Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I'm not keeping up, but others are

This week's news has been depressing now that Obama and the Democrats have begun to "govern." What with the Keynesian "porkulus package" masquerading as some monstrous "stimulus" to saddle seven generations of our children with debt--and the disasterously anti-business, anti-female Lilly Ledbetter act (trial lawyers are rubbing their hands in glee)--Obama's incredibly naive and ignorant Middle East overtures, his closing of Guantanamo, the Democrats' determination to nationalize health care and bankrupt the country, their eugenic push to promote and provide abortions for foreigners with U.S. taxpayers' dollars, etc. etc. I haven't even tried to keep up with blogging about all of it, since my favorite bloggers and writers are doing a swell job:

Power Line
Ace of Spades
Maggie's Farm (with lots of links)
Michelle Malkin on the ACORN payoff
Bookworm Room
Jonah Goldberg

along with my favorite talk show hosts:

Rush Limbaugh
Neal Boortz (this, this, and this)
Michael Medved
Dennis Prager
Bill Bennett
Hugh Hewitt, etc.

and my favorite think tanks:
The Cato Institute
The Heritage Foundation

Lots of scrutiny of the Democrats' debacle; lots of better ideas proposed, real ideas, economically sane ideas (not just fantasy, pork, and special interests pandering, as drives the Democrats). Huzzah!

The good news of the week was that Michael Steel is now head of the Republican National Committee, and that the Republicans in the House finally found a few of their principals and stood together, along with a few sober-minded Democrats, in opposition to the Democrat/Obama porkulus package.

The good and the bad news is that now more Republicans lawmakers may finally actually act more like true Republicans, now that they are a minority and out of power in Washington. The bottom-line result is, citizens like myself feel much less trust in anybody in government, or any government solutions at all. But I am glad to see the conservatives, both inside and outside of Washington, are still fighting all the bad that the Democrats are determined to bring down upon our country.

UPDATE: Second thoughts on Steele? We'll see.

UPDATE: "The Iranians continue to pile on the insults....So far, the mullahs are making Obama look like a fool. Unfortunately, that hasn't been very difficult."

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Welcome, Tim Geithner

The Senate Finance Committee has voted to approve Obama's pick of Tim Geithner for Treasury Secretary "despite his 'tax goofs' and legal 'trivialities.'"

As Isaac McMillen writes:

The truth is, he must have known what he was doing was wrong. And he may, in fact, have been intentionally duplicitous. Some background on his family's financial situation at that point reveals that he may have been financially stretched at that point in time. And that may explain why, when confronted by the IRS for his 2003 and 2004 underpayments, he corrected only them, and did not touch his 2001 and 2002 underpayments until nearly two years later, when they were discovered by an Obama transition vetting team.

And the Geithner nomination now moves forward despite some people screaming questions at the television that evidently weren't answered by Geithner, or even asked by the Senators. It seems Geithner may not have done such a good job as a regulator of Citigroup.

As Betsy says, "The public had totally lost confidence in Hank Paulson before he left office. So far, we haven't seen any reason to have confidence in this guy."

Just what we need, a guy who can't figure out or pay his own taxes, running the biggest bailout in history, with taxpayers' tax monies.

Thanks, President Obama! That's change we can believe in!


Now let me ask you, if you “forgot” to pay your taxes would Senators, Representatives and even a newly elected President come to your defense? Why no, no they wouldn’t, you’d be under the jail, under the bus and under investigation. Your assets seized and hopefully at some point before your untimely death you’d see the light of day. This is a further example of us and them and that we no long have a government by the people for the people, that we have a government for the few by the few and those few are corrupt, dirty, sneaky, lying cheats.

"You can be a millionaire and never pay taxes!" Remember? (Via The Corner). "But these are not normal times."

You never want to hear a government figure say that!

UPDATE: Welcome fellow tax cheat Tom Daschle! As Power Line says:

Still, there is always a silver lining. One good thing about electing a Democrat as President is that, as he nominates fellow Democrats to senior positions in the Executive Branch, millions of dollars in unpaid tax liabilities come to light and are belatedly paid to the IRS, with interest. It is, perhaps, the most tangible advantage of electing Democrats to office.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Inauguration Day

Neal Boortz offers some reasons why we should feel happy today:

We celebrate the distinctly, lovely, and awesome American transfer of power and the rule of law.

We are happy for our black neighbors:

I can fully understand that for the black voter; especially the older black voter, voting for Barack Obama transcends politics or policy. It's about affirmation. A sense of finally and fully belonging. We should all try to appreciate the joy and satisfaction so many of our fellow citizens will get out of this inauguration. . . . It may not turn out all that well for the nation; but it sure [is] doing something to pump [up] the psyche of our black neighbors.

There is something about watching history happen that is elevating, no matter what else is going on.

My son and I have been watching (via Netflix) the HBO series, "John Adams," and the depiction of the first U.S. inauguration, of George Washington, brought tears to my eyes. It is especially poignant to be watching this excellently produced series while the current real-life succession of Presidents is going on. Both my son and highly recommend this series as a must-see. I have also read David McCullough's book, John Adams, on which the series is based, and it is superlative.

UPDATE: Kathryn Jean Lopez is happy today too.

UPDATE: David Freddoso: "Something inside me is happy to see liberals sans the usual bitterness." I dunno, do you think any liberals felt that way about Republicans when Bush had his inaugurals?

UPDATE: An afterword by Spengler (via Power Line); I was thinking longingly of Robert Frost, too.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

With liberty and justice for all

A revisit of my tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I wrote last year.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Michelle Malkin's thoughts on MLK's unfinished legacy.


Rich guy's back story

Speaking of Obama and the Democrats and redistributive socialism, here's a letter (via Neal Boortz) that says it all. I'd quit too (along with John Galt). Why on earth not? But you do know Congress is working on a new Berlin Wall, don't you?

To All My Valued Employees,

There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn't pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is the changing political landscape in this country.

However, let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interests.

First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a back story. This back story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Mercedes outside. You've seen my big home at last year's Christmas party. I'm sure; all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life.

However, what you don't see is the back story.

I started this company 28 years ago. At that time, I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for 3 years. My entire living apartment was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.

My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn't have time to date. Often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business -- hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.

Meanwhile, my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50K a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting the Nordstrom's for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the Goodwill store extracting any clothing item that didn't look like it was birthed in the 70's. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had.

So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5pm, I don't. There is no "off" button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have the freedom. I eat, and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a 1 year old special-needs child. You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden -- the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations... You never realize the back story and the sacrifices I've made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail-out all the people who didn't. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for.
Yes, business ownership has is benefits but the price I've paid is steep and not without wounds.

Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why:

I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don't pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire a tax man to manage all these taxes and then guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time. On Oct 15th, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my "stimulus" check was? Zero. Nada. Zilch.

The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check? Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.

The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your paycheck you'd quit and you wouldn't work here. I mean, why should you? That's nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.

