Monthly Archives: May 2013

On Michele Bachmann Retiring

Oh, the self-anointed progressives are happy about this.

To them, it’s all about what a scandalously crazy idiot she is – an image they, through their enablers in the press, have carefully crafted over the last few years.

But, you know… I’ve been paying attention to the lady. And I like her.

She organized the Tea Party Caucus in the House. She organized impromptu Tea Party rallies in DC that got huge crowds with less than a week’s notice. She knows, respects, and loves the Constitution.

And she’s a Christian. A real one, not so much the a-la-carte Christianity that has gained so much popularity of late. She is not afraid to stand up for her beliefs.

Which means she is not afraid to say that she believes homosexuality is a behavioral issue, not something like race.

Race is genetic. Culture … behavior, is … well, that has been an argument for quite some time now. Nature vs. nurture. The progressive movement that spawned Margaret Sanger and Adolf Hitler, among others, really bought into the nature thing. And history tells us what that brought us.

Those who are more predisposed to believe in free will … believe that behavior can be wrong, no matter how much nature may have as an input. I believe it is probably true that some people (of any race) can be born more predisposed to violence. It does not make assault or murder less wrong, though.

A good friend pointed this out to me when we were discussing the issue of homosexuality and tolerance.

Of course, homosexual behavior and murder are far from equivalent. But one can certainly argue that one born with a more maleficent predilection still has a choice whether or not to assault or murder, and one could similarly argue that one who might be born with a predilection, a sexual attraction to someone of the same sex … still has a choice whether or not to act upon it.

Which is all separate from the issue of whether or not it should be legal in a free society between consenting adults.

In a free society, legal and moral are not necessarily equivalent to everyone.

But it does not follow that just because one believes that certain behavior is immoral, or even simply believe that one can choose to engage in a particular behavior or not … that said belief is in any way hateful or should be illegal or outside of the realm public conversation.

Now the deal is, Michelle Bachmann — to me — seems to be a perfectly rational, decent, kind, loving human being who can hold two opposing principles simultaneously in her mind and effectively separate them into their proper spheres of influence. This, to me, is the essence of a thoughtful, enlightened human being.

Bachmann isn’t trying to pass any legislation to force anyone to go through gay/straight therapy, or outlaw gay behavior. It’s the mere fact that she believes it can be overcome that is an anathema to them. Again, see, it’s projection. Progressives are all about making their beliefs about what constitutes social progress into law…. they know if they believed what she believes, they’d be passing laws to force it right and left. And if they couldn’t, say, if the gate were closed, they’d go over the fence. And if the fence was too high, they’d pole vault in. And if that didn’t work, they’d parachute

From what I’ve seen, there is nobody in politics any more mindful (there are a few that are as mindful … but I don’t think any that are any more mindful), and respectful of our founding .principles than Mrs. Bachmann.

But the George Lakoffs and Joseph Goebbels of the world know that he who controls the language controls the narrative. And to them and their acolytes of political correctness, the mere fact that she believes that homosexuality is a behavioral issue and not a genetic issue is an anathema. But if you ask me, this is not their main issue with her. It’s just one they can use in the language of “tolerance” they have so carefully constructed.

The fact is is that by and large they hate the Constitution. It stands in the way between them and their various visions of statistic utopia. But they can use “homophobe” (though there’s no evidence that she is afraid of homosexuals) or “hater” (though there’s no evidence that she actually hates … anybody) to paint her as the crazy b*tch from Minnesota, and then heap on all kinds of other nonsense about what a white supremist hateful woman she must be because she’s “conservative” and “conservative” is “all that”. Oh, they’ll argue that she must be hateful, but it all has to be couched in the deconstructionist construction that is the essence of political correctness to make any sense at all.

Now … I’m not really naive enough to believe that her decision is based solely on self-term-limiting, though it’s a great reason. On the other hand, the lady has done more to preserve our founding principles in government than most politicians in recent memory. She’s had some good company, but she is ingood –company. I don’t begrudge her bowing out.

Because as I think she would be among the first to agree… it’s not the person. It’s the principles.

Which has a lot to do with why I like her.

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Cylar’s Memorial Day Message

It’s Memorial Day, and we’re hearing the familiar reminders to “remember the fallen” and “honor the troops” today and all of that. It is often accompanied by pictures of Arlington National Cemetery, plain white headstones with flags next to them, and the like. Some mentions also make it a point to suggest you should financially support organizations designed to maintain memorials, or to help living veterans and their families.

Before anyone objects, let me say that this is not a bad thing. We need to remember fallen warriors, including those who didn’t count on dying that day. (The Navy guys who were asleep in their bunks aboard the USS Arizona during the Pearl Harbor attack, for example.) A lot of servicemen (and yes, women) died horrible and painful deaths in defense of our freedom. Some were wounded in combat and later died of their injuries. It was not always quick and easy for them. I will not elaborate on the many creative ways that enemies of our country have found to kill members of our military over the years.

While many of these service members were probably thinking about survival, their comrades-in-arms, or some combat objective at the time of death (as opposed to high American ideals of freedom, democracy, liberty, self-determination, etc) it can nonetheless be stated that all of them were lost in service to our country in one capacity or another…even those whose missions we never even heard about. I’m going to take it one step further and state that I think we should honor the memory of those who may have been engaged in morally questionable military activity at the time of death.

For example, everyone agrees that D-Day was the right thing to do; the My Lai massacre…not so much. But even those who were participating in such an atrocity still deserve to have their memory honored. As American citizens, we’re still obligated to honor even those who fought in campaigns and conflicts we don’t necessarily support.

I’ll try to get to my point. My only objection to the Memorial Day observances (the parades, the familiar Facebook posts, the blurbs to “remember the fallen” heard throughout the day on various media outlets) is that I think most of them don’t go far enough. I think, along with the reminders to remember the fallen, we need an additional message for the living:

Do not let their sacrifice be in vain.

