No, not politicians, though that was a really good guess. I hate cigarette smoke as much as anyone, but I think I hate lying commercials even more.
Sphere: Related Content
This amount of arrogance, the sheer impardonable pretension, is bound to be popular.
After the 2006 elections, I posted a list of what I want from my government and its leaders, summarizing with:
America is a nation founded on the principles of limited government. It was a new and radical plan, successful thus far only because it has relied on one fundamental truth: a free people who know that they are responsible for their own well-being and who have an ownership stake in their country will work harder and fight harder than a people who are mere subjects to the will of the State or a King. They will be free to exercise their creativity, and creativity harnessed to unity is unstoppable.
I want leaders who encourage individualism in self reliance, self control, self defense, and self expression.
A million people in Turkey protest against any hint of Islamic fundamentalism in their government, even if it's just the President's wife wearing a head scarf in the Presidential Palace.
That is how you defeat jihad. Common, ordinary people insisting, publicly and en masse, that God may rule their hearts, but religious zealotry will not rule their land.
Fred Thompson doesn't do magic tricks. Magicians do Fred Thompson tricks.
The Chicoms have not invaded California, because Fred Thompson has slept there.
Fred Thompson's gaze is known to purify water.
Fred Thompon's voice delays the onset of menopause.
When Fred Thompson takes a shower, the water doesn't get Fred Thompson wet. Fred Thompson makes the water dry.
It is a tenet of the diversity movement that variation of individuals within a group makes the group better. Every team, committee, or board must be formed with diversity in mind. The magic of diversity will lead to better decisions, avoid groupthink, and save us all. The trouble is that most often the wrong kind of diversity is chosen, and the magic turns to madness.
When we speak of diversity, what is it that we mean? There are several types of diversity: biological, random, natural, racial or type, or geographical. There is skill diversity; educational, opinion, viewpoint diversity, and so on. It is a mistake to conflate any of these types of diversity, or to assume that one kind necessarily implies another.
As Justice Clarence Thomas said in a BusinessWeek interview:
I've thought a lot about these things, and I've spent the bulk of my life, beating my head against a wall, trying to get people to see that they can have their grand theories but, in the end, you can't impose them on other people's kids. How many kids do you have? They're different, aren't they? If your kids are different—and they're all yours—what about just some kids who happen to be different shades of black, different degrees of Negro? They're all from different family settings—some two parents, some no parents, some raised by grandparents. Come on. How can you just all of a sudden treat them as all the same?Suppose you were creating a team of ten people, and your goal (hypothetically) were to have three people with dark skin, three with blond hair, three females, four above a certain height, and three in each decade of age ranging from 20 to 50. To get this diversity, you could look at their resumes and have them submit by email answers to questions about nuclear physics, Central Asian history, and field hockey. That would let you select a diverse set of opinions and knowledge, which would then yield a chance of successfully getting the physically diverse group you are after.
Is white guilt going to propel Barack Obama to the White House?
I don't think so. Or rather, I hope Americans haven't taken some notion that it's time we had a president who was Black enough, a woman not named for an explorer, probably not gay but certainly metrosexual, a flaming monogamist, or rumored to be omnipotent.
One would hope people would still want someone who had a proven record of executive leadership, experience in government and industry, and a nice dog.
I hate racism. My parents raised their children not to see other people for their race, wealth, or outward appearance, but to treat everyone the same. The idea of using violence against someone because of they are different is difficult for me even to consider. Hate someone for their their religion or sexual orientation? How silly. Even sillier is hating someone for their race or gender, something over which they have no control.
The Congressional majority appears to be filled with race-baiters and fearmongers. Unfortunately, they aren't content merely to stir up trouble, like other race-baiting fearmongers. No, these folks want to assert federal authority to prosecute based on their perceptions of your perceptions. What race-baiting fearmongers think you are thinking will become the standard by which your actions will be judged.
The standard drumbeat from the left for years has been that the right is ... I won't use the phrase involving throats ... trying to pass laws to legislate morality. As if anyone ever tried to pass a law they considered immoral. But now, a veritable stampede of House Democrats are trying to turn people into non-racist, non-sexist, and otherwise legislate their version of morality.
HR 1592, like all thought crime laws, would make some crimes more illegal if you're thinking certain illegal thoughts while you commit them. It also extends the Federal hate crime definition to include sexual orientation and gender.
Motive is always a dispositive factor in finding a person guilty or not guilty of a crime. The same physical action can be considered
Sticks and stonesBut the one who responded to the ethnic slur is filled with hate, and is committing a crime based on the perceived or actual race of his victim. Or maybe it was all about the poker game and testosterone. Tough to tell, isn't it? Are their actions really any different?
May break my bones,
But words will never hurt me.
(Also at The Minorty Report)
Henry Waxman (D-MysteryVan) issued a subpoena to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice seeking questions about Iraq, yellow cake, and Niger. Rice has indicated she will refuse to comply with the subpoena on several grounds, including relevance, pestering, and Consitutional issues.
Subpoenas are regularly refused or quashed. If a subpoena is issued but sent to the wrong address, or to the wrong person, or if responding to the subpoena would be a giant hassle for nothing, or for a variety of other reasons, subpoenas sometimes need not even receive a response. If a witness is just going to exercise their Fifth Amendment right and not answer any questions, it's better to simply ask the court to quash the subpoena.
Rice said she respected the oversight function of the legislative branch, but maintained she had already testified in person and under oath about claims that
Iraq had sought uranium from Africa during her confirmation hearing for the job of secretary of state.
"I addressed these questions, almost the same questions, during my confirmation hearing," she said. "This is an issue that has been answered and answered and answered."
