understand that in that situation, there is always something you can do.  And for those of us who believe the broken nature of this fallen world is something that will be healed, we can take solace in the knowledge David Bentley Hart describes in today’s feature—that “our faith is in a God who has come to rescue His creation from the absurdity of sin and the emptiness of death, and so we are permitted to hate these things with a perfect hatred… As for comfort, when we seek it, I can imagine none greater than the happy knowledge that when I see the death of a child I do not see the face of God, but the face of His enemy. It is not a faith that would necessarily satisfy Ivan Karamazov, but neither is it one that his arguments can defeat: for it has set us free from optimism, and taught us hope instead. We can rejoice that we are saved not through the immanent mechanisms of history and nature, but by grace; that God will not unite all of history’s many strands in one great synthesis, but will judge much of history false and damnable; that He will not simply reveal the sublime logic of fallen nature, but will strike off the fetters in which creation languishes; and that, rather than showing us how the tears of a small girl suffering in the dark were necessary for the building of the Kingdom, He will instead raise her up and wipe away all tears from her eyes – and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor any more pain, for the former things will have passed away, and He that sits upon the throne will say, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Consistent Pro-Choice Ethic

It occurred to me a couple days ago that Michigan's passage of right to work laws is a teachable moment for folks on the Left. It's giving them a great opportunity to cultivate a consistent Pro-Choice ethic.

We often hear about how so many conservatives are hypocrites for being "Pro-Life" when it comes to abortion, but favoring policies like the death penalty that clearly appear not to be Pro-Life. They need, we are told, to cultivate a consistent Pro-Life ethic. What we hear of less is how Liberals tend to be Pro-Choice only when it comes to sex and abortion. When it comes to other areas of life -- school choice, workplace choice, etc. -- they are downright, even vociferously, anti-Choice. The Michigan GOP has given Democrats a great chance to become truly Pro-Choice. This is a gift for them, really.

Embrace Choice, Dems!

In response to the massacre in CT

What happened yesterday in CT -- a crazed gunman killing 26 (confirmed as of this point, anyway) people in an elementary school -- was horrible and evil. It wasn't a senseless tragedy. It was an act of evil. I don't know the state of the shooter's soul when he died, but I fear it was not one that was right with God. My prayers go out to the families of the victims.

What has followed this tragedy like clockwork, however -- as always happens after a crazed individual uses a gun to commit violence -- have been calls for stricter gun control laws, and even for repealing the Second Amendment. I get where the people who say these things are coming from. Guns were used to commit these terrible crimes, therefore we should get rid of the guns to get rid of such crimes. It's an understandable reaction, but it is just that: a reaction (and a knee-jerk one, at that).

The right to bear arms is the fundamental safeguard of all other rights in the Constitution. I know many people who say that the First Amendment is that safeguard, but they are assuming a functional government that respects individual rights when they do so. An amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech is meaningless when your rulers can ignore it and just use force to shut you up, and you have no recourse. People who claim that freedom of speech is the basic safeguard of our rights have an implicit belief that tyrannical government "can never happen here." History clearly indicates otherwise. Human nature being what it is, tyrannical government can happen anywhere. And what it's entrenched, it by definition is very difficult to dislodge. And one of the first steps in any tyranny is to enact gun control. (This, of course, does not mean that proponents of strict gun control are also fans of tyrannical government. It does mean that they are unwittingly -- we hope -- enacting laws that make tyrannical government that much easier to form.) History consistently bears this truth out: no tyrant has ever cemented his control until he had disarmed his countrymen. That is why all modern dictatorships have forbidden citizens from keeping and bearing arms. Closer to the Founders' time, though, it was why the English forbade the Irish from keeping and bearing arms. The Founders were students of history, and they knew this to to be a fundamental truth: so long as we are an armed people, we will remain a free republic.

Now, this does not mean that all people use guns responsibly, nor that we are unable to put limited safeguards in place to better ensure that groups of people whom we feel should not have access to firearms (the mentally ill, convicted felons, etc.) don't have access. The motto is cliched, but it is also true: "Guns don't kill people. People do." Another worthy motto is, "People don't stop killers. People with guns do." Having the means to defend themselves helps ensure that people will not be victims.

It may help if we use an analogy. The Second Amendment was designed to allow citizens to be the immune system of America -- the ones who ensure that infections (i.e. criminals) are dealt with quickly, in real-time. (Also consider that our immune system, after dealing with an infection, produces special cells that give us immunity over that infection -- essentially deterring and preventing further infections. In a similar way, the main way that bearing arms prevents crime is through deterrence. Criminals are simply less likely to attack people they think are likely to defend themselves effectively. It's the same reason why a criminal will generally prefer to rob a petite 5'2" woman than a muscular 6'2" man.) Police are like doctors and medicine: they are inherently responsive, and are generally only used after an infection has taken root and caused damage. They are necessary and very useful in this capacity, but they are generally useless for stopping an infection (i.e. a criminal act) in the moment. (As the saying goes, when seconds matter, the police are only minutes away.) In this analogy, illicit, criminal gun violence is like any infection; alternatively, it can be considered to be like lupus -- the body's immune system turning on itself. Neither condition is good (and lupus is a very bad condition). However, gun control is like HIV/AIDS: completely removing the body's ability to fight off infections. Just as the proper response to infections and lupus is not to give yourself HIV, the proper response to some people using guns illegitimately and illegally is not to take guns away from the vast majority of people who use them legitimately and legally.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Well, at least he's consistent.

Obama campaigns like he governs: expensively and on the public dime.
President Barack Obama is set to hold a campaign rally at Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas on Wednesday, his first visit to Southern Nevada since Nevada Journal revealed that his campaign  for the costs of events at local public . Obama’s campaign, Obama for America (OFA), left the Clark County School District with nearly $25,000 in unpaid bills from two rallies at Bonanza and Coronado high schools in 2008.