Here is what many of you don't understand ... to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had suddenly government mandated to me that I didn't need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Washington black-hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.

When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don't defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life, do you? Or, do you defibrillate his heart? Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. Suddenly, the power brokers in Washington believe the poor of America are the essential drivers of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep.

So where am I going with all this?

It's quite simple.

If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you. I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your SUV, and your child's future. Frankly, it isn't my problem any more.

Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. You see, I'm done. I'm done with a country that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship.

If you lose your job, it won't be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country, steamrolled the constitution, and will have changed its landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about....

Signed, Your boss


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Obama's new America

Well, he thinks we need a new Declaration of Independence, it seems. As he said in his speech in Baltimore:

And yet while our problems may be new, what is required to overcome them is not new. What's required is the same perseverance and idealism that those first patriots displayed. What's required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives, our own hearts - from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry and narrow interests - an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels.

That is the reason I launched my campaign for the presidency nearly two years ago. I did so in the belief that the most fundamental American ideal, that a better life is in store for all those willing to work for it, was slipping out of reach. That Washington was serving the interests of the few, not the many. And that our politics had grown too small for the scale of the challenges we faced.
Uh huh. That may all be true, but I really don't think any of us needs to tamper with the Declaration of Independence. I'm kind of partial to the original, and Mr. Obama may not realize this, but so are many Americans--they may not take kindly to the idea that it needs "perfecting."

President-Elect Obama has also given indications of wanting a Second Bill of Rights, as originally envisioned by Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

Roosevelt set forth his "second Bill of Rights" in his January 1944 State of the Union Address:

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all--regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

To many of us, it is obvious these are socialist aims, and Obama's words are revealing and deeply troubling. As one commentator has said:

The practitioners of politics –- and those who write and speak about it –- claim that these matters are secondary to "pocketbook issues." I was told this week that, "Nobody in America cares about that 'Constitutional stuff' right now with all that's gone wrong with our economy." If that's true, we're in more serious trouble than my 401(k).

Another has written:
"It is clear that Barack Obama will not seek to 'preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,'" said ATI-News president Brad O'Leary. "Rather, he will change the Constitution to suit his ideology -- an ideology that is far different from the one held by our Founding Fathers."
Oops, there's that word "ideology" again, that Obama wants independence from. Or rather, he wants independence from other people's ideologies, not from his own:

Obama has called "the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence 'documents that were imperfect but had within them, like our nation itself, the capacity to be made more perfect.'"

Obama disparages the Constitution as merely "a charter of negative liberties."

When he stands up to take the Oath of Office on Tuesday, and swears to the best of his ability to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States," will Barack Obama be swearing and understanding and intending the same things Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson meant when they took that oath to defend the Constitution? Will he be meaning the same thing I want a President to mean when he takes that oath? Or is Barack Obama determined to "perfect" our Founding Fathers' legacy, our nation's foundational documents and ideas, and our people's greatest treasures into something unrecognizable? All in the name of good intentions, of course?

Another blogger, Michael Eden, shares my thoughts:

You can understand why Obama - who fundamentally believes that ONLY government can save us, and who passionately believes that a gigantic government bureaucracy that intrudes into absolutely every aspect of our lives - would want to see that “old” Declaration of Independence as well as the “old” America itself go the way of the dinosaur.

There is one other thing about Obama’s smarmy, arrogant brand of elitist liberalism that should make any morally-centered human being want to vomit. Obama says he wants a new declaration of independence “from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry.” And implicit in that demand is that it is others - and never himself - who have ideology and the rest of the bag of things he wants us to be “independent” from.

That’s right. Obama doesn’t have any “ideology.” Only his opponents do. And only his opponents are “small minded.”

Barack Obama views the Constitution as having as having an “enormous blind spot.”

I think that we can say that the Constitution reflected the enormous blind spot in this culture that carries on until this day and that the framers had that same blind spot. I don’t think the two views are contradictory to say that it was a remarkable political document that paved the way for where we are now and to say that it also reflected the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day.

I just don't see it as an enormous flaw that our country was not founded as a socialist nation, and I don't see it as a flaw that it is still not as socialistic and redistributive as Obama ignorantly wants it to be today. I don't think Jefferson, Adams, Washington, Franklin, Madison and the rest of our Founders were dummies needing 200+ years and Barack Hussein Obama to come along and "perfect" their work.

So you'll pardon me if I don't share the general excitement and celebratory feelings about the imminent inauguration of a man to whom our nation's founders, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution and Bill of Rights are not as sacred as they are to me. I'm afraid I am a patriot and an American of the old school, not the New. To me, this Inauguration Day is going to feel more like a day of apprehension and mourning. I can't imagine any thinking Americans who really love their country, be they Democrats or Republicans, conservatives or liberals, looking at Obama's words and not being troubled by them.

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A gay man comes out of the liberal closet

This long, amazing open letter has got to be read to be believed. Just one excerpt:

Now, however, I often feel as if I’ve been shoved right back into the closet by the very people who go around espousing diversity and equal rights and compassion – fellow gay people and “sophisticated” urban friends who in fact can’t tolerate an idea that’s not out of the playbook. When a Muslim leader in Nigeria – or even scarier, in Canada – declares that gay people should be killed and their heads cut off, I’m sorry, but that offends me. And it also worries me because we have all seen these believers act on their hate.

Meanwhile, the affluent gay community in LA never makes a peep about hate speech if it comes from non-caucasians with funny Arabic names. The buff, mostly-white queers just continue doing what they do best: identify as victims and pretend it’s 1977 – protesting the harmless Mormon church, which never fights back, and boycotting campy Mexican restaurants to put other tax-paying minorities (including some gays) out of work. Meanwhile, a threat much bigger than Prop. 8 is growing fast.

My point is: I don’t think American gays fully comprehend that in many countries, such as Iran, gay people really don’t have any rights – not even to live. Just last September, a brave, 27-year-old student and gay rights activist, who helped organize safe houses for gay men in Baghdad and coordinated the Iraqi LGBT group, was gunned down at point blank range by Islamic militants – not by Christians or US soldiers. But by literal neo-Nazis.

Almost everyone I know goes to a therapist. It occurred to me that if someone were in an abusive relationship or their life was threatened by a lover or family member, no therapist in LA would ever advise them to stay in that situation or to try to please the person making the threats. The therapist would tell the client to take action, get out of the situation, file charges – to stand up for him or herself. Why then, on a mass level, are we told to behave the opposite way? To try to be “nice” in the face of threats - or actual violence? Not to empower ourselves and be proud? Why are we urged to take on guilt for the whole world? It’s a very sick dichotomy.

Read the whole thing--riveting. Via Big Hollywood


Obama: not really Lincolnesque, but more like FDR on steroids

The news media has been making much noise about how President-Elect Obama is deliberately echoing Lincoln in assuming the Presidency and designing his inaugural celebrations (right down to the menu).

