Friday, December 24, 2010

Its A Wonderful Life - Final Scenes - Christmas Classic



This is pretty goo too.

How To Stay Safe From Zombies During The Christmas Holidays

The Feminist Deception

Since the height of the feminist movement in the late 1960s, non-leftist women in the West and Israel have been hard-pressed to answer the question of whether or not we are feminists. Non-leftist women are opposed to the oppression of women. Certainly, we are no less opposed to the oppression of women than leftist women are.

But at its most basic level, the feminist label has never been solely or even predominantly about preventing and ending oppression or discrimination of women. It has been about advancing the Left’s social and political agenda against Western societies. It has been about castigating societies where women enjoy legal rights and protections as “structurally” discriminatory against women in order to weaken the legal, moral and social foundations of those societies. That is, rather than being about advancing the cause of women, to a large extent, the feminist movement has used the language of women’s rights to advance a social and political agenda that has nothing to do with women.

So to a large degree, the feminist movement itself is a deception.


Read the whole thing.

Cooking the Books: The 2010 Deficit Was $2.1 trillion.

If corporate accountants used government rules for their financial statements, they’d be jailed. That’s why we rarely see the real number of the federal deficit—a terrifying $2.1 trillion last year.

More.

Gangster government, TSA edition.

After posting a video critical of airport security, an airline pilot gets a visit from the Feds:

I think the pilot might really have cranked Janet Napolitano with this observation: "As you can see, airport security is kind of a farce. It's only smoke and mirrors so you people believe there is actually something going on here."

Three days after he posted his critical video clips on YouTube, four federal air marshals and two sheriff's deputies arrived at the pilot's house to confiscate his federally-issued firearm. At the same time as the federal marshals took the pilot's gun, a deputy sheriff asked him to surrender his state-issued permit to carry a concealed weapon. The pilot's attorney, not unreasonably, said he believed the federal government sent the posse to the pilot's house in order to send a message.

More.

How the Road to Bell Was Paved.

Though fundamentally tawdry, the Bell scandal raises two important questions about the prospect of American self-government. First, can a post-Madisonian development in America—the professionalization of government that began a century ago—be reconciled to the Madisonian framework of counteracting ambitions? Second, can we still rely on conscientious civic engagement at the local level to be the elevating political force that Tocqueville applauded—and, if not, can our republic endure without it?


Read the whole thing.

Warren Buffett, Robber Baron?

I know that we are all supposed to love Warren Buffett as the Sage of Omaha, businessman and all-around good guy, but I keep reading stories that make me wonder. Here's a story about Warren Buffett, the estate tax, and the life insurance industry.

Did you know that the life insurance lobby is actively lobbying to restore the estate tax?

Why would the life insurance industry care about that? It turns out that ten percent of life insurance industry revenue is related to the estate tax. Wealthy people take out life insurance in order to reduce estate taxes because when you die, your life insurance payout doesn't count as part of your estate.

Did you know that Warren Buffett owns six life insurance companies? Did you know he supports the estate tax? You do now.

More here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Paralysis of the State.

Many of us would be happy to live with a bigger version of 1950s government: one that ran surpluses and was dexterous enough to tackle long-term problems as they arose. But we don’t have that government. We have an immobile government that is desperately overcommitted in all the wrong ways.

This situation, if you’ll forgive me for saying so, has been the Democratic Party’s epic failure. The party believes in the positive uses of government. But if you want the country to share that belief, you have to provide a government that is nimble, tough-minded and effective. That means occasionally standing up to the excessive demands of public employee unions. Instead of standing up to those demands, the party has become captured by the unions. Liberal activism has become paralyzed by its own special interests.

Read the whole thing.


Creating Chaos: Lawrence of Arabia and the 1916 Arab Revolt.


The train filled with Ottoman Empire soldiers and civilians chugged over a bridge in the Arabian desert. A few yards away a British officer in Bedouin robes raised his hand toward Salem, an Arab tribal warrior gripping the plunger of a detonator box. As the train steamed ahead, the officer dropped his hand and Salem slammed down the plunger. A cloud of sand and smoke blasted a hundred feet into the sky as sizzling chunks of iron and seared body parts tumbled through the air. The train crashed into a gorge, followed by an eerie silence. The officer and Arab tribesmen—wielding swords or firing rifles—dashed toward the smoldering train cars. Within a few minutes the fighting was over, the dead and the wreck were looted, and the raiding party melted back into the desert. It was summer 1917, and the Arab Revolt was in full swing.

More.

Extinct Bears Found Underwater.


I guess that whole trying to breathe water thing didn't work out for them.

The article is here.

By the Numbers, Obama was to Democrats what Watergate was to Republicans.

Republicans picked up 680 seats in state legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures -- the most in the modern era. To put that number in perspective: In the 1994 GOP wave, Republicans picked up 472 seats. The previous record was in the post-Watergate election of 1974, when Democrats picked up 628 seats.

Staggering when you think about it.

More.

Claire du Lune

Monday, September 13, 2010

Michael Barone: Gangster government stifles criticism of Obamacare.

The threat to use government regulation to destroy or harm someone's business because they disagree with government officials is thuggery. Like the Obama administration's transfer of money from Chrysler bondholders to its political allies in the United Auto Workers, it is a form of gangster government.


Read the whole thing.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Christopher Hitchens on the "Ground Zero Mosque".