Congressman Waxman is using the subpoena to advance a political agenda, and is abusing his power in the process. He is attempting to distract the Administration with silly, inapposite questions in an effort to appeal to the far left wing of his party. There is no reason for Secretary Rice to answer further questions on this matter, and she should continue to say that.
What part of "No" does Waxman not understand?
Simon has a new campaign:
Power and Control: I Support Democracy In Iraq
There are several levels of democracy a nation can employ, and several forms a democratic government can take. Supporting democracy in Iraq does not mean insisting, or even hoping, that Iraq form a nation similar to that of the United States or any other country.
Democracy also doesn't necessarily imply respect for human rights, although it tends to do that. Respect for human rights doesn't necessarily imply democracy, even though all people have the human right to self government on some level. A wise autocrat, for instance, takes the will of the people into account, especially the will of those most affected by a given decision.
To paraphrase Churchill, democracy is not perfect, but it's the best we can do so far.
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-Handbasket) had two problems.
His first problem was that the State of Illinois had been having trouble paying its bills for several years. Schools were complaining about inadequate concierge service in faculty lounges. Gild work in some school board restrooms was wearing completely away, allowing the brass under the cheap gold plating to become tarnished when students could no longer be taught how to polish it. And the teachers have also had to endure the endless complaints from whiny State employees, whose pensions have not been fully funded any time in recent memory.
The Governor's second problem was that he didn't know how to best go about addressing the woefully undertaxed nature of the people of Illinois. They were just not willing to give as the Governor knew they should. And while they complained a bit, only a few elderly people a month were losing their homes when they couldn't pay their property taxes. An income tax increase would be electorally risky, and the State Legislature had been forced to grant gaping loopholes in the corporate income tax structure to keep ungrateful employers from fleeing under cover of night to nearby Indiana or Wisconsin.
Yet his plentiful taxing options didn't stop there. He could choose user fees on the vast amount of air covering the State, the sunlight pouring over it, and the rain slowly eroding it into the Gulf of Mexico. But the key was to make sure he didn't get blamed for raising taxes on voters, or at least, not by the majority of them.
His solution was bold: he would tax every transaction! It would be a hidden tax on those evil corporations. Whenever money changed hands anywhere in the State of Illinois, the government would take its cut. The Gross Receipts Tax could be used to pay for a massive expansion of Illinois government. And the best part was, in order to tax every transaction the Governor would need to know about every transaction. A huge new bureaucracy would be his to command, an information-gathering and enforcement arm that would let him put an end to the pesky charade of reelection campaigning.
Except that would not be enough. The GRT would not be used simply to balance the State's unbalanced budget, but to pay for another massive expansion, this time to supply a huge unmet need for medical paperwork.
Everyone 3% more Illinoisans would get free less expensive medical care insurance. A new matching 3% payroll tax, a penalty on those employers who pay their workers with money instead of insurance paperwork, and a plan to sell the State Lottery would also be needed. Oh, how the paper would fly.
However, almost no one is buying it. People from all walks of life in Illinois are seeing the GRT for the regressive, economic poison that it is, despite Governor Blagojevich's hateful class-warfare demagoguery. Mom and pop would not lose their home to property taxes, because they'd never make enough to buy one.
Completely missing is the debate over whether gold plating in school board lavatories is really needed, when the State has to sell off assets and borrow money with bond issues to pay current expenses. Rather than debating where to liposuction away the State excess spending in the face of budget shortfalls, the Governor is demanding more for his plate.
It is possible that the Governor knew this plan would fail all along. Now that he's played the heavy, he can bravely struggle against that mean old General Assembly as they force an income tax increase on him. What a guy.
At least he's not charging us to breathe his air.
Harry Reid declared the war in Iraq lost when he knew, or should have known, that it was not.
What did Harry know, and when did he know it? When did he realize he'd have to backpeddle, and has that back-pedding caused him to lose the trust of President-in-Law Pelosi?
There is a cloud over the Senate Majority Leader, a cloud which can only be erased by the Senator's resignation from that post. While he may keep his lucrative Senate seat, he belongs in the back row, away from anything sharper than a balloon.
Posted by Loren Heal at 8:32 AM
After the VaTech massacre, there have been calls for more gun control, calls for teaching self-defense, calls for calls for censoring video games, and lots of complaints about campus security. Panicky, unrealistic charges sprang up saying implicitly that campus police should have known who committed the first two murders and explicitly that they should have "locked down" the campus in response to what their evidence said was a domestic dispute.
Since the lunatic was a student who lived on campus, under a campus lockdown he could simply have gone back to his own dorm and done the same thing he did at Norris Hall.
It has come out that the campus security and counseling staff knew or suspected that the lunatic was a lunatic, there have been calls for whisking away all such people to padded cells, whether they like it or not.
The human brain is a complex piece of organic machinery, with a delicate and powerful interaction between mental process, biochemistry, and cell growth. Thought patterns actually influence the physical layout of the brain. The subtle chemical balances vary from person to person, such that what might be a harmful combination for one is not for another. Further, the chemistry is offset by experience and training: a person with a tendency to believe his own opinions are facts, such as myself, can through training come to value the opinion of others. That's all hypothetical in my particular case, of course. Haha. Yes, you're right, not a laughing matter.
So there have been calls for all college students to receive mental health screenings.
It's a prime example of the Silver Bullet Syndrome: reacting to a crisis with a solution that may or may not work on a particular instance an intractable general problem. The silver bullet may not kill the werewolf, because you still have to shoot, and hit, the werewolf. Neither gun control, self defense training, locking down a campus, locking up all known lunatics, nor screening incoming college students for mental health are guaranteed to work against the general problem of how to kill the werewolves of a free, dangerous society.