I can appreciate (and respect) how as a black man Barack Obama would want to invoke the symbolism of paying homage to the President who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, ending slavery in the U.S. That is a touching juxtaposition, even while remembering that Mr. Obama's father was African, not American, and that as far as anyone knows, he is not the descendant of American black (or Indian) slaves, or indentured servants of any race. (Perhaps he is a descendant of African slaves, but that is neither here nor there; let us not over-intellectualize when symbolism is being invoked.)

I see the Lincoln veneration as a nice touch, a warming gesture, in fact. But I see much, much stronger connections between Pragmatist, Third Way, far-left (liberal fascist?) Obama and his spiritual mentor and brother in big-government liberal fascism, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Neal Boortz points out that the Senate has voted to clear the rest of the $350 billion in bailout funds that Obama has asked for (read the article to see who voted for and who voted against). How gracious of them not to put up too much of a fuss.

Boortz also gives a sample of what Obama plans to use the funds for: fulfilling campaign promises to special interests.

Yep, it's a big welfare giveaway. The only thing new about this kind of political quid pro quo is the breathtaking, unimaginable size of the funding. Obama's giveaway "stimulus" package will exceed $1 TRILLION in debt. Under cover of "creating jobs" (paid for by whom?) and reinvesting in infrastructure (a reinvestment to be repaid by what?), Obama and the Democrats are using weasle-words and failed Keynesian spending policies to "stimulate" our country into realms of hurt beyond the dreams of Depression-deepening FDR.

We are now moving beyond just saddling ourselves with debt--we are now about to saddle our children and their children with the debt and the consequences. This is immoral as well as insanely suicidal.

As Boortz says,

Here are just some of the examples of what Obama considers "economic stimulus":

$3.836 billion for rural water and waste grant and loan programs

$6.2 billion to help low-income families reduce their energy costs by weatherizing their homes and make our country more energy efficient

$400 million to help state and local governments purchase efficient alternative fuel vehicles to reduce fuel costs and carbon emissions

$6 billion for broadband and wireless services in underserved areas

$650 million to continue the coupon program to enable American households to convert from analog television transmission to digital transmission

$400 million to replace the 30 year old Social Security Administration's National Computer Center to meet growing needs for processing retirement and disability claims and records storage

$3.1 billion for infrastructure projects on federal lands including improvements to visitor facilities, road and trail restoration, preservation of buildings of cultural and historic importance, rehabilitation of abandoned mines and oil fields, and environmental cleanup projects

$400 million for ready-to-go habitat restoration projects

$850 million for hazardous fuels removal and other efforts to prevent wildfires on public lands

$1 billion for 21st century classrooms, including computer and science labs and teacher technology training

$66 million for formula grants to states to provide services to homeless children including meals and transportation when high unemployment and home foreclosures have created an influx of homeless kids

$2 billion to provide child care services for an additional 300,000 children in low-income families while their parents go to work

$30.3 billion to extend health insurance coverage to the unemployed, extending the period of COBRA coverage for older and tenured workers beyond the 18 months provided under current law

$500 million to rehabilitate and improve energy efficiency at some of the over 42,000 housing units maintained by Native American housing programs

$1 billion to help low-income families pay for home heating and cooling at a time of rising energy costs

Are any of these "projects" properly within the purview of the Federal government--let alone ALL of them? Because not only is there no accountability that we will ever get any of this money back (as in "investment"), there is no accountability that this money will in fact "create" any jobs or do any good beyond lining the pockets of the politicians and special interests so favored. And there is no way we can pay for this without bad, bad consequences down the road (wealth confiscation, much higher taxes, printing more money and creating inflation).

As they say, there goes the neighborhood.

But Obama won the election fair and square, and he soon will be our President. A majority of the popular vote was cast in his name, a mere 8 million or so votes making the difference. (Over 66 million people voted for Obama, over 58 million voted for McCain, and over 131 million eligible voters, including 87% of blacks, did not vote at all). I guess I have to accept the astonishing fact that a majority of voting Americans are happy with the new President and will see nothing wrong with his "stimulus" package, and will have no idea what Boortz or I or millions of others who aren't liberals are talking about.

Victor Davis Hanson explains further:

. . . for years now we have overspent and over-borrowed -- and must naturally pay up. And like any chastised debtor, panicked Americans logically have temporarily clammed up and are holding on to what money they have left.

In response, the government apparently doesn't only want to free up credit to get us back to our profligate habits of borrowing what we don't have so we can buy what we don't need. It also would like to create new programs to build infrastructure; guarantee new loans; and offer additional credits, bailouts and entitlements.

Or in the words of incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."

Traditional conservative custodians of the budget can't say much. They are largely discredited on matters of finance. During the last eight years of Republican prominence in Congress and the White House, the government borrowed as never before.

Liberals in turn have suddenly rewritten their own economic history. They used to claim the great surge in government under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt got us out of the Great Depression with deficit spending and federal jobs programs.

But many historians have argued instead that unemployment and slow growth remained high throughout Roosevelt's first two terms -- until the Second World War scared us all into a fit of national mobilization that alone ended the ongoing 13-year depression between 1929 and 1941.

Now here's the irony: Liberals suddenly agree that only the Second World War stopped the Depression, after all! So they now argue that we need a new New Deal far greater than the old New Deal. In other words, they want to re-create the urgency of World War II to get government to grow and spend big-time.

Their argument is that if FDR failed to stop the Depression, it wasn't, as conservatives insist, because he turned to unworkable government solutions, but rather because he didn't try big enough ones.

Some people (like Obama and his advisors, who are presumably intelligent and educated enough to know better) never learn. Then there are the rest of the majority of Americans who either never knew there was anything to learn--or just don't care.

We had a republic and it looks like we deserve to lose it after all.

UPDATE: From Power Line: An analysis of "The Biggest Boondoggle in American History" including "A Dozen Fun Facts About the House Democrats' Massive Spending Bill." Like these:

1. The House Democrats' bill will cost each and every household $6,700 additional debt, paid for by our children and grandchildren.

2. The total cost of this one piece of legislation is almost as much as the annual discretionary budget for the entire federal government.

3. President-elect Obama has said that his proposed stimulus legislation will create or save three million jobs. This means that this legislation will spend about $275,000 per job. The average household income in the U.S. is $50,000 a year.

4. The House Democrats' bill provides enough spending - $825 billion - to give every man, woman, and child in America $2,700. . . .

Must read.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

The rush to jihad

Here's a round-up summary you won't have seen in any mainstream newspaper or on TV yet: Zombie presents "What Happened on January 10, 2009" (via Powerline). Zombie documents the worldwide pro-Hamas protests and violence the rest of the media have ignored. Globalized intifada, as fomented by the Muslim Brotherhood and Communist ANSWER, and supported by thugs and various useful fools--people, as one commenter puts it succinctly, include:

Peaceniks out rioting in support of terrorists who launch rockets at civilian targets and use children as human shields.

Homosexuals and habitual fornicators out rioting in support of fanatical Muslims who will, if they ever get into power, literally stone them to death.

Feminists out rioting in support of people who would reduce them to the status of chattel.

