Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Barack Obama, Liar.

Reverend Jeremiah Wright's beliefs about the government producing AIDS to kill black people and so forth has been known to me for several weeks now. I've never even seen Trinity United Church of Christ, much less attended services there. Nor have I been a member there, been married there, nor had its pastor on my campaign staff as an advisor.

And I'm not running for President of these United States, with a staff of people with unlimited funding tasked solely with finding anything I've ever said or done which could hurt my chances to win the Prize.

Barack Obama knew what Jeremiah Wright was like. He's been like that all along, and he has not changed. The conspiracy theories and fiery sermons are part-and-parcel of Wright's game.

After having tried first to justify Wright, Obama read the writing on the wall, understanding its meaning: to have any shot at winning the Democratic nomination, much less the White House, he had to put as much distance between himself and Reverend Wright as possible.

But Wright is no more outrageous now than he was a month ago, last year, or on September 12, 2001.

If Obama were truly outraged by Wright, it would have shown at those times. Instead, Obama's outrage only flared when Wright tried to steal some of Obama's limelight, putting Obama's campaign at risk. Obama said the thing that made him the maddest was that Wright said Obama threw him under the bus just for politics, not for what he really believed.

So it is ironic that Obama, in a fit of transparent political expediency, denounced Wright for labelling his actions political expediency.

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Why Are These People Our Allies?

One of the foundational principles of my philosophy is the inseparability of the freedoms, including but not limited to liberty of thought, speech, religion, press, self defense, private property, travel, assembly, and the use of the secret ballot. Violate or eliminate any, and the others are at risk, and must be employed to restore those violated.

And I would greatly prefer a foreign policy which allied us with those who agreed with our esteem of those freedoms, rather than with those whose economic or military interests align with our current strategy. Label me a foreign policy idealist, and tar me with the neocon brush if you will, but this diplomatic strategy by which we strike alliances with those who share only a passing acquaintance with the principles we hold most dear can lead only to eventual betrayal, by one party or another, with ourselves the likely loser.

And so I was somewhat off-put to read at MEMRI:

Muhammad Al-Munajid: "Some of these heretics say: 'Islam is not the private property of anyone.' So what do they want? They say: 'No sect has a monopoly on Islam.' So what do they want? They say: 'We want to issue rulings.' Someone who is ignorant, who does not know any Arabic, or who has no knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence wants to issue rulings?!
OK, not so bad so far, right? A cleric wants control of his own religion. It's to be expected, as that is what religions do. So what got under my fingernails?

Al-Munajid is a Saudi, and speaks on behalf of the official religion of Saudi Arabia. The edicts of his mouth are backed by the full weight of law, which is backed, if we are honest with ourselves, by the full power of the United States.

"The problem is that they want to open a debate on whether Islam is true or not, and on whether Judaism and Christianity are false or not. In other words, they want to open up everything for debate. Now they want to open up all issues for debate. That's it.

"It begins with freedom of thought, it continues with freedom of speech, and it ends up with freedom of belief. So where's the conspiracy? They say: Let's have freedom of thought in Islam. Well, what do they want?

"They say: I think, therefore I want to express my thoughts. I want to express myself, I want to talk and say, for example, that there are loopholes in Islam, or that Christianity is the truth.

"Then they will talk about freedom of belief, and say that anyone is entitled to believe in whatever he wants... If you want to become an apostate - go ahead. You like Buddhism? Leave Islam, and join Buddhism. No problem. That's what freedom of belief is all about. They want freedom of everything. What they want is very dangerous.

That is what happens when a religion is made official. An official religion cements in place the authority of those who adhere to it most zealously over those who merely tolerate it or agree not to fight against it, setting up an alternate power structure to that underpinned by the ballot box.

Does that mean that the government should persecute religion? Quite the contrary, for Al-Munajid's words would be even more galling spoken in favor of atheism or some enshrined scientific dogma as for any other more traditional religion.

Rather, the government must remain agnostic, completely ignoring the religious beliefs of its citizens. It should no more praise one religion over another than it should ignore what would otherwise be illegal performed under religious auspices.

By supporting the government of Saudi Arabia, we add for the citizens of that country the fear of fire from the sky to that of being stoned in the street for exercising the rights for which our forefathers went to soldiers' graves.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Move Over, Chuck Norris

There's a new demigod in town:

Barack Obama is so manly that he once got a haircut and passed on the talcum powder.

Barack Obama once scuffed his shoe and walked around with it like that all day -- on purpose.

Barack Obama once bowled his age.

Barack Obama is in his wife's Five.

Barack Obama once bit the head off a Tootsie Roll almost all at once.

Very Barry, puddin' n' pie, kissed a girl and made himself cry.

Barack Obama doesn't take money from lobbyists -- he hires them.

Barack Obama is so patriotic that he votes in almost every Senate session.

Barack Obama can file his own fingernails.

The American Flag is so patriotic it doesn't have to wear an Obama lapel pin.

Barack Obama is so centrist that he is friendly with people who believe the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

Barack Obama is happy that the Red Sox beat the curse and won the Super Bowl.