Neither CCSD nor the Obama campaign would confirm for Nevada Journal the campaign’s plans to pay for Wednesday’s event. In 2008, CCSD billed the Obama campaign $53,116.12 for the Bonanza and Coronado rallies. Obama for America originally paid $28,484.40 of the bill, but left $24,631.72 unpaid. That remainder was not paid until June 2012, following multiple  Nevada Journal inquiries. The bill was for 500 hours of school police officer overtime, providing extra security for the rallies.  [snip]

Obama’s campaign isn’t the only one hosting rallies at CCSD schools. Last week, presumptive Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan held a rally at , and on July 27, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., campaigned on behalf of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at C.C Ronnow Elementary School. Mason Harrison, a spokesman for the Romney campaign’s Nevada organization, told Nevada Journal the Romney campaign paid for both the Rubio and Ryan events, and said the campaign usually pays for all events ahead of time.

The Obama campaign has been in the news several times for reportedly not reimbursing cities or other public entities for the costs of its events. In February, Obama held a fundraising breakfast in Newport Beach, Calif., and the city sent the Obama campaign a $35,043 invoice to cover extra security costs incurred by the city.
The bill was due June 9, and when Newport Beach received no payment, it sent the campaign a past-due notice.  [snip]

In June, the town of Durham, N.H., attempted to bill Obama’s campaign up to $20,000 for extra security costs. The Obama campaign declined Durham’s request, referring it to the Secret Service, just as with Newport Beach.
Stay classy, Mr. President.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Paving the road to Hell in Africa.

"Liberating" Libya might have made many of us feel better here in the US, but it was the apotheosis of Do Gooderism run amok. Our good intentions have paved the road to Hell for northern Africa.

  • Qaddafi agreed to give ups his chemical WMDs in return for American support. Obama welshed on that agreement for global meliorist reasons. In so doing, he made it much less likely that dictators will trust the US going forward when we ask them to put down their swords. 
  • The stockpile of weapons Qaddafi still had at the time of his demise has fallen into the hands of radical Muslims, including al Qaeda.
  • This led directly to the complete destabilization of Mali, by arming radical Islamist factions in the country who were otherwise kept in check. Now one of the few bright spots for democratic rule in Africa is gone.
  • Now Niger finds itself as the next domino in line to tumble. 
How many countries will fall as a result of our heedless act of Do Gooderism? The best that can be said about this experience is that Obama seems to have learned the lesson of how Do Gooderism can unleash hellish unintended consequences, as evidenced by his refusal to similarly intervene in Syria.

Of course, this is all besides the fact that Obama set a dangerous precedent by ignoring the War Powers Act in order to prosecute the war in Libya. What incentives do future presidents have to respect that limit on their foreign policy powers now that Obama has shown you can cross that line and not be held to account?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

FRC shooting & Lake Placid Tolerance

I've talked before about Lake Placid Tolerance, the phenomenon, frequently found on the Left, where people claim to be tolerant of others but only so long as the "others" share their Liberal positions. If the "others" don't, then the tolerant folks frequently spew hateful, often violent, racist, or misogynistic rhetoric against them.

We're seeing another example of this today in response to the shooting at the Family Resource Council, a Conservative public policy and advocacy organization in DC. The shooter shouted messages about FRC's hateful policies being the justification for his actions before and during his shooting spree. The responses from way too many on the Left are classic Lake Placid Tolerance in action. In other words, they've been completely intolerant, classless, and hateful.

Do I feel bad that there was a shooting at the FRC? Yes. Am I surprised? Not really.— 
Amber J. (@skii_bum1985) August 15, 2012

*Please* stop shooting up Family Research Council. No need to turn these horrible, bigoted people into victims. Thanks!— 
Elon Green (@elongreen) August 15, 2012

fuck The Family Research Council, and it’s hatred and intolerance toward the LGBT community. Maybe they just needed some more Chic-Fil-A..— 
Glenn D. Sibley (@GlennSibley) August 15, 2012

Yo @EWErickson, a shooting at #FRC HQ was a long time coming. Though I'm surprised the#AFA wasn't 1st. Hate begets hate. #NOH8 #Bigotry— 
Chase J. (@Way2Blue4You) August 15, 2012

This one was particularly ironic. You brand yourself with "NOH8" and then say that attempted mass murder "was a long time coming"?

More classy tolerance:

Dear FRC: my thoughts are with you. Just don't say the things you do about your fellow Americans and expect not to be called a hate group.— 
Tom Doran (@portraitinflesh) August 15, 2012

If shooter who injured security guard did it to terrorize pro-homophobia community, it IS domestic terrorism. The FRC IS STILL a hate group.— 
Labgrrl (@labgrrl) August 15, 2012

Surprised someone went shooting up FRC? Nope. Hate begats hate. #certifedhategroup— 
Brandon Shire (@TheBrandonShire) August 15, 2012

@michellemalkin How much empathy would Cons show if Black Panther Sec guard got shot in arm? He didn't die. He got shot in arm 4 godsake— 
Josef K. (@apls452) August 15, 2012

Family Research Council …who knows maybe the hated are starting to hate back …look out TBAGGERS— 
GEOFFREY WILLIAMS (@jeffreynola) August 15, 2012

And the winning quote goes to Jon G. for insightful analysis:

FRC shooting is another reminder that the #NOH8 crowd isn't against hate at all — they just want you to hate different people.— 
Jon G. (@ExJon) August 15, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why I'm elated Paul Ryan is Romney's VP

This is why. Listen to what this man says. He gets it. And unlike Obama, whose speeches four years ago were filled with vapid tripe and meaningless bromides, Ryan's words actually mean something. They're not just gibberish.