Emboldened by the crass nature of the opposition to the center, its defenders have started to talk as if it represented no problem at all and as if the question were solely one of religious tolerance. It would be nice if this were true. But tolerance is one of the first and most awkward questions raised by any examination of Islamism. We are wrong to talk as if the only subject was that of terrorism. As Western Europe has already found to its cost, local Muslim leaders have a habit, once they feel strong enough, of making demands of the most intolerant kind. Sometimes it will be calls for censorship of anything "offensive" to Islam. Sometimes it will be demands for sexual segregation in schools and swimming pools. The script is becoming a very familiar one. And those who make such demands are of course usually quite careful to avoid any association with violence. They merely hint that, if their demands are not taken seriously, there just might be a teeny smidgeon of violence from some other unnamed quarter …

As for the gorgeous mosaic of religious pluralism, it's easy enough to find mosque Web sites and DVDs that peddle the most disgusting attacks on Jews, Hindus, Christians, unbelievers, and other Muslims—to say nothing of insane diatribes about women and homosexuals. This is why the fake term Islamophobia is so dangerous: It insinuates that any reservations about Islam must ipso facto be "phobic." A phobia is an irrational fear or dislike. Islamic preaching very often manifests precisely this feature, which is why suspicion of it is by no means irrational.



More here.

Hey! I'm back online!

Well, more or less. I finally fixed my laptop and I'm sitting at Starbucks until they kick me out. Still no internet at home though.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'll be offline for a couple of months...

OK that's not entirely true. I'll be checking and responding to emails and and Facebook stuff daily but I'll only have internet access at work for a while. My living situation is in flux at the moment and it's unlikely that I'll get the chance to do any blogging until...well...maybe September.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Best Friend and I are Getting Divorced.

It's a hard thing, but it's been a long time coming. We love each other, are dear friends and have two wonderful daughters together. Things are very civil-friendly even. It's too bad that it didn't work out the way we had hoped, but sometimes life is like that. Sooner or later you have to face facts and move on. I wish her all the happiness in the world.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Does Barack Obama want to be president?

Ever since viewing his depressing and disconnected “energy” speech last week, I have been mulling whether Barack Obama actually wants to be president anymore. That was an address given by a man who looked very much like he didn’t want to be there, didn’t want to continue. He appeared slumped and worn, as if he aged eighteen years in eighteen months. His demeanor was oddly distracted.

I am not being metaphorical here — I am quite serious. The more I have thought about this, the more I am convinced Barack Obama no longer wishes to be president. The degree that he admits this to himself, I am not sure. But I rather suspect that in the small hours of the morning he fantasizes he were anywhere but 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And who could blame him? By almost any measure, he is doing a terrible job.

More.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

If the Story is True, McChrystal Must be Fired.

Rolling Stone is running a story that claims General Stanley McChrystal is openly critical of the administration and its policies. There are quotes in the story attributed to the General and his aides which if true, constitute gross insubordination.

McChrystal is by all accounts an outstanding tactician and leader of men. In substance, I agree with his frustration with this administration and his skepticism as to their basic competence...and that's compleately beside the point. The absolute primacy of civilian leadership is the paramount issue. For better or worse, Obama's in charge and his generals need to salute and say "Yes sir!" or resign in disgust and write a tell-all book.

Unless he can show the article is demonstrably false, McChrystal needs to be fired.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

On Open Borders and Sweatshops.

We all know part of the immigration debate is that the illegals work for below the regular wage rate. What the people who defend illegal immigration are saying is how important this is to the economy. How important it is that they do the work Americans "won't" do (which is misleading at best).

What these supporters are really saying is that it is OK to have sweatshops in the United States. That it is OK to have groups of 10 to 20 people living in substandard conditions. That here in America we need to have people locked up in rooms at sewing machines for 12 to 16 hours a day with no breaks for the restroom or food. They are supporting cargo containers coming in filled with people to be used as indentured labor and forced prostitution.

More.

How should Western intellectuals respond to Muslim scholars?

Was the prophet Muhammad a pervert and a tyrant? Does Islam promote terrorism and enslave women? Does Islam oblige its followers to wage jihad on Westerners whose roots lie in the secular Enlightenment? Should Muslims consider converting to Christianity? For the Somali-born writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the answer to all these questions is a resounding “Yes!” Hirsi Ali, who renounced Islam in her thirties, speaks from experience of bigotry and intolerance among her former co-religionists: she was genitally mutilated as a child in Somalia, briefly radicalized by a preacher of jihad in Kenya, nearly forced into a marriage, threatened with death in the Netherlands by the Muslim assassin of her collaborator, the filmmaker Theo van Gogh, and is still hounded by murderous fanatics in her new home, America. In her latest book, “Nomad: From Islam to America” (Free Press; $27), she reminds her readers of the West’s tradition of intellectual revolt against clerical tyranny and warns of the insidious, intransigent enemies in their midst. “The Muslim mind today seems to be in the grip of jihad,” she writes.

She is not hopeful that Americans will heed her warning. Her initial job interviews in the United States were discouraging: the Brookings Institution, she writes, worried that she might offend Arab Muslims. (The conservative American Enterprise Institute, however, immediately appointed her as a fellow.) On college campuses, Muslim students accuse her of wanting to “trash” Islam, while Western feminists, convinced that white men are “the ultimate and only oppressors,” lack the “courage or clarity of vision” to help her knock down the mental “hovels” of the East. Pointing to Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s murderous rampage in Texas, last November, she deplores the “conspiracy to ignore the religious motivation for these killings” in America.

Muslims today, Hirsi Ali believes, must be forced to choose between the darkness of Islam and the light of the modern secular West.

The rest is here.

WARNING: The article is Safe For Work. The rest of the site, not so much.

CATO on the Auto Bailout.