Barack Obama is so bipartisan that he may give Cabinet spots to Hillary supporters.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

The Katrina Narrative

The criticism of the Bush Administration for its handling of hurricanes Katrina/Rita was, in my increasingly lonely opinion, unjustified Democrat and liberal media opportunism. I am disappointed, but unsurprised, that John McCain has made that narrative his own, and is running against President Bush's unpopular reputation. As I said, my voice is joined by few others.

I will agree that government, at all levels, failed to solve the problems created by nature.

But before Katrina, the expectation of the Federal role was as a backup to local authorities, rather than as a front-line emergency response agent. Katrina marked a turning point, after which disaster response will be henceforth primarily a Federal responsibility.

Government cannot solve every problem, nor can it solve any problem overnight. In particular, natural disasters, even ones for which we have some warning, are going to happen. Government will fail to address them. It's going to happen again, and moving the problem up the food chain from local to Federal will not help.

Whether or not government responds well to an emergency is subject to a toss of dice. Some local officials on the Gulf Coast responded well, for instance, while others worried about disarming the citizenry. Tasking the Federal government with emergency response will make a single toss of the dice matter much more. Each local agency might succeed or fail, but the failure would be limited to only the area of their jurisdiction. A Federal failure is a failure for all.

I understand the political reality: McCain (even if he were not genetically predisposed to solving problems with governmental action) must take responsibility for every woe that falls to Man, and especially for this particular woe.

It would be nice to hear him praise the individuals, who are legion, and local officials, if such there be, who responded with selfless courage to the challenges they faced in the hour of disaster.

It would be even nicer to hear a Federal official make a stand against the growth of Federal power at the expense of State and local authority.

This is one more area in which we've ceded more power to the State to do us good, which power will eventually be used, with the best of intentions or the worst of malice, to do us harm.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

List of Issues for Obama Keeps Growing

I decided to make a little list of the problems with the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama (D-IL).

  • Antoin "Tony" Rezco is a Chicago political fixer who is on trial for doing illegal stuff. He helped Obama buy his house, and Obama has other machine-politics ties to him
  • Hamas endorses Obama
  • Louis Farrakan endorses Obama, and Obama's church gave Farrakan an award
  • Reverend Jeremiah Wright called 9/11 our fault, said God should Damn America for her faults, said the government invented AIDS to kill blacks. Obama never said a word, but continued to be a member and to give money to the church
  • Reverend Wright is building a house, except it's owned by his church (so he doesn't pay taxes on it)
  • The Antisemitism of Rev. Eric Lee, key not speaker at an event honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., after thanking Jesus for Obama
  • Throws grandmother under the bus
  • Granny is typical white person fearing people who aren't like her
  • Geraldine Ferraro charged with racism for saying race was a key factor in Obama's success
  • William Ayers was a domestic terrorist in the 60's and 70's, who was acquitted by government bungling of his case. He launched Obama's career in politics with a party at his house
  • Obama equated his relationship with Ayers to that with Senator Tom Coburn
  • Obama's economic advisor told Canadian officials that his anti-NAFTA campaign rhetoric would be dropped after the election
  • Obama campaign says "We don't take money from lobbyists or political action committees", but that's not accurate
  • After losing a debate, he gave Hillary a passive-aggressive finger
  • Obama sees Taxes as a way to punish the wealthy, not as a necessary evil for financing government
  • Iraq exit strategy, which is almost the same as John McCain's: get out as soon as we can.
  • Dishonest hypocrisy over McCain saying we could be in Iraq long term, as in Germany or Korea.
  • Because the government hasn't helped them, people in Pennsylvania and rest of country cling to their guns and religion and hatred for those not like themselves
  • Will not upset Chinese bankers by boycotting Olympic opening ceremony
  • Taking credit for legislation he didn't work on
  • Literally favors infanticide, and works to make it legal
  • Michelle Obama has never been proud of America until the campaign
  • Lapel flag pin: now you don't see it, now you do
  • $1M for the hospital where his wife was an executive
  • Michelle Obama says all their friends are lawyers
  • Walking around money in Philadelphia
  • Campaign official says they don't need working class whites to win

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Frank J points out that Markos Moulitzas of DailyKos is trying to spin the Obama thumping at the hands of Democratic voters in Pennsylvania as a plus, because it showed the messianic candidate can spend a lot of money and still lose. There's plenty more where that came from, says Kos, so there's no need to spend it wisely or show any gain from its use. Sort of screams Democrat, doesn't it?

I suppose it pleases Kos no end to believe that democracy is all about who can raise the most money from billionairheads, and who can threaten civil war unless their candidate gets in. "Civil war" we must assume to be metaphorical for intra-party conflict, of course.

As most people reading this know, the Democratic Party's system for selecting their candidate for President involves holding primaries or caucuses (and sometimes both) in each state and territory, plus a bunch of "superdelegates" from each State. These are State officials, Congressmen, big contributors to the Party, and Party apparatchik. They vote separately, and independently of, the primary or caucus vote. This is is by design, to A) give the Party brass a big party every four years and B) allow the Party brass to retain control over who they select as nominee.

The superdelegates are going to have a hard time ignoring Obama's war chest (and the spoiled obabies threatening to riot if he is denied his rightful throne) when deciding who to support. I don't see how they can vote for Hillary, unless she raises a bucket load before the convention and reveals that she has a death ray to counter the threats of civil unrest.

