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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

FAILURE TO ACT?

"Bush is a pawn and unable to act decisively until his handlers tell him what to do and hand him a script."

In 2001 when a plane crashed into the world trade center, followed by a second, President Bush was sitting and reading a book to children called The Pet Goat. He was quietly informed of the event, nodded, then finished reading the book before leaving the classroom to fly back to Washington DC. It took seven minutes to finish reading the book to the kids.

For that failure to instantly leap up and seek out a television camera, President Bush was mocked, attacked and shown bitter hatred by the left - something fauxumentarian Michael Moore highlighted in his outrageous propaganda piece Fahrenheit 9/11. Later, when Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast, President Bush did not instantly leap onto a plane and fly down to pose in front of cameras. When he did fly to the area and make a speech after looking at the ruins, he was attacked for using up power to run Klieg lights.

When a loser Muslim tries to blow himself up on a plane, President Obama is informed about the event, nods, and goes on golfing for many times seven minutes. When he finally makes a speech about the event it is several days later.

What do these events have in common? Political opponents attacking the president in each event for failing to run off and grab a camera to make a statement with sufficient speed. Each time the president in question was condemned for "failing to act" and taking too much time.

And every time I've asked the same question: what, exactly, did you expect him to do? What does a politician grabbing face time in front of a camera accomplish other than his personal popularity? When the president makes a speech, that means time taken away from doing other things. When the president makes a speech that's all it is, and nothing gets done except empty words.

I understand the value of bereaved and frightened people hearing from the president about their particular situation. I also understand the difference in the way the press handle President Bush and President Obama - I already said political opponents reacted against the president in question. And I also understand that it makes the president seem uncaring and indifferent when he seems to take no action. Perception is very significant in situations of shock and crisis.

Yet neither President Bush nor President Obama have superpowers. They cannot put on their power ring and build a dam to stop the flooding. They cannot fly around the world really fast, go back in time, and prevent disaster. They are mere mortals, men with a political position and no more special power than you or I.

It seems to me that this is just a cheap way to attack a political opponent rather than a reasonable complaint. There's plenty of other reasons to criticize President Obama (and Bush) other than this nonsense.

Quote of the Day

"What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

PICTURE OF THE DAY


At least you have advance warning...

PIRACY IN THE NAUGHTIES

"I like how so many of you people seem to be willfully killing your platform of choice. Keep downloading games in the millions and you eventually won’t have any left, companies just won’t bother making them."

Well, the first decade of the 21st century is coming to a close and its been a pretty wild one. One of the new concepts which came into its own this decade is internet piracy. The concept of pirating copyrighted materials is not new, but doing so with internet file sharing became an issue this decade and this century. It started before Napster was invented but the sharing of files before then was primarily done on individual "bulletin board" systems. With Napster, the pirating and sharing of files on your computer became a huge industry.

Napster was shut down, but it was like cutting the head off the hydra: in its place dozens of alternatives have grown to replace it. Each time one is taken out, another takes its place - or more than one. And at the present there seems no real way to stop the trading of copyrighted files.

This last year saw plenty of piracy like the years before it. The website Torrent Freak has several lists of the files most pirated online (using BitTorrent, at least). Here's the top 5 downloaded on PC:
  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  2. The Sims 3
  3. Prototype
  4. Need for Speed: Shift
  5. Street Fighter IV
They also have X-Box and Wii most pirated games (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and New Super Mario Brothers). The PC version of Call of Duty clocked up 4.1 million downloads according to Ernesto, more than double last year's big download Spore.

Instead of stealing these games, why not sign up for Gamefly or Ongo Bongo and get Netflix-style game rentals? Its 22 bucks a month and you can keep the game as long as you want, with no late fees. That way at least you can see if a game is going to be any good, and if you like it you can buy a copy later.

Yet if you read the comments you get a sense why people are downloading Modern Warfare 2 so much. Certainly there's a huge interest in the game and people want to play it without paying (or despite the fact that they cannot afford to buy it). Nobody wants to say that, but its the primary reason. However, the makers of the game also didn't help themselves much with the way they released the game for PC, as a commenter explains:
Ditto to all the statements above. Modern Warfare 2 is the most pirated game because the developers (Infinity Ward) chose to take the lazy way out and make it a dumbed down piece of S console port that was immediately released on pc.

NO dedicated servers. NO mods. NO console commands even. NO self-server selection. NO LAN multiplayer support for pc. What do they give you? A game slightly more than a rehash of MW1 so it’s MW1.5 more like it. They give you auto pairing/match making which is CRAP, made even crappier by the fact you only can play on IWNet servers.

For all the reasons above. I’d say Modern Warfare 2 DESERVED to be 2009’s most pirated game. AND DESERVES to be continue to be pirated! At $60, the game is a bloody ripoff too, $10 more than regular PC game titles… and with what, 10% the multiplayer functionality. No thanks. I’d take my money and spend it on some other REAL game like Battlefield 2 Bad Company for PC.
Its wrong to steal games and pirate copyrighted material, but at the same time, these companies are acting in ways which encourage people to do so as well.

People are going to try to steal your product, no matter what it is. You can sell oranges and people will try to shoplift them. That's wrong and I sympathize with sellers. Yet there's no reason to antagonize your customers, and companies just do not seem to understand that.

YOU JUST CAN'T

"Haven't you figured out why you can't kill people?"

I watched Terminator 2 again last night. That movie never ceases to entertain and it is one of the best made movies of the last fifty years in terms of technical achievement and excitement. James Cameron did a fine job crafting an entertaining film with few flaws.

One of the only flaws is the casting of young John Connor. There's a reason Edward Furlong's acting career hasn't really gone anywhere: he's awful. Just a bit more care and effort to find a better actor would have helped this movie a great deal. As it is, I find myself cringing when he's on screen far too often.

Watching Terminator 2 I was reminded of something that has long concerned me in the script. It isn't a flaw in the movie as such, but rather a useful illustration to make a point about western culture and postmodernism. Here is the excerpt I have in mind:
JOHN
Jesus... you were gonna kill that guy!

TERMINATOR
Of course. I'm a terminator.

JOHN
Listen to me, very carefully, okay? You're not a terminator any more. Alright? You got that? You can't just go around killing people!

TERMINATOR
Why?

JOHN
Whattaya mean, why? 'Cause you can't!

TERMINATOR
Why?

JOHN
You just can't, okay? Trust me on this.
Cameron's screenplay helps illustrate the point even further with the stage directions that follow:
Terminator doesn't get it. John just stares at him. Frightened at what just almost happened. He gets a glimpse of the responsibility that comes with power.
For Cameron, this was a great scene illustrating how John Connor is learning to lead. For the viewers, nothing was accomplished.

Part of the fault is Furlong, who can't act: he doesn't seem afraid or thoughtful or like he's learned something, he just seems like a kid reading lines. Part of it is just Cameron's inability to tell the kind of story he's trying to. You never really understand how this kid is going to be some great leader of people that saves mankind. He simply does not display any sort of leadership ability beyond yelling orders with a scriptwriter's help of knowing just what to do. Reading the notes in the script you understand what Cameron was trying to tell in the story, but it just wasn't there in the movie.

But that isn't the point I wanted to make. My point is about John Connor's inability to explain his ethical position to the Terminator.

John Connor doesn't know why you aren't supposed to kill people. He just has always heard it and presumes its true. The movie never explains why it is wrong to kill people. I don't actually have the problem some did with the Terminator shooting people in the knees, that's perfectly reasonable for the machine to do given its design and programming, and the "he'll live" line was darkly funny.