 Talking to Democrats about his famous budget, Paul Ryan said,
“America is having enormous trouble paying for the welfare state we already have, much less the far more ambitious one you guys want to build. If you ever find the courage, and then the language, to persuade Americans to pay much higher taxes for the sake of perpetuating and perpetually expanding our welfare state, Republicans will challenge those bad policies. We’ll acknowledge, however, that they are at least affordable bad policies.

“It will be easy to know when brave Democrats succeed in catalyzing American politics. That day will have arrived when Republican politicians have good reason to fear that the most serious consequence of opposing a tax increase will be not another denunciation by the New York Times editorial page but defeats at the ballot box. Until Democrats assemble that electoral majority of Americans insisting on higher taxes, we must devise spending plans consonant with the federal government’s existing (and effectively unexpandable) revenue stream. Republicans are proposing big changes in existing social programs and strict limits on future government outlays, to make the operations of the welfare state compatible with the government’s revenues.

“Democrats who find those changes appalling can do one of three things: persuade Americans to accept enormous tax increases; offer an alternative plan, humane and enlightened, for the federal government to address social needs by spending no more than 19 percent of GDP; convince the nation’s voters and the world’s lenders that a huge and permanently widening gap between federal revenues and spending is nothing to worry about. There is no fourth option.”

From the Dept. of "If Something Can't Last Forever, It Won't"

Investors are actively preparing for the Euro's collapse.

A peak inside the mind of The Onion readers

Specifically regarding Paul Ryan as Romney's VP:

Admit It, I Scare The Every-Loving Shit Out Of You, Don't I?

When Mitt Romney selected me as his running mate, I knew the Democratic attack dogs would come out in full force. They would say I’m a right-wing ideologue. They would say my views on entitlement programs are far too radical. They would say putting me on the ticket immediately kills Mitt Romney’s chances of becoming president because I’m a liability. But if we’re being honest with each other—if we’re able to put aside the talking points for a few minutes and say what we’re all actually thinking and feeling—I believe we can acknowledge the real truth here.

I’m young, I’m handsome, I’m smart, and I’m articulate. And that scares the ever-loving shit out of you. You can pretend like you have this thing in the bag, but you know good goddamn well that this race just got real interesting, real fast.

It’s okay to admit it. You’re frightened to death of me. It might actually be healthy for you to face your fears now rather than later, when Mitt and I are leading by a few points in the polls and it looks like this thing might end badly for you. Face it: I’m not some catastrophe waiting to happen, like a Sarah Palin or a Dan Quayle. On the contrary, you have the exact opposite fear. I’m a solid, competent, some might say exceptional, politician.
Read the rest of the article.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The new Puritans

"Liberals are often some of the least tolerant people when they are sure they are right; like the Massachusetts Puritans from whom, culturally and intellectually, much of modern American liberalism descends, they believe in freedom for God’s Elect — and force to make the heathen and the unenlightened Do Right."   -Walter Russell Mead

Filed under: Hitting the nail on the head.

What you do when you have to record to run on

You make tasteless and dishonest ads based on deliberately misleading information:

Man.  It's only August.  Mr. Hope & Change looks set to run THE dirtiest campaign in recent memory.

Jim Geraghty over at National Review provides some much-needed perspective on this issue:
After I lamented that "there was a time when presidential campaigns did not casually accuse their opponent of murder," some ninny on Twitter brought up Willie Horton.

It's kind of amazing how certain news events and controversies can come to be remembered as the precise opposite of reality. In many circles, mentioning the name "Willie Horton" is now a synonym for dirty campaigning or "below the belt" tactics, isn't it? I'll bet at this moment many readers are jumping to point out that "it was Al Gore who first mentioned Willie Horton!" (Actually, it was in one of the 1988 Democratic presidential primary debates that Gore mentioned that two furloughed prisoners had committed new murders while on weekend leave -- the same "weekends away" program that covered Horton, but different criminals.)

Permit me to attempt to shovel off massive layers of accumulated conventional-wisdom detritus here: Good for Al Gore! The Massachusetts weekend furlough program and criminals like Willie Horton completely deserved to be brought up, and it was a terrific, vivid example of bad judgment on Dukakis's part. To refresh:
Horton had been sentenced to life imprisonment and was incarcerated at the Concord Correctional Facility in Massachusetts when he was released in June 1986 as part of a weekend furlough program.

While on furlough in April 1987, Horton twice raped a woman in Oxon Hill, Md. He stabbed and pistol-whipped her fiancé.
 At the time, Michael Dukakis was the Democratic governor of Massachusetts. While Dukakis had not initiated the furlough program, he supported it as a measure to help with criminal rehabilitation. After the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that this right extended to first-degree murderers, the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill prohibiting furloughs for such inmates. However, in 1976, Dukakis vetoed this bill. Thus, the program remained in effect, and Dukakis continued to support it.
Michael Dukakis thought that denying weekends away from prison from convicted murderers was a bad idea, and so he ensured that these weekend excursions would continue. And two people were murdered as a result of this policy, separately from Willie Horton's raping and stabbing rampage. This may rank as among the worst ideas in the history of the criminal-justice system. This was the precise opposite of "dirty politics" or a "smear campaign" or some nonsensical charge.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I don't think we can afford any more "success" like this

Pyrrhic doesn't even begin to describe this "victory."

Remember when the government bailed out GM? Remember how it was a temporary situation, and we -- the taxpayers -- would make money on this "investment"?

American taxpayers have 500 million shares of GM stock. We need to sell it at $53 per share just to break even. It's now trading at under $20. We stand to lose well over $40 billion, and GM looks like it's going down the toilet anyway.

So we could have saved $82 billion, avoided hundreds of politically motivated store closings, and been no worse off than we are now?

Dude, the GM bailout was totally worth it!

Remember when "secret" mean, you know, SECRET?