What do I mean? Okay, did anyone see ‘Saving Private Ryan’? Reference the part near the end of the film, where Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) has been mortally wounded on the bridge, he’s speaking to Private Ryan (Matt Damon), and he says, “Earn this!” It was his last sentence, before succumbing to the injuries he’d just sustained in combat. Private Ryan, of course, survives the war and goes on to lead a long life. At the end of the film, he’s shown visiting Captain Miller’s grave…and he asks his wife to tell him he’s been a good husband, a good father over the years.

I don’t know if that scene actually happened or if it was the creation of some Hollywood screenwriter, but I think there is some wisdom in Captain Miller’s message. “Earn this!” His statement to Private Ryan was simple – don’t let my sacrifice, my death on this bridge, my dying at the hands of the German army we’re fighting – don’t let that be in vain. He was telling the private to lead a worthwhile life after the war, one which would be worthy of the sacrifice of brave men who fought and died. At least that’s what *I* got out of that scene.

What does that mean to us today – not letting the sacrifice of fallen warriors be in vain? I think it means not only to exercise the freedoms they bought and secured for us, but also to be vigilant against anyone who’d try to take them. “Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel,” warned Patrick Henry. Yeah, the “give me liberty or give me death” guy.

Our Founding Fathers made it abundantly clear that those who hold political power are mere men – corruptible, not to be trusted, ever seeking to impose tyranny on the rest of us. They made it clear, through their writings in various publications of the time (The Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution itself, personal letters, and others) that if our country is to remain free – or to have honest government – then the people themselves must be the ones to guarantee that. It means that one of the responsibilities of being an American citizen, is to hold one’s leaders accountable. It means demanding honest and transparent government that respects our rights.

Ben Franklin, for instance, on exiting the Constitutional Convention, was asked what sort of government he and his colleagues had designed, and he is reported to have said, “A republic, if you can keep it.” He meant that it was up to future generations to maintain what had been fought for during the Revolutionary War. It is also said that “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” which has been variously attributed. Regardless of who said that, I think there’s a real nugget of truth there.

We simply don’t have the luxury of turning a blind eye to what’s happening to our country, trusting that our leaders know best, or telling ourselves that it’s all going to work out. History has counseled us that those who seek to aggrandize more power unto themselves always have nefarious reasons for doing so. Look no further than Hitler’s Germany for a rather strong example of what happens when people assume that their leaders have the peoples’ best interests at heart. The Russian Revolution of 1917 (which installed Lenin and his communist Bolsheviks in power) is another. Tyranny and destruction always follow such men.

This makes the president’s recent speech at Ohio State all the more disgusting:

Still, you’ll hear voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s the root of all our problems, even as they do their best to gum up the works; or that tyranny always lurks just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave, creative, unique experiment in self-rule is just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.

 

A lot of people these days talk about rights of citizenship, but no discussion of rights is complete without a corresponding discussion of responsibilities.They go together. It’s two sides of the same coin.

The president’s foolish speech at Ohio State is exactly the sort of thing our Founders were warning us about. Imploring us to reject “voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s the root of all our problems” is an example of what to watch out for. On the contrary, this just the sort of rhetoric that engaged citizens need to reject. It should be dismissed by those American citizens who are cognizant of their responsibilities to fallen warriors, as well as to themselves and their posterity.

(Understand that I’m not quoting this in order to pick on Obama or other liberals – not today anyway. He simply happens to be the guy in power at the moment.)

I wrote on Facebook today that one way of not letting our military’s sacrifices be in vain, is to pay attention to what your government is doing and to hold your government leaders accountable. This means they should be hearing from us on a regular basis. It means we should be paying close attention and not relying on the media or political pundits to interpret events for us. It means we have a responsibility as American citizens to let our elected and appointed leaders know that they answer to us – that we made them, and we can break them…figuratively and politically speaking. It means that we can and will use our First Amendment rights on the Internet, at gathering places, in forums, at the ballot box, and in court to assert our will.

This is particularly important here in America, because of why our military members went to their deaths on land, sea, and air over the last couple of centuries. There’s a very important distinction to be made between our fallen service members, and those who fought for our enemies, for many other nations/states/empires of history, or for those who fight in the militaries of many foreign countries today.

What distinction is that? Freedom. Our military’s fallen were lost in defense of freedom. I don’t mean to suggest that your average GI at Bunker Hill, Shiloh, Somme, Guadalcanal, Inchon, Khe Sanh, Desert Storm, or Fallujah spent a lot of time thinking about our country’s ideals so much as simply staying alive, watching each other’s backs and getting the job done. I also don’t mean to suggest that whoever the enemy du jour happened to be necessarily thought of themselves as the bad guys (though most certainly were). I do, however, mean to suggest that pretty much all of them were ostensibly deployed in some capacity meant to assure that our nation and its ideals would continue to exist.

If any of those fallen warriors came back to life today, I’d like to be able to look them in the eye and tell them that we hadn’t squandered what they’d bequeathed us. They didn’t bleed just so we can sit on the couch today and watch our leaders give away the store.

Though very little military conflict actually took place on American soil during the 20th and 21st centuries, every time our military was sent overseas it was ostensibly done so in order to protect our interests, and to make sure that no rival power would be able to get into a position to threaten those ideals. Nobody in America wanted to see the British redcoats, the Nazis, the imperial Japanese, the Soviet communists / their allies, Al Queda, or anyone else in a position to assert a real threat to the continued survival of this country, its citizens, or to our way of life.