The Terminator is a machine, a computer. It "learns" in that it adapts its programming and reactions to what happens around it, to better infiltrate and kill. It cannot understand why it shouldn't kill people: not only is that what it was designed to do, but it is the most effective way to deal with the problem at hand. Living people call for help, attract attention, and come back later to attack you. Dead people do none of this. In sheer cold logic, murdering people in the way is perfectly reasonable.

John Connor has been taught that killing is wrong by his mother, but he doesn't know why killing is wrong. Like the parents I wrote about in my essay on counterculture, she probably never knew herself. When faced with someone who actually wants an answer, he's stumped, he is incapable of explaining why. And the Terminator, although it will follow orders, will never just take someone at their word, not out of stubbornness, but out of simple machine logic.

Connor like most people has never tried to examine his worldview. For a child, that's not unreasonable, he has much to learn. He needs to learn how to think for himself and build his own conclusions based on fact, ethical absolutes, and reason. For now, simply obeying and believing authorities on ethical matters is sufficient. Yet the movie never does give any reason not to kill, not once.

Later on, the Terminator and John Connor bring up the topic again:
TERMINATOR
Killing Dyson might actually prevent the war.

JOHN
I don't care!! There's gotta be another way. Haven't you learned anything?! Haven't you figured out why you can't kill people?
Well no, John, because you haven't given him a single logical reason why not to. You haven't even tried. You haven't argued the innate value of human life, or any overarching absolute ethical standard. You haven't tried to reason with the machine, you've simply insisted.

By the end of the movie Cameron would have us believe that somehow the Terminator has learned anyway:
SARAH (Voice Over)
The luxury of hope was given to me by the Terminator. Because if a machine can learn the value of human life... maybe we can too.
Yet there's no evidence that it learned any such thing. It followed John's orders and did not directly cause the death of anyone's life, but there wasn't any "aha!" moment, it never revealed a point at which it understood. It was simply assumed to have.

It is likely Cameron himself doesn't know why and simply buried that fact in spectacular stunts, explosions, and action. And in an action movie this wouldn't usually matter. Nobody expects philosophical discussions and deep thought in a movie filled with robots from the future and big explosions. Yet he brought the topic up, it is critical not just to the movie, but the whole series. And he complicates matters by bringing up the sinful nature of human beings:
JOHN
We're not gonna make it, are we? People, I mean.

TERMINATOR
It is in your nature to destroy yourselves.
Now, why the Terminator was programmed to say that, one can only guess - likely it is simply one of those "voice of the author" moments where Cameron put his thoughts in the mouth of one of the main characters. Yet James Cameron again brings up ethical concerns without defending or supporting his position, yet he hints at a solution, I think: mom breaks up the fight between the two boys. Women will save us with their nurturing ways! I'm being a bit uncharitable, but given Cameron's political viewpoint it is not much of a reach.

So we have several instances where philosophy is brought up but not resolved. And it simply cannot be resolved by the unexamined man. Someone who has not thought about why they believe what they believe and the reasons behind what they assume is incapable of explaining any of it to another. So the Terminator's blank stare and repeated question "why" isn't just a mark of the uncomprehending machine, it is the audience's question as well. A question that is not simply unanswered, but unanswerable by the characters in the movie.

Why is it wrong to kill? Because an absolute, objective authority has said so. Wrong and right only have meaning and weight if they are given this by an authority with the power and right to make it so. A government can tell us what is illegal and legal, but only a greater authority than man can tell us what is truly right and wrong.

The reason for this is simple: what one man insists, another man can disagree with and neither has the power or authority to say they are more right than the other. John Connor says its "just wrong" to kill people. John Wayne Gacy says otherwise - which is right? In an ethical system without an objective, transcendent authority neither. Or both, depending on your viewpoint. The only way you can come to any sort of compelling ethical system without that authority is to simply insist on your way and have the mortal power to force others to go a long with you. They may disagree, but you can have the power to compel them to pretend otherwise, for a time.

And that's what's lacking for Cameron and the characters he writes: no transcendent authority. There's no one to say "this is right, this is wrong" and have the power to do so. If mere humanity determines right and wrong - especially based on gut instinct or tradition - then anything can be called right, or wrong. And in the end, that means nothing is.

Quote of the Day

"Folks can't seem to realize that it isn't a smooth talker we need in there but a steady man, a man with judgment. Any medicine-show man can spout words, if they are written for him. It takes no genius to sound well. To act right and at the right time is something else again."
-Louis L'Amour, Comstock Lode

Monday, December 28, 2009

PICTURE OF THE DAY


What is this? Its a timeline showing the deception, fraud, and deliberate manipulation of data to mislead the world about climate change. It's Warmaquiddick in a time line. If you want a closer look, check out this article and download the pdf file it includes.

How many other areas of science is this happening in?

2010 POLITICS

"May you live in interesting times"
-A Chinese Curse

OK the Democratic Party passed a health insurance takeover plan which none of them have read and nobody is exactly sure of the true contents. What we know is disturbing, but the vote went straight down party line. Despite many congressmen such as Pete DeFazio (D-OR) and Joe Lieberman ("I"-CT) claiming they'd never ever vote for such a bill, every single Democrat in the Senate did. Most were bought through outrageous bribes and pork giveaways, and in the end this was the wrong bill at the wrong time which nobody likes.

Why was it rammed through, and why did the Democrats all vote for it? Why did they push so hard for it and vote for it despite vows not to? Why didn't a single Republican vote for this bill if the Democrats thought it was so desperately important?

At least of them voted for this bill because they were bribed to, we know that already. The payoffs were so excessive and noxious that even the legacy media noticed and reported about them. Yet that does not explain a full vote by all Democrats and "independents" such as Lieberman who plainly said they'd vote against it.

Some probably heeded the threats coming from the Democratic Party leadership and White House. Vote our way or you won't get funds for your upcoming election. Vote our way or you won't get your pet projects through. Vote our way or we'll support and fund your opponent in the primary vote. That's tough for a politician to stand up to, since few have any integrity or honor and most are there to get reelected, rather than to do a good job.

Some, perhaps most, think that government-run health care is best. That socialism is a fine idea, if they run it, and that since most of the world - especially those enlightened, superior Europeans - has socialized medicine, then it must be the proper way to handle things. This is one more step toward that final goal, and the step is too important to let go. This probably was the last chance to get such a bill passed, and each incremental step toward the goal is worth risking the ire of voters.

Some certainly know that the more people who are dependent on the US government for anything, the more they are likely to vote for leftists. After all, conservatives want people to stand on their own, to be responsible for themselves, to be self-sufficient and help each other rather than rely on big government for their aid. Leftists will openly and gleefully pander to those who want something for nothing, a Democratic politician can always rely on votes just because people know Democrats re more likely to vote for goodies and giveaways, for bigger government programs to hand things out than Republicans. That means more power and more money for the Democrats who are in office.

And some probably thought that, although the polls say people hate it now they will come to like it later once they learned what it was all about. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said so in very plain language recently. He'd better hope so, if the polling data from his state is accurate - he's down by 10 points to his Republican opponent for next year's election. And there may be reason for this optimism.