Over at Ace of Spades, Ace asks a very good question:
Remember when SEAL Team Six didn't exist? Or back when details of SEAL tactics were not supposed to be known by the world at large? Or back when it was a secret that the FLAME computer virus used the neat-o tactic of sending its data to nearby Bluetooth-equipped phones and laptops, to get the information transmitted from the secure (not connected to the internet) networks?

Yes, that was "secrecy" before Barack Obama needed a reelection boost, back when "secrecy" meant "we don't leak this information to our partisan agents in the media."

And now: Obama secretly orders secret help for our secret friends in the Syrian rebellion.It's in all the papers, like good secrets should be.
Well ... he did say he'd bring change, didn't he?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What to do with the heretics?

From Mr. Crunchy Con, regarding the meaning behind the Chick-Fil-A brouhaha:
Though I am a conservative and a traditional Christian, I am gratified that ours has become and is becoming a country in which gay people no longer have to fear for their livelihoods and live in the closet because of their sexuality. That was cruel and unjust, and we are a better country for leaving those days behind. But we are on our way to becoming a country in which traditional Christians have to fear for their livelihoods and live in the closet because of their religious convictions. And the most right-thinking liberals among us have no problem with that, because they believe, like the most reactionary 19th-century pope, that error has no rights.
"... error has no rights."

I have heard many of my Liberal friends say things along these lines, and, as someone who loves freedom, it chills my blood.

Liberal media bias chronicles: Biased polling

We were overseas for the 2008 Presidential election, but even from abroad the thumb-on-the-scale coverage the US media gave Obama was eminently visible. Whether it was the double standard regarding experience ("no executive experience for Obama" = no big deal, but "limited executive experience for Palin" = instantly disqualified from being President), the refusal to seriously dig into his background, or the Pavlovian cries of Racism! whenever anyone began to seriously criticize him, the media at all levels protected, fawned over, and virtually fellated Barack Obama.

And the scary thing is that they're looking to outdo themselves in 2012. The Dear Leader is in deep trouble this time around. The media are frantically searching for something ... anything ... to save their beloved.

One of their favorite tricks is conducting biased polls. There are several ways to bias polls. Asking biased questions of the "Do you still beat your wife?" variety is generally considered an amateurish way to do it. Far better to either sample "all adults" or "registered voters" instead of sampling "likely voters." "Likely voters" are, after all, the ones whose opinions we want, because they're the ones who are the most likely to actually vote. The "likely voter" sample is rarely Liberal enough for the media, though, so most of their polls generally tend to be "all adults" or "registered voters" in order to get a sufficiently Liberal result. Another tactic, much more subtle, is to skew the partisan makeup of the poll. This allows pollsters to present their results as if they represent America (or a given state) at large, and it's harder to check, which dissuades casually informed observers from looking deeper for the bias.

The upshot of biased polls is that they can create a sense of inevitable victory for one side where there's actually a close race, and they can demoralize opponents who think, "The guy I don't want to win is winning and there's nothing I can do about it."

The latest swing state poll provides a clear example of biased polling. In a year that is shaping up to be much closer to 2010 (when Republicans and Conservatives were fired up and Democrats were demoralized) than 2008 (when it was reversed), CBS and the New York Times put out a poll assuming that partisan breakdowns will be even more favorable to the Democrats in 2012 in PA, VA, and OH than they were in 2008. That is, in an election where the economy is the weakest we've seen in a generation, the incumbent is weighed down by his own wildly unpopular policies, and the opposition consistently shows itself to be much more enthusiastic than the part in power, the CBS/NY Times poll assumes that voters will vote even more Democratic than they did in 2008.

This kind of nonsense would be shot down in a research paper from a high school student. Either the people putting it out there are less competent than a high school student or they're too frightened of what the results of an actual poll would be to conduct one.

Here is what a less biased poll looks like: Obama is actually underwater in almost 75% of the country. Gallup had more integrity in conducting the poll, but they couldn't help themselves with the headline: Thirteen States and DC Give Obama Majority Approval.

Happy Healthcare Fascism Day!

The HHS mandate requiring employers to cover contraceptives and abortifacients -- even if their faith commands them to do otherwise -- goes into effect today.

Back in February, Kathleen Sebelius announced a broad, sweeping exemption for all religious organizations that are only open for business every third Tuesday when there's a full moon. No one else qualifies.

It is a sad, sad day for Americans who value religious liberty.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Aaron Sorkin got it. Why can't Obama?

Of course, because this is Aaron Sorkin he has to couch the sensible things he says with assurances that he really isn't in line with those evil conservatives who say those sensible things all the time. Still, he makes sense.

When the President makes, as part of the foundation of his campaign, arguments too radical for a dyed-in-the-wool Liberal like Sorkin, that's problematic.

Monday, July 30, 2012

That's right -- I'm NOT lazy!

Because I (just might) use as much energy as an average hunter-gatherer.

Suck it, fitness freaks!

What if Palestinians had a culture of success?

Palestinians are victims. That is not just a fact, it seems to be a massive part of their collective identity.

They are victimized by countries that have kicked them out over the years (Jordan and Israel, notably). They are victimized by the country that has repeatedly defeated them and corralled them into internment camps. (That would be Israel.) But more than anything, they seem to be victims of their own sense of helplessness.

This weekend, Mitt Romney stated that the disparity between Israeli and Palestinian incomes and success is largely a function of cultural differences. Palestinians were outraged, because to them (and their supporters) the most obvious reason for their continued poverty and lack of success is the "Israeli occupation." If not for their being systematically discriminated against, kicked out of and kept away from their homeland, and generally oppressed by those with power in their land, they would enjoy as much success as Israelis have.

But you know who else has had to deal with centuries of being systematically discriminated against, kicked out of and kept away from their homeland, and generally oppressed by those with power in their land? Jews.

