Date ►►► July 31, 2011
How I Accidentally Joined the "Far-Right Wing" of the Republican Party...
...and found inner-ear[mark] balance
This story is simply, as Spencer Tracy might say, "cherce." We have a new definition of the phrase "far-right wing" of which I was previously unaware:
Even by House standards, the debate was rowdy and sharp-edged, as lawmakers in both parties hooted and shouted down their colleagues across the aisle. Republicans booed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who accused Boehner of going “to the dark side” when he rewrote his debt-limit bill to add required passage of a balanced budget amendment -- a change designed to appeal to his far-right wing.
Pelosi turned toward her GOP colleagues and said it again with emphasis. “Let me repeat,” she said, “he chose to go to the dark side.”
My! I had no idea that I was a far-right winger; but I must confess to the infamous crime of believing the government should be forced to live within its means, by a balanced-budget constitutional amendment, if that's what it takes. I'm shocked, shocked to discover into what a disreputable bucket that seemingly obvious opinion plops me.
Still, I must be the very first anarcho-libertarian in history to simultaneously be a far-right conservative; so that's something, anyways. Kudos to the WaPo for promptly reporting this update in my political status; should I expect a new membership card?
Date ►►► July 29, 2011
Crass Ceiling - UPDATED
Update: See four grafs below...
I read that the House passed yet another bill to rescue the American economy and raise the putative "debt ceiling" and sent it along to the Senate.
The Senate rejected it out of hand, probably before it even landed on the desk of Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 75%):
At the other end of the Capitol, Senate Democrats scuttled the measure without so much as a debate on its merits. The vote was 59-41, with all Democrats, two independents and six Republicans joining in opposition.
(As of the time of this post, I cannot yet discover who the six compromised Republicans are who voted with the Democrats to kill the bill.)
UPDATE: Beldar has the skinny on which Republicans voted with the Democrats to kill the Boehner bill; but I was as wrong as Beldar himself on who they would turn out to be. In fact, rather that reject it because they sided with "Pinky" Reid, each of the six GOPpers who voted down the bill objected to it from the right: They thought it didn't have enough cuts and was too liberal!
The Sound Six Sens comprised Lindsey Graham* (R-SC, 92%), Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%), Orrin Hatch (R-UT, 100%), Mike Lee (R-UT, not yet rated by ACU), Rand Paul (R-KY, not yet rated by ACU), and David Vitter (R-LA, 95%).
* Graham is very liberal on many social and military issues, particularly on the War Against Radical Islamism; but he is typically very conservative on economic policy.
I heartily apologize to the Half-Dozen Hardboiled Yeggs, who held the line; I suspect if it was close, if it would have made a difference, they would have thought harder about whether a spending freeze -- which is what the Boehner plan amounted to -- was at least better than whatever might come next.
As President Barack H. Obama tweeted today, "The time for putting party first is over." In that spirit, when, oh when, will Republicans finally compromise -- by agreeing en masse to the Democrats' plan to raise taxes; syrocket spending; accelerate borrowing faster than the speed of light; and implement (by force, if possible) the complete leftist agenda of President B.O.?
God's Obama's sake, can't the GOP just slavishly follow the Dear Leader for a change, as the Democrats have learned to do? It would be a wonderful, bipartisan act of contrition for all the children; senior citizens; persons of color; women; cute, fuzzy, non-human, pet-like wild mammals; and special legislative interests, who the greedy corporate-jet owners in the GOP have held down for over three hundred years!
What selfish cads those Republicans must be. It's all George Bush's fault; I can feel it in my loans.
Date ►►► July 28, 2011
Right-Wing Folly, Another Reason Why I Am Not a Conservative
Two epigrams bubble up in my cerebrum at the moment. The first is just a statement of principle that seems to encapsulate the essence of Americanism; too bad so few on the side of goodness affirm it:
- For society's sake, it's best the consensus of the people sticks to the traditional values of monogamy, loyalty, decency, and faithfulness; but for liberty's sake, it's best that the people's government sticks to encouraging, not enforcing, such tradition.
And the other is more flip but equally true in my opinion:
- Extremism in defense of conservatism is -- still extremism.
A momentous civil-liberties lawsuit in Utah pits two opposing forces against each other, forever locked in battle unto the end of time (like that old Star Trek episode). Both sides spin their arguments around the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, like planets orbiting the same sun. On its face, the Court simply struck down all federal and state laws against "sodomy," however defined; it did not make any findings anent marriage.
But each side accepts the same central folly, spinning the consequences of of that supposition in opposite but equally extreme directions. Side A, which we generally call the Dark Side, abuses and twists that case pretzel-like in order to argue that laws banning polygamy are unconstitutional (as the same partisans also argue that laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional); by extension, Side A argues that every state in the United States of America must immediately allow "plural" marriages.
The flip side -- which conservatives ironically call Righteousness -- uses the same argument used by polygamists: Some radical marital "reformers" make paralogical arguments, twisting the principle of simple liberty and "the right to be let alone" into a paeon to perversity; therefore, conservatives argue that liberty itself is suspect and must be curtailed. Side B ripostes that citizens must be legally prevented from doing icky things that might nauseate decent folk and frighten the horses.
But let's get less airy-fairy and more specific:
The suer is Kody Brown, who stars in a TLC "reality" show called Sister Wives, which I've never seen; the dissenter is Power Line's own Scott Johnson. And yes, on this subject, both are equally extreme and impervious to reason.
Brown argues from Lawrence that if a man has the right to cohabitate -- to live with -- more than one woman, then clearly he has the right to marry them all. That is a complete non-sequitur, of course; the principle of liberty means we can do as we please, so long as we're not harming others. In Lawrence, the Supreme Court found (albeit via flawed reasoning from the noisome Griswold v. Connectucut) a principle of liberty that it nevertheless true; it ought to be considered "self evident"... that there is a fundamental right to a zone of independence around each individual, inside of which government cannot intervene save to protect another and non-consenting individual.
That us, under liberty, if two adult men want to have intimate relations with each other, privately and without coercion, then government cannot arrest them for it. Likewise if one man and three women want to have intimate relations, or two men and one woman, so long as all are consenting adults. Prior to Lawrence, trysts of this sort were lumped under the label "sodomy" and were criminal acts under the laws of a number of states. For that matter, the same statutes often criminalized certain types of sex between husband and wife -- fellatio and cunnilingus, for example. It was an extraordinary, pre-modern burst of authoritarianism, now defended only by some movement-conservatives.
I assert that a government with the legal power to dictate what sexual positions a husband and wife, or any other group of consenting adults, can legally perform is a tyranny of the most grotesque and unAmerican sort, where citizens are owned by the State.
Yes, I know full well that the Founding Fathers, to a man, supported such laws against sodomy; they were wrong. They were misled by the emotional and religious baggage of their society and upbringing, which prevented them from seeing that the logic of their own arguments for liberty belied their emotional inconsistency, just as it belied acceptance of slavery and of state-established churches. Either one believes in freedom of conscience; or one believes that ultimately, the State can condemn you for dissent, thoughtcrime, or nonconformity. There really is no middle ground.