I happen to think this is important because the American experiment is a unique one in human history. Never before was a country founded from the very beginning on the concept of self-government. Though other countries have been run democratically to one extent or another, never before was a nation set upon a foundation that the people, and not their rulers, are sovereign. Every other republic throughout history to that point had placed limits upon the sovereignty of the people.

Today, there are dozens of countries in which attempting to “petition the government for a redress of grievances” (that’s from the First Amendment in our Constitution) is all it takes to get oneself and one’s entire family thrown into prison or worse. How well do you think letter-writing campaigns by citizens are tolerated today in North Korea, Iran, Cuba, or a long list of other places? How well do you think it was tolerated by Soviet Russia or by the Roman Empire for that matter? Do you think politicians in those places listened to the people and realized they’d better clean up their act…or were goon squads sent out to deal with “troublemakers” and other sources of dissent?

And I don’t think we here in America are immune to our country going down the same path. We are in trouble if we’re more concerned about “American Idol,” keeping up with the Kardashians, and this year’s Super Bowl…than we are with holding our leaders accountable and making sure that they know we aren’t going to tolerate any funny business. It means letting them know – frequently – that we’re happy to vote them out of office and/or use the power of the judiciary to hold them in check. This is absolutely critical to maintaining the rule of law, as opposed to the arbitrary rule of men.

This is not a partisan plea. This transcends Republican or Democratic politics. This has nothing to do with party. While there happens to be a Democrat-controlled administration in the White House at the moment, it’s just as important to be vigilant when the other side is in power…regardless of how you voted in the last election. In fact, it may be even more important when “your guys” are in, since they may be more apt to listen to you if they think they run the risk of losing your support for acting unwisely, illegally, unethically, or irresponsibly. Don’t tell yourself even for a minute that Congress, the President, the governor, the state Legislature, the mayor, the City Council, or the County Board of Supervisors don’t care what you think. If there’s one thing that politicians of every stripe and every level understand, it’s votes.

I assure you that if enough people get exercised about something, action will be taken, by the highest levels of American government. If the Benghazi, IRS, or Fast N Furious scandals were being taken seriously by voters of all stripes (instead of dismissed as a partisan witch hunt), we’d be getting some real answers about what went on in these cases, instead of stonewalling and “I can’t remember, I don’t recall” from the people who may have been involved.

If the Democrats in Congress – and their constituents back home – were demanding a real response from the Obama Administration, we’d get one. But that’s just it – the people who elected these politicians need to be leading the way. Ultimate blame for corruption, incompetence, or malfeasance in government rests with the people, who are sovereign. It’s been said that the American people may not necessarily get the government they deserve, but they will definitely get the worst one they’ll tolerate.

If one good thing came out of the Watergate scandal nearly forty years ago, it should be this: The American people will forgive incompetence and even dishonesty…but they have no patience for a cover-up.

I don’t mean to get off on a lot of finger-pointing; those were merely handy examples because they are current events as of this writing. Everything I’ve said here is also true of developments at the state or local level. I personally vote in every election, of course, and also contact my state Legislative officials from time to time to let them know what I think of their positions on my pet issues. I probably should be doing even more, but as everyone knows, there are only so many hours in the day, with a full time job and a family to attend to. Nonetheless, I consider it my responsibility as an American citizen to let my leaders know that I’m watching them, that I have a voice, and that I’m not afraid to use it. So should you.

I also am happy to let them assume that I speak for thousands of other citizens who couldn’t be bothered to pick up the phone or write a letter that day, but who nonetheless do vote…and who are paying attention to what’s being done with their tax dollars and with the power we’ve entrusted to them as public servants.

These people who serve in government (remember that word) work for us. Not the other way around. We pay their salary and they answer to us, even if they are from some Congressional or Legislative district other than the one we live in. We the people are their boss, and as US citizens, we have a very serious obligation to our fallen warriors to insist on honest and efficient government.

Earn this. Honor the fallen, this Memorial Day and every day. Do not let their sacrifices be in vain.

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Words Most Abused by the Left

1. Tolerance
2. Fairness
3. Equality
4. Inclusion
5. Science
6. Open-minded
7. Egalitarian
8. Stereotype
9. Oppressive
10. Non-threatening
11. Diversity
12. Everyone
13. Skeptic
14. Nuance
15. Progressive
16. Environment
17. Hate speech
18. Abuse
19. Torture
20. Greed
21. Assault (weapon/rifle/gun)
21. Wealthy
22. Any tangible noun that ends with “ist,” or intangible noun that ends with “ism.”
23. Undocumented
24. Working (family)
25. Worker
26. Right(s)
27. Ethical
28. Transparent(cy)
29. Landmark
30. Theocracy
31. Common sense
32. Safety
33. Fascist/ism
34. Mainstream
35. Forward

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Right Wing News.

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“Star Trek” Writer Apologizes For One of the Best Scenes in the Movie

Telegraph:

Damon Lindelof, the writer of Star Trek Into Darkness, has apologised to fans for the scene in which…

Wait, wait, this is all wrong. That article is a stupid article because it doesn’t include any pictures of its subject. How are we supposed to know why the writer “apologised”? And what’s up with that spelling? Silly Britons.

Let’s go here instead.

Alice EveWho was it that said, ‘it’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission’? Well, that little maxim for life must have been at the very forefront of Star Trek: Into The Darkness writer and producer Damon Lindelof’s mind this week when he issued a heartfelt apology for including a scene featuring Alice Eve in her underwear. Needless to say, Alice Eve looks very good in her underwear, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she has to conduct an entire scene in it.

It doesn’t? Who says? Actually, in this case it does…I will get to that later on.

Katy Brand, author of this second article — and I’ll bet just just a great and fun person to invite to parties or something — continues:

Using his Twitter account (of course, what else?) Lindelof sent three tweets in a row:

Well, in terms of this newly discovered mindfulness, we could start with learning to spell ‘misogynistic’ – if that is indeed a word – you know, just as a gesture, but let’s not pour cold water on his efforts yet – after all, you applaud the toddler if it gets the poo near the potty the first few times, don’t you?