Kos also doesn't seem to realize that the more people hear about Barack Obama, the less likely they are to vote for him. So Obama's best strategy may be to buy up TV time and broadcast test patterns.

This election is already so much fun, I almost don't care who actually wins any more.

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Saying No to the Banker

Obama was asked about boycotting the Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing. Earlier he'd called for the President to boycott the ceremonies, but now he hedges his bets, since he learned that Chicago was trying to host and upcoming Games. After a circuitous discourse about who knows what, he said:

We have to take a stronger stance. We have to take a stronger stance and it's got to be more consistent over time. Let me make one last point about China: It's very hard to tell your banker that he's wrong, all right? And if we are running huge deficits and big national debts and we're borrowing money constantly from China, that gives us less leverage. It give us less leverage to talk about human rights, it also is giving us less leverage to talk about the uneven trading relationship that we have with China.

Shorter: "No". While saying it was important to take a stand, he refused to even take a symbolic one.

So Obama will not ruffle Chinese feathers by personally boycotting Olympics. What does that say, by extension, about his ability to stand up to those people who have endorsed his campaign or bankrolled it? And even if those who have donated to it could be characterized as "the little guys", which they cannot, how can he ever do anything that is unpopular, as a leader often, or even usually, must?
[tiny edits]

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

All Kinds of Wrong

Ace talks about An MSNBC relationship columnist who brings new meaning to the adage, "Those who cannot do, teach."

I admit that my husband helps out more than many men, but here’s another news flash: It isn’t because he’s such a fabulously enlightened being. Left to his own devices, he would doubtless park himself in front of the TV like some sitcom male-chauvinist couch potato while I did all the work. The reason Jeremy “helps” as much as he does (an offensive terminology that itself suggests who’s really being held responsible) is simple: He doesn’t have a choice.

…So how have I accomplished this? By holding my husband’s feet to the fire every single day of our lives, of course.

She goes on to describe all of the steps she needs to take to make bloody damned sure her man is metaphorically "whipped" into shape.

Ace points out that men don't care to help around the house because ... we don't care about it.

But that's not really true, is it? Speaking only for myself, I don't mind cleaning toilets, cleaning the shower, washing dishes, or whatnot, periodically. When these things need doing, they need doing.

But they aren't on my list. I don't care what the nest looks like. As Ace says, that's her thing.

But when the grass needs cutting or the roof needs fixing, I don't nag my wife about when she's going to get it done.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

A pound of prevention barely worth an ounce of cure

Michael F. Cannon has a blog post at Cato.org about preventive medicine.

While I've always thought that prevention of disease would be less costly than treatment, that is only true, when we stop to ponder it, when the total cost per person treated with some preventive measure is less than the savings in cure costs. That means that the total cost per person treated or per preventive measure would have to be lower than the difference between the cure expenditure with and without prevention. Furthermore, those costs have three categories: direct costs, indirect costs, and abstract costs.

You there at the back! Please don't yawn unless you've got enough for the rest of us.

Where was I? Oh, yes. The direct costs are the costs of shots, educational materials, and so on.

The indirect costs include the time off work going to get some preventive treatment, the loss of efficiency when some supposed safety control is implemented, and the added bureaucratic sludge that happens whenever we try to prevent something bad by changing the behavior of everyone.

Abstract costs include the loss of freedom for the individuals who are given the prevention.

Nestled invisibly between the indirect and abstract costs of preventative medicine is what it does to people's opinion. Much of preventative medicine consists of "raising awareness" of the problem, so that people can avoid stepping into open pits and so forth.

But if told too many times about an open pit, or a hot stove, or dangerous intersection, people will be filled with thoughts only of safety and precaution, aftraid to risk opening their eyes lest ultraviolet radiation damage their unprotected corneas. They exist only to be safe.

Alternatively, the more preventive measures we implement, the more jaded the people become and the more difficult it becomes to raise their awareness to a preventive level.

But the key problem is that for prevention to work, the pool of those treated with the preventive measure must be larger than the number cured, in many cases far larger. Taken together, and since prevention must be applied to the wider pool while remediation only to those affected, the cost of the prevention must be very low, and its effectiveness very high, for prevention to make sense.

Depending on the depth of the pit and the type of snakes at the bottom, it may be more cost-effective and indeed more humane to wait for someone to step into the pit and throw them a rope. Put a sign on the pit perhaps, but don't develop a slick ad campaign to tell people to avoid the pit, which will likely draw more people to it anyway.

This all yields the best quote ever on socialized medicine:

The point of the medical-care system is to serve people. It is not the point of people to serve the medical-care system.
-- Louise B. Russell

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Lance Winslow: Kneel Before Awesome.

Ace of Spades Has the lowdown on the greatest concentration of awesomeness ever contained on a little planet we call Earth. Actually, Time itself cannot contain Lance Winslow. He's awesome.

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More on Obama, Ayers, and Coburn

At the recent televised debate between Democrat Republican Hillary Clinton (of the New York Clintons) and Obamunist Party nominee Barack Obama, Mr. Obama tried to put his relationship with admitted former (but wistful) terrorist William Ayers.

Obama minimized the connection between the two, but then said something that still bothers me.

He did detestable acts when I was eight years old."

I'm also friendly with Tom Coburn, a man who has suggested the death penalty may be appropriate for those who perform abortions.