But granting the fundamental right to do something perverse does not obligate society to applaud the perversity: The same freedom of conscience that says I cannot stop Brown from living with three "sister wives" in addition to his legal spouse likewise prevents him from forcing me to sanctify such a relationship by calling it "marriage." But that is exactly what Kody Brown demands:
Reality-TV star Kody Brown and his “sister wives” may not intend to be an example of the “slippery slope” in the gay-marriage debate, but their new lawsuit against Utah’s anti-polygamy laws bolsters the argument that legalizing marriage for same-sex couples could open the door to recognition of other kinds of marriages.
Mr. Brown; his legal wife, Meri Brown; and “sister wives” Janelle Brown, Christine Brown and Robyn Sullivan, who appear with their 16 children on “Sister Wives” on TLC, want Utah’s anti-polygamy laws declared unconstitutional and unenforceable on their “plural family.” [Emphasis added -- DaH]
I readily admit there is a serious problem with the Utah statute, if it's being accurately and honestly reported by the Washington Times (and I have no reason to believe otherwise): The law evidently bans not only polygamy itself, the marrying of more than one wife, but something more sinister:
In the Brown lawsuit, Mr. Turley and Mr. Alba said the Brown family, members of the Apostolic United Brethren faith, has committed no crime except to live together, “motivated by their sincere religious beliefs and love for one another.”
States cannot “criminalize consensual intimate relationships, including homosexual relationships, between unmarried adults,” the lawyers wrote, citing the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas.
And yet Utah has a law that forbids a legally married person from “purport[ing] to marry another person or cohabit[ing] with another person,” the lawyers wrote. [Emphasis added -- DaH.]
With this and other anti-polygamy laws, Utah “criminalizes not just polygamous marriages, but also an array of plural intimate relationships and associations of consenting adults,” Mr. Turley and Mr. Alba wrote.
In other words, the Utah law bans not only plural marriage, it appears also to ban plural living arrangements, even those not legally blessed as "marriage." Only one of the women with whom Brown lives is his legal wife; to the eyes of the law, the rest are just honeys.
The Brown family’s “basic liberties and equal protection” are being violated, they added, asking the court to “preliminarily and permanently” block enforcement of Utah’s laws that ban and criminalize polygamy.
I absolutely agree that the "basic liberties" of Brown and the individual women are violated by the Utah anti-polygamy statute, but only to the extent that it criminalizes living together. But I reject the "equal protection" argument, the ground used in most cases that seek to overturn the traditional definition of marriage; and in any event, the solution to the unconstitutionality of one part of a law is not to toss the entire law out, but to make the smallest possible change consonant with the demands of liberty, as enunciated by the Court.
In this case, toss out the part that bans "cohabit[ation] with another person," but keep the part that bans declaring such relationships legal "marriage." That is, ban polygamy but not shacking up.
This is where the logic of the Left flies to flinders: Under liberty, you can do a great many bizarre, outre, unconventional, kooky, or perverse things; but one thing you cannot demand is that society embrace and ratify your perversities and eccentricities, a democratic State's imprimatur and nihil obstat. You have the right to give yourself a high colonic with Liquid Draino, but it's a stupid idea; and don't expect me to shout "mazel tov" when you finish.
I would have thought it obvious: I am allowed to write what I please; but the State isn't required to support my writing or even give me a prize. In the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson, "duh!" But it appears that Brown believes that anything he has a right to do, he also has a right to demand official praise for doing.
In a freakish twist of fate, contemporary conservatives appear to have locked themselves into supporting the same paralogia, albeit to prove the opposite conclusion.
It seems monstrous to me to argue that any government, even at the state or local level, can put you in prison for using an unapproved sexual position in the privacy of your own home. But when movement conservatives argue that Lawrence v. Texas should be overturned -- as nearly all of them do -- that is precisely the position they stake out: They're all in favor of "individual liberty" -- but not when that means engaging in sex that conservatives don't like. Casual day has gone too far; there oughta be a law!
If it was simple prejudice, t'would a simple task to point out the hypocrisy; more than likely, a fair-minded person would admit being led astray by thinking with his heart, when the proper organ for such cogitation is further north. But our movement-conservatives (with whom I typically ally) buttress their glandular rejection of homosexuality and polyamory with specious, backwards reasoning: They argue that Lawrence must be wrong because it leads to overturning traditional marriage. Or as a pal of mine says, "It can't be true, because it would be so dreadful if it were true!"
In other words, conservatives typically argue that the liberal argument is right: If you have a right to cohabitate with anybody, that necessarily implies a right to marry anybody.
Therefore, you have no right to cohabitate. (Supposed "reductio ad absurdum.")
But the absurdity is not Lawrence v. Texas; the absurdity is inventing a nonexistent and inconsistent rule of inference, that allowing an action means approval of that action... the invalidity of which we surely have proven by now (ad nauseum).
But here is Scott Johnson making that exact argument in the Power Line post:
Now comes Professor Jonathan Turley to the defense of polygamy. Professot Turley represents one Kody Brown, a man, and his four wives and 16 children -- who, he notes in a New York Times op-ed column, are the focus of a reality program on the cable channel TLC called “Sister Wives.” One of the marriages is legal and the others are what the family calls “spiritual.” Professor Turley is lead counsel in the recently filed lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Utah law criminalizing polygamy....
Professor Turley relies for his argument on the logic of the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision overturning state sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas. Professor Turley has a point -- indeed, some of us criticized the Lawrence decision on precisely that ground -- though Justice Kennedy’s opinion waltzed away from the question of polygamy. And it didn’t even mention laws against bestiality and incest. Perhaps Professor Turley will undertake the glorious cause of extending Lawrence to them in another case.
The link, supplied by Scott himself, points to a Power Line post of his from 2003, just after the Court decided Lawrence. Here is the smoking gun:
In one sense the Supreme Court’s opinion today in Lawrence v. Texas, asserting the existence of a constitutional right to homosexual sodomy, was utterly predictable. Thirty years ago the liberal constitutional scholar John Hart Ely wrote a classic law review article (“The Wages of Crying Wolf”) condemning the jurisprudence of Roe v. Wade, and Lawrence is in a sense only a few steps further down the jurisprudential arc that will end, as Justice Scalia notes in dissent, in the constitutional right to homosexual marriage, prostitution, bigamy, and adult incest.
There is a trivial sense in which Scalia could be right; lawless judges can seize upon and twist the language of Lawrence to argue something radically different from the actual findings. However, the true source of Scott's position would seem not to be reason and logic but something more atavistic: a visceral loathing of certain icky kinds of sex (as opposed to other, more privileged positions and partners). He continues in lurid prose:
Among the founders, sodomy was universally condemned as a crime against nature. It was illegal in each of the thirteen states existing at the time the Constitution was ratified and the Bill of Rights was adopted. In Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia, it was a crime punishable by death. When Jefferson wrote an amendment to the criminal code lessening the penalty for sodomy, he nevertheless classed it as a crime with rape, polygamy, and incest.
