Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fun with math

Courtesy of my brother (and sometimes co-blogger) Mark, here's a fun exercise that revolves around a simple mathematical formula.

Movie test:

Be honest and DON'T look at the movie list below until you have done the math!

Try this test and find out what movie is your favorite.

This amazing math quiz can likely predict which of 18 movies you would enjoy the most. It really works!

Pick a number from 1-9.
Multiply it by 3.
Add 3.
Multiply by 3 again.

Now add the two digits of your answer together to find your predicted favorite movie in the list of 18 movies below.

The Movie List:
  1. Gone With The Wind
  2. E.T.
  3. Blazing Saddles
  4. Star Wars
  5. Forrest Gump
  6. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.
  7. Jaws
  8. Grease
  9. The Obama farewell speech of 2012
  10. Casablanca
  11. Jurassic Park
  12. Shrek
  13. Pirates of the Caribbean
  14. Titanic
  15. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
  16. Home Alone
  17. Mrs. Doubtfire
  18. Toy Story

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Liberty's last gasp

Attention: If you live in Indiana and home invasion robbery is your thing, start dressing like a cop.

This past Thursday, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled 3-2 that citizens are not allowed to resist a police officer's unlawful entry into their homes. The fourth amendment to the US Constitution is dead, at least in Indiana:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The language is pretty unequivocal, but those three Hoosiers feel that the language is a bit dated, saying (emphasis mine):
We believe ... a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.
Stunning. The reference to "modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence" implies that the nature of our rights as enumerated in the Constitution is adaptable and subject to change over time, yet I'm not sure what part of "shall not be violated" the justices fail to understand. As for the "public policy" language, I'm not even sure where to begin except to say that I'm pretty sure public policy has little to do with our rights under the Constitution. The bottom line, though, is that this is what happens when liberals' notions of a malleable Constitution meet reality.

OK, so the Indiana justices didn't actually rule that cops can enter anyone's home without a warrant or probable cause, but that's the end result. Further in the ruling they say that the proper course of action when a cop commits an unlawful armed home invasion is to take it up with the courts. The same courts, presumably, that issue shit decisions such as this one.

I, for one, wouldn't physically resist an armed man forcibly entering my home. I would, however, grab the phone and dial 911 and tell them that an armed man has just forced his way into my house. Even assuming the dispatcher was aware that a cop was already at my home for some reason, the ensuing confusion might be amusing.

But far better that this craptastic decision never needs to be tested and is brought to the US Supreme Court and struck down. Better yet, maybe Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels will read Alex Kauffman's open letter to him and act before it even gets to the Supremes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Slut walk? How about a pimp walk, too?

Just a little while ago on Twitter, Brittany Cohan tweeted this bit about an upcoming "Slut Walk" in DC:
So this is the first time I am seeing this...... (Late, I know- but WOW)
I've been hearing about these events for several weeks now, most recently about one in Boston. The link Brittany tweeted provides background on the rich history of the Slut Walk, which goes back, gee...nearly four months:
SlutWalk Toronto started because of a statement made on January 24th, 2011 by the Toronto Police advising young women not to "dress like a slut" in order to be safe. Toronto's Slutwalk was an organized response on April 3, and many cities have followed in its wake, including the upcoming Washington DC participation scheduled for August 13th of this year.
So maybe the Toronto police were a bit crass with their advice, but were they wrong? Is it really wrong to advise people to engage in a little common sense to avoid crime?

For as far back as I can remember we've been advised not to advertise wealth when out and about, especially in strange locations; leave the Rolex watch at home, don't flash lots of cash, that kind of thing. Should there also be a PimpWalk in DC, then? You know...everyone put on their finest Armani suit, wear lots of expensive bling and parade around SE Washington DC at night?

I don't subscribe to the notion that a woman asks to be raped by the way she dresses any more than a wealthy-looking man asks to be robbed by the way he dresses, but there is such a thing as sensible risk management.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Credit where it's due

My friends will hate me for this, but here goes...

Osama Bin Laden is dead. Yes, the cocksucker is dead. I'm thankful to President Obama for the method in which Osama Bin Laden was dispatched. We've been waiting for this day for a long time, and I was never sure I'd see it.