The first fallacy here is overloading the word "friendly" by claiming that the two relationships are anything alike. Tom Coburn did not launch Obama's career in Illinois politics; William Ayers did.

Obama is trying to establish that the questions of his relationship with Ayers are designed to imply guilt by association, and to a certain extent they are. But no one is saying that Obama is a terrorist because Ayers is or was; they are only saying that Obama shouldn't hang around with Ayers at all.

The biggest problem takes a little thought. Ayers says he set off bombs (and not enough of them, he maintains) to call attention to the war in Viet Nam. Tom Coburn holds an opinion, and no matter what Senator Obama thinks of Coburn's opinion, Coburn has never once planned or set off a bomb to gain attention to his cause. That Senator Obama thinks that the two equivalent means only one thing.

Obama believes that terrorism and discussion are equally tolerable.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hillary and Barack Keep Digging

I didn't watch the Clinton/Obama debate last night on ABC. I didn't want to put myself through two hours of tee-ball questions about things that don't matter to me, like who can promise to support the troops with the best form of socialized medicine.

Luckily for me and for you, good reader, others were kind enough to watch and even give a running commentary.

Josh at the Talking Points Memo was unhappy with it:

What I didn't like about the debate, though, was the debate itself. Not only were most of the questions on partisan gotchas and frivolous points. But more importantly the questions upon which the candidates were pressed the most were ones that presumed the correctness of Republican agenda items, sometimes explicitly so -- on taxes, capital gains taxes, gun rights, Iraq, etc.
Josh, that's because those are the questions which are most difficult for the candidates to answer, and most likely to take them off autopilot.

Redstate commenters saw the debate as a window into the character of the two Democrats running for President.

I hope Hillary Clinton stays in the race until the Democratic Party convention in Denver. Though not all of the facts that have come to light about Obama are due to her digging, it's clear that when she puts him in a hole, Obama doesn't know that he can't dig his way out.

When asked about his relationship with former Weather Underground domestic terrorist William Ayers:

Obama after complaining about "manufactured issues," says, "this is what I'm talking about... He lives in my neighborhood, he's a professor of English. Not someone I've accepted endorsement of, it's not someone I exchange ideas with on a regular basis... (!) He did detestable acts when I was eight years old."

I'm also friendly with Tom Coburn, a man who has suggested the death penalty may be appropriate for those who perform abortions.
He's not accepted Ayers' endorsement for President, but he most certainly got down on his hands and knees and accepted it in order to gain entree into Chicago politics.

And what does, "on a regular basis" mean? Obama and Ayers serve on a board together. It seems likely that Obama doesn't regularly attend the board meetings, so perhaps they only get a chance to exchange ideas when he does attend.

But the final quoted sentence above may be a glimmer of Equivalency shining through the Wright- and Harvard-induced fog. Coburn believes children have the same human rights to 'Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" a minute before birth as they do a minute after. Abortion he therefore considers to be murder, an appropriate punishment for which is the death penalty. But Coburn isn't bombing abortion clinics. In fact, no one has done that for over ten years, and Coburn never has.

But Obama, steeped in the liberal doctrine of means justified by goals, equates Coburn's work within the system with Ayers' attempts to destroy it.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Remember Librescu

While the bullets struck his body, Liviu Librescu held closed the doors to his classrom so that the young people in his charge could escape. His was the ultimate virtue, offering his own life to save others.

w/t Jeff Emanuel

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Great Divider

We quasi-conservative, sorta Republican types make the mistake of thinking that Democrats are all liberal atheists who are afraid of guns and want illegal immigration. It's not so. There are lots of Democrats who are gun totin', church goin', law-abidin' citizens who will be insulted by Obama's elitism almost as much as we are. Or maybe more, because he assumes they're in the bag for him, and they're explicitly who he's talking about.

OBAMA: So, it depends on where you are, but I think it’s fair to say that the places where we are going to have to do the most work are the places where people are most cynical about government. The people are mis-appre…they’re misunderstanding why the demographics in our, in this contest have broken out as they are. Because everybody just ascribes it to ‘white working-class don’t wanna work — don’t wanna vote for the black guy.’ That’s…there were intimations of that in an article in the Sunday New York Times today - kind of implies that it’s sort of a race thing.

He's trying to say that his popularity among black voters and lack of popularity among some white voters has nothing to do with race, but he's wrong. It has everything to do with race. But it's not that his opponents are all racists and his supporters are not; it's that his supporters think voting for a black man, electing a black man President, will allow us to put race behind us, will show that we're not racists.

It's the same old affirmative action argument: we've mistreated other blacks in the past, so now we owe this black man special favor.

Here’s how it is: in a lot of these communities in big industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, people have been beaten down so long. They feel so betrayed by government that when they hear a pitch that is premised on not being cynical about government, then a part of them just doesn’t buy it. And when it’s delivered by — it’s true that when it’s delivered by a 46-year-old black man named Barack Obama, then that adds another layer of skepticism.
That's just incorrect, as many people have pointed out. Americans suspect government because it defines us. It's the definition of American to distrust government.

"It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

So add betrayal to our outrage, and you have an idea how some Democrats will now feel about Obama.

Obama is trying to spin his remarks as caring for the people at their subject, understanding their pain.

Even so, it's a pack of paternalistic lies.