Today the Supreme Court declares that homosexual sodomy constitutes “a form of liberty of the person in both its spatial and more transcendent dimensions.” Justice Kennedy, the author of this nauseating palaver, is obviously so in love with what he thinks is his own eloquent rhetoric that he fails to notice his laughable double entendre. What is not funny, however, is the destruction of the recognition of the laws of nature and nature’s God on which our true rights depend. The Supreme Court’s opinion today is an act of political destruction that should be recognized as such.
All that -- for holding that private sex between consenting adults is none of the State's damn business! It's a marvel Scott didn't toss in heresy, treason, crimes against humanity and the future, and the ritualistic summoning of the Elder Gods as further indictments. (I can only infer he was so hopping mad, he didn't think of them.)
So what do we have? The same conservatives who are outraged that the government dares tell them what to wear, how much to eat, where to recreate, who to choose as their doctors, how to finance and invest, and whether companies can fly corporate jets, now welcome (with gusto!) government control of sexual relations.
What's wrong with this picture?
The only distinction between the activities above is that the last is the most personal, the most intimate, and lies most thoroughly within the "zone of independence" of them all. Is the conservative argument that the more private and emotionally intimate the activity, the greater the authority of the State to control and regulate it?
Where else does that priority hold? What parents teach their children about right and wrong is surely more intimate and private than what they teach them about fashion and hairstyle; should the former therefore be subject to rigid governmental review and control, with only the latter trivia left to the discretion of individual parents? The argument is risible.
I wish I could call it a straw-man construction, but I can think of no other reason why conservatives argue that the State can tell us who to make love to -- but for God's sake, don't monkey with our Happy Meals!
But lose not sight of the point: Scott Johnson embraces the cri de coeur from fellow movement-conservative, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, that the freedom to be intimate with whom you want (rather than with whom the government allows) is logically equivalent to license to legally marry persons of the same sex, close relatives, and persons already married, and license to commit the inhumane crime of bestiality and even the horrific, violent crime of forcible rape! Yes, I can certainly see that those acts are all of a feather.
And where is Scott's argument why this should be so? It doesn't seem facially obvious to me. Would he likewise argue that if government allows nude beaches, we'll be constitutionally required to legalize public orgies in middle school? The route between point A and point B on the "slippery slope" seems no less preposterous than the connection between decriminalizing "sodomy" (in private, among consenting adults) and legalizing bigamy, same-sex marriage, consanguineous marriage, bestiality, and rape.
I don't know about Scott himself, but I speculate that for most conservatives, they have no real syllogism; their "thoughts" on this issue are actually feelings, emotional responses that have no, and need no rational explanation.
Where does this leave us? It's not the only issue on which conservatives can be as mulish and irrational as liberals. Immigration and drug policy are two others, but the worst is modern biological evolutionary theory. The last is the most similar example to conservative allergy to sexual liberty:
- Many dyed in the wool atheists -- including Richard Dawkins, Chris Hitchens, Philip Pullman (of the wretched His Dark Materials books) -- insist that accepting the idea of evolution by natural selection requires one to reject God and faith and embrace atheism.
- A large number of conservatives with inadequate scientific schooling -- including Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, Michael Medved, Ben Stein -- completely swallow the liberal argument.
- Therefore, being unwilling to reject God, they instead reject modern evolutionary biology, casting overboard more than a century of brilliant and apolitical science.
In fact, there is no logical or rational connection between allowing sexual freedom and requiring the definition of marriage to include any old relationship somebody might want; just as there is no reasoned conflict at all between biological evolution and faith in a theistic God, as Francis S. Collins conclusively proves in the Language of God; but there you are: Conservatives reject both as unthinkingly and reflexively as liberals denounce the Koch brothers, and for eerily similar reasons.
So I say again: Extremism in defense of conservatism is certainly less annoying than the liberal strain... but it's no less extremist -- and no more rational.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
"Computer" Problems Fixed - I Hope!
Sorry about the recent lack of posting. First, we were on holiday: white-water rafting on the Kern River, followed by horsepacking (well, mulepacking, to be technical) in Yosemite/Ansel Adams Wilderness.
Second, we brought our ancient laptop, but it appears to have bitten the dust. I might be able to resurrect it, if I can get Registry First Aid to run there. But in any event, we were unable to establish a connection on all but a single day.
Finally, when we returned and booted up, our home computer itself started having terrible problems! That's the one that really took time and sucked up all available energy: having to recover from a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death); restore from a backup image taken before the problems; uninstall and remove all traces of anything Norton, which was primarily responsible for the crash; then finally, mash everything (hardware, software, firmware) together so it works.
Upshot is, we should have some posts in a few. Again, sorry to our readers -- the two of you know who you are -- for an even greater lack of posting that our customary slovenly, sluggish, lazy habits!
P.S. The word "computer" is in quotation marks above because, per my pal Bill Patterson, "We have not yet entered the computer age; we shall enter the computer age when computers become invisible."
That is, when we never have to think about "firing up the computer;" when using a computer is too well hidden for us even to notice. Then and only then will we truly be in the Turing era.
Date ►►► July 22, 2011
Mother of All Game Changers
Barack H. Obama clearly prays -- well, perhaps a better word is "demands" -- that the November 2012 election is about anything other than the economy. Well, the economy or national security.
Or the environment, energy policy, unionista activism, Eric Holder's Department of Injustice, looming amnesty for illegales, or -- but the point is well taken that he desperately needs to change the subject.
About the only arena of political activity in which the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave doesn't find himself at a staggering disadvantage are the social issues: abortion, regligion, and the definition of marriage. In each of these issues, he is perhaps only at a 60-40 disadvantage, a huge improvement over voters' response to his handling of all the water-cooler policies!
Somehow, Obama must shift the entire election to be about one or more of those burning questions... and I have a suggestion, in the form of a three-point plan:
- Barack Obama must first convert to a schismatic, heretical sect of some outre religion that can be cast as the underdog; I would suggest he create his own branch of the Church of Scientology: It sounds kind of like "scientific," snagging the fundamentalist secularists; and most folks haven't a clue what Scientologists believe anyway.
This schismatic, heretical sect of Scientology must immediately embrace polygamy as the next logical step in marital expansion and citizen-of-the-world conformity. After all, if "love is all you need," then why can't someone as vast as Obama, who contains such multitudes and doesn't fret over foolish inconsistencies, love -- and therefore marry -- more than one woman? (Or man; but we needn't go that far!)