Barack Obama could have taken the easy way out and allowed the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan to be leveled by Predator drone missiles and a few JDAMs dropped from B2 bombers, but he made the right choice in authorizing a special operations team to go in and do it "by hand". So, yeah, I'm giving Obama some props for this.

Yeah, I's not like Obama himself went in with guns blazing and blew Bin Laden away. That shit happens only in the cheesiest of movies. But once the military and intelligence community pinpointed OBL's location, Obama would have been presented with a menu of options for how to deal with him. The selections at the top of the list would have included air strike or insertion of a special ops team to take him out. Reportedly, Obama wanted incontrovertible evidence that we'd gotten the bastard and opted for door number two.

The decision was a risky one not just operationally but politically, and could very well have ended up being yet another event to compare Obama to Jimmy Carter had things gone wrong, but he took the chance anyway. So the man has more balls than I thought.

This is not to say that I'll vote for the man in 2012, but I'm willing to give credit where it's due.

On the critical side...

The administration went to great lengths to stress that Bin Laden's remains were given proper treatment in accordance with Islamic custom and that he was properly buried at sea. My reaction to that is...who the fuck cares? The same bed-wetters who worry about stupid shit like that are the ones who say that OBL and his ideology don't represent Islam. So, again, who the fuck cares if his burial was properly Islamic?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

With heroes like this, who needs villains?

Nothing brings into sharper focus the enmity the American Left has for their own country than the case of US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of passing reams of classified documents to the anarchists at Wikileaks. Since his arrest nearly a year ago, leftist bloggers have taken up Manning's cause, and at least one Democratic member of Congress has jumped on the Manning bandwagon. Most recently, a group of Manning supporters paid big bucks to attend an Obama fundraiser just so they could interrupt the President and sing a song about Manning:
Twenty-one members of the Bradley Manning Support Network—some donning shirts that read "Free Bradley Manning"—interrupted the president's speech at a $5,000-a-seat event at the St. Regis hotel in San Francisco.

They broke into a song protesting his treatment in military custody: "Alone in a 6x12 cell sits Bradley / 23 hours a day is night / The 5th and 8th Amendments say this kind of thing ain't right / We paid our dues, where's our change?"
For all their posturing about due process, Constitutional rights and allegations of mistreatment of Manning, it's clear that this is really all about the fact that in the eyes of his supporters, Manning did nothing wrong. To them, what Manning is accused of doing is honorable. If all they were concerned with was due process and his treatment before a trial, they'd have taken up the cause of these guys, too, right?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Traveler's hell

I was out in the San Francisco Bay Area all last week, and by yesterday morning I was really ready to get home.

My day started yesterday with a 4AM wake-up for a 6AM flight (I was staying at the SFO Marriott so no need to get up ealier). Weather's good, and I get my rental car returned in short order and get through security with no problem. Delta starts boarding the flight about 35 minutes before scheduled departure, so all's good. I've even got first class upgrades for both legs of the trip (SFO-ATL and ATL-RIC). The trouble started about 10 minutes before scheduled departure when the captain came on the PA and announced that we had to wait for a de-icing crew to come and de-ice us. Shouldn't set us back by more than a few minutes, he says, and that he should be able to make it up en route. That's all well and good, was 55 fucking degrees outside (that's about 13 sodding degrees to my Brit friends). To top it off, there was no evidence of ice, frost or even a little bit of dew ANYWHERE.

That brief wait for the de-icing crew turned into around 45 minutes because -- wait for it -- there was another aircraft ahead of us for de-icing. When the guys finally show up, there's no de-icing truck, just a scissors jack used for loading cargo and a guy standing on it with what looks like a garden hose. He proceeds to sort of nonchalantly spray both wings of our plane, and we're on our way from the gate an hour behind scheduled departure. But hey, I'm not worried...I've got a 2.5 hour layover in Atlanta which has just gotten shorter.