Brought to you by independent citizen-journalists doing the work professional "journalists" don't seem to do.

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Two-faced inaugural party-people

The media--and many Americans and international kibbutzers--are excited about the Obama inaugural celebration, which will be the most expensive ever. This is quite a different tune from when the same crowd scolded Bush for spending money on his inaugural--back when the economy was in better shape. As Ace sez: "Anyone get the feeling the AP feels like celebrating one presidential bash and not the other?" And such people either have historical amnesia, Alzheimer's, or no shame. Maybe all three.

That's Life in these United States, kids. Get used to it; get over it; get on top of it.

UPDATE: Obama's Neighborhood Inaugural Ball.

UPDATE: Teachers excited about the inaugural. Did they do this when Bush was inaugurated? Or is next Tuesday Indoctrination Day? (via Bookworm Room). My kids' middle and high schools will be broadcasting the inaugural parade and ceremony throughout the school on Tuesday. They didn't do this four years ago, or eight years ago. Dare I sound like a racist and suggest it's because of skin color? Or is it just that "their" Democrat candidate finally won back control of the White House?

UPDATE: Powerline summarizes the difference in media coverage of past inaugurations. Wow.

UPDATE: Jules Crittenden will be liveblogging the inagur-a-palooza; he's already making me laugh (via Maggie's Farm):

No disparagement of the president-elect intended. I’m happy for people who are happy about Obama’s election. I probably like Obama more at this point than a lot of people who voted for him, anyway, seeing as he’s abandoned his Iraq abandonment position, taking over key aspects of the Bush doctrine, whatever that is, backing off on his campaign promises and looking for a big fat tax cut. Meanwhile, he’s allowed Hillary Clinton to take over all the key chokepoints of his government, which promises to be good for many, many laughs over the next four years, as from time to time will Joe Biden, if he is ever allowed to say anything in public again.

About the racial aspect of the event, I’m glad our nation has reached this milestone. I hope it gets us past a lot of the racial bigotry that still plagues us, though I doubt it will. Al Sharpton still has bills to pay. I would have preferred that this great nation’s first black president actually be qualified for the post, but you never get everything that you want in politics, which is after all the place where hope, dreams and all that is good and possible in life collide with unavoidable realities, corruption, betrayal, cowardice and diminished expectations. If we didn’t all get the first black president we might have wanted, then we should accept that we got the first black president that we’re stuck with.

And as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not so disappointed that my own preferred candidate and his running mate lost. I don’t know about you, but after eight years of “Blah blah blah, Bush this, blah blah blah, Bush that,” I don’t mind being released from eight years of relentless Palin-bashing and the interminable McCain deathwatch. We also don’t have to listen to a bunch of whiny Euros who … when they aren’t busy bashing Paks, torching Turkish tenements, swastiking the local synagogue, and hosing down the car-b-ques … would be blathering on endlessly right now and for the next four decades or so about what racists Americans are. . . .

I appreciate his sentiments. (Read the whole thing.)

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The cult of the wholesome, well-meaning fascist and the politics of meaning

I've been reading Jonah Goldberg's fascinating book, Liberal Facism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. I just finished the chapter on Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, and wanted to share this passage with you:

In 1936 Roosevelt told Congress, "We have built up new instruments of public power. In the hands of a people's government this power is wholesome and proper. But in the hands of political puppets of an economic autocracy such power would provide shackles for the liberties of the people." As Al Smith noted, the upshot of this statement is that Roosevelt didn't mind an authoritarian government, so long as representatives of "the people"--that is, liberals--ran the government. But if anybody "we" dislike gets control of the government, it would constitute tyranny.

This kind of skewed rationale gets to the heart of liberal fascism. Progressivism, liberalism, or whatever you want to call it has become an ideology of power. So long as liberals hold it, principles don't matter. It also highlights the real fascist legacy of World War I and the New Deal: the notion that government action in the name of "good things" under the direction of "our people" is always and everywhere justified. Dissent by the right people is the highest form of patriotism. Dissent by the wrong people is troubling evidence of incipient fascism. The anti-dogmatism that progressives and fascists alike inherited from Pragmatism made the motives of the activist the only criteria for judging the legitimacy of action. "I want to assure you," FDR's aide Harry Hopkins told an audience of New Deal activists in New York, "that we are not afraid of exploring anything within the law, and we have a lawyer who will declare anything you want to do legal."

Today, particularly under Bush, it is precisely this attitude that liberals call fascist. But that yardstick is too short to get the full measure of what made the New Deal fascistic. We render fascism and Nazism into cartoons when we simply say that they were evil. The seduction of Nazism was its appeal to community, its attempt to restore via an all-powerful state a sense of belonging to those lost in modern society. Modernization, industrialization, and secularization sowed doubt and alienation among the masses. The Nazis promised to make people feel they belonged to something larger than themselves. The spirit of "all for one, one for all" suffused every Nazi pageant and parade.

This was the fundamental public philosophy shared by all of FDR's Brain Trust, and they inherited it wholesale from Herbert Croly and his comrades. "At the heart of the New Deal," writes William Schambra, "was the resurrection of the national idea, the renewal of the vision of national community. Roosevelt sought to pull America together in the face of its divisions by an appeal to national duty, discipline, and brotherhood; he aimed to restore the sense of local community, at the national level." Roosevelt himself observed that "we have been extending to our national life the old principle of the local community" in response to the "drastic changes" working their way through American life. Militarism in America, as in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, was a means to this end, not the end in itself.

This has been the liberal enterprise ever since: to transform a democratic republic into an enormous tribal community, to give every member of society from Key West, Florida, to Fairbanks, Alaska, that same sense of belonging--"we're all in it together!"--that we allegedly feel in a close-knit community. The yearning for community is deep and human and decent. But these yearnings are often misplaced when channeled through the federal government and imposed across a diverse nation with a republican constitution. This was the debate at the heart of the Constitutional Convention and one that the progressives sought to settle permanently in their favor. The government cannot love you, and any politics that works on a different assumption is destined for no good. And yet ever since the New Deal, liberals have been unable to shake this fundamental dogma that the state can be the instrument for a politics of meaning that transforms the entire nation into a village. [pp. 158-160]

In other news, Barack and Michelle Obama have issued a Call to Service for "ordinary citizens to get this country back on track." In "an important first step" in a "continuing commitment," they are calling for all Americans to volunteer to be 'engaged' "in service." As their website's FAQ page states, "The goal is for MLK Day to reignite the American tradition of service and volunteerism and to that end the current call to action is viewed as a starting point. Details on how to stay active in the future will be coming soon."

Thank God for that. I was beginning to wonder where America's tradition of service and volunteerism went. Luckily we'll now have our progressive overlords, backed by the power and wealth of the Federal government (our own money), telling us when, where, and how we can and ought to volunteer for liberal and progressive causes.

Details on how to fit into the one big community will be coming soon. And remember, dissent by the 'wrong people' is 'troubling evidence of incipient fascism.' You don't want to be a mean-spirited fascist on such a glorious occasion for our nation, now do you?