He would also immediately gain the support of Moslems and some of the weirder, heretical, discredited, unreconstructed Mormons; Mitt Romney would denounce him, but I suspect Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 75%) would applaud him (tepidly, perhaps) as an act of party solidarity and self-mortification.
- Finally, he should swiftly marry Hillary Clinton, after her quickie divorce from Bill (in Pinky Reid's Las Vegas). Or without the divorce and make it a two-fer. Hillary can once more become the
Fist LadyFirst Lady; Michelle will have to be demoted to Second Lady, but she can be consoled by retaining her access to all the cheeseburgers, french fries, and chocolate shakes she desires -- plus a Diet Coke, of course.
I'm quite certain that would, at the very least, take the focus of the election off everything serious; I doubt any voter would be talking about anything but this bizarre turn of events, including the inevitable "civil rights" lawsuit over polygamy, under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. And of course, Democrats could portray it as the mother of all "Change"!
As things appear to be going at this point in his administration, our three-point plan may be Obama's only hope.
Date ►►► July 19, 2011
In response to the No Child Left Behind policy of George W. Bush, in which schools, administrators, and even teachers can be held accountable for incompetent "teaching" that in fact does leave children behind, hundreds, perhaps thousands of teachers and other school functionaries have decided to raise standardized test grades the old-fashioned way: by cheating:
Those sneaky students in the back of the classroom aren’t the only cheaters.
Teachers and school leaders are getting in on the scams by boosting test scores not through better instruction, but by erasing wrong answers, replacing them with the right ones and hoodwinking parents in the process.
Funnily enough, the cities where cheating runs utterly rampant are by and large Democrat occupied territory: Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. Except for Houston, which is a "divided city," they have all long been run by Democrats; and even Houston has a Democratic mayor -- and the last Republican mayor of that city left office nearly thirty years ago.
Democrats are likewise enormously over-represtented among teachers and "educators," as well. Given the Democratic culture of corruption and lawlessness, I find myself unsurprised that teachers, faced with evidence of their own failure to educate, respond not by improving their teaching skills but by honing their talents for trickery, dishonesty, fraud, and criminality; seducing their students to do the same; and then reaching out to powerful Democrats to deep six such few standards as still exist in this age of Obama.
Evidently, some see not the cheater but "the system," standardized testing itself, as the culprit:
Under No Child Left Behind guidelines, schools can be labeled “failing” if student test scores don’t meet state benchmarks. [Quelle surprise! -- DaH] Poor results are embarrassing for teachers and often cost principals, superintendents and school board members their jobs. By contrast, high scores on reading and math tests equal praise for those in charge.
In the face of such pressure, teachers and administrators sometimes go with their “natural reaction,” said Robert Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.
“The teachers and principals who changed test scores did something unethical and probably illegal, [but they were] caught between a rock and a hard place,” he said. “We’ve created a climate that corrupted the educational process. The sole goal of education … became boosting scores by any means necessary.”
Yes, I'm sure we've all noticed in our own lives an utterly resistable compulsion to resort to dishonesty and criminality whenever we're not doing well at a task. Irresistable!
What's galling is that cheating teachers and administrators, and their Democratic political enablers, have redefined the whole point of standardized testing as some terrible, unanticipated flaw in standardized testing: If "student test scores don't meet state benchmarks," isn't that the very definition of a failing school? Students in "failing" schools clearly aren't learning; because if they were, they would do reasonably well on the standardized tests.
Wait, perhaps standardization is itself stultifying; why not simply allow teachers, who are closest to the students, to evaluate their performance via grading and just work with that?
But there is a flaw in the logic here: The whole original point of standardized testing was to correct for the previous form of teacher and administrator cheating: the routine promotion of students, regardless of their performance, and the hallucinatory grade inflation that invariably accompanied guaranteed promotion. In an effort to make themselves and their schools look good, and to get more of their kids into upper-tier universities, teachers gave much higher grades than the students had earned. Although on paper they were well prepared for college, in reality, they were utterly at sea from Day 1 and frequently dropped or failed out of university.
When I was a teaching assistant (TA) at U.C. Santa Cruz, in the math department, I was utterly appalled by the huge number of students who hadn't the faintest idea what a mathematical proof was, how to construct one, or even what one looked like -- and I'm talking about a calculus class for math or science majors, not "Math for Poets"! I had to spend the first few weeks just teaching these incoming freshmen the most basic elements of a mathematical proof, which they were supposed to have mastered before even being admitted to a math or hard-science major at any campus of the University of California.
In theory, they all had that skill; in their own minds, they were all learned in mathematical proofs; but in practice, perhaps a third of them were reasonably competent. The other two thirds had been shanked by their "compassionate" teachers.
To combat this kind of scholastic cheating -- teachers and principals cheating their students out of the education they thought they were getting -- state boards of education set up standardized testing and implemented the "No Child Left Behind" policy; which was flawed, to be sure, but was at least a step forward, not backward. If schools that are not actually teaching get labeled as "failed" schools, that is a feature, the main feature of the program -- not a bug!
Does anybody really believe that a teacher willing to erase wrong answers and write in the correct ones (assuming he or she knows them) would scruple merely to inflate a few grades for the same motivation? Wouldn't the same cheating teachers of today cheat just as much if working under a hypothetical, grade-only standard?
I wonder how many of the apologists for incompetent teaching were themselves taught by incompetent teachers, and perhaps became incompetent teachers in turn. How much opposition to standardized testing is nothing more than self interest and self defense?
I have argued for many years that the chief educational reform we need, the one that would do the most good, is not reducing classroom size; or implementing this or that theoretical, egghead pedagogy; or funneling ever more money into the insatiable maw of government schools; or Lord help us, handing yet more power to the teachers unions. None of the above. The most important reform is to root out the lousy, incompetent teachers from the classrooms, even if you have to use gunpowder, treason, and plot.
My gut feeling is that nationwide, at least twenty percent of K-12 teachers are so incompetent they should be fired immediately and perhaps sent to remedial education camps in a perhaps futile attempt to fill their own educational lacunae. But in some school districts, like the Los Angeles Unified, the incompetency rate is probably closer to 60% (based on personal experience as a child).
It's hardly a wonder that teachers unions and Democratic machine politics so often work foot in glove; it's a match made... well, not in heaven, perhaps, but a mating nonetheless.
Date ►►► July 18, 2011
Comin' In on a Swing and a Prayer
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (or the "Froms!;" I spells 'em as I hears 'em) are atheist kissin'-cousin to the Americans United for Separation of Church and State. (Shortform: the "United Separators" -- imagine the crossover membership!)
The Froms! are bedeviled by Texas Gov. and potential presidential candidate Rick Perry's upcoming come-to-Jesus meeting, which he dubs "the Response." The Froms! insist that any religious worship, prayer, speech, or other external manifestation of (deep breath) faith violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution -- "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." So they're suing in federal court to shut down the Response:
FFRF president Annie Laurie Gaylor says the suit is warranted because Mr. Perry does not see a distinction between his personal beliefs and his duty and obligations as the state’s chief executive. “He has taken an oath of office to uphold a completely secular and godless Constitution where there is no religion in it - much less Jesus, much less days of prayer and fasting,” she told The Washington Times in an interview. “It’s way over the top.”