For hundreds of years Jews had to deal with open discrimination in Europe and the many areas in which they settled. In many cases, this discrimination could be violent and even murderous. People think of Nazi Germany and The Holocaust when they hear of violent Antisemitism, but the fact is that Jews had to deal with intense discrimination in every European nation over the centuries. The Holocaust was the worst, but by no means the only, time when Jews were murdered en masse by the native population. It is no exaggeration to say that Jews have been the ultimate victim class throughout Western history.

Funny thing, though -- they didn't develop a victim mentality because of their suffering. In fact, they thrived in the face of it. It was the very persistent success and collective refusal to be beaten down that characterized them as a people that engendered much of the resentment and hatred they faced.

The Jews had every reason to act like the Palestinians are today -- resentful, beaten down, increasingly turning to violence or supporting those who do as a means of lashing out at their oppressors. They did not. They exacted revenge for their discrimination, but it was a much more productive type than the Palestinians'.  They became so damn successful wherever they went that they just couldn't be ignored or forgotten. They did this well before there was an Evangelical Christian movement to reflexively support them. What Christian attention they got through the centuries was, regrettably, often hostile.

There were few (if any) 64-year periods in the last 2,000 years in which the Jews suffered less as a people than the Palestinians have suffered since the US recognized Israel in 1948. They have succeeded wildly anyway. That is entirely due to cultural factors (and, I would argue, Divine Providence). If tomorrow they gave up their collective identity as victims whose fate and success are subject to the whims of their oppressors and began creating the means of their own success themselves, Palestinians would begin to thrive the way the Jews have for the past two millennia. The only thing stopping them from doing so is their unwillingness to accept responsibility for their own fate.

Defining Religious Liberty Down

From Ross Douthat:
The words “freedom of belief” do not appear in the First Amendment. Nor do the words “freedom of worship.” Instead, the Bill of Rights guarantees Americans something that its authors called “the free exercise” of religion.

It’s a significant choice of words, because it suggests a recognition that religious faith cannot be reduced to a purely private or individual affair.  [snip]

I cannot improve upon the way the first lady of the United States explained this issue, speaking recently to a conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. “Our faith journey isn’t just about showing up on Sunday,” Michelle Obama said. “It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well ... Jesus didn’t limit his ministry to the four walls of the church. He was out there fighting injustice and speaking truth to power every single day.” But Mrs. Obama’s words notwithstanding, there seems to be a great deal of confusion about this point in the Western leadership class today. [snip]

To the extent that the H.H.S. mandate ... and the Chick-fil-A controversy reflect a common logic rather than a shared confusion, then, it’s a logic that regards Western monotheism’s ideas about human sexuality — all that chastity, monogamy, male-female business — as similarly incompatible with basic modern freedoms. Like a belief that the gods want human sacrifice, these ideas are permissible if held in private. But they cannot be exercised in ways that might deny, say, employer-provided sterilizations to people who really don’t want kids. Nor can they be exercised to deny one’s offspring the kind of sexual gratification that anti-circumcision advocates claim the procedure makes impossible. They certainly cannot be exercised in ways that might make anyone uncomfortable with his or her own sexual choices or identity. [snip]

If you want to fine Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching, or prevent Jewish parents from circumcising their sons, or ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, then don’t tell religious people that you respect our freedoms. Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.
Read his whole post.

Shocker: Environmentalists find conclusive proof for AGW where it doesn't exist

Belief in AGW (Anthropogenic, or human-induced, Global Warming) is a premise for most environmentalists' arguments. They often think that this is a conclusion, but it definitely seems to be a pre-existing belief on which they base their arguments.

More evidence that this is so comes from the most recent BEST (Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature) project, which claims conclusive prove that human greenhouse gas emissions account for the vast majority of warming in the past 250 years. There is, to put it mildly, no solid evidence for that position, however.

I've never understood why so many people are freaked out that the Earth has warmed over the past few centuries. We know that the 18th century was deep in the last Little Ice Age. (George Washington was able to carry thousand-pound cannons across a solidly frozen Long Island Sound during the Revolutionary War, for crying out loud. It was cold.) So even if the temperature today was the temperature it was before that Little Ice Age, it would look like things had warmed up even though they were just coming back to "normal." That is, the natural climate cycle spanning millennia would just be continuing like it has for millions of years.

It seems implausible in the extreme to say that the millions of tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses humans of put into the atmosphere over the past 100,000 have had no effect on the climate over that time. But given that a single large volcano eruption emits at least as many greenhouse gasses and particulates as the UK and the US did during the Industrial Revolution, I think it's safe to say that what effect we have on climate is relatively negligible.

Breaking news: ObamaCare doesn't include magic fairy dust to make everything better

If it did, it would be able to magically fix the shortage of doctors it stands to massively exacerbate.

This is a point that I and many other opponents of ObamaCare brought up before. Access to insurance is not the same as access to care. The uninsured already frequently have trouble finding a doctor. ObamaCare will do nothing to fix that problem, and will likely make it worse. The newly insured will lively have only one reliable source of medical care: the emergency room. Where they currently go anyway. Except now it will cost even more to get them their care, because of the inflationary effects of ObamaCare's mandates.

So, to recap: ObamaCare will provide virtually no increased access to care and will jack up the price of health care for everyone anyway. Gee. Glad we passed that bill.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cribbing from Ayn Rand

What should you expect to happen when you block a huge oil pipeline from your neighbor and closest ally from coming into your country?

If you're a Democrat, apparently you expect your neighbor to just shut down the project and not work with your biggest geopolitical rival.

Alas, reality doesn't conform itself to Democratic demands. China's major oil company CNOOC is poised to acquire a large stake in the Canadian oil company Nexen.