UPDATE: Even kids get this subtle message. And this tickles me: There are four closeted conservatives in the aisle of the Marin, California crafts store. There are more of us dissenting "wrong people" than anyone suspects.

UPDATE: Yes, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established by Congress in 1994 with a bipartisan service component. For a more balanced list of possible organizations to volunteer with than the Obama website offers, click here.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Some interesting links

Here's a concise slide show explaining various forms of government, and why a republic is best (via Bookworm Room). Good demonstration for students, kids, and anybody who hasn't thought much about such things.

Less intellectual, more fun: the joy of dancing with a dog.

Informative: How we got into this financial mess -- Lawrence White's briefing paper for the Cato Institute, good to send to your friends who wonder.

A day in the life of a Mom--set to music.

Google Earth is now publishing digital, up-close views of masterpiece paintings.

"Cancer and Statistical Illusion" -- the biggest blunders sometimes appear in print, sounding so authoritative. It pays to understand statistics, but most journalists, writers, and even many doctors do not.

Hello Kitty cellphones for ages 5 and 6 (if your kid that young is unsupervised enough to be calling someone, something's wrong. ) "It even comes with its own matching purse and complements. For $142, I don't really know what else do you want, really."

Map of the Languages of Europe

Deworm the World -- a new charity. Hat tip to Stodgy Geezer, who donated 30 bucks. Remember to check your potential charitable recipients at Charity Navigator.

Japanese TV game shows with animals -- why don't we have these here? Don't miss the chimp wearing a Gumby T-shirt being walled-in with bananas.

Wave of the future? Putting a ball through a hoop with your brain.

Rats laugh when you tickle them.

NASA's 3-minute video celebrates 5 years on Mars this January.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The unqualified and nefarious Mrs. Clinton

Watching Hillary Clinton about to take on U.S. foreign policy as Secretary of State is like watching a slow-motion train wreck: it is heartbreaking, and gives rise to a sense of impotent powerlessness in watching something truly bad go down. Christopher Hitchens lays it out (via Drudge). The Clintons have just won a roundabout route to continuing to wield their corrupt power and inflict their psychopersonal dramas on us all once again, this time on an international level. Republicans (perhaps fearful for the lives of their cats) protested weakly, if at all.

So much for hope, change, and reform of Washington politics as usual. Remember, any appearance of conflict of interest or impropriety is not important in the case of Democrat appointees. (That's the Chicago Way.)

UPDATE: Continuing arrogance: Hillary Clinton remains ethically tone-deaf.

UPDATE: More on the Chicago Way--Michelle Obama's important job.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Obama's "stimulus" means government mishandling your money

Obama's "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan," his $800 billion "stimulus plan" that he wants passed really quickly by the new Congress, as revealed in his speech this week, is nothing more than a reiteration of all the big-government spending ideas he proposed as campaign promises in his stump speeches. Now that he's been elected, he's determined to make them all a reality. Only now he has the cover of a recessionary "crisis" to help enact all of these measures.

Has anybody asked if these programs will actually do all (or any?) of the good he intends them to? Based on what evidence, what track records? Does he really himself believe that they will actually do what he says they will do (stimulate the economy) or is he cynically using all this taxpayer money to buy more votes for and bolster the power of big government? Does Obama have any clue that this kind of big-government "stimulus" spending, as enacted by FDR, extended and deepened the Great Depression?

Neal Boortz echoes my own reactions to the speech in pointing out how disingenuous these promises are, starting with the words used to sell the measures to the American public, carefully chosen through focus-group testing. "Reinvestment" actually means the government spending taxpayer money on special interests of the politicians' choosing. "Tax credit" actually means a welfare check sent to people who don't pay taxes--an especially egregious, bald-faced lie. Increased "children's healthcare" means expanding welfare entitlements to crowd out freemarket incentives and increase dependency on government. Do you think the American people are stupid enough to swallow all of this docilely?

As Neal says: "Obama's stimulus plan is very little more than a plan to enhance and solidify the power of the Imperial Federal Government over our economy at the expense of the private sector and free markets." And that's BAD, folks--bad for babies, humans, and other living things.

Neal has a better idea: Just don't collect taxes for five months. The dollar cost is the same, but talk about stimulus! But:

Is there a detriment to the Gohmert plan? You betcha! And the flaw is fatal. If you declare a full tax holiday people are actually going to figure out how much they earn. No more of this "take home pay" nonsense. You get your whole paycheck. Now just imagine what happens in July [when] the withholding starts again.


I don't know about the American people, but Obama and Congress are too smart to really simplify or eliminate taxes for all citizens, when they can instead use the tax code to control people, favor the special interests that favor them, and feather their own nests. Buzzards!

Meanwhile, Michael Medved pointed out on his talk-radio show yesterday that with the stimulus plan our deficit will grow phenomenally, and our children will be obliged to pay two-thirds of their incomes to the government in the future to pay for all of this--all of the successive bailouts, all of the old and new entitlements racking up price tags, almost certainly under-estimated and over-glorified.

How are we going to pay for all of this? Is nobody asking these questions? Are we going to allow Congress to pass this monstrosity without a peep of objection or scrutiny?

Obama claims to be adamantly against earmarks, but items included in his "package" ARE earmarks: laptops for teachers, new buildings and libraries for schools, pre-K education, broadband projects, electronic databases of medical records and on and on. (The Federal government can't even track illegal aliens or handle an immigration backload, so why should we trust them to design a database to handle our precious, private, life-and-death medical details?) It's the supreme government boondoggle of the century. Who gives the Federal government the right to step into these areas at all, let alone spend these billions at a time of economic distress?

David Brooks had this to say about the Obama stimulus package:

He could have chosen to spend the big money that is apparently required in cautious ways. He could have chosen to pick out a few easily implemented policies that could be enacted in a way that is targeted, temporary and timely. He could have chosen to merely cut the payroll tax, boost aid to the states and do infrastructure projects.

But the Obama presidency is going to be defined by his audacious self-confidence. In Thursday’s speech, he vowed to do everything at once. He vowed to throw the big things into the stimulus soup — tax cuts, state aid, road and bridge repair — but also the rest of the pantry. He proposes broadband projects, special education programs, a new power grid, new scientific research, teacher training projects and new libraries.

This will be the most complex piece of legislation in American history, and as if the policy content wasn’t complicated enough, Obama also promised to pass it via Immaculate Conception — through a new legislative process that will transform politics. The process, he said, will be totally transparent. There will be no earmarks, no special-interest pleading. In a direct rebuttal to Federalist No. 10, he called on lawmakers to put aside their parochial concerns and pass the measure in weeks.

And as if that isn’t enough, he promised next month to make repairing Social Security and Medicare a “central part” of his budget. “I’m not out to increase the size of government long-term,” he told John Harwood of The Times.