Um, yeah. You know, we might as well quote from a “tweet” of my own, from before tweeting was done, because I’ve got a feeling we’re gonna need this one:

[Thing I Know #] 52. Angry people who demand things, don’t stop being angry when their demands are met.

Something else I’d like to get out of the way before we go further. I can’t prove it, but I’ve got a feeling Katy Brand doesn’t look as good in her underwear as Alice Eve looks in her underwear. And, let me go out even further on the limb and speculate: That’s what we’re really arguing about here. That, and one other thing: When it’s thought of as a solution to any & all problems to simply require the good-looking women to cover up all their skin, that’s a sign that idiots are in charge.

Damon Lindelof has already written for all kinds of small- and big-screen things like Crossing Jordan, Cowboys and Aliens, and probably many other visual works in which perfectly nice-looking and even gorgeous women go running around in clothing that covers everything. Which, by the way, does very little to inspire any sympathy for him as far as I’m concerned…the hasty and “heartfelt” apology doesn’t do much to improve that. Both look to me like exercises in caving in to jealousy. But this “Katy Brand” scold is doing a great job of proving out, not only how those jealousies work, but the wisdom & truth in TIK #52. Lindelof obviously has a lot of work ahead of him before he can win her over, and that’s assuming he ever can, and my money says no on that.

I really don’t see why the movie people even bother. I’m still not clear on what the complaint is. Since when are movie scenes criticized for being “gratuitous”? Especially the ones that last thirty seconds or less? Because of the visuals? Have these whining whelps seen what’s going into movies lately? Have they seen some of the visuals? Have they seen how ungodly long some of the scenes are that are completely lacking in purpose? Seriously, if that’s the complaint — and, I’m pretty sure it isn’t — “Alice Eve in her underwear” doesn’t even rate. It doesn’t even make the list of noted offenses. It’s lost in a sea of much better examples, even within the Star Trek universe.

Here is an example of what I’m talking about here. For the record, the producer who pushed this scene did apologize for putting it in. And, should’ve…

Back to that first link: It includes a phrasing of the question that evidently was strong enough to launch Lindelof into this spate of backpedaling and apologia. And seems to have been intended to do just that:

Why is Alice Eve in her underwear, gratuitously and unnecessarily, without any real effort made [to explain] as to why in God’s name she would undress in that circumstance?

Holy crap. Someone’s upset! Okay, for those who have not seen the film and might not be up on this “Carol Marcus” character:

Let’s start with the beginning. The new Star Trek series is a semi-reboot. The reboot vehicle which came out four years ago, of which this one is a sequel, includes a storyline which continues at the end of the classic Star Trek time line with all the plot points intact and all the characters developed in the way we’ve seen up to that time. One of them falls into a black hole, emerges at the other side in the distant past, then a bunch of things in the past are changed which essentially causes a new “universe” to be created. It’s a ham-handed, but at the same time rather ingenious, way of kicking things off with a blank slate but with the opportunity to re-imagine characters that have been developed before, with new events in their lives.

If you’re thinking something like “Yeah, I’ll bet they’re just doing this so they don’t have to go to Star Trek conventions and answer endless questions like ‘why would so-and-so do X if Y happened to him back in such-and-such?'”…I’m thinking, you’re probably not too far off the mark.

Enter Carol Marcus, who appeared in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan over thirty years ago. In awkward-looking ugly Mary Tyler Moore slacks. The legendary Captain James T. Kirk had a kid with her. But we never got to see any of that going on, or the “courtship” that would’ve led up to it, we only saw Kirk and Dr. Marcus dealing with the “here and now,” back then, after the kid grew up to become an adult and a Doctor himself. The actress who played Carol Marcus was visually appealing enough, but with much of her feminine appeal removed post-seventies-feminist style. Simply put: We never did get a chance to see what got things going. What kicked in Kirk’s “warp engines.” What got him thinking with the little head.

But, if I were Mr. Lindelof, I wouldn’t have said that. Asked the “why in God’s name” question, I would have said something like: “She wore underwear because the movie’s rated PG-13 and we couldn’t show the boobage. Next question.”

By the way — again, for the benefit of those who have not seen the film. The comments that there is some kind of exploitation taking place here, or “mysogeny” or as the writer himself might say I guess? The idea is completely absurd. I suppose people see what they want to see, especially when they’re caught up complaining about something…but it’s like this. Somehow the idea is gradually put together, as they very often are in Star Trek and always have been, that so-and-so is going to have to approach such-and-such and do some kind of thing. A hasty argument ensues about “No you can’t, it’s too risky and you’re too valuable,” and the person who has to do the thing, the person who came up with the idea, and the person who wins the argument all end up being the same person. Here, it’s Carol Marcus. But she isn’t attired properly, so she orders Captain Kirk, who up to this point has been doing all the ordering, to turn around. Then she strips, he peeks, and she starts berating him and ordering him to turn around again. Simply put: She is taking charge. And that’s where the camera clicks in that screen cap you’re seeing. She’s laying the smack down, while not wearing too much by way of clothes, and the much stronger, taller, fully-dressed and better-established male character of superior rank is replying with “uh, yes ma’am” or some such stuttering, sputtering, deferential type thing.

Kirk has all the advantages. But Marcus is establishing supremacy within the scene nevertheless. That was the point.

It’s exactly what feminists want, in addition to being a perfectly solid as well as amusing foundation for the relationship that develops later. Well, they’re still not happy. If there’s one area of achievement where the feminists really excel, it’s got to do with “still not being happy yet” with something. Boy, they’re like the Energizer Bunny that way…a complaining, bitching, grouchy and unhappy mechanical bunny, that never stops. Being unhappy.