There has always been an unquestionable oddness and questionable mental health of artists and writers, from Edgar Alan Poe to Adolph Hitler, from cartoonists daring to depict a prophet to those sent to Siberia for opposing an evil empire. Liberals should take note that when we give the government a power, it doesn't readily give it up, and the power to imprison those who have done nothing wrong is a dangerous one, indeed.
But it will at least be interesting to see Nannyism duke it out with the menace of drug company profit. Will liberals fall on the side of protecting us from those whose oddness can only be detected with mental health screening, or will their distrust of Big Pharma prevail?
(Somewhere in here, a link to Dr. Sanity would be nice.)
Debbie Schlussel notes, in her usual even-handed way, that there is a dust-up on a Virginia Tech mailing list for Muslims. The cause of this tussle? A female Muslim suggested that Muslims pray for the victims of Monday's massacre. That's what they get for teaching girls to read. They get all kinds of funny Western ideas, like asking God to help someone without an ulterior motive.
The liberal Arabic-language website Aafaq reports that a Muslim student set off a debate when she sent an email to the mailing list of the Muslim Students' Association at Virginia Tech asking the students to pray that Allah have mercy on those killed and wounded in the shooting attack at the university.Apparently, those who say that God and Allah are the same thing were wrong. Allah appears to be a petty, bloodthirsty hater. Religion of Peace? In the sense that the dead are at peace, I guess.
According to Aafaq, the dean of student affairs at American International University, Abu Hamza Hijji, responded, writing that Allah the Most Merciful forbids praying for mercy for the non-Muslim dead, or even for the non-Muslim living, and that it is only permitted to pray that they be rightly guided [DS: convert to Islam]. He added that what happened was a sad occurrence, but that does not give Muslims the right to transgress the laws of Allah the Most Merciful.
What happens to make people shoot up a school classroom? There are several factors which intuition says probably contributed. That last point bears expansion. Have ever had an object, such as a ball, thrown at you when you weren't expecting it, even in a context where you should be? It takes a lot of concentration to deal with it. Now imagine a college textbook flying at you. You can't catch it with a gun in your hand. A hail of textbooks, pens, cell phones, backpacks, and furniture would be impossible to deal with for an attacker. A group of two or three people picking up furniture and charging the attacker with it would be able to disable him without being killed. If he happened to need a body bag after that, well, better him than the rest. That's how kids should be trained, from kindergarten, to react to someone who threatens them or attacks their teacher. Fight back, with whatever means you have available. A school district in Texas tried training like that, but the media controversy shut them down. Burleson Independent School District (BISD) hired Response Options, a Dallas-based company, to provide general school safety training, which included fight-back training. The latter included encouraging students to throw objects at armed intruders, knock them off balance, make as much noise as possible, lock onto an intruder’s limbs, and try to take intruders down. Teachers, 650 freshmen, and some elementary school students in the 8,500-student district received the training. But after a national media buzz, on October 20 the district sent students’ parents a letter stating “BISD does not, nor will we support teaching our students to attack an intruder.” Instead, they're trained to be helpless targets. Why should students live with a general background fear, an implicit picture of themselves as victims in waiting? The odds of an attack are very low, after all. For a number that may as well be 100% of students, a classroom attack will never happen. Telling them that if an attack occurs, they are not just allowed but called on to repel it will do more for them than all the counseling and empowerment sessions they could attend. It's real empowerment, not feel good happy talk. A bit of math: there are 55,000,000 K-12 students enrolled in US schools. Assuming that number holds for 10 years, then each year there will be about 4.25 million different students, or about 93,000,000 students total. Supposing that there will be 930 students involved in school attacks in the next ten years, an outrageously high number, that's 1 in 100,000 (0.001%) or approximately zero. Compared to the number of kids who will be involved in violent crime not part of a "school shooter" scenario, it's statistical noise. So why not teach them to fight back? Does not fighting back increase their survival chances, even for the zero percent of them who will be in that situation? Logic says no: killers who come to school have come to leave no survivors. The kids will be killed if they do nothing. With regard to the charge that we are trained to act with cowardice in the face of a VaTech scenario, the always insightful Mark Steyn writes:
Eric at Classical Values asks why the Virginia Tech students, especially the adult males, didn't fight back.
I’d prefer to say that the default position is a terrible enervating passivity. Murderous misfit loners are mercifully rare. But this awful corrosive passivity is far more pervasive, and, unlike the psycho killer, is an existential threat to a functioning society.
Take your pick.
There are several factors which intuition says probably contributed.
That last point bears expansion. Have ever had an object, such as a ball, thrown at you when you weren't expecting it, even in a context where you should be? It takes a lot of concentration to deal with it.
Now imagine a college textbook flying at you. You can't catch it with a gun in your hand. A hail of textbooks, pens, cell phones, backpacks, and furniture would be impossible to deal with for an attacker. A group of two or three people picking up furniture and charging the attacker with it would be able to disable him without being killed. If he happened to need a body bag after that, well, better him than the rest.
That's how kids should be trained, from kindergarten, to react to someone who threatens them or attacks their teacher. Fight back, with whatever means you have available.
A school district in Texas tried training like that, but the media controversy shut them down.
Burleson Independent School District (BISD) hired Response Options, a Dallas-based company, to provide general school safety training, which included fight-back training. The latter included encouraging students to throw objects at armed intruders, knock them off balance, make as much noise as possible, lock onto an intruder’s limbs, and try to take intruders down.