"So I said, well you know, when you're bitter you turn to what you can count on. So people, they vote about guns, or they take comfort from their faith and their family and their community. And they get mad about illegal immigrants who are coming over to this country."

After acknowledging his previous remarks in California could have been better phrased, he added:

"The truth is that these traditions that are passed on from generation to generation, those are important. That's what sustains us. But what is absolutely true is that people don't feel like they are being listened to."

Even granting that people in general are bitter, which I do not, and even granting that he used the wrong word in "cling", which I do not, because it's clear from context that it was the intended word, he's still wrong, and it doesn't spin.

Becuase Obama claims to be a Christian, and a Midwesterner, and he's probably as much one as the other. It's simply false to say that people, even the specific Jacksonian Democrats about whom he's specifically talking, adhere to traditions in the face of bitterness. They adhere to the traditions because that's what they do. The alleged bitterness makes them leave the traditions, because that's what people do when what they've been trying doesn't work any more.

So Obama has insulted the people he has ostensibly been trying to reach, and insulted them, us, in a way that makes it clear he doesn't understand us. Not only does he not understand us, but worse, he thinks he does.

And believing oneself wise is the first sign of not being so.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Philadelphia Freedom

Just a bunch of typical white people in Pennsylvania, clinging to their guns and religion.

In not bitterness but resolution.
w/t BBK

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Obama Missing the Point

Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) is running for President of the United States.

Transcript of Obama’s Remarks at San Francisco Fundraiser Sunday


But — so the questions you’re most likely to get about me, ‘Well, what is this guy going to do for me? What is the concrete thing?’ What they wanna hear is so we’ll give you talking points about what we’re proposing — to close tax loopholes, uh you know uh roll back the tax cuts for the top 1%, Obama’s gonna give tax breaks to uh middle-class folks and we’re gonna provide healthcare for every American.

No, we don't care what you're going to do for us. We don't want you to do anything for us, because what you want to do for us is going to end up being done to us.

But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

[The following was cross-posted at Redstate]

Dear Senator Obama:

The government only has a small number of jobs. Bringing employment opportunities to rural Pennsylvania, or Illinois, or California, is not among them.

The government's first job is to defend the people from foreign enemies, such as the human rights violations of Chinese bankers and Middle Eastern terrorists.

Defending the people individually from each other also is the government's job. And too, we let the government take care of parks, roads and bridges and other such common areas. That's about it.

But the poisonous witch's brew of notions that somehow the people of small town flyover country are helpless without you, and that we don't have jobs, and that the Bush and Clinton Administrations let us fall through some imaginary cracks, and that all of that makes us bitter enough to hate anyone not like us -- that is just the wrong way to look at things.


It is despicable and un-American, and I use that term advisedly, to encourage people to be bitter at the government for not doing enough to help them. The American way is self-reliance, not the desperate bleating of a people living only for the next chance to suckle at the government's teat.

In your class warfare, you foolishly suggest that our alleged bitterness over a lack of jobs causes us to cling to guns and religion. You even said it makes us dislike people who are not like us. Do you not care whom you insult, nor with what hypocrisy?

Guess what, Senator: we know that the jobs aren't as plentiful nor as lucrative in our little towns and small cities as they are in the metropoli of your dreams for us. We read the papers. But we also know that where we live, we don't have to lock our doors at night. We can leave our cars unlocked at the grocery store, or in our driveways. And we even have driveways of our own, rather than having to cram ourselves into mass transit. Our schools don't have metal detectors, because they don't need them.

You have the cart before the horse. We choose to live out here, because we can. It isn't any supposed bitterness over lack of government jobs which causes us to cling to guns and religion. We live here in part so we can go hunting and fishing now and then.

And we like our little churches. They don't tell us that the government created AIDS, either. It's not their job.

We choose to live out here because we like our neighbors, for even the nosiest don't tell us how to live. It's not their job.

And Senator Obama, it's clear from all that we have seen, that the Presidency is not, and must never be, your job.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Obama's Hot Stock

Unlike many on the right, I don't think Barack Obama (D-IL) is anti-American. He simply supports change for his own sake. He and Reverend Wright are two peas in a pod: to convince others to give them money and power, they exaggerate the bad things about the country and deny the good things.

That describes all liberal politicians, come to think of it. Their desire for change is so great that they discard that which is good in order to be rid of what is bad. The Law of Unintended Consequences comes into play, as the good things once thrown away are sorely missed and never fully recoverable.

So in finding fault in overt patriotism -- flying the flag from private buildings, wearing flag lapel pins, and other public declarations of national loyalty -- the Obama camp wants to throw it all away, to express patriotism through criticism alone. America is great, "despite all its flaws". Why not just say the country is great? Why does every description have to be a left-handed compliment? ("Your wife is pretty, for an old woman.")

An Obama supporter called CSPAN one day, saying that the wearing of an American flag lapel pin is a desecration of the flag, which is not to be worn as clothing. The moderators said that was news to them. Of course it's nonsense, and not at all the reason why Obama won't wear one. He has said he believes it shows false patriotism to wear the pin, that the true patriot speaks out on issues important to our national security.

I would agree that a patriot may, and in some cases must, speak out when things are not right with his country. But it is not the case that he must always do so, and must never praise the country generally as being better than other countries. Pointedly, the only good thing about the country is not that we can criticize it.