People won't like the plan as they hear more about it - there's a great deal to dislike, if for no other reason than it costs hundreds of billions of dollars we do not have. Yet the Democratic Party has 10 months to sway public opinion. To do so they have to do several things:
  1. Convince the media that the Republicans will win if they aren't more supportive
  2. Convince the public that the economy is roaring along, even if they have to issue "mistaken" numbers, again
  3. Either convince the public that the health care plan is a terrific thing or distract them with something else so they forget it
  4. Convince the public that President Obama is a super keen guy everyone should love
  5. Convince the public that Republicans are horrendous ogres who would steal their children's food.
1 The first one is pretty easy to do, everyone who follows and believes polling like the voice of God is convinced that unless things change, the GOP will win big in November 2010. I think the Republicans will win many seats, but fail to gain a majority, but we'll see. That simple knowledge will prompt the legacy media to tend to try to help their guys win - the Democrats. Although reporting juicy stories that people want to hear and big scandals that sell lots of advertising is difficult to resist, we've seen for years now that the legacy media would rather die than hurt Democrats win political power, in the end. All the Democrat leadership has to do is remind them of the perceived danger of GOP victory and demand that the press stop covering things that hurt them, and the press will. They've done it before.

There's another aspect to this though. Most of the legacy media can be relied on to toe the line and follow like good obedient sheep. The problem is that the new media - blogs, talk radio, etc - won't. And Fox News, the biggest cable news provider in America, will tend not to although they're heavily poll driven. So next year is a critical time to watch out. Will the Obama administration set up new FCC rules to control their political foes? I've written about how this could be done, and it wouldn't involve the fairness doctrine at all. Time will tell, but this administration has demonstrated it is more than willing to help its friends and hurt its foes with the power of the executive department - even if sometimes it is legally questionable.

2 The second is a bit more challenging, because while depressing people into believing that things are worse than they really are is merely a matter of showing folks on TV who have it worse, no matter how many happy shiny people you see on TV, that doesn't make you able to pay your bills or get a job. While the "accidental" misstatements about economic factors can help (and few read the corrections), in the end, the facts weigh heavy on the minds of voters. And given the hapless incompetence the Democrats display every time doing something about the economy comes up, I'm not confident they can pull this off. On the other hand, maybe the economy really will be doing well, and that would only help the Democrats.

3 The third bit, bread and circuses or selling the plan, is probably the easiest. While people are enraged about being force fed a crap sandwich by radicals in office who laugh at or even insult their constituents, that will fade when the next celebrity trial or missing little girl or big scandal erupts. Just have another Michael Jackson death, or another terrorist attack, or another major news story and the polling will shift away if for no other reason than distraction. And again the legacy media can easily be counted on to help with this, even if they aren't asked to. They all want to pile on the same big story to cover it.

4 Next we come to the Obama rehabilitation program. This I think is a lost cause. President Obama's three big attractions were the perception that he's black, the perception that he's post-partisan and represented a new political way by an outsider, and the perception that he was centrist, or at least supported in what individuals did. His speech making was sufficiently vague and uncertain that undiscerning people or those who didn't pay much attention could think he meant whatever they wanted him to make. That's easy enough to do.

The hard part is when it comes down to actually taking action. The few times President Obama actually has taken action, he's tended to annoy large groups of people. Nobody likes the health insurance takeover plan that was passed. Some people like some parts of it, but it is not just disliked but hated by most people who follow politics closely, both left and right. And that's a big millstone hung around Obama's neck. He's not the post partisan guy he lied about being. He's not the centrist he lied about being. He's not the guy who likes what you like, despite vague speeches which could be taken that way. He's not really even black - he's just as white as he is black. You can't get any of that back, not a bit of it. All that can be done is to make his opponents seem worse.

5 And finally, the GOP smear plan has to work. This can, easily. Once the legacy media managed to lie, distort, and misrepresent President Bush enough about Hurricane Katrina, they had the momentum to make Republicans look bad for months. With carefully timed releases of scandals which conspicuously left out coverage of Democrats also involved in them, and sex scandals involving Republicans while ignoring those with Democrats, the public was shoved away from the Republicans - and let's face it, the GOP didn't help any with their attitude and spending.

Making Republicans look bad is pretty easy, they're politicians and politicians are generally unlikeable, unworthy of support, and sleazy. Readers here know I have no particularl love for Republicans. The hard part for the Democrats and the legacy media is that Republicans aren't in power any longer. They can't make anything happen for good or ill. They can't be caught doing nasty things not because they wouldn't but because they can't. Bills can't be spun as unpopular to hurt Republicans because they have no power to even get them out of committee. Every earmark a Republican manages to squeak through is matched by ten a Democrat did. And every time the Democrats push through another gargantuan leftist scheme, that enrages people even more against the donkey. So this will be a tough sell. In the end, all Republicans have to do is seem less obnoxious than Democrats and that's a pretty low bar to hop over.

So will this all work? I can't predict that, but I would say probably not as well as they hope. I don't see a huge turnover in congress as I said before. The Democrats will lose their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and lose a lot of seats in the House, I expect, but not their majorities. And a lot could go wrong.

First, the economy, I fear and strongly expect, will seem to be getting better, then crash. I see things getting significantly worse than they were this year, not better. By November we could see double digit inflation and unemployment close to 20%. Let's pray not, but if that happens, the Democrats could lose even more than I expect.

Second, the Democratic Party is being run by leftist radical dinosaurs who love Mao and think Che was a great fellow, who admire Fidel Castro and think that communism failed because of corruption and poor management rather than innate impossibility of success. They're the guys who wept when the Soviets failed. These guys are really hardcore leftists. They can't seem to help themselves, now that they have power. I expect that, despite all political capital being used up and vast debt, they'll keep trying to ram through one leftist scheme after another.

I see "immigration reform" on the horizon, the kind which means "amnesty and lets get Hispanics to vote Democrat." I see "election reform" coming up, the kind which means "lets get felons and make it easier for non citizens to vote." I see legislation to diminish the impact of internet and talk radio politics that the left doesn't care for. I see Cap and Trade coming back, despite Warmaquiddick and the miserable fraud involved in climate science. I see lots of hard left plans, the things that these guys have sat around talking about doing when they finally had the power - and they think they've got it now. And every one of these that is shoved in the faces of Americans means more people outraged and frustrated and determined to make them pay.

In fact, the only real bright spot I can see for Democrats, beyond the willing and sycophantic legacy media, is Republican incompetence. Republicans are stupid and fearful, they don't strike when they ought and fail to follow through when they could. They do idiotic things to try to get votes, and the entire GOP leadership seems to think that the reason they lost power in 2006 and 2008 was that they weren't enough like Democrats. That only helps the Democratic Party out.

So this next year should be interesting because the Tea Party is only gaining momentum and Sarah Palin has turned herself into a powerful force for conservative voice, one that cannot be ignored and will not be silenced. It should be interesting... in the bad way the Chinese Curse intends.

BEST OF WORD AROUND THE NET

"and the winner is..."

Last year I highlighted several posts which got the most links and internet search interest; over this year I was amused to see the reposts got plenty of attention as well. I put up a few new posts this year which have received a great deal of notice as well, but instead of reposting I will just recap and link them here.

This year I added the marketgid widget to my site, offering interesting and odd bits around the net from a Russian company. They tend to highlight how cool Russia is and how dumb America is, but it has thrown me quite a few links in the process.

Shelf StepsThe first is the Strange Stairs article I did, highlighting several of the fascinating stair variants which Toxel.com collected. This one got linked all over the place, but I'm not sure Toxel got all the attention it deserved. That's a problem with the internet, I always try to go back to the original source when I can, but not everyone does.