Teachers, 650 freshmen, and some elementary school students in the 8,500-student district received the training.
But after a national media buzz, on October 20 the district sent students’ parents a letter stating “BISD does not, nor will we support teaching our students to attack an intruder.”
Instead, they're trained to be helpless targets.
Why should students live with a general background fear, an implicit picture of themselves as victims in waiting? The odds of an attack are very low, after all. For a number that may as well be 100% of students, a classroom attack will never happen. Telling them that if an attack occurs, they are not just allowed but called on to repel it will do more for them than all the counseling and empowerment sessions they could attend. It's real empowerment, not feel good happy talk.
A bit of math: there are 55,000,000 K-12 students enrolled in US schools. Assuming that number holds for 10 years, then each year there will be about 4.25 million different students, or about 93,000,000 students total. Supposing that there will be 930 students involved in school attacks in the next ten years, an outrageously high number, that's 1 in 100,000 (0.001%) or approximately zero.
Compared to the number of kids who will be involved in violent crime not part of a "school shooter" scenario, it's statistical noise.
So why not teach them to fight back? Does not fighting back increase their survival chances, even for the zero percent of them who will be in that situation? Logic says no: killers who come to school have come to leave no survivors. The kids will be killed if they do nothing.
With regard to the charge that we are trained to act with cowardice in the face of a VaTech scenario, the always insightful Mark Steyn writes:
According the the Billings Gazette, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) has agreed with the State Legislature: Montana will not be part of a national ID card.
"We also don't think that bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., ought to tell us that if we're going to get on a plane we have to carry their card, so when it's scanned through they know where you went, when you got there and when you came home," said Schweitzer, a Democrat.
"This is still a free country and there are no freer people than the people that we have in Montana."
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, or Virginia Tech, or VaTech, is a school which goes by many names.
As we decide how to how to remember the events of April 16, 2007 at the school, it seems to me that names will be very important.
Some names, such as that of Liviu Librescu, deserve to be remembered. Others, such as that of his killer, do not.
Librescu Teaching HallEven in his final act of heroism, Librescu taught us the value of personal courage and of sacrifice. His act, and the lives of those senselessly taken, need to be memorialized. Norris Hall, the building in which the major rampage occurred, should be central to that memorial.
I call on Virginia Tech to rededicate that place Librescu Teaching Hall.
I've noticed a tendency, a pattern of sorts, among modern American liberals. They seem most often to conflate side effects and cause.
Liberals love to talk about self esteem, as though low self esteem were its own cause and not simply the mental health equivalent of scurvy. Without achievement, we lack the self esteem to stay away from suicide, drug abuse, and undesirable sexual activity. But just a little self esteem is enough to ward off these potholes of life. Too much self esteem leads to arrogance and sociopathy.
Low self esteem is undesirable, but high self esteem is just as bad. Furthermore, you can't supply the self esteem innoculation with unmerited praise, and the reward of doing a good job is often enough without any praise at all. As Dr. Sanity says,
Our cultural focus on enhancing "self-esteem" has resulted in the near-worship of emotions and feelings at the expense of reason and thought; on emphasizing "root causes" and victimhood, instead of demanding that behavior be civilized and that individuals exert self-discipline and self-control--no matter what they are "feeling".Healthy, well-adjusted people have moderate self-esteem, but that cannot be given -- it must be earned.
We live in a world of leverage, in which a small amount of human effort and knowledge can control vast amounts of energy. That energy can be used for good, and almost all of the time, it is. Cranes, jackhammers, SUVs, guns, airplanes -- all of these things have tremendous destructive power. When used appropriately, as they almost always are, they make our lives much better. When used poorly, they give us the power to destroy.
Laws cannot protect you.
There are laws against killing people, laws against stealing, and laws against just about everything someone doesn't like. In places where its illegal to have guns, people still have guns, and people still die. People still kill people, and they always will. Our society works on the premise that people will behave themselves. If they will not, then the American Experiment will be shown a failure.
"You cannot legislate morality" means exactly that: laws change only the law-abiding, and a certain number will always ignore the law when you least expect it.
The police cannot protect you.
There is no guarantee of police protection. There is no service level agreement, nor even an agreement that one neighborhood will be served by police as well as the next one. Police cannot be everywhere. If a person is willing to give up his life, there is nothing the police can do to stop him or her from committing any number of violent acts.
Make no mistake: the police were not responsible for the shootings at Virginia Tech, Columbine, or those by the DC Snipers.
Being a good person cannot protect you.
Evil people bent on killing others make no distinction between who gave the most to charity or who volunteered at the homeless shelter. The level of kindness, integrity, and generosity with which you live your life may not make it into that final conversation -- and there may not be a final conversation. But if there is, there is no reason to believe that anyone already set to kill will be dissuaded by a history of goodness.
Even God cannot (or will not) protect you.
We are all going to die some day. God allows wickedness in the world, including the level of wickedness needed to look into the eyes of and kill, one by one, a group of thirty people.
Only you can protect you.
Only you will be there when your life, or your family's life, is on the line. Only you will be there to see the murderer coming down the hall. Only you will be there. The question is: will you be there, standing in the moment, or will you hide your face and wish it all away?