Fast forward 6 hours or so. I've had my drink and a smoke at the Heineken Bar & Grill (Concourse A, upper level at ATL for those who like to drink AND smoke while awaiting connecting flights) and I'm at the gate for my flight to RIC. Boarding is running slightly late because the aircraft got in 5-10 minutes behind schedule (your attention is invited to Saturday's violent weather along the east coast), but we're still looking good for an on time departure. Brats and wheelchairs board, then first class. Just as the first couple of coach passengers are getting on, the gate agent runs down the jetway and on the plane to tell the flight attendant that she had to halt the boarding process. It seems they had the wrong aircraft type loaded in the computer they'd have to reload it and reboard those pax who'd already been boarded. One rather unhappy camper (not me) loses his first class seat during the reshuffle, and we push back from the gate about 50 minutes late and start taxiing to queue up for the runway.

But wait! The captain gets on the PA and says that due to severe weather in the Richmond area they may have to hold us on the ground for a while. No, wait! On second thought, if we can takeoff RIGHT FREAKING NOW! we might beat the weather! So...high speed taxi to the head of the line, hard turn onto the runway, and off we go. I thought I saw the pilots of about 17 airplanes behind us giving us the finger.

A couple glasses of wine later, we're starting the initial descent into Richmond. Did I mention they were forecasting violent weather in the Richmond area? Yes, I believe I did. Our MD-88 proceeds to get tossed about like a kite in a gale, and because that's so much gosh-darned fun, we enter a holding pattern at around 5000 feet just so we can enjoy it a little while longer while the REALLY violent weather clears the area around the airport. Unfortunately, nobody thought to tell the guys who fueled the plane that we'd be stopping at an amusement park so we started running low on fuel. Evidently, this storm had already passed through Raleigh, so off we go to RDU for refueling before heading back to RIC.

In retrospect, I guess I shouldn't complain that after all that, we only arrived 2.5 hours late in Richmond. Scheduled arrival time was 17:02, and we arrived at around 19:30.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A (hypothetical) conversation with a climate alarmist

It's hard when you're a climate alarmism skeptic to carry on a conversation about global warming climate change climate challenges with a true-believing climate alarmist because once they find out you're a skeptic they invariably end the conversation and storm off in a huff, presumably to breathe into a paper bag for a few minutes before dashing off to an Al Gore seminar to have their fears validated. So here I'll try and speculate how such a discussion might go if an alarmist ever stuck around for a discussion.
SCENE: Office break room in April, with snow falling outside the window.

Me: Wow...I could really use some of that "global warming" right about now.

Climate Alarmist: It's not called global warming any more.

Me: Oh, that's right, excuse climate change.

CA: No, it's called "global climate challenges" now.

Me: So we've gone from the fairly specific "global warming" to the rather nebulous "global climate change" to the totally amorphous "global climate challenges"?

CA: Um, yeah.

Me: But what does that even mean?

CA: That we'll be faced with desertification, rampant flooding and other forms of climate extremes.

Me: You mean half the planet will be desert while the other half is under water?

CA: Well, not exactly. It's complicated.

Me: And how do we know this? I mean, just how do we know that weather patterns and cycles are significantly different now from, say, ten thousand years ago? It's not like we have concrete global historical weather data going back more than 150 years or so.

CA: Climate scientists use proxy data to figure that out.

Me: And just what are the proxies for precise historical weather data?

CA: Well, it's complicated, but they look at tree rings, among other things.

Me: Ah, tree rings. Well I guess that settles it. So everyone living in coastal areas should immediately move to higher ground, which will soon be desert?

CA: It's not quite that simple--

Me: No, of course it isn't.

CA: --but it's generally accepted that sea levels will gradually rise over the next 50 to 100 years and that some areas will experience drought while some very dry areas will see increased rainfall.

Me: And that's never happened before in the history of the planet? Ever?

CA: Well, um, yeah. It has.

Me: And why is this a crisis now?

CA: If we don't stop the warming of the planet soon--

Me: Wait a second...didn't you just say it's not called "Global Warming" any more?

CA: Uh...

Me: First it's warming, then it's not, then it is again. What is it, exactly, that's causing these "global climate challenges"?