Another pair of articles which have gained attention are two self-shot posts. Since many of these sort of posts on the internet are of nekkid girls, I think people looked these up in hopes of finding porn, but they were probably disappointed. I put up an article about self-shot models featuring Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, which I then followed up with self-shot celebrities. Being basically egotistical and self-fascinated the webcam, cell phone, and social media phenomena have made it possible for celebrities to show themselves even more love, to the delight of their fans. I can't help but agree with Eric when he commented:
I don't know what it is exactly, but I have always thought pictures where you can see somebody's arm extended because they are taking a picture of themselves are just sort of tragically depressing. Even when the person is smiling the picture is candid and cute.
Another post which got a lot of attention was Ephebophiles and the Law. This was a think piece about how the law and society treats men who think girls under 18 are attractive, and I hoped it would stimulate discussion and debate, but not much was said. Many of the hits come from searches which picked up phrases such as "completely naked girls" and "pre-teen girls" as well as mentions of David Hamilton and Bill Henson.

There has been a lot of attention lately to my essay series on John Calvin as well (almost finished with that series, I expect to conclude it this week).

And finally, Cheesecake Tragedy, my series on Global Warming (especially with Warmaquiddick), Cheap Living, and Plastic Turkey Myth all got plenty of attention again this year.

WITHOUT MAKEUP

Once again I return to a topic I've noted before. Every so often there's a special online or in magazines: celebrities without makeup! Most recently I saw a series of pictures on Izismile of Jessica Simpson without makeup on, and the pictures looked like this:


Now, here again there's a disagreement in the term "makeup." When women use this word they mean a specific kind of cosmetic called "makeup" which covers blemishes, etc. When men use this word, they mean "anything that makes you look different than you really are."

See, Ms Simpson has eyeliner, lipstick, she's used coloring to bring out her blond eyebrows; she has makeup on. Her lips are not normally that color, her eyes do not have dark lines around them like that, her eyelashes are blond and difficult to see etc. That's all stuff to make her look different: makeup.

Quote of the Day

"The President must stop gambling with taxpayers' money and get the country back on the path of fiscal sanity."
-Candidate Obama

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

THE BIRTHDAY OF A KING

I want to take this chance to wish all my readers around the world a very Merry Christmas; for those of you who do not celebrate Christmas, then have a great Hannukah, or at least Boxing Day. For some thoughts on Christmas in the past I offer you these previous pieces I've written on WATN:

WORD AROUND THE NET

"This is what happens when the rights of criminals are put before law-abiding people."

Because I won't be posting for the following two days, Word Around the Net comes early this week.

Burglar Walid Salem whom I wrote about last week - the man who tried to rob a house and was beaten for it, resulting in jail time for the man who did the beating - is in the news again. British courts decided he couldn't stand trial because he'd been beaten so bad and was suffering from brain damage, so the man he tried to steal from is in prison, but he is free. Colin Fernandez and Ryan Kiesel report that apparently he wasn't too brain damaged to keep committing crimes:
...the Daily Mail has learned Salem went on a crime spree shortly after he was discharged from hospital - and was caught for crimes including possession of forged credit cards.

He appeared at St Albans Crown Court on November 30 for five offences - one of possessing a false instrument, one of possessing a false identity card, two of handling stolen goods and one of possessing an article for use in fraud.
...
Salem was arrested on January 4 this year carrying 20 counterfeit credit cards, a false driving licence in the name of Gamal Ben Ghali, a stolen driving licence photocard in the name of Brenda Gray, and a stolen driving license photocard, National Insurance Card and Halifax card belonging to Lucie Taylor.
Salem had been conviced fifty times before for various crimes. I guess if you get away with it that long, you figure there's no reason to stop.

Previously it had been reported by the White House that economic growth the last quarter was 2.8% and like the unemployment numbers before it, this has had to be adjusted again as a closer look was taken at the data. Amazing how this keeps happening - either the guys working at the white house are incompetent (a lot of them can't seem to figure out how to pay their taxes) or they are deliberately lying about the data, knowing that the correction will get little play. The Clinton administration did this in 1999-2000, highballing economic numbers to make things look rosier than they were.

Economists predict that the next quarter will be even better, perhaps as high as 3.5%. I hope that's true, I'd love to see the recession over and recovery strong. Its hard not to be skeptical about the data after this, though.

Carbon trading is nothing more than a scam, and if you ever wanted proof, here it is courtesy Chris Flood and Fiona Harvey at the Financial Times:
Carbon prices plunged yesterday in the aftermath of the Copenhagen conference on climate change, dealing a blow to the credibility of the European Union's carbon-trading scheme.
Not only is this scam self evidently fraudulent (what are you trading exactly? Money for what? But the fact that since the Copenhagen summit produced nothing but absurd news and publicity for the pundits and politicians who attended, the prices went down. Why? Because they thought this would create a boom market for the scam, that it would make a lot of money for investors. It didn't.

President Obama made a big deal out of how he was going to reach out to other nations and heal, that the supposed arrogance of the Bush administration would be over if he were president. That the "open hand of friendship" would be appreciated over the "closed fist" of the Bush White House. Meanwhile, the rest of the world snickers at and mocks President Obama (and America), and here's what America's enemies think of his attempts to not be arrogant:
"He lies all the time, deceives with demagogic words, with profound cynicism," Rodriguez told reporters.

"In this summit there was only an imperial, arrogant Obama who doesn't listen, who imposes positions that even threaten developing countries,"
Arrogant, imperial. Who said that? Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, courtesy Reuters. Its almost as if these guys think the US is bad no matter how you act.

Michael Barone has an interesting story about the last time congress shoved through an unpopular bill by legislative tricks, bribes, and every sleazy lawyer stunt people despise. It was 1854, and the Senate Majority Leader was Stephen A. Douglas. The bill was the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Barone explains in the Examiner:
The issue that Douglas said the Kansas-Nebraska Act would settle forever was slavery in the territories. His bill repealed the 34-year-old Missouri Compromise prohibiting slavery in territories north of Arkansas and substituted popular sovereignty -- territory residents could vote slavery up or down.
In that case, at least the Democrats were attempting to follow the US Constitution so that states would decide their own destiny. This time, with the Government Health Insurance Takeover act of 2009, they're trying to violate the constitution. That time, Democrats lost both houses of congress, the presidency, and weren't back in power for 20 years. This time? I suspect they'll hang on to the majority in both houses, by a small margin.

Both MSNBC and now CBS news have reported on the bribery, corruption, and underhanded deal making which the Democratic leadership engaged in to get cloture for the Government Health Insurance Takeover act of 2009. Apparently this has such a reek of scumbag political tricks that even their allies can't stand it. This bill that makes sweetheart deals with insurance companies, hurts the elderly, raises taxes on everyone, and could only be passed by blatant bribery is not popular with anyone but the hard, radical, extremist left.

Polling, if you believe and trust it, says that President Obama is now more unpopular than President Bush was at the end of his term. Mind you I still say that approval polls are meaningless - you can strongly disapprove of someone and still vote for them.
Governor Schwarzenegger is demanding more money for the state of California or he'll have to cut social services. The idea of cutting anywhere else - such as extravagant salaries for state workers, spending for illegal immigrants, funding for warmist alarmism, and so on - are not even being considered. Realizing Californian tax payers will never vote to pay more taxes for a government which is incompetent and uncontrolled in its spending, he's appealing to the federal government for $8 billion dollars. Well, its a drop in the bucket compared to what they're spending each month already.

