Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
--C.S. Lewis--

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict

I don't say much about it, because let's face it, after 60+ years, there is very little that hasn't been said. However, this much needs to be repeated everywhere it can right now. Yes, both sides have been guilty of doing lousy things to one another at various points. And we can argue about which things, and who has done more of them, until we are all another 60 years older. But, the bottom line is that Israel is not currently wrong, nor are their current actions "disproportionate". People seem to forget that their actions cannot simply be weighed against the inaccurate rockets lobbed over the border by the barbarians currently running Gaza. Seen solely in that light, one might be able to argue that this is an overreaction. However, there are a few other points that need to be kept in mind. For example:
-HAMAS WANTS TO DESTROY ISRAEL. This point seems to be lost on a lot of people. If you need some clarity, do a word search through Hamas' charter. You'll see gems like this: "Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors." "Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims. 'Let the eyes of the cowards not fall asleep.'" "After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion', and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying." Would we really tell any other nation in similar circumstances that, simply because their enemies are not currently strong enough to destroy them, they must bide their time and not fight back until their enemies ARE strong enough to mount an existential threat?
-HAMAS WAS VOTED IN BY THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE, WHO SIMPLY ALLOW THEM TO PLACE ROCKETS AND WEAPONS IN THE MIDDLE OF CIVILIAN AREAS. The Israelis were foolish enough to withdraw and allow the Palestinians to try out democracy. This resulted in Hamas coming into power. These same "innocent" Palestinian people (you know, the ones celebrating 9/11), sit by as Hamas locates their weapons in the middle of civilian areas in a deliberate attempt to create Palestinian civilian casualties. Israel responds by attempting to minimize casualties among these willing human shields, and is criticized in this attempt, while Hamas' deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians is ignored. Go check the AP wire, or "moderate" civil rights groups like CAIR. You'll find plenty of condemnation of Israel, but not much regarding the Hamas rocket attacks that spawned the Israeli reprisal.
-ISRAEL IS A TINY STATE AMIDST NATIONS INTENT ON DESTROYING IT. Let's count the wars aimed at conquering Israel, shall we? In 1948, Israel declares it's independence, and is immediately converged on by no less than four neighbors, merely for deciding to exist. In 1967, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, with aid from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Algeria were again at war with Israel. There was a further war with Egypt in 1969, and another invasion in 1973. Then there were also the two wars in Lebanon in 1982 and again in 2006. All of these wars were the result of invasion attempts or cross-border terrorism. Meanwhile, only one war, the Sinai War, was a result of Israeli aggression. Even this war has to be tempered by the realization that Egypt was attempting to strangle Israel by cutting off supplies through the Suez canal.

The bottom line is that we expect Israel to do something no other nation would do. Respond to cross-border rocket attacks deliberately targeting their civilians that are merely one part of a wider attempt to wipe their nation off of the map, supported by the local population, who willingly act as human shields, and their useful idiots worldwide, by killing no more than the same number of people Hamas killed and not hurting a single one of the civilians standing in the way of their rockets despite Hamas' best attempts to guarantee that the terrorists and civilians are impossible to tell apart. If any other government in the world acted that way, their citizens would vote them out in a minute for not caring about their safety.


It's cute in an I'd-scream-like-a-little-girl-if-this-thing-wandered-into-my-backyard kind of way.

Does That Include Orange?

Apparently, the Palestinian nutters demonstrating in Manhattan are anti-juice. What did juice ever do to them?

Do It Yourself Jerry Brown!

California is suing the federal government for regulatory changes made to the Endangered Species Act. While I'm not qualified to assess the changes themselves (although I am qualified to beg that Dems retire the hackneyed "Republican War on Science" theme. Please tell John "stem cells will make the lame rise and walk" Edwards to sit on his hands before you have the temerity to criticize my party on science, thank you.) I was particularly intrigued by this line. "The new federal rules, he said, could put California's threatened and endangered wildlife in greater jeopardy and could ultimately cost the state more to protect plants and animals on California's Endangered Species List." Since when have Californians been unable to protect California wildlife on their own? Really, we need a DC beurocracy to safeguard plants and animals living in our state? Why should the largest and richest state in the country be going and whining to the feds in the first place?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Who Throws A Shoe Anyway?

When your go-to political statement is straight out of a bad Mike Meyers movie, you really DO belong in jail. (Yes, yes, I know, Arab culture, shoe=dishonor, etc... It's still lame, get over it.)

Never Mess With A Monkey


When A Child Shows More Sense Than The Adults

I was at the Sacramento Children's Home last night when one of the girls perfectly captured the proper response to half-hearted Christians. The kids were eating dinner when a conversation about God started. (One of the girls was chiding another for taking his name in vain, which is interesting in and of itself given the background of these kids.) A girl asked everyone to raise their hand if they, "Believe in God and go to church." I, along with all the children, raised my hand. The only person who didn't was an employee who was sitting with us. "You DON'T believe in God?" asked the little girl incredulously. "I do, I just don't go to church." the employee replied. "Well, that's weird!" said the little girl firmly. I felt like standing up and clapping for her.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Iraqi Shoe-Thrower

It just goes to show that those who don't have the courage to confront evil men will try to convince themselves of their courage by confronting good men. He finds himself in the company of those moral giants in West Germany who demonstrated against placing missiles there during the Cold War and the college students in South Korea who think protesting against US bases there is more important than protesting the fact that their fellow Koreans up north are forced to survive on tree bark so that their tyrannical leader can drink Chablis.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Don't Buy It

Since the financial crisis began, I've heard a lot of talk about a rediscovery of traditional economic restraint. The idea boils down to the thesis that, as Americans have to come to terms with empty wallets and reluctant lenders, they will rediscover things like prudence, the value of non-tangible assets, and perhaps even find a renewed respect for values like family, health, and God. The speculations about the economic downturn and it's aftereffects range from the fearful to the hopeful to the hopeful-tinged-with-a-little-sanctimony-for-getting-there-first.

Maybe I'm not the best person to evaluate such a potential sea-change in sentiment. While we are far from the crunchy-con ideal of growing our own food and weaving our own clothing, we are also just as far from the stereotypical consumption-driven American household. Both of us grew up in relatively modest financial surroundings, and we manage our finances with an eye towards our responsibilities to God and a future when we can afford to be a one-income household raising children. (Constantly looking for ways to drop down to one income is a pretty good method for assuring that you'll avoid the trap of consumerism in spite of yourself.) Couple this with the relative job security that both of us enjoy, and I can't really put myself in the place of someone who is staring at the combination of lost income and mounting credit card debt, or the place of a man used to buying the affection of his family with pricey gifts. However, having said all of that, I get the same feeling when listening to all of this talk of a renewed restraint that I got when listening to all of the unity talk after 9-11. For those who may not remember, let's recap.

9-11 came right on the heels of a disputed election, and the impeachment of a sitting president that degenerated into little more than arguments about blue dresses and creative uses for cigars. Whatever your opinion on the merits of the impeachment and election lawsuits, both sides can agree that it was an unhappy time in American politics. Then came a terrible event, but with it, a silver lining. Suddenly the "selected not elected" president had a 90% approval rating, red states loved New Yorkers, Democrats were hugging Republicans, and lions were sleeping with lambs. Unless you were one of that rare breed of curmudgeon who distrust politics without conflict, this situation seemed far more desirable than what preceded it. Countless columns were written about a "new era" in politics. And yet, I could never shed the feeling that it would not last. Sure enough, just fast forward to the 2004 election. Less than three full years later, many of the same columnists were wringing their hands about "Swift-boating" and the dirtiest election in American history. Whether you blame one side or the other, the unity clearly did not last.