The most compelling objections to the bailout were not rooted in the belief that the government couldn’t use its assumed power to help GM and Chrysler. On the contrary, the most compelling objections were over concerns that the government would do just that. It is the consequences of that intervention—the undermining of the rule of law, the confiscations, the politically-driven decisions, and the distortion of market signals—that animated the most serious objections.

More.

Danish report from Gaza: "Where's the humanitarian crisis?"


Judging from the media, the situation in Gaza is desperate, everything is about to collapse, and the community is on the brink or at the level of a third world country.

The Palestinian community's immediate downfall has been prophesied numerous times in the media. People have nothing to eat, we sometimes know. The UN must from time to time to stop food distribution, either because their stocks are running low, or because they can not get diesel for their trucks, and therefore can not carry food in. And so on.


Yesterday I drove into the Gaza Strip. I don't do this as often as before [because it takes much longer to get through the checkpoints now.]


This time, I had expected to see real suffering, because with all the fuss in recent days about bringing tons of humanitarian relief in - so much that people actually sacrificed their lives for it - there certainly had to really be a deep, desperate situation in the Gaza Strip. No food. Long queues in front of UN food stocks. Hungry children with food bowls.


But this was not the picture that greeted me.


More.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The World Cup has Begun. Best of Luck to All.

Yakko's Guide to the Countries of the World.

What's in a band name?

Someday people will wonder what's with the name of that band with the "Come On Eileen" song. Well kids, they're named after me.

ABBA – Abba is “father” in Hebrew but the band claims that to be unintentional – rather it is an acronym for the first names of the band members: Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid (Frida).

AC/DC – 1) It is said that one of the band member saw it on an appliance and thought it had something to do with power. (It does mean “alternating current / direct current”.) The band used it not realizing it was also slang for a bisexual- the band claims NOT to be bisexual.
2) In the vogue of other anti-everything bands it stands for Against Christ/Devil’s Children.

ALICE IN CHAINS – a funny rumor is that they were named after a lost episode from The Brady Bunch series!

AMBOY DUKES – Ted Nugent’s original band – taken from the title of a 1940’s book about street gangs by Irving Shulman.

ANTHRAX – A dangerous bacteria that used to infect many cattle in Europe & could be used for terrorism.

ASPHALT BALLET – The name came from a motorcycle accident Julius was in where the motion of the bike rolling over on the asphalt road was termed an “Asphalt Ballet.”

AQUA – suggested by a Danish AQUArium poster that was hanging in their recording studio.

BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY – this neo-swing band takes its name from what legendary bluesman Albert King wrote as an autograph for the band’s leader, Scotty Morris… “To the big bad voodoo daddy.”


More here.

Creative Accounting: Robbing Peter to Pay Peter.

ALBANY — Gov. David A. Paterson and legislative leaders have tentatively agreed to allow the state and municipalities to borrow nearly $6 billion to help them make their required annual payments to the state pension fund.

And, in classic budgetary sleight-of-hand, they will borrow the money to make the payments to the pension fund — from the same pension fund.

When companies do this sort of thing, people go to prison.

More.

Photos from the Blackhawks Parade on Friday. Click to Enlarge.


Police have just stopped traffic on Washington.

Four of the wife's co-workers heading over to the apartment. How the made it through the crowd I'll never know.

Your tax dollars at work. Will someone explain to me why a Segway is anything more than a $5000 bike substitute that helps you avoid doing actual exercise?

Neighbors.

Washington street looking west toward the Civic Opera House.

Looking east, the corner of LaSalle and Washington.

Media (WGN I think) on top of the old Musicians Union building.

Almost ready to start.

Some folks are still trying to get some work done.

One of the best trained dogs ever.

Blue collar balcony.

Bitter holdouts.

Mr. Tibbs makes an appearance.

A good spot.


Washington and Wells.

An unusual number of CTA workers at the Wells St. Station for some reason.

It begins.

Emma LOVED the parade...Hannah slept through it.

Chicago's finest.

The Players.












Lord Stanley's Cup.

Just don't knock it over.

As soon the parade passed people began jumping the baracades.

A sea of humanity.

NYC Teachers Union Has an Office in Boca Raton.

Of course it does. If I were a teachers union I'd have an office there too.

Article.

Obama: GOP to blame for spill, because if I had tried to prevent it, which I didn't, they would have stopped me.

I think we're also responsible for vampires, weather and the fall of man.

Read the whole thing.

More from Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

The liberal psyche wants to protect minorities, to apologize for imperialism, colonialism, slavery, and the appalling treatment of black people during the civil rights movement. At the same time, they want to continue to defend the rights of individuals. They’ve convinced themselves that the best way to do that in general is to defend the cultures that are non-white. But what they forget, and what they’re being confronted with, is that non-white cultures contain misogynistic, collectivist, tribal, gay-unfriendly and female-hostile traditions. And so they’re confused: on the one hand, they’re looking at minorities as groups they need to save and speak up for, and on the other hand, they’re confronted with the ideas and practices of individuals within those minorities that are very undemocratic and appalling, really.

More.

Saudi Arabia Gives Israel Clear Skies to Attack Iranian Nuclear Sites.


“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” said a US defence source in the area. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [US] State Department.”

Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” said one.

The article is here.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Why Big City Mayors like Gun Control.

The problem in the big cities of the Northeast isn’t guns. If guns caused problems, it’s rural America and pro-gun states like Texas that would be murder horror shows, not the Northeast cities crammed with people too self-righteously moral to accept the responsibility of protecting their loved ones and their communities. When young black men are safer in small, gun-packed southern towns than they are in northeastern urban areas, you know something has gone seriously wrong in the big city.

More.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Israel's Unforgivable Sin.