To a certain extent, common ordinary Muslims themselves are placed in the shadow of the bullies. But these sycophants of the bullies are now bullies themselves, using different weapons: those of deceit and political correctness. As Keith Roderick puts it at The American Thinker:
"Islamophobia," coined as a term to describe prejudice and fear against Muslims and Islam, has gained institutional legitimacy. It is now used to fend off criticism of anything negative arising from Muslims or Islam. Less a psychological state of irrational fear, it creates a pseudo-racial classification for Muslims and Islam that allows criticism of, or opposition to it, to be defined as racist. Politically, the language of phobia is being used as a battering ram to weaken security measures and strengthen the radical agenda of Islamists who do not hide the fact that they want to transform the United States into an Islamic country governed by shari'a. These Islamists offer a caveat, that is, they want this transformation to be done without terrorism or violence, using only the political process to Islamicize American society.Also via the American Thinker, the European Union has drawn up guidelines advising government spokesmen to refrain from linking Islam and terrorism in their statements.
The article concludes:
"Because having the freedom without responsibility could lead our civilization to absolute liberalism."
Din said the declaration would allow people and institutions to exercise freedom of expression, but also make them responsible in their actions.
Why not? Religious figures don't have any special right not to be insulted. Sort of goes with the gig, I thought.
Rev. Fr. Joseph Chusak Sirisut, director of the Bangkok-based religious and cultural research center in Saengtham College, said there was a similarly insulting cartoon when Pope Benedictus XVI was inaugurated last October.
"Press freedom should not insult religious figures."
The fellow or fellows who opened fire at Virginia Tech should have been shot dead by some girl who carried a gun in her purse. Instead, he found easy pickings.
And now there will be even tighter restrictions.
And the next time, it will be even worse.
Arm yourselves, before it's too late.
Noel Sheppard of Newsbusters highlights an odd bit of non-news that didn't get much airplay. After days of outrage over Don Imus and the insulting 'nappy-headed hos' line, Imus was forced out of his job by the high priests of Political Correctness.
Yet, when the New Black Panther Party leader Malik Shabazz called Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin a “political prostitute” on Thursday’s “O’Reilly Factor,” the media largely ignored the event.
Governor Corzine of New Jersey shows us how dangerous freedom can be. While the Governor recuperates in critical condition at a New Jersey hospital, we will doubtless begin to hear how important it is to wear our seatbelts. The Nanny State will use his injuries as a club to enforce restraints on us, for our own good.
Let me preface what I have to say by expressing my hope that the Governor's injuries are not as serious as they could be, and the he has a speedy recovery.
A State Trooper carrying Governor Corzine may have allowed the Governor to ride in his vehicle without wearing a seat belt, in possible violation of New Jersey law. A friend of the trooper told a local newspaper about him:
"He's always been very righteous and idealistic, but in a good way. Very moral, lots of integrity," Gonzalez said. "I think he felt like that was his opportunity to contribute."Perhaps the Governor was in the back seat, as a chauffered passenger would often be, or had temporarily unfastened his seat belt for some reason.
How does all of this fit together?
According to several biographies, no one, including his doctors, dared restrain the King of Rock-and-Roll from sticking heroin-filled needles in his arm. Likewise, no one dares tell some ranking politicians, billionaires and radio shock jocks that they must change destructive lifetime habits -- until it's too late.
A high-stakes Wall Street achiever such as Corzine wouldn't be the first governor or former U.S. senator to qualify as an Elvis. In his rarefied view from the front seat -- with its mad dashes to Cabinet meetings, news conferences, fund-raisers, political rallies and talk shows -- a comfortable, belt-less chat with an aide in the back seat can easily be seen as a calculated risk worth taking.
Ever since I can remember, the mainstream media have swarmed from story to story, pouncing on the latest thing everyone else is covering. The always-entertaining Rush Limbaugh dubbed it the "Drive By Media". As Lin Wood said:
It's quiet now, but don't be fooled – another media frenzy is just around the corner. It may take a few weeks or a few months — or maybe just the next slow news cycle — but it will happen again just as it has happened in the past.But what takes a simple story into a full-on media frenzy? It occurred to me during my vast and detailed research into this topic (means: googling for over a minute) that a new story starts with a comment somewhere, either in the media or on some blog. If it gets any traction, it "has legs", and then can be called a "scandal", a "dust-up", or a "controversy". Sometimes, there can be a dust-up over a story about a scandal.
In the Star Trek TV series 1, Captain Kirk remarks in earshot of a Yang tribesman about the plan they'd have to carry out "...If we're going to get our freedom".
'Freedom'? It is [our] worship word. You will not speak it!
Congress has a valve controlling the ballooning size of the Federal government, and that valve is currently stuck open. The valve is not just the pork that Congresscritters use to buy reelection. The valve is jammed open by the practice of baseline spending, in which the budget for the many Departments and programs of the government is calculated not on what is required, but on the previous budgeted amount. Since there is no incentive for either bureaucrats or appointees to ask for a smaller budget, that amount almost always increases.
When government grows in expenditure, it also grows in authority, sooner or later. If we don't want government to intrude on our liberties, we must not let it spend more money. It doesn't matter if taxes are increased or cut, or if promises to preserve liberty are made. Eventually, a larger government will find a way to extend its power.
Typically, the expansion of power begins by regulating the money being spent. It would be irresponsible use of public funds not to account well for it, after all.
But the way the accounting works usually does very little to account for how the money is spent, but rather is designed to show that it is being spent well. Beneficiaries of government largess are obligated to submit to regular surveys, and as all surveys these are designed to achieve a particular answer: this is a good program, but it needs more money.
Furthermore, the bulk of Federal spending is not "discretionary", which is to say, Congress has effectively put it on autopilot. That means that in order for any Federal program to even stop growing, its loyal proponents have a chance to scream about it to a complicit media. Those who merely want government generally to be smaller have to expend political capital on some particular program which merely costs more than it does good. The proponents of the program often see it as the most important function of government.