Similarly, I have my doubts as to whether or not the fallout from the financial crisis will be any more sustained than the crisis itself. When the stock market starts climbing again, whether that happens in one year, or twenty, will the people who are currently feeling so humbled again think of themselves as masters of the universe? Will they think twice before buying a bigger house than they need or can afford? Only time will tell, but I for one am not betting on a kinder and less consumerist society.

People Would Rather Cut Back On Presents For Family Than For Dogs

After all, in a society without a God who created man in his image, we lose all distinction between people and animals. And what human can compete with the unconditional love of a dog? My only comfort is that this article mentions only small-dog owners. I never trusted those folks anyway. Anyone who chooses this over this, or this over this, is a little off to begin with. If we ever lose our jobs or have to cut back, the dog is big enough to go out and get work to pay for his own toys. Heck, we could probably save on groceries by sending him out to hunt the neighborhood's cats...

P.S. For the purpose of this or any future discussions regarding dogs, the Jack Russell Terrier is the only dog breed under 30 pounds that shall be considered by this blog to qualify as a "real" dog.

Jokes About Obama's Senate Seat

They aren't great, but it's a work in progress. Feel free to add your own.

-Comes with a zero interest loan, since that's exactly how much interest Obama has had in it over the past 4 years.
-It's like new. Barely ever used.
-That market downturn has been worse than we thought. Senator Obama paid $10 million for his Senate seat in 2004, but now Blagojevich is struggling just to get $500,000 offers.

-The governor hasn't ruled out a special election...provided that he gets a 10% cut of all election funds raised.
-Finally, Republicans LIKE Patrick Fitzgerald and Democrats are starting to wonder about the guy.
-Further confirmation of the bad economy. Hillary Clinton is turning to work as a secretary rather than keep her Senate seat.

Friday, December 12, 2008

At Times Like This...

...our current death penalty laws seem entirely inadequate.

In Other News, 7 Percent Of Illinois Voters Would Vote For A Dead Cat If It Had A "D" By It's Name

Seven percent of voters, and a full twenty percent of black voters, still approve of Blago as governor. While a part of me wonders exactly what it would take in order for him to lose this remaining support, I have to remember that eight percent of Americans believe Elvis is still alive, so apparently Blago will still retain his current approval rating even from his prison cell.

Reason 4,958 That Physics Is The Ultimate Science

Eat your hearts out biology geeks!

For those too impatient to read the attached article, this is a "Multiple Kill Vehicle". Basically, in the event of an ICBM attack, it hovers there, tracks incoming missiles, and fires off "Individual Kill Vehicles" to shoot the incoming missiles down. Science rules!

Whatever Happened To 36-24-36?

"SHE is the perfect wife, with the body of a Page 3 pin-up and housekeeping skills that put TV’s Kim and Aggie to shame. Her name is Aiko, she can even read a map, and will never, ever, nag.
Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t she fellas? And she is.
Aiko is actually a robot, a fantasy brought to life by inventor Le Trung. Devoted Aiko — “in her 20s” — has a stunning 32-23-33 figure, pretty face and shiny hair. She is always happy to clean the house for “husband” Le, help with his accounts or get him a drink."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

House, MD

I don't usually TV-blog, but I need to get this one off of my chest. For a show that epitomizes the word "formulaic", House has always surprised me with it's ability to do the EXACT SAME THING week after week while somehow remaining fresh and interesting. And yet now, it seems like they just gave up and phoned in the relationship between Drs. Foreman and Thirteen. They've tortured the House/Cuddy relationship since the show's inception, spent an entire season trying to decide if House should get together with his old girlfriend, gave us not one, but two "Cuddy's about to date someone else" fakeouts, and let Chase, well...chase Cameron in episode after episode, but they decide that the two coldest and least emotional characters not named Gregory House should start kissing two episodes after they first notice that the other exists. It didn't even work as a good head-fake the way that the Wilson/Amber relationship did. (After all, I thought Wilson only had eyes for House.) All we got was, "Hey Ice Queen. You're dying. Deal with it. Oh, and here's some medicine. Now let's kiss." Guys, couldn't you have played this one out at least a few more weeks?

The End Of An Era

For those who don't follow the sport, boxing's biggest cash cow, Oscar De La Hoya, was soundly thrashed last weekend by Manny Pacquiao. While the possibility that the much smaller Pac-Man could defeat the Golden Boy always existed, it was discounted by most boxing experts. (This poll for example, had 17 boxing writers siding with Goldie, and 4 for Pacquiao. I'd like to claim that I did better, but unfortunately it isn't true. I did predict a competitive fight, but that was only in order to convince my neighbor to shell out for the Pay-Per View.) The possibility that Pacquiao might not only win, but deliver a brutal and embarrassing one-sided beating to his opponent, never even crossed anyone's mind. However, that's exactly what he did. With names like Barerra, Marquez, Morales, and now De La Hoya notched into his belt, Manny is truly his generation's Mexicutioner.

In a way, this turn of events has a certain irony to it. Oscar built much of his early career on the bodies of smaller, older, or hand-picked opponents. From the tattered remains of Julio Caesar Chavez to Arturo Gatti and Jesse James Leija, Oscar beat down a lot of smaller men. And yet, in the end, he lost two of his last three fights to little men. Having gotten in that little dig, I will be sorry to see him go. He also found the time to fight a lot of good opponents, and give us some entertaining events. I hope he has the good sense to retire with pride in a sure-fire hall of fame career.

On a related note, will this be the example that finally convinces aging fighters that dropping weight classes is a BAD IDEA? First Roy Jones dropped from heavy to light-heavy to promptly get schooled by Antonio Tarver. Then Chris Byrd dropped from heavy to light-heavy just in time to get knocked unconscious by a virtually unknown fighter. Now De La Hoya drops from middleweigh(ish) to junior middle, and then to welterweight and gets schooled and TKO'd by a guy who turned pro weighing 106 pounds. In all three fights, the men coming down in weight looked flat and lifeless. Remember guys, just because you CAN make a weight, doesn't mean you SHOULD.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In Fairness To Barack Obama

Despite all the news stories about how his administration is "facing scandal" before he even takes office, it's got to be a good sign when the corrupt, recently-arrested governor of your state is caught on tape saying "F*** him" about your refusal to offer him a kickback.

Tom Friedman Asks A Good Question

Yes, I know this reaction is less than timely. I have a certain reluctance to make political arguments based on horrific situations like the Bombay attacks until at least a little time has passed. There's something unseemly about people who are unable to wait until the bodies are buried before they began homilizing.

Anyway, back to the point at hand. Tom Friedman asks, "Where are the protests in the Islamic world AGAINST terrorism?" We are forever hearing about how the terrorists are giving Islam a bad name, and yet the world's Muslim population is far more concerned with rioting over cartoons, beauty pageants, papal quotations (Taken out of context no less. Set aside the dark irony that they murdered priests in order to protest the characterization of Islam as a violent religion, they were also responding to a speech about the importance of religious dialogue by not bothering to actually listen to the entire speech.), false reports of Koran desecration, and celebrating the 9/11 attacks than it is with actually turning its energies against the terrorists. What are we supposed to think? I don't doubt that the vast majority of Muslims abhor these animalistic attacks, but until they oppose them with the vigor that has been, until now, reserved for murdering nuns and burning churches, the best we can assume of the bulk of the Islamic world is that it lacks courage, and cares more about saving face than honoring Allah. Friedman ends his column by saying, "Because, I repeat, this kind of murderous violence only stops when the village - all the good people in Pakistan, including the community elders and spiritual leaders who want a decent future for their country - declares, as a collective, that those who carry out such murders are shameful unbelievers who will not dance with virgins in heaven but burn in hell. And they do it with the same vehemence with which they denounce Danish cartoons." He's absolutely right, but unfortunately, I'm afraid he had better not hold his breath waiting for it to occur.