I understand the value of individuality, of refusal to conform to public pressure. I also understand symbols, however, and the symbolism of wearing an American flag on your lapel pin (while running for President) is that you identify yourself with your country ... and your fellow countrymen.

Before at least one debate early in the primary process, Obama (a United States Senator) intentionally failed to put his hand over his heart as the National Anthem was played.

Some might call that an oversight, a simple faux pas of omission. But unless he did so with his eyes closed, he could not have failed to notice many others in the audience, as well as all of the other candidates, with patriotic hand over patriotic heart. At that point he had to choose either to recover quickly, and apologize when the music stopped, or maintain his unpatriotic stance. He chose the latter.

A man totally unconcerned with social custom could behave so; Barack Obama is not that man. He is utterly aware of social mores. It was an intentional act, a declaration that he does not hold love for country in his heart, and will not subjugate himself to her by saying so. He may not see it that way, but that's the trouble with abusing powerful symbols.

Is it not possible both to wear a symbol which is immediately understood by all to indicate love for country and show your patriotism as a critic, as well? Can one not hold hand over heart while decrying injustice? It's a foolish point he is to trying to make.

I think Obama only loves America, if he can be said to love her, as a man loves a prized racehorse or a favorite stock he holds. He sees the country as the 'before' picture in a real estate flip: not somewhere he'd like to live, but with a few changes, it will be good enough for someone else.

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Illegal War in Iraq

In a dull repetition of melodramatic echo, never quite dying out but never fully explained, we hear the phrase "illegal war" applied to the conflict in Iraq.

"Illegal war" means that by the very existence of the war a law has been broken. But whose law has been broken? Is it a law of the United States, or some other law, say perhaps of France or Sweden, or more likely, of the United Nations?

The United Nations doesn't have laws, despite what some power-grabbing third worlder might think. It's an organization, not a nation or sovereign entity. At most, its leadership can say that a member country is in violation of its treaty obligations, which is a different thing from being "illegal".

But even so, the United Nations authorized the use of force against Iraq (not just against the government of Saddam Hussein, but of Iraq), though such authorization is not necessary for the United States, sovereign nation that it is, to go to war against some other sovereign nation. We are subject to United Nations edicts only by our own consent. And yet, in this instance and every other of which I'm aware, we have complied with U.N. dictates.

If a law of the United States, then which United States law is it that has been broken? It can only be that the very Constitution has been "shredded" by the use of the armed forces without a formal declaration of war, And yet the Constitution gives the President the authority as Commander in Chief, and to the Congress to declare war and to establish funding and regulations for the armed forces.

Of course in the United States our laws come to be laws when the Congress passes bills and the President signs them, or when a Court decides something (which is then subject to review by higher courts). Congress can change a law made either by itself or by judicial decision at any time, with or without the President's approval.

Now, Congress has issued several bills authorizing the use of force against Iraq (not only against the government of Sadaam Hussein, but of Iraq) which the President duly signed into law, both six months before and several times after the President followed through on that authorization. Congress can, at any time, rescind its authorization. Congress can defund the war at any time also, without the President's approval.

According to WhatReallyHappened.com, the war is illegal because there were no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) found, but of course, the authorization says no such thing, and there were WMD found. They also claim that the authorization is only valid against the people involved in 9/11. But here is the text they claim says this:

... acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

But that says terrorist organizations including those responsible for 9/11, not only those responsible for it. That authorization included Saddam Hussein as a supporter of international terrorism, whether he was directly involved in 9/11 or not, and it includes our current enemies in Iraq, many of whom do belong to the Al Qaeda organization responsible for 9/11. It also includes Iran, when they operate in Iraq.

It therefore must be that the war is illegal despite Congress having authorized it, and having voted several times to continue its authorization; and despite the fact that the President has certainly given his authority for the work in Iraq; and that the Supreme Court has allowed these actions to continue in the numerous attempts which have been made to bring suit to stop it.

There must then be some other branch of the government which is violating the law.

My money's on Haliburton.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

100 Years in Iraq

There is a giant disconnect in the political discussion of the war in Iraq, especially over how long we stay. John McCain says we have an open-ended commitment. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both say we should get out now.

They're all three lying.

Senator McCain says we could have troops based in Iraq the same as in Germany, Japan or Korea. But that doesn't mean those troops stationed on bases in some future peaceful Iraq won't be in any danger. Just as the troops in Germany were for decades the target Russian missiles, and there is still hostility between North and South Korea, any troops stationed overseas are under threat, and all the more so in the historically unstable Middle East.

So why is Senator McCain saying we will be there if they want us? The primary reason is that we must deny our enemies hope. It is naive lunacy to say that we're leaving until we actually do. And we won't leave until Iraq is self-sufficient, unless some naive lunatic gets elected and pulls troops out before the job is done, leaving a power vacuum in Iraq.

We've seen power vacuums before, such as when the British pulled out of Basra, and when the United States pulled out of Viet Nam. When political weakness dictates military strategy, no good results.

I don't think Hillary Clinton, if elected, would pull troops out right away. She would say she was doing that, but would do so slowly, and with much fanfare, while continuing with normal troop rotations.