Remember the worldwide condemnations, the protests across Europe and Asia, the stern rebukes from the world's high councils in January of last year -- when Hamas militants executed 54 members of the Fatah party and tortured 175 more for (allegedly) collaborating with Israel? You don't? That's because the killing and torture went on with almost no notice or comment.

How about the world's outrage in November 2007, when Hamas gunmen killed seven civilians and wounded 80 more during a rally memorializing Yasser Arafat in Gaza? If you don't remember the outrage, the marches in the street, the scathing U.N. resolutions, that's because there weren't any.

Nor did the world weep when the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) suspended operations in Gaza after two staff members were caught in a Hamas-Fatah crossfire and killed. When Palestinian factional violence impedes humanitarian aid, well, tsk-tsk.

Last February, Amnesty International reported that numerous prisoners injured by an Israeli bombing of a prison were "shot dead in the hospitals where they were receiving treatment." But they weren't shot by Israelis, so nobody objected.

According to a report by Reuters, "An estimated 616 Palestinians have been killed in factional fighting since Hamas defeated Fatah" in January 2006.

World reaction? Shrug.

More.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Helen Thomas: Jews need to go back to Poland & Germany.

No word on whether or not she thinks blacks need to go back to Africa.

Lost Masterpieces of Porn- It's Parody so Safe for Work but Adult Theme.

David Mamet's "Lost Masterpieces of Pornography" w/ Kristen Bell, Ed O'Neill & Ricky Jay from David Mamet

An interesting look into the inner workings of
the Supreme Court.


Stolen from Theo.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Attacking The Heroine.


Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of the great heroes of our era. Born a Muslim in Somalia, she was subjected to genital mutilation at age five. Her family fled to Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya. After her father ordered her to marry a stranger, she sought political asylum in the Netherlands and eventually was elected to the Dutch Parliament in 2003.

Hirsi Ali became a feminist spokesman for women who are oppressed in Islamic societies. She wrote the screenplay for Theo van Gogh's film Submission. Van Gogh was murdered in Amsterdam by a Muslim extremist who shoved a knife into his body with a note that said Hirsi Ali was next.

That made Hirsi Ali too hot to handle for Dutch authorities, so she made her way to the United States, where she now lives and continues her fight on behalf of oppressed women around the world.

You might think that would make her a heroine to American liberals, but you would be wrong.

More.

Royal Society to Re-evaluate Position on Global Warming.

Sir Alan Rudge, a society Fellow and former member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee:

“One of the reasons people like myself are willing to put our heads above the parapet is that our careers are not at risk from being labelled a denier or flat-Earther because we say the science is not settled. The bullying of people into silence has unfortunately been effective.”

More.

Related:

South Pacific Islands are not sinking, claims they are due to global warming driven sea level rise are opportunistic.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Gummi Bear Surgery.





More.

Irony.

Michael Moran of Brighton is a staunch supporter of the “sanctuary” approach to illegal immigration we have here in Massachusetts. He voted against the Perry amendment that would require applicants for state benefits to prove they’re here legally. Moran voted for subsidized college tuition for illegals, too.

It’s safe to say that no Massachusetts politician has done more to make illegal immigrants feel welcome. Illegal immigrants like 27-year-old Isaias Naranjo, who (ahem) “met” Moran on the streets of Brighton last week.

According to Fox 25, Naranjo was driving 60 mph when he slammed his car into Moran’s. Naranjo was also drunk, driving without a license and - in an only-in-Massachusetts twist - was wearing a “Mexican costume” at the time.

Now if Naranjo were just another Massachusetts taxpayer, he would be in some serious guacamole. But Fox reports that when police tried to explain the seriousness of his situation, he just laughed.

“Nothing is going to happen to me, man,” Naranjo told the cops. That’s because he was “going back to my home country, Mexico.”

More.

Can We Quit the UN Yet?

Why on Earth are Americans, unlike their enlightened comrades in Europe, so skeptical of the United Nations? I haven't a clue, though I suspect that, as Tim Cavanaugh noted a few weeks ago, it might have something to do with Iran being nominated to the UN Commission on the Status of Women. This was Tehran's Plan B, having been pressured into abandoning its bid to sit on the UN Human Rights Council. Hilarious, right? After slaughtering demonstrators in the streets, filling the torture chambers at Evin prison with students, they wanted to adjudicate on human rights violations in other countries? Silly Mullahs, those spots are resevered for countries like Switzerland, Spain, and...Libya.

More.

Trickle-Down Misery in L.A.

Increasingly, government workers are the electoral base of the party of government. So Villaraigosa must live with the arithmetic of interest-group liberalism. The federal government, he says, can run deficits and print money; the state government (supposedly) must balance the budget but can push burdens down onto cities. There, he says, “you have 10 cookies in the cookie jar and every interest wants all 10.”

The nightmare numbers include the state’s unemployment rate (12.6 percent)—it is higher than the nation’s (9.9)—and the city’s rate (13.5), which is higher than the state’s. The city’s long-term success depends on its schools, in many of which most of the children come from homes without fathers, and in some of which, Villaraigosa says, 40 percent of the children are in foster homes. He has little control over the school system and, anyway, unions oppose radical reforms. He would like to emulate the education reforms of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a recent visitor to the mayor’s residence, but, holding his fingers three inches apart to suggest the thickness of the standard contract with the teachers’ union, Villaraigosa calls the union “the most powerful defender of the status quo.”


More.

The New Old German Problem.