It's Official

"MR. BROKAW: Finally, Mr. President-elect, the White House is a no-smoking zone, and when you were asked about this recently by Barbara Walters, I read it very carefully, you ducked. Have you stopped smoking?

"PRES.-ELECT OBAMA: You know, I have, but what I said was that, you know, there are times where I've fallen off the wagon. Well...

"MR. BROKAW: Well, wait a minute.

"PRES.-ELECT OBAMA: ...what can I tell...

"MR. BROKAW: Then that means you haven't stopped.

"PRES.-ELECT OBAMA: Well, the--fair enough. What I would say is, is that I have done a terrific job under the circumstances of making myself much healthier, and I think that you will not see any violations of these rules in the White House."

The press has now been tougher on Barack Obama over his smoking than over Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, the Born-Alive Infants Act, and his bigoted comments about small-town Americans combined.

Friday, December 5, 2008

In Defense Of Tradition

"We are afraid to put men to live and trade, each on his own private stock of reason; because we suspect that in each man this stock is small, and that individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations and ages." --Edmund Burke--

I am watching a History Channel documentary on Einstein, and something struck me. At the same time that arguably the most brilliant physicist of the 20th century (a century of near-miraculous advances in physics) was working on his general theory of relativity, he was also cheating on his wife and making up a list of "rules" she would have to follow in order to be allowed the privilege of remaining married to him. Needless to say, she chose to forgo such a great honor.

Think about that. Einstein was so brilliant, that his general theory of relativity is difficult for trained physicists to understand fully, even now, 90-odd years after it was introduced. He was smart enough to create an entirely new idea so complex that the average smart person cannot even understand it AFTER it's explained to them. And yet he apparently knew less about women and marriage than your average teenage boy.

The point is this. No one knows everything. I'm constantly amazed by all the dumb decisions made by otherwise smart people. If people have big, and obvious blind spots, why not societies? We know, after all, that people have a tendency towards group think. The German populace of the first half of the 20th century was as educated and intelligent a population as any the world had ever seen, and yet they fell under the spell of Nazism. Why then should we not believe that a single generation of people is prone to the same faults as single individuals, no matter how educated or intelligent that generation or person may be? Tradition, societal values, the prejudices of the past, or whatever else you wish to call them, have developed for a reason. They are the painful experiences and lessons of lifetimes beyond measure, accrued painfully in order to give future generations a measure by which to operate.

This tradition is not flawless, as slavery surely shows us. But doesn't tradition deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt? And yet, in the last 50 years, we have rejected tradition and its values more fully than any other generation in history. We respect education more than experience, intelligence over wisdom. Our rewards so far? Higher rates of illegitimacy, crime, and mental illness. Widespread unhappiness, pernicious consumerism, and a disregard for obligations and responsibility. Faith is slowly, but inexorably being sqeezed out of the public arena. How much longer can we stay detached from the wisdom of the past before we go completely over the edge?

The "Right" To...

Often in politics, we hear talk of rights. The "right" to health care, the "right" to housing, etc. Rights talk has a very strong resonance in the American political psyche, because that's the basis on which our country was founded. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." The Lockean idea of natural rights pervaded much of the founders thinking, and so is still a powerful concept today. We see it in the writings of men like Madison and Paine.

The problem comes when we forget that natural rights are inherently limited. They have to be, because if they were not, they would inevitably impose on the rights of others. The classic example is that, while a man has a right to swing his arm, that right ends where another man's face begins.

So, here's a question to consider the next time you hear someone refer to health care or some other program as a "right". How does this perceived "right" impinge on the rights of others? Or, maybe a better way to put it, what "duty" goes along with the "right"? For, if I have a "right" to health care, or housing, or marriage, then that means someone else has a duty to pay for my treatment, or build me a home, or marry me. By generously providing me with rights, you are also forcing duties upon others. That's a thought that should bear some consideration next time the "rights" talk begins.

Monday, December 1, 2008

President Obama, I Salute You!

Never let it be said that I am reluctant to give praise when it is justly deserved. President-elect Obama stands as a hero to millions of men forced to walk their wives sissy little furballs for his performance in this interview with Barbara Walters. Speaking as the proud owner of a dog as big as my wife, I have a theory that future historians will be able to directly track the decline of the west by examining the average size of household dogs.

Obama: "Cha Cha?"
Barbara: "It's short for Cha Cha Cha."
O: "What is a Havanese?"
B: "It's like a little terrier and they're non-allergenic and they're the sweetest dogs.."
O: [Face suddenly changes.] "It's like a little yappy dog?"
Michelle: "Don't criticize."
O: "It, like, sits in your lap and things?"
M: "It's a cute dog."
O: "It sounds kinda like a girly dog."
M: "We're girls. We have a houseful of girls."
O [with hand gestures]: "We're going to have a big rambunctious dog, of some sort."

A Bailout Thought

I haven't heard this discussed anywhere, but it seems to be of long-term significance to me. All of the conservative discussion of the bailout is centered around the idea that, by mitigating the costs of risk-taking (i.e. the threat of your company going under), you give companies an incentive to act in a reckless manner, since they suffer no long-term consequences when those risks come back to bite them. But there's another aspect too. If you have a set of circumstances where the government becomes the main entity absorbing the risk, aren't they entitled to a greater share of the reward?

Remember a little while back, there was a lot of discussion about a windfall profits tax on the evil oil industry? One of the most relevant arguments against windfall taxes was that the oil companies take the hit when the price of oil falls (as in the 90's when they were laying off employees in droves), and so have a right to reap the rewards in good times. If it is no longer the case, what's the argument against the government taking a "windfall" down the road?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sorry Tom

As someone who generally disapproves of the president's annual turkey pardon on the grounds that it is an indicator of the further wussification of American society and death of dignity as a positive virtue (Seriously, can you imagine George Washington pardoning a turkey? The man had too much gravitas, and too little patience with the tomfoolery of others.), this video and it's context tickles me to death (much like the turkeys, though I doubt the method of execution was actual tickling). One correction though. These turkeys aren't being slaughtered. Slaughtering is the process of killing the turkey. These turkeys are already dead, and are being drained of their blood.

Two more thoughts. First, despite the fact that I don't find anything wrong with this clip, Sarah Palin should fire whatever media person she had with her. She obviously couldn't see what was behind her, but her media relations folks should have the common sense to know that dead turkeys is not the proper backdrop for a PR event whose central event is a turkey pardon. Secondly, the turkey pardon is also a triumph of image over content (as is so much of modern American life). According to Snopes (I was there trying to determine who started this ridiculous tradition) the turkeys usually die soon after their pardon because, "Fast-growing, commercially raised turkeys tend to expire fairly quickly, as they grow too large for their body structure and are too susceptible to disease."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sin and Salvation

Here's a quick thought I've been milling about. Most modern churches are reluctant to preach the sort of fire and brimstone sermons that we associate with past eras of Christianity. There's really no 20th century equivalent to "Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God". There are some good reasons for this. After all, the Scriptures are full of positive messages, and people are far more likely to listen if you tell them what you believe in, rather than just what you disapprove of. However, this reluctance can be taken too far.

Many modern preachers, especially those of the prosperity gospel variety, want to erase negative concepts like sin and hell entirely. They want to focus on all the pretty shiny things that Christianity offers, some real (like heaven), some made entirely out of whole cloth (Like financial prosperity. Remind me again, which disciple was it that got rich? Oh yeah, NONE OF THEM!). The problem with this extreme is twofold.