Why would Nexen even consider selling itself to a Chinese company? If you're a Democrat, it's a complete mystery. Canada betrayed us. There's no other explanation. If you live in reality, this was an all too obvious, and obviously foreseeable, consequence of Obama blocking the Keystone pipeline earlier this year.

Is it this administration's intent to bring Atlas Shrugged to life? It's eerie how closely events under this President track with those in Ayn Rand's opus.

More oil + more gas = a cleaner planet?

Absolutely, if history is any guide. Walter Russell Meade does it again in the fourth part of his analysis of the effects the shale oil and gas boom will have on the globe. Up for analysis this time: environmentalists.

Environmentalists are addicted to a Malthusian worldview. They seem unable to relinquish the fundamental premise that there is (or soon will be) a massive shortage of resources, and that our only hope as a species lies in a radical reordering of our political and economic systems. And this addiction blinds them to a the reality that an age of renewed fossil fuel abundance is a good thing.
The shale boom hasn’t turned green success into green failure. It’s prevented green failure from turning into something much worse. ... [T]he real winner of an oil and gas shortage is… coal. ... The US and China have oodles of coal, and rather than walk to work from our cold and dark houses all winter, we’d use it. Furthermore, when and if the oil runs out, the technology exists to get liquid fuel out of coal. It isn’t cheap and it isn’t clean, but it works.

The newly bright oil and gas future means that we aren’t entering a new Age of Coal. For this, every green on the planet should give thanks.

The second reason why greens should give thanks for shale is that environmentalism is a luxury good. People must survive and they will survive by any means necessary. But they would much rather thrive than merely survive, and if they can arrange matters better, they will. A poor society near the edge of survival will dump the industrial waste in the river without a second thought. It will burn coal and choke in the resulting smog if it has nothing else to burn. [snip]

An age of energy shortages and high prices translates into an age of radical food and economic insecurity for billions of people. Those billions of hungry, frightened, angry people ... will butcher every panda in the zoo before they see their children starve, they will torch every forest on earth before they freeze to death, and the cheaper and the meaner their lives are, the less energy or thought they will spare to the perishing world around them.

But, thanks to shale and other unconventional energy sources, that isn’t where we are headed. We are heading into a world in which energy is abundant and horizons are open even as humanity’s grasp of science and technology grows more secure. A world where more and more basic human needs are met is a world that has time to think about other goals and the money to spend on them.
Read the whole thing.

Why is capitalism important?

Charles Murray does an excellent job answering this question in an article answering a slightly different question: why are capitalists so reticent to defend capitalism's tarnished reputation? (His answer to the second question boils down to capitalism being decoupled from virtue, so not only are capitalists more likely to behave badly, but moral capitalists lack the vocabulary and philosophical framework with which to criticize them.)

But his answer to the question at the heart of this post is wonderful enough.
Capitalism is the economic expression of liberty. The pursuit of happiness, with happiness defined in the classic sense of justified and lasting satisfaction with life as a whole, depends on economic liberty every bit as much as it depends on other kinds of freedom.

"Lasting and justified satisfaction with life as a whole" is produced by a relatively small set of important achievements that we can rightly attribute to our own actions. Arthur Brooks, my colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, has usefully labeled such achievements "earned success." Earned success can arise from a successful marriage, children raised well, a valued place as a member of a community, or devotion to a faith. Earned success also arises from achievement in the economic realm, which is where capitalism comes in.

Earning a living for yourself and your family through your own efforts is the most elemental form of earned success. Successfully starting a business, no matter how small, is an act of creating something out of nothing that carries satisfactions far beyond those of the money it brings in. Finding work that not only pays the bills but that you enjoy is a crucially important resource for earned success.
He then lays out a very compelling case for limited government.
Making a living, starting a business and finding work that you enjoy all depend on freedom to act in the economic realm. What government can do to help is establish the rule of law so that informed and voluntary trades can take place. More formally, government can vigorously enforce laws against the use of force, fraud and criminal collusion, and use tort law to hold people liable for harm they cause others.

Everything else the government does inherently restricts economic freedom to act in pursuit of earned success. I am a libertarian and think that almost none of those restrictions are justified. But accepting the case for capitalism doesn't require you to be a libertarian. You are free to argue that certain government interventions are justified. You just need to acknowledge this truth: Every intervention that erects barriers to starting a business, makes it expensive to hire or fire employees, restricts entry into vocations, prescribes work conditions and facilities, or confiscates profits interferes with economic liberty and usually makes it more difficult for both employers and employees to earn success. You also don't need to be a libertarian to demand that any new intervention meet this burden of proof: It will accomplish something that tort law and enforcement of basic laws against force, fraud and collusion do not accomplish.
What a great test.

Can you imagine how many worthless or positively harmful laws would be avoided if its proponents had to reasonably prove that X law will expand people's ability to pursue happiness in a way that tort law enforcement of basic laws against force, fraud, and collusion do not? I don't doubt that many people will still be able to justify plenty of stupidity on those grounds, but there would be so much less of it in the laws than there is now.

Definitely read the whole article. It's well worth your time.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Obama: "Our plan worked!"

"And by our plan I mean the plan Bill Clinton put in place 20 years ago."

Me: Great! Bill Clinton's plan. You mean the one where you buck your party by expanding free trade and reforming welfare?

Obama: Uh, no.

Me: Well maybe it's the plan where you focus on paying down the deficit instead of cutting taxes or giving money to special interests?

Obama: Nope. Wrong again.

Me: Oh! I get it! You mean the plan where you raise taxes and hope for a massive economic bubble that won't pop until you're out of office!

Obama: Yes!

Me: Awesome. Let me know if you see one of those in the next 100 days, or so.

Support this man!

Especially if you live in Maryland.

His name's Dan Bongino. He's running for the US Senate seat there, and he gets it.