I’ve been walking the last two days through Munich. Much of the city core was bombed out by the allies by spring 1945. Yet today there is little evidence of such destruction. The museums are among the best in the world, the streets and parks spotless, the infrastructure superb, and the people as hard at work as ever. To walk an urban street in Germany is a different experience from say in Athens or Istanbul — traffic follows law, pedestrians are respected, horns are used rarely, trash is absent. In other words, things work and work well.

Such observations sound stereotypical these days, but to even the casual observer the difference between life in Germany and much of the eastern and southern Mediterranean seems far greater than the divide between a Minnesota and Mississippi. For someone who has lived in Greece and occasionally visits Germany, it becomes increasingly clearer each year why the European Union won’t work. Germans work and create wealth. Yet under the present system, they do not receive commensurate psychological rewards — and they increasingly receive insufficient material compensation as well.

And history shows us that an unhappy Germany is a very dangerous thing indeed.



More.

We’re too broke to be this stupid.

Back in 2008, when I was fulminating against multiculturalism on a more or less weekly basis, a reader wrote to advise me to lighten up, on the grounds that “we’re rich enough to afford to be stupid.”

Two years later, we’re a lot less rich. In fact, many Western nations are, in any objective sense, insolvent. Hence last week’s column, on the EU’s decision to toss a trillion dollars into the great sucking maw of Greece’s public-sector kleptocracy. It no longer matters whether you’re intellectually in favour of European-style social democracy: simply as a practical matter, it’s unaffordable.

More here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Creative Proposal for Reducing Prison Rape.

In boxing, heavyweights don't fight featherweights. It's not a fair fight. But in prison, heavyweights serve their time side-by-side with featherweights. A simple remedy for rape and brutality, then, is split up prisoners by size and strength. You could assign the various classes of prisoners to different wings. Or if that's too logistically difficult, you could assign each prison a weight class, then reallocate existing prisoners.

Admittedly, we already have prisons for different kinds of offenses - minimum security, maximum security, and everything in between. Like separating men and women, this probably makes the prison experience a little less hellish. But there's still a long way to go, and my proposal seems like an obvious and cheap improvement over the status quo.

More.

Expropriate the Expropriators!

In Marxist theory, the Communist Party represented the interests of productive workers, the value of whose labor is expropriated by others. That was wrong, but at least it had a certain coherence. Greek Communists (and more generally, 21st century socialists) stand for something quite different: the "right" to be supported by the labor of others (in the Greek case, Germans); the "right" to be a sponge, forever; the "right" to be an exploiter. It would be hard to think of a less attractive political program.

More.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Class War.

In April 2008, The Orange County Register published a bombshell of an investigation about a license plate program for California government workers and their families. Drivers of nearly 1 million cars and light trucks—out of a total 22 million vehicles registered statewide—were protected by a “shield” in the state records system between their license plate numbers and their home addresses. There were, the newspaper found, great practical benefits to this secrecy.

“Vehicles with protected license plates can run through dozens of intersections controlled by red light cameras with impunity,” the Register’s Jennifer Muir reported. “Parking citations issued to vehicles with protected plates are often dismissed because the process necessary to pierce the shield is too cumbersome. Some patrol officers let drivers with protected plates off with a warning because the plates signal that drivers are ‘one of their own’ or related to someone who is.”

The plate program started in 1978 with the seemingly unobjectionable purpose of protecting the personal addresses of officials who deal directly with criminals. Police argued that the bad guys could call the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), get addresses for officers, and use the information to harm them or their family members. There was no rash of such incidents, only the possibility that they could take place.

So police and their families were granted confidentiality. Then the program expanded from one set of government workers to another. Eventually parole officers, retired parking enforcers, DMV desk clerks, county supervisors, social workers, and other categories of employees from 1,800 state agencies were given the special protections too. Meanwhile, the original intent of the shield had become obsolete: The DMV long ago abandoned the practice of giving out personal information about any driver. What was left was not a protection but a perk.



More.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

We Are Out of Money: American governance won’t begin to inch forward until the political class faces basic facts.

In March the federal government created the most expensive new entitlement in four decades, even as the bond rating company Moody’s Investors Service warned that debt levels could soon precipitate a downgrade in U.S. Treasury bonds. The main opposition party fought the bill by decrying “cuts” to Medicare, and it has kept itself at arm’s length from one of the few politicians talking seriously about long-term reform.

Today may be terrible, but tomorrow is going to be much worse, at least as measured by such metrics as deficits, debt, and entitlement spending. In an April speech, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke laid out the misery that awaits us. “The arithmetic is, unfortunately, quite clear,” he said. “To avoid large and unsustainable budget deficits, the nation will ultimately have to choose among higher taxes, modifications to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, less spending on everything else from education to defense, or some combination of the above.”

Yet in the very next paragraph, Bernanke displayed the kind of cowardice that got us into and has helped extend our awful economic mess: “Today the economy continues to operate well below its potential, which implies that a sharp near-term reduction in our fiscal deficit is probably neither practical nor advisable. However, nothing prevents us from beginning now to develop a credible plan for meeting our long-run fiscal challenges.”

States, counties, and municipalities, lacking Bernanke’s ability to print money, do not have the luxury of “beginning now to develop a credible plan” for the future. They are flat out of money in the present. But they too refuse to face reality.



Read the whole thing.

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Bad Moon Rising.

Leadbelly: The House of the Rising Sun.

What Arizona's Immigration Law Really Says.

The reaction from advocates for illegal immigrants to SB 1070 -- which, according to opinion polls, is supported by some 70% of Arizonans -- can only be described as incendiary and irresponsible, not to mention patently inaccurate. Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony invoked images of Nazi Germany and Soviet totalitarianism. Reform Immigration for America, an umbrella coalition of pro-amnesty groups, warned ominously that "it's racial profiling, and it encapsulates the hatred we are fighting." ACORN's Bertha Lewis declared, "If this bill passes, Arizona is declaring itself an apartheid state."