CA: Greenhouse gases.

Me: Which do....what?

CA: Um, raise temperatures. Like in a greenhouse.

Me: So, the problem once again is global warming.

CA: It's complicated.

Me: Yeah, so you've said.

CA: Could you hand me that empty paper bag over there?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Closetgate: What if Cheney did it?

Yeah, I know...the whole "what if Bush/Cheney did it" thing is getting rather threadbare, and generally speaking, the answer is always the same: the media would be howling about [insert latest outrage here] for days.

But with "Closetgate", as the story of the hapless press pool reporter confined to a closet during VP Joe Biden's appearance at a fundraiser has become known by some on Twitter, the answer I think would be "it wouldn't have happened in the first place".

During the eight years of George W. Bush's administration, I don't recall this kind of deliberate isolation from the media. In the little more than two years that Obama has been in office, we've heard one story after another of "the most transparent White House in history" holding the media at arm's length or being prevented outright from covering White House activities.

The story of Orlando Sentinel reporter Scott Powers being confined to a closet -- and guarded -- during a fundraiser at which Biden was to speak is just the latest example of this administration's contempt for the media. This White House is like a college fraternity with a passel of pass-around chicks (if you'll forgive the crudity) who hang out for parties while the frat brothers take their turns with them in a back bedroom. This is effectively what happened to Powers...a low-level White House functionary kept him hidden away while all the beautiful people swilled cocktails and fed on delicacies until Joe Biden wanted to take him out and play with him for a few minutes, after which he was once again hustled off out of sight. But you can bet that just like the pass-around chick, that reporter will be back for more.

Maybe the reason there was so much media coverage of the Bush White House's various fumbles compared to those of Obama's is that the Bush White House actually let the press cover them.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Noted Democratic loudmouth dumps on middle America

It's no secret that Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is often a hysterical douchebag in Congress. The guy obviously loves the media attention he gets from his temper tantrums, and in fact I often find him pretty amusing. But maybe it's time his handlers kept him away from Twitter:

Weiner's smear was directed at Iowa Republicans who booed him when Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) mentioned his name at a conservative conference in Iowa.

A word of advice to Mr. Weiner: You're not in high school any more. You're not tweeting anonymously at night about the ruffians who doubtlessly doled out daily wedgies and swirlies to you. You represent New York's 9th fucking Congressional District in Washington and need to start acting like it. I've no doubt that with this tweet you managed to offend the 40% of your constituents who didn't vote for you in the last election, but who you still represent.

Grow the fuck up, Weiner.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

About that "Odyssey Dawn" thing...

As a long-time military guy, I've always hated military operation names that seemed hand-crafted for public consumption and subsequent printing on t-shirts and bumper stickers. "Desert Shield" and its follow-up "Desert Storm" come immediately to mind. "Just Cause", the operation to invade Panama and capture Manuel Noriega, was to me a particularly unsubtle bit of salesmanship, and operations "Iraqi Freedom" and "Enduring Freedom" are particularly egregious examples of bad names for military operations.

World War 2 saw such cryptic names as "Market Garden", which was the Allied operation to secure bridgeheads and strategic positions along rivers in Germany and the Netherlands. Now that's a good name for an operation. The Allied invasion of Normandy was called simply "Overlord", another good name for a military operation. In more recent history, Israel dubbed its operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip "Cast Lead".

In the 1980s, we had names for exercises under 9th Air Force that all seemed to begin with the word "Coronet" followed my some apparently random noun. They were all horribly boring and mundane, and therefore good names.

As operation names go, "Odyssey Dawn" doesn't completely suck by my standards. While I suspect some general officer somewhere thought it sounded cool (and thus potentially t-shirtable), at least it doesn't smack of some PR flak's idea of a marketable name.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fair wages

Courtesy of my buddy "Big Dog" Mike, who sent this via e-mail:
The Alabama Department of Labor discovered a dairy farmer was not paying proper wages to his help and sent an agent out to investigate.

"I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them," the Department of Labor employee said to the farmer upon arriving at his dairy.