Some Republicans are celebrating the shift of congressman Parker Griffith (Alabama) from the Democratic Party to Republican. My position remains the same: it ought to be illegal for anyone to change parties while in office. They should be forced to stay in the party they ran on, got funding from, and campaigned for until they run for reelection. People cannot vote for the other party's candidates in most primary systems, and the party's platform influences voters. Who ends up with a majority in congress makes a difference on how many people vote as well, and there are some who vote straight party line. Changing parties in midstream betrays the voters and should be made illegal. It is absolutely unethical - particularly as this guy is only doing so because he's facing a tough Democratic challenger for the primary election next year.

Cameron Diaz, Mila Kunis, Jenna Jamison, Jessica Simpson, and Kate Beckinsale. What do all these women have in common? Other than being female celebrities, they are women who allegedly play World of Warcraft. I think I might have grouped with a couple of them - really stupid players. Celebrity Odor has a list of eight such women, calling them all "hot" although some of them are not really celebrities. Kunis was recently on Jimmy Kimmel, and she has the gamer language down pretty well; Nixie Pixel has the video.

Everyone have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy the time with your families.

Quote of the Day

"Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then--we elected them."
-Lily Tomlin

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

TRIFFIDS

"Flesh-eating plants go on the rampage. "

Day of the Triffids is a science fiction book written in 1957. There was a Hollywood version of the book made in 1962 and later a remake in 1981 by the BBC which was much closer to the original story.

In short, Day of the Triffids isn't really so much about big killer plants as it is human survival and rebuilding from the ruins. The book's primary disaster is a comet which passed close to earth, showering the planet in some unknown radiation which blinds almost all of the human race. Spores of a strange plant called the Triffid are also introduced, and the plants are meat eating, but they aren't the primary menace.

Society collapses as the world is suddenly blind and barbarism results. The few people who can see have to run for their lives from people who hate and fear them. The book is a fascinating read I recommend. And the BBC is working on a new version of the story. This time the story is a bit changed, there's no comet and the Triffids seem to be a product of genetic engineering (GE crops being a big bogeyman to Europeans). The Daily Mail has a report on the remake:
This epic drama takes root with the search for an alternative fuel supply, which leads to the discovery of the ominous Triffid, a crop now cultivated for its fuel that seems to have a life of its own.

But when spectators gather worldwide for a much anticipated solar storm, billions are left blinded and the few sighted survivors watch as society collapses into chaos.

The Triffids, meanwhile, find their way out of captivity. Free to roam the planet with a fatal sting, and a retributive taste for human flesh, the Triffids begin rapid breeding.

Now Dr Bill Masen (Dougray Scott) must lead the brave in their epic battle against the Triffids' reign of terror in what could be the last days of mankind.
The movie stars Eddie Izzard, comedian, cross dresser, and remarkably capable actor. I'm looking forward to the movie, particularly after the skill in which the BBC series Primeval has demonstrated in terms of special effects. Let's just say they've come a long ways since the original Dr Who series.

You can watch the trailer for this TV miniseries at the Daily Mail site.

Picture of the Day


Don't look!

Honestly, while I'm sure she looks good from the back, that girl in the little black dress isn't nearly as cute as the one behind her. And the tat ruins whatever positive effect the dress was giving her.

A POGO CHRISTMAS

"Merry Crispness!"

Pogo Song
Pogo was a cartoon that ran from 1948 to 1975, written and drawn by the very talented Walt Kelly. Although Kelly was a hard leftist whose work became increasingly political - and thus less funny and entertaining - as time went on, his early work was more innocent fun and the goofy adventures of animals in a Georgian swamp.

The animals of Okefenokee Swamp tended to not get things quite right, and when Christmas came around, they'd try to sing Christmas carols, with comedic results. One of the most famous was their rendition of Deck the Halls, which came out this way:

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kallamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Don't we know archaic barrel,
Lullabye, Lilla boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker'n too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope, cantaloupe, 'lope with you!

Hunky Dory's pop is lolly,
Gaggin' on the wagon, Willy, folly go through!
Chollie's collie barks at Barrow,
Harum, scarum, five-alarum, bung-a-loo!

Dunk us all in bowls of barley,
Hinky dinky dink an' polly woo.
Chilly filly's name is Chollie,
Chollie filly's jolly, chilly view halloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, woof, woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie.
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, goof, goof!


And that wasn't the only carol they mangled. Churchy LaFemme, the turtle, tried to sing Good King Wenceslas and it came out like this instead:

Good King Sauerkraut looked out
On his feets uneven,
Whilst the snoo lay roun' an' 'bout,
All kerchoo achievin'.

Pogo:
What's snoo?

Churchy:
I dunno. What's new with you?

In a way, Pogo was a forerunner of lolcats, with animals trying to work out how to talk like people but not quite getting it right. Between their heavy southern accents and their limited understanding of what they were talking about the results were often hilarious, like Howland Owl's crossing of a branch from a yew tree with a geranium to get uranium so they could make a bomb (to help with the arms race against the communists, of course).

I grew up with a father who loved Pogo and he would get books we could all read and enjoy as kids, but sadly also ended up destroying, because we were all boys and not very careful sometimes. I was digging through some of my old stuff and found a Pogo is Back! Newsletter, and I had to just share this little bit of fun.

Quote of the Day

“We are confident that we are moving in the direction of a significant accord.”
-President Obama

Monday, December 21, 2009

GOVERNMENT INSURANCE TAKEOVER BRIBERY

"To quote our Chicago Way President: 'Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother.'"

So, Rod Blagojevich takes money to give favors out to people in Chicago, and he's called a crook and mocked around the nation. Removed from office, he adds pay-to-play to the national vocabulary and is disgraced.

So what is it when Senators take money to vote for cloture on the government health insurance takeover plan? Michelle Malkin has a rundown of the payment that was handed out:
Senator Nelson (D-NE): The CBO says the Nebraska Democrat sellout’s special Medicaid expansion subsidy will initially cost an estimated $100 million.

Vermont and Massachusetts will get similar (though less generous) special treatment by the feds in covering Medicaid expansion costs.

A $100 million item for construction of a university hospital was inserted in the Senate health care bill at the request of Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn

Democrat Sens. Ben Nelson and Carl Levin of Michigan got nonprofit insurers a huge tax break in their state.

Senators from Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming got the doctors and hospitals in their districts better medicare payments.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., scored a big victory, too, with the inclusion in the amendment package of $10 billion to expand community health centers across the country — including at least two more in Vermont.

Medicare Advantage is facing cuts nationwide, but Pennsylvania, New York and Florida somehow managed to get their states to see increases for this program.
And that's part two of the list, just the most recent. Malkin has part one available as well, including Mary Landrieu (D-LA). All Democrats. All given goodies by the Democratic Party leadership in charge of the Senate.

How is this different than bribing or pay to play? You get goodies to throw your vote? How is this sort of thing not simply gross corruption? This sort of thing isn't new; I have no doubt at all that this happens with nearly every big bill but why is it not illegal, unethical, and against senate rules? Or if it is why doesn't anything get done about it?

At the very least, every one of these people need to get their walking papers. Because they did this on the assumption that if they threw enough money and goodies at their district, enraged voters - who apparently oppose this bill even more than they ever did the Iraq War at its least popular - will vote for them again. Prove them wrong, no matter how the vote goes on this abomination.