So alright, it’s an exaggeration to say this is “one of the best scenes.” But the reports that the scene is entirely lacking in purpose, are simply not true. I don’t know why one of the writers is agreeing. Writer or not, he must be approaching it from a position of ignorance, or else (I consider this more likely) he’s engaged in fantasy and falsehood, spouting silly things, as part of some effort to climb out of a hole. I can’t speak to his motivations too much. I only know I like my answer better. “She’s wearing underwear because we’d have to go for the R-rating if she wasn’t.”

Uh, you unpleasant nags do realize, don’t you, that he’s going to have to be getting her pregnant at some point soon, right? Heterosexual coupling. Breeding. It’s coming. Might as well start throwing the hissy-fit now…

Update: Context. Once you appreciate the historical context, you appreciate how silly the complaint really is.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Right Wing News.

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I Made a New Word LXV

Lerner-itis (n.)

Mental illness triggered when the patient finds other people are forming opinions about him that he doesn’t like.

The patient starts to behave irrationally, handing out orders to people about what to think and what not to think.

The reasoning seems to be, since the subject of concern is the reputation of the patient, that reputation becomes the property of the patient, and the patient should be able to mold it and shape it as he pleases. Of course, to find oneself at the center of controversy or criticism and to be unhappy about it, is only natural. But mentally rugged and healthy people respect the opinions of others. Lerneritis seems to come from an inability to acknowledge that other opinions might endure, even if the subject of those opinions doesn’t happen to like them.

We got a glimpse of Lerneritis when Lois Lerner, Director of the IRS’ tax-exempt department, testified before Congress about singling out conservative organizations applying for the tax-exempt status. Or…didn’t.

Lois Lerner might win the legal battle but she’s prolonging the political war.

Instead of simply taking the scorn of lawmakers for a day, repeatedly invoking the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination, and then moving on, she chose defiance.

And her bravado has prompted House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to say she has waived her constitutional right to not comment.

Now, he plans to haul the director of the IRS’s tax-exempt department back to the committee for questioning.

“When I asked her her questions from the very beginning, I did so so she could assert her rights prior to any statement,” Issa told POLITICO. “She chose not to do so — so she waived.”

Lerner shocked the committee room in the opening moments of Wednesday’s hearing by delivering an opening statement denying any wrongdoing and professing pride in her government service.

“I have not done anything wrong,” said Lerner, who triggered the IRS scandal on May 10 by acknowledging that the agency had singled out conservative groups applying for tax exemptions. “I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other committee.”

Beyond that, she refused to answer the committee’s questions, immediately triggering a debate among panel members over whether she had just voided her Fifth Amendment rights.

After that, the article linked strays into legally murky territory. And I’m not a lawyer. Then again, that wasn’t a trial. At any rate, it seems we’re about to learn something about the Fifth Amendment. I’m glad to see there’s an amendment in the Constitution that the Obama administration happens to like.

Had some wisdom to share about this mental illness, yesterday, on this issue over at the Hello Kitty of bloggin’

I have noticed a certain behavior in some people for awhile, aptly represented in Ms. Lerner’s comments about her taking the fifth, and having done nothing wrong, et al.

It has to do with the person’s reputation. The thinking seems to be, “since it’s my reputation, that makes it my property, and people should think only the things about me I want them to think. I can simply order them not to think about all the rest.” Which, of course, is not really the way it works…

I’ve also said before that, as an advanced civilized society, we do a great job of “diagnosing” certain mental ailments where they don’t actually exist, and failing to diagnose things that arguably are real illnesses. This would be an example of the latter. You have to be mentally ill, on some level, to think you can simply order people to have the perceptions of you that you want them to have.

If we could simply start diagnosing this illness, and start extrapolating patterns and trends, we might find the afflicted represented disproportionately among persons who have achieved some measure of authority and power, but not all of the authority & power they want. And they are at the extreme ends of the power spectrum: directors of units within agencies that award, deny and revoke tax-exempt status, and other people who have hardly any power at all. But in all cases, wanting more. Guarding the personal reputation with a bit too much jealousy. Unhappy, unfulfilled.

Yeah, I’m not sure you can cut it that way legally. It certainly doesn’t work, out here, in the world of reason and common sense: “I’ve done nothing wrong, and I refuse to answer any questions.” Which is it?

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.

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Mean Liberals

So the producer and co-creator of The Daily Show, Lizz Winstead, made a bad joke about the Oklahoma Tornado hitting a red state. “This tornado is in Oklahoma so clearly it has been ordered to only target conservatives.” Then she apologized and backpedaled like crazy in the best self-deprecating manner should could rustle up, once she found out that real people were getting hurt and killed.

There’s a great case to be made that this isn’t sufficient to let her “off the hook.”

I tend to over-think these things. Maybe this is one of those times I shouldn’t be doing that. Winstead made a “funny” joke before she figured out people were going to be hurt, so it was outside of her intention to wish ill on anyone, or to make light of it once the worst came to pass. She owned up. Let’s move on. Right?

Um…not so fast there. This Daily Show producer being a dark-hearted evil monster who laughs at dead children, is not the focus of my concern and it never has been the focus of my concern. When someone says something stupid like that, it isn’t even my default presumption about what’s going on. I’m more worried about just the thoughtlessness of it. I’m not worried about whether her horizons were broadened once she realized she made an ass out of herself — although maybe I should be, since in her Twitter feed, post-backpedal-moment, I don’t see anything along the lines of “I learned something.” I’m upset that she had to have them broadened in the first place. She didn’t see Oklahoma citizens as “real” people or something? I mean, that was the whole point of her little quip, wasn’t it?