As Pejman Yousefzadeh says at American.com:
It is important to note that advocates of larger government—contemporary liberals, as opposed to classical ones—do not hesitate to advocate expanded government and expanded regulation that is out of proportion to the growth in prosperity and positive liberty. By refusing to stand firm against the contemporary liberal movement, by ceding ground when it does not have to, by adjusting tactics so that classical liberals perpetually fight on the contemporary liberals’ favorite battlefields, the classical liberal movement risks running out of the intellectual energy necessary to keep government small and to increase prosperity and positive liberty.Our strategy is always to talk about how much government can shrink, in the heretofore vain hope that it will fail to grow as quickly as it otherwise would. Perhaps there's another avenue. But I think the balloon will continue to grow until it meets some constraint. For Americans, that constraint was supposed to be giving the House of Representatives, those Federal politicians closest to the People, the sole power to initiate tax increases. Now that the majority has learned that it can tax the minority, that constraint has turned into a catalyst.
Democrats have cut off their nose to spite their pouty little faces, giving up a spot on the highest-rated news channel, ostensibly to make some kind of point.
Newsbusters relays the quip from Jay Leno:
Well, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards as well as a number of other Democratic candidates say they will not participate in a presidential debate next month because the debate is on Fox News and Fox News is biased. Well, how are you going to stand up to terrorists when you're afraid of Fox News?Indeed.
I will also not bother to debate whether Fox is a "right-wing mouthpiece", except to note that from orbit, Everest and Marianas appear the same height. Moveon.org is so far to the left they couldn't tell a "right-wing mouthpiece" from The Aquarium Channel. Liberals have a lock on the sewer main media, and Fox goes out of its way not to be part of that.
It's time to take on FoxThe Democratic Party of Nevada just announced plans to team up with Fox News for a presidential primary debate. But Fox isn't a legitimate news channel. It's a right-wing mouthpiece like Rush Limbaugh and the Drudge Report—repeating false Republican talking points to smear Democrats. Sign this petition to ask the Democratic Party of Nevada to drop Fox from the debate.
In this Redstate post, Charles Bird relates the story of how Michael Yon, a national treasure working to tell the story of the Iraq war from the battlefield, wants to pick up a weapon and fight along side the unit in which he's embedded. That's a really bad plan, and it highlights the folly of embedding reporters. They can't be objective anyway, so why put them there?
I never liked the idea of embedding reporters with units in a war zone. Probably that's because I never liked the idea of a war covered on TV. Wars should be fought, not televised. The instant a camera crew shows up, the war will be fought for the camera crew, directed for the audience rather than fought to be won.
But the horse is out of that barn, as modern wars are fought in urban areas and with a media front. The other side is going to be fighting a battle on the blogs and over the airwaves, the only question being whether we will show up.
The Geneva Conventions recognize four classes of people in an armed conflict:
It seems odd that journalists, who are certainly as big a target as the classic "radio man", aren't allowed to fight. They ought to be able to defend themselves. Yet since they're
That's another reason that embedding reporters is a bad idea. The InfoOps people ought to come from the ranks, same as any other specialty. But it would be even better if there were no specialty at all. The new warrior has to fight with his mind as much as his bayonet.
So the camera crew have to be made part of the unit. Not attached, or embedded, or observing; part of it. What's more, it isn't enough to have one reporter with a unit. Every fighting man should also be trained as a reporter, and expected to give his point of view of the fighting. Everyone we send into harm's way should have a camera to record the action from his perspective, another weapon to use to destroy the enemy and take away his will to fight. When the battle ends, and the enemy claims we failed to shackle ourselves properly, our cameras will tell a different story.
Or rather than simply record the battle, the cameras should relay battlefield information for strategists and tactician to use in directing the fight.
Embryonic stem cell research presents an easy expected value problem. An expected value problem is one for which two or more values or outcomes are weighed, when each has a likelihood of occurring. Expected value problems are solved by converting all variables to the same unit of measurement and multiplying each outcome by its likelihood.
Comparing only like terms, we have:
Decision = Prob(life-threatening diseases cured)(number of cured people) - (1)(number of embryo lives destroyed in research)
... where Prob(X) represents the likelihood of X occurring, on a scale from 0 to 1.
So we're being asked to balance the hypothetical cure against the definite death. Roll the dice that some person could be cured by taking the life of another, without that other's consent.
The doctor is correct. When the probability of a cure for some life-threatening disease gets high enough, the number of lives saved will outweigh, in a grisly fashion, the number of lives destroyed to save them.
I ignore the easy straw man argument, that embryonic stem cells have the "potential" to keep aging actresses on screen longer and prolong the careers of aging athletes. But what of old age generally? What if embryonic stem cells hold the fountain of youth?
It's the same expected value. To do the research to find out whether such is possible, human beings have to die.
It's a tautology to say that people who have different points of view will disagree. Diverse points of view will probably lead to diverse disagreements. It is impossible to have diversity without strife. But when do those disagreements become offensive?
The Tolerance Police are now explaining, in the name of sensitivity, that some points of view are inexpressible. It used to be said that only Intolerance could not be tolerated, which was ironic enough; unsatisfied with that, the tolerators have now come to say that they need not tolerate what they find offensive. King Tolerance, it seems, has abdicated his throne.
Don Imus is a shock jock. He makes his living by saying outrageous things to people who love being shocked by the outrageous things he says. The trouble with shock is that it wears off; eventually the shocking becomes merely unsettling, then conventional. When Imus says (via Newsbusters, their emphasis)
I used to think that all of these things that the administration did were either because of the war criminal Vice-President and that psychopath who was over at the Pentagon, because of them, or because of stupidity. But I really believe, in my heart, that it's arrogance, and maliciousness and mean-spiritedness.That kind of thing used to be shocking, became merely unsettling, and now serves only to make liberals to bobble their heads in BDS-infected agreement.