Senator Obama says that if elected he would try to defy the lessons of history and the laws of human nature, allowing a mess we created to turn into a victory for our foes. I don't think he means it. He'd start pulling troops out, whereupon lo and behold, Al Qaeda would suddenly appear, forcing him to redeploy. And it would be a giant mess, because he has no clue about the world outside the South Side of Chicago.

So I really don't believe any of them. I do like Senator McCain's bravado better than the simperion of the other two, however.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008


I believe that everything I believe is true. So do you, else by definition you would not believe it, for if you held some doubt about something being true, you therefore could not be said to believe it.

At the same time, I know that there are some things I believe to be true which are false, or only true sometimes, or are only partially true. I just don't know which is which.

And that is not to say that because I believe something, for me it is true. No, if I believe something which is not true, then I am wrong and require instruction.

John Stuart Mill, in his marvelous essay On Liberty, noted that most true things are only mostly true, being our best approximation to Truth. We accept them as true because they work, or nothing else we believe to be true conflicts with them. Then something comes along to test our belief, and we must either reject our own view, accept the new one, or reconcile them somehow.

Most things we believe to be true (aside from purely mathematical or logical constructs) are true with caveats and exceptions. The contrary opinions held by those who disagree with us are obviously false, but they generally hold some spark of truth, some tiny bit of correction which can be gleaned.

Communism, for instance, built an entire world view on the inequity of rich and poor. Some even today believe it to be a better way to organize society than capitalism, the trouble being that communism rejects human freedom and is thus doomed to failure.

But we need to be reminded of the truth of our own beliefs, and the reasons for those beliefs, or some new communism will come along and we will be unprepared to properly reject it, and even more, to reconcile the bit of rightness it contains, and the bit of wrongness it points out in our own belief.

It is therefore our duty, if we seek Truth, to encourage those of a generally contrary opinion to our own to voice that opinion.

And that is why I blog.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Barack H. Obama, Hard Line Socialist

No, not the Senator. The Senator's "Old Man".

Click the title.


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Unlimited Government

We decided as part of the Civil War that there was a hard limit on the freedom of the individual: we cannot sell ourselves into slavery. Similarly, there is a hard limit on the sovereign public, that no matter how great the majority it cannot dictate certain things to the minority.

Among the things the majority cannot dictate are its religion, its opinion, and whether or not a person may own and carry a gun.

And yet the government schools try, to varying degree of effort and success, to do all three.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

The SPAM War

I spent this morning doing Spring cleaning. Not around the house, but at the little cemetery wherein are interred the last several generations of my wife's ancestors. Global Warming delayed the start of Spring until today.

I've always been fascinated with cemeteries. From the one in Alvin, Wisconsin where I hope to spend my underground years to the Old Granary Burying Ground in Boston, I especially like looking at the headstones, noting the vital statistics and especially the epitaphs of earlier generations.

At the cemetery today were a number of veterans of the Civil War, and even a Revolutionary War veteran or two. Many of the stones were illegible now, if they'd ever carried an inscription. Note to self: brass plaque.

After looking at all the markers for my wife's kin folk, we raked leaves, picked up litter, and gathered tree limbs that had fallen over the winter, all of which we put into piles to be burned.

While raking the leaves I noted a headstone with the curious caption:

PVT A Jones

It took me a moment to realize that this had nothing to do with unsolicited bulk email, but rather that Private A. Jones had served in the Spanish-American War.

It occurred to me that some wars in our history have been more popular than others. Some of have been a threat to our existence as a nation, such as the Revolution, 1812, the Civil War, and WWII. But in every war there have been brave men and women putting country before self,

And while I agree with John McCain that there is nothing glorious about war, there is something glorious about warriors.

But the thought that followed unbidden after I realized that some wars were more popular than others was this: those who served in the unpopular wars -- such as Viet Nam and Iraq -- deserve honor more, if such be possible, than those who did so in popular ones. Those who served in popular wars often returned home to ticker-tape parades and a free meal for the sight of their uniform on the street. Not so for those fighting communists in Southeast Asian jungles or terrorists in a Southwest Asian desert.

And so to all of those who served in Viet Nam, and to the troops now serving in Iraq, I can say only thank you. May you know honor in peace as well.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Brother's Keeper, Loser's Weeper

It is often said, now almost tritely, that "your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins." Yet extending this maxim to a general rule for recognizing the boundary between individuals on other matters is more difficult.

For instance, just as you have a right to an unbroken nose, you have a right to unblackened lungs. So clearly I must not blacken them by sticking the exhaust pipe of my car down your windpipe. And holding my exhaust pipe an inch from your face is hardly better.

But just as clearly, you would be hard pressed to show a difference in the blackness of your lungs if I drive my car in the next town against if I don't, or even if I drive it in the next town or your own. Somewhere between these extremes is a point at which my injury to you is too great to allow my production of pollution in your proximity.

But not only in distance or difficulty of detection of the injury caused is there a boundary point on one side of which my behavior would be acceptable and on the other not, but you also have a similar boundary. Our boundaries may not be the same, but for each of us one exists.

There arises thereby a bargain, by which you and I agree to allow each other activity which is mutually injurious on some level, but from which we derive some benefit. It may be that you directly derive some benefit from my activity and vice versa, but in the least we accept one another's activity so as to obtain permission to engage in it ourselves.