The first problem is that bad stuff happens. It always has, and it happens even to the best of believers. There's a reason that Tertullian said, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." It's because Christianity is a religion birthed and raised amidst persecution. 11 of the 12 disciples were executed, and John was exiled. Paul was beheaded. Stephen was stoned. The list goes on and on down to the present day. Christians are still being murdered for their faith around the world every year. Bad stuff happening to Christians is an undeniable fact of existence. When you promise people only good things for their faith, you do them the dual disservice of lying to them and robbing them of the intellectual equipment to deal with bad things when they do occur. Instead, the one inescapable conclusion they are forced to draw is that the bad things happened because their faith isn't sufficient. There is no evil event that can befall a person that won't be made worse by forcing them to accept unnecessary guilt. That's a perfect formula for creating Christians who can do nothing but fall away during hard times.

The second problem that arises from this sort of happy Christianity is that it renders the good meaningless. If there's no punishment for evil, where is the justice that Christians were denied on earth? If there is no hell, heaven cannot be appreciated, just as we would not appreciate our health in a world without sickness. Good cannot exist without evil, nor punishment without reward, nor sanctity without sin. Every good thing must have a negative counterpart in order to illustrate it's worth. Much as the modern practice of not keeping score in children's sports renders the competition meaningless, denying punishment and offering rewards to everyone equally makes the Christian life meaningless. Why be good if there's no real consequences for being bad?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Prop 8

Just keep repeating, "Prop 8 supporters are the bigots, Prop 8 opponents are the tolerant ones." It's also a sad commentary on the state of this country's faith that the Mormon church had to get out in front and take a hit that Christianity was unwilling to take.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Fair-Haired Boy of the Republican Party Strikes!

Bobby Jindal is proposing reform to Louisiana's system of low-income medical coverage. Obviously we'll have to see the details of the plan, but Bobby Jindal doesn't make junk.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cleansing the Palate

Anyone else glad this thing is over? For better or worse, it's off to the desert for conservatives. Let's make the most of it. I'll be taking a week off from following political news, or blogging about anything political in nature. Hopefully, I can use that time to post on some other topics. It's not out of discouragement or any such melodramatic wussiness. It's just that I'll have at least four years to gripe about all the dumb stuff that a President Obama will do. Why not give him a week off before I start? If I can't say anything nice, it's better to take a break. In the meantime, remember that win or lose, the battle is never over.

A Couple Of Election Notes

-I'm far from the first to point it out, but it matters that a man who, 50 years ago, would not have been allowed to eat at certain lunch counters, was elected president by voters of some of the same states who would have denied him that right.

-I'll repeat this again. Even with healthy margins in the House and Senate, President-elect Obama is going to have a rough couple of years. He needs prayer, whether you voted for him or not.

-Marriage won in all three states in which it was on the ballot. Even California passed it's amendment by what, at this hour, is a 12% margin. That's a more positive sign for this country's future than I would have hoped for.

-Partisan issues aside, it's a sick world in which Ted Stevens retains his seat and John Sununu gets booted out of office. Fortunately, it looks like only a matter of time before Stevens heads for jail and Governor Palin fills his seat.

-The Democratic party regained the House and Senate in these last two cycles largely by fielding centrist challengers like Jim Webb and Bob Casey. The ideological distance between these rookies and their party's leadership is vast. It will be interesting to see how that pans out, now that the Dems have sizable majorities and no veto threat.

-Is anyone else suddenly very concerned with the health of Justice Stevens? For the good of the nation, let's hope he stays in good shape for another four years.

-Lastly, read this. President Bush has been a very mixed bag, but he's leaving office with his honor intact. His reputation will only improve over time. Some may lay partial blame for this election at his feet, but I don't think that's fair. Congress and John McCain made their own beds.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Because Elections Aren't Everything...

CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!! (After Halloween, I'm allowed to post all the Christmas songs I want, since Thankgiving doesn't have music.)

I love this song.

Embedding is disabled on this one, but you are NOT ALLOWED to have Christmas without Nat King Cole. Seriously. Not even in France.

And of course, Manheim Steamroller.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Random Pre-Election Thoughts

-I'm more sanguine than I've been in a few weeks about the election. I don't think McCain will be blown out, and I'm not entirely convinced anymore that he'll lose. Call it 60-40 for Obama at this point. I also think we'll keep the losses in the House and Senate to a minimum.

-The "Bradley Effect" seems to be a myth. There were excellent articles in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times on this recently, explaining that what was called "The Bradley Effect" was in actuality, a combination of an agressive new campaign by Deukmajian coupled with complacency among pollsters. Historically, there have been races in which black candidates significantly underperformed their polls, and other races in which they overperformed. Barack Obama himself is a perfect example of this. In his primary death march against Hillary, he overperformed in some races and underperformed in others. This would seem to indicate that the variances we automatically chalk up to race are probably far more complex. Something to remember, no matter what tomorrows results are.

-Good news for Palin and Obama fans. Obviously, by tomorrow night, one side or the other will be disappointed. But here's the good news. If nothing else, John McCain has helped to redefine our ideas about who is or isn't too old to run for the presidency. This means that both Governor Palin and Senator Obama have a long time to retool. Obama could serve the rest of his term in the senate, run for governor of Illinois in 2010, be elected to the office twice, run as his party's vice-presidential nominee in 2020, serve 8 years as vice-president, run for the presidency in 2028, and STILL be younger than John McCain. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin could finish out this term and a second one as Alaska's governor, run for the senate against whoever holds Ted Stevens' seat in 2014, serve two terms in the senate, run for the vice-presidency in 2028, serve in that office for 8 years, and still be the same age as John McCain if she ran for the presidency in 2036. All that is just to remind you...John McCain is REALLY REALLY OLD.

-Keep an eye on Norm Coleman and John Sununu. I have a feeling that they will be pretty good bellweathers in determining how the night will shake out for Republicans in legislative races.

-It's sad to say, but I think we'll see riots whether Obama wins or loses. If he loses, people will be furious, let-down, and convinced that only massive fraud can explain it. If he wins, well...

-As for McCain, keep an eye on New Hampshire results. McCain has long had a special relationship with that state, and if he really is down by 10 as the polls would seem to indicate, it's over. If he ends up unexpectedly close, then it might be a sign that the polls have been skewing in the wrong direction, as they did in 2004.

-Finally, no matter who wins, the new president will need a lot of help from day 1. He's inheriting a financial mess, a deeply divided and suspicious country, and the toughest job in the world. Remember to pray for him as often as possible.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Need Better Friends

In the last 24 hours, wonder has been expressed over my wife's willingness to marry me, the Halloween party has been cancelled, and I've been described as "the annoying little brother I never wanted".

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sarah Palin, Brainiac

Ha! Now it's token conservative versus token feminist!

Seriously folks, come up with a new line of attack. Republicans have been derided as dunces since Eisenhower's time. When they're eloquent, like the Gipper, they're just a trained actor being fed lines. When they slip up like Sarah Palin, they're just a Caribou Barbie. And yet, Ike still managed to win in WWII, Reagan laughed all the way to two terms as Governor of America's largest state (oh, and that president thing...), and Sarah Palin is in the middle of building another impressive record of conservative governance. Don't worry, when Rhodes Scholar Bobby Jindal is ready for national office, he'll suddenly become just another voodoo-chanting Louisiana hick too. Fortunately, by clinging to our guns and sky fairies, conservatives manage to get over being told just how dumb we really are.