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” ESV
Even when Persians get good press for releasing hostages they should never have had, it is not our darkest hour.
When the Russians, Chinese and the rest of the world turn "realist" in the fight against evil, it is not our darkest hour.
The British, French, Germans, and the rest of Europe are doing their best appeasement -- but it is not our darkest hour.
Our darkest hour has come and gone. It took place on a hill called Golgotha, in a backward outpost of the Roman Empire.
They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"
In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.' " In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah."
John Kerry has led an interesting life. The trouble is that during much of it, he's been stalking Al Gore.
Gore went to an Ivy League school; Kerry went to an Ivy League school.1
Gore smoked dope; Kerry was a dope.
Gore went to Nam; Kerry went to Nam.2
Gore invented the Internet; Kerry invented cookies.3
Gore ran for the Senate; Kerry ran for the Senate.
Gore ran for President and lost to George Bush, claiming to have been cheated out of victory; Kerry ran for President and lost to George Bush, claiming to have been cheated out of victory.
Gore stumps for global warming; Kerry stumps for global warming.
I'm not sure what's next for Kerry, but if he wants to get an Oscar for a film involving Theresa, let's hope he leaves out the love scenes.
The fog of government is ahead, and our charts give us only vague, but frantic warnings. All around are the dead seas of the Nanny State and the rocks of Tyranny. We soon sail into uncharted waters, neither able to see horizon, star, nor shoal, and not even able to sound the depth. Will we becalm ourselves in the Nanny Sea, or dash against the rocks of Tyranny? Neither, if we turn back while we can.
Increasingly, we've bought into the notion of preemption: if something you do increases the likelihood of danger to others (or to yourself), you should be A) barred from doing it or B) found to have intentionally caused whatever calamity happens as a result of your dangerous action.
The War on Drugs keeps us from harming ourselves .. but at the price of a loss of not just the freedom to self-medicate, but the freedom to travel with a large amount of cash on hand. Our property can be taken without trial, on only the suspicion of a police officer whose department benefits directly from the sale of our property at auction.
Our young people are seduced by the glamor of these substances, and by the fun of the party, though they are soon to find neither glamor nor fun when the price must eventually be paid. But rather than simply teach them that, and let the consequences of life serve as a warning, we yield our liberties and spend billions interdicting, prosecuting, incarcerating, and finally supporting people whose only crime is using the wrong substance. No, people should not self-medicate, especially with banned substances. That would be illegal and dangerous.
Drunk drivers are public enemy #1, it seems, for increasing the risk to others. Being drunk behind the wheel doesn't hurt anyone; crashing does. Drunk driving simply increases the risk of accident. But by making the risk itself illegal, we give the government the authority to inspect our bodies when we have not harmed anyone, whether we've been drinking or not. No, people should not drink and drive. That would be illegal and dangerous. But we've allowed the government to have authority it should not have.
Each behavior or product against which we rise up in holy indignation to promote, regulate, or ban, gives government that much more authority in our lives. Each tax increase, each spending increase, each War on Whatever, extends the power of government.
Because when government grows in ways we like, it invariably grows in ways which we don't. And when it grows, it doesn't ever un-grow. At least, not yet.
When government grows in expenditure, it also grows in authority, sooner or later. If we don't want government to intrude on our liberties, we must not let it spend more money. It doesn't matter if taxes are increased or cut, or if promises to preserve liberty are made. Eventually, a larger government will find a way to extend its power.
One effect of the expansion of power is to "regulate" the money being spent. It would be irresponsible use of public funds not to account well for it, after all. But the way the accounting works usually does very little to account for how the money is spent, but rather is designed to show that it is being spent well. Beneficiaries of government largess are obligated to submit to regular surveys showing how much better off they are with the program than before it.
When government grows in the power to regulate business, it grows in the power to regulate our personal lives, as well. A law passed today to keep that other fellow from polluting the air with carbon monoxide (a poisonous gas) will be used tomorrow to regulate the very breath from our lungs. When we give it the power to regulate the breath from our lungs, it will somewhere else grow to tax that breath, to measure it, dole it out, and ration how much we can exhale -- or inhale.
There is a clamor on the left for universal health care. Everyone must be cared for. It's a human right.
What the Nannyists don't realize (at least, they don't say) is that expanding government to take care of us is eventually impossible unless it takes steps to control us. After all, how can we be kept well if we're allowed to do all kinds of dangerous things, like playing in the snow, walking in the rain, or (Heaven forbid) riding a bicycle without a helmet? Civil servants, as Heinlein said, soon become civil masters.
It won't happen this time, they promise.
But it will become a standard talking point that dangerous behavior, as defined by the statistics, raises everyone's taxes, or health insurance, or both. That's not such a bold prediction, since one hears it already, even without universal coverage. When the government is charged with keeping us healthy, we will be protected, controlled, and never again free.
It's something of a chicken-and-egg problem. Are we sailing quietly into a tranquil Nanny State Sea because we want to ban, by legislative fiat, our reckless endangerment by others, or is the call to ban unsafe activity the result of incipient Nannyism?
It can't go on forever. Sooner or later, government must contract. We must come to understand that our position, though not known exactly, is far too close to both the Tyrant's rocks and the Nanny's maddening doldrums. The longer we wait, the more difficult it will be to escape disaster in an orderly — and peaceful — way.