SB 1070 is not a mandate for Arizona police to seek out illegal immigrants. It conforms fully with the Constitution's 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Under the law, Arizona police are prohibited from racially profiling or stopping anybody merely because of appearance or ethnicity. They may inquire about immigration status only if there is justification for the stop under the Constitution -- such as investigating a possible crime -- and there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is in the U.S. illegally.

And what is reasonable suspicion? Reasonable suspicion might include the lack of any sort of valid U.S. identification documents that police officers routinely request from anyone who is lawfully stopped. The law expressly states that race, color or ethnicity does not constitute reasonable suspicion of illegal presence in the U.S. In reality, SB 1070 does nothing more than require police in Arizona to protect the citizenry and uphold responsibilities abrogated by the federal government.

More.

The Abstract Party vs. the Concrete Party.

Sometimes I think the biggest cleave in politics is between the Abstract Party and the Concrete Party. The Abstraction Party is largely, but not entirely, the liberal Democrats, and the Concrete Party is largely, but not entirely, the conservative Republicans.

The Abstract Party thinks, of course, in abstractions, and elevates these abstractions -- often speculative or plain fantastical -- over real-life human lives, the concrete, the real, the demonstrable, the solid. And part of what sustains the Abstract Party is their faith, a religious faith, really, that what they "know" abstractly they know with 100% surety, so if they're told by their priests (their politicians and pundits) that it's better in a the long run that some dirty farmers are bankrupted and die penniless than we allow the delta smelt to die off, then they just believe that, on faith (as it's speculative, and who has anyway of knowing what's best in the long run; in the long run, as they say, we're all dead), and simply push forward with plans that result in catastrophic ruin for real-life people because they are so damn sure their belief in a speculative abstraction trumps any of that.

As a member of the Concrete Party, that gives me great pause. I don't really possess that level of intellectual arrogance. I can't believe in speculation and abstraction enough to think that, when the rubber meets the road, I can choose obliterative poverty for an entire region of the country with the confidence that I'm doing the right thing by basically ending human lives.

The Abstract Party has done an awful lot of evil in the world. I'm going full Godwin here to note that the Nazis were a party of abstraction, fueled by the unproven belief, which they nevertheless were willing to kill for, so sure of it were they, the Jews were somehow responsible for just about every ill in Germany and that some abstract and speculative Utopia would arise if only the lands could be purged of the Jews.

Elevating, again, a belief in some dreamy abstraction over the real and inarguable suffering created by it.


More.

Will California’s Tech Firms Stay?

Measured by per-household state and local government spending, California ranks third-highest in the nation, behind Alaska and New York. The state government is trying desperately to squeeze money out of any profitable activity to meet the crippling costs. Further, California continues to impose onerous regulations on the private sector. High taxes and stifling regulations give companies a strong incentive to move elsewhere. In this increasingly business-hostile environment, will Silicon Valley’s unique entrepreneurial spirit survive?

Read the whole thing.

Why Do Feminists Hate Female Flag Football?

In the NYT Sunday, a few high-powered females slammed high school flag football for girls, which apparently is really popular in Florida and some other states with football cultures. Flag football is even a varsity sport in Florida and Alaska. So, isn't this great? Title IX working at its best? Not for some people.

More.

Duke Ellington’s music and race in America.


More than half a century after the Civil War, the most famous night club in New York was a mock plantation. The bandstand was done up as a white-columned mansion, the backdrop painted with cotton bushes and slave quarters. And the racial fantasy extended well beyond décor: whites who came to Harlem to be entertained were not to be discomfited by the presence of non-entertaining Negroes.

All the performers were black—or, in the case of the chorus girls, café au lait—and all the patrons white, if not by force of law then by force of the thugs at the door. Ellington had to ask permission for friends to see his show. Ironically, it was the Cotton Club that allowed Ellington to expand his talents, by employing him to arrange and compose for a variety of dancers, singers, miscellaneous acts, entr’actes, and theatrical revues.

His most extraordinary talent, however, may have been for making the best of tainted opportunities. For the big revues, with their plots about black savages and threatened maidens, he devised music of sophistication and cheekily exotic allure, under such titles as “Jungle Blues,” “Jungle Night in Harlem,” and—sinister little masterpiece—“The Mooche.” But even before the band sounded a note it delivered a statement: impeccably dressed in matching tuxedos and boutonnières, its members were of a class with the biggest swells in the room. And Ellington was the swellest of all: unfailingly soigné, magisterially presiding over the urban jungle, he stood untouched and never lost his smile.

A Hidden History of Evil: Why doesn’t anyone care about the unread Soviet archives?


In the world’s collective consciousness, the word “Nazi” is synonymous with evil. It is widely understood that the Nazis’ ideology—nationalism, anti-Semitism, the autarkic ethnic state, the Führer principle—led directly to the furnaces of Auschwitz. It is not nearly as well understood that Communism led just as inexorably, everywhere on the globe where it was applied, to starvation, torture, and slave-labor camps. Nor is it widely acknowledged that Communism was responsible for the deaths of some 150 million human beings during the twentieth century. The world remains inexplicably indifferent and uncurious about the deadliest ideology in history.

For evidence of this indifference, consider the unread Soviet archives. Pavel Stroilov, a Russian exile in London, has on his computer 50,000 unpublished, untranslated, top-secret Kremlin documents, mostly dating from the close of the Cold War. He stole them in 2003 and fled Russia. Within living memory, they would have been worth millions to the CIA; they surely tell a story about Communism and its collapse that the world needs to know. Yet he can’t get anyone to house them in a reputable library, publish them, or fund their translation. In fact, he can’t get anyone to take much interest in them at all.