Something important to remember

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as bad luck.
-Robert Heinlein

Or, as our Lord himself said, The poor you will always have with you ... (Mark 14:7)

Neither an excuse for ignoring poverty, nor for refusing to help the poor better themselves and escape poverty. Just a clear-headed acknowledgement of facts. Which are, as our second President noted, stubborn things.

Who pays "their fair share" of taxes?

If you listen to President Obama and folks on the Left, the answer is not the rich.

If you listen to people who can do math, the answer is not the poor.
[The Congressional Budget Office] reports that the top 1% of income earners paid 39% of federal individual income taxes in 2009, while earning 13% of the income.  That means their share of federal income taxes was three times their share of income. ...

CBO further reported that in 2009 the top 20% of income earners, those earning more than $74,000, paid 94% of federal individual income taxes, virtually all of the net total. That was 85% more than the share of national income they earned.

Yet, in that same year, the middle 20% of income earners, the true middle class, paid 2.7% of total federal individual income taxes on net, while earning 15% of before-tax income.  And the bottom 40% of income earners, instead of paying some income taxes to support the federal government, were paid by the IRS cash equal to 10% of federal individual income taxes on net.

That means altogether the bottom 60% of income earners, which includes the middle class, paid less than 0% of total federal individual income taxes as a group on net. Instead, as a group, they received net cash payments from the IRS on net.
Of course, the designation above may not be accurate. It's quite likely that the President and his fellow travelers can do math passably well, but just have a difference in philosophy. To them, the situation where the rich pay 3 times the ratio they take in while the rest of society pays nothing on net and actually gets paid by the IRS isn't fair ... for the rest of society. Obama & Co. clearly want the ratio to be even more stacked against "the rich," by which they mean people making over $200,000 a year.

But is that just? Is it fair? To me, it clearly isn't. I think most folks in this country would probably be strongly inclined to agree with me, if they were presented with the facts of the CBO report referenced above. The situation is not just and it is not fair. Making it even less fair won't help.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What can brown do for you?

"Brown jobs," jobs in the fossil fuel and energy industries, are exploding throughout the Midwest and Mountain West in America at the beginning of our new fossil fuel boom. Shale oil and gas deposits under formally forlorn areas of the country -- Ohio, western Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota -- are creating economic opportunity the likes of which we haven't seen since the heady days of the dot com boom. The main difference, of course, is that the energy boom will be real and lasting.

One of the many probable effects of this new boom is the rise in income with areas that have a lot of brown jobs -- oil rig worker, engineers, mechanics, etc. Three characteristics of these jobs is will be that they are high paying, require significant manual and technical skills, and will not require post-secondary education.  In other words, the factory jobs that were shipped overseas 30 years ago are basically returning. 

Mickey Kaus speculates that those jobs will likely create a more egalitarian social scene much more effectively than any number of Liberal policies have. Unlike the yawning social gap between the (high growth) service sector and the (low growth) finance and information sectors so common on the coasts, where many concerned citizens claim to care about growing social inequalities, brown jobs "produce social equality through the workplace itself, by allowing the uneducated to make a decent living without being anyone’s personal servant."
If true, this might provide an "objective"–in the Marxian sense–explanation for how Republicans convinced the white working class that Democrats were a bunch of elitists, the riddle Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter With Kansas” tried to solve. Frank blames a form of false consciousness produced by skillful Republican manipulation of cultural issues (like abortion and gay marriage).But is it "false consciousness" if liberals actually, in practice, favor an economy that, however prosperous, is filled with jobs where the booklearned get to boss around the unbooklearned? If what you care about is social equality, not money equality, it doesn’t seem false at all.   [emphasis in original]

Pearls of wisdom from Big Gay Al

Why does life imitate South Park so much?
“Look, I appreciate what you kids did. I really do. But this isn’t what I wanted. I’m proud to be gay. And I’m proud to be in a country where I’m free to express myself. But freedom is a two-way street. If I’m free to express myself, then the scouts have to be free to express themselves too. I know these [scout leaders]. They are good men. They are kind men. They do what they think is best for the kids. No matter how wrong we think they might be, it isn’t right for us to force them to think our way. It’s up to us to persuade and help them see the light, not extort them to. I will continue to persuade them to change their minds, but this is the wrong way to do it. So, I am hereby dropping my case and allowing the scouts their right to not allow gays into their private club."
It is a testament to how hysterically unmoored from the traditions of freedom and decency the gay rights movement has become that Big Gay Al would probably be ridiculed or denounced as a gay Uncle Tom if he spoke these commonsense words in real life.

No matter how wrong we think they might be, it isn’t right for us to force them to think our way.It’s up to us to persuade and help them see the light, not extort them to.

Those words express the wisdom of the Founders' decision to include Article VI in the Constitution. They also identify the folly of those in society -- mostly, but not exclusively, on the Left -- who have no patience with the process of amending the Constitution. That requires years of argument and persuasion to create a shift in society great enough to build a super-majority for change. It's so much easier to convince a handful of judges or Supreme Court justices and have them impose the change you want on unwilling people.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Obama supporter interviews her 2008 self

And she asks, "Was I really this stupid four years ago?"

Ripples at Penn State

I understand the outrage among many at Penn State over the punishment leveled by the NCAA. I get it. It will fall on the backs of the innocent. I'm not so naive as to think that all of that $60 million is coming from the football program. College funds are fungible, after all. I don't know how many extracurricular clubs and academic programs will see their funding cut in order to cushion the blow to the football program (which, let's be honest, built PSU into what it is today; it would probably be even more podunk than Illinois State without Joe Paterno), but it will be more than a few. A lot of innocent people who had nothing to do with this scandal are going to suffer from this punishment leveled at people in leadership. I understand their concerns.