In fact, I think my own horizons are the ones that just got embiggened here. Let me explain that: I’ve often made the point that it isn’t safe to generalize among liberals too broadly. They all push bad policies, but the “elite apathetic” types push the bad policies because they don’t care that the policies hurt people, while the “common ignorants” presumably have the very best intentions and want the best for their fellow world-citizens; they just don’t understand how awful and wretched the policies are. And so, I’ve rationalized, the liberalism we see is simply a sales transaction, from the few cynical psychopaths to the many low-information voters.

It’s a good rationalization. It’s a friendly rationalization, since it makes it possible for all of us to start to find ways to get along. And there’s truth to it, which indicates there’s a need for it: I do know some liberals who are good people. They’re misguided, of course, and by seeing things this way I can at least try to find ways to un-mis-guide them without cheesing ’em off. Try to.

Problem: I don’t know how to file Winstead into this.

Second problem: It isn’t just Winstead. There are quite a few like her.

What’s the difference between being a dark-hearted Jezebel and being a thoughtless bitch? It’s the difference between the active and the passive. I don’t think Winstead really wanted kids to go missing by the dozens and then turn up dead. She just wanted to get her little joke out there. No, I agree the apology doesn’t let her off the hook, because when you really mull it over awhile you see it’s one of those apologies for getting caught. She made a very hateful remark, which was worth making because it was hateful against the right people. And, I’m picking up that it was very important for her to get it out there, toot-sweet, before someone else thought of the same thing and beat her to the punch. That does seem to be when the bad judgment comes out.

Can I pigeonhole her with the genuinely well-intentioned liberals who just want to be kind all the time? The sweet, cheerful Aunt who’s been voting for democrats since Roosevelt, and finds a way to change the subject whenever you point out that logic and history agree the minimum wage exacerbates unemployment for young people? And here’s my dilemma: I don’t think I can. It isn’t fair to the Auntie, who at least gives a shit. Lizz Winstead obviously doesn’t. She, along with the people like her, are all too busy being “funny” and making their “jokes.”

So I guess, with this new experience in my rear-view mirror and a bit of introspection and “exospection,” we need a new middle-tier. We have the generals, think of those as Barack Obama’s inner circle right now, the people who figure out absurd silly things like: Pass this gun control bill, pass ObamaCare, pretend John Kerry is the best Secretary of State we could possibly have…based on God only knows what kind of motives they’re hiding from everyone else. There are buck privates, who might have wonderful intentions but don’t know a damn thing and can’t be told anything, the dear old aunties. In between we have, dunno what “rank” we’d give them, Staff Sergeant or something? The “noncoms.” They aren’t at the bottom of the food chain, because they get this thrill out of making their “jokes” which are really nothing more than efforts to tell others what to support, what to oppose, what to think. With little punchlines at the end, so they can pretend what they just said is some kind of a “joke.”

But they don’t formulate what they’re selling. They don’t decide what that’s going to be; they’re not “brass.” They just pass it along, bludgeon others into believing in it and supporting it.

They’re not funny. They’re just plain mean. Just not actively mean. They’re passively mean. The truth is, they really don’t give a crap about dead kids, if while the kids are alive they happen to be living in the wrong, red states. They care about looking like they care, so they can keep their good reputations. Which they can then use to sell the agenda. Formed and shaped by the brass, to the kindly old buck-private aunties, who genuinely do have and maintain this compassion for kids and other human beings, that these noncoms only pretend to have.

The top tier is the apathetic, the bottom tier is the ignorant, and this middle one is both. We have to acknowledge it’s there, because there is a danger that these buck-private compassionate aunties might, after a time, be “promoted” and lose their compassion. That’s the trouble with these noble, glorious movements that are supposed to change the world: Sooner or later, this drive to help people who need the help, checks out. And it’s replaced by this other darker ambition to lock the sites on the opposition, and blast away. Beat them. Vanquish. Win. Grind ’em into the dirt. Really show ’em what-for.

I don’t want to pretend to know a lot about this Lizz Winstead person, because I just heard about her for the first time. But with this charge-and-retreat thing she did here, she’s not that hard to read. She has rounded that bend. She’s not alone. It’s been growing, as a big national problem, for a long time.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Right Wing News.

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Fire and Rain

Saw a post of a video of RAND Corporation’s (what a bad name for such a proggie organization) Arthur Kellerman chiding us that having a gun in the home is a bad way to protect our families, patronizingly hitting the old “tree in a thunderstorm” comparison.

“It’s natural to want to do everything you can to keep you family safe, especially if you live in a dangerous neighborhood,” he told the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. “In a thunderstorm, it is also natural to take cover under the nearest tree, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.”

Of course, those who take shelter under a tree durning a thunderstorm are seeking shelter from the rain, not lightning. Sometimes, when you do something to avoid one risk, you expose yourself to another.

You know, like banning guns to avoid the risk of being shot, only to have criminals who ignore bans take advantage of the fact that they can be pretty sure any given citizen will be unarmed and a risk-free target.

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The Ticking Time Bomb of Global Warming

Want to be scared? Go visit OneHundredMonths.org and listen to the ticking time bomb. Tick. Tick. Tick. We are on the way to a climate tipping point, a “point of no return” if we hit 400 parts per million of CO2. And there are only 43 months left before we reach this point!

Or 39 months if you add the days or hours from the countdown timer to today. I guess someone should explain to them that they lopped off about four months from their countdown timers, but what are four months among friends? So by December (or September) 2016, the global warming ticking time bomb will explode, and at that point it will be too late. If we don’t fix global warming by then, “we could be beyond our climate’s tipping point, the point of no return.” (Cue the ominous music)

I bring this up because the New York Times wrote that we had hit the 400 ppm level of CO2 at the Mauna Loa observatory in May, 2013, years ahead of what OneHundredMonths.org has predicted.