A similar situation exists for the wearing of perfume or cologne, noise polution, use of foul language, the use of offensive speech, and so on. In each case, there is a range of activity from innocuity to assault, and the line separating the two is difficult to place. We allow each other some leeway so that we will have leeway in turn.

In each of these instances there is the use by the individual of some common resource. Clearly we are each entitled to use common resources to some extent, or we could not breathe the common air or make any noise if we wandered off our own patch of dirt. But we also must not make the common resource unusable.

But differing opinions on usability are possible, just as individuals differ in their tolerance for injury. Some may prefer to allow more use of common resources than others, either so that they in turn may have more use, or because they don't want to use the common resource at all. Some, of course, do not consider the rightness or proprietary of their use of the commons, they simply use what they want, or what they can get. Similarly, so wish to keep the commons pristine.

We are passed by tradition or custom the expectation that we are permitted certain activities and denied others that were innocuous or harmful, respectively, but with the crowds of modernity have become less restricted or more so.

It is reasonable to suggest that there are some actions I could take which would not be injurious, or be minimally injurious, to another individual, but would be of greater harm to some group of individuals taken together, or to society as a whole. If I overuse or ruin some common resource, my overuse or ruination may not affect the next person to use it or the next fifty, but eventually my share or corruption will be felt.

So where does the interest of society in our behavior enter?

That, and any satisfying conclusion to the foregoing, will have to wait for another day.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008


Ironically, I do not believe that I have ever in the halls of the Academy touched on the topic of education, that is, what the government proffers as such.

For it is galling that the State should be a provider of education at all.

We have in the free world in general and the United States in particular a fine tradition of the free press, which institution generally operates as a check against government excess. If there is a hint of the personal peccadilloes of an elected official or if someone claims that the single most nationally unifying event in the last 50 years was the product of a government conspiracy of absurd design and dubious motivation, our faithful media are there to report it.

But the media have shown themselves completely unable to fulfill this function in one key aspect. While the press do jealously guard their own sacred cows in the First Amendment, they fail miserably as guardians of the others. Pointedly, they fail to question the legitimacy of government involvement in new ventures as they come along. They regard their role as ensuring proper government function and spreading truth, yet they disregard the fundamental truth of our republic, that government should only be allowed to interfere in certain matters, but no others. While they seem to understand particular limits on government, the more general concept of a limited government eludes them.

And I place the blame for this failure at the feet of government-run education. Whatever else a government school teaches, the superiority of private education is not it. Rather, the goal of public education is to socialize, to create a population that is not wary of government intrusion but accepting and welcoming, even demanding of it.

The schools should teach basic skills in letters and numbers, literature, the sciences, and mathematics. They should provide knowledge about our history and that of the wider world. And they should teach critical thinking skills such as logical analysis and the spotting of demagoguery. But there ought to be a wild diversity of political, religious, social views taught, and none to the exclusion of the others. When the State hires the teatchers and the State mandates not just what is to be taught but how, no doctrine which is contrary to its expansion can long expect currency.

So the problem isn't merely, or precisely, that the media is full of liberal hacks, which it incontrovertibly is. The problem is that thanks to years of government training, it's full of closed-minded liberal hacks.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

When Smart People Have Bad Ideas

Lunactivism meets geek: Blackle, as the name suggests, is an effort to SaveThePlanet™ by having a search page that uses a black background. Clue in, fellas: one of the reasons Google was successful is that their screen was visually appealing. Yours is just plain ugly. Eye-averting, skin-crawlin', get-me-away-from-here ugly.

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Torture, again? Yawn.

The Washington Post is aghast that the President should assert the power, in time of war, not to allow the use of torture to defend us against foreign enemies. They point to a declassied memo, the text of which they may or may not have in full, justifying such methods as do not "shock the conscience".

There's a problem with that, of course, in that consciences differ.

But neither was the author of the memo writing a tutorial.

No sane person likes torture. No patriot wants to see his country defeated. So if we can avoid techniques which "shock the conscience", as the memo insists we must, we can avoid both torture and defeat.

And that is everyone's goal.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Dean Proposes Delegate Compromise

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean today will propose a system of "delegate credits" similar to the carbon trading system that has been so successful in combating Global Warming. The effort is designed to prevent the breakup of the Democratic Party and to ensure defeat in the November general election.

"I haven't spent the last 7 years fabricating this Party structure just to have it come back to haunt me like my other fabrications," Dean said.

Citing academic studies noting that college students, completely indoctrinated in Democratic ideology, are the least likely to vote, Dean wants to get that level of involvement from more groups in the Party. The system he proposes will allow candidates with too many delegates to campaign a little extra in a given primary election. "We notice that when voters finally hear the message of Democratic candidates, they tend not to vote for them," said Dean to a group of reporters. "This system will make the process more fair."

But Dean insists that it's not a cap n' trade system. "This is not a phony cap n' trade system," Dean insisted. "We are talking about real candidates and real donations. We have a couple of primaries in reserve -- major primaries -- that we have been planning to use in this cap and trade system all along."

"That's been our strategy with both both Hillary Clinton, when she was leading in the polls, and Barack Obama now. Get their message out, and they will fall back to the pack." It's all part of the overall effort to make elections fair and equitable, Dean said.

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