Godless? Shh... nobody tell Ms. Gaylor about the phrase "in the Year of our Lord," which occurs in the penultimate sentence of the Constitution; a skosh Christian, that. Her head might explode. Oh, and try not to upset her by quoting the free-exercise clause of the same amendment she cites in support of enforced atheism: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
But Ms. Gaylor marches to the tune of a different little drummer boy:
Mr. Perry had issued a proclamation declaring Saturday, Aug. 6 to be “A Day of Prayer and Fasting for Our Nation.” The official document invited Texans to join him at Reliant Stadium to “pray for unity and righteousness - for this great state, this great nation and all mankind....”
Such statements by a public official are prohibited by the Constitution, in Ms. Gaylor’s view. “The First Amendment means that the government does not engage in religious speech,” she explained. Her organization’s goal is to stamp religion out of government, even the daily prayer that has opened Congress since 1789.
I'm puzzled how “The First Amendment means that the government does not engage in religious speech” jibes with the second part of that same amendment, the part commanding that "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech;" but I'm sure she has a slick and glib argument she simply didn't have time to enunciate.
I am always amazed by those who wear Godlessness on their sleeves. I myself am an agnostic; but when I say agnostic, I mean just that; it's not code for "atheist." I would very much like to believe in what Dennis Prager calls an "ethical monotheistic" God, but I cannot without some evidence. And try as I might, with the strongest of motivations, I am unpersuaded by everything from C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity to the latest attempts to derive faith from physics.
Well, many religious have claimed for centuries that faith is unprovable; I may be on a fool's errand.
But the very last thing I want for the United States is for it to become "Godless!" The triumphantly Godless societies that spring to mind are North Korea, Mao's China, Stalin's Russia, and Hitler's Nazi Germany. I don't want to live in any of those countries.
(Yes, I know that the Third Reich cynically encouraged the great unwashed to "revive" the Germanic/Norse beliefs; but the Nazi high command were almost uniformly atheist, seeing Wotan-worship as nothing but a way to deflect Germans from the "Jewish conspiracy" of Christianity.)
Similarly, I don't want to live in a world the religion of which sprouts, not from ethical monotheism, but from a God who is either not unitary or who doesn't have justice and mercy between people as his primary commandment.
I don't want to live in a world driven by a polytheistic gaggle of competing gods and godlings, where any act of violence, betrayal, treachery, or thievery can be justified simply by finding the right god (Loki, Hermes, Kali) to worship. Nor do I want to live under the thumb of priests or imams who believe that God's most urgent commandment is to follow every tot and jittle of ritual and tightly scripted prayer, at the expense of the lives, fortunes, and sacred honor of the fallible human beings caught in the maelstrom of rigid religiosity and soulless rulemongering. I will not live in a world of dead ritual and ossified tradition that constricts my every thought.
As an agnostic living in a modern (post enlightenment, post renaissance) Christian country, my fundamental right to be my potty self is protected, by religious and irreligious alike. But an agnostic under Communism; or under the pantheistic nature-worship of central Africa; or the forced faith, blood-reddened, heartless fanaticism of Iran; or even in a world spawned from a modern American flying-saucer cargo cult, in which an awful lot of holistic healing, crystal dangling, chakra hallucinating, hippie "atheists" eventually immerse themselves... an agnostic like me in any of the alternatives to Judeo-Christian culture would live a terrifying, and abbreviated, life indeed!
So if you don't mind, Ms. Gaylor, and even if you do, will U. kindly F.O.? When pushmi comes to pullyu, what I really don't believe in are the Froms!, the United Separators -- and Annie Laurie Gaylor.
None of you exists. So there.
Date ►►► July 17, 2011
The Conservative Radical in Chief
Yesterday, President Barack H. Obama pooh-poohed the notion that any government program needed radical revamping:
Fighting back against Republican calls for greater spending cuts, President Obama said Friday that the government doesn’t need to make major changes to get its budget back on track and called for that solution to include some trims coupled with tax increases.
“Here’s the good news: that it turns out we don’t have to do anything radical to solve this problem. Contrary to what some folks say that -- we’re not Greece. You know, we’re not Portugal,” Mr. Obama said at his third press conference in three weeks, using his most powerful public relations tool to take his arguments directly to voters.
Well -- not exactly; what he really said was that no government program that was already despicably intrusive, massively overbudget, and growing like a cancer needed a radical trim; he still supports radical "reform" of those fews segments of the universe that have not yet been nationalized, including health care, energy, union-election rules, eating, the planetary climate, the biosphere, and Capitalism itself.
His only consistent philosophy of goverance is that government growth is a ratchet that only allows movement in one direction: towards increasing federal control over the individual. He wants to complete the vision of reconstructing the New Obamunist Man, and deconstructing traditional America.
In Obama's budget and debt crisis of 2011, he has so far identified approximately $2 billion in actual cuts he might be willing to swallow... assuming he gets the $600 billion to $800 billion in tax increases on millionaires (who aren't paying their fair share), oil companies (who work with icky, stinky oil), and any corporation whose employees travel often enough to make it more cost effective for the corporation to own its own jet -- not counting his own administration, which of course maintains a fleet of jets, helicopters, and limos in case the Lord Reformer, the First Family, and the First Entourage desire to travel somewhere for work or play (mostly play).
See? A balanced approach to solving the crisis, something for everyone!
At least he has shown a willingness to be flexible about the negotiations with Congress:
The president said there are three options on the table: a big deal that totals $4 [tr]illion in tax increases and potential spending cuts; a plan about half that size; and a “fallback position” that would increase the debt limit but push off action on the deficit.
In other words:
- A staggering tax increase plus a light dusting of decreases in spending increases sometime in the nebulous future.
- A staggering tax increase without even the illusion of that "light dusting."
- Raising the debt limit unconditionally to any level the resident president demands.
“'If they show me a serious plan, I’m ready to move,' he said." Well you can't say he doesn't give us options!
I think somewhere in his youth, President B.O. misunderstood the phrase, "command economy." Rather than meaning economic decisions under the direct control of a centralized government, Barack Obama misheard it as an economy that responds directly, as if by magic, to any command, demand, or pronunciamento issued by the sorcerer's apprentice -- like a command genie: "I command thee to destroy all energy production but still run all the power devices I think are cool!" *Blink!* "I command thee to double the tax rates but still have a vibrant, growing economy!" *Blink!* "I command the oceans to recede and the Earth to heal!" *Blink!*
Too bad Barbara Eden is no longer working in that line; otherwise, the emperor could command his Jeannie blink him a new set of clothes.
November 2012 cannot come soon enough for me.