Why don't I believe him? Listening to Obama's speech, including his outlandishly extra-Constitutional, anti-freemarket laundry list, my reaction was one that, I later learned, agreed with David Brooks' conclusion:

The problem is overload. Four months ago, no one knew how to put together a stimulus package. Now Obama wants to use it to rush through instant special-ed programs and pre-Ks. Repairing the power grid means clearing complex regulatory hurdles. How is he going to do that in time to employ workers in May?

His staff will be searching for the White House restrooms, and they will have to make billion-dollar decisions by the hour. He is asking Congress to behave and submit in a way it never has. He has picked policies that are phenomenally hard to implement, let alone in weeks. The conventional advice for presidents is: focus your energies on a few big things. Obama just blew the doors off that one.

Maybe Obama can pull this off, but I have my worries. By this time next year, he’ll either be a great president or a broken one.

I say, broken one. And more upsetting than that, I'm afraid our country may be broke too. Isn't it worth waiting a while to see, and to err on the side of caution with a price tag this huge?

Obama claims that if the Federal government does not pass a big stimulus package quickly, our current recession could "linger for years." I couldn't disagree more. If the Federal government passed NOTHING further in the way of "bailouts," I predict the recession would start to recede by the end of 2009. Unfortunately I see that the Obama/Democrat license to spend in this fashion will cripple our country for generations to come--if we survive that long.

P.S. I heard a caller on a talk radio show yesterday claiming to be a Christian, glad and proud to do his duty as a Christian to support his needier fellow Americans by giving up to the government 3/4 of everything he earned in taxes, if the government claimed it. The talk show host didn't say what I would've said: As a free American Christian, nothing stops that man from giving 3/4 or 100% of all of his earnings, wealth, and assets directly to needy Americans, today or any day, and cutting out the taxman/middleman. Why he feels the Federal government has the right, or IS right, to confiscate the money from all taxpayers, take its share of graft and bureaucratic wastefulness off the top, spend it on politically-favored special interests and bloated, ineffective programs, and then call that a proper Christian act of charity escapes me. But such are the clear thinkers who elected Barack Obama.

UPDATE: "High emotion makes for bad law." Just one more example, and you know it's e pluribus unum.

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Big Hollywood

My new favorite blog is "Big Hollywood," a conservative playground and discussion forum in the midst of one of the most seemingly reflexively brain-dead, knee-jerk leftist industries in America. I've especially enjoyed reading the latest essays (and comments) by Bill Whittle and old industry hands Orson Bean and Burt Pretlusky. Very entertaining, stimulating, and educational! Even as Hollywood itself becomes ever more marginalized and unprofitable, due to being out of touch with the majority of consumers. I think it is only a matter of time before technology, diversification, and globalization lead a newer generation of artists and consumers to sidestep the whole, deteriorating, centralized, unionized, ossified sunny Southern California thing (the impending fiscal and moral bankruptcy of the State of California is yet another factor). It was once great while it lasted, and had an incredible run. But it's gone, and as I enjoy the best of its products on DVD, I look forward to the Next Wave of creative artists, technicians, and businesspeople bent on providing us with better entertainment.

UPDATE: Here, for instance (via Instapundit), is a book that has been crying out to be made into a movie for 52 years. No better time than now (even if starring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt). Don't think this couldn't be a box office blockbuster with a huge ready-made audience just waiting to fill the theater seats? And don't you think "liberal Hollywood" will find a way to muff it?


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Talking to liberals

Here are some more amusing examples of conservatives talking to liberals for your enjoyment this morning:

Gary Graham at the new site, Big Hollywood, lets out an opening salvo to express his feelings about the leftist-leaning entertainment industry and inspire his fellow closeted Hollywood rightwingers. Lots of good stuff (mildly naughty language warning) but here's one excerpt:

Somehow along the way, so many of you forgot one simple, undeniable tenet: We’re the good guys. We’re not imperialists, or else we would’ve nuked the oil countries into radioactive dust, then moved in and taken the oil. We don’t ‘torture’ prisoners, or lawyers for the Gitmo ‘detainees’ would have CNN photographing the horrid scars and missing limbs. We don’t bully smaller, less developed nations. On the contrary, we expend our more precious asset: the blood of our brave, bright and courageous young men and women – all in committed effort to free them from despotic, brutal dictators. We are not brash. In 1991 we amassed a coalition of 34 nations before we acted to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, and this after months and months of negotiations and U.N. resolutions. Twelve years later after waiting six months and seeing fourteen U.N. resolutions ignored by Hussein, George W. Bush had accrued a multi-national coalition and a majority vote in Congress before sending troops into Iraq. We are the big dog on the block. And yet we ask no penance from lesser countries. Instead we offer aid in the form of cash, medicine, and humanitarian help. When we go after bad guys in war, we don’t carpet bomb, or blow up civilian-filled buses. We have smart bombs that pinpoint targets to limit collateral civilian casualites. We’re the good guys. Only an entrenched self-loathing hatred of America will prevent you from seeing that. If that’s the case, you have my sympathy. But don’t let the door hit you on the way out. And yes, this is our country, whether a Democrat of a Republican occupies the White House.

Read all.

Then there's this: Ann Coulter confronts squishy Matt Lauer on The Today show and tries to get a word in edgewise. One excerpt:

LAUER: We've just come through an election cycle where it seemed to me and maybe I'm completely wrong because apparently, according to you, I'm wrong about most things, but that, that people have decided it's time to address the issues that face this country. The economy clearly one. Unemployment. Things like that. And to maybe concentrate less on what divides us. Did you not get that sense from this? I mean I'm just asking is-


LAUER: You didn't get that sense from this election?

COULTER: No, to the contrary and as I detail, at great length in this book, we didn't, I mean to say we want to concentrate on the issues, then why wasn't B. Hussein Obama asked about the issues? He was asked, as I describe over and over in my book, you know the tough "gotcha" questions he'd get from the media were things like, "How did you feel tonight? You must have been thinking about your parents."

LAUER: Do you, do you not get a sense though-

COULTER: That's from Brian Williams.

LAUER: -that people want-

COULTER: Meanwhile Sarah Palin is memorizing the last seven kings of Swaziland.

LAUER: Do you not get a sense that people want a different tone? That they want a different attitude? That they want, maybe, to start to pull together?

COULTER: No I think liberals want conservatives to stop talking so that you can keep telling us how marvelous B. Hussein Obama is. You were not asking him about the issues during the campaign, which is why, well the next four years, I think, are gonna be a surprise for all of us because he can't keep voting, "present."

Read all. It's frustrating because she barely gets a chance to express herself in the schizo format she's given, yet it's inspiring because she clearly has the eloquence, intelligence, and facts to run rings around Mr. Lauer if she were allowed to finish a paragraph at a time. Makes me want to get her new book, Guilty: Liberal Victims and Their Assault On America.

I love the outspokenness of these views coming to the fore. Let everybody speak! Let the people decide for themselves what makes sense. If the mainstream media has any intelligence, it'll cash in on this, and we'll all be better off.