"Well, there's my farm hand who has been with me for three years. I pay him $200 a week plus free room and board," the farmer explained. "Then there's the mentally challenged worker. He works about 18 hours every day and does about 90% of all the work around here. He makes about $10 per week, pays his own room and board, and I buy him a bottle of bourbon every Saturday night so he can cope with life. He also sleeps with my wife occasionally."

"That's the guy I want to talk to, the mentally challenged one," the Department of Labor employee said.

"That would be me," the farmer replied.

Monday, March 14, 2011

CNN's subtle lie

CNN's web site betrays their editorial bias with this headline, screen capped here for posterity just in case they change it. The headline accompanies this article, which manages to contradict the headline right in the first paragraph:
P.J. Crowley abruptly resigned Sunday as State Department spokesman over controversial comments he made about the Bradley Manning case.
So, over what issue did Crowley resign? Was it a principled protest over Pvt. Bradley Manning's treatment as the headline implies, or was it in disgrace over his comments about his treatment? Clearly, CNN would prefer you believe it was the former, and hopes you won't actually read the article which makes it readily apparent that Crowley was fired.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The labor debate, before the invention of lying

Not long ago, there was a Rickey Gervais movie called "The Invention Of Lying", which took place in an alternate universe in which people were incapable of telling anything but the unvarnished truth.

Let's superimpose that alternate universe on today's debate over public sector unions and their deathgrip on the public fisc. Our intrepid reporter is cruising labor demonstrations, statehouses, and Chicago hotels filled with Democrats subverting the legislative process in their home states.
SCENE: Big labor rally with lots of people dressed in red, waving their fists in the air.

Intrepid Reporter (to stout 40-ish woman): Excuse me, ma'am...are you a public school teacher?

Stout Woman: Yes, indeedy!

IR: And what are you demonstrating about today?

SW: Well, duh! Those terrorist Koch Whores who are trying to destroy our very way of life!

IR: Oh, you mean the Republicans?

SW: Exactly!

IR: And how are they doing that? Destroying our very way of life, that is.

SW: Well, they want us to work and contribute reasonable amounts of money to our medical benefits and retirement plans, without the right to dictate to the taxpayers how much is reasonable.

IR: Just like private sector workers, you mean?

SW: Exactly!

IR: Oh. So tell me...why did you become a teacher?

SW: Pretty obvious, really. I wanted employment for life, a decent salary, and a nice, fat pension when I retire at an absurdly young age.

IR: Just like private sector workers, you mean?

SW: Exa-- aw, I see what you did there! A regular comedian, you are!

SCENE: Cocktail lounge of a Chicago hotel.

IR (to a distinguished-looking 50-ish gentleman): Excuse me sir, but aren't you Senator Fleebagger from Wisconsin?

Sen. Fleebagger (glancing around furtively): Uh, yes...yes I am.

IR: Why are you here in Chicago instead of back in Madison representing your constituents?

SF: If I had any real interest in "representing my constituents", as you so quaintly put it, do you really think I'd be here? I can get martinis every bit as good as this one at home.

IR: Well, if you have no interest in representing your constituents, why did you run for election to the Wisconsin state senate?

SF: Stepping stone. You see where a state senate seat got our current president, don't you?

IR: Uh, OK. But aren't you just the least bit afraid that this stunt might jeopardize your reelection chances for the next term?

SF: Oh, hell no. I'll be running for the US Senate before this term is up, and my ill-informed and short-on-memory electorate won't let me down.

IR: Right, then. So tell me...why are you so strongly opposed to Gov. Walker's proposal to repair the state's budget?

SF: Look, I'm a Democrat, right? We Democrats depend on unions not just for campaign cash but for campaign workers. Without large, powerful unions that are flush with cash we'd never have a chance against Republicans in any election.

IR: So for you and your Democratic colleagues, this has nothing to do with workers' rights, then?

SF: Bwahahahaha! No.

SCENE: Wisconsin State House, hallway.

IR (to attractive, mid-30s woman): Pardon me, Senator Pachyderm...can you take a few questions?

Sen. Pachyderm: Sure, if you make it quick.

IR: What do you make of your Democratic colleagues' absence from debate on the Governor's budget repair bill?