Date ►►► July 13, 2011
Look What We Made the Obamacle Do, Part Two
I seem to have dropped a casual bombshell in the sister-post to this, and I ought to cite a source.
After writing the following --
Money comes into the American treasury all the time: quarterly tax payments, corporate taxes, employee withholding, sales of government property, fees, licenses, and so forth. I understand that such continuous income greatly exceeds the bare-bones payment obligations of the United States government -- entitlement payments and debt service. In other words, we have enough revenue to meet those obligations; just not enough to meet them in addition to all the other expensive projects that the Obamunists want to fund at the same time...
-- I received a comment from a frequent commenter who raised the obvious question: Was my back-of-the-thumbnail guesstimate about income and outgo correct? MikeR asked,
You made a claim that there is enough money to cover our bare-bones obligations. I have heard otherwise: That in the month of August, we would essentially have to choose between paying our soldiers, Social Security, and debt service. Did you have a source?
Ask and ye shall receive. I found this on the American Spectator blog, posted today:
But, assuming the debt limit is reached and the Treasury has the power to privilege certain bills over others, there's no doubt that it's within it's power to pay Social Security recipients. The federal government will take in about $172 billion in August, and owe roughly $307 billion. It will have no problem paying the interest on the debt (about $30 billion) and Social Security recipients (about $50 billion).
But what about "paying our soldiers?" The author of the Spectator blogpost, Joseph Lawler, digs deeper:
Bloomberg Businessweek has created a debt ceiling prioritization calculator, using figures from the Bipartisan Policy Center. Using broad categories, it shows which items the government could continue to fund past the deadline while avoiding a default on the debt. By BPC's calculations, it would be possible to continue paying not only for Social Security and the interest on the debt, but also Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, active duty military pay, TANF [welfare], food stamps, and Homeland Security emergency preparation and response, with billions left over just in case.
Joseph Lawler is the managing editor of the American Spectator; Bloomberg L.P., which publishes Bloomberg Buisinessweek (formerly BusinessWeek), is nearly entirely owned (88%) by Michael Bloomberg, the current Mayor of New York City and a flaming Democrat, for all that he ran for the mayorship as a "Republican." He, his company, and the magazine are hardly likely to tilt towards tea partiers, conservatives, or actual Republicans. I think it safe to trust them all on this point, which constitutes an admission against the Left's interest.
(To be a compleat completist, another commenter, LarryD, posted much of this same information in a comment to the previous post; and MikeR himself found a similar story here.)
Just remember: When in doubt, always trust Big Lizards; we may not always be right, but we're never wrong. (And Power Line. And Patterico's Puntifications, of course; trust them too. And even Beldar, when you can scrape the crust off'n him; but that's a whole 'nuther box of fish.)
Date ►►► July 12, 2011
Look What We Made the Obamacle Do!
First it was "Hope and Change," where any kind of change would make things better, any government spending at all would be "stimulative," and hope arose from the mere fact that a man who called himself "post-partisan" and "post-racial" had planted himself in la Casa Blanca. Under his reign, the oceans would subside, the Earth would heal, and like Milo Minderbinder's M&M Enterprises, everybody would have a share.
This idyllic intro-interlude quickly morphed into "gangster government," as Michael Barone put it: a lethal combination of legal bribery from unions and other special-interest groups, followed by wholesale privileges (literally, "private laws") granted to favored constituencies, from auto-worker unions, to teachers, to gays, to federally privileged minorities, to Silicon Valley billionaires, to silicone-mountain Hollywood elites. The president had discovered that democracy is messy, and even those who disagree with Obama are allowed to vote, protest, organize, and voice their opinions.
Faced with such disunity and "chaos" coming from bitter people who cling to their religion and their guns, what was a newly anointed Keeper of the Vision supposed to do? Naturally he had to turn to criminal mobs to appease the liberal mobs who made him -- and who could break him just as easily.
But at last, after years of increasingly dirty (and incompetent) governance coupled with crony "capitalism," the administration of Barack H. Obama slithered into its third and terminal phase: extortion government, in which the President of the United States directly threatens to inflict grievous damage, in a planned and calculating way, upon the most vulnerable of his own people -- unless his political opponents kow-tow to his every demand. (Actually, as Barack Obama considers himself a "fellow citizen of the world," perhaps he doesn't consider them "his people" in the first place.)
In a sense stronger than merely symbolic, Barack Hussein Obama has become Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre, architect of the French Revolution, the bloodiest community-organizing mob action in history.
Witness: France during the Terror had the guillotine, the "national barber;" America, held hostage, has the deficit -- the national credit card. The administration has maxed out the national credit card (even gone over the limit), and the president is beside himself that he cannot continue charging, charging, and charging to pay for his caviar tastes in government largess.
So today, in a fit of pique, Obama threatens that unless Republicans agree immediately to a Brobdingnagian hike in the national credit card's credit limit and to trilliions of dollars in new taxes and spending, he will deliberately, and with malice aforethought, refuse to send out Social Security and Veterans Benefits checks.
"I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Mr. Obama said in an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, according to excerpts released by CBS News.
"Look what you made me do!"
But of course, the administration is responsible for all federal spending. Congress can only appropriate; it's up to the Executive actually to send out the checks. And that means the president has the legal authority and obligation to prioritize spending.
In this case, he has the duty to privilege certain spending -- interest and principal payments to bond holders and "entitlement" payments to seniors and veterans, among others -- over other types of spending, including payments to doctors and hospitals under ObamaCare; block grants to states; foreign aid; funding of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, paying vendors and federal contractors; paying for travel by government employees (including the president, Mrs. President, and their posse/entourage); money to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Mental Health, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and every other federally funded foundation or institute (no matter how worthy); and even paying federal workers.
Not to mention the hundreds of billions of dollars appropriated by Congress every year for porkbarrel projects in the districts of powerful representatives and senators.
Money comes into the American treasury all the time: quarterly tax payments, corporate taxes, employee withholding, sales of government property, fees, licenses, and so forth. I understand that such continuous income greatly exceeds the bare-bones payment obligations of the United States government -- entitlement payments and debt service. In other words, we have enough revenue to meet those obligations; just not enough to meet them in addition to all the other expensive projects that the Obamunists want to fund at the same time. (What's most galling, of course, is that Barack Obama himself and his cronies in Congress are the very culprits who brought on this terrible financial catastrophe in the first place. "Look what I made you make me do!")
The obvious solution presents itself.
Every large corporation must have a budget; and every such budget must, among other requirements, prioritize the corporation's financial obligations: What gets paid first? What gets paid second, third, nth? I suspect that if a publicly traded corporation was so mismanaged that it didn't even have a contingency plan for what bills to pay if it experienced a sudden revenue shortfall, not only would it be liable for massive lawsuits, but the SEC and the Justice Department might open a criminal investigation of the corporate officers.
