Thursday, July 31, 2008
CANEY, Kan. - A dog at a southeast Kansas zoo has adopted three tiger cubs abandoned by their mother. Safari Zoological Park owner Tom Harvey said the tiger cubs were born Sunday, but the mother had problems with them.
I'm not much of a smoker. I enjoy the occasional cigar and I used to smoke a pipe once in a while until my dog discovered how fun it was to chew on. Mostly though, I'd call myself a non-smoker (though I'm sure my insurance company would disagree) and in most social settings I'd prefer things to be totally smoke free. Like a lot of folks I'd rather enjoy a meal without the guy one table over blowing smoke in my face. Having said that though, I absolutely hate anti-smoking regulations.
Let's not mince words: anti-smoking laws are an attack on freedom, not just of smokers but of everyone. The idea that the government can tell you where you can and can't use legal products ought to concern everybody.
The case for the regulation is essentially that your life is not your own, but rather as a servant of the state you have an affirmative obligation to maintain yourself in as healthy a manner as possible at all times thus reducing the burden you cause to society. Lots of nasty things flow naturally out of this line of thought, ranging from banning trans-fats to euthanizing the aged and the infirm. I find all of it appalling. The right of people being free to choose their own destiny is vital not only to the cause of liberty but also simple happiness.
What's even more shameful is that, if left to it's own devices, the marketplace will resolve most of these problems without resort to the heavy hand of the state. If smoking in restaurants or bars is truly as unpopular as anti-smoking activists claim, business owners will ban it themselves out of economic self interest. I'm old enough to remember ash trays on the tables at McDonald's, but they quickly disappeared when articles about the effects of second hand smoke appeared. No government action required. What seems to really upset anti-smoking activists is that having heard all the augments, some people persist in making life choices of which they don't approve. To that I have to say "well, tough...frankly it's none of your business".
One of the odd paradoxes of our age is that someone can declare their support for gay marriage on the grounds that adults ought to be free to do what they like, without interference from the government and then turn around and insist the patrons of Al's Bar lack the capacity to calculate the hazards of unfiltered Camels. You might insist that these are apples and oranges. In a sense they are. The argument against the public smoking is at least in part based upon the damage it may cause others-most often the the employees who for some reason in these scenarios are assumed to be indentured servants who cannot seek employment elsewhere. But it is worth remembering that many anti-gay marriage folks assert that they are harmed too. I don't know if that's true in any objective sense but surely their existential angst is no less real than an anti-smoker who never goes into a bar but is deeply troubled that it allows smoking.
In a free society people need to be able to make choices...even ones you disagree with. That's what freedom is. Is smoking bad for you? Of course, so are cheeseburgers, scotch and unprotected sex. They are also some of the great pleasures of life. I fear that in the name of the greater good we all too often loose sight of something as ephemeral as human happiness...and that is a tragedy.
The painful truth is that no matter how we live our lives, we are all going to die. Contrary to what the anti-smoking activists claim, there is no such thing as a "preventable death". Sooner or later the reaper comes for us all. Should we try to live safer, healthier lives? Of course, and many things may extend and improve the quality of life. But which of those measures we might or might not take ought to be a personal decision. In the end it's how we live our lives that matters.
Independent reporter Michael Yon has spent more time in Iraq embedded with combat soldiers than any other journalist in the world, and a few days ago he boldly declared the war over:
"Barring any major and unexpected developments (like an Israeli air strike on Iran and the retaliations that would follow), a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended. A new and better nation is growing legs. What's left is messy politics that likely will be punctuated by low-level violence and the occasional spectacular attack. Yet, the will of the Iraqi people has changed, and the Iraqi military has dramatically improved, so those spectacular attacks are diminishing along with the regular violence. Now it's time to rebuild the country, and create a pluralistic, stable and peaceful Iraq. That will be long, hard work. But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over. We won. Which means the Iraqi people won."
I’m reluctant to say “the war has ended,” as he did, but everything else he wrote is undoubtedly true. The war in Iraq is all but over right now, and it will be officially over if the current trends in violence continue their downward slide. That is a mathematical fact.
If you doubt it, look at the data.