*UPDATE: Harry Reid thinks Senators who didn't get bribes put into the bill are bad Senators:
“There are 100 senators here and I don’t know that there’s a senator that doesn’t have something in this bill that isn’t important to them,” Reid said. “If they don’t have something in it important to them then it doesn’t speak well of them.”

He likened the legislation to the defense bill, which is thick with earmarks and other provisions benefitting individual members and even private corporations.

“That’s what legislation's all about”
Courtesy Ace of Spades HQ. Toss this filth out of office, Arizona.

SANCTIFICATION BY DEATH

"As an artist you're greater in your absence than in your presence."
-50 Cent

Tiger Woods, once thought a better man than most, is now considered a scumbag for sleeping around on his wife with scores of women. The women seem to, so far at least, have avoided the same sort of disapproval. Tiger is an example of someone who started very high and when he was found to not be the hero people made him up to be, now he's despised as much as he was loved.

If Tiger wants to be considered wonderful and heroic again, all he has to do is die. Consider Michael Jackson, once the king of pop with amazing videos, dancing, and best-selling albums, who over time became stranger and less popular until he fled the United States under a cloud of controversy. If he wasn't molesting children, he was at the very least acting in ways that most people consider very inappropriate around them. Then he died, and suddenly all that was forgotten because... well its hard to say because.

Part of the reason has to be that it makes people money to have Michael Jackson a hero again. If he's still considered a scumbag nobody will buy the magazines and videos and CDs and nobody will go to Captain EO any more. What's that you say, Captain EO was dumped by Disney in 1998? Well its coming back, according to the Associated Press:
The theme park announced plans Friday to bring back the 3-D sci-fi film starring Michael Jackson next February, over 23 years after the attraction debuted in Anaheim, Calif. The 17-minute film starred the late King of Pop as a singing-and-dancing intergalactic commander. It was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and executive produced by George Lucas.
I guess now that he's not a physical threat to children its fine to celebrate Jackson again. This has happened over and over in western culture. For example, by the time Princess Diana died, she was hounded by photographers because she was disgraced. Once a wonderful fairy tale princess she divorced Prince Charles and was jet setting around with all sorts of men. Then when she died, she became the princess once again.

Elvis Presley had destroyed his boyish charm and early image by becoming fat and using drugs. He was reduced to a cheesy Vegas act and generally mocked by the time he died in 1977. Then he became a legend again, a superstar selling more records after his death than he ever did before.

Britney Murphy just died, after a small career in movies (liked her in Sin City but don't remember her in anything else). Now, apparently, she was beloved by everyone as Glenn Reynolds notes. Before she died, Ms Murphy was yet another blonde actress you sort of remembered in the host of them. Now she's beloved?

James Dean and River Phoenix were fairly popular boy actors, but at their deaths became legends, particularly Dean, who had little work to his name. Selena, a little-known singer dies and becomes a legend with a biopic that launched Jennifer Lopez to stardom. Heath Ledger was starting to get some respect as an actor, but died due to drugs and suddenly he's an amazing actor with stunning ability cut off in his glorious prime. How many scumbag rappers are treated as heroes just because some other scumbag gunned them down?

This seems to go beyond what makes money to genuine, unhealthy hero worship of people famous only because of their ability to entertain. I don't mind liking one star or another, I don't mind fans, but when you decide someone has ascended to greatness merely because of their death, so much so you ignore the evils and blights of their past life, a line has been crossed that is simply not proper.

Certainly the enaring power of a celebrity can't be ignored. Dead celebrities make a lot of money for the people who own their properties. Forbes collected the list of dead celebrities who made the most money for 2008 and the top ten looked like this:
  1. Elvis Presley: $52 million
  2. Charles Schultz: $33 million
  3. Heath Ledger: $20 million
  4. Albert Einstein: $18 million
  5. Aaron Spelling: $15 million
  6. Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel): $12 million
  7. John Lennon: $9 million
  8. Andy Warhol: $9 million
  9. Marylin Monroe: $6.5 million
  10. Steve McQueen: $5 million
It is a pretty sad statement about modern culture and mankind's intelligence and discernment if the marketing media is able to manipulate people so much that they simply go along with the whitewashing of someone's background just to make money. Just how gullible are people? Judging by what advertising works, I have to guess: pretty damn.

Picture of the Day


...

Quote of the Day

“Dispense with your socks … this is a time of global warming. Through our feet we can begin to feel it.”
-Antony Gormley

Friday, December 18, 2009

HO, HO, HO


I find this picture of Jesus shooting Santa Claus outrageous and offensive.

Jesus wouldn't need a gun.

KNEEBREAKERS

Luigi: How many men you got here, Colonel?
Colonel: Oh, er ... seven thousand infantry, six hundred artillery, and er, two divisions of paratroops.
Luigi: Paratroops, Dino.
Dino: Be a shame if someone was to set fire to them.
-Monty Python

There's a bright spot so far in Oregon's congressmen. Democrat representative Pete DeFazio doesn't like the government health insurance takeover bill and won't vote for it, so far. Of course his reason is that it's not socialist enough but still, a "no" is a no. DeFazio is feeling the heat for that position, though. Walter Alarkon at the Hill reports:
“Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother,” Obama told DeFazio during a closed-door meeting of the House Democratic Caucus, according to members afterward.
Like bankers early this year who were leaned on to take TARP funds, congressmen are starting to learn what Chicago Machine Politics are like.

Senator Nelson (D-NE) is opposed to the health insurance takeover bill as well, and he's feeling the heat - this time in the form of a mob-style protection scam technique. That military base in your district? Be a shame if something happened to it.
Offutt Air Force Base employs some 10,000 military and federal employees in Southeastern Nebraska. As our source put it, this is a "naked effort by Rahm Emanuel and the White House to extort Nelson's vote." They are "threatening to close a base vital to national security for what?" asked the Senate staffer.
Nice folks, the Democratic Party leadership.

Joe Lieberman's wife is being targeted by leftist groups at the direction of the White House as well. For decades Mrs Lieberman has been a spokeswoman for the Susan B. Komen Foundation, a breast cancer research fundraiser. FireDogLake (home of blackface comedienne Jane Hamisher) is trying to get her removed from the position in an attempt to extort Lieberman into voting for the insurance takeover as well.

What else is happening behind the scenes? I suspect more will come out as time goes on, we already know about Mary Landrieu (D-LA) being bribed to vote for the bill. They're pulling out all the stops, from breaking Senate rules to keeping the text of the bill secret to leaning on congressmen.

The tactics alone ought to make people nervous about this but if you believe polls, enough people are nervous already to make themselves heard loud and clear next November.

WORD AROUND THE NET

“It wasn’t even in my wildest dreams to be in a place like this.”

Auschwitz was made infamous by its cruel lying entry with a sign promising freedom for hard work. Arbeit Macht Frei became a world famous slogan in wrought iron, and now it appears someone has stolen the sign. A reward of almost $2000 has been offered for the return of the sign and no one is sure why it was stolen. My guess is that it was taken by a collector, since it would be nearly impossible to sell. Some had other theories:
Jarek Mensfelt, from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, told the BBC: "It is more than just stealing something. It is a desecration.
...
Avner Shalev, director of Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, said the theft "constitutes a true declaration of war".

He added: "We don't know the identity of the perpetrators but I assume they are neo-Nazis."
...
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom labelled the theft "abominable".

"This act demonstrates once again hatred and violence against Jews"

I don't really follow the logic of those statements. How can you desecrate such a place of evil? How is it war to steal a sign? And upon what possible basis can you say this is an act against Jews? I agree that anti semetism is on the rise and it is a real thing but sometimes Jews claim it for just about any possible thing they don't happen to like.