SP: Well, clearly, they're subverting the democratic process for their own political ends.

IR: But don't you think they have the right to make their position known in the most forceful way possible?

SP: Of course, and the place do that is right here, on the senate floor. That's what they were elected to do.

IR: I assume you're in favor of the Governor's bill?

SP: Yes. We simply can't afford the continued high costs of pay and benefits and we have to prevent future extortion by the unions. And if it levels the playing field in the next election, then booyah!
And there you have it...the interviews we'll never see.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

UN furiously wringing its hands over Libya

For over a week now, Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi's loyalists have been murdering protesters in the streets, and going so far as to bomb them from the air. There are even reports that funeral processions for protesters are being attacked by Qaddafi's thugs, as are emergency medical service crews when responding to calls for help. Italy's foreign minister puts the death toll at north of 1,000 and Qaddafi's son promises to fight to "the last bullet" and threatens "rivers of blood". And what's the UN action been so far? They can't agree to boot Libya off the UN Human Rights Council or to even investigate the Libyan government's actions.

I realize that these guys are mainly career diplomats given to weak speech, but this is ridiculous:
The Thai ambassador also said he hoped that any resolutions against Libya would be taken seriously by Tripoli.

"If there is a unity... with members, observers of the council speaking with one voice, I think concerned countries will have to listen and I hope, be cooperative," he said.

He also spoke out against precipitous action to exclude Libya

"Let's address this situation first, then other issues of course we'll have to discuss in the council if members are going to discuss," he stressed.
The Thai ambassador is not alone.
But with a majority of Asian and African nations -- backed by Russia, China and Cuba -- declining to support a draft resolution, diplomats said it was likely to be heavily watered down and perhaps not passed at all at the emergency meeting.

A text tabled at the 47-nation Council condemns "extremely grave" rights violations as forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi moved to crush a revolt against his 41-year rule over the past week.

[ ... ]

The only sign of a break in the normally solid bloc of Islamic, African and Asian states which -- with Russian, Chinese and Cuban support -- effectively controls the Council came with Jordan, Qatar, Senegal and the Maldives backing the draft.

But diplomats said this would not be enough to prevent the majority -- who work to shield each other from public criticism on their rights performance -- from blocking any meaningful action by the Council.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I just cut $258 billion from the federal budget...

...and I haven't even touched Defense spending yet.

The first thing I heard on the news this morning when I got up was how gosh-darned hard it would be for Congress and the White House to cut the budget by $100 billion. Given the size of the federal budget, I figured that just had to be a load of crap.

A quick Google search turned up this set of PDFs summarizing the executive branch budget for FY11. Most department and agency budgets break down to discretionary outlays, mandatory outlays and "credit activity", which I take to mean lending programs of various types. When considering an agency or department's total budget, I disregarded the credit activity, so cuts would clearly be even larger if I took those into consideration.

I basically ignored those budgets that were very small (under a billion or so) and looked at these:
  • Agriculture
  • Commmerce
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Health and Human Services
  • Homeland Security
  • Housing and Urban Development
  • Interior
  • Justice
  • Labor
  • State
  • Transportation
  • Treasury
  • Veteran's Affairs
  • Corps of Engineers
  • EPA
  • National Science Foundation
  • NASA
  • Small Business Administration
  • Social Security
When a corporate CEO is serious about cutting spending, he or she will go to the various business units and direct their respective heads to cut, say, 10% of their budget. In other words, do it or be fired and replaced with someone who will. So, let's do the same with the federal budget. Granted, the exercise would be nowhere near as straight forward as cutting a private sector budget. Those "mandatory outlays" are mandatory because they're required by law, so a process would be needed to fast track legislation to amend public law as needed.

The bottom line is that an across-the-board cut of 10% of the budgets listed above yields a savings of over $258 billion. If one includes the $719B Defense budget, an additional savings of $71B is realized. Note that this doesn't even take into account the budgets for the various intelligence agencies.