Security incidents, or attacks, are at their lowest level in four years. Civilian deaths are down by almost 90 percent since General Petraeus’ counterinsurgency “surge” strategy went into effect. High profile attacks, or explosions, are down by 80 percent in the same time period. American and Iraqi soldiers suffer far fewer casualties than they have for years.
The elite liberal pundits and reporters are, after all, exceedingly poor gauges of public opinion on everything from the appeal of Ronald Reagan to abortion politics. So it would not be unusual to find that they missed the real story (or chose to shield their eyes from it). The desperation to help elect their chosen son has blinded them to the implications of his and their own behavior. And the beneficiary of that is John McCain.
Some of the volunteers who helped build the home were less than thrilled about the family's financial decisions.
"It's aggravating. It just makes you mad. You do that much work, and they just squander it," Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt, who helped vault a massive beam into place in the Harper's living room, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Cashier: “Aloha, how are you today?”
Tourist: “Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t speak Spanish. Could you talk in English please?”
Cashier: “Hello, how are you today?”
Tourist: “Fine, we just flew here from America today.”
(The cashier rings up the tourist’s few items.)
Cashier: “That will be twenty five dollars and eighty five cents.”
Tourist: “Do you take American money here? I only have American money. I have not been able to get to the currency exchange yet.”
Cashier: “Ma’am, we are in the United States. We take dollars here.”
Tourist: “Oh really? You take this money?” *holds up her $20 bill*
Cashier: “Yes, ma’am, those are dollars, and being a US state we do accept those.”
Tourist: “Well that’s very nice of you to accept foreign money.”
Cashier: *puzzled* “Mahalo, have a great day!”
Tourist: *under her breath* “I told her I didn’t speak Spanish!”
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The scene repeats itself daily on city streets: a driver gets stuck bumper to bumper, blocking an intersection and preventing another car from turning left.
But authorities say that was enough to cause Edwin Ramos to unload an AK-47 assault weapon on a man and his two sons, killing them.
The deaths immediately drew public outrage, which intensified when authorities revealed that Ramos, 21, is an illegal immigrant who managed to avoid deportation despite previous brushes with the law.
The case has put San Francisco's liberal politics to the test, setting off a debate over its sanctuary law that shields undocumented immigrants from deportation.
We are leaving Zinnlandia, after all – that great land of the Pacific Northwest, rich in good wine, including zinfandel, and other bounties of nature. Howard Zinn and his doppelgänger, Noam Chomsky, are to the coastal zones of this blessed land what St. Patrick is to the Emerald Isle. And, like Finlandia, Jutlandia and Hollandia, Zinnlandia too has much Northern European DNA.
Zinnlandia is in Amerikka – that racist, capitalist land of injustice, sexism, specieism, lookism, theism, militarism and homophobia. As a material and cultural Marxist, and skillful propagandist, Zinn – a master of sieving American history for its worst nuggets – is the perfect avatar for the self-flagellating white inhabitant of this land.
A Zinnlandian I met on this trip, a WASP physician endowed with the best education much money can buy, told me that he does not celebrate July 4th because the Declaration of Independence had been written by a slave owner and signed by other slave owners. He was just as hotly critical of the “racism” of Americans in dealing with the growing Muslim immigrant minority. The conversation unfolded over a bottle of Oregon Vino Pinko, with the likeness of a notorious Cuban mass murderer on the label.
Besides the pervasive lefty obtuseness as to the true nature of Che Guevara, there is one central paradox in this Zinnlandian, as there is in all of them. In the case of the good doctor, he donates his time and money to schools and clinics in Tanzania, where he has visited several times. And Tanzania, particularly Zanzibar, is a living memorial to the horrors of slave trafficking by Moslem Arabs and black Africans -- far larger and crueler than the slave trade that soiled the New World, preceding it by a thousand years, evident still in the 1960s, and ended only due to Western insistence.
The specter of depression stalks America. You hear the word repeatedly. Are we in a depression? If not, are we headed for one? The answer to the first question is no; the answer to the second is "almost certainly not." The use of "depression" to describe the economy is a case of rhetorical overkill that speaks volumes about today's widespread pessimism and anxiety. A short history lesson shows why.
Read the whole thing.