Ambassadorial positions are often reserved for politically useful people who aren't particularly helpful in any field of government. They are used as a sort of reward for service or donations, a gift for someone particularly admired. Since the job primarily consists of going to dinners and being fabulous, it isn't often a challenging line of work unless something serious happens in the country. With that in mind consider this information:
Mari Del Carmen Aponte, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of El Salvador, Department of State

Mari Del Carmen Aponte is currently an attorney and independent consultant with Aponte Consulting. From 2001-2004, Ms. Aponte was the Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA). Prior to that, she practiced law for nearly twenty years with Washington D.C. based law firms. Ms. Aponte also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Council of La Raza and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Mari Del Carmen Aponte was appointed ambassador to the Dominican Republic by President Clinton in 1998, but was removed from the post after it was discovered she had contacts with Cuban spies. Ms Aponte is as you can see from the White House press release, a leader in the racist Hispanic organization La Raza as well. Apparently racism isn't exactly a drawback in the Obama administration, just ask the Black Panthers.

AOL Autos looked at traffic statistics and legal records, and they discovered the ten cars in which you're least likely to get a ticket while driving. Here's the list:
  1. Buick Lucerne/GMC Sierra 1500
  2. Buick Rainier/Oldsmobile Silhouette
  3. Mazda6
  4. Buick Park Avenue
  5. Chevy Pickups
  6. Chevy Tahoe
  7. Chevy Suburban
  8. Jaguar XJ Sedan
For the sake of completion, here's their list of cars in which you are most likely to get a ticket while driving:
  1. Hummer H2/H3
  2. Scion tC
  3. Scion xB
  4. Mercedes Benz CLK
  5. Toyota Camry Solara
  6. Mercedes Benz CLS 63 AMGScion xA
  7. Subaru Outback
  8. Audi A4/Toyota Matrix
These lists probably say more about the drivers than the cars - the kind of people who drive a Scion are more likely to be reckless and speed than someone driving a Silhouette, for instance.

Alarmists and warmers often attempt to dismiss any skepticism of their position on climate with an ad hominem argument of guilt by association. Anyone who is doing research that disagrees with their fraudulent, manipulated results is paid off by big oil and thus cannot be trusted. The reason this is a fallacy is that it does not address the argument in question. And, as it turns out, it isn't exactly unique to skeptics. Declan McCullagh at CBS writes:
The scientist who will head the American Physical Society's review of its 2007 statement calling for immediate reductions of carbon dioxide is Princeton's Robert Socolow, a prominent supporter of the link between CO2 and global warming who has warned of possible "catastrophic consequences" of climate change.

Socolow's research institute at Princeton has received well over $20 million in grants dealing with climate change and carbon reduction, plus an additional $2 million a year from BP and still more from the federal government.

These guys get two million a year from British Petroleum to cook the books so it looks like the world is dangerously warming as a result of human activity. Meanwhile, the warmist newspaper Guardian in the UK has an Environmental section which features the original moonbat Mr George Monbiot. They hold regular alarmist conferences. Their funding? According to George Delingpole at the Telegraph: Shell Oil. He goes on to point out a few other examples of evil big oil funding:
And which companies were the CRU scientists revealed cosying up to as early as 2000 in the Climategate emails? There’s a clue in this line here: “Had a very good meeting with Shell yesterday.”

And how much was Phil Jones, director of the discredited CRU, found to have collected in grants since 1990? £13.7 million ($22.7 million)
...
Or why not try this blog, in which a German Green party MP is revealed being given hefty donations by a solar power company?

Or how about this tiny $7o million donation to the climate change industry from the Rockefeller Foundation?
He also details the money made on carbon credits trading and why these guys might be so interested in the topic. There's plenty of big oil money going into climate research. Its just going to both sides, which kind of casts the whole logical fallacy mentioned above even further into doubt.

Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) thinks she has a good reason for pushing government a health insurance takeover. Nicholas Ballasy at CNS news reports that she claims:
Congress has the authority to force individual Americans to buy health insurance because the U.S. Constitution “charges Congress with the health and well-being of the people.”
In reality, the constitution does no such thing, it doesn't even remotely hint at any such thing. CNS news not long ago confronted several key congressmen about this topic, asking what part of the constitution they are basing their push for the health insurance takeover upon. They got few answers, and finally this is what they heard from Senator lincoln. The CNS story goes on to note that when President Clinton tried to do this last time in the 1990s, the Congressional Budget Office did a study and discovered something:
A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.
When the lack of constitutional support for such a bill (and thus, its illegality according to the 10th amendment) is brought up, in my experience leftists just shrug at that and argue that health insurance is good and people are dying because they can't get health care. The topic of legality or following the constitution is utterly irrelevant to their ideology.

Desperate to get the health insurance takeover passed before yet another wave of polling data shows how disliked and distrusted such a bill would be, Democratic leadership has stooped to some absurd lows. For example, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) ordered the reading of the legislation stopped so that an offending amendment could be stripped out. There's a problem with that:
"Reading: Under Rule XV, paragraph 1, and Senate precedents, an amendment shall be read by the Clerk before it is up for consideration or before the same shall be debated unless a request to waive the reading is granted; in practice that includes an ordinary amendment or an amendment in the nature of a substitute, the reading of which may not be dispensed with except by unanimous consent, and if the request is denied the amendment must be read and further interruptions are not in order; interruptions of the reading of an amendment that has been proposed are not in order, even for the purpose of proposing a substitute amendment to a committee amendment which is being read. When an amendment is offered the regular order is its reading, and unanimous consent is required to call off the reading.” (Riddick’s Senate Procedure, P.43-44)
In other words, you can't stop the reading and you cannot strip the amendment away without a unanimous vote, which they didn't get.

Afraid people might learn what's in this bill, Senate leaders have kept the real version secret in committee. Courtesy Ace of Spades HQ we learn:
Americans were told the purpose of reform was to reduce the cost of health care

Instead, Democrat leaders produced a $2.5 trillion, 2,074-page monstrosity that vastly expands government, raises taxes, raises premiums, and wrecks Medicare.

And they want to rush this bill through by Christmas — one of the most significant, far-reaching pieces of legislation in U.S. history. They want to rush it.

And here’s the most outrageous part: at the end of this rush, they want us to vote on a bill that no one outside the Majority Leader’s conference room has even seen.

That’s right. The final bill we’ll vote on isn’t even the one we’ve had on the floor. It’s the deal Democrat leaders have been trying to work out in private.
Democrat leaders are desperate to get this bill passed before Christmas when congressmen go home and face the ire of their voters. If they have to lose a lot of Democrat seats in 2010 as a result, that's a price they believe is well worth paying for the long term benefit of millions of people dependent on the government for health care.

Unemployment fell by .2% last month but the number of people filing unemployment claims is on the rise, according to Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press:
The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of new jobless claims rose to 480,000 last week, up 7,000 from the previous week. That was a worse performance than the decline to 465,000 that economists had expected.
...
The govenrment said that the number of people receiving regular benefits rose by 5,000 to 5.19 million for the week ending Dec. 5. That figure does not include millions of people who have used up the regular 26 weeks of benefits typically provided by the state and are now receiving extended benefits for up to 73 additional weeks, paid for by the federal government.
The article claims that some unnamed analysts believe that "claims need to fall to about 425,000 for several weeks to signal the economy is actually beginning to add jobs." Presumably that does not include temporary, seasonal hirings for the Christmas rush. Lets hope that happens.