(Both via Neal's Nuze.)

UPDATE: Here you can actually hear Ann Coulter talking about her book without interruption.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

When asking a question 'is deemed to be hostile'

Bookworm transcribes another "conversation with a liberal" that must be read to be believed. It's like talking to someone from another planet who hasn't quite mastered the art of English. Or maybe it's like unknowingly treading on the idol of an Obama-worshipper--expecting a rational answer from so fervent a devotee is expecting too much.

Here's an earlier conversation she had with another liberal, on the Israel-Gaza conflict. How ironic such liberals feel themselves to be well-informed.

What's clear is they do not have open or inquiring minds. Nor do they have the first inkling of what actual fair debate consists of.

Kudos to Bookworm and others like her, for at least attempting respectful dialogue. She may indeed be wasting her time, but it's a public-service education in reality for all of us, and through such little cracks of dialogue light may someday flow for the liberals, as well.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Hey, Hamas!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Flying over (Google) Earth

My Dreamboat discovered that the newest version of Google Earth is now set up to let you "fly" over the land in pretty realistic flight simulation. No special hardware or software required--but it wasn't long before he went out and bought a joystick to enhance the simulation.

Now he and the kids have been "flying" all over. My son successfully "landed" a Cirrus SR-22 (single-engine, four-seater with fixed landing gear) inside Mount St. Helens, but then crashed when he tried to take off again. He says you can land on water (the "Jesus option") since Google Earth doesn't yet distinguish between landings on water or on land.

Even my daughter managed two safe landings inside Yosemite Valley. At the moment my Dreamboat's flying at Mach 1.5 over Camarillo, California in a F-16 jet, headed towards Edwards AFB. Oops, now says he's lost, overshot a little, but wherever he is, there's a lot of center-pivot irrigation.

This book might come in handy.

Also, if you haven't visited New York City in Google Earth recently, it's worth a look--it's now in stupendous 3-D.

File all of this under "marvels of postmodern life" in the computer age. Sure didn't have anything like this stuff when I was a kid. What a great way to get a "feel" for geography--by the seat of your pants.


Islamofascists and left-wing thugs protest Israeli self-defense

I figured since Reuters and other news organizations get to spin their coverage of the Israeli-Gaza clash, I'd highlight that and offer some of my own spin, starting with my headline above.

Victor Davis Hanson observes the surreal nature of the events as told by the media. Creepy times indeed.

And now we have pro-Hamas protests around the world. Meanwhile Communists in the form of ANSWER (the usual suspects) have united with Islamic fascists to produce such hate-filled protests in the U.S. as well: in San Francisco (via Michelle Malkin) and in Ft. Lauderdale.

Phyllis Chesler writes about the Nazi-like behavior of such "brownshirts"--

How ironic, really, how tragic, that Muslims, who want us to believe that Islam is the religion of peace, would behave in such a hateful and violent way!

Oh yes. And without shame, and with great pleasure, the protestors call Jews: pigs, apes, donkeys, vermin, and faggots. They hurl curses at their far more sedate opponents. They threaten to rape their opponent’s mothers and visit a slow and painful death upon their opponents’ wives and children. They shoot their arms out in a “Seig Heil” Hitler salute. “Nuke Israel” screamed one young woman in hijab, over and over again in Ft. Lauderdale. “F–k you Jew” was also a favorite chant.

I guess that wearing hijab does not necessarily make a woman modest or kind.

Roger that.

As one blogger puts it:

Two hours of angry rioting and threats of death, plus several incidents that could have become bloody, do not leave me with any positive appreciation of the pro-Palestinian side.

It's clear that it's jihad, waged under Hamas' genocidal charter, that these protesters claiming to be pro-Palestinian, want. So does Hamas want jihad, and nothing else. Along with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Power Line offers a look at root causes in Palestine. Meanwhile, we should be thinking about what causes U.S. "protesters" living among us to spew such hate. Could it be--Islam?

Good luck to the IDF.

And for those who say "Israel should have tried a diplomatic solution first," there's this.

As Ace sez:

I have no idea how we can ever break this cycle of violence.

Oh, wait, yes I do: Palestinians can stop murdering people. That should do the trick.

UPDATE: Israeli Defense Forces--the most moral army in the world?

UPDATE: Protests in Paris, too. Sheesh. And jihad in Anaheim and Columbus.

UPDATE: "Perfidious headline of the day" and "Something is deeply wrong with journalism in this country."

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

The American adventure

I love this quote by Dinesh D'Souza:

If I had remained in India, I would probably have lived my whole life within a five-mile radius of where I was born. I would undoubtedly have married a woman of my identical religious and socioeconomic background. . . . I would have a whole set of opinions that could be predicted in advance; indeed, they would not be very different from what my father believed, or his father before him. In sum, my destiny would to a large degree have been given to me. . . . In most countries of the world your fate and your identity are handed to you; in America, you determine them for yourself. America is a country where you get to write the script of your own life. Your life is like a blank sheet of paper, and you are the artist. This notion of being the architect of your own destiny is the incredibly powerful idea that is behind the worldwide appeal of America. Young people especially find irresistible the prospect of authoring the narrative of their own lives.

That's my children's heritage, thank God. And my own, about which I remain eternally grateful and excited.

(Quote appears in the last chapter of Michael Medved's new book, The 10 Big Lies About America --well worth the purchase price.)

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

DVDs we watched in 2008

Courtesy of Netflix:

  • Black Orpheus
  • A Christmas Story
  • The Stooge (1953)
  • The Pursuit of Happyness
  • Leave It To Beaver, Season 1 episodes
  • Rocky
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Die Hard
  • The Right Stuff
  • On the Waterfront
  • Tom Sawyer (animated cartoon version, 1999)
  • M.A.S.H. (meh)
  • Anne Frank Remembered (1995)
  • Laura (1944)
  • Mean Girls
  • The Straight Story
  • Bridge to Terabithia (2007, good)
  • Twin Peaks, Seasons 1 and 2
  • UHF
  • Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967)
  • Cheaper By the Dozen (1950)
  • The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)
  • Tucker: The Man and His Dream
  • We're Not Married (1952)
  • The Sting
  • Hail the Conquering Hero
  • Roman Holiday
  • State and Main
  • The Unsinkable Molly Brown
  • The Matrix
  • Alaska: Spirit of the Wild IMAX
  • Aliens (1986)
  • In Search of Shakespeare (4 episodes; fabulous; 2003)
  • Annie! (meh)
  • Hidden Hawaii IMAX (loser film, really hides Hawaii!)
  • Guys and Dolls
  • Serenity
  • I Know Where I'm Going! (1945)
  • The Fly (1958)
  • The Gang's All Here (1943)
  • Now You See Him Now You Don't (1973; lame!)
  • Summer Magic
  • The Moonspinners
  • Juno
  • Poltergeist
  • On Our Merry Way (1948)
  • Finding Nemo
  • The Thief of Bagdad (excellent, with commentary by Martin Scorcese and F.F. Coppola)
  • American Grafitti
  • Biography: Anastasia: Her True Story
  • Ratatouille
  • Star Trek, the Original Series (various episodes)
  • A Face in the Crowd
  • Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
  • Gay Purr-ee
  • Alien (1979)
  • All the President's Men
  • Persuasion (1995)
  • War Games
  • Cutter's Way (poor, but filmed in Santa Barbara)
  • Galaxy Quest
  • Some Like It Hot
  • Princess Mononoke
  • Lost
  • Psycho
  • Clueless
  • Frank Lloyd Wright (1998 PBS)
  • Pocohontas
  • Emma (1996, Gwyeth Paltrow))
  • The Rescuers
  • Sense and Sensibility (1995, Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet)
  • Ball of Fire (1941)
  • Pride and Prejudice (1995, Colin Firth, wow!)
  • The Sixth Sense
  • My Fair Lady
  • Stagecoach

A lot of good oldies, in case you're looking for some good family viewing. For additional info on these and any other films, directors, actors, etc., be sure to check the Internet Movie Database.