No, finding $100 billion to cut from the budget isn't that difficult.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The failure of PC, multi-culti thought

I've related the anecdote before here of a conversation I had with a very liberal friend of mine. I'd asked my friend first if he believed it was possible for one culture to be objectively superior to another, to which he emphatically replied "no". I then asked him if he believed in the existence of universal rights, those rights to which all human beings are unconditionally entitled. He saw the contradiction and said I'd "worked him into a corner". Indeed.

We're exhorted over and over again to "celebrate" all cultures and hold them in equal esteem. Yet in certain regions of Afghanistan, it's an accepted practice for grown men to take young boys as sexual playthings. In Saudi culture, women have a social standing roughly equivalent to that of breeding stock. In parts of Pakistan and elsewhere, women are routinely stoned as adulteresses for the crime of being raped. In Iran, homosexuals are hanged in public. And hardly a week goes by without a story in the news of a Muslim male killing a female family member to restore the family's honor.

Are these just cultural oddities that are to be laughed off so we can get on with the more lofty goal of celebrating those cultures? No. To claim that all cultures are on an equal moral footing is to deny the existence of universal human rights.

The logic here is simple and unassailable. If one believes in such universal rights then one cannot believe that all cultures are equal and worthy of being "celebrated". To believe both betrays not just a complete failure of logic but a despicable moral dishonesty.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The statement Obama will never make

If President Obama has any leadership qualities at all, he'd put a stop to the narrative currently running rampant that Tea Partiers, Sarah Palin and meaningless rhetoric caused Jared Lee Loughner to go on a rampage last Saturday. He might even come out with a statement something like this:
We were all shocked, horrified and deeply saddened by the events in Tucson over the weekend. In addition to the loss of six innocent lives, the life and future of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords hangs in the balance. We, as a nation, grieve for the lives lost last Saturday and offer our prayers for their families.

An attack on a member of Congress and a Federal judge is an attack on us all. It threatens the public's right to full and open access to their elected representatives, which is the lifeblood of our system of government. But just as damaging to our nation are those who would use such a tragedy to further their political ends and to silence the voices of their political opponents. That is not what we as Americans are all about and these actions only serve to divide us further.

We cannot know what drives a disturbed mind to such atrocities, but we can keep them from doing us further harm.
But Obama is first and foremost a politician and as long as the libel coming from the left serves his political purposes, he'll let it fester.

I'm not holding my breath.

Update: A version of this post was published in today's (1-11-2011) Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star editorial letters column.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

On inflamed rhetoric, media hypocrisy and unhinged gunmen

These are facts and are indisputable:

Fact: Far-left bloggers like Markos Moulitsas blame Sarah Palin's "targeting" map for the 2010 midterm elections for making Jared Loughner pull a gun and shoot 19 people, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). Rep. Giffords was one of the Congressional seats targeted for takeover on Palin's map.

Fact: Markos Moulitsas' own Daily Kos blog used a similar targeting metaphor to target Giffords in 2008, presumably for not being reliably liberal enough.

Fact: In 2009, when Major Nidal Hasan gunned down fellow service members at Ft. Hood while screaming "Alahu Akhbar", we were lectured by the media for days not to jump to conclusions about Hasan's motivations.

Fact: Before Jared Loughner's spent shell casings had time to cool, the media jumped all over the Giffords shooting as inflamed Tea Party rhetoric coming home to roost, implying Loughner was connected to the Tea Party movement.

Fact: What little information there is about Loughner's political inclinations indicate he leaned left. (@caitieparker on Twitter attended high school with Loughner and played in a band with him.)

Given these facts, how can one not conclude that there is a systematic and deliberate effort by Democrats and their collaborators in the media to use this horrific incident to smear their political opposition? If these facts don't convince you, maybe this Politico piece will:
“They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers,” said the Democrat. “Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.”
The Democrats and their allies on the far left are intellectually dishonest, morally bankrupt and undeserving of any claim to leadership of this country. Meanwhile, their media lapdogs betray their bias beyond a shadow of any doubt.

I'm done with the whole lot of them.

Update: Another fact...Loughner set his sights on Giffords in 2007, long before Palin's map came about. But don't expect any such inconvenient facts to stop the narrative.