The sad fact of the matter, however is that this is just another feature of evil committed by those in leadership. It is the same with the Catholic Church predatory priest scandals (to which Jerry Sandusky's actions and the CYA actions of Joe Paterno and Penn State bear an uncomfortably keen resemblance). Because the institution itself was corrupted by the scandal, the institution itself will have to bear a large part of the punishment. It would be wonderful if we could act like Arthur in "The Once and Future King" and only go after the ones who gave the orders. Alas, we cannot. There's no way to surgically target lawsuits so they only take money and resources from the people responsible. The effects of sin and evil are rarely limited. They ripple out until they touch and twist thousands upon thousands of lives.

Lake Placid Tolerance

Liberal tolerance is like Lake Placid: a mile wide and one foot deep.Basically, the Left thinks diversity is wonderful ... unless your opinion becomes a little too diverse for them. Then they attack you like zombies from I Am Legend

Think of the hysterical reaction after Prop 8 passed in California: the Stalinist show trials, the lawsuits, the naked bigotry directed at Mormons, the sullen and suppressed bigotry directed at African-Americans. Or think of the hysterical reactions to any non-white, gay, or female conservative. Just take two examples: Sarah Palin and Clarence Thomas.
  • Sarah Palin. In 2008, she didn't say or do anything that Mike Huckabee hadn't already said or done in the campaign, but she engendered so much hatred because she wasn't following the script. She was deviating from the Left's tolerant and accepting views for the opinions women should have. When I asked my Liberal friends why they had such visceral loathing for her they said, "Well, she says such stupid stuff." Which isn't true for the most part, but even if it was that's no reason to hate people. Dan Quayle was pegged as an idiot but you saw little loathing for him. No. The hatred was of an existential nature.
  • Clarence Thomas. As a conservative, Clarence Thomas gets all kinds of hate from the Left. It's not the kind of "Your opinions are fascist!" hate that his buddy Scalia gets, though. It's more of the "You're a race traitor and a house ni**er!" atomic hatred that only gets leveled at non-whites who "step out of line" and hold opinions that the Left deems unacceptable. At first derided as a second-rate intellect by Liberals, Thomas is now angrily lauded by them as the originalist lodestone on the Court and the one laying the intellectual foundations for conservative jurisprudence for the next generation. And they hate him. Oh my, how they hate him.
Well, now you're seeing more of the Left's Lake Placid Tolerance directed at Chic-Fil-A, an openly religious company whose CEO let it be known that he favors traditional marriage. Well, you'd have thought that he was a convicted child rapist and serial killer or something from the full-throated denunciations by many on the Left. (Well, serial killer, anyway. Liberals seem to be okay with child rapists.) Tom Menino, the mayor of Boston, vowed that Chic-Fil-A would never do business there and denied them a business permit. The Muppets have severed ties with the company. NYU is looking to kick them out of the city.

Homosexual rights are the new frontier of Lake Placid Tolerance in America. The message, as always, is the same: do what we want and we will accept and love you, but do anything else and we will crush you.

To be a Pyrrhic victory, you need an actual victory.

It looked the WI Democrats could at least claim the barest fig leaf in their epic failure of a perpetual campaign to oust the people responsible for returning the state to fiscal sanity -- er, stripping public unions of the right to collectively bargaining for benefits. Sure, they'd blown tens of millions of dollars on failed efforts to oust the state supreme court justice, on a special election to retake the state senate, and -- in their most spectacular failure -- on the recall of Scott Walker. But in that final failed recall, the state senate flipped! Democrats had control of half the legislature ... for the only six months when the legislature doesn't meet ... and they'll probably lose it in the November elections this year. But hey -- they won something for that colossal error in judgment and waste of resources.

Oops. Guess not.

So, to recap, for all their money, effort, expenditure of political capital, and racking up ill will among the electorate, WI Democrats got pretty much nothing: not the state supreme court, not the governor, not even a functioning majority in the state senate. When you think about it, they got even less than that. Every dollar spent in this recall is a dollar that can't be spent for Obama in the general election. Plus, it gave the WI GOP and Tea Party a wonderful test run for their spectacularly successful GOTV (that's "get out the vote" for you non-political nerds) operation. Not only did they aid their opponents by energizing them and allowing them a test run for the general election, they actively harmed the President's campaign by sucking millions of union dollars it looks increasingly like the Obama campaign will desperately need come the fall.

Usually, when you destroy yourself so thoroughly in pursuit of your goal you at least have the benefit of calling your efforts Pyrrhic. But to have a Pyrrhic victory still requires ... you know ... a victory.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

This almost works too well

Neo hiding from Lumbergh. Mixing The Matrix with Office Space. It's freaky how well this mishmash scene works.

I didn't build this post

President Obama is frantically walking back his "You didn't build that!" claim from a couple weeks ago. It may be that all the king's horses and all the king's men can't put this humpty dumpty back together again.

As the Reverend Doctor Pat Sajak has pointed out, political defining moments, "take hold most devastatingly when they confirm what a large portion of the electorate already believes. ... [W]hen voters are able to nod and say, 'I knew it,' these moments stick and do terrible damage."

This gaffe would just be a gaffe if it wasn't of a piece with so many anecdotes, policies, and actions that together paint a picture of a president who is actively hostile to free markets and small businesses. Given that context, however, it has confirmed in a neatly packaged quote a lot that so many people in America haven't been comfortable with about Obama but haven't necessarily been about to put their finger on.

"People don't stop killers. People with guns do."

An important truth to keep in mind in light of foolish calls for increased gun control in the wake of the Aurora mass murders on Thursday night.
"Gun-free zones" are premised on a fantasy: That murderers will follow rules, and that people like my student, or Bradford Wiles, are a greater danger to those around them than crazed killers. ... That's an insult. Sometimes, it's a deadly one.

Read the whole article here. It was written in response to the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, but its points are obviously still very valid.