Over at Classical Values, Eric had a fine post (as if he ever has anything else) before the November elections about Bill Clinton's characterization of the Republican Party as enthralled by the demonized Social Conservatives.
I think there are a lot of libertarian-leaning social conservatives, as odd as it sounds. We understand the clean-room simplicity of libertarian principles, but also that the tidiness falls down in the face of modern reality. There are also a number of issues, namely abortion and drugs, on which social conservatives largely disagree with libertarians.
Americans, by and large, like to think of themselves a favoring small government, personal liberty, and the rest. But the devil in the details here is defining "small" and "liberty". Given the question, e.g., "Should people be able to control what goes into their own bodies?", most people will say yes. But ask them about PCP or Vallium, and they'll start in about endangering others or the protecting the li'l chil'rens. Oh, and don't touch my farm subsidy.
The issue of abortion falls squarely on the question of when life begins, or rather, when the 'fetus', a collection of cells inside a woman, becomes a 'baby', a human being entitled to legal protection. I believe that moment is the instant of conception, but I understand some people disagree. When pro-choice libertarians can see the unborn child as a person whose rights need to be defended, they become pro-life libertarians.
The War on Drugs baffles me. Why the government should care who ingests or injects what, I don't understand. I think I'll cover what people do when they're on drugs, addiction, and other issuesf an upcoming post (unless the black helicopters prevent it).
A big problem for the Libertarians is Islamic terrorism. The Libertarian philosophy, being a creature of Western lineage, doesn't have room for jihad. Libertarianism can't abide by efforts to root out terrorism with privacy-crowding methods, nor with taking the fight to the terrorist's home turf. Libertarians are left with the plan of sitting around waiting for some jihadist loser to blow himself up.
Tyrants and Nannies have something in common. Neither one wants you to own a gun, because neither one wants you to be free of their power.
It seems to me that most governments in the West are trending toward Nannyism. They operate on the principle that it is the government's duty to protect the citizen (including those in the military) from harm, even self-induced harm. In the East, the trend is to tyranny (hey, it's a blog, I can overgeneralize if I want). By contrast, the American Founders believed that the people were to protect themselves, and must be free in order to do that.
That is why we have the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringedGun ownership is a check on the encroaching power of government, in at least two ways. First, it makes government less necessary by giving the police less work to do. Conversely, without the ability to defend one's person, family, and property, the ineffective protection of government is in greater demand. Secondly, gun ownership gives overzealous police another variable to consider before they abuse their authority.
Freedom isn't free. Our country has a long and dignified history of personal responsibility and accountability. For generations, our ancestors have lived in a country where they were free, and able, and expected to defend themselves, their families, and their homes. I believe that it is important that we maintain these rights for ourselves, and for generations to come.I don't care what gun ownership does for the crime rate. What does it do for the freedom rate?
From the desk of Jane Galt, comes this:
I'd rather be waterboarded than put in the general population of a high security prison. It is entirely possible that life at Guantanamo is more bearable than life at San Quentin, and no, that is not a defense of Guantanamo.She goes on to add, as she must, that torture is bad and wrong.
Via Volokh Conspiracy:
Supreme Court Decides "Global Warming" Case: The Supreme Court handed down its decision in the "global warming" case, Massachusetts v. EPA, and it looks like a significant victory for environmental interests. Stevens managed to keep Kennedy on board, so it was a 5-4 ruling that will make the EPA go back and reconsider the petition to regulate greenhouse gases.
That is what the British government should tell Iran.
They should say, "We do not care if they were in your territorial waters. You will put them back where they were now, or you will no longer have the means to govern yourselves."
(I don't usually repost entire articles, but this is a great idea from Michelle Malkin -- title is link there)
Dear Muslim Terrorist Plotter/Planner/Funder/Enabler/Apologist,
You do not know me. But I am on the lookout for you. You are my enemy. And I am yours.
I am John Doe.
I am traveling on your plane. I am riding on your train. I am at your bus stop. I am on your street. I am in your subway car. I am on your lift.
I am your neighbor. I am your customer. I am your classmate. I am your boss.
I am John Doe.
I will never forget the example of the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 who refused to sit back on 9/11 and let themselves be murdered in the name of Islam without a fight.
I will never forget the passengers and crew members who tackled al Qaeda shoe-bomber Richard Reid on American Airlines Flight 63 before he had a chance to blow up the plane over the Atlantic Ocean.
I will never forget the alertness of actor James Woods, who notified a stewardess that several Arab men sitting in his first-class cabin on an August 2001 flight were behaving strangely. The men turned out to be 9/11 hijackers on a test run.
I will act when homeland security officials ask me to "report suspicious activity."
I will embrace my local police department's admonition: "If you see something, say something."
I am John Doe.
I will protest your Jew-hating, America-bashing "scholars."
I will petition against your hate-mongering mosque leaders.
I will raise my voice against your subjugation of women and religious minorities.
I will challenge your attempts to indoctrinate my children in our schools.
I will combat your violent propaganda on the Internet.
I am John Doe.
I will support law enforcement initiatives to spy on your operatives, cut off your funding and disrupt your murderous conspiracies.
I will oppose all attempts to undermine our borders and immigration laws.
I will resist the imposition of sharia principles and sharia law in my taxi cab, my restaurant, my community pool, the halls of Congress, our national monuments, the radio and television airwaves, and all public spaces.
I will not be censored in the name of tolerance.
I will not be cowed by your Beltway lobbying groups in moderates' clothing. I will not cringe when you shriek about "profiling" or "Islamophobia."
I will put my family's safety above sensitivity. I will put my country above multiculturalism.
I will not submit to your will. I will not be intimidated.
I am John Doe.