No, YOU Release YOUR Transcripts

Has anyone been following the duel cries by supporters of McCain and Obama to release Obama and Palin's (respectively) college transcripts? Let me first stipulate that I don't care whose grades were better. Let me secondly stipulate that I would guess Obama probably had the superior GPA (he got into freakin' Harvard people, what do you think you're going to find?). Let me thirdly stipulate that there is no doubt in my mind that both candidates have higher GPA's than I do.

The reason I find this interesting, given all of the above, is not because I think that their grades will reveal anything new, or change the minds of any voters out there. Rather it's because I have yet to find a source asking for BOTH sets of transcripts. The Obama people want to see Palin's, the McCain people want to see Obama's. Both groups seem convinced that this will prove something about the other side, and yet both groups also see no reason to advocate that their guy release all college info in order to prove something about their side.

Anyway, make of it what you will. And if you find anyone asking both sides to release their records, pass 'em on. Maybe it will restore my faith in humanity. Eh, probably not.


Just keep reminding yourself. McCain voters are racists and bigots, but Obama voters are voting due to their purity of heart and his well-thought out and clear views on the issues.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Obama Isn't Kenyan

For those who haven't heard, there are at least two separate lawsuits claiming Barack Obama was born in Kenya, which would apparently make him ineligible for natural citizenship. The way the law worked at the time, if you were born outside the US, to one citizen and one non-citizen parent, the citizen parent has to be at least 19 for you to be a natural citizen. His mom was only 18 at the time. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims Obama may have lost his citizenship when he moved with his family to Indonesia. I don't know quite how that works, because I stopped reading out of annoyance before they explained.

My only response is, seriously? Number one, I don't believe it's true. (Please also note that I am not including links, so as not to help anyone with their traffic.) His whole family and all their close friends would have to be in on it. And what would have been the purpose of lying about the citizenship of a baby? Did his mother seriously say to herself, "I'd better make it look like this kid is a naturalized citizen just in case he runs for president someday..."

Number two, and more importantly, EVEN IF IT WERE, is that really the way you want to win? Is invoking a second constitutional crisis in 8 years, at a time of great economic turmoil, when the country is already enveloped in partisan rancor, really better than losing an election? I stand second to no one (sane) in my fear of the damage an Obama administration will do, but REALLY? So many people have so much invested in this man that there would be riots in the streets. Heck, I'd probably join them.

My only solace is that the driving force behind this effort is a Hillary supporter. I'd like to believe that conservatives have more class than to act like this. Prove me right guys!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Apparently We Have Yet Another Code Word

First we learned that "community organizer" is a euphemism for black. Here I thought it was a euphemism for pinko rabblerouser... Anyway, now apparently "socialist" is off limits. The reason, "J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI from 1924 to 1972, used the term liberally to describe African Americans who spent their lives fighting for equality." The African Americans in question? W.E.B. DuBois, Dr. King, Paul Robeson, and A. Phillip Randolph.

Do you think it would ruin their fun if someone pointed out the fact that W.E.B. DuBois HIMSELF STATED, "In 1911, I joined the Socialist Party." (From McKinley To Wallace: My 50 Years As An Independent) Or for example, that he ran for Senate on the American Labor Party ticket (it was a radical party initially formed by socialists), received the Lenin Peace Prize, and towards the end of his life joined the Communist party? Calling him a socialist was only inappropriate in that it was such a vast understatement.

What about the fact that A. Phillip Randolph openly joined the Socialist party at age 21? Or that Paul Robeson allegedly told a reporter for the Daily Worker when asked about Stalin's purges, “from what I have already seen of the workings of the Soviet Government, I can only say that anybody who lifts his hand against it ought to be shot!” He was also a secret member of the Communist Party and wrote a eulogy entitled, "To You Beloved Comrade" for Stalin after his death.

So here's my question. What is it code for when one accurately describes Lenin, Stalin, Malenkov, Krushchev, and Brezhnev as socialists?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Word To The Optimists

You're probably wrong. It's looking more and more like this election will be a colossal whipping for Republicans. The presidency, multiple senate seats, and a few dozen house seats may swing to the other side. On election night, I plan to huddle close with loved ones and have a couple of beers to dilute the taste of the tears that will be running down my cheeks.

Ok, so that was a little hyperbolic. Seriously though, when the best signs you have for optimism are a 3 point lead for Obama and the hope that Elizabeth Dole MIGHT be able to keep her Senate seat, things aren't going your way. The national polls are just the tip of the iceberg. Obama is poised for an electoral college landslide if his current leads hold up in the swing states.

There is some room for hope. All of these polls are predicated on the assumption that for once, voter patterns will really change drastically from previous cycles. That hasn't happened in a long time. If all the hoopla about Obama's registration and GOTV efforts is merely sound and fury, signifying nothing, then we might just pull out a win in this sucker. It's not something I'd want to bet money on, though.

So get ready. Stock your emergency kits, stockpile Russell Kirk, and kiss a loved one. We may be in for a bumpy ride.

One More Thing...

...about the Palin wars among pundits. Can pundits PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, stop over dramatizing and claiming the mantle of martyrdom for themselves every time they get criticized by other pundits over their columns? Christopher Buckley, a man whose only accomplishment seems to be adopting the 1/2 of his father's views that get him access to conservative circles while allowing him to swim among the trendy in New York, offered his resignation to National Review from the TEMPORARY position they gave him while one of their good columnists, Mark Steyn, was on a sabbatical. He did this because he wrote a profoundly silly column that essentially argued that someone as smart as Obama can't possibly be as leftwing as we think he'll be once he gets into office. For accepting this offer, NR is criticized, despite the fact they they publish at least two serious critics of Palin (Parker and Frum), and that Buckley still sits on their board. Buckley went on to write a self-serving blog post praising his own courage and criticizing the right-wing monsters who wouldn't allow him to publish "a reasoned argument". I'll leave it to you to decide whether or not his original piece can be called such with anything but an attitude of great charity.

Meanwhile Kathleen Parker seems to have forgotten the fact that NR is still publishing her column, as she eulogises her fellow victim of the hard-hearted uniformity on the right. This is, of course, after she spent a column lamenting how mean everyone has been to her. Listen, I'm sorry that Parker received so much angry mail over her column on Sarah Palin. Anyone who sends the vitriolic attacks she claims to have received needs a good lesson in civility and the appropriate means for addressing women taught under the gentle tutelage of a big man with a baseball bat. Seriously. If you tell someone their mother should have aborted them, I have little concern over what happens to you afterwards. You have foregone your right to civility at that point.

However, part of me also wants to point out one simple fact to Kathleen Parker, Chris Buckley, and all the other pundits who have gotten their feathers ruffled over the years. You are well-paid and highly prominent for one very simple reason. Because you publicly argue through controversial political issues. While it may seem fairly basic, apparently you've forgotten that if you express controversial opinions on current events, some people will get upset with those opinions. That's why not everyone who writes well does so for a living, and why those of you who do, get paid. Sarah Palin's skin seems to be thick enough to take your sometimes fair, and sometimes unfair, criticisms of her. "The McCain campaign knows that Obama isn’t a Muslim or a terrorist, but they’re willing to help a certain kind of voter think he is. Just the way certain South Carolinians in 2000 were allowed to think that McCain’s adopted daughter from Bangladesh was his illegitimate black child." So if this inexperienced rookie from Alaska who isn't qualified for the big chair can take her medicine with grace, why should you be exempt?

What Of Sarah Palin?