Today's offering in the Rue Britannia column is the story of a man who was robbed. Colin Fernandez and Ryan Kisiel have the details in the Daily News:
A millionaire businessman who fought back against a knife-wielding burglar was jailed for two-and-a-half years yesterday. But his attacker has been spared prison.

Munir Hussain, 53, and his family were tied up and told to lie on the floor by career criminal Waled Salem, who burst into his home with two other masked men.

Mr Hussain escaped and attacked Salem with a metal pole and a cricket bat. But yesterday it was the businessman who was starting a prison sentence for his 'very violent revenge'.

Jailing him, Judge John Reddihough said some members of the public would think that 56-year-old Salem 'deserved what happened to him' and that Mr Hussain 'should not have been prosecuted'.

But had he spared Mr Hussain jail, the judge said, the 'rule of law' would collapse.
Mr Reddinhough is pretty typical of people working in the judicial system of any country. They usually are harder on people who act as vigilantes than they are the criminals they punish. In Great Britian, if you are robbed and threatened in your own home, and fight back? You get jail time, your robbers and attackers walk away. That's justice. And in a sense, the judge is right: if you let people protect themselves, the rule of law, as a tyrant, would fall apart.

Washington DC's WTOP has some news which, after seeing President Obama's cabinet appointees, comes as little surprise. Mark Seagraves reports:
At a time when the White House is projecting the largest deficit in the nation's history, Uncle Sam is trying to recover billions of dollars in unpaid taxes from its own employees.

Federal workers owe more than $3 billion in income taxes they failed to pay in 2008. According to Internal Revenue Service documents, 276,300 federal employees and retirees owe $3,042,200,000.
I've always wondered who these people are who aren't paying their taxes. They're leftists and government employees. Funny how they're the ones who want more taxes and greater tax hikes for everyone else, when they aren't even bothering to pay their own.

Finally, we come to Obamaville. I recall around June when my brother spotted a squatter village in Salem, a bunch of shacks, tents and homeless people gathered in an out of the way location. Back in the depression, these were called "Hoovervilles" for the man they blamed for the economy (it was a team effort, which Roosevelt did the greatest part to maintain and lengthen). Now there's Obamavilles popping up and Breitbart has the video. Again, it was a team effort ruining this economy... but President Obama is working with congress to find a way to make matters worse.

Quote of the Day

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."
-Douglas Adams

Thursday, December 17, 2009

COPENHAGEN

“our revolution seeks to help all people…socialism, the other ghost that is probably wandering around this room, that’s the way to save the planet, capitalism is the road to hell....let’s fight against capitalism and make it obey us.”
-Hugo Chavez

Polar Bear
By now the fact that the Copenhagen alarmist festival is nothing more than theater is starting to become obvious to even the most fervent supporter. Even the UN secretary in charge of the meetings is warning that the event is becoming a "farce." John Vidal and Allegra Stratton write in the Guardian:
With just two days remaining, the inability to overcome disagreements about the shape of a deal to combat global warming led to hours of inaction today , while outside the negotiations police clashed with protesters who broke through a security cordon but failed in an attempt to storm the conference centre.

"We have made no progress" said a source close to the talks. "What people don't realise is that we are now not really ready for the leaders. These talks are now 18 hours late."
Two years in the planning, this summit came together just as the entire alarmist bandwagon blew all its tires and fell over with the Warmaquiddick scandal. Now, as Russian scientists demonstrate the conclusions of the IPCC and alarmists have been in error for decades, the summit erupts in applause for Hugo Chavez as he went over his speech time by 3 times its original intended duration.

Protesters outside demanded economy crippling action taken to shove the world into socialist control by alarmists, then clashed with police as they became violent. Conspicuously holding up identically designed, professionally-printed signs printed in English, the protesters were clearly part of the whole theater, not a genuine uprising of people increasingly skeptical of the whole warmer farce.

Meanwhile, politicians and pundits from Al Gore to Prince Charles flew in on private jets and took limos to the lush and luxurious conference, consuming months worth of carbon emissions which they would permit a normal person. The entire thing is a dazzling display of hypocrisy, lack of character, and bureaucracy gone wild. In an age when the internet permits millions to act together and discuss matters with live streaming video, these dinosaurs go out of their way to meet in a huge expensive and polluting festival for publicity and notice.

And meanwhile, nothing is getting done. For a while, dozens of third world nations walked out of the conference symbolically (they were still there) not because of concerns over the environment, but because richer nations were backing off of the commitments to send billions to these nations in a fool's bargain which supposedly makes up for their pollution. Make no mistake, men like Chavez don't give a damn about the environment or global warming, they want those sweet carbon credit dollars and the collapse of western capitalist civilization and this is the lever they think can make it happen.

In the end, the only guy who seems to get how nonsensical this all clearly has become is Phelim McAleer who previously was attacked and forced to let go of his mic which someone else had shut off. Remember the scene in Forrest Gump where the evil general pulled the plug on Gump's mic when he talked at the capital? That's what the left figures the right does, to try to silence them as they speak "truth to power." Except it was the left trying to silence someone speaking the truth, as it usually is these days.

Mr McAleer put on a polar bear costume and wandered the conference with a bullhorn, asking for Phil Jones, fall guy for Warmaquiddick. He wasn't given a warm welcome, according to William La Jeunesse at Fox News:
To a chorus of boos, a man dressed as a polar bear entered Copenhagen's main conference center Tuesday and began paging the discredited climate scientist whose hacked e-mails sparked the Climate-Gate scandal.
...
The 57-year-old Jones has become a distraction to some but an embarrassment to others who believe climate change is real. While no one in the highly partisan crowd attacked the bear, one woman advised him to "get out of here now while you still can."
Yeah, fear the alarmists. In the end, this may be the last gasp of AGW hysteria which would only be a good thing. Yet will the biggest promoters and supporters of this face sufficient scorn and dismissal?

Picture of the Day

MANALOG: PINKS

"What kind of engine you got in that rig?"

There's a couple of shows on the Speed channel which you might want to watch, if you're a guy or like cars. The first is called Pass Time, and its a game show. The concept is very simple, they pick three people to play the game, and they have a drag strip up which cars race against each other on. The game show part is when the three contestants try to decide what the winning time will be on the cars.

The contestants can each ask the drivers one question, then they have to choose a time they figure the cars will finish by. Each round, the winner gets $100, and the whole show is a great display of male camaraderie and having a good old time. Nobody walks away really rich but you can tell they're all having a great time.

The second show is called PINKS: All Out. It's a competition between racers, and they aren't just there for show. The racers drive against each other, matched up by test drives to see speed and performance. The winner of each pairing gets $1000, and they can wager up to half of that on their next race. By the end, the winner has gotten $10,000 plus their bets.

And there's still another layer, going on behind the scenes. Each run, the hundreds of racers have to try to keep their speed roughly the same each pass. The show wants not just consistency, but for everyone to go all out every race, to give their all no matter who or what they are up against. So the driving has to be very careful. Unless an engine explodes or there's some other sort of malfunction, the speeds end up very similar, which eliminates people who sandbag to show surprising speed in the next round. That means the drivers have to be good, not just some kid with a hot rod.

The show is really a lot of fun, and there's a reason why it's Speed channel's number 2 rated program (after their NASCAR events). Give 'em a try, especially if you're a man. I think you'll find you enjoy it. This is a different kind of code pink: the pink slip kind.