The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years.

Scientific instruments showed that the gas had reached an average daily level above 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering.

The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.

400 parts per million of CO2! Levels not seen for 3,000,000 years! Quelle horreur! Everybody panic!

Well, not so fast. Mauna Loa observatory says that we didn’t break 400 ppm after all. Whew! We are safe! The LA Times article reports that the numbers have been revised to 399.89 ppm. That means we are only 0.11 ppm away from OneHundredMonths.org’s tipping point of 400 ppm. Cue the ominous ticking noise again! Engaging panic mode… PANIC!

OneHundredMonths.org isn’t the only place telling us that the climate change clock is ticking. The Miami Herald quotes Noel Brown, the director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program, that we have only a 10-year window to fix global warming.

A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed…. Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of “eco-refugees,” threatening political chaos, said Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the United Nations U.N. Environment Program, or UNEP.

Ten years. That’s all we have before entire nations are wiped off the face of the Earth. I hope you have good flood insurance. Have you considered moving to higher ground?

Oh, wait. Noel Brown issued that UNEP report in the summer of 1989, almost 24 years ago.

Never mind.

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“Extreme”

Missouri’s house and senate have passed a strongly worded bill to protect Missouri citizens’ right to keep and bear arms.

Media and progressives (but I repeat myself) are calling it the nation’s “most extreme gun protection bill”. It awaits Democrat governor Jay Nixon’s signature. The same Jay that illegally shared the state’s CCW database with the DHS (and then vehemently denied it when called out on it).

Our local TV station asks us what we think. This is what I had to say:

Why was the word “extreme” chosen here? Other words would fit much better. “Strong”, for instance.

It’s also not a “gun protection” bill. It’s a “rights protection” bill. It clarifies the protection of one of our most basic natural rights – the right to protect ourselves, and our loved ones. There’s nothing extreme about it. What’s extreme is infringing on that right to the point of denial of it.

Since “gun free” zones seem to attract mass murderers, and we don’t want our kids in the center of what is a known magnet for these people, does it not make sense to at least allow the only apparent deterrent to these kinds of events? The introduction of the probability of failure?

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DJEver Notice? LXXVIII

People who think like adults argue like adults; therefore, people who want to think like adults, are obliged to argue that way. It can be tough to do sometimes. First thing to keep in mind is that you have to engage the ideas and not the people pushing them. What tends to get you bogged down here is pattern recognition: It is an entirely valid argument to say, for example, “I notice women who push the crappiest and silliest radical-feminist ideas have hyphenated names.” Certainly it is not politically correct, but if you think you’re noticing the trend because the statistics would support it, and not just because instances of the trend make a deep emotional impression on you, then it’s a valid pursuit to call it out & ponder what it might mean. But it’s teetering on a brink because the line between pointing that out, and saying some very silly things, can be fuzzy. “All women with hyphenated names have very silly and crappy radical-feminist ideas” would be an invalid generalization, clearly unfair to hyphenated-name women who happen to have sensible ideas. As well as a disservice to the person thinking it.

The salvation is to simply keep a decent and rugged tethering to the facts. Statements with “all,” “none,” “always” and “never” are to be viewed with deep suspicion, and upon receiving the inspection they deserve, will tend to wither and implode much more quickly than most others. Like Obi-Wan Kenobi said, only a Sith deals in absolutes. Of course, that in itself is an absolute statement, so…hmmmm…let’s move on.

For this reason, I don’t like observations like “liberals are stupid” or “liberals are mean.” It sounds like something a frustrated third-grader might say…and, there is the other matter that it isn’t true. Have I not met some liberals who are pretty darn smart? Of course I have. How about nice liberals? That one is a bit tougher, I’ll admit. Certainly I can round up for you a lot of liberals who like to think & say how nice they are, in short order and without putting much effort into it. But you would be well within your rights to say, Try Again Freeberg, it doesn’t count because the liberal is not as nice as he or she thinks he or she is. This would happen quite a few times, in fact you and I would eventually achieve some proficiency in recognizing this muted-down streak of effeminate-male anger, like Captain Hawkeye Pierce getting ready to explode into some self-righteous monologue about whatever. The “aggressively non-threatening NPR male” rage Harry Stein was writing about.

But, at least among the women, there are some liberals who are genuinely nice. One Aunt by marriage, on my Mother’s side of the family tree, comes to mind. These types do genuinely mean what they say when they indulge these fantasies about a “fair shake” for the latest fashionable minority/victim group. They just don’t understand the wretched ultimate effects of the policies they favor as they indulge these fantasies.

Here’s the thing about generalizations, though: Because generalizations fail so often due to their well-understood intellectual fragility, they are, in fact, extremely valuable. That would not be the case if they could be easily debunked all of the time. But contrary to popular belief, they fail often because they can be easily debunked — pay attention to this part, now, it is critical — almost all of the time. Almost. They are like the canary in the coal mine. Fragile, therefore first to expire, therefore there is meaning to be inferred from any situation in which they’re not expiring.

All too often, you take a large group and apply a generalization to it, which upon encountering reality & the facts, implodes almost instantly. But then you carve the large group into smaller groups, reapply, and after a few rounds of division you find the generalization works. Or, at least, you’re lacking in any facts that will vanquish the same generalization again, and you’ll have to allow it to survive, tentatively. This is possibly the beginning of understanding a cause-and-effect relationship. In our example of the genuinely nice liberal, who never seems to be a male, theory: It is more important to males to achieve cosmetic superiority to other specimens, than it is to females, because of the “peacock” attribute of the male psyche. And, the effort to achieve cosmetic superiority to other specimens is exactly where liberals lose their genuine nice-ness, as well as where their credo ceases to make any sense. I’ve criticized them for this many a time, and I’m not done yet: Making a perfect new world in which we’re all equal-equal-equal, to show how much more worthy you are compared to other people? The contradiction is completely devastating, completely unworkable — and not very nice at all.