Thinking of the federal government as the nation's largest (if not the world's largest) corporation, then mustn't it, too, have a heirarchy of payments to guide the president during a temporary shortfall? Isn't the obvious lack of such an emergency plan, resulting in threats to withhold pledged funds to those who could literally die from such embezzlement -- which is what the president's threat amounts to -- the very definition of financial malfeasance and nonfeasance?
But this sort of hysterical extortion is the liberal's stock in trade. I cannot begin to count how many times a Democratic governor or mayor has responded to reduced revenues by threatening to furlough police and firefighters first, before even considering laying off the thousands of non-essential government workers, from state license form filler-outers and scrutinizers, to inspectors who prowl neighborhoods to make sure nobody has the wrong kind of front lawn or too high a fence, to complicated "diversity" (affirmative action) schemes, to pothole repair, to state highway construction, to light rail, to establishment of new state parks, to city-hall barbers, to spiraling billions to state "education" funding.
It's a vile and shabby trick: Pandering to the liberal mob, Obama attacks the weakest and most vulnerable citizens by directly threatening them with penury and starvation unless Republicans cave. "Nice pension you have there; sure would be a shame if something was to happen to it..." Such intimidation of America's own citizens is so thuggish, so antidemocratic, so unAmerican that it easily rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors in the meaning of Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution.
Any ordinary person would burn with shame to threaten the old, the sick, and wounded vets just to enact his pet policies, against the clearly expressed will of the people. I can only conclude that Obama's narcissism is so advanced that he has become a functional sociopath -- the anti-Clinton -- literally incapable of feeling anybody's pain, responsive only to his own sense of aristocratic entitlement and his outrage at being thwarted.
Obama's "audacity" is positively brazen; it doesn't even occur to him to conceal his real motivation. He nakedly commands this issue to go away until after his presumed re-coronation next year:
Mr. Obama has repeatedly said he wants a deal that would allow the U.S. to avoid confronting the issue again until after the 2012 elections and vowed on Monday that he would "not sign a 30-day or a 60-day or a 90-day extension."
He insists that both sides "put politics aside" -- and simply enact the Democratic minority agenda. There's post-partisanship for you, Chicago style. What's next? Will President B.O. take a page from the National Lampoon? "If Republicans don't raise taxes and jack up the debt ceiling, we'll kill this dog!"
November 2012 cannot come soon enough. I only wonder... if Barack Obama continues on the path he has trodden for the past two and a half years, will he become the first incumbent president to lose all fifty-seven states?
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► July 9, 2011
Thus spake Politico:
President Obama’s senior political adviser David Plouffe said Wednesday that people won’t vote in 2012 based on the [greater than 9%] unemployment rate.
Good Lord... does the Plouffter predict something even worse dominating the election instead?
One shudders to imagine!
Date ►►► July 8, 2011
We Hold These Truths to Be Valid Conclusions...
~ A government powerful and intrusive enough to arrest two men having gay sex at home is powerful and intrusive enough to arrest a husband and wife having oral sex at home.
~ A government that declares husband and husband the same as husband and wife necessarily declares that mothers contribute nothing unique to child rearing (and women contribute nothing unique to marriage).
~ A high government official who preaches that "it takes a village to raise a child" certainly believes that it doesn't take parents to raise a child.
~ A nanny state with authority to outlaw cocaine or opiates can just as easily outlaw Coca-Cola and cough syrup.
~ A government that taxes cigarettes to force you to quit smoking can also tax fast food to force you to lose weight.
~ A government strong enough to tell you how long you must cook food is strong enough to tell you what food you can cook in the first place.
~ A government with the power to ban trans-fat must also have the power to ban meat.
~ A government with the chutzpah to force children to eat school-prepared breakfast and lunch regardless of what his parents want necessarily has enough nerve to force children to eat school-prepared dinner too -- regardless of what his parents want.
~ An FDA that can ban silicone breast implants because it opposes "sexism" likewise has the power to ban hair dye because it opposes "blondism."
~ A government so powerful that it can confiscate "unexplained cash" if you fly on a government-regulated airliner is a government that can confiscate the same bankroll if you walk on the government-owned sidewalks.
~ If government can use its heavy hand to advantage today's minorities as reparations for yesterday's racism, then it can use its other hand to advantage tomorrow's majority as reparations for today's "affirmative action."
~ A government with the reach to transform losers into winners via the invisible hand of welfare, must also have the reach to transform winners into losers via the invisible foot of regulation.
~ A government with the authority to ban art for the subjective crime of being "obscene" must also have the authority to ban art for the subjective crime of being "in poor taste."
~ A government that has the power to ban speech it considers "hateful" likewise has the power to ban speech it considers "seditious."
Something for everyone; think about it.
Date ►►► July 5, 2011
Reagan's Eleventh Commandment... Texas Style
President Ronald Reagan used to enunciate what he called "the eleventh commandment," which was, "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican." Obviously that cannot be taken absolutely literally, else it would mean we cannot speak ill of a registered Republican who also happened to be a bank robber. But read rationally and reasonably, it means that we shouldn't waste time tearing down Republicans just because they happen to be more conservative, less conservative, more libertarian, or more "country club" than we. Mindless destruction is the Democrats' job.
So when I read about the supposed "rivalry" between former President George W. Bush and potential presidential candidate and current Texas Gov. Rick Perry, I was skeptical; I figured the Rive Gauche media were just playing "Let's you and him fight" again. I hoped that the contretemps in a cuppa was more like this:
The rivalry has become lore in the state capital, at times bordering on urban legend. “An eight-foot alligator in the sewer,” said Mr. Perry’s chief political strategist, David Carney. Stressing that the two men were friends with more similarities than differences, Mr. Carney said, “They are in the same church, different pews.”
Neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Perry would be interviewed for this article, and people close to both said the rivalry existed far more between their aides than between them personally...
...than like this, from the same article:
But in recent years, Mr. Perry has broken politically with Mr. Bush, questioning his credentials as a fiscal conservative, accusing him of going on “a big government binge” and playing down some of Mr. Bush’s accomplishments in Texas in light of his own.
Mr. Perry’s public statements exposed a long-simmering rivalry that had been little known outside of the political fraternity here but underscores the rightward drift of the Republican Party since Mr. Bush was president. More acutely, Mr. Perry’s criticism holds potential peril and benefit for him should he decide to mount a presidential campaign, allowing him to establish an identity distinct from Mr. Bush but risking a guerrilla campaign against him by the former president’s inner circle.
Yes, of course Perry is more ideologically conservative than Bush, or especially than the latter's father, George H.W. Bush. But W. was certainly never a raging RINO, for all that he differed on issues both politic and policy with many contempo-conservatives. Such a difference resides squarely within the realm of Reagan's eleventh.