Also, always check the parents' film reviews on Netflix provided by Common Sense Media to make sure any film you watch with your kids is appropriate for their ages and your family's values. What a great tool brought about by the computer age!


Happy New Year!

I started the New Year off reading this excerpt from the conclusion of a book I've just finished, and I want to share it with you:

President Ronald Reagan (among many others) worried that younger generations of Americans would grow up with limited comprehension of their grounds for gratitude. On January 11, 1989, in his last televised speech from the Oval Office, he noted "a great tradition of warnings in presidential farewells, and I've got one that's been on my mind for some time." He spoke proudly of the "new patriotism" associated with his administration but worried that "it won't count for much and it won't last unless it's grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge."

[He said:]

An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? . . . . We've got to teach history based not on what's in fashion but what's important. . . . If we forget what we did, we won't know who we are. I'm warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let's start with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual.

And let me offer lesson number one about America: all great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven't been teaching you what it means to be an American, let 'em know and nail 'em on it. That would be a very American thing to do.

From Michael Medved's new book, The 10 Big Lies About America (pp. 259-260).

It's been almost 20 years since Ronald Reagan gave that speech. We are about to have another Presidential farewell speech, and another Inauguration.

So there's a New Year's Resolution for you (and me), if we are patriots in the mood for resolution.

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Books I read in 2008

1. My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir by Clarence Thomas

2. Victorian America and the Civil War by Anne C. Rose

3. Rescuing Sprite: A Dog Lover’s Story of Joy and Anguish by Mark R. Levin

4. Pudd’nhead Wilson (and Those Extraordinary Twins) by Mark Twain

5. Manners and Morals of Long Ago by John E. Duncan

6. On Directing Film by David Mamet

7. The Bone Garden by Tess Gerittsen

8. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

9. Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick

10. Walking the Trail: One Man’s Journey Along the Cherokee Trail of Tears by Jerry Ellis

11. World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism by Norman Podhoretz

12. Martha Washington: An American Life by Patricia Brady

13. The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College by Jacques Steinberg,

14. Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut

15. Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris

16. Moment of Truth in Iraq by Michael Yon

17. Why I Turned Right: Leading Baby Boom Conservatives Chronicle Their Political Journeys by Mary Eberstadt, ed.

18. Big Russ & Me: Father and Son; Lessons of Life by Tim Russert

19. Londonistan by Melanie Phillips

20. Beautiful Boy: a Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff

21. Ghosts of Kennecott: The Story of Stephen Birch by Elizabeth A. Tower

22. Hawaii by James Michener

23. Gail Niebrugge’s Alaska Wildflowers: Illustrations and Stories by Gail Niebrugge

24. Outhouses of Alaska by Harry M. Walker

25. Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business by David Mamet

26. Happy Days 1880-1892: Vol. 1 of Mencken’s Autobiography by H. L. Mencken

27. Two Lucky People: Memoirs by Milton Friedman and Rose D. Friedman

28. The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn by Diane Ravitch

29 The Education of H*Y*M*A*N* K*A*P*L*A*N* by Leonard Q. Ross (Leo Rosten)

30. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter

31. Too Strong for Fantasy by Marcia Davenport

32. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

33. Danzig Passage (Zion Covenant, Book 5) by Bodie and Brock Thoene

34. Citizen Tom Paine by Howard Fast

35. The Dance of Connection by Harriet Lerner

36. A Portfolio of Bathroom Ideas by Home How-To Institute

37. New Bathroom Idea Book by Andrew Wormer

38. My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.

I don't think of myself (a former "English Major") as reading much fiction any more nowadays (since so much of the contemporary stuff coming out seems to have evolved into tiresomely repetitive, Oprah-approved, psycho-dysfunctional pap), but I see I have racked up a few respectable entries in the fiction category after all. Good for me, still plugging away dutifully at "literature," including Song of Solomon which was assigned to my son in his AP Lit class. (I still think I'd rather have his class reading Shakespeare and Homer.)

I remain most admiring of really well-written histories. Victorian America and the Civil War was a fascinating book that revealed to me that I am probably at heart a Victorian in philosophy (and that this is not so bad or so quaint as I'd thought before reading this book). It is not light reading, however. You have to want to know about these things to get through this book--and I do.

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick is an awesome achievement and reading it was a highlight and a pleasure. It is very accessible reading. It tells the old history of the Pilgrims and the Indians written through and for contemporary eyes, incorporating the latest historical research, and gives a phenomenally clear and riveting (almost eye-witness) view of what happened over a span of 55 years when the Pilgrims left England on the Mayflower for the New World, and lived among the natives of New England. I finally learned what King Philip's War was all about.

Other very good historical books I consumed this year were the second tome in Edmund Morris's three-part biography of Theodore Roosevelt (he is a grand writer) and Patricia Brady's interesting life of Martha Washington. Meanwhile, Clarence Thomas's memoir was memorable, moving, and eye-opening; Marcia Davenport's was fascinating and beautifully written. The memoirs of Milton and Rose Friedman and of H.L. Mencken also held my interest, the latter being a wickedly funny look at a bygone era.

I'm afraid I'm a sucker for good, well-written "historical fiction," and this year I discovered two standouts in the field: James Michener's Hawaii and Howard's Fast's Citizen Tom Paine. Both were huge bestsellers in their times, and will always remain classics. They are both fabulous (and educational) reads. The only drawback of reading historical fiction is that you can never be absolutely sure what is the fiction and what was true. But books like these certainly bring history alive.

The last book I read, My Stroke of Insight, is Jill Bolte Taylor's view of a hemorrhagic stroke from the inside out: she is a neuroscientist and a doctor of brain anatomy, yet as a stroke survivor who has recovered, she can offer an amazing insider's view to anyone wondering how best to deal with stroke victims. It brought to mind other interesting books about how the brain works by authors Oliver Sacks and Steven Pinker.

And yes, I am thinking of redecorating a bathroom in 2009.