The right-wing pundit Armageddon surrounding Sarah Palin continues. On the one hand, we have the Kathleen Parkers, Peggy Noonans, David Frums, David Brooks', and Christopher Buckleys (He's William F. Buckleys son. Yes, that's right, Bill Buckley had a son. No, I hadn't heard of him either before this, but then again how many people cared about Ron Reagan before he became useful for beating up Republicans?). These people generally disapprove. Some of their disapproval is thoughtful and well-reasoned. Some of it is apparently based on the delightful bon mots one is able to use to describe Barack Obama, that rara avis. On the other hand we have Jonah Goldberg, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Steyn, Dennis Prager, Jay Nordlinger, and the majority of conservative punditry, who run the gamut from tentative approval to full-on crushes. So what are we to make of these two warring camps and their views on the Alaska governor? Who is right? Has Governor Palin been a net gain or loss for the ticket?

I'd like to offer my services as a semi-neutral observer. While nobody is completely neutral on the issue, I think that I can come as close as any. Before her selection, I liked the Alaska governor, but felt that she needed a little more seasoning in Juneau, a state which still needs her to clean up it's Republican oligarchy. I was VERY happy when she was picked, both out of relief that McCain had forgone the Lieberman option, and because she is undoubtedly an impressive person. I've defended her on this blog, but I was disappointed in her opening interviews, less than impressed by her debate performance, and I am convinced that she's been mishandled by the campaign. So, while I have an attitude towards her that is positive overall, I am not blind to her flaws. If that isn't enough balance, I respect and admire columnists on both sides of the issue. When Peggy Noonan and Jonah Goldberg don't agree, a little piece of me dies inside. With that, let's dive in.

The arguments against her seem to come as one of two general types. The first is that she is not bright or experienced enough for the job. This is usually juxtaposed with Barack Obama's exceptional and super-duper extra brilliance, as seen in the work of David Brooks and Buckley Junior. The second is that she may turn off more independents and disaffected Hillary voters than she gains. We'll take them one at a time.

The dunce versus Harvard Law review editor argument is one that seems silly to me on it's face. Though there are more thoughtful versions expressed by people like Ross Douthut, the basic fact is that the intellectual heavy lifting in a movement is never done by it's leaders, but instead by it's pundits and thinkers. That's just the nature of the political beast. Were it not so, we'd be arguing over whether Alan Keyes or Ramesh Ponnuru would make a better successor to President Phil Gramm. As long as a leader is willing to listen to those thinkers, there is little reason to worry that he is not one himself. Governor Palin has not so far shown a reason to believe that she would refuse good advice. As for her intellectual merits, some might argue that successful careers in journalism, as mayor of a small town, on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and as governor of a state all indicate that her brainpower is more than sufficient for the rigors of high office. In previous posts, I've compared some of the presidency's great thinkers to men who were considered to be of modest intellect, but were great presidents. I don't think I need to review that list here to reiterate the point, but I'll leave you with two words, just in case. Woodrow Wilson. 'Nuff said.

The experience side of the argument holds a little more water. As I've said before, I think that her experience (like that of Barack Obama) leaves room for doubt. I personally think she'd do fine based on her past performance, but I can't necessarily condemn someone who doesn't. Frankly, I think McCain did himself some genuine damage by ceding the high ground on experience, one of the few areas where he had unquestionable supremacy. However, given a choice between placing someone who had 18 months in statewide office before announcing his candidacy, and someone who had 20 months in statewide office before announcing hers, isn't it pretty much a wash? Besides, if John McCain drops dead, it won't be on day 1. It might be on day 85, or day 120, or day 498. Will she still be inexperienced after serving at his side for two or three years? I doubt it. It comes down to a choice between inexperience from day one versus potential inexperience sometime in the future.

Now for the other argument, the idea that she might be turning off independents and PUMAS. I'll grant you that she may. In fact, I'd go further and say she probably is. However, consider this. She is probably in part a victim of unrealistically high expectations. McCain is, at best, in a state of uneasy truce with the base of his party. One immigration fiasco, one unkind word for conservatives is all that stands between him and a complete party walkout. This is exacerbated by his need for volunteers in order to try to keep his GOTV efforts at all competitive with Barack Obama's vastly better-funded operation. So who then could appeal to all of those precious independents and swing voters while shoring up the base? Mitt Romney? Have we so soon forgotten the unease many people felt regarding his relatively recent conversion to conservatism? Mike Huckabee? He's simply a less attractive, more articulate Sarah Palin, with fewer conservative viewpoints. Tim Pawlenty? The world would have uttered a collective "WHO?!?!" had McCain picked him. And yet this is precisely the task many assigned to Sarah Palin. The bottom line is that Sarah Palin was, and remains INCREDIBLY popular among McCain's base, something that probably wouldn't have happened had she also been able to appeal to independents.

There is both anecdotal and statistical evidence to this effect. I know plenty of conservative people who don't pay particularly close attention to electoral politics, but tend to turn out consistently on election day. Many of them were seriously considering sitting this one out, until Palin came along. Now they're donating money and time. Let's not forget that her VP debate set a new TV viewing record. Do you think it was Biden pulling people in? She's drawing larger crowds than McCain wherever she goes, despite her missteps in recent interviews. And yet McCain has lost ground among independents since placing her on the ticket, and voters are split along party lines on her qualifications for office. But again, how much of this could she have remedied while keeping the base satisfied? Yes, her rollout was botched, and she'd have been a heck of a lot harder to spoof on SNL if her initial interviews went better, but would that really have turned many people around? After all, she's still solidly to McCain's right on every major issue. The bottom line is that if the original Maverick can't draw independents against a left-wing senator who votes for infanticide, blurbs books for terrorists, and channels money to Marxist radicals, no VP on earth can do the job either. Let Sarah keep the base happy. While she's definitely been a mixed bag, and failed to live up to everyone's high hopes, she may be the only thing saving McCain from a route on election day.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

He's A Freak

That's all you can really say. Usually the term is meant as an insult. In this case, it's simply a statement of fact. Bernard Hopkins is a freak of nature in the best possible sense of the word. Tonight he beat Kelly Pavlik, the reigning middleweight champion. If you had told me that he would do so a week ago, I wouldn't have expected it, but I also wouldn't have been shocked. If you had told me he'd pitch a virtual shutout, I'd be surprised, but again not shocked. However, tonight Hopkins didn't just win. He didn't just pitch a near-shutout. He beat a young man (Hopkins is 43, Pavlik is 26) by physically outperforming him. He was stronger, faster, and sustained a higher workrate throughout the night.

Hopkins has long made an art form out of beating physically superior men by shutting them down and making the fight tactical and boring. Even his signature win over Tito Trinidad was an exercises in clinical precision, not aggression. He admitted in the post-fight interview that he usually fights with more of an eye toward his own physical well-being than anything else. Not on this night though. Tonight, he went into the ring with a young puncher in his physical prime and made it clear that he has not lost a step. The Bernard Hopkins who entered the ring tonight would have crushed Taylor and sent Joe Calzaghe running back to Wales. Love him or hate him, no one can deny that Hopkins is one of the 7 wonders of the boxing world.

On a slightly different note, I was relieved to hear how clear he sounded in the post-fight interview. Nothing is more saddening then hearing the thickened speech of a fighter who has been in one too many bouts. Apparently Freddie Roach, who worked with him for one fight, said that Hopkins was getting confused, going to the wrong corner between rounds, etc. He called for him to retire. Well, if Hopkins is slipping at all, there was no sign of it tonight. He was tactically smart in the ring, and clear-voiced afterwards.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Victor Davis Hanson Says It Better Than I

From a post over at National Review, he makes the point about the value of intellect that I was trying to make in an earlier post...except, you know...better:

Third, there is apparently a philosophical difference about what constitutes wisdom in the political sense: while one is impressed that Niebuhr and other thinkers may well be instantly referenced by Obama, that familiarity does not necessarily translate into common sense or ethical judgment (cf. everything from the apparent prior admiration for Wright and Ayers to the wisdom of expanding taxation in times of financial uncertainty), nor does it suggest that Palin's own story as a working mom, without connections or capital, who pulled herself up through the rough world of Alaskan politics, is not reflective of an equally valuable practical knowledge that is too often ignored.