The rest is here.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Greatest Cricket Team of All Time...From a Literary Point of View.

The creator of Peter Pan, Sir James M. Barrie, was an enthusiastic cricketer and assembled the most extraordinary amateur cricket team ever to have taken the field. Some of the Edwardian England’s most famous authors including Arthur Conan Doyle, A. A. Milne, P. G. Wodehouse, and Jerome K. Jerome, regularly turned out for Barrie’s team from 1890 until 1913, when the team was brought to an end by the First World War.

The team also included Rudyard Kipling and H. G. Wells.

Details are here.

I Will Survive.

Fernando.

Pres Calderon interview w Wolf Blitzer

The "Money Quote" is at about 1:50.

Friday, May 21, 2010

More on Representations of Mohammed in Art.


Well it turns out that the tradition of not picturing Mohammed is a relatively recent one - one that really only appeared in the 1600's. So for almost a thousand years after Mohammed's death, it was acceptable and even common in some Muslim regions to draw him in full form. During the Caliphate period there were even coins minted with his face on them. Even the burqa which has become a symbol of traditional Islam didn't appear until after Mohammed died and was until recently confined mostly to women in the harems of the aristocracy.

A lot of behavior that radical Islamists insist on today in western countries are actually traditions that got added to Islam long after it was founded. So to make a stretched analogy - it's as if the Amish somehow got control of Christianity and decided that the fashions and practices of the 1700's define how a true Christian must act today. And threaten to kill you if you dare disagree.

Link.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

North Korea Warns of War if Punished for Ship Sinking

SEOUL, South Korea – Tensions deepened Thursday on the Korean peninsula as South Korea accused North Korea of firing a torpedo that sank a naval warship, killing 46 sailors in the country's worst military disaster since the Korean War.

President Lee Myung-bak vowed "stern action" for the provocation following the release of long-awaited results from a multinational investigation into the March 26 sinking near the Koreas' tense maritime border. North Korea, reacting swiftly, called the results a fabrication, and warned that any retaliation would trigger war. It continued to deny involvement in the sinking of the warship Cheonan.

"If the (South Korean) enemies try to deal any retaliation or punishment, or if they try sanctions or a strike on us .... we will answer to this with all-out war," Col. Pak In Ho of North Korea's navy told broadcaster APTN in an exclusive interview in Pyongyang.

An international civilian-military investigation team said evidence overwhelmingly proves a North Korean submarine fired a homing torpedo that caused a massive underwater blast that tore the Cheonan apart. Fifty-eight sailors were rescued from the frigid Yellow Sea waters, but 46 perished.



More.

Lee Harvey Oswald and the Liberal Crack-Up.

Liberalism entered the 1960's as the vital force in American politics, riding a wave of accomplishment running from the Progressive era through the New Deal and beyond. A handsome young president, John F. Kennedy, had just been elected on the promise to extend the unfinished agenda of reform. Liberalism owned the future, as Orwell might have said. Yet by the end of the decade, liberal doctrine was in disarray, with some of its central assumptions broken by the experience of the immediately preceding years. It has yet to recover.

What happened? There is, of course, a litany of standard answers, from the political to the cultural to the psychological, each seeking to explain the great upheaval summed up in that all-purpose phrase, “the 60's.” To some, the relevant factor was a long overdue reaction to the repressions and pieties of 1950's conformism. To others, the watershed event was the escalating war in Vietnam, sparking an opposition movement that itself escalated into widespread disaffection from received political ideas and indeed from larger American purposes. Still others have pointed to the simmering racial tensions that would burst into the open in riots and looting, calling into question underlying assumptions about the course of integration if not the very possibility of social harmony.

No doubt, the combination of these and other events had much to do with driving the nation's political culture to the Left in the latter half of the decade. But there can be no doubt, either, that an event from the early 1960's—namely, the assassination of Kennedy himself—contributed heavily. As many observers have noted, Kennedy's death seemed somehow to give new energy to the more extreme impulses of the Left, as not only left-wing ideas but revolutionary leftist leaders—Marx, Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and Castro among them—came in the aftermath to enjoy a greater vogue in the United States than at any other time in our history. By 1968, student radicals were taking over campuses and joining protest demonstrations in support of a host of extreme causes.

It is one of the ironies of the era that many young people who in 1963 reacted with profound grief to Kennedy's death would, just a few years later, come to champion a version of the left-wing doctrines that had motivated his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. But why should this have been so? What was it about mid-century liberalism that allowed it to be knocked so badly off balance by a single blow?



The whole article is here.

Mark Steyn on Everybody Draws Mohammed Day.

I'm bored with death threats. And, as far as I'm concerned, if that's your opening conversational gambit, then any obligation on my part to "cultural sensitivity" and "mutual respect" is over. The only way to stop this madness destroying our liberties is (as Ayaan Hirsi Ali puts it) to spread the risk. Everybody Draws Mohammed Day does just that.

More.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

“Liberal” Defined

Someone who’s still angry about slavery 145 years after it ended, but wants you to “get over 9/11″.

Stolen from IMAO.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Awesome.

Gov Christie calls S-L columnist thin-skinned for inquiring about his 'confrontational tone'











The Problem With Woodrow Wilson.