So assuming the former -- that the rivalry is more between staffers than principals -- I offer this immodest proposal; most of the onus is on the former president, who is much better known and has nothing to lose, being "at liberty," as the saying goeth. It's a three-step plan; Bush should be comfortable with n-step plans:
- George W. Bush should call a press conference. In a scowling, angry-looking and -sounding voice, he should announce that he won't allow Rick Perry's criticisms of him to go unanswered, so he is going to respond to them right now. That should guarantee maximum coverage; the Casa Blanca press corpse -- sorry, corps -- should be salivating like Pavlov's pups at the prospect of Bush tearing a Republican hopeful a new, let us say, Angus.
On the ordained date, W. steps up to the podium and rattles off the main charges against him from the Perry camp: That he allowed spending to grow far too large, that he was too accommodating to those who wanted full amnesty for illegal immigrants, and that his policies were too "big government" in a number of social policies, notably education.
Then W. says, "I regret to say that most of Gov. Perry's criticisms are true. When I came to Washington, I'd hoped to push more small government, private-sector solutions; but I came to believe that my policies were the best that I could get through Congress at that time. I still think so, but times have changed; and today I would offer very different, more Reaganesque policies than I felt able to offer during my tenure in office.
"While Republicans controlled the House and Senate until the 2006 elections, I never had a majority of fiscal and regulatory conservatives to work with in Congress; and after that election, I had to contend with a Democratic Congress that saw every problem as evidence that the federal government was too small, didn't tax and spend enough, and didn't have enough control over the rest of us.
"But after the 2012 election, whichever Republican is the new president will have a Congress that is much more fiscally conservative, that won't try to balance the government's budget by raising taxes on families and companies, and much more reluctant to put its thumb on the scales and declare winners and losers within the private sector. The Congress elected next year will get out of the way and allow the American economy to roar back to full strength, once the anchor of government regulation is chopped away.
"As far as I'm concerned, the George W. Bush of today has no policy disputes with the Gov. Rick Perry of today. In fact, I would be overjoyed to see a President Perry, or a President Romney, President Bachmann, President Pawlenty, or any other Republican as President of the United States."
And for the last step, Bush should conclude thus: "And to that end, I am announcing here and now that whichever Republican is nominated at the GOP convention in Tampa, my staff, my friends, my fundraisers, and I will work tirelessly to elect him or her in November 2012. Because every Republican running would make an excellent chief executive, and there's not a one of 'em that wouldn't be a gift from God compared to the incumbent.
So you asked for my response to what Rick Perry has been saying about my tenure as president... and this is it: I've listened to Perry and all the rest, and I like what I hear. As far as I'm concerned -- and I'm sure my staff wouldn't want to violate Ronald Reagan's eleventh commandment either -- I can wholeheartedly endorse any one of them. Thank you and good evening; I will not be taking questions."
As I said upstairs, George W. Bush has nothing to lose; so he is the logical person to make the first conciliatory move. If he doesn't, I will be very disappointed... just as I was at the conclusion of his second term.
I hope by now that, like Beaver Cleaver, he has learned his lesson.
Date ►►► July 4, 2011
News of Obama's Death Is Greatly Exaggerated...
...News of the depths to which leftist hacks will sink to defame their ideological opponents is greatly underestimated
Today, a mob of left-leaning computer hackers hacked into the Twitter account of Fox News to issue false proclamations that President Barack H. Obama had been assassinated in Iowa.
(The New York Times headline actually says the Twitter account was "apparently hacked," implying there's some doubt. Say, maybe Fox News really did think Obama was dead. Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket! Why didn't I think of that earlier?)
The group that apparently claimed credit, and which apparently appears to have actually apparently committed the apparent crime, apparently calls itself Script Kiddies; here is their explanation of why they did it:
The Script Kiddies, Mr. Peck said, had posted to its own Twitter account that it had hacked Fox News’ political Twitter account and wanted to speak to The Huffington Post, supplying an address at the instant-messaging service AIM. Mr. Peck, 23, said he figured he would try the address as well....
According to the instant-message record, which Mr. Peck provided to the New York Times, the person with whom he communicated at Script Kiddies said that Fox News “was selected because we figured their security would be just as much of a joke as their reporting.”
In the meanwhile, despite the fact that it was Twitter.com, not FoxNews.com, that was hacked, we learn that:
The false Twitter posts about Mr. Obama seemed even more provocative because Fox News is widely perceived to be a voice of opposition to the Obama administration. On Monday, thousands of people on Twitter poked fun at the incident and at Fox News by pretending to guess Fox’s Twitter passwords.
The implication by those "thousands of people" being that Fox News is so stupid, that their Twitter password must be something like "rightwing" or "paulrevere," or even "password." Smug, condescending superiority so becomes the Left that we didn't even need the Times' recounting to know how that side of the dial would react.
Considering how poor Twitter's security appears to be, however, I suspect the breach lies with those twits, not the newsroom.
So once again, the angry, populist, anti-globalist, "information wants to be free" mob resorts to criminal behavior to libel Fox News; and the New York Times dutifully slurps it up spits it at the world. Almost as if it were -- choreographed. (Apparently!)
America's newspaper of record -- "All the news we see fit to print!" -- doesn't bother mentioning the obvious political affiliation of the Fox News hating, HuffPo loving hackers until page 2 of the story. Coincidence! And for weeks now, we'll be hearing stories about how "Faux News" was so stupid and vicious that they thought/hoped that the president had been killed... as though Fox News itself had actually tweeted those twitty tweets.
After a while, that spurious and absurd defamation will enter the universal Democratic Zeitgeist. You know the one I mean, where Sarah Palan twanged that she could "see Russia from her house;" and where the Bush administration response to Hurricane Katrina was "the worst in American history;" and Dan Quayle thought people spoke "Latin" in Latin America and that there were "people" on Mars; and Reagan was an illiterate "puppet;" and "racist Republicans" implemented the Jim Crow laws; and FDR "saved us" from the Great Depression -- which was caused by the "unbridled Capitalism" of Herbert Hoover.
To quote Mythbusters' Adam Savage in a completely different context, one great motto of the Left is, "I reject your reality and substitute my own!" But the contemporary liberal has yet another to which he unfailingly holds: "If the electorate is against you, pound on the courts; if the courts are against you, pound on the electorate; if both are against you -- pound on Fox News!"
And all of the time lately, it seems they're pounding on Fox News. Draw your own conclusion.
Joyous Indepence Day to All!
To hell with politics, let's set off some incendiaries!
Bonfires, illuminations, and -- and -- balloons?!
On July 3rd, 1776, John Adams sent a letter to Abigail Adams, his wife, exulting in the great and awful deed the Second Continental Congress had just performed:
[Independence Day] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
Adams, in his lawyerly way, imagined the day of celebration would be July 2nd, the day the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Second Continental Congress. But practical Americans instead chose the date actually printed on the Declaration itself; it was easier to remember! So July Fourth it became, that first Independence Day, and real Americans celebrate it every year.
Finally, just because I really, really like it, here's the image we used the last couple of years:
Happy Independence Day - 1916 meets
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