It's fine to be impressed with Obama's intellectual prowess. It's also fine to be frustrated with 8 years of George W. Bush's inability to effectively communicate conservative ideas to a broader audience (I know I sure am). But these things alone do not guarantee a great leader. To go to the well of history once again, with the possible exception of Churchill, Mussolini was the most intellectually gifted leader of the WWII era. He was well-read, intelligent, an effective writer and speaker, and loved by European and American intellectuals alike. In short, he was everything Obama is intellectually and more. And yet, not only was he not a good leader in the ideological sense, he was just objectively not a good wartime leader in any sense. Though he came to office earlier and was the founder of the fascist movement, he quickly became Hitler's junior partner, and Italy's military efforts were nothing short of embarrassing under his watch.

A leader may look good on paper, but a far better indicator of future ability is their past performance in a related arena. Governor Palin's time in office may be short, but it is indisputably more impressive than Obama's legislative career in many areas. She has made a career of taking on incumbents. He has made a career of looking for easy electoral fights. She has challenged her party time and time again. He has been a reliable rubber stamp for his caucus. She can point to an impressive list of achievements accrued, he can point to an impressive list of future goals. Shouldn't this be at least as important a factor in picking an executive team as Obama's extensive knowledge of socialist theologians?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Hubris Of Frank J.

It saddens me when another human being suffers, even when that human is Frank J of IMAO. But when one soars on the wings of selfish pride and flies too high, we must also look squarely at the object lesson provided and ask the honest question, "what should this teach me about my own life?" Look on, and learn from his error.

Monday, October 13, 2008

An American Carol Review

Full disclosure: If it isn't obvious to anyone reading this blog for more than a day, I really wanted this movie to be good and successful going in. I agree with most of the sentiments it expresses, and wish there were at least one or two conservatives steadily cranking out movies in Hollywood (Remember the good old days of John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart?). I really don't mind that Hollywood is leftist, I just wish they could spare us one or two movies every so often.

Having said all of that, I was only partially satisfied with the results of David Zucker's first attempt at a polemic comedy. It had many funny scenes, and a couple that were even pretty positive and uplifting. The opening, an attempted terrorist attack on an Afghan voting station was great. So was the introduction to Michael Malone, beating off the Cubans trying to escape their country in his boat, so that he could get back and tell the world about Castro's Caribbean paradise.

Some of the best jokes were the more understated ones. For example, Kevin Sorbo's thinly veiled George Clooney accepting an award and celebrating his own courage in attacking a Senator who had been dead for 50 years. There were plenty of similar laughs throughout. Don't expect any of the jokes to be subtle though. Zucker has always wielded his comedy like a sledgehammer, and this movie is no exception. And don't worry about missing any jokes if you aren't part of the conservative in-crowd, Zucker will beat you senseless with them.

And herein lies the first problem with the movie. Satire can come in two forms. It can be subtle and clever, or bash-you-over-the-head absurd. Unfortunately, when trying to make an argument, the first type is the more effective one, and Zucker doesn't do subtle. EVER. If you were unaware, for example, that Michael Moore has what Tommy Callahan once called, "A bit of a weight problem", you won't be by the end of the night. Nor will you be unaware of his horrible odor, inability to score, or obnoxiousness. Ok, we get it, Michael Moore is a tool. I'm as big a fan of the occasional fat joke as the next guy, but when you include them in every other scene, you run the risk of looking like you had no other material.

Another problem for me was the direction of the plot. The movie seemed unable to decide how wide it's own scope would be. The main thrust of the plot was a defense of patriotism and just wars, while skewering the anti-American left. However, there were several other issues thrown in, seemingly at random, such as a defense of the Patriot Act and America's treatment of terrorist detainees. The problem is that, besides obscuring the overall purpose of the movie, some of these things are controversial even among the non-loony left. Plenty of American conservatives and libertarians are uncomfortable with provisions of the Patriot Act or how detainees have been handled. While you are free to say what you want about these people or their arguments, they are hardly deserving of being lumped in with Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell.

The last criticism may be more of a personal issue than something that matters to the average moviegoer, but I'll mention it anyway. Profanity from the mouths of children is jarring and sad, not funny. Several of the young characters in the movie expressed their opinion in language that would make a sailor think twice. Especially in an ostensibly conservative movie, shouldn't we show more respect for the innocence of children?

All that aside, as I said above, the movie had plenty of funny and even uplifting moments. If you really enjoy Zucker's style of comedy, or really want to see a conservative movie do well at the box office, go see it in the theaters. If not, wait for it to come out on video.

Something To Ponder

As I picked up a tall, non-fat, no whip, pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks for the wife yesterday, it occurred to me that buying sissy, complicated coffee beverages may be the 21st century equivalent of holding your wife's purse outside the dressing rooms at Macys. I always have her write her beverages down, since my brain isn't capable of holding any drink order longer than "large coffee" (and yes, I refuse to use their silly size names), so I always make certain that I'm very obvious about reading the drink order off of the paper, hoping desperately that no one will assume I would ever order such a thing as a pumpkin spice latte. When I escape out to the car, I crank Brad Paisley and draw comfort from the fact that she's really hot.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Everyone Should Watch This

It's a debate between atheist Christopher Hitchens and Christian Dr. Frank Turek. Warning though, it takes 2 hours, so get comfy.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Post-Racial Candidate

Attacking Obama for his association with the white William Ayers is racist.

Associating him with a corrupt black CEO is racist.

Placing him in an ad with attractive white women is racist.

Calling a Columbia and Harvard-educated law professor who talks down to people in small towns elitist? Yup, racist.

A video with sleeping children that doesn't even portray Obama? Clever racism.

Talking about how skinny Obama is? Also racist.

And if you aren't openly racist? Well it just means you're unconsciously racist.

Pointing out that his pastor said, "God damn America" and thinks the government invented AIDS? Extra-super-double racist!

Remember the good old days when Obama wanted to be the post-racial candidate? I guess that only lasted until it made more sense for he and his surrogates to badger people into supporting him by exploiting racial guilt...

Adding Some Balance

After that last post.

Sometimes, I like to pretend that America went straight from the 50's to the 80's...

Sometimes David Brooks Makes No Sense

These two comments come from the same interview:

"Brooks praised Palin's natural political talent, but said she is 'absolutely not' ready to be president or vice president. He explained, 'The more I follow politicians, the more I think experience matters, the ability to have a template of things in your mind that you can refer to on the spot, because believe me, once in office there's no time to think or make decisions.'"

However, Brooks also described John McCain and Barack Obama as "the two best candidates we've had in a long time." He later said of Obama, "he was such a mediocre senator..."

Now, if you believe that Barack Obama's 4 years as a senator (half of which have been spent on the campaign trail) and 7 years as a "mediocre" state senator are vastly more impressive than Sarah Palin's 2 years as a governor, 1 year on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 6 years as a mayor, and 4 years on the city council member, fine. We can argue the point, but for the moment, let's concede that his experience tops hers. It doesn't exactly make him highly qualified based on resume alone, now does it?

If instead you believe, as Brooks seems to, that Obama's tremendous intellect trumps his lack of experience, fine and good. I think the point is arguable, but will put it on hold for a few paragraphs. What I don't see is how, in the same interview, you can argue that Palin's limited experience makes her unprepared to be VP, while Obama's limited experience is a complete non-issue in his readiness to take the top job due to his intellect, especially when your whole reason for valuing experience is the argument that presidents don't always get the luxury of time to stop and THINK.

It looks to me like Brooks is so impressed with Barack's intellectual gifts that he's willing to forgive any other shortcomings. Brooks, a history major, should know better. Some of the brightest presidents America has produced this century include Nixon, Clinton, Wilson, and Taft. Yet, I'm fairly sure that if Brooks were putting together a list of his top presidents, this particular group wouldn't be the first ones to jump to his mind. FDR, whose brains earned him the nickname "Feather Duster" (for being a lightweight) among his school chums and was described as a "second rate intellect" by one of his own justices, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan as a collective group probably share far fewer total IQ points (although none of them are by any means dumb men), but I don't think there's a person on the planet who wouldn't argue that they are a far more illustrious group of leaders.

I am by no means anti-intellectual. I enjoy reading well written works of history, philosophy, and science. In fact, I'll wager that I was reading far more complex books at a young age than Brooks himself (I was pretty much the only 10 year-old that I recall reading Hemmingway at recess). But the idea that exposure to, or understanding of, the great ideas of history, is sufficient, or even one of the major prerequisites for political greatness, is simply not borne out by history. John Quincy Adams was acting as a translator for America's ambassador to Russia while in his early teens and using his spare time to translate Cicero, but no one considers him to have been equal to George Washington, a man whose formal schooling can be measured in months.

Alright, one more annoyance to discuss, and then I'll shut up. Why does Brooks, or anyone else for that matter, assume that George Bush or Sarah Palin are anti-intellectual? What have they ever said to indicate that this is the case? When have either been dismissive of history's great thinkers? Is it simply because they are not great speakers? I roomed with engineers in college, so I can assure you that the ability to communicate effectively is not an accurate measure of intellect or intellectual curiosity. Is it because of poor grades? Also a pretty poor indicator, since that probably has more to do with the fact that the president apparently spent his college years in a drunken haze. He is, by all reports, an avid reader. But of course, when you mention this fact, people simply laugh and dismiss it. After all, the man mispronounces "nuclear", so he must be dumb, right? Sarah Palin has a track record of being a dynamic and forceful politician, with many political successes, and plenty of excellent debate performances and interviews under her belt. But the fact that she was thrust into national politics at the last minute, and chocked up in a couple of interviews, is somehow supposed to be positive proof that she is anti-intellectual? Sorry, I just don't buy it, and I won't until someone shows me a REAL reason to do so.

We're Number 1!!!

Well, actually, we're dead last. Some info on the presidential debate, courtesy of NRO's Corner.

The Nashville market, where the debate was held, had the largest TV audience, with a household rating of 59.2, while the Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto, California market had the lowest household rating: 31.8.

I Think The Dog Is A Republican...

One house on the street with an Obama yard sign. Guess which lawn the big man decided to use for a toilet. I swear I didn't put him up to it. Although, now that I think about it, given exactly what he was doing in a public place, maybe he's actually libertarian...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Aqua And Pirates

Does it get any better?

Long Hiatus

I'm sure that there were hundreds of people waiting with baited breath for my return to blogging. Well, wait no longer! As I said in my last post, we went to Disney World. It was surprisingly magical. I say "surprisingly" because if there are three things I hate, they are humidity, crowds, and the Disney Corporation (it's a long story, but suffice it to say I didn't take the cancellation of the Main Street Electrical Parade well, and Michael Eisner has now learned to lock his doors at night). But, despite all of that, it was a wonderful trip, and I have the birthday, anniversary, and 1st time visitor buttons to prove it. (Along with a mild crush on Cinderella!)

We also saw the Kennedy Space Center. I wanted to give all the poor astronauts a hug. They really try hard to be exciting, they really do. Unfortunately, true space travel is an impossibly nerdy and complex combination of physics, engineering, patience, and precision. It's fascinating if you're nerdy enough, but not exciting. That doesn't stop them from trying to make it so, though. At one point, we were on an observation platform, and I heard music playing. It sounded familiar, and then it dawned on me. They were playing the STAR TREK TMP theme. It made me so sad for them that I wanted to cry. We really do love you guys, even if we are a generation raised on images of effortless space travel and phaser-fights with cool aliens!

On the trip, I made it a point to ignore all current events. On top of that, the only really big events since I've been back are the debates and the bailout. While I understand the bailout and have some definite opinions on it, I don't feel confident enough in my knowledge to opine on them. (I can hear someone out there now, saying, "What? You mean the stuff you've been commenting on thus far is what you think you KNOW about?") As for the debates, Sarah Palin lost, but she's still far more likable than Joe Biden, and likable gets you a lot of mileage in politics.

That's all for now. I'm glad to be back home, even if the country is falling apart.

P.S. Oh yeah. The dog is clingier than ever now that we're home. Apparently he got so depressed he wasn't even chasing cats.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Disney World Here I Come

Gone until the 21st on vacation. I'm sure you'll all survive, though I'm not entirely sure the dog will.

Does Anyone Seriously Think Obama's A 5th Grader?

Because that's what you'd have to assume to think that he really intended to call Sarah Palin a pig.
A. It's a common phrase.
B. He's not an idiot. He already has a female voter problem. Why exacerbate it?
C. He immediately went on to use another similar phrase. Does anyone think that was code for calling Palin a dead fish?

Listen, the attacks on her have been ridiculous, but take them on their merits. Don't try to imply sexism where none exists, or name-calling where it clearly isn't happening. One of McCain's biggest strengths in the last few weeks has been the fact that he and his team seemed to be relaxed, funny, and in control while Obama was jumping around and whining at every imagined slight. Why throw that away?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Because It Can't Be Posted Often Enough

Buttprints In The Sand

One night I had a wondrous dream
One set of footprints there was seen
The footprints of my precious Lord
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some strange prints appeared
I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"
Those prints are large and round and neat
"But Lord, they are too big for feet."

"My child," He said in somber tones
"For miles I carried you along
I challenged you to walk in faith
But you refused and made me wait."

"You disobeyed, you would not grow
The walk of faith you would not know
So I got tired, I got fed up
And there I dropped you on your butt."

"Because in life there comes a time
When one must fight and one must climb
When one must rise and take a stand
Or leave their butt prints in the sand."

Original here

Quote To Ponder

"From Burke to Reagan, conservatives have consistently argued that the big answers to the important questions can be found first at home, second at church, third in your neighborhood, and somewhere around 317th in a federal bureaucracy." Jonah Goldberg

In Memory Of The Trees

Where to begin...
1. There is far more crazy on the left than on the right. Seriously.
2. These people go beyond foolish. This is actually immoral. No one can value flora and presumably fauna this highly without correspondingly diminishing the value of human life.
3. On that note, does anyone doubt that every single one of these people supports abortion, and sees nothing wrong or inconsistent with valuing trees more highly than nascent human life?
4. Do you think any one of them realizes that American forests are larger and healthier now than they have been in hundreds of years, or that the native Americans (i.e. pre-industrial Americans) were just as destructive, albeit on a smaller scale due to population differences?
5. Ma'am, with all due respect...no wait, with undying disdain and disrespect...a rock has no life of any kind, much less an incredible one. Twit.
6. Last, but not least, I have NO DOUBT that every one of these people is irreligious. You might find one or two that call themselves "spiritual" (which is, in my experience, a euphemism for saying, "I want the respect that comes from having a religious side, without all the bother of having to conform my life to any standard that transcends my own personal desire), but I'd bet money that most, if not all, wouldn't darken the door of any mainstream religion's building.

Hat tip: Dennis Prager