If you want to claim everything stemming from the Western Enlightenment tradition as “progressive” you’re free to do so. But analytically, where does that get you? By this logic we’re all progressives—and by all, I mean conservatives, libertarians, Bolsheviks, liberals, anarchists, and Maoists—because we’re not Medievalists. But if progressive is to mean something more concrete and specific—say, the ideas associated with the New Republic, Herbert Croly, Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive Party, and the administration of Woodrow Wilson—then Scott’s use of “progressive” is almost meaningless.

More.

The Media Narrative.

What makes the "Neutral Story Line" not neutral at all is that the media seems most interested, each cycle, in the "Neutral Story Li9ne" that hurts the Republicans more. For instance, the amount of money flowing into elections became a more and more intense problem as more and more money flowed to Republicans, putting Democrats at a disadvantage. The supposedly Neutral Story Line doesn't really seem all that Neutral when you consider that there's-too-much-money-in-politics reached its crisis stage during Bush's 2004 election, when he spent more money than anyone in history, but suddenly wasn't a problem at all when Obama topped him in 2008. This despite the fact that Bush actually had a higher percentage of small-money donors than Obama (as a percentage of total money donated), and Obama had a bigger percentage of high-dollar donors.

The media loves these story lines, because facially they appear neutral -- "money in politics is a danger" has no on-its-face, explicit partisan import -- but the timing of when to deploy a particular story line is highly partisan, and always made with the Democratic Party's best interests in mind.

Thus, when Bush refused the campaign spending limits, and spent only private money, it was nearly a constitutional crisis; when Obama did the same, it was a triumph of people-powered politics.

Are conspiracy theories bad? Well, right now, when the Republican base is vulnerable to buying into conspiracy theories about Obama's birthplace or sabotaged deep-drilling oil rigs, conspiracy theories are bad, and examples of the Paranoid Style of American Politics.

On the other hand, when former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright confessed to Mort Kondracke she feared Bush had actually captured bin Ladin and was secretly holding him only to publicize his capture on the eve of the 2004 elections, a party's trafficking in conspiracy theories wasn't even worth noting.

Certainly such conspiracy theories weren't worth noting when Bush and Cheney (and their deadly cabal) were accused of sabotaging a plane in order to murder a sitting and popular liberal US Senator.

More.

Scientists Discover Seaweed Kills Coral.

No word yet on whether Obama has blamed Bush for this yet.

The article is here.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

So I'm Taking Mr. Tibbs For A Walk...

Mr Tibbs.

...and we stop at this vending machine for street parking (Chicago has replaced city owned parking meters with this privately owned system-it's VERY unpopular). Tibbs being a dog, and this being a walk lets loose a stream all over this thing that would make a racehorse proud. As he's...unloading...this police car pulls up next to us. At first I'm a bit startled. The cop rolls down his window, smiles at the both of us and says:

"Good dog, next you have to go hit the Mayor's house".

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Ernie Harwell has Died.

Ernie Harwell (closest to camera) and George Kell calling a Tigers game in 1961.

The longtime Tigers broadcaster was 92.

I first heard Ernie cover a game in 1987. Harry Caray, the announcer for the Cubs had a stroke and number of guest announcers were brought in to cover for him while he was on the mend. George Will put in a fine effort as did then sitting President Ronald Reagan (a former Cubs announcer for WHO radio). Perhaps most impressive were his colleagues. One after another, virtually every current and many retired major league broadcaster took turns keeping Harry's seat warm while he recovered. Cub fans were given the remarkable opportunity hear America's game called by it's greatest voices. For me anyway Jack Buck, Vin Scully, and Mel Allen were among the very best and it was great to hear Jack Brickhouse behind the mic again. But the best...the best by far was Ernie Harwell of the Detroit Tigers.

He had been the announcer for both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants before moving on to the Tigers in 1960. By the time I heard him he was already a legend. It seemed an honor just to hear him call a game. In a profession where you're paid to talk and "dead air" is feared more than anything else, Harwell was an anachronism. He had the self discipline to not talk. Better than anyone else I've ever heard, Harwell understood the natural rhythms of what is essentially a nineteenth century game. He allowed it to speak for itself, and in turn the listener was transported to to another time and place. A place where baseball's centrality in American life was absolutely unquestioned. It was old fashioned and decidedly unflashy...and wonderful. It was what baseball was meant to be.

He will be missed.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Burden of Unions.

Do you have to love labor unions to be a good Democrat? That was the question raised last year by the unpopular bailouts of unionized Detroit automakers. It's been raised again this year by California's budget crisis, created at least in part by generous pensions for unionized public employees. I think the answer is no. It's time for Democrats, even liberal Democrats, to start looking at unions and unionism with deep skepticism.

More.

Monday, May 03, 2010

How Much Does Society Owe to People Who Don't Pay Their Debts?

Without defending the cockamamie system of determining credit scores (in which even a default and foreclosure can end up dinging your credit history only a little bit more than a late payment on a store credit card), one thing needs to be clear: The purpose of a credit report is not to decide whether your problems are your own fault or whether you're a good person. It's to give lenders a sense of the probability that if they lend you money, you will pay it back according to the terms you agreed to before God, country and family. The loan modification's federal imprimatur does not change the fact that you are getting away with not honoring the terms of your agreement.

Leave aside that preventing a proven bad borrower from going further into debt is probably the best thing you can do for that person. Exactly how "fair" is it to the vast majority of borrowers, who make their payments on time and on the money, to allow bad borrowers to make consequence-free changes to their mortgages? The credit consequence of deadbeating is already minor considering the gravity of a mortgage default. Debt forgiven under a loan mod is already going untaxed. Hundreds of thousands of mortgage scofflaws are already enjoying years of payment-free living just because banks don't want to foreclose. Should there be no penalty at all for going bad on a loan?

More.