All of this is a lead-in to my observation that the easiest generalizations about liberals, which crash and burn instantly when we review our factual encounters with real-life, real-smart, real-nice liberals…suddenly find new life when we divide the arithmetic set of “liberals” just a tiny bit. And my “didja notice” moment here is, the number of times we need to divide this arithmetic set in order to give the generalizations a new leasehold on life is: once, into two sets. A simple, clean bisection. I actually noticed this quite some time ago, and have since reviewed the generalization to see if it’s be knocked into the dirt by reality yet again. With that one bisection, the re-pulverizing has yet to occur. Perhaps it will later, but for now the newer set of generalizations seems to be like a good one, and it’s certainly durable.

From this exercise, I perceive two halves. I value this perception rather highly, for if it continues to hold up, it may lead in to a road-map to liberalism’s eventual defeat, at least within this chapter of American history.

You have the ones like the kindly old Aunt, along with the not-so-nice peacock males and all others who aspire to be like her. Somewhere in their hearts there are these good intentions. This is why I’m throwing truly nice people into the same pot as not-truly-nice people, melting ’em all together and calling it a day: They all have it in common that they sincerely want other people, strangers who they’ll never meet, to have an easier time in life. Some of them have mixed motives — “I’m going to look like a better person than that other guy, over there, because I said something positive about gay people” — and others don’t. They favor policies that ultimately hurt the people they want to help. But they know not what they do. One of my favorite examples: Raising the minimum wage. I’ve explained it over and over to them, you’d think the idea would manage to get across: This does nothing to actually “raise” a wage, what it does is outlaw jobs that pay anything below a certain amount, which is being increased. Can we agree on that? I’ve been genuinely surprised to find out the answer is, YES, we can agree on that, until such time as we have to form an opinion about an issue, then the typical response is to just keep clutching to the same opinion they had before. Like a baby to a blanket.

Other examples: Affirmative action in contracting and hiring, to soothe and cool whatever residual racial tensions there may be. The predictable effect is toward the opposite. Raising taxes to cover a city’s, state’s or nation’s tax revenue and budget woes. Showing those dirty, rotten companies how ticked off we are that they are “gouging consumers,” but smacking them with a whole new layer of burdensome fees and regulation. All these policies have a predictable effect more-or-less completely opposite from what was intended, and yet these types will line up to support the same policies over and over again, thereby bringing a lot of harm to the people they claim to be helping.

People in this group claim to care, and on some level they do care. They’re just not thinking things out all the way.

Now, the other group exploits the first group. These are vicious cold-hearted bastards who know perfectly well that Barney Frank caused the housing crisis, Fast and Furious would get innocent people killed, that gun control does nothing to make a city any safer, that when it costs companies more money to bring a product to market they just pass it on to the customer. These people know all about all of this. They just don’t care.

These people are usually employed in some capacity, such that they achieve a higher level of compensation, job security, or both when the wretched policies go into effect and innocent people are hurt by them. Hillary Clinton doesn’t really think it makes no “difference” who caused the attack in Benghazi. Joe Biden doesn’t really think you’re a lot safer if you fire your shotgun twice. President Barack Obama doesn’t really think more lives would be saved by His “extra background checks.” These people are just plain liars. They know the truth is very different from what they’re saying, but they don’t give a hang.

Those are your two groups of libs: The ignorant, and the apathetic. Evidence-impervious, and scruples-devoid. No, they’re not trying to be uninformed, or to hurt people; these are not their central motivations. That’s the whole problem. Both groups have bigger fish to fry.

From all I have observed, liberalism over the last few years has been making some great progress in moving, as they say, “forward.” Battle after battle after battle, in the congressional districts as well as in the nation’s capitol, is resolved in their favor, often with the “progress” locked in somehow so that their opponents can never reverse it, even if there’s a sea-change at some future date. The gun control thing was the first notable exception, at least in the last year or two. By & large, since 2007 or so they’re winning every single argument. And if there is one single reason for this progress of theirs, I would say it is this: The division between the ignorant and the apathetic is hard to pick up. We’re living in a time in which it’s become toned-down, and subtle. It’s so hard to see, that even people who watch politics all day every day won’t notice it’s there; instead they’ll insist on calling the whole movement “liberals.” That matters. Advancing liberalism is really all about sales pitches, from the apathetic to the ignorant. And it succeeds when the ignorant agree to the purchase. The feeling right now is that these two groups are one and the same, so the ignorant have no reason to decline.

I further perceive that the winning streak will come to a stop, and reverse, if and when this division is re-emphasized, highlighted so that it is easier to see. We’re all guilty of being ignorant now and then. But who wants to buy something from some shyster who is obviously hoping you remain ignorant? Isn’t that when you hang up on the telemarketer, car salesman, real estate crook or MLM crony? That’s when liberalism stops; when the ignorant-commoners realize they are not peers with the apathetic-elites, and that the two groups do not share common goals. From that, will come the realization that the policies that are being sold to them, are not conducive to the objectives they want to achieve. But it comes only from that epiphany, which may be sudden or slow. A smooth-talking smiley-faced Republican can’t explain it to them. They have to learn, from their own experiences, that they’ve been sold a bill of goods in the years gone by, and the attempted-fleecing is still taking place.

In other words, they have to learn on their own to start taking a sensibly jaundiced view of things. It’s part of growing up.

The problem is: Too many of them think they’re already doing that, by reciting ridiculous and useless homilies about “Oh well, all politicians are crooks,” as if they are magical incantations that can somehow make bad ideas into good ones.